The inspirations for our fair trade products originate from various sources – starting with the incredible aesthetics we see in nature – the animals and plants you see in our silkscreen series. Much of our color choices derive from the exquisite natural vibrants and rooted colors you see in places of beauty – the pumpkin in Rocky Mountain lichen and the grey of the old rock it grows on. The wine of a fresh purpley willow branch paired perfectly with it’s fresh olive/chartreuse spring leaves. Since one of my passions is food, one of the first things I learn about in a new country is use of their spices and ingredients– and seeing them freshly produced and blended heaped in market stalls is unquestionably a source of our colors – chili, fresh green mint chutney. The current obsession is how to create a mustard or turmeric felt blend.
Designing feels like a fall harvest – observing and gathering together the abundance of the raw materials around us and playing with them in unlikely combinations to see what results. We are on a constant hunt for delicious, responsibly produced and recycled textiles as the foundation of a product – wools, yarn made from the fibre of a banana tree, organic cotton, recycled saris, upcycled plastics reclaimed from the streets. Then come the playful bits – most interestingly found in the most unlikely places – brightly colored new and old buttons in the market places, shockingly beautiful threads, glass beads, material scraps. Most important, we aim to learn more and more about the talents and inherent skills of the artisans we work with so that we can best build from their multi talents.
Bringing it all together happens differently every time – sometimes it’s a pencil to paper sketching and patterning process, creating a graphic image, or collaging photos to blend unlikely combos together. The one common denominator is always loads of conversation back and forth between the fair trade associations and ourselves – and collaborating with the artisans across our languages can add challenge to the mix! Up to 4 months of trying, tripping up, tweaking, pulling and finessing until we love what we see and know it will hold up. (I’ll never forget the time our dog jacket design came back to us with a note titled ‘your dog dress’!!)