Friday 5 November 2010

A few rolling thoughts...

I'm an 'all by hand' felter, I don't use machines to help me 'full' the felt and hence have no need for the gym! The rolling process gives me plenty of time for reflection, for thinking of new designs, etc. Some of my recent thoughts have been about consumerism, waste and non biodegradable materials such as plastics.  

I live in a household where we try to be conscientious of consuming. Not due to the financial cost so much as the environmental cost it has. The quality of the item being bought, its lifespan, where it was made, what environmental impact that had are all factors taken into account. There is nothing more depressing for me than my children's birthdays or Christmas time and receiving endless plastic articles that will no doubt break within one year and then sit in a garbage tip (if not incinerated and pollute the atmosphere) forever. Literally. What on earth does the planet need with all this broken plastic? Recycle you say? Most plastic toys are not recyclable, not to mention the pollution involved in the process. Here is a fantastic article to read further on the subject 

So I try to ask the beloved grandparents, relatives and friends, "please, no plastic... they love books, wooden toys, or an outing!" They inevitably think I am mad or cruel for not going gaga over the latest petshop or barbie monstrosity... I await the day when it will be illegal to create anything that is not biodegradable or at the least, recyclable. As for the joys of those plastic toys, reuse someone else’s, there are so many out there that some kid has outgrown, reuse it. It's the only positive thing to do with it now. But for little kids who like to chew toys, beware of the toxic ingredients and avoid them altogether. Here's a book I recommend, that I am currently reading: "Slow death by rubber duck, the secret danger of everyday things" by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. It gives a run down of the enormous amount of dangerous toxins we are absorbing into our bodies everyday from items such as shampoos and cosmetics, Teflon pans, plastic food containers, fire-retardants from our sofas and mattresses and much more. Very readable, with positive solutions and advice. Read it!

The fantastic Vincent-Mastio worm farm.
So how can I justify producing more consumer items to add to the planet's load? Well, I see it like this. I do like to buy the occasional useful, lovely thing. Shoes yes, are one of my main indulgences. I prefer to buy less, but buy something of good quality that will withstand use and give me pleasure for its craftspersonship. I prefer to support an artisan when possible, supporting the continual knowledge of how to build, or grow, or create, where I know the money goes directly to them for their work, rather than purchase from a store where you are very far from the producer and are paying for the many stages along the way.

Inside the wormfarm. It's all connected, right?

I take comfort in the knowledge that my clothing will break down into the soil with the minimal amount of residue. (I've been using a worm farm for the last 20 years to recycle my garden and kitchen wastes and this is a very important issue to me.) Also, being that wool repels dirt, they need little washing and when you do, a simple vegetable soap and water is all that is required. My wool I purchase from a local French farmer who responsibly farms a small flock of merinos. As for the silk, it is produced in Asia (no surprise there), I haven't gone as far as purchasing organic 'peace silk', for silk farming is already low in chemicals as the silk worms are very sensitive to such, and while there are no doubt some questions worth raising about work conditions etc., I have so far not found a solution I am satisfied with. So there you go, more insights into what makes this designer tick, and what ticks her off!

OK, I've finished my rant. Feel a bit better now. Please excuse the indulgence! Better get back to work now, should I feel bad about that? More to think about.....


  1. t'rrific rant, Gina. Maybe that solid looking worm farm also serves as a soapbox from which to pronounce to the world!

    Your indulgence is applauded, noy merely excused.



  2. hi gna. beautiful blog. I am very glad to have found it. your work is inspiring and beneficial.