Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, MN under the Mendota bridge
Sites and space are very important to me. All of my memories are directly connected to a specific space and site. A fond memory I have is of playing under the branches of a huge pine tree outside my grandmother’s house. The tips of the branches touched the ground all around the tree but the branches started up high, so there was a wonderfully large space created underneath. It was my little house, and I spent hours there in the dappled light, reading and thinking and playing. My grandmother lived in a mid-sized city and her house and the tree were right next to a busy street. I liked the contrast of hearing the buses going by while I was hidden away in my little pine forest.
I really like the twin cities, and when I started thinking about a site for the
g l e a n i n g photoshoot I wanted a space that captured what I like most about this place. I think what I connect to here is that same contrast I remember from my grandmother’s house, one between urban and natural features. The twin cities are in the northern part of the United States, and if you drive just a few hours north out of town you will be in the north woods. But there is a bit of that here in the city as well. And the fantastic thing is that when you find these pockets, the urban part of the city is right there, mixing with the rural.
This is the type of site I was looking for. A space where you could see some of the city infrastructure but also a bit of nature. I also had in my head the idea of a field. Maybe because I’ve been thinking so much about the word gleaning or maybe because I like fields. Not a field planted with crops but more of a prairie grass field. I had a few ideas of places to look but none of them were just right. Then Sarah suggested a place she had been to in St. Paul and we set up a time to meet. When I got there I had to drive several miles down this road into what seemed to be a northern Minnesota state park. Except there were these huge power lines and an enormous concrete bridge overhead. And a big prairie grass field underneath.
It was perfect. I walked around and waited for Sarah, but she never showed up. Later we realized that we were at two different places. I had gotten the wrong directions and gone to a completely different place. Neither of us had ever been here before, and it was right here under our noses. It’s always so strange and wonderful to me when things like this happen. It was like I was meant to find it.
I really felt a connection with this site and I hoped that Sarah would too. I was nervous because she didn’t see it until the day of the shoot. But when we showed up the light was just right and everything seemed to fall into place. And I think she did make a connection. I can see it in her photos. There is a certain magic.
I can’t wait for you to see them too. This Friday, October 2nd.
Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, MN under the Mendota bridge
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Fort Snelling State Park, under the Mendota bridge
Before I launch my new line U N, I wanted to tell you a little about the name of the first collection g l e a n i n g. Tomorrow I will tell you a little about how I chose the site for the photoshoot (seen above) and then Friday (hopefully!) the new site will be up with a slideshow of images of the collection, taken by Sarah Rubens.
g l e a n i n g
to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit.
to collect (information, facts, etc.) by patient effort.
to gather from a field after the crop has been reaped.
to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly.
that which is collected by a gleaner; a remaining portion.
The transformation of UNIFORM studio into a more sustainable practice (Uniform Natural) along with the first collection of clothing has been first and foremost about a process. Gleaning is a word that comes close to describing it, not perfect, but almost.
In this process, I feel like I’ve been working around the edges, towards something.
In everything there is a bringing together of multiple forces and ideas. At any one time they are all present but one will naturally come forward. In the studios I teach, there are usually 3 broad areas of focus -site, material and program. Within these, one will be at the center while the other two, while still being considered, will drop back a little.
Right now my main focus has been on the issue of sustainability. To me, the key to being sustainable is in making things that will last, that will be enjoyed and be used for a long time. Producing small batches of clothing that are well made and simple so they will work from year to year, but have enough detail to make them special has been something I have always reached for. Recently I’ve also begun to think about waste in the apparel industry and how “gleaning” leftover fabric from large designers is a way of working ethically that benefits both large and small.
Using organic and sustainable fabrics and thinking more closely about where they come from and how they are made is new to me. This is a complex issue that I know very little about right now, but I can’t wait until I know more. I need to do what I can now. The gleaning collection uses some fabrics made of organic and sustainable materials. Some of the fabrics are industry offcuts. Some of the pieces are dyed using low water immersion techniques.
This is what I can do now, the rest will come, bit by bit.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
For as long as I’ve been sewing I’ve been intrigued by patchwork. What has mainly interested me, I think, is the fact that you can use up all of your scraps and make them into a new fabric. I love the idea of almost zero waste.
A few years ago I made some little girl dresses from scraps I’d saved, and always wanted to take this further. Every time I finish a collection I have this pile of fabric scraps and they all look so beautiful to me jumbled together with their different colors and especially the textures.
Now that I’ve been thinking more about designing and making things ethically, this idea seems even more relevant. Lately I’ve been seeing some modern garments incorporating patchwork in wonderful ways:
This dress is simply stunning.
I would love to have this t-shirt in my wardrobe, in both colorways.
This shirt is simple but interesting and would be great layered under a jacket.
I’ve been thinking about incorporating some scraps into shirts or tote bags. Maybe for my holiday collection. Speaking of seasons, tomorrow is the first day of fall – I can’t believe it.
I hope to have a slideshow of my new collection up soon -thanks again for all of your nice comments!
Friday, September 18th, 2009
photograph by Sarah Rubens
So, I couldn’t resist showing you all one more image. Nothing makes me happier than collaborating with people I respect and admire and I’m still giddy with the experience of working with Sarah and Julia on this photoshoot.
And this one is film, not digital, which makes me doubly happy. And that’s the new marfa print I’ve been working with. And it’s printed on hemp + organic cotton.
Thank you all for your positive comments and encouragement, it means so much to me. More soon.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
The first collection for my new sustainable clothing line UN is complete and very soon I will launch a new website with a slideshow of the complete collection. I’m excited to show you and talk a little about the development of both UN and the gleaning collection. For now you can see a few of the images from the photoshoot at Fort Snelling State Park, under the Mendota Bridge.
I am so happy that my friend, Minneapolis photographer Sarah Rubens agreed to take the photographs for me. Her technical expertise and stamina were beyond wonderful and I’m thrilled with the images. She and my model Julia were such great sports enduring a long day, hungry mosquitoes and a minefield of animal droppings. All in all it was a stellar day though and a learning experience for us all.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
drop pocket dress + braided jersey belt, UN fw09: gleaning
Thank you for all your comments on my technology post. There is an interesting discussion going on in the comments and generally it seems like everyone is trying to pare down and be online less, which I think is a good thing.
Since writing about starting to like purple, and falling in love with some plum colored soy + organic cotton jersey, I’ve been seeing purple everywhere. I guess it must have been seeping into my brain subliminally for awhile. I think purple must be the “it” color for the season. Yesterday I ventured out to the big mall to do my once a year jeans shop for the boys and purple was all over H + M.
organic cotton + hemp jacquard, organic cotton + soy jersey
It’s starting to make me feel a bit uncomfortable. I’ve incorporated it into my new fall collection, and as the first collection as UN, trendy is NOT what I was trying for. But as everything is nearly done, it’s too late to go back. Hopefully small details will help the pieces seem more timeless and less trendy.
I am enjoying working with the new organic fabrics immensely. This dress is made from an organic cotton + hemp jacquard, which is really lovely. The jacquard is quite subtle but makes it a little special. The dress incorporates a pocket detail I used last season, but I inserted them into a side panel, which shapes the dress volumetrically. The dress is paired with an organic cotton + soy jersey braided belt in plum.
Getting everything ready for launching the new line and collection is taking just a bit longer than I had hoped, but it should all be ready about mid-September.
And speaking of organic and purple, I came across a new to me sustainable clothing line called Bodkin, while reading Jenny’s blog. The clothes are simple and gorgeous, the palette uses lots of grey and purple, and the designer writes thoughtfully about the whole sustainable fashion issue on her blog. Jenny also linked to a post on the Fieldguided blog about being sustainable through choosing carefully what clothing we buy and the author mentions Bodkin. This is something I’ve been thinking quite a bit about lately, and something I will write about soon. In the meantime, go read Anabela’s post.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Today I have a bunch of random tech things:
My new favorite web site is Minimal Mac.
I’ve been using We Heart It, an online inspiration album, for quite awhile, and it seems like the site has been down more than not. But recently they made changes to their site, and it seems like all is working now. I wish you could organize your images somehow, but maybe that will come in the future. My stream is here. Let me know if you are a member, I’ve just started adding people as contacts.
Do you use Google Reader? I’m late to this I know. I was on Bloglines, which is cumbersome but was familiar to me. Google Reader is so much easier to use and organize, I find I actually read more and read quicker, and don’t feel as overwhelmed. And with Helvetireader, it’s minimal and beautiful too. But maybe people don’t read blogs anymore….they seem quite ancient, in digital years.
As a non-facebook user, the article Facebook Exodus in the Sunday Times was quite interesting to me. Many of the reasons people are leaving facebook are reasons I never joined in the first place.
I use flickr a little like I might use facebook if I was on there, but it has the common denominator of photography linking everyone, which I like. I wonder if people are tiring of this as well though. It seems like online social networks have a time frame, just like real life social networks.
Maybe everyone has moved on to Twitter. I’ve been tempted to join this site but haven’t. I like the quick, off the cuff nature of posts. Seems more like a conversation. There is a club like aspect of it on some people’s feeds that I don’t like though. Like a secret language only the cool kids in high school understand. I also don’t have a cell phone, and it seems like this is set up for people to send and receive quick text messages. And do I really need another time suck?
I do think this twitter site is hilarious though. Seems perfect for this format.
so, what social networks do you use, and how?