23 August, 2011

Rebecca Burgess' Fibershed Project

I am reading this blog, http://fibershed.wordpress.com.  Rebecca Burgess has set herself the challenge of only wearing clothing sourced from 150 miles around her.  That's fibre, dyes, milling or prep, fabric construction, tailoring, everything done close to home.  She aims to promote and reestablish local custom milling in her area in order to restore jobs, give artisanal fibre growers a place for processing material, and divert local meat sheep wool from the waste stream.  She demonstrates a high level of understanding of the local materials available to her through her use of natural, local dyestuffs and naturally-coloured fibres.  Examples include brown alpaca fibre, fennel or oak gall dye baths, and coloured cotton varieties from Sally Fox, breeder of Foxfibre.  By wearing unconventional clothing, Burgess opens a conversation about water pollution and occupational hazards from synthetic dyes, something she says she saw first-hand while travelling in Asia.

The results look stylish and her many collaborative projects make for vicarious thrills and aspirational reading.  The public reaction she gets is really something, both in comments posted on the website and from passersby in real life.  About a felted alpaca coat, the author posts on 2nd March, 2011, "it seems everyone dies for it when I'm walking down the street...there is some longing and pain involved when they realize it is not off the rack."

If you like to listen to podcasts and streaming audio while you spin yarn, Burgess has given some interviews: "Radical Ideas: Grow Your Own Farm-fresh Wardrobe," Crosscurrents from KALW News, June 8, 2011; "The Fibershed Project: Living One Year in Locally Grown Clothes," Sustainable World Radio, Oct 28, 2010*; and "The Fibershed Project," Cultural Energy, April 19, 2010.

*click on the little POD icon at the top left to stream audio if you don't wish to download the mp3 file.

ETA: the new Fibershed website is http://www.fibershed.com/.  Burgess also has a lot of online content at http://ecologicalartist.wordpress.com/.

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