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Unpicking the Stitches of Time









Dear Readers,


Welcome to the Winter edition of NSN Magazine. In 2018 we have explored so many artists and this latest edition is no exception in terms of the variety of content and beauty of crafts showcased. In the Traditional Arts, Trades and Crafts section, we feature experiments with wool from Italy, a truly global weaving project, a special section on mending and also two very different crafts: woodworking and pottery! The Sustainable Fashion section hosts the most incredible bags from recycled hosepipes. The No Serial Number Magazine team personally visited the beautiful mill where these bags are made. In the Upcycling section we have something completely different: friendly, travelling mice! In the Innovative Materials section we explore a new product that can filter the air we breathe. I leave you to explore the remaining features of this magazine yourself, but I would like to draw your attention especially to the #plasticfreecrafts campaign that our collaborator Kate Stuart launched back in the summer edition. We now have an online petition and would like to ask everyone to get involved. We hope you will enjoy reading this new issue. We look forward to your feedback, suggestions and comments via email or online.

Alessandra & NSN Team

Editor Alessandra Palange Art Editor Francesca Palange NSN Italy Editor Rosa Rossi Marketing Alessandra Palange Francesca Palange Translations Fuschia Hutton Subscriptions & Advertising Cover Photos Image by Mandy Pattullo, Pink Flower. Finger turned appliqué using French fabrics. Graphic Content: Fonts by Creativeqube Design, By Lef Design, Mainfile, Freepik and desings by whiteheartdesign. Copyright All images are copyright protected and are the property of their respective makers/owners as detailed in each article and photo. No Serial Number Magazine is published four times a year. No responsability will be accepted for any errors or omissions, views expressed or comments by editors, writers or interviewees. No Serial Number Magazine makes all efforts to advertise products that are in accordance with its ethos. However, goods advertised are not necessarily endorsed by No Serial Number Magazine. Information is correct at the time of publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. All prices are accurate at time of going to press but these may change at any time.

No Serial Number Team ALESSANDRA, EDITOR I am a qualitative researcher in the social sciences and education with a keen interest in citizenship. Being the editor of No Serial Number Magazine is a hobby for me, something that I do out of passion and with the belief that there are many things we can do to make the world a better place, one of them is producing and consuming more responsibly as a society. I originally had the idea of this magazine when I started networking with eco-friendly artists, artisans, and creative businesses online for a family startup business. At this point, I realised how diverse and creative the environmental movement really is and thought it would be great to have a place where we could tell all these stories and explore the role of creativity in the search for environmental solutions. If you’d like to propose a story for No Serial Number Magazine you can email me here:

FRANCESCA, ART EDITOR After many years working as a retail manager in the fashion industry, I decided to leave the retail world when I became disenchanted with its focus on profits over the quality of products and the customer experience. I decided to take the leap and start my own business, first by collaborating with eco print artist Michela Pasini and then with my family on the development of No Serial Number Magazine. With time, I became more and more passionate about the graphic design process, so much so that I am now in charge of the design of magazine. I also keep track of emails, sales, and subscriptions, and run the social media pages. If you have any questions about your subscription, a wholesale inquiry or would like to talk about cross-promotion, I am the one to ask! You can contact me here

ROSA, NSN ITALY EDITOR I am a retired Latin and Greek teacher and an avid knitter and crocheter. I have published school textbooks and work as a freelance writer for Pearson Italia. I am also a consultant for various cultural projects in Italy. At the moment, I am managing the development of a new library within the theatre of Caffeina Cultura and Caffeina Cultura’s own bookstore. For No Serial Number Magazine, I am mainly in charge of finding eco-sustainable realities in Italy, where I am based, and writing about them. I also manage the Italian Blog of No Serial Number Magazine, so if you’re interested in No Serial Number Italia, please visit the blog or email me:



Featured contributors. . Michelle Challice

Textile Designer specialising in the fructose indigo vat and biodegradable homewares. Recently relocated back home to Britain and works from a tiny natural dye studio on the Dorset coast. Loves her rescue dog Felek, African and Folk textiles and the British weather. Hates having her photo taken!

Holly Foat

As a freelancer, I’m passionate about supporting the local community and helping local businesses. I also work in ethical marketing, and enjoy promoting sustainable living and blogging about it. I’m a craft and upcycling enthusiast, especially textiles, although I rarely find the time to create as my two young children keep me busy! Blog: Facebook: @EthicalByHeart Twitter: @CaptainHolly

Paige Perillat-Piratoine

I am especially interested in growing the urban fabric. From urban agriculture to biomaterials, I work with projects that contribute to a more organic cityscape and report on the people that make the steps in that direction.

Lucy Sobrero

I was born and grew up in London and then as an adult lived in rural Piemonte, Italy, where my father came from, for over 25 years. Language tutor, translator, mother, and grandmother, I am passionate about natural crafts and textiles and fiercely opposed to cheap mass production, sweatshop labour and throw away fashion. I love communal activities and projects that engage and inspire people of all ages without costing the earth. I particularly enjoy sharing NSN’s stories about Italian artisans, translating for NSN and contributing with articles on craftspeople and projects in the U.K. I also like sewing, felting and a make do and mend lifestyle. I volunteer at a refugee centre in Birmingham and also with my local park.

DO YOU WANT TO WRITE FOR US? GET IN TOUCH!! If you are passionate about

crafts, art, design, social projects, zero waste and all the other

subjects that we cover in our

magazine then get in touch and you could become one of

Kate Stuart

our contributors.

I’m a practising artist, writer, craftswoman and environmental activist based in the North East of England. I specialise in upcycling, zero waste living, quilting and painting with acrylic on canvas. Website: Etsy Shop: Facebook and Instagram: @thephoenixgreenstore

All you need to do is to send us an email to We also have opportunities to write for our blog so get in touch!




The Beginning of the World Wide Weave Project

12. Paints and Pigments in the Past 14. Discovering a Salvage Project at the LANA VIVA Studio


Mouse in the House

18. Experiments With Appenninica Wool


20. Tutorial: Maria Tavares’ Candle Holder 24. The Resurgence of Mending Clothes, in a World of Over Production

Clog Maker

27. Oversize Knee Patch Tutorial 30. Unpicking the Stitches of Time Exploring the Work of Mandy Pattullo 34. Melissa Weiss: The Handbuilt Potter 38. A Clog Maker Shares Some Wood Working Skills in a Birmingham Suburb SUSTAINABLE FASHION 42. Through Fire and Water. Reclamation According to Elvis & Kresse UPCYCLING HUB 46. Mouse in the House

Melissa Weiss

INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 52. theBreath: Fabric Panels for


Breathable Air HOME CHRONICLES 56. Tessa Jane: Paintings with Purpose MULTIFUNCTIONAL GARDEN 60. Mud & Bloom 63. Make a Conker Spider Web ZERO WASTE 64. Calling Creatives to Action NSN Plastic Free Craft Campaign 66. Make a Gift Bag From Recycled Paper in Under Two Minutes 68. Crop Drop PROJECTS FOR THE PLANET PETITIONS




Tessa Jane





Each issue is created with love: love for our world heritage and love for the environment. We are really passionate about meeting creative people that put all their effort in combining these two elements - that’s why this magazine exists! In this day and age we desperately need to change the way we live, consume and produce. We hope that with this magazine we are contributing towards this goal. If you love what you see purchase today and help us grow and reach more people!

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ARTICLE SUBMISSION & BOOK REVIEWS We are proud to have a global readership so we are always curious to learn of sustainable creative initiatives around the world. You can now submit your story directly by visiting our new SUBMIT YOUR STORY page on the website

Spring Issue 2019 • Handmade Paper and Natural Dyes • Colours From Pigments • Quilting • Nettles for Textiles • Environmental Art • Innovative Materials • Zero Waste & Much More ... 

OUT ON 23.03.2019

PINTEREST Follow our Pinterest boards for vintage fashion, traditional toys, natural colours, textile design, ecofriendly ideas & recommended books noserialnumber





The Beginning of the World Wide Weave Project Questionnaire by NSN Team Photography by Maria Clarke-Wilson and Mark Wilson

Textile designer and natural dyer Maria Clarke-Wilson tells us about her fascinating project of gathering yarn from natural dyers across the world to create a wonderful woven piece. In this interview, she tells us about the colours and the people she came across along the way who inspired this project.

Tell us a bit about you and your training? How did you become a weaver and natural dyer and why? When did you first come across botanical dyes? And why did you pursue this? I started a Master Degree in Textile Design at Norwich University of Arts (NUA) after many years of working in education as a teacher and consultant. I had always wanted to go to art school. I was fortunate to be accepted onto the course even though I did not have a background in textiles. My life is full of creative pursuits, such as painting, drawing and I am passionate about fabric and yarns and my home is filled with things from various projects.

loom and weave structured pieces. My first weave was dyed using plants from my garden, windfall willow bark, daffodils and rosemary. The warp process was quite challenging and although I planned and carried out a mediative weave session over 2 days, the structure and repetitiveness of the pattern left me searching for something more in tune with my expressive and free flowing creative ideas. As a child I was passionate about nature and all things natural, and in my adult life I’d lost sight of this. My desire to immerse myself in nature and to use environment for creating and researching the colours from homelands drove for my leap into the world of natural and botanical dyes. It is a vast and exciting journey with many variations. It alters with the seasons, water used and planetary alignments. Once I’d begun voyage of discovery - of art, chemistry and textiles there was no other option for me but to develop my skills and

After attending skills development workshops at NUA, I was very quickly drawn to trying natural dyes rather then synthetic options. Weaving was something I wanted to develop further. I set about learning how to prepare fibres, warp a



knowledge of natural dyeing through my academic research.

a ‘reach out’ to global communities and a success story something that contributes to something much bigger.

When you first thought about doing the World Wide Weave Project during your daily meditation, what motivated you to pursue this idea? Is there a message? I was spending a lot of time in my garden, often meditating and connecting with the energy from the earth. As an education consultant, my field was speech and communication, and part of my current practice involves making connections and developing communication.

We can all do a little bit to make the world a better, safer and more enjoyable place to be. When we all do our bit, something significant can come out of it. It’s an established model - but its nature - using natural resources gathered from around the world brings with it something more. It’s something Mother Nature knows- there’s a message in there from the core of the planet. What do you hope to achieve by exhibiting this work around the world? First of all I want the collaborators experience having the work with them. To hold it and feel the energy and enjoyment the piece brings. It has already been to Gran Canaria and it’s currently on its way to Tasmania. It was Rita who suggested that she exhibit the work, which then prompted the invitation to any of the collaborators to offer to host and exhibit.

Drawing on this experience I wanted to see if I could reach out and bring natural dyers together. I had already been in contact with a community of eco-dyers around the world and had a feeling that this project would bring joy to anyone who took part. I wanted to make it accessible and open, so that anyone who wanted to contribute would be welcome. I also was curious to see just how far this could reach. I’m skilled at project management thanks to my corporate roles and it feels really good to be able to manage something this wonderful.

Each piece arrives separately and I think it’s fantastic that it can travel back around the world as one big collection. I know its arrival is greatly anticipated and I’m sure the collaborators are with me when I say that it’s just a great feel-good piece. Something wonderful to be part of and to host.

My message would be to reach out - because there are people out there who are willing to reach back. Within this Weave there are many messages, global communities, connection of spirits, individual narratives and collective achievements. It’s a privilege to have hosted and curated this work.

I also want the collaborators to be able to share with their communities this global project. Something they’ve contributed to but never seen or held feels rather dry. It’s so much more exciting to take part and to receive the work and exhibit it whenever this is possible.

What has this project come to symbolise? Has the meaning behind this project changed since the project began? It symbolises a positive way to use modern technology to bring creative people together to work collaboratively. It’s

What have you got in the pipeline? Do you think you will do a similar project in the future?



So there’s lots more in the pipeline. I’m heading towards my final Master project this year. I have another Saori Weave project I’m planning which will focus on the colours from my homelands and the colours from my life. I want to generate another global collaboration, this time exploring botanical printing. I’m currently working on the project proposal and briefing and I’ll be ready to roll out the project in the Spring. I’m really excited about this one too and hope that Iit will generate interest and engagement. Which one is your favourite yarn? Can you describe it to us and tell us how it was made? This is such a difficult question to answer because all of the yarns are very unique and special and to me, and are extensions of the people who made them. So to choose one over another feels somehow not in keeping with the projects’ nature. I know a little about how each one was made, the skill and wisdom that went into each dye bath and the trust and commitment to the project, so for me they are all my favourite. When I was weaving the yarns, I’d named them after the people who made them, so I was weaving a little bit of Rita here and a bit of Sabine there. It brought them all closer while I worked. Why did you use the Saori Weaving technique for this project? I wanted to find an alternative to the weaving I’d already experienced. It’s something more suited to my work, which offered a more expressive and intuitive way of working. Another student mentioned a nearby place where Saori weaving workshops take place. It was so fortunate that a Saori Tutor and The Saori Shed were literally on my doorstep. I took a course and developed an understanding of the philosophy behind this weaving practice. It was absolutely what I had been searching for in my own work, and for this project. I did not know what I would receive in the post. I couldn’t predict or anticipate a way to weave the yarns until they were all with me. The expressive nature of Saori weaving was perfect to ensure that these beautiful yarns were woven together. I had a system - weaving each piece in the order has arrived - but then ensuring that everyone’s contribution was woven into everyone else’s. Saori weaving is a beautiful way to work with fibres and feels like painting with yarns. It’s expressive and intuitive and embraces a humanistic approach to creating new textiles. You mention on your website that each piece of yarn was sent to you by different eco dyers from around the world, from the Facebook group Eco-dyeing with Friends. It must have been an amazing experience! Can you select some contributors and tell us about the plants and colours that they used to dye the yarns? It was an amazing experience. Each story of the yarns or fibres being spun, plants gathered, fibres prepared, dye baths made, messages written and trips to post the packages were in my mind when I opened the parcel. Holding the yarns in my hands, I felt such a connection knowing the journey they’d made to get to me. I could imagine the hands that tied the little knots that I was now untying. My collaborators were all keen to keep in touch and the communication between us was a huge part of the work. I’d share the contents of each parcel with the group when it arrived, trying to make everyone feel as much a part of it as I could. They would often say when they’d sent the parcels and I’d imagine images of the landscapes, fields of sheep and works in progress. Each parcel would be eagerly anticipated: the whole household would be so excited when it finally arrived. (See page 11 for Maria’s selection of contributors)



When you were receiving all these parcels, what did you learn from the eco-dyers and their processes? Did you learn anything new? And if yes, what did you learn? I learnt so much about people, about process and about fibres. The colours and the texture, the stories, letters and the little gifts I was sent. Each collaborator used their own resources, methods and ways of working. There is such diversity in the colours from nature. Yet they are harmonious - this is botanical magic. My collaborators are a wonderful, generous, kind and loving group of unique and special women who have embraced this project and shared with me their passion for their craft and their joy at being part of this project. I am always learning and there is always something new to learn. The spinners in the group opened my eyes to new ideas of how you can combine natural dyeing with spinning. I also felt a huge responsibility to deliver: so many projects get started and then fizzle out. I had set a deadline and arranged an exhibition so there was a focus. Having this as a final outcome was essential. Curating an exhibition was a new skill to learn. We orepared the exhibition so that it could be boxed up and sent as a complete exhibition, rather than a collection of things for the hosts to then curate themselves. I wanted to try and do all the work so that the hosts could just enjoy exhibiting their work with ease. The exhibition included a large map with the locations of the dyers, all their yarns and messages and the weave piece with samples of the yarns and the weave was displayed like a landscape. During the exhibition I hosted another collaboration which gave the visitors the opportunity to weave a little bit. In contrast to the worldwide weave, this piece was all dyed by me but woven by 24 other hands - all leaving their woven signature on the piece.

Following this, the exhibition will be in these places. Ulitasloom, Las Palamas, Gran Canaria, Spain Hosted by Ulrike Guse Mamie Schoolhouse- Cape Breton Island, Canada Hosted by Mel Sweetham Gone Rustic Studio and Gallery -Tasmania, Australia Hosted by Rita Summers

Maria runs a Studio and Gallery in Wickham Market Suffolk, where she creates naturally dyed fabrics for fashion accessories and living spaces and also offers a variety of natural dyeing workshops including botanical printing and indigo.There will be a spring programme of workshops available early in the new year. Maria operates a open studio all year round which you are very welcome to visit.

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @mybotanicalbeing IG: @botancialbeing 10

Some of the Contributors to the World Wide Weave Project Isabelle Langlois (Quebec, Canada) Isabelle’s was the first parcel to arrive and contained all these wools dyed with black walnut, Rudbeckia flowers, onion skins, and St. Johns Wart flowers. They all work so harmoniously together.

Sabine Kilb (Germany) A beautiful array of yarns from Sabine including yarns dyed with beetroot, marigold and blackberries using silk noil and wool. This was a delightful parcel to receive and like all of them was beautifully packaged, Sabine included a message and a little gift. Heidi Stucki (Switzerland) Using eco dyed fabric strips of cotton and silk, Heidi’s contribution offered a beautiful and subtle texture to the weave. I needed to use it sparing but managed to weave her fabric into everyone else.

Rita Summers (Tasmania, Australia) Rita has been a central part of the project with support and advice from the other side of the world. Sending a parcel full of yarn and cottons dyed with rosemary. We are both excited about the weave arriving in Tasmania soon, where Rita will host the exhibition.

Ulrike Guese (Gran Canaria, Spain) These vibrant yarns were hand spun with Merino and Alpaca and dyed in cochineal from Gran CanariaUli also hosted an exhibition in November showcasing the worldwide weave and has since shipped the exhibition to Tasmania. We are making some plans to get together one day. Mel Sweetnam (Cape Breton, Canada) Mel grows and forages all her dye plants and is committed to materials and process that minimise ecological footprints. Mel’s yarns are dyed with white spruce cones, roots and flowers from an invasive Alcea Rosea and golden rod. We have plans to send the exhibition to Cape.

Michelle Stirling (Highland of Scotland) Earth colours celebrate through the hand spun fibres dyed in the Highlands with Yellow Gorse flowers and yellow Cow parsley and crotal from rocks. This arrived with a little handmade booklet and petals from the flowers Michelle used.

Pamela Silva (NC, USA) Created a beautiful skein of hand-spun and dyed yarn using Local Corriedale and Lincoln Wool and adding a small bit of hornets nest-dyed with Indigo and Quebracho. Such a celebration of her work and a beautiful varied yarn.


Paints and Pigments in the Past (PPIP) – Decorating the Antonine Wall Distance Stones Dr Louisa Campbell, HES Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology, University of Glasgow As part of her Paints and Pigments in the Past (PPIP) research project generously funded by Historic Environment Scotland Dr Louisa Campbell has just completed a programme of analysis on Scotland’s exquisite Roman relief-sculpted sandstones commonly known as the Antonine Wall Distance Stones. After noticing the remains of reddish pigment on significant areas of the sculptures, Dr Campbell analysed them non-destructively by portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and Raman Spectrometry to test the hypothesis that they had originally been adorned with pigments in vibrant polychrome and to identify the colours used. Roman paintings on wall plaster are well attested from across the Empire and recipes for the pigments used as well as techniques for their preparation and application survive from contemporary writers, most notably Pliny’s Natural History and Vitruvius’ De Archetectura. Polychromy on sculptures are similarly well attested through various sources, including small traces of surviving pigment on marble statuary or images of painted statues in frescoes and mosaics . This has led to a burgeoning scholarly interest in polychromy on Classical sculpture, albeit this is largely restricted to marble and bronze. Poor survival of the pigments due to post depositional processes make their authentic reconstruction challenging, but recent transdisciplinary approaches combining archaeological investigation with scientific analysis allow for the characterisation of compounds, using both micro-sampling and nondestructive techniques.

Roman conquest of the region and perhaps to stoke competition between legions constructing segments of the wall. Of the 19 known examples, 17 are held in the collections of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow (Fig. 1), another is in the Glasgow Museums collections, while the most easterly, and arguably most extravagantly decorated, is held by the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (Fig.2). Dr Campbell’s work has confirmed these unique monumental sculptures were indeed once decorated in colour, bringing the iconographic scenes to life and highlighting inscribed text. Despite having access to an extensive range of pigments, it is clear the artisans used a restricted palette of colours mostly dominated by reds and yellows on the Antonine Wall Distance Stones and there was a proscriptive format to their application in clearly defined contexts. The results confirm, for example, that the letters were depicted in red – either madder red, possibly mixed with realgar to provide depth of colour, or red ochre. Other reds were used on features, including minium (red lead) to denote freshly spilled blood on captured northern warriors fresh from battle with Roman cavalrymen who have chased them down on horseback carrying military standards coloured with red ochre and wearing similarly coloured cloaks. Yellow ochres and lustrous golden-like orpiment have also been used. The results of the research will soon be published in full, but this exciting and innovative work confirms that sculptures on the furthermost boundaries of the Roman Empire were not the static, brown and lifeless objects that we are accustomed to seeing in our museums today. But rather, they were vibrant, colourful and life-like representations of Romans, their enemies and their deities and they provide an incredibly valuable insight into life on the Roman frontier.

Monumental relief sculptures are an important medium through which Roman artists provided background and cultural context to mythological, religious or historical events such as the iconic scenes of the Roman army on campaign depicted on the columns of Trajan and of Marcus Aurelius in Rome. The incorporation of iconography and epigraphy on the Antonine Wall Distance Stones combine commemoration, monumentalisation and propoganda. The Antonine Wall was Rome’s most northwesterly frontier – a massive turf rampart set on a stone base that cleaved a route across Scotland’s Forth-Clyde isthmus for a distance of 37 miles and separated the Roman-controlled region to the south from the non-Roman north. The distance stones were carved from locally quarried sandstone and recovered from along the line of the Wall - they constitute the most impressive epigraphic evidence recovered from any Roman frontier. The sculptures contain dedications in abbreviated Latin to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, who commissioned the mural barrier around 142 AD, and provide detail on the distance constructed by the three legions stationed on the frontier. Some also contain iconographic images of life on the frontier, including depictions of the subjugation of troublesome northern tribes and religious practice with the Legions’ favoured deities. They are propagandist tools to commemorate



Discovering a Salvage Project at the LANA VIVA Studio Words by NSN Team Photography by Elia Palange


salvage project, from wool to finished product. To tell this story, we visited Maria, a young Portuguese woman whose training has been strongly affected by her personal passions. Her story began in Lisbon, where she was born. She moved to Porto to study architecture, then spent some time in Denmark, on Bornholm Island, where she lived with architects (ceramists) for a while. This was a time when craft businesses run from the traditional house-shops on the island were experiencing something of a renaissance. She then moved permanently to the hills of Emilia Romagna in central Italy, not far from Cesena, the hometown of Paolo, who she studied architecture with in Porto. Together, they realised their dream of living in the country and having a ‘home studio’.

and Paolo’s house lies at the top of a hill. It is an ode to the slow life, with a special nod to the scenery. Maria welcomes us in, waiting to tell us her story; just like all stories, it is special and unique. A tradition peculiar to Portugal, her name is formed of all the family surnames: Maria Joao Tavares das Neves Viegas Pimentel. It was in Portugal that Maria’s family taught her to knit and crochet - as was common practice there in the seventies and eighties. These skills have kept a special place in her heart ever since. Maria, despite her chosen studies, was not sure that she wanted to pursue architecture as a career. Instead, she was drawn more to work which would combine her creativity and manual skills, clearly influenced by her background in traditional craft. She continually searched for the perfect field where she could realise her ambitions. When personal reasons led to Maria and Paolo finally choosing Italy as their permanent home and they bought a house and small farm, they found their work cut out for them.

The road which leads us to Maria’s house is an endless undulation of hills. As the crow flies, it is very close to the starting point of our journey, Cesena. However, once we have left the plains, the road becomes uneven, continuously rolling hills blend into each other until we reach Ardiano (Roncofreddo, Forlì-Cesena), where Maria 14


Skeins of different wool

And thus, they chose to take on a real challenge; Maria, born a city dweller, became a convert to country life and began breeding Appenninica sheep native to Italy Apennines. Soon into this new life, she discovered something which she suspected but hadn’t really known. In these places, traditionally home to flocks, shepherds and sheepdogs, wool had become a problem. The flocks continued to provide meat, and milk to the local cheese makers, but their wool had become a real problem. Since traditional crafts like crochet and knitting had been almost completely abandoned, wool was no longer used for mattresses, quilts, or pillows. It had become a special waste that was difficult and expensive to get rid of. Having a passion and a knack for crochet and knitting, something you never forget even if you neglect them for years, Maria imagined a new future for her Appenninica flock’s wool. She set off on a journey of rediscovery and learning.

Woven experiments

But what she had in mind went beyond simply knowing how to knit with readymade balls or skeins of wool. Rescuing the wool began at the moment of shearing, in spring. And so, Maria became acquainted with the sheep’s fleeces. After her flock’s annual shearing, the fleeces piled up in the barn attached to the house, which is gradually being transformed by the architect couple. Maria’s work began. She learned to sort the fleeces, wash them, card them, and then spin the wool on the spindle and spinning wheel. At the start, she did everything alone, but soon realised that to make reasonably-priced products she would have to speed up the timings. She found new ways to transform the wool. She washed the small amounts she used for hand spinning and felt making on her own and took them to an old mattress-maker in Cesena to be carded by machine. Larger amounts were sorted and taken to a spinning mill to be transformed from Appenninica wool into skeins of two different thicknesses, ready to be knitted, crocheted, or

Woven experiments 15


woven. Out of all the techniques Maria used to transform the wool, she couldn’t choose a favourite. Or rather, she didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. And so, she began to experiment with felting, creating a series of different products. Creating fashion and home accessories, she never dwelled on one technique. Her skills grew in tune with her creativity. She didn’t neglect colour, quickly combining the white cream hue of the Appenninica sheep wool with the subtle natural shades of plants and roots that grow in the local area, and the colours of the eye-catching wools she bought from other suppliers and combined with her beloved Appenninica wool. She is constantly experimenting in her felt studio (see Small homewares: Appenninica wool candle holder). But Maria isn’t satisfied. As soon as she has finished experimenting with one shape, she straight away begins experimenting with another! And of course, her production phases correspond with the run up to fairs where she exhibits and sells her work. Appenninica wool is not as soft as other wool types, which are consolidated on the market. However, it lends well to a variety of techniques that can be used for clothing and furnishing. And this is Maria’s challenge: obtaining a wool that is ideal for both clothing and the home. For example, it is ideal for blankets, pillows, and pouffes. But also sweaters, jackets, and gilets. It is a rustic yarn that adapts well to Maria’s love of crochet and knitting. It is impossible to forget that a yarn can become a fabric. Maria never forgets this. Her experiments at the loom are strewn across the studio. These are small panels made from threads of different colours and fibres to original effect. They are ready to be transformed into bags or homewares.

Felt experiments

The photos speak louder than words and tell of Maria’s lively experiments. As we say goodbye, I catch myself wondering whether there is a subtle parallel between her fabric panels and Lisbon’s azulejos. This link has taken Maria from traditional Portuguese ceramics and knitting to her experiments with an undervalued wool. A wool that once met all the needs of the local population in this part of Italy (a stone’s throw from some of Italy’s most internationally famous beaches). In the last decades, this custom has been destroyed by mass-production that costs little in terms of money but a high price in terms of underpaid work in faraway countries. Although Maria no longer breeds sheep, she has never forgotten her passion for Appenninica wool, and her business continues because of the wool she collects and salvages from local breeders and mattresses found in loft clear outs. This means that this precious and continually renewable raw material stays out of landfill, saving high disposal costs.

Felt experiments

Maria’s salvage work is clearly a sign that the tide is turning. It shows that by salvaging and reusing materials in a way that is sensitive to the past and future-facing, we can save the world from the mass of waste we produce.

for alial 8 e1 ori g t a u p T to er d l n r o Tu le H d n a sC ’ a i ar

Felt experiments

M 16


Felt cases

Natural white socks with natural-coloured inserts made of fine yarn

Gilet knitted with thick yarn

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @LANAVIVA IG: @lana_viva_mjtavarespimentel and @lana.viva_feltro

Felt experiments 17


Experiments With Appenninica Wool Words by NSN Team Photography by Elia Palange


hen I left Maria’s studio, not only did I possess a complete picture of her salvage project and the diversity of her experiments with Appenninica wool, but I also had two skeins of her precious wool in my hands. These are Maria’s contributions to my own desire to experiment.

I am deciding what to do with the wool, the cover of a book I bought out of curiosity appears in my mind. I am encouraged by my conviction that knitting is also a cultural aspect that is a bit ignored by the general public these days, but is actually worthy of our attention. The book – Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans. Fishermen’s Sweaters from the British Isles by Gladys Thompson – dates back to 1971, but can be easily found on the second-hand market. It is full of information from across the British Isles about knitting fishermen’s sweaters.

To be honest, I didn’t really have a clear idea what to do with them, although I was convinced that a good bit of knitting would transform them into something wearable. I am an incurable knitting lover, I even love the type of big projects that spend a long time in my work basket. I imagined the wool would be perfect for warm blankets for winter evenings, when I curl up in my armchair with a book in my hands. Or perhaps it would make a good bedspread, a welcome addition for those of us whose sustainable lifestyle extends also to energy-saving.

The patterns are from genuine jumpers and the stitches and traditional designs have been carefully reproduced. The text is accompanied by photos of the jumpers and details of the knitting process and diagrams. When I set to work, I began with those which seemed easiest to reproduce and that I would be able to reuse. I had in mind something simple that could be used for modern garments, happily ‘roaming’ between English country villages with the dream of perhaps visiting some of them one day. I was taken by the century-old stories behind each pattern. As I worked on one swatch, my mind was already on the next. I then surprised myself, speculating on potential pairings and variations. Because, as any knitter knows, a knit, a purl, and a slip can all give incredibly different results!

At that point, with two skeins of wool, I had to think small. Perhaps some pattern swatches that I could easily use at a later date. Of course, just like all knitting lovers, I have accumulated a pile of magazines and books on the subject. There are certainly enough pattern books for inspiration. Just as 18


Book cover and Appenninica wool

Swatch 4 Tree and Bars (No specific place of origin, in the Scottish Fleet patterns section) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)

Unnamed swatch (from Caistor, Lincolnshire) - 6mm needles (UK size 4)

Swatch 5 Flag and Bar (No specific place of origin, in the Scottish Fleet patterns section) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)

Swatch 2 Anchor pattern (from Fife county, in the Scottish Fleet patterns section) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)

Swatch 6 pattern from a gansey, c.1900 (from Sheringham, Norfolk) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)

Swatch 3 The well-known kilt or flag pattern (from Fife county, in the Scottish Fleet patterns section) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)

Swatch 7 Robin Hood’s Bay pattern (from Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire) – 3 mm needles (UK size 11)



TUTORIAL - Maria Tavares’ Candle Holder Photography by Elia Palange

Step 1: With a pen, draw four circles on a sheet of bubble

Step 4: Cover all four circles with a mosquito net.

Step 2: Position small tufts of white wool like fish scales

Step 5: Spray the circles of wool with very hot water, soap

Step 3: Place a few thin tufts of coloured wool over the

Step 6: Next, roll everything up in the bamboo mat and

wrap (you can reuse this several times) on top of a bamboo mat: two with a 28cm diameter and two with a 20cm diameter.

until all the circles are covered.

them with Marseille soap and delicately rub the fibres.

white wool.

roll for several minutes.



Step 7: Carefully remove the circles from the bubble wrap.

Step 8:

Carefully place the four circles on top of each other, beginning with the 2 biggest. With a needle and white thread, baste the four layers together, creating a small circle of around 5 cm.

Step 9:

Wet everything again with hot water and soap, roll into a ball with your hands, pausing every now and again to separate the layers as they tend to stick together during the felting process. 21


Step 10:

Step 11:

Step 12: Place it on your chosen mould and hit with a

Once the fibres are well-felted (i.e. the felt is relatively resistant), place the four layers with the coloured sides facing down on an earthenware pot or another resistant object which you like the shape of. Wet and soap them again so they take on the shape.

wooden beater so it takes on the shape permanently.

Step 13: Open the various layers with your hands to create

Carefully rinse with cold water, then squeeze and roll in a towel to remove the excess water.

a flowery shape. Then leave to dry.



Step 14: Once dry, the candle holder is ready. All you need to do is place a small glass bowl and small candle in the middle of the flower.





The Resurgence of Mending Clothes, in a World of Over Production Why Mending Matters, with Katrina Rodabaugh Words by Kate Stuat Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh published by Abrams Books with photos by Karen Pearson


can remember, as clear as if it were yesterday, sitting beside my mother as she showed me how to darn a sock – watching her swift fingers lift the wool with the needle – over and under, over and under – like weaving, only on a tiny scale. Some of my clearest childhood memories of my mother are wrapped around craft. The little poem we were taught to remember where to put our wool when we were knitting. The patient rethreading of my needle whilst I learnt to sew badges on my Girl Guide uniform. Drawing secret pictures with her tailors’ chalk. Clothes in our house were hardly ever new, and were always, always mended. The mending of clothes was part of our heritage – skills handed down from one generation to the next. My grandmother had a wooden darning mushroom, hand carved and worn with age – goodness knows how old it is – it lives with my sewing things now and I think of her every time I hold it in my hands. I remember her crafting too, always making, stitching, mending. The women who came before me have poured their stitching, singing, craft loving genes into me and I hear their presence resonate every time I pick up a needle and thread.

“My mom”, Katrina tells me, “was always working on a fibre arts project—quilting, sewing, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, etc. So, I grew up with this sense of normalcy around making. I started and stopped numerous creative projects as a kid. But when I was a senior in high school I dropped my calculus class to take a sewing class instead. That class taught me so much about garment sewing and my mom was a huge support as I made my first garments. She insisted I hand-stitch the hem on my final class project and I thought this was some strange form of punishment. But she wanted me to understand the importance of craftsmanship and really go the extra mile. Now, of course, I love hand-stitching and usually prefer to hand-stitch all my dress hems.” Katrina, who lives in a 200-year-old farmhouse in the Hudson valley, USA, is known now for so much more than hand stitching dress hems - her visible mending alone has inspired thousands of people across the globe to begin thoughtful and meditative stitching projects. Influenced by Sashiko stitching and Wabisabi, she tells me it “embraces imperfections, asymmetry, and the effects of weather and time to change patina, add character, or shift texture. Wab-sabi might encourage an unfinished seam if it didn’t affect the overall function of the textile. It might accept the tear in a worn garment because that garment was well-loved but through mending it offers even greater value—it creates an opportunity for richness and enhancement that wouldn’t be there otherwise. But it’s also”, she continues, “a somewhat minimalist approach of ‘just enough’ [which] lends itself so beautifully to repair work. You can see this philosophy in the Japanese Boro garments and original Sashiko stitching. My mending work is very influenced by Japanese Boro and I love this approach. But you can also see a similar aesthetic in cross-cultural repairs like antique European darning in homespun linen or even in my great grandmother’s patchwork American quilts. Repair work was just ingrained in domestic life and in fashion.”

In the acknowledgements section at the back of her new book, Mending Matters, published this Autumn, author and awardwinning artist and crafter Katrina Rodabaugh nods to the family lines of the women who came before her too – a “lineage of stitches” she calls it. A thank you to the women who raised her in craft and fired her early connection to making and mending.

An Environmental Studies major in college, she turned to Creative Writing as her major in graduate school but was encouraged by her book arts Professor to connect her fibre art work into her studies. Her professor, she told me, “convinced me to consider my informal training with my mom as central to my creative work. So, I started creating large fibre installations, collaborating with performing artists making sets, costumes, and interactive exhibits, and through this work I came to my current work with mending, dyeing, and sustainable fashion.” However, it was the Fashion Revolution movement that brought the inspiration for Katrina’s Make Thrift Mend project, initially due to be just a year long, but which has continued to shape her work to this day. “Make Thrift Mend started in August 2013,” Katrina explains, “just four months after the Rana Plaza factory collapse. It was 25


created as a social practice project or “art as action” meant to be a one-year personal project. For one year I didn’t buy any new clothing and instead I focused on making simple garments, buying second-hand, and mending what I already owned. I quickly added that I’d only buy second-hand clothing if it was biodegradable because I could dye it with foraged plant dyes. But the year’s end came quickly, and I decided to add another year but allowed myself new purchases if they were locally or homemade. The second year ended, and I decided I’d do a third year but would buy new garments if they were ethicallymade and prioritized organic cotton. The next year I kept going but looked more closely at the materials in my studio—how could I purchase tools and materials that were as sustainable as possible? And the fifth year I turned back to making garments again prioritizing fabrics in my stash, upcycling thrift store fabrics, or dyeing my materials with plants. What I thought would be a one-year art project really was the start of a lifestyle change, a new teaching trajectory, and a career path. It’s my heart’s work. I’m so glad I took the plunge and started the project five years ago.”

have with the materials and people who make our clothes falls away when you learn the impact on people and planet and see clothes in terms of resources and human cost. Making your own clothes, as our ancestors did without question, brings the reality of true value home. As Katrina tells me, “when we realize the resources (time, materials, craftsmanship) required to make one dress from handwoven fabric then we cherish it differently. Just fifty years ago, it was unthinkable to toss away a garment because it had a simple tear in the knee.” In the work not just of mending her own clothes, but sharing that mending knowledge and bringing visible mending back into our collective consciousness to ensure the longevity of clothes in respect of their true value, Katrina Rodabaugh is making waves. From workshops and her new book to the simple act of using social media to encourage everyone from experienced stitchers to first time menders, she has opened the conversation on a subject that has been long overdue, and the impact is keenly felt, both in the choices people are making in terms of new additions to their wardrobes, and in how they maintain their clothing. “I think there are typically five ways that folks are engaging with slow fashion wardrobes”, Katrina explains. “Homemade, ethically-made, second-hand, fashion fasts, and minimalist. For most of us it’s some combination of the above, but some folks are more exclusively focused in one area like a minimalist wardrobe or homemade wardrobe. But I always encourage folks to just consider the very next garment. If you’re going to buy a new shirt can it be second-hand? Can you

Katrina’s Make Thrift Mend project connects with her passion for sustainable, ethical and slow fashion, and to the overall belief that, as quoted during Fashion Revolution Week, “loved clothes last”. The idea of value becomes keenly felt when you have made your own clothes, or repaired clothes with respect to the person whose time and energy and resourcefulness have gone in to their creation. The disconnect so many of us 26


Oversize Knee Patch

make it? Can you purchase it from an ethical designer? Or can you only shop biodegradable fibers like organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool, or silk? There are so many ways to embrace slow fashion but it’s just one garment at a time.”


Taking this advice to heart and really thinking through every single garment that comes into your wardrobe feels like such an important way to contribute to reducing the global impact of the textiles industry. But tending to the clothes already part of our wardrobes and using the skills Katrina shares in her new book the potential is there to have even greater bearing on the environmental and social devastation that the fashion industry can no longer wash its hands of. Tossing garments in the bin that could still be worn with just a handful of stitches, a patch or a darn, needs to become as outlawed as the idea of throwing food away because it’s not the right shape or a day past its sell-by date. The planet can no longer sustain our throwaway culture.

Sometimes less really is more. One confident repair can rejuve- nate an entire garment. There’s something so satisfying about playing with scale and using an oversize patch on beloved blue jeans. It might seem like the simplest fix, but it’s also an oppor- tunity to make the biggest design decisions. Color, scale, lines, texture, and composition can all work harmoniously in a single patch. An oversize patch will cover the tear and any damaged area around it, so this is a good choice for denim that is already very distressed and results in fading, thinning, weakening pant legs from calf to thigh. It’s like a large work of art you hang above your sofa because it’s your absolute favorite and you want it to be the focal point. In this project, your favorite scrap of fabric will occupy center stage.

There are however, many people for whom patched and worn clothes still equate to “less” in terms of social standing, and for whom the idea of wearing a garment that has been mended is just a step too far. But by introducing mending as an aesthetic that can enhance and improve the wearability of clothes, there is hope that as a society, we can for once and for all place the people, time and resources involved in making clothes above perceived notions of status or class related to dress. Bringing visible mending to the table, along with the inspirational skills and experience Katrina offers in her workshops and tutorials is an example of true craftivism. With the rise of the zero-waste movement, and the realisation so many of us are making that our global economic drive for ever more “stuff” is unsustainable, Katrina’s work to engage people in the joyful and important work of mending their clothes is a call to action.


XC Garment to be mended Iron XC Tape measure or ruler Fabric scissors XC Fabric scrap XC Straight pins or safety pins XC Washable fabric marker, such as tailor’s chalk or a quilter’s pen XC Sashiko thread XC Sashiko needles XC Embroidery scissors or snips for cutting thread (optional) XC Thimble (optional) Needle-nose pliers (optional)

“Many of us were raised with a mindset that mended clothing was somehow shameful or, at the very least, not prideful. But this is really shifting now. Visible mending has offered a new outlook on repair. Mending can be beautiful, irreverent, subversive, intentional, and also empowering. I see my work as an art activist. My tools are that of a fibre artist, but my vision is that of social change. I want folks to reconsider their relationship to consumption and find alternatives to fast fashion. I want fashion to be meaningful, ethical, and foster a deeper connection to the environment and sustainable living. And I hope I might offer some inspiration or encouragement for making these shifts. But, mostly, I think Slow Fashion is about mindfulness. Sure, we can substitute an organic cotton t-shirt for a conventionallygrown cotton t-shirt and that’s one solution. But reconsidering if we need that t-shirt, how it was constructed, how the fibres will biodegrade, if the factory workers were paid a fair wage, or if we can make it or purchase it second-hand instead—that’s a shift in mindset. That mindset allows for lifestyle changes. Slow Fashion looks differently for everyone based on economics, aesthetics, professions, cultures, geography, etc. but that’s what excites me too—the solutions are varied and endless.” I am certainly inspired by the work of Katrina Rodabaugh, in both my recognition of the need to mend, and in the impact that the creative mending of our clothes can have long term for the earth and everything living upon it. I’m inspired to return to the stitching and repairing that was such a normal part of life for all the women who came before me, and to take up the banner for the women and men whose energy and time and connection is poured into the very fibres of the clothes that I buy and wear. Love clothes DO last, especially when they are mended with mindfulness.



Lay the garment flat on your work surface. Iron if needed. Measure the fade or tear, adding 1⁄2 to 1 inch (1.3–2.5 cm) to all sides. Be generous: It’s better to make a patch that’s too big than too small. For example, if your tear is 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, cut a patch that’s 2 or3 inches (5–7.5 cm) wide. This will allow you to cover the hole as well as the damaged, frayed, or weakened areas around it and to sew your patch into strong fabric. You will also have fabric to turn under for a finished edge.





Cut the patch from your scrap fabric according to the measurements from Step 1.


Center the patch over the torn or damaged area of the garment. Pin the patch in place, right side facing up and edges tacked under.


Turn edges of the patch at 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) and press under with an iron to create finished edges. Miter, square, or round corners of the patch as desired.

Using your fabric marker and ruler, draw a straight line 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) from the edge of the patch. This will help you to create a tidy, even line when stitching and to be certain you’re catching the folded edge of the patch in your stitch.



Thread a needle, knot thread at one end, and insert the needle from the underside of the garment, keeping the knot hidden underneath. Stitch with a running stitch (see page 41) along the penciled line along the perimeter of the patch until all under edges are sewn down. Make sure you’ve caught the edges, then tie off the thread on the underside of the garment. If your hands are getting sore, use a thimble to push the needle and needle-nose pliers to pull the needle as you stitch. Continue until all patch edges are secured. Look at that—good work. Optional: Add horizontal stitches every 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) to keep patch from buckling.

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @madebykatrina IG: @katrinarodabaugh Twitter: @MadeByKatrina Pinterest: @katrodabaugh



Sprig. Embroidery on to textile collage. 30


Unpi cki ng th e Stit c he s o f T im e E x pl or i n g the Wo rk o f Mandy P att u llo Words by Kate Stuat Photography by Mandy Pattullo


s old as time, quilting has been both practical and art form, carrying the stories of the women who pieced them together and stitched their layers down through generations. A quilt past it’s best would never be discarded, but a new cover made, often from old clothing, adding unique archaeology full of the essence of the family to whom it belonged. Beyond the practicalities of keeping warm, quilts have served as symbols of family heritage, and the stories they hold are tied up in the fibres of the cloth and the stitches that hold all the pieces together.

and finishing that before moving on to the next thing.” Mandy grew up around textiles – both her mother and grandmother were textile creatives, and so stitching was part of normal family life. “In my childhood,” Mandy explains, “there was always a sewing machine out as my grandmother, who was a seamstress, made all of my clothes as well as outfits for my dolls and trolls. I have many of my grandmother’s diaries that record when a pattern was bought, when a dress was made or altered. I have recently taken some of the entries in the diary that relate to clothes making and embroidered them in my grandmother’s handwriting on to strips attached to her cotton spools. It was not until my mother took up patchwork in the late seventies [that] I realised sewing could be something creative rather than to serve a purpose. At that time, you could buy scrap packs from Laura Ashley and I soon became addicted to joining small pieces together and transforming them into something like a quilt or a cushion. In a sense I am still doing this now and since that time I have always had a sewing project on the go. I now [create] textile collage but really it is patchwork but in an unstructured way. I loved working with stitch and cloth so much that I embarked on a Textiles and Surface Pattern Degree and the formal training helped me to move my stitch along in more experimental ways, develop a visual language, learn a process based on research to develop ideas and to contextualise my work.”

Mandy Pattullo, a textile artist based at The Hearth, in Horsley, Northumberland, uses old and discarded quilts to make textile pieces which are part patchwork, part applique and which carry all their old stories forward to merge with new ones. “My work”, she tells me, “nearly always starts from the fabric itself. I do not believe in fabrics being too tidy or colour coded. It is the serendipity of fabrics landing next to each other that gives me a thrill. When I see two pieces of fabric that are just meant to be together then I might collect others within a bit of a controlled colour story. I make little piles of colour combinations or I hang them up on a clipboard in my studio. I will have many of these collections on the go at any one time but then when I have laid out a composition, I concentrate on stitching it together, adding surface stitches

Unpickings. Unpicking an old quilt.

Stitch stories 31


Mandy’s creations are a joy to see, with a real connection between the marks of wear, the original patterns and stitches in the fabric, and the new stitches she brings into the piece, which are both practical in terms of joining each piece of fabric together but also create a beautiful flow between all the different elements of her miniature patchwork creations. Her influences are varied but more recently she has been inspired by folk art, telling me, “I collect books on [folk art] and I might have a research break once a week where I look at historical sources and I might do some drawing, extracting patterns, adapting them and creating templates. One of my biggest influences,” she continues, “has been the work of Louise Bourgeois, particularly her fabric books…I make my own now using very different fabrics and ideas to her. I like the way her textiles have a connection to her own back story. She has used tapestry extensively in her work as her parents were menders of tapestry.”

unfinished. It has helped me to relate more to my mother’s hobby while bringing me an aesthetic satisfaction which I did not always feel when confronted with yet another finished kit picture. I am going to work with combining cross stitch and quilts for a while.” By bringing the memory of stitches her mother made to her own work by working cross stitch into her patchwork collages, there is space to consider all the women connected with her work. It’s important to Mandy to use fabrics which could not be repaired and used again, and as this so often comes from vintage clothing and quilts, there is a connection immediately between the history of the textiles and the women who worn or made them. Sourcing materials locally and in charity shops keeps her work sustainable and that’s important to Mandy. “In my work now I deliberately use old, gifted and charity shop finds as the basis for stitch and collage,” she tells me. “I think this came out of running vintage textile fairs with a friend and having access to lots of old stuff but also from reconnecting with patchwork after many years of teaching in an art college. With students I was encouraging trends led

Mandy brings her own back story into her work too, most recently in the project she has begun based around her mother’s love of cross stitch. “The last few years” she explains, “have been difficult emotionally with my father’s death and my mother’s slow decline and then resettlement in a care home. My mother had always sewn in a similar way to me, with her feet up in front of the TV in the evenings and like me she started with hand stitched patchwork. She quickly gave up patchwork though and moved on to doing cross stitch kits for most of her life. I always despised this a little – her inability to break out and make her own designs and her slavish obedience to the pattern. The whole activity seemed a bit stressful with anxious counting of stitches and a lot of equipment…to do such a simple stitch - a stand for the embroidery, a stand for the pattern, a head torch, magnifying mirror etc. – very different to how I work with my current sewing tucked in a pencil case in my handbag so that it can travel everywhere and be done anywhere. Clearing her house has been emotional but I have kept her cross stitch and sampler books, some of her work and of course her threads. I really thought what it must be like for her not to be able to sew everyday due to arthritis and poor eyesight and decided to embark on a project to bring my love of collaging old fabrics and quilt fragments together with her cross stitch patterns. I have been working them freestyle so I am not bound by grids and counting and in some cases leave parts

Red House. Cross Stitch and appliqué on to the back of a Victorian Crazy Quilt fragment

Wallet Book. Textile Collage using vintage finds into an old leather wallet



innovation with a lot of machine work but I wanted to go back to something more homespun and slowly stitched. It was a conscious decision to use fragments of old quilts as they were at the time easy to source and there was a local connection in that many were made in Weardale or Cumbria not far from my studio. I love the way that old fabrics have had a previous use and tell their story through marks, fading and disrepair. I rarely buy new fabrics and am concerned about the way cotton is produced and I like to think my practice is based on sustainability. I always encourage students to make use of what they have got or if they have to add then to buy materials from charity shops rather than allowing more to end up in landfill.” In choosing to use vintage quilts particularly, Mandy is mindful of the long-gone women whose stitches she unpicks in order to make her textile collages. “One of the main things I do is to unpick garments or old quilts to ‘make’ new fabrics to work with in my collages. Sometimes unpicking a quilt surface can take longer than the original stitching action and I like to think about the women who made those stitches, their colour decisions and what they would feel about their precious needlework being changed by another creative. I do not have a problem with it as the collages I make are exhibited and sold and so lots of handiwork from the past has a new life and is not just appreciated by me but also by my purchasers.”

Swallow. Textile collage and surface stitch on to old quilt with extra patching


Peeling back the layers of ancient quilts like onion skins to reveal fabrics that have waited whole lifetime to see the light of day again holds a special magic but requires due respect too. Mandy calls it “fabric archaeology”, and so it is. For the quilts that Mandy uses in her work, although no longer usable for their original purpose, are given a space in her textile collages to tell all the stories they carry in the construct of the fabric, the stitch, the seam. Space for the voices of all the women who held and folded and cut and stitched the cloth. Space for her own tales and her own voice to be added to the layers as the cloth becomes part of a new story.

Website: Blog: FB: @MandyPattulloTextileArtist IG and Pinterest: @mandypattullo Mandy Pattullo runs workshops from her studio in Northumberland and across the UK. Details can be found at

Cross Patch. Cross Stitch and appliqué on to the back of a Victorian Crazy Quilt fragment


Detail of Melissa’s booth at a show




Melissa Weiss: The Handbuilt Potter Words by Michelle Challice Photography by Melissa Weiss

Melissa holding my homemade Melissa Weiss pottery sign.


o see Melissa Weiss’s pots is to know where they came from and the journey of their making. Their provenance is indelibly marked on each one - the origin of the materials used and the maker’s hand that built their form. For such simple pieces they are imbued with character intrinsic to the place and process of their creation.

industrialised materials and processes. Are we, as consumers, being short-changed every time we enter a conventional shop? “I believe art and beauty and handmade objects enrich our lives with something necessary to live a full and happy existence.” Each of Melissa’s creations is certainly unique in its offering. Fragments of mineral deposits melt away during firing, leaving beautiful spots on the finished pieces that are completely random and impossible to recreate. There is nothing uniform about the pots Melissa makes and they are all the more beautiful for it.

Melissa Weiss’s practice is unusual in that she harvests and makes her own clay. This extra part of the process, physically digging up the raw materials from her land in NW Arkansas, doesn’t inhibit her work in any way. Quite the contrary, it informs everything. “The clay I dig and make is unique. I couldn’t buy an equivalent. It informs the work by adding a character that has a life of its own. My clay does not place limitations on what I can create. I’m convinced that it is magic clay, as it is beautiful to work with and very forgiving.”

The value of using wild clay surpasses simple aesthetics. In sourcing and making her own clay, Melissa minimises the environmental impact of her process. “It’s important to me to not make disposable unnecessary garbage out of toxic and harmful supplies but I’m not sure if I am achieving a sustainable practice. There are probably enough dishes already on the planet that no one needs to make more.” In consciously choosing to take an environmental approach to

The ability to make such beautiful clay straight from the ground throws into question the value of homogenous

Handbuilt baskets and Melissa 35


Digging clay in Arkansas

Freshy make clay poured into racks

her professional practice, Melissa is taking responsibility for the footprints she leaves behind. “Every single person has a responsibility to be resourceful and lessen their impact and consumption in their life. It transcends capitalism. We are all responsible.” Armed with a minimal amount of materials, Melissa hand builds her work. “I use clay, feldspar, sand, iron oxide, ash, wax, gas and wood. I use these materials because they are necessary, non-toxic and interesting. I keep it simple and then dig deeper. So much exploring and experimenting can be done with just a few ingredients.” The results are testament to this. Reminiscent of early Japanese pottery – simple, unassuming, rough-hewn – Melissa’s work embraces imperfections. “I think [my aesthetic] bridges the gap between primitive and modern. I’m not sure I’m trying to convey any messages more like a feeling of truth. Someone once described my pots as honest and it’s the best compliment I’ve gotten about my work.” Melissa is due to publish her first book this Christmas entitled “Handbuilt: A Potter’s Guide”. In it, she explores digging wild clay and how to process it into a workable body. Also included are the techniques she uses to make her favourite forms together with step-by-step instructions and her recipes for homemade glazes, slips and washes. Profiles of potters who have served as her mentors are also featured and those whose work has inspired her practice. “It’s extremely exciting. I chose people who not only make beautiful, powerful functional hand built pots but who also have a clear understanding in why they are doing it.” It’s published by QuartoKnows Publishing and is available now for preorder. Definitely a must have resource for anyone interested in exploring the techniques of hand building and wild clay making.

Drawing on a rock with yellow iron oxide in arkansas

With a thriving business and her first book due out in December 2018, this is a triumph for the small creative business. “Making pottery is a beautiful and simple life and I am grateful for it every day I am alive. I sell all the pots I can make and it’s fulfilling and challenging work.” A residency in Japan is pencilled in for the future but otherwise Melissa plans more of the same professionally – making pots, selling pots and teaching workshops. Melissa Weiss’ practice is established enough to sustain itself without the need for further growth. However, there’s no doubt that the future holds more interesting journeys from this hard-working and resourceful potter. Handbuilt striped pitcher 36


Carved mugs

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: IG: @melissaweisspottery EVENT St Croix Pottery Tour in St Croix, Minnesota mother’s day weekend 2019 Handbuilt bowl with ring design and Melissa 37




A clog maker shares some wood working skills in a Birmingham suburb Words by Lucy Sobrero Photography by Sean and Jojo


t is a very hot summer’s day and I am visiting a small workshop on a high street where many small shops close down but other enterprises start up. At Pathcarvers a barefooted young woman in harem pants and a leafy green vest top is wielding a stock knife with the confidence, grace and expertise of the second-generation expert woodworker she is.

Spoonfest is a yearly weekend gathering of everyone interested in spoon carving. It started out as a pipe dream of her father’s and has become a genuine international event where JoJo and other great spoon makers teach each summer. In her early twenties and already an expert woodworker, she felt ready to challenge herself once again and applied for one of only two apprenticeships with master clog maker Jeremy Atkinson who soon recognised her exceptional ability to master techniques. Today she makes classic and contemporary clogs and explores her own take on this traditional craft. Still making and selling her exquisitely carved spoons, she has taken on a life-long challenge: the continuous development of her bespoke clogs.

Daughter of master woodturner Robin Wood MBE, it was hardly surprising that JoJo was already whittling sticks aged four! Woodworking was what she loved and though she went to Art college and did various other things, it made sense to return to it. Now one of less than a handful of clog makers in the country, previously she became the doyenne of spoon carvers. Helping out at SPOONFEST as a teenager, a stubborn feminist streak in her made her determined to become the only female teacher at the festival as soon as she could.

Meanwhile in Stirchley, South Birmingham JoJo is director and co-founder of Pathcarvers - a social enterprise providing the space and opportunity to craft. JoJo organises courses



Does it take a lot of strength to use the tools you have here?

that help people attend sessions of various kinds they would not normally be able to attend. She strongly believes in the benefits of craft as a vehicle for healing and for communal sharing - she is making craft accessible and not just an elitist pursuit, and in a rather run down though fast changing part of a city.

It doesn’t take brute strength, it’s about technique. I was never prepared to accept that a woman wouldn’t have the strength. The fact that the people at the top of the wood working world have generally been men does not reflect the ability within the general population. It is just that men got to the top of the craft, as in other professions.The tools you see here, the stock knife and others, are hundreds of years old; they can be passed down through the generations, they’ll outlive me: they are antiques.

There is even a weekly carvers club on an evening, where people who already have some wood working skills come together to work, socialise and give each other advice and inspiration as well as sharing some of the tools and space they might not have at home.

Is there such a thing as a contemporary clog?

Reluctant to disturb the harmonious swing of her stock knife, I asked JoJo to answer a few questions for No Serial Number Magazine and she kindly sat down on a large log for a while, surrounded by cream coloured wood chippings.

Most hand carved clogs have been traditional but I also see the potential for innovation. I have an interest in fashion and design: my mother, an academic and now a chef, has researched design and communication of design so I grew up in the world of craft and design. I do my own leather work for the clogs and the possibilities are many. Clogs are comfortable, hard wearing and fun.

JoJo, you are an expert spoon carver and clog maker, what is it you like about teaching people how to use a knife? I don’t teach clog making because that takes a lifetime, but using a knife on fresh wood is the starting point of woodworking and once you’ve used edge tools and fresh wood you have a whole lot of transferable skills. That’s the joy in what I teach. Making something amazing involves 50% technique and 50% teaching your eyes to see what you are making. You will look at an object differently forever.

Carving my own path as a master craftsperson and now organising Pathcarvers for the community, it’s all about learning, teaching and learning again, it’s about healing, as I said, and well-being.



R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @jojowoodcraft IG: @jojowoodcraft, @pathcarvers and @woodtools Future events and courses can be seen on respective websites, and






Through Fire and Water. Reclamation According to Elvis & Kresse Words by NSN Team Photography by NSN Team and James (Elvis) Henrit “This kind of a model is part of the story, but we have to fix the entire system. Designers need to feel obliged to only produce what can be repaired, reused or recycled. We need to only use renewable energy. We need all people to have access to opportunity, education, healthcare and living wage work. We all need to understand that our choices and our actions will either make the world better, or worse”.


he NSN Magazine team seizes every opportunity to get to know the sustainable businesses we hear about via word of mouth, social media, the press, advertising, or, in this case, a TV programme (BBC Breakfast). Meeting Elvis & Kresse was easy: we simply called and arranged a visit. It certainly helps that their Kent premises is very quick to reach from London: the train comes into Sittingbourne (Kent). After that, it’s a quick taxi ride to Tonge Mill along narrowing lanes lined with towering green trees and shrubs.

Our visit meanders around this treasure trove of a studio, which itself reveals a lot about what goes on here. As expected, the setting is rustic but it has some rather special features: the choice of furnishings, the heaps of materials, and the shelving units reveal a story of reclamation and sensitive restoration. It is a serene workspace, free from hustle and bustle, but at the same time a hive of activity. As Kresse responds to our ever-expanding list of questions, the employees continue to work, brushing past us to pick up some papers or a tool. Testament to this place’s tranquillity is the dog, who is curled up next to us as we chat. As soon as we move he gets up and settles himself back down again, perfectly at ease in his usual spot.

When the gate opens and Kresse greets us, it is a feast for our eyes. The open space in front of the building holds the key to unlocking the whole project: a wall of wild, almostripe blackberries, another wall of neatly organised ‘materials’ waiting to be used, and the recycling bins which are almost hidden in a corner.

The first interesting thing Kresse enlightens us on is the reclaimed material that sparked it all off: the London Fire Brigade’s decommissioned fire hoses.

We can sum up our visit in a nutshell. At the heart of Elvis & Kresse’s work are two sets of contrasts at play: firstly, the elements (fire/ water), and secondly, style (used - reclaimed/ new - beautiful).

Spurred on by their interest, research, and concern about waste, they met those in charge of the London Fire Brigade in 2005, and realised how difficult it was to dispose of the hoses. This was their first step along the path they continue on today. The difficulty of disposing of these hoses owes to the fact that the material “is a synthetic rubber composite with a nylon woven core. It is water and heat resistant and it can’t be shredded and melted down to make new hoses. It has to be loved for what it is”. From that moment, they began a period of experimentation which continues to this day and has challenged them on several fronts.

To properly explain this, we need to recount their story as told to us by Kresse in the studio, in this small enchanted corner of the English countryside.

The biggest challenge they faced was manual skills: to find out whether they could transform something which by its very nature is an awkward piece of refuse into beautiful and useful products there was a market for, they had to step up to the challenge themselves. They created prototypes, beginning with belts which were easy as they were simple adaptations of something already flat and linear. They then began to look for a manufacturer, which was no mean feat. It was not easy to find someone who saw the material’s potential. The material came from something absolutely necessary (in terms putting out fires and saving lives) but was now unusable. It was destined to be destroyed despite the fact it is practically impossible to shred them, something many regarded with contempt. Not only that, but there would be no point in changing the colour of the hoses. Because, says Kresse, “When you love 43


a material for what it is, and the colour is a part of that story, then it becomes a part of the creative process”. Still on the topic of craft skills, other than trying their hand themselves, they had to find skilled workers who were passionate about their work. And this was against the backdrop of a world in which craft skills are being lost. However, craft skills are starting to make a comeback. This is owed to the number of people whose creativity is sparked by useless but reusable materials, often as a conscious rebellion against mass-production. The result of this tireless journey is right in front of us. While Kresse speaks, we look around. On a big table (you could almost call it a drafting table), an employee traces lines and cuts a strip with military precision. Piles of materials peep out from the shelves, ready to be transformed, along with finished or half-finished bags, while the sewing machines pause for a moment. The craftsmanship in this studio is palpable. Every piece is created with special care and attention, and the design is led by a devotion to experimenting with shape and the pliability of the material. You get the impression that as each piece is made, it sparks an idea for another shape or technique. Even working on just one piece brings a chance to experiment and grow, as Kresse confirms: “we are still learning old techniques and creating new ones, we aren’t confined to a set production mentality”. Not only that, but experimentation has been an integral part of their work from the very beginning. “We wanted our commitment to reclamation to extend as far as possible. We regularly work with a suite of about 10-15 materials. Over the years we have also restored two properties, we want our living and working environment to reflect the same values that our business does. We are incredibly proud of Tonge Mill, our workshop and home in Kent, which we spent over two years restoring, largely with recovered materials”. That explains our first impression of reclamation work executed with passion and attention to detail: Tonge Mill was abandoned for decades. Thanks to careful restoration and reclamation work, carried out with love and a necessary slowness so they could source reused materials, it became a 44


perplexed to find out they are red and yellow. Perhaps this is how those who turned down the chance to manufacture the bags may have felt. But as the photos show, the unusual yellow and red tones are something special. So special, in fact, that as soon as you get one, you’ll want another. In the other colour, of course. From the top floor windows, you can see the back of the ancient building with its original façade, the mill tower (chimney stack?) in plain view. Opposite is a wonderful small lake, completely surrounded by a green wall of trees. A place completely immersed in nature, brought back to life. In response to “How strong is the connection between your work and your lifestyle?” Kresse is unambiguous, nonnegotiable: “They are indistinguishable”. This is confirmed in her belief that there is a huge potential for other projects like this and other waste materials that are just waiting for someone to give them a second life. They are already reusing coffee sacks, tea sacks, and shoe boxes among other items, in an offshoot of their original project. But anyone who follows in their footsteps will need to be blessed with that exceptional mix “of creativity, curiosity and outrage” that allowed Elvis & Kresse to view fire hoses not as an awkward bulky material, an object of contempt, but as a material full of potential from which unusually beautiful and stylish products can emerge. studio and their home. Furthermore, a desire to produce highly-skilled craft work led them to set up their other site in Istanbul, Turkey. Here, they make use of local highly-skilled leather workers, using their skills to transform leather offcuts.


Between Tonge Mill and Istanbul, 17 people work on the project. They are all local to the area, cementing the company’s desire to put down roots in the local area.


The highlight of the visit takes place on the first floor, where the products are beautifully displayed, ready to be sent off. The two colours of the fire hoses are masterfully alternated on the shelves in a way that shows off the bag designs. Now, for those who are unfamiliar with the colours, you may be

FB: @ElvisandKresse IG, Twitter and Pinterest: @elvisandkresse




Detail from ‘Outside the Walls’, Behind the Walls series: close up detail showing the telescope, which remains one of the most fiddly pieces to create, the telescope is made from paper, and sliced into sections, then reassembled. 46


MOUSE IN THE HOUSE Interview by NSN Team Photography by Kathryn Ashcroft Kathryn Ashcroft’s artistic work started very early on, from her own creative family home, where she used to play in her dad’s workshop with objects that her dad had gathered. In this interview, Kathryn tells us about her background, the materials she uses in her art, and the reasons for her wonderful obsession with mice. Hello Kat, thanks for taking the time to speak to NSN Magazine. First of all, tell us… where are you currently based and what’s your artistic background? I work from my studio at home in Bawtry, South Yorkshire. It’s built into the chimney breast, and is tiny - a perfect, enclosed space for creating mice! I’ve always made things. I grew up in East Yorkshire, in a house in which creating was the norm, and encouraged. Some of my earliest memories are in my dad’s workshop on rainy afternoons, raiding the offcuts of wood and making toy furniture and playgrounds for my Play People (this was the early 1980s!) It was a very logical step to study art. The post-A Level Art Foundation Course at Hull College was an absolute revelation to me. It was the first time I’d been entirely surrounded by like-minded people, and the first time that I felt that I truly fittede in anywhere. I’ll always remember the day that we were sent to raid the metal-work skips at the back of the college to bring back material for our sculptures, and the feeling of being able to turn something old into something entirely different! I then went on to study Theatre Design at Nottingham Trent University, where I gained a First Class Honours degree. I loved the variety of the work, having to turn my hand from set building, to costume, puppetry, and props. But it was the scale-model making that really captured my imagination. I spent hour upon hour creating tiny, intricate models at 1:35 scale. Whilst on this course, I became heavily involved in Theatre in education (TIE), which led to my strong beliefs in the importance of creativity in Education. So much so that I wrote my dissertation on it, and trained to be an art teacher!

I also like to reference strong, inspirational women. Representing them as mice is subversive and metaphorical, it’s my own ‘thank you’ and nod of acknowledgment to them for what they have done for women today. I like the fact that a lot of these references are so subtle, that only a few notice them! For example in ‘Professor Mouse’, I was commissioned to create a mouse to celebrate a new Professor of Women’s Studies. I put the suffragette colours of purple, green and white very unobtrusively in there: it’s very subtle, but it’s definitely there. Why did you go from being a theatre designer and art educator to a designer of miniature mice? What are the connections between your previous work and your current work in terms of skills, techniques, landscapes, subjects and inspiration? I would still consider myself as both. The artwork is small-

How would you describe your project, Mouse in the House? My current work explores the need to allow our imaginations to wander, to encourage the notion of ‘play’, even as adults, and to provide the escapism that I, and others, so often need from the realities of everyday life. Some of the smaller, freestanding pieces explore and represent relationships and basic needs (as identified in Maslow’s). My mice create their own reality; they could be any creature really, but I’ve always seen myself as quite ‘mouse-like’. I often feel invisible, overlooked, and some pieces in this project allow me to represent that aspect of my life (‘Behind the Walls’ series). They collect the detritus left behind by people and use it to create their own world. It’s about their survival, creating the things that they need in order to meet their basic needs. I try to keep to the concept, although sometimes it’s applied more loosely in commissioned pieces. I like the idea that the mice could just be a little flit of colour that you see out of the corner of your eye, and you don’t know if you actually saw it, or if it was your imagination! I also have a fascination with mice throughout history, how they have accompanied humans, always been there, again in the background, quietly. I have made a range of historical mice, and try to reference this. But it’s surprisingly difficult to research, mice often being unrecorded. So if anybody has any ideas for this, I’d love to hear them, please!

scale, but still consists of scenes, I’d like to work more large Shakespeare Mouse, Historical Micehandmade series: onemice! of And scale, maybe infest an entire wall with the most popular mice, I receive several requests for I I still teach, I’m Head of Art in a large secondary school. personalised versions of this. The box is lined with old teach across three Key Stages. This is intrinsic to my beliefs, from school Shakespeare texts, with notes aspages I believe in education and creativity soriddled strongly. Mouse rescued from the skip. in and the House had existed in my head for as long as I can 47


Collection of Freestanding pieces, mixed series 48




remember, and it took a series of personal events for me to be able to make it a reality. Five years ago my life changed, and although this was a very difficult and painful period, it eventually allowed me to take stock and begin to consider the direction I wanted to head in. I realised that I had to start creating the work that was inside my head. It was almost like therapy. I began to experiment with rudimentary mice ideas. It took a long time to develop them in the shape they are today. I’m lucky in that I was able to continue to develop the low-tech techniques that I’d previously used. The only difference is that I can decide the scale that I work to now, and my scale ruler is no longer required! The work is painstakingly slow at times, and I’m still constantly refining techniques and finding new ways to do things. Working as a Theatre Designer, you have to be a bit of a ‘Jack of all Trades’ and this still rings true with the many processes involved in the work today. Working with young people is amazing, they constantly surprise me with their intuition and ideas. I do a similar project with Year 8; they use these techniques to create their own creatures. I feel they give as much to me as I give to them; it’s a two way process. Why did you choose mice as the subject of your craft? I get asked this question so many times and it’s so difficult to answer! I think I have genuinely always been drawn towards mice, again it’s that idea of the tiny and the unnoticed. As a young child I watched early stop-frame animation programmes such as Bagpuss and Fingerbobs, which featured industrious little mice. I also always wanted to have a little mouse that lived in my pocket when I grew up, obviously now I realise that this is terribly impractical! My young daughter has a special little wellworn comfort mouse that she has with her always, so that’s very important too! Why do you work only with upcycled, recycled, reclaimed or salvaged materials? What attracted you to using these materials? What’s their significance? Since I was a child, it has never even occurred to me NOT to use salvaged and upcycled materials, not to make use of what I already have around me. My dad’s workshop was full of things that he, too, had gathered - broken electrical items that had been taken apart, tiny drawers and tins full of components and screws and springs, things that I don’t even know the names of. It was so exciting to be allowed to rummage through those boxes. Even now, he’ll bring me things, or let me look for something I need for a piece, and it’s just as wonderful a feeling now, as it was all those years ago. To me it makes sense to use what is there already, and gives more meaning and history to the piece.

‘Beyond the Mousehole’: Commissioned to celebrate a young lady who had spent a lot of time travelling. Lined with pages from an old atlas (rescued from the skip, again) showing the areas travelled to.

Which messages do you like to convey through your craft? I like to feel that the work is laden with messages, some very obvious and some much more hidden. The use of salvaged materials is clear and evident, valuing materialistically what we already have; not feeling the need to create or crave ‘new’. I want people to stop and think about the items that they use in their everyday lives, and the value and importance of them. I want to make them reflect, and ultimately to make them smile. You say that you have growing collections of discarded objects, fragments and pieces. Where do you find these materials? How do you select them? I recently had a ‘big’ birthday and one of my presents was a box full of treasures! There was a broken tape measure, bottle tops, bells, broken beads and zippers, bits of packaging, it was brilliant! It seems that these days, nobody comes to see me without passing on a bag of something broken! I absolutely love it! I spent a day after Christmas with a friend dragging old pallets from the bed of River Humber that had been washed up with a storm tide, before having hot chocolate (I need a bit of luxury!) in the pub! My current favourite items are old bags and purses. There are a lot of components I can use in those. I’m also on the lookout for discarded household appliances at the

‘Besides Cheese You’re My Favourite’, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs series: Created to celebrate a wedding anniversary, leather jacket details from an old leather purse. 50


moment. I can envisage little families of mice making homes in them; having been inspired by a lady at a Makers Fair last weekend who told me about the family of mice that had set up home inside her vacuum cleaner, which meant that she couldn’t clean anymore! One recent piece was made from a wooden drawer that I found ‘fly tipped’ in our beautiful local woods. I save worn out clothes that cannot be sent to the Charity shop, and completely break them down. This morning I took apart my beloved pair of 20 year old tan leather boots; they had been repaired so many times, but the inside was irreparable this time. I stripped the leather away, for mouse jackets and bags, and cut the soles into blocks, which will be used for bases. There’s always a second use for everything!

comes with the territory. I’d like to see a greater shift towards high-profile recognition of eco-conscious practise, at the government level. I do think that public awareness is growing, and this is largely down to media coverage of the plastics crisis. As a teacher, this is the first thing I notice that pupils mention when discussing environmental issues; they are incensed, and we need to act on this. The younger generation are going to demand change. I’d like a recognised and respected pledge I could sign up to, or even have to apply for, to ensure high standard sustainable practises are followed and acknowledged in my work. What’s next for Mouse in the House. Do you have any plans for the future? I have so many plans that I don’t know where to start! I’m currently working on ideas for a book (upcycling, of course!), developing new ranges, and writing ideas for a series of adult workshops (I still need a location for these). I’m also using my dad’s amazing workshop to develop the ‘Behind the Walls’ series into larger scale. I plan to continue showing at fairs, as this is the best way to gauge reactions to the work, and finally I want to become even more involved in raising awareness of the importance of eco-arts and crafts!

What’s the most satisfying aspect of your job? I really do love every aspect of the process. It’s a process I’ve developed myself, so I’m constantly tweaking and adjusting areas that I feel need refinement. But the absolute best part is seeing people’s immediate, unmeasured, intuitive reactions to the work. This is most notable at fairs when often they are seeing the work for the first time! I’ve had people laugh, gasp and giggle, sing and then move in for a closer look, often not moving for several minutes. This makes all of the hours of work; blisters on fingers from tiny stitching on old leather, wonky eyesight from too much close work, and anxiety about not being good enough, or worthy enough, worth it! If you could change something in the craft industry to make it more sustainable, what would it be? I think that generally makers and artists are very eco-conscious beings, they carefully source their materials and works as resourcefully as possible, ensuring minimal waste; I think this

‘Save Our NHS’ (Commission) A Christmas commission for an NHS nurse


FIND IT ONLINE Website: ‘Professor Mouse’ (Commission) Created to celebrate the achievements of a newly appointed Professor of Women’s Studies. Subtle use of Suffragette colours

Facebook and IG: @jarvisthemouse






theBreath: Fabric Panels for Breathable Air Words by Paige Perillat-Piratoine Photography by theBreath Team

«It all began the day we left nature behind. We filled our homes with lovely things and all the stuff we wanted. Our homes became places we would never want to leave… We filled our homes with artificial light, and we built our houses so that nothing could escape». So begins a short mockumentary led by Velux Denmark, a smart windows company.

In Italy, the year 2014 marked a very outspoken media which blasted these issues to the general public. As a result a local company called Anemotech decided to react. Anemotech’s engineer Gianmarco Cammi started research on a product that could filter the air we breathe. This research culminated in a product called theBreath. The technology is a panel, made of three layers of fabric that work in synergy. It is a passive system that uses natural wind flow to circulate air through a carbon mesh that absorbs, traps and disaggregates polluting chemicals and bad smells.

The words are spoken by a young girl, and they resonate strongly. It is a very human thing to strive for comfort, technology and general improvement. But as we look back, it is important to recognize the long term consequences of this collective behavior.

More precisely, there are three layers: - a front layer is a printable and antibacterial fabric that also helps with air transpiration. - a core (or middle) layer which is this carbon mesh - a back layer which is also printable and antimicrobial.

On average, the girl says, we spend 90% of our lives indoors; so much so we can now call ourselves the «indoor generation». This unfortunately has dire repercussions. Because of the products we use to build and decorate, the air we breathe is charged with myriads of harmful pollutants and chemicals that infiltrate our lungs daily, impacting our bodies and the planet in various ways. Formaldehyde, benzene, nitric oxide, ozone (amongst others) are present in our furniture, in our paints, in our toys, in our cosmetics. They are mass produced by our industries and cause every ailment from asthma to fatigue and cancer.

In numbers, 10 square meters of the breath can absorb the emissions of 3625 gasoline engines each year. That is considerable, given that this technology can be fitted almost everywhere. There are both indoor and outdoor versions of these panels, and the applications are numerous. From large urban advertisement billboards to didactics and fitting prams, theBreath tries to tackle all the areas which expose us to harmful chemicals.



The core layer or carbon cartridge should be changed after 18 months in indoor habitats and 6 months for outdoor applications (this is because the outdoor panels receive more air circulation than indoor panels, so that the fabric oxidizes faster, losing its effectiveness). Unfortunately, theBreath is not recyclable, and after its recommended use time frame, it should be disposed of. So while all the harmful chemicals are trapped in the carbon mesh, it is unclear what the chemicals become at the waste treatment facility. It seems the panel is transformed energetically by waste-to-energy plant. Wasteto-energy plants are meant to reduce the emission of air pollutants released to the atmosphere such as nitrogen oxides and particulates, and to denature pollutants contained in the waste by using pollution control measures to reduce air pollution outputs. Thankfully, Anemotech plans to make theBreath recyclable, and is engaging in research and development towards that goal.

When installed in strategic locations, the technology can generate an intentional flow, filtering air even more efficiently and creating breathable pockets. Clearly there are interesting ways to use this technology which are aesthetically pleasing as much as efficient engineering. Still it would be interesting to find out how theBreath compares to living walls and green roof installations in terms of overall urban performance. Living installations have significant benefits including improving biodiversity, mitigating stormwater runoff and indirect energy savings, not counting air quality benefits. Given the fact theBreath is non-recyclable, we can wonder what advantages it offers against incorporating more plants into our homes and cities. It definitely has an advantage when it comes to surrounding areas of construction and renovation. Indeed, living installations make less sense in temporary uses such as scaffoldings and worksite fences. Hospitals as well could benefit from theBreath’s antibacterial panels, whereas plants would potentially host disease.

From here, Anemotech plans to partner with global companies to bring their technology to more cities through various applications. They wish to partner with businesses that have an interest in issues of pollution and human health. They are currently working with various architects and designers to create more applications for the breath, and make it appealing for home furniture as much as urban. In fact the front and back layers are printable, and theBreath is usually decorated with ecological, water-based inks. This means a home panel could double as a painting or a tasteful room separator tailored to the user’s wishes. For the moment Anemotech only sells theBreath to businesses, but will start selling to individual customers this autumn.

In any case, such technologies are admirable since they come as a response to pressing urban problems of human health. This is tech for good; but we urge engineers to think more pressingly about end-of-life considerations. In the 21st century, it makes no sense to create products that have no circularity. We also urge them to think how they weigh in against other technologies, and where they can fill gaps in innovation. theBreath has promising applications that perform in places where living tech does not belong, but it should not strive to replace the much-needed greening of the city.

It seems the placement of panels in cities is important as well.



R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @AnemotechTheBreath IG: @thebreath_technology




Memories series 56

Tessa Jane: Paintings with Purpose NO SERIAL NUMBER

Words by Michelle Challice Photography by Tessa Jane Tessa Jane is a mixed media conceptual artist specialising in fine art textiles. Her style is very distinct characterised by a riot of colour, pattern and texture. She takes what has been discarded and makes it precious again through the layering of her treasured finds and reclaimed materials.


essa Jane always knew she would end up working in the creative arts, just not which area. It was during Sixth Form College at the age of 17, when she found herself failing Chemistry, that the seed of her future direction was sown. She decided to drop Chemistry and take extra art classes instead. It was here that she met a teacher specialising in textiles and her professional relationship with textiles was born. Tessa went on to study a degree in Constructed Woven Textiles and enjoyed a successful career as an art teacher before becoming a full time artist.

lifestyle – the maker or the consumer – Tessa is very clear that both are needed simultaneously. However, influential people are needed to lead the way, as the majority of consumers will unquestioningly follow fads and fashion. “I watch with great delight big brand names dropping vintage and recycled items into displays. It sets the seed and drip-feeds the consumer to be more conscientious.” Tessa’s career is going from strength to strength. She exhibits through the Drawn to the Valley initiative and recently

Tessa’s transition to full-time artist was prompted by her health. In November 2008, she suffered from optical neuritis and temporarily lost her sight. The diagnosis that followed forced her to reassess her life, ambitions and needs and to question what was important to her. “I had always created my own works as a teacher, using it to inspire and explain. Over the following years I realised that to produce work without a deeper message or meaning was not sufficient anymore. For twelve years I had questioned my pupils with “why?” and now I had to answer that question myself.” Tessa found that she needed to make a difference and for her work to mean something over and above pure aesthetics. Put simply, she needed to paint with purpose. Definitions are difficult to come by when discussing Tessa’s work. Some of her pieces are highly functional such as the chairs she upholsters albeit with fabrics too beautiful to sit on. Others are purely conceptual communicating ideas without form or function. “On my website and social media I say I practice Fine Art Textiles. At the end of the day I trained as a designer. We are trained to find solutions to a problem, to answer questions. But I draw, research and paint like any artist. I want to make a difference in this world; I want my work to say something. I am a conceptual artist and make conceptual textiles.” Sustainability underpins Tessa’s work, driving her process. Each piece she makes uses reclaimed and recycled materials. “I pick up dropped feathers, abandoned gas canisters. I hoard discarded fabrics, furniture, ribbons, papers and objects. I throw very little away, using tiny scraps in different ways.” To be eligible for Tessa’s creative transformation, an object must be unloved and no longer wanted. Whether it be at a tip, junk shop or antique stall, it must be lost and without purpose. Like most artists concerned with sustainability, the issue extends beyond Tessa’s work and features in her life too. She grows her own vegetables, saves her grey water and buys second-hand and local as much as is possible. “Go lightly on the planet and people in your life” being her mantra. When asked who is responsible for driving a more sustainable

participated in the XI Florence Biennale. What does she Lamdshade 57


consider to be the secrets of her success? Undoubtedly patience, tenacity and resilience. It’s really important “to be able to bounce back after disappointment. To learn new skills, to constantly review and assess your work and reflect on your practice. To ask more of yourself each time, constantly raising the bar.” Understanding what drives you and how you measure success is also key. Are you driven by sales or smiles, cash or conversations? Once you have identified what your version of success looks like you can translate these into attainable goals and to work methodically towards them, step by step. For example, having a solo show, exhibiting in London and abroad. After the heady success of Florence, Tessa’s next project is closer to home. “I have started collecting legs, which can be added to suitcases or boxes. I will be making a series of works, which are inspired by Pandora’s box. The outside will be patch-worked, printed and hand embellished. The inside will be a stark contrast. The body of work will explore autoimmune issues, where the outside belies what the sufferer is really experiencing.” A subject matter close to Tessa’s heart, her wish is for an organisation to sponsor the series as a touring exhibition thereby opening people’s eyes to the condition and helping sufferers and their carers to express themselves.

Detail care for can you

Shibori detail

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB: @TessaJaneFineArtTextiles IG: @tessajanedesigns Twitter: @TessaJaneDesign Sample for Waste Not Want Not 58


Stand at the Contemporary Textiles Fair in Teddington, UK 59







MUD & BLOOM Interview by NSN Team Photography by Mud & Bloom

Anja creates lovely craft kits for children to get them outdoors interacting with with nature. She is currently working on making her business as sustainable as possible and in this interview she tells us about her journey, what inspired this business and her plans for the future. Hi Anja, lovely to talk to you today. Tell us a bit about you… what’s your background? What did you do before starting Mud & Bloom? Lovely to talk to you too. I actually studied international development and worked in the charity sector for about 15 years before setting up Mud & Bloom. I gave up my full time job working at WaterAid in London two years ago to spend more time with my children and to pursue my passion for gardening.

seasons. In November’s box, for example, we’re planting crocus bulbs, making leaf lanterns, nature peg dolls and pine cone owls. We’ve also got our regular nature news and a fungi spotting activity for your next walk in the park or countryside! Nowadays there are quite a few monthly subscription boxes out there that offer activities (from science to crafts of all kinds) to children. Why did you decide to start Mud & Bloom? What do you think makes your subscription box different? I subscribed to indoor craft activity boxes for my children when I was working full time and thought they were fantastic. Having everything you need to sit down, make something and enjoy quality time with your child is invaluable, especially when both parents are working. I looked around and was surprised that there were no similar activity boxes catering to gardening and the outdoors.

I enrolled on a Royal Horticultural Society course and wanted to start some sort of gardening business. I started a blog writing about children and nature and found a lot of people shared my belief in the power of nature, time outdoors and play for their children’s development and wellbeing. Tell us about your subscription boxes. Can you give us examples of some seasonal activities you’d include in a typical box? Mud & Bloom is a monthly gardening and nature craft activity box which fits through your letterbox. Each box contains everything you need to do four growing and craft activities without needing any special equipment or even a garden. There’s also a monthly nature news and activities aimed at teaching children aged three and over about nature and the

I try to make opening a Mud & Bloom box a beautiful experience that doesn’t rely on sensory overload and I try to use natural materials and colours. There are enough products out there full of plastic, noise and bright colours. Whilst I want it to be just as convenient to use as other subscription boxes,



I want Mud & Bloom to facilitate quality outdoor time. My subscribers’ feedback shows they appreciate that my boxes bring a bit of calm into their lives.

systems because I want Mud & Bloom to be accessible to people whatever their personal educational philosophy. The importance of outdoor play and nature is appreciated by a much wider demographic of people than just those who send their children to Forest School, Steiner and Montessori schools. In contrast to Germany, for example, outside of a few free schools these education systems are inaccessible to a lot of parents in the UK. I have parents from a really wide range of backgrounds and teachers from all sorts of schools subscribing. I also know that many parents subscribe precisely because their children don’t get enough exposure to nature in their formal education.

What’s the thinking behind the activities you choose for each box? Is there an overall message you want to send out with every box? The activities reflect the changes going on in the seasons. I try to blend the instant gratification of the craft activities with the more patient job of planting, caring for and nurturing plants. In the instructions and in the nature news, I try to encourage observation and reflection as much as learning facts. Seeing my subscribers have great moments with their children - like the first time they grow a vegetable, pick it and eat it - is really special. A lot of my subscribers share pictures of their creations and I love to see the different things children have gone out and found for their craft activities. If there’s an overall message, then it’s the same every month: slow down and appreciate the world around you!

Are your boxes appealing mainly to people who are already aware of the importance of playing outdoors and exploring natural materials for children’s development? Or do you see yourself as promoting these alternative forms of education through your box scheme? I definitely do want to promote the importance of natural play through my social media activity and the engagement we get on there is really encouraging. I don’t want to promote a particular approach to education because, as parents, we need to decide these things for ourselves. But it isn’t controversial or new – a lot of my subscribers are grandparents - who believe that children benefit from exposure to nature.

You say that qualified teachers influenced by Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education design the activities for the boxes… Tell us a little bit more about this. How do you think parents (and perhaps even mainstream schools) could integrate some Forest School, Steiner and Montessori principles in their education and why? The pedagogical approaches of Forest School, Steiner and Montessori are actually quite different when you look closely at them, but the thing they all have in common is an emphasis on children learning at their own pace and on not forcing children into a prescriptive set of formal educational outcomes too early. They all emphasise a gentler approach to teaching in the early years, the development of the whole self, the importance of play and of teaching children to appreciate nature.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the range of media outlets writing about Mud & Bloom and by the breadth of people subscribing. I think this is one symptom of the fact that the importance of outdoor play and nature is becoming more and more apparent as children lose this from their lives. There’s more and more concern that children are over taught, over stimulated and stressed. People are asking why and at least a part of the answer is that children don’t have the same exposure to nature any more. There’s a yearning to get children playing in and experiencing the outdoors again but not always the inspiration or the time to facilitate that.

I went to a Steiner school myself and I work with qualified teachers who have experience of all three. But I have consciously avoided strictly adhering to any one of these

Children have so many distractions and so many things that 61


it’s easier for them to do. I want to make teaching children about nature as easy as possible. If we help children to appreciate nature when they are young, they are more likely to be motivated to protect it when they are older. How have your boxes been received by parents. What’s the feedback so far? It’s been really good. I’m really pleased with the feedback I’ve received and I’m delighted that more and more people are using my boxes to get their children interested in nature. A subscriber told me recently that my boxes enabled her to do the things she’d always dreamt of doing with her children but had never found the time to do - which is exactly what I wanted when I started out. You have told us that your business is not yet 100% ecofriendly. Can you tell us a bit more about the process of choosing materials and craft supplies to go in the boxes, the difficulties you face and how you plan to overcome these difficulties in the near future? What are the materials that are most difficult to source sustainably? We’re getting very close. I source goods that are, wherever possible, recycled, organic and compostable. All my fabrics are from 100 percent natural materials. My September box was my first completely plastic free and recyclable box. Running the business has led me to find lots of great suppliers and innovative products. My October box had biodegradable balloons and I’ve used parchment made with recycled elephant dung – which the children loved! It’s a balancing act though between paying a premium for eco-friendly products whilst keeping Mud & Bloom affordable – because as I’ve said I don’t want it to be a niche premium product. I want it to reach a wide demographic of people and I’m proud that it does. Fortunately though, as demand grows for eco-friendly goods, their availability is increasing and they are becoming affordable. The thing I’d really like to source is an eco-friendly glue that’s strong enough for craft activities and comes in non-plastic packaging. If you’re reading this and you know where I can get some, please get in touch! Doing nature crafts and being outdoors have a lot to do with sourcing your own materials by exploring your natural surroundings. In your boxes, do you encourage people to go and gather materials for the activities outdoors, or does a typical box have everything you need to carry out the activities? Absolutely, it’s about going out and finding things produced in nature. The craft activities require children to get out and explore nature first: feeling and sensing the materials and selecting ones they like. The point is to get children to want to go out and collect materials and to make them aware of what’s all around them. However, all the craft materials you would normally need to hunt around the shops for, are included in the box. I’m trying to cater for the parent who wants to minimise their time in the shops and maximise quality time outside.

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB and Twitter: @MudandBloom IG: @mudnbloom Pinterest: @mudandbloom

Finally, what would you recommend to someone who wishes to open an eco-friendly business? Trying to cover every aspect of a business at the very start is a challenge. There is so much to do, you’re the only one who can do all of it, and it’s virtually impossible that you’ll be good at everything. So my advice is to not be too protective over your idea, go out and get other people involved. Try to get people engaged with your business who are different to you and can compensate for your weaknesses.

Use Coupon Code

NOSERIALNUMBER 15% discount to NSN Readers off their first box



Make a conker spider web

This is a nice nature craft activity to do with children if you've been collecting conkers. What you will need: some nice round conkers, white or silver wool, a large needle, toothpicks or barbecue skewers, pliers, scissors and a tube of sticky glue.

Instructions: 1. Insert eight toothpicks or barbecue skewers around a

conker, I found it easier to make a hole first using a thick needle, which when it got stuck in I used pliers to pull out, my five year old son however, generally seemed to manage to put his toothpicks directly into the conker without the assistance of a needle! I think it maybe depends on how hard your conkers are.

2. I then spread a small amount of the glue over the

toothpicks sticking out of the conker, as I found this stopped the wool slipping when I wove it around, making for a neater spider web.

3. Then tie the wool in a knot snugly around one of the sticks

pressing it close to the conker and weave the wool round each stick, going fully round each stick once, keep it as taught as possible and continue doing this but leave a gap between each of the rounds, so it looks like a web.

4. When you get to the end, tie a small knot round the last stick you get to and leave a length of wool available so you can hang it up, and there you have your cobweb!





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Calling Creatives to Action NSN Plastic Free Craft Campaign Words and photography by Kate Stuart


am writing this with two small packets of Morris & Yeomans needles on the desk beside me. I was surprised to find them, as I worked through the long and difficult process of clearing my late mum’s house. Not surprised to find needles, as my mother came from a long line of crafting women, but moreover surprised and a little bit delighted that the needles, still perfectly useable, were held inside a paper case. I found them at the bottom of a pressed glass jar that probably once held biscuits or sweets, and that was full to the brim with buttons. The pressed glass button jar had been my grandmothers before my mums, and most likely, her mother’s before. I imagine that the needles, made sometime between 1834 and 1940, were used by my great grandmother, to mend clothes, stitch ribbons on hats, and sew handmade lace onto the bottom of petticoats. Just thinking of her hands, using these needles to stitch and to sew, and feeling the love of crafting we share despite never having met her, just run shivers up my spine. The magic of stitchery in my genes brings me connection to all these women who walked and loved and sang and stitched before me. I wonder what they would think of how close we are coming to destroying the planet with all the plastic we seem unable to live without. In 1834 you could buy a pack of needles in a paper case. Why not now?

plastic alternatives. Finding needles and pins in anything but plastic felt like an enormous and unproductive task, until I discovered Merchant and Mills, and I was excited to be able to chat with them for the campaign. I asked them to tell me about their motivation behind stocking plastic free haberdashery items and the challenges they were facing in trying to meet that aim. Here’s what they had to say.

The plastic free craft campaign we launched in the Autumn edition of NSN is slowly but steadily growing. Our message is getting out via social media and we’re hearing some great responses from people who either make craft and haberdashery equipment or have sourced it plastic free. If you’re reading about our campaign for the first time, we are calling on crafters everywhere to join the dots in their creative practise and seek to remove or reduce their single use plastic. We’re asking too, that creatives everywhere call on the craft and haberdashery industry to cut out the single use plastic at source and find alternatives to the current unsustainable packaging options. This part of the campaign is where you can make the biggest impact – tweet or email or call your local or national suppliers and ask them to put pressure on their supply chain to reduce single use plastic. Writing letters and even visiting stores to meet haberdashery department managers face to face can all make a difference. Taking action by considering choices available when buying new craft tools and haberdashery supplies can impact the campaign too. This action looks different for different people – for me, it’s about trying to source my quilting needles and thread without the plastic packaging – and rethinking my cutting tools when they come to need replacing by researching non-

“Traditionally in sewing all pins and notions have been sold in plastic, we set out to elevate these tools, so it was a natural decision to choose more noble packaging. With our branding being predominantly black and white it translates very well onto card rather than plastic. Obviously, people can recycle our packing, but we find our customers love the packaging so much it just becomes part of their sewing space and something that brings them joy whilst making. Our finest needles come in larger cardboard boxes and the only plastic used there is the sellotape. The pins come in larger cardboard boxes and then these get broken down into our smaller cardboard boxes and then the label gets attached. So, with pins and needles there is no plastic involved. Unfortunately, our scissor supplier uses small plastic sleeves when sending them in a large cardboard box, this is to protect the metal so when we come to pack these they are 64


in pristine condition. This isn’t ideal, and they certainly could use another solution for this. We send the sleeves back to the scissor factory once we have packed them into boxes so then they are continually being re-used.

For now, I will hold these paper packets of needles in the palm of my hand and meditate the connection they bring to all the women in my maternal ancestral line, and I will believe with all my might that one day we will see these simple, paper packets making a return to play their part in reducing the impact that plastic has had on our planet.

Something that we haven’t managed to overcome yet is the plastic involved in fabric deliveries, all companies deliver fabric to us in plastic as it is the safest way to transport it. We try where we can to reuse the plastic that comes in when we are sending fabric out to customers but often it’s not in a reusable state. One of our mills uses paper around the fabric first to protect the fabric then just a thin layer of plastic around the outside. Although not a perfect solution it is reducing the amount of plastic slightly. There must be a better way though!”

Join the campaign for #plasticfreecraft by using the hashtag in your social media posts, write to or call your local craft and haberdashery suppliers and ask them to put pressure on industry to remove single use packaging from their products, and to rethink presentation to help eliminate unnecessary plastic from the supply chain.


Challenging industry to change what works for them now, because it doesn’t work for the planet long term, is hard work. Merchant and Mills are a company who are happy to be open to conversation and while their products and packaging on the whole represent what is possible (needles in wooden cases, pins in cardboard boxes) they also recognise that there is room for more improvement in terms of reducing the plastic that craft and haberdashery items are packed in to get to them. But how to get the manufacturers to listen? I’ve spent a lot of hours lately writing, emailing, tweeting the big craft brands, with zero response. We’re talking John Lewis, Hobbycraft, Baker Ross and Homecrafts. I’ve written to CEOs and customer relations folk, and nothing – not one single correspondence back. I’m going to keep on writing, and maybe you could too, until they listen.

Challenging the craft industry to reduce #singleuseplastic on craft and haberdashery goods RT our campaign poster & ask the big names in industry to #bringchange Ask craft suppliers how they can reduce their single use plastic packaging



Make a Gift Bag From Recycled Paper in Under Two Minutes By Suzanne Dekel Natural Dyes and Botanical Prints

Instead of plastic barrier, use brown wrapping paper for your eco-printing projects. You can use the paper twice.

My work is a journey in search of peace of mind, the last four years. I realised I do not longer want to live my life under constant pressure of what other people think I should be doing. The rat race had worn me out. I quit my job and discovered natural dyes, botanical printing and slow stitching, and it has been my therapy and livelihood ever since.

After use, iron with a regular iron. You can damp the paper a bit to make this easier.

I love the ancient wisdom of doing things, I love earth hues and vintage fabrics. It connects the dots between my past and my present, between my roots and the tree that has grown from it. Or maybe that tree has grown in spite of it. I enjoy putting together small scraps, insignificant bits, the leftovers, to one cohesive language that explains me. I turn them into blankets, packaging and skirts. There is endless pleasure in making something pretty yet unpretentious. Useful and soulful. I am still a perfectionist, but one who has learned to let go and breath.



GET IN TOUCH Website: Facebook: @botanicalprint IG: @suzannedekel Webinars in natural dyes, eco printing and indigo are available and you can sign up through the website.

Use Coupon Code NSN!% for 15% discount Valid until 01.02.2019

Cut into size. I used 20cm wide and 50 long. This will give me a bag of 20 by 20cm with a 10cm flap to fold over.

Sew with a regular sewing machine. Use a long stitch of around 3.5-4. A narrow stitch will cut the paper, right from one bottom side, over the flap and down to the other end.

Cut the corners on one end round.


CROP DROP not-for-profit organization Interview by NSN Team Photography by Amanda Stockley Can you write a little bit about what Crop Drop is, why and how you started Crop Drop, who are the founders and what were their motivations for starting this enterprise? Crop Drop is a local, not for profit veg scheme based in Haringey, North London. We deliver weekly bags of organic fruit & veg to our customers around Haringey every Thursday. We don’t do home delivery – instead we deliver to drop points around the borough. These are local businesses or community venues like pubs, cafes and even a bookshop, that provide space for a cupboard or set of shelves where we deliver the bags for our customers to collect. We’re based on a 4-acre former council run plant nursery, where there’s lots of growing space to work with urban growers there to produce ultra-local produce for the scheme. We have an amazing team of volunteers that help us pack the fruit & veg every week. I’m the sole founder of Crop Drop. It all started around 2009 when I became really conscious of how insane our food system is. I was already pretty obsessed with food (I’d changed my career from a community arts manager to a vegan chef) but I wanted to set up a business that would make a practical difference. I later met Julie Brown, the director of Growing Communities who encouraged me to direct my love of food and dislike of supermarkets towards creating a community-based veg box scheme in my local area. Growing Communities provided business support and a start-up loan and in October 2013 Crop Drop launched in a small portacabin in the car park of a community centre in Tottenham. A bit more about Growing Communities Growing Communities (GC) are based in Hackney, East London. They’ve been providing local organic food to Hackney residents for 21 years. They run a veg box scheme, farmers’ market and urban farm. At a certain point in their development they could have taken the usual neo-liberal approach to growth and expand to the whole of the UK. They actively chose not to, instead sticking with Hackney because in their experience, to truly serve a community of farmers and consumers, you need to keep it small. Large operations prefer to trade with similar sized suppliers and require standardisation. This doesn’t work for small-scale producers and they simply cannot survive in the supermarket model. But Growing Communities still had ambitions to spread their principles and model of localised trade across the country, so they created the Start-up Programme to support others to create their own community-based veg schemes. The programme’s finished now but in four years they helped 12 box schemes launch, 9 of which are still running. Growing Communities’ approach really spoke to me – they are so grounded in their values and put sustainability above personal or financial gain. Yet despite this they are a thriving business with longevity and they are now generating enough profit to support nation-wide campaigns and initiatives for agricultural reform, so they’re working locally but contributing to the bigger picture. We aspire to be this way for our borough, Haringey, and are (slowly) on our way to achieving it.

A bit of background on what’s wrong with the dominant food system The dominant food system in the UK, and to a large part, the Western world, is run by large scale agribusiness – supermarkets now own the whole supply chain from seed to sandwich. It’s hugely exploitative – they extract value at every stage of the chain, so that once you reach the start of the chain, those creating the value in the first place – farmers and labourers – there is very little money and power left for them. In many parts of the UK, agricultural workers – most of them migrants – live and work in appalling conditions. And we’re losing our small farms at an alarming rate because they just can’t fit into these economies of scale. Small farms that are much better placed to work in harmony with nature, cultivating diverse range of crops, supporting wildlife, soil integrity and biodiversity. Globally, 70% of the world is fed by small farms. The barcode/just-in-time system for fresh produce that dominates our shopping habits brings us what we want, when we want it. It also brings us the perpetual summer where tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers appear to be in season all year round, and consumers have developed unrealistic expectations of quality and price. We want squeaky clean perfect fruit and vegetables at rock-bottom prices. This has led not only to massive waste and environmental damage but to the creation of a system of exploitation here and across the world that is akin to modern slavery. But of course, public opinion is changing and that’s why veg box schemes, farmers markets and other alternative online options that link customers directly to farmers and producers are increasing in popularity. The answer I believe is a combination of policy change and grassroots initiatives, which is why I set up Crop Drop as a social enterprise.


– like funding for community work. But juggling the two can be a challenge because running a commercial growing operation doesn’t always work in harmony with supporting volunteers or working with children!

Also we’d love to know more about why you decided to set Crop Drop up as a not-for-profit organization. Learning what I did from Growing Communities, and how successful they’d been while staying true to their values, not-for-profit seemed like the way to go. That doesn’t mean we don’t generate profit - sometimes we do. But the point is, when we do start to build up any significant capital, it won’t go to individuals or shareholders. It will go towards furthering the sustainable food movement. And this is in our constitution, so it’s not just dependent on the goodwill of whoever’s in charge.

Also holding onto customers can be hard when you’re so locally based, as London is such a transient place. The majority of the time we lose customers because they’re moving out of the borough. We can’t hold onto them if they move outside our delivery range. But in those instances we try to hook them up with another community-based veg scheme. Growing the business has been a challenge. Being small and not-for-profit means we’ve never taken on any investment, aside from an initial small start-up loan. This was deliberate as we intend to always stay truly local and only deliver in Haringey while remaining completely financially independent. Which means we can only spend money on the business when we generate enough profit through sales. And when you’re trading in fruit and vegetables, the margins are pretty low. So there was a lot of hard graft to begin with and we still rely on some unpaid work to make things happen. Also as we’re all part-time with other jobs and interests, we do a lot of juggling. So we focus on proving the best produce and service for our customers and take the “slowly but surely” approach.

I guess on some level it was an ideological choice. Producing decent food in my opinion shouldn’t be about generating wealth for shareholders. Sure it has to make money but this shouldn’t be the reason anyone goes into food and farming. It should be for the love of nature, to be custodians of the land, for the desire to produce nutritious food for generations to come. Similarly food retailers should be there to serve the people and the producers. Often retailers are just focussed on giving people everything they want at the prices they want with little regard for the ecological and human cost of that. Being not-for-profit means that cutting corners in order to make more money just doesn’t come into the equation. But the small size of the business is also important to us. When a company gets so big and supply chains too long, it’s like the arm is so long it can’t see what the hand is doing. So it’s more likely for values and ethics to slip despite having the best of intentions. Finally we’d like to know about the challenges you faced when setting up Crop Drop, especially in terms of keeping it as sustainable as possible. What are the challenges that you still face today? Challenges in the beginning – we were doing everything on a shoestring. Finding affordable space to rent in London was a real challenge, and venues willing and suitable enough to house drop points was also hard work but eventually amazing small independent venues, like cafes, pubs and even a bookshop, who share our values, came on board. And then it got to a point where business owners would seek us out to offer their space as a drop point. The community spirit has been amazing. Challenges we still face today? Supply! As the demand for organic increases, (the organic market is increasing every year) there aren’t enough farms in the UK to supply this growing demand. And we don’t have enough small organic farms in this country. As we grow our customer base, we need to source more produce. This can be a challenge. Thanks to our relationships with some excellent family farms, we manage to keep our veg bags really local and varied but as we grow our customer base we need to ensure we can still access enough local organic produce for them. Urban agriculture can also be a real challenge – this is an important part of what we do and a constant conundrum. In the summer, about half of the produce we sourced was grown in Haringey & Enfield, which is a huge achievement. We’re part of a consortium that’s taken over a 4 acre site in Wood Green, North London and we’re developing it into a community food hub where we’re growing food and engaging the community in horticulture, healthy eating and environmental education. Making urban food production work financially is a big challenge, because we’re dealing with small amounts of land, therefore limited output, while also committing to pay the growers enough for them to have a London living wage. Unless you’re growing high-value crops like micro-greens to high-end restaurants, it’s hard to make a living. So most growers need to have another form of revenue

R FIND IT ONLINE Website: FB and Twitter: @cropdrop IG: @cropdroporganicveg 69



Dust London

with almost 20 million tea bags are thrown away in London every day, showing how tea waste can be used in this way will not only reduce the amount going to landfill (assuming composting or other waste reduction methods aren’t in operation) but it will encourage other makes to push the boundaries of material design, find another way to use a waste product and make it into something beautiful. transforming-tea-waste-into-beautiful-homeware

This campaign is to fund the creation of concrete homewares made with recycled tea waste. Two years ago Matthew and Michael founded Dust London, “a collaborative design company creating homeware from organic materials.” The creators wanted to use recycled bio waste (or organic materials) to change the way that designing materials is considered.

You’ve got until Saturday 22nd December to back this campaign if you want to get your hands on one of these unique items! I particularly like the peppermint large planter! GET IN TOUCH

The contemporary homewares have an almost sculpted design, but are created using moulds inspired by origami. The shape and styling of the objects really appealed to me, as did the subtle use of the tea. Rather than making the function of the items all about the recycling, they’ve created homewares beautiful in their own right. They explained “they were keen to step away from the computerised and the mechanistic. Instead they allow each form to evolve from handmade processes.”

Website: IG: @dustlondon IN THE PICTURES

Vase Collection (English Breakfast and Rooibos) - Each Dust London object celebrates the possibilities in bringing the organic into design. They have a mission to partner with local cafes to source more tea waste for their designs. Dust London’s ambition to change the way we recycle continues to inspire their studio work. Their vase collection demonstrates the possibilities of their approach to design. Coaster (Chamomile) - Dust London’s growing collection transforms tea waste into elegant objects using a unique process they have developed in their studio through years of experimenting. Their coaster range demonstrates the natural colour palette they achieve from this process. From the soft and subtle green hues of their peppermint range to the rich warmth of the rooibos collection, Dust London achieves a wide variation of colours and surface patterns.

The creators Michael McManus and Matt Grant scavenged waste tea leaves from cafés and restaurants all over London, and used the different varieties of tea to produce beautiful, geometric shaped coasters, planters and vases in shades derived from the tea. Peppermint tea leaves create a beautiful pale green colour, rooibos tea makes a rich ochre colour, English breakfast tea produces a more typically tea brown colour, chamomile tea makes a speckled off white and black tea and deep almost black colour. “The approach to each object in the Dust London collection requires careful consideration. The ratios of the separated tea and the non-toxic binder relative to the scale of the object are crucial in achieving the desired surface finish”.


Eliana’s paper elianas-paper-eco-friendly-bags-and-shoes

Eliana of Eliana’s paper, had the idea to reuse waste paper rather than recycling it. She uses the paper from magazines and newspapers in their original form so that they are recognisable for what they are, but turns them into something truly different. Giving the paper a new lease of life and a completely new identity, she creates baskets boxes and small objects from them. This crowdfunding campaign is to take Eliana’s paper upcycling to a new level, creating shoes and bags from waste paper. What I love about this campaign is that the finished pieces are obviously made from paper – they not made to look like they’re plastic or made from something new, they

Even if you’re not a big tea drinker, you’ll appreciate that 70




o at F y l l y Ho

embrace their origins and shout to the world that they’ve been given a second chance rather than being destroyed. Eliana explains that “the materials used consist of simple newspaper (coated, lightly coated and uncoated), paper packaging of Easter eggs, chocolates and flowers, cellophane, woven fabric paper and papier-mâché (painted and unpainted).” The shoe uppers and bags are 99% handmade, handwoven from paper cut into strips. Eliana explains that it’s a “commitment to safeguard the environment” and she is “proud to contribute to this commitment while combining artistic talent and handmade production which distinguish the brand.” product that can biodegrade into an ocean safe material is particularly important when we are talking about surfboards.

This campaign runs until the 11th January if you’d like to get your hands on one of these incredible pairs of shoes or bags.

Creator Tom Nuytens must know what he’s talking about, he’s chosen to source the natural materials for his products from ‘polyculture production forests’ which means that instead of one crop being planted (which is what we’re used to in large scale farming methods – a monoculture), different crops are planted together, which is better for biodiversity. They’re even planning to replant areas of Borneo that used to be huge palm oil plantations! Tom explains that the business is based on the principles of responsible sourcing, low impacted and fair wages. Using natural materials like balsa wood and cork for the surf boards; pandan leaves or recycled materials for the board bag, the products Snapperx offer really are ecofriendly.


Website: Facebook and IG: @elianaspaper


Snapperx eco-surf-materials-and-apparel

This campaign ends on the 2nd of January, so if you want to get your name down for one of these incredible surf boards, get in quick!

Snapperx have obviously done their research. The first line of their crowdfund campaign material uses the words ‘circular economy’ which caught my attention straight away. Talking about sustainability and the importance of creating a cradle to cradle system (making the whole process of creating an item and its end of life circular) is incredibly important, not only for showing other manufacturers that it can be done but also normalising the process and terminology. Creating a


Website: Facebook: @SnapperXsurf IG: @snapperx_surf ---Photography by Dust London, Eliana’s Paper & Snapperx

Do you have your own project

on a crowfunding platform? Would you like to see more crowdfunding projects in the next editions of No Serial Number Magazine? Email us your opinions 71


PETITIONS FOLLOW UP Written by Holly Foat In the Autumn issue of No Serial Number Magazine, we featured two petitions – the Walkers crisps petition by Geraint Ashcroft and the burner brands petition started by Tara Button. I caught up with Tara and Geraint to see what progress the petitions had made. Burner Brands petition to Burberry

that would break down into natural elements under normal conditions in a few months.”

Soon after we published the article about Burberry burning unsold stock, it was announced that they would stop this practice (

2. A short term solution to the recycling packaging problem. Geraint was incredibly thorough. He practically handed Walkers/PepsiCo a solution for crisp packet recycling. “I had done research and came up with Terracycle and asked would they be willing to setup and fund a scheme to collect packets.”

Tara Button, who created the petition told me “I’m really pleased that after enormous pressure Burberry has committed to changing its practices. I’d like to see more detail on the solutions it’s come up with. Keeping products intact and allowing people to make use of them is the most beneficial strategy, followed by remanufacturing, upcycling and finally recycling.”


Help with cleaning up beaches etc Geraint had already been talking to several beach clean-up charities and was keen to get Walkers to support for them in their day to day operations.

Back in the summer, the press discovered that Burberry was destroying goods worth £28.6m to protect their brand image. In the petition Tara explains that brands often choose to destroy their clothes, rather than donate them, so that their clothes aren’t seen being worn by people who wouldn’t buy them, therefore retaining their exclusivity.


Trials in the UK of possible packaging solutions. This is the important part, making the crisp packets work for the future. He told me that “Trials were important and we pushed the fact that in 2006 a biodegradable solution was trialled in the US but was scrapped because the US consumer didn’t like the noise. I pointed out that the UK, being one of their biggest markets, had not been given a chance in this or any trials and that the noise aspect could be used as a positive if promoted correctly.”

“Burberry is a huge brand and the eyes of the world were upon it and there’s a strong incentive for them to change. However there are many more manufacturers who are not in the public eye who still incinerate unsold products. This is why we need robust, non negotiable laws coming from government. At the moment, although companies have to say that they have tried other routes before incineration it seems there is little enforcement of these guidelines.”

Geraint said that the meeting with PepsiCo was “friendly” and he was told that there would be a press release in a few days outlining their current position and a response to his points in 3 to 4 weeks. But after 7 weeks he was still waiting so decided to take things further. This is when people were asked to return the packets back to Walkers. “At this point I must say there was never a thought that this would cause the Royal Mail problems and it was never our intention. Walkers received thousands of packets. On the 5th October I received a call from PepsiCo telling me they were issuing a press release that day outlining a plan to set up a recycling scheme with Terracycle and there would also be a freepost option for people who lived to far away from a recycling point.”

Tara explains that it’s not just an issue with Burberry “A clothing company who makes licenced t-shirts (featuring band tours and TV shows) admitted to me just last week that they destroy their unsold stock as they are not allowed to donate them. The industry needs to change. These resources are precious and need to be treated as such.” There’s obviously still work to be done, but change has already happened at Burberry so hopefully the rest of the fashion industry will follow their lead.

So Geraint’s activism got results and PepsiCo have been in contact with Beach Guardian, a beach clean charity, ask for proposals on what help is needed. “So at this stage we have achieved two of our 4 targets but work is still needed to achieve the most important biodegradable packets.” Not content with this, Geraint has also been in touch with a number of other parties “I’ve had responses from KP and Kettle among the manufacturers and Sainsbury’s from the big supermarkets. KP are in talks with Terracycle and hopefully will join the scheme set up by PepsiCo.”

Walkers crisp packet petition ( I caught up with Geraint Ashcroft who started the petition and asked him how things were going.

It looks like this a great result. I asked Geraint if he was pleased and he pointed out that whilst “overall we have made progress, and it will make a difference but only if people use the scheme.” He has a point. The recycling scheme will only work if people stop putting their crisp packets in the bin. Geraint hasn’t stopped though, he told me that “having started this and having the support of 333,000 people we will keep on pushing for solutions.” If you ever wonder what difference one person can make and if signing a petition is worth it, please think of Geraint Ashcroft and this incredible campaign!

Geraint told me that he met with PepsiCo (who own Walkers) in August. Going into the meeting he had four goals he wanted to ask them to achieve-

1. Fully biodegradable packaging in a much shorter time frame than the 2025 one. He explains that “by the meeting I had moved away from recyclable or compostable solutions as these would only help when packets were collected, those thrown away on beaches, in parks, oceans etc would still be there in a hundred years’ time. By fully biodegradable I explained I meant packets 72

a b



What? how?

Every time we ask about the kind of issues that we all face as ethical businesses, we are overwhelmed by the different challenges. In our latest post we discussed postal services, the challenges of selling unique products and competing with mass produced items and also how ethical we really are as businesses. Unfortunately some of those issues didn’t find an answer so if you think you have some tips or ideas that can help, please share them with us by sending us an email to or you can also join our Facebook group ( and share your tips and ideas there.

POSTAL SERVICES Jax: Using a more ethical courier/postal service (i.e. ferrying to and from with packages ... Transportation, fuel usage ... difficult for those of us who live in rural places with the closure of small sub post offices, which leaves fewer options or facing a car journey.

a personal level, making small changes a bit at a time. It is overwhelming though when you watch documentaries like the Stacey Dooley one the other week, you realise how little you know about the exploitation of the planet and people. I will always continue to try and improve what I'm doing in my business and personally, but it's not easy, and it can feel like ethical shopping is reserved for those with a large disposable income ! But there are lots of ways to do business and live ethically without breaking the bank :) Sorry that all turned into a bit if a ramble!!! Just trying to say it's difficult but keep trying bit by bit.

Sharron: I recently bought something from a small rural business that only promises to dispatch once a week to cut down on the number of trips made. They have a pick at once a week that collects all orders for that week. I admire their ability to resist the market pressure to dispatch instantly.

Sharron: I feel the same. It's a constant juggling act researching and balancing to try and achieve the best I can. Some days it feels like I am getting dragged down an endless rabbit hole as I try to find better ways of doing things. I focus on making sure my fabrics are either previously used or waste and avoid new product but sometimes new is necessary such as thread as it can't be reused or because something new is needed to make something pre-used usable such as the bonded backings for weaker fabrics. For areas such as the use of bondable to strengthen the fabrics, I at least know the fabrics can still be re-used again and I will always take them back to ensure they do get reused but the threads one is still one of my rabbit holes!

CHALLENGES OF SELLING UNIQUE PRODUCTS AND COMPETING WITH MASS PRODUCTION Zwia: Many upcycled items are one of a kind, so selling (especially online) is challenging. Francesca: I think this is a challenge for everyone who makes unique items and especially upcyclers. It is hard to compete with other designers that have a clothing line and especially with big brands. I feel you! It would be interested to find out what other up cyclers are doing about it or if anyone has been able to overcome the challenge and can share a few tips Zwia: Francesca I agree. I'd be interested to hear tips, too

Caroline: same feelings here! It really does feel like the more you know, the more you realise you don't know... I'd agree that the only practical way through this is to focus on one part of your business at a time. At the moment I am thinking about the use of plastic on my work - but even then, I've listened to enough Radio 4 documentaries to know that the simple "no plastic" message isn't that simple because we have to look at the environmental impacts of the alternatives, which isn't always a simple equation. I heard recently for example that a cotton shopping bag would have to be used hundreds of time to balance the impact of a plastic bag. But I also think we have to balance up the value of the use in other ways - e.g. every time I use a cotton shopping bag instead of asking for a new plastic bag, I am also reminded to think about what else I can re-use or recycle alongside my shopper. But then I wonder how much any of this matters balanced against the impact of the flights I took this week for a holiday... Sorry for adding to the ramble but at least we are thinking.

Claire: Zwia yes this is my biggest issue. Francesca: Claire I think this is the biggest issue for everyone who creates unique pieces... it's a shame but hopefully this will change as people become more aware of quality over quantity and that it is so much better to buy unique items. Claire: Francesca yes I am trying to promote the alterations and lessons more now but it's all so hard to get off the ground. HOW ETHICAL WE REALLY ARE Vicky: I like to think I run an ethical business. I also like to think I am an ethical consumer. I also find it all such a nightmare to know what is the right thing to buy / do. For example I use recycled boxes to package my products. Everything is also compostable. I have sourced much of this in the UK, but some of the boxes are shipped from the USA - not good for air miles ! Is it better to buy new boxes that are made from a sustainable source or recycled ones ? Also whilst reclaimed items make up most of my work, I use things like solder, flux etc - I don't know how these are manufactured or their environmental impact. I try and tackle one part of my business at a time and look at how I can improve my processes or purchasing - if you don't do it that way it can end up feeling like your heading in to a rabbit warren! I do the same on

Vicky: It's reassuring to know you both feel the same and you are so right Caroline - at least we are thinking. Francesca: I think as we become more aware and conscious of how ethical our businesses are and our lifestyle are we feel a bit dishearten by it all. I agree with Caroline we should focus on one aspect of the business at the time! Francesca: Vicky you are definitely not on your own.



THE ECO CRAFTERS AND ENTREPRENEURS’ AWARD ALICE BEAR waiting list, our Rag Doll and Teddy patterns and our zero profit projects of promise jars and a global lost and found teddy map. We needed to put our energy where our hearts and our gifts are."If you are feeling creative, the shop also stocks a range of its own teddy bear and Rag Doll making kits, patterns and materials with most of our emphasis being in the digital download patterns that encourage recycling of the 300,000 tonnes of clothing that goes to landfill each year. There are also regular bear making classes where you can learn to make your very own, traditional, mohair, jointed teddy bear and a gorgeous offering of vintage bears and dolls for rehoming.

In an age of mass consumerism, when children are often seen as a quick way to get at the money in a parent's pocket, Alice's Bear Shop have put their money where their ethical mouth is and turned their back on the hard sell. The shop, until recently a feature on Lyme Regis' Broad Street, is still open seven days of the week, at St Michael’s Business Centre, in the hall of a little old Victorian school house. Founder Rikey Austin say that "most of the children we see have far too much 'stuff' that means nothing to them. As members of the Organisation for Responsible Businesses we believe that People and Planet should come before Profit and are always looking for projects that enrich peoples lives and at ways to improve the ethics of how we trade. For us that means concentrating on our Teddy Bear and Doll Hospital. With a six month

We donate to The Word Forest, a reforestation charity that also builds classrooms in Kenya, Save the Children and Air Ambulance.

GET IN TOUCH Website: Facebook: @AlicesBearShop Instagram: @alicesbearshop




LOUISE ARTHUR Rough Around the Hedges Commissions and repairs on request.

No basket has ever been made by a machine... Where there are baskets there are people; where there are people, there have always been baskets. Rough Around the Hedges offer hands - on activities and products using sustainably grown willow and local plant materials. All our activities and products are wildlife friendly. They promote seasonal awareness and foster a positive relationship between people and their local environment. Walking the hedgerows, learning about plants, collecting and harvesting, crafting both useful and beautiful hand made items - it’s all about reconnecting with our natural environment. Demonstrations, workshops and taster sessions are also available.

Based in the South Downs National Park, Hampshire, UK

GET IN TOUCH Facebook: @rougharoundthehedges IG: @louiserougharoundthehedges

Bent green wood hazel chair and baskets

Selection of contemporary baskets




PAULA MACGREGOR I am a visual narrative artist working in assemblage and BookWorks. I mainly work with found objects from nature, and rescued materials from other people’s discards. I also have a passion for leading community collaboration projects. My roots are working with textiles, and I often find myself pulled back into them. Currently I am exploring boiled wool and the beauty of working with the resulting felted fabric. I am also experimenting with garment re-creations, constructing new outfits from discarded clothing and bedding.

EXHIBITION The Dangerous Pockets Project International community collaboration – travelling exhibition 2018 - ongoing

My latest community collaboration is the ‘Dangerous Pockets Project’ – inspired by a poem by Sharon Owens. I am inviting everyone to join in this travelling exhibition by making a pocket (or more) and sending it/them to me. Check out the ‘Dangerous Pockets Project’ on Facebook - you will also find further information on my website.

Paula MacGregor launched this project after being inspired by the poem ‘Dangerous Coats’ by Sharon Owens. Everyone is enthusiastically invited to take part in this ongoing community collaboration, which will result in a travelling exhibition. CONTACTS Project manager Paula MacGregor Email: Website: FB: @DangerousPocketsProject





SARAH COX - Papier mache artist


I live in Ilfracombe, North Devon, near the harbour where I get daily inspiration and have the perfect backdrop for my creations. I am passionate about doing my little bit to turn rubbish into something a bit more beautiful. All my pieces are made from recycling card and newspaper and anything else that may be useful in a particular design. I am lucky that many local businesses supply me with their waste materials - recently I acquired a batch of “For Sale” signs from an estate agent that I prefer to use instead of canvases.

Ilfracombe Art Trail 11th & 12th May 2019 All round Ilfracombe – artists/crafters open up their houses, as well as other businesses/venues hosting artists. Around 50 artists/ crafters take part in many activities around town and I transform my house into a papier mache fishy wonderland!

Working this way also keeps my costs down, so in turn I can pass that on to my customers. All my creations are very reasonably priced - I don’t believe in over-charging and am always chuffed to see a piece go off to a new home. I love it when I am asked “Do you think you could make...?”. If it’s possible I will, and the bigger the piece, the better!


I don’t just make fish, I have also created props for businesses as well as shop signs, pub signs, football memorabilia, pet cats and dogs... My largest commission so far has been an 8 foot wave for a surf shop! I use beautiful Ilfracombe as a backdrop to photograph my creations. It’s on my doorstep so it would be a waste not to use it and it also promotes our lovely little town too. or find out details via me. My studio at my home near the harbour is open anytime but by appointment only. Ring or message me to arrange a time. GET IN TOUCH Website: FB: @sarahcoxart IG: @sarahcoxartist Twitter: @sarahcoxartist






The Marriage of Modern Science with the Ancient Past in Creating a Future for Natural Dyes

The applicability of using natural dyes on a mass scale is a somewhat debateable topic amongst the natural dye community. Although I had not initially set out to answer this question within my research, it seems that it is corollary to investigating their resurgence within eco-fashion sectors. And I am interested in the answer. Natural dyes have a common misconception of being of poor ‘fastness’ and involve laborious mechanistic process in their usage. Therefore, their chemical counterparts, the synthetic dyes, have ultimately won their popular positioning within the textile industry with their ease of use, accuracy in reproducibility and strong colour fastness. But the ecological and physiological effects associated with these dyes within the textile industry has begged us to question their continued usage. The value of ‘traditional knowledge’ (often referred to as ‘indigenous knowledge’) is being formally recognized in formulating global strategies for mitigating and adapting to environmental change. Amongst many of my research participants, the notion of referring ‘how it used to be done’ [when talking about using natural dyes] regularly comes up. In pursuit of finding alternatives to the chemical age we are in, we seem to naturally look backwards for answers first. And it makes sense to. For thousands of years humans have been adapting to environmental change. The reason for their success is because of the way humans have managed to learn and adapt along the way by ensuring that their knowledge base is diversified as well as passing on knowledge and lessons from past experience. These thoughts tie in perfectly to one of my research participants from my project, Rachel Machenry, business owner of Botanica Tinctoria. Having studied in England for her degree in textiles, Rachel’s career path took her on a journey into using natural dyes facilitated by personal experience as well as an exploratory eye for cultural beauty and environmental protection. It was a research trip to India that allowed Rachel to build up a solid network of contacts in setting up a supply chain for her company. Botanica Tinctoria is an online shop, selling naturally dyed trimmings including ribbons, tapes, broderie anglaise, hand-crocheted lace and rick rack as well as high quality Eri silk, perle and 6-strand embroidery threads. These products are also currently available in three stores within Europe (The UK, Netherlands and Portugal). Still in its infancy, Rachel is still experimenting with her products to see where they best suit in the market. What is so exciting about Botanica Tinctoria is the system in which the products are dyed within. Rachel has a strong link to the company Biodye, which is an innovative natural dye house in India which has successfully set up a sustainable, closed loop system for using natural dyes on a large scale for textile production. The beauty behind such an innovative system is the marrying of two strands of knowledge, including the ancient and historical practices of natural dyes that have been used in India for thousands of years, with the biotechnological advances and research opportunities of

today. Biodye is an exemplary of how natural dyes can be used on a large scale. Another thread that is beginning to emerge within this research is the growing interest in the science behind natural dyes. And I have spoken to a number of participants who come from backgrounds of areas such as biology and chemical engineering who would agree that it is this scientific and biological knowledge that will be the key in advancing to the use of natural dyes to an industrial scale. Biodye is living proof of this. And it is a closed loop, sustainable system! And even those that do not have a scientific background still express much interest in learning and understanding the molecularity of natural dyes to further advance their knowledge.

Written by Naina Bajaria Photograhy by Rachel Machenry of Botanica Tinctoria Website:

Winter Competition

Available on the website

Share your opinions and ideas about NSN magazine and you will be entered in a draw to win Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh ..... Simply type the address and answer a few questions to enter.



A winner will be selected in March 2019

BACK ISSUES IN DIGITAL VERSION If you wish to read back issues no longer available on the website you can find them on sale on the digital platforms and

A mAGAZINE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRAFT MOVEMENT Why the name “No Serial Number”? Because nature and craft share a common characteristic, they are not made in series. They are both the result of an organic, slow process of growth and development. Not one leaf is the same, nor is a handmade creation. Crafts remind us that our hands and minds can work in tune with our natural environment to make things that are useful, or simply beautiful. As a society, we are in urgent need to slow down and preserve our collective environmental and artisanal heritages from unsustainable production practices and corporate greed. No Serial Number Magazine is a humble attempt to explore how creativity, nature, activism and business intersect in contemporary society. Who is it for? artists, artisans, casual makers, craftivists, and conscious citizens Topics textile arts • natural colours • traditional trades and crafts • creative upcycling and salvaging • slow fashion • zero-waste lifestyle • biodiversity • grassroots environmental movements INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED BY NO SERIAL NUMBER ISSN 2516-1776 (Print) ISSN 2516-1784 (Online)

No Serial Number Magazine Fb: Twitter: @N0serialnumberM Use #NoSerialNumber Pinterest: noserialnumber Instagram: @noserialnumber.com_magazine £13 + Delivery Printed on recycled paper at UEL Printers

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Winter Issue 2018  

The Beginning of the World Wide Weave Project Paints and Pigments in the Past Discovering a Salvage Project at the LANA VIVA Studio Experime...

Winter Issue 2018  

The Beginning of the World Wide Weave Project Paints and Pigments in the Past Discovering a Salvage Project at the LANA VIVA Studio Experime...