September 30, 2010

September 28, 2010

Mode Dance Performance - Ariane Mariane Fashion Show


From the 16th to the 19th of September the new collection of art-to- wear  "Ariane Mariane” was revealed to an enthusiastic public in a spectacular way: a danced fashion performance.

The concept of associating two artistic expressions – fashion and dance – was envisioned and coordinated by Eric Jacob and created by choreographer Sonia Boissiere. They bewitched the audience with their ardor and very successful improvisations.


Ariane Mariane: “I can’t imagine a more fantastic and joyful show. The performance
underlined the happiness and playfulness I want to transmit with my work. I’m touched and grateful and want to thank all of these fantastic persons who participated to realize this awesome project.”

Written by Ariane Mariane, a member of TAFA

September 25, 2010

"Quitting My Day Job to Sell on Etsy" by Hagar Arnon Elbaz

Beadwork evolved into making beads out of neckties

When I decided to go study textile design my father claimed right away that it was not a profession. In a way he was right, but I never regretted for a second choosing this path.

A found door was tirned into a miror
 I have worked to earn a living in all kinds of jobs. Some of them had nothing to do with textiles or design but made me gain other important qualifications. For many years I was a handbags buyer for Israeli companies and the design part of my soul was satisfied.  As a buyer, I had to look for materials, follow the world of design, find ways to discover what the next fashionable line was going to be, amend items in order to suit the Israeli taste and go to international exhibitions. 
Through it all, I never stopped designing different things; I made the children's clothing (when they were young enough to wear what I told them to), designed furniture for our home and redecorated furniture and items we found in the streets and in people's storage rooms.

Giving tired furniture a new look.

Three and a half years ago I started making experiments in designing with glass beads and wanted to find a way to create my own beads.  As a great fan of second hand and reused items, I decided to join my brother-in-law on his trip to Brussels in the search of such merchandise.

The market on Place du Jeu de Balle was a paradise and great inspiration for me. We went there every morning for two weeks and I felt like Alice in Wonderland. At one point, I found a huge bundle of neckties and right away I knew that this was what I was looking for. I had no idea of how I would use them, but ten kilos of neckties were packed and traveled home with me. The journey started there.

Place du Jeu de Balle-Brussels

After washing and taking the neckties apart, I started looking for the system that will make a bead out of these wonderful materials. It took me a year and a half to come up with something I was happy with. For the first time in years I just let myself do something for the pleasure of doing it. What a fantastic experience!  I rejected any remarks from the people around me trying to push me into selling the items accumulating in my drawers. I felt I wanted to remind myself of the pleasure of doing something freely only for the sake of doing it. Two years later I actually put my first items for sale on ETSY but still went on working a day job.
It is only now that I decided to make a full time job out this hobby of mine. Wish me luck!

September 23, 2010

"Feira Hippie", Brazilian Art Fair, 1980

"Clay Fishermen", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

My parents were missionaries in Brazil from 1962 to 1980.  I was a baby when they left for their new life, so that tells you how old I am now...  The "hippie" movement lasted about 10 years longer there than it did in the United States, so when I was a teenager in the 70's, everybody was making something, crafts, music, poetry....  Creativity blossomed, even as the country saw a bloody period of student protests, disappearances, and revolution.  Political awareness only came to me much later.  I drank what I could of the cup of Craft.  My parents encouraged this and placed me with tutors, often lonely spinsters, around our town who offered classes at their homes. 

"Baiana", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

By the age of 15, my entrepreneurial spirit had been awakened and I sold painted t-shirts at a "hippie fair" every Saturday.  Little did I know that this path would continue to evolve through the next 30 years! 

"Restaurante", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

My father, an amateur photographer, had a dark room in our house and taught me how to use it.  I continued to study photography in high school and these photos are the result from a study I did for my class.  I don't remember what city this was, but it was on a road trip I took with another guy whose whole family worked at the hippie fair. 

"Carver", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

Unfortunately, the handmade revolution in Brazil did not last.  The last time I was there, about 15 years ago, the hippie fairs were flooded with crafts from Indonesia, China, India and other Asian countries.  Industrialization has a way of killing off the handmade trades until the day comes when people find that they need it to remain sane.  So, they take a class in something for "therapy".  All of a sudden, the process brings back meaning to life and they can no longer stand to live without it.  I think that is what has happened here in the United States.  We have become revolted by meaningless consumerism and in both supporting the Craft and making it ourselves, we find our way back to the basics, to growing things and to making music.

"Metalworker", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

I don't know what the Craft movement is like in Brazil now.  I know it had a huge impact on my life and it was my training ground.  I have dabbled in many different mediums and finally gave myself to textiles and the needle traditions.  I believe that every social group has to go through this process and reclaim traditions, taking them to new expressions, in order to find its place in the maze of our contemporary world. 

"Pinwheels", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

That is what we are about here in our TAFA Team and with our Etsy shops.  One thing I know for sure:  We cannot succeed without your support and buying power.  The makers and the buyers work together in a symbiotic partnership where one cannot move ahead without the other.  So, if you are a potential buyer, visit our shops and help us move ahead in our destiny as makers.  We hope that what we do will also bring meaning and substance to your life.  You can be sure that every purchase you make will do so for us!

"Pipoca", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

If you are interested in learning more about our time in Brazil, I started a blog about it:  Biels in Brazil.  I work on it when I can.  I'm very excited about it right now because an aunt had saved the letters my mother wrote to her in the 1960's and 1970's.  They are loaded with interesting insights about life in Brazil from that period.  In time, I will transcribe them to the blog.

"Sugar Candy", Brazil, 1980, Photo by Rachel Biel

September 22, 2010

A Batik Wedding by Susan Itkin

The bride and groom surrounded by 
my batik wall hangings and scarves.

This past spring I had an exhibit of my batik wall art and scarves at the Maurice M. Pine Public Library Gallery in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. I have had several library exhibits over the years, but this particular gallery space is very unique for a library; it was actually set up to be gallery, not an afterthought in a library hallway or foyer. The gallery is quite large, has many white walls at angles, and can be viewed not only at eye level, but also from the balcony above.

A wedding surrounded by batik.

The woman who manages the gallery was extremely helpful setting up the show. An artist herself, and experienced with the gallery, she had great ideas (like draping my scarves on pieces of tree brances) and hung the show beautifully.

 View of the library and the batik show from the balcony.

One day when I stopped by to check in on the show, someone said to me, "Have you seen the photos of the wedding that was held in the gallery?"   Wow - I was so surprised and flattered that a couple I didn't even know - friends of the library director - wanted to be surrounded by my batik for their wedding ceremony. A few weeks later I heard that they stopped by the gallery, where another exhibit had replaced mine, and they asked what had happened to "their" exhibit! Very cool.

TAFA Member Profile:  Susan Itkin Batik

September 21, 2010

Oshiwa Designs: Hand Carved Wooden Stamps for Fabric, Paper or Clay

So many of our TAFA members engage themselves in the fascinating exploration of surface design and manipulation.  What that means is that dyes, resists, discharge and other processes are used to bond with fabrics, changing how it looks in color and feel.  Fabric can also be sewn, torn, distressed and shaped in infinite ways to achieve the desired look.  Those members, surely, could use some Oshiwa stamps to add to their collection of tools for their surface design exploits.

 Oshiwa Textile Stamp

Oshiwa is a small carving workshop in Namibia.  Although they offer several products, the ones available in their Etsy shop are carved textile stamps like the one in the photo.  The designs are African inspired and one of a kind.  I have been working with the Oshiwa Team and am their rep here in the United States.  I suggested that they make multiples of the same stamp to make it easier on the retail end and save time.  "No way!"  That would rob them of their creative process.  So, although similar themes run through the stamps, no two are really alike.

 The Oshiwa Namibia Carving Team

Although to our TAFA group and peers, printing on fabric seems like the natural way to use the stamps, they also work on paper and can be imprinted into anything soft, like clay or soap.  They are also beautiful simply as art in their own right.

Oshiwa uses wood from a renewable project in Ghana.  You will find more information on Oshiwa and how to use the stamps in the shop's profile.  The stamps are available as singles or as sets (priced at a 15% discount).  Shipping is international.  Support a wonderful group by purchasing some of their wonderful stamps!

September 18, 2010

Wrap Youself in a Ralli Quilt!

Appliqued Ralli Quilt available on Rayela

Quilts captured my heart a couple of decades ago.  I love the traditional ones found all over the United States, contemporary ones made by fiber artists, and cultural ones found in Central Asia and other regions.  I've made quite a few myself and although I have a lot of patience, I don't have enough to translate time into a masterpiece of perfection.  In fact, I prefer rugged, uneven stitching in all textiles.  If I remember correctly, there is a Chinese tradition of making a purposeful mistake in an embroidery to keep the maker from getting a big head.  I wouldn't have to worry about that!  My quilts would probably fail most quilt show guidelines, although more and more, other fiber artists like me are pushing the boundaries to include rough handwork as a technique in surface design.

I sell textiles from around the world in my Etsy Shop.  Most are remnants or pieces which can be incorporated into new work.  But, I also sell finished, vintage pieces and of these, ralli quilts from India and Pakistan are my favorite.  The quilt above is an extraordinary piece which shows applique cutwork techniques also found in the work of the Hmong, the Kuna, and in Hawaiian quilts.  More common are patchwork quilts like the one below:

Patchwork Ralli Quilt available on Rayela

The backs often show signs of wear and tear:

 Damaged detail of a ralli quilt's back.

Does that look familiar to you?  I loved it so much that I used this thumbnail as the background texture for our TAFA Team blog.  I manipulated the color and hue to make it dark, but it is the same piece.

I have written several posts on my personal blog about ralli quilts and you can find them by clicking here.

To see my current stock of ralli quilts, visit my Etsy shop.

September 17, 2010

Suzani: Joyful Expression of Central Asian Culture

Suzani, a Persian word meaning "needle", is the term used to describe this Uzbek Samarkand embroidery. Traditionally, mothers would start embroidering large strips of cotton or silk cloth at the birth of a daughter. When that daughter was old enough to learn to embroider, she and her friends would take on completing the work, which was used for bed, wall coverings, and other types of home decoration.

I've been in awe of these intricate needleworks since I first saw them in the 1980's. I've been like a kid in a candy store buying them for our business here in Turkey since 1999. As much as I love all the cultural textiles of the Near East and Central Asia, for me suzanis display the most exuberant expression of color and graphic whimsical patterns. I wonder if the artist Matisse ever saw them? I certainly see connections between his Jazz collages and these.

Suzani patterns are drawn on by hand, and like all imperfect handmade treasures, sometimes the stitching covers all the outlines, sometimes not! Each roundel of swirls and flowers is meant to bring the "Garden of Eden" - a lifetime of happiness and prosperity into the home. This unlined suzani is about 40+ years of age, with offwhite cotton satin-stitched in jade, violet, magenta, aubergine, indigo, black and grey silk thread. 

To see more suzanis, please visit us at Bazaar Bayar. Thanks!

September 15, 2010

Introducing TAFA's Etsy Team: A Wonderful Place to Shop!

TAFA Members are all about excellence.  The working artists represented here push the limits of innovation, exploring new ways to manipulate fabric, thread, and all of the other materials used in the textile and needle arts.  We have tried to organize our Etsy shops by theme, but many of us have too many interests, causing our inventory to reflect a wide range of products.  But, most of us do have specialties and in exploring the categories we have set up, you will find the common threads.

In, Apparel,  almost all of the shop owners explore various methods of using dyes and surface design.  Coupled with elegant designs like the organza jacket above, you can be sure that these are all one of a kind pieces.

Of course, one must accessorize one's outfits, right?   One of our Australian members, Plumfish Creations, might just be the wildest of the bunch, crocheting wonderful scarves and lariats out of recycled silk.  Check them all out in Jewelry and Accessories!  Absolutely stunning wearables, some functional, some just because you can!

Not necessarily toys (although some definitely are!), Art Dolls and Animals may perhaps appeal to the child within each of us.   I happen to have many creatures from around the world, made of fabric, wood, metal and clay.  Somehow they make me feel connected to the people and places they represent.

Want to wrap yourself in a quilt?  You will find those in the Home Interiors category.  Art quilts are normally intended for the wall.  A quilt is defined as a textile which has a top, a batting (or some kind of filling) and a backing.  Art quilters push the boundaries of that definition by exploring new ways to embellish, design, dye, and manipulate fabric and other materials.  TAFA was embraced by art quilters early on and continues to form a substantial part of the membership.  Several of them have shops on Etsy, to my great delight!

Aside from those wonderful traditional quilts which you can sleep on and wrap yourself in, Home Interiors also offers wonderful objects for your home.  Vintage Renewal finds old furniture and gives it new life by fixing the upholstery and using cool, funky fabrics.  Think of how much is saved from landfills by doing this!  In fact, many of our TAFA members are committed to green practices by recycling, upcycling, or growing/using renewable materials for their products.

TAFA is international, both in where we live and in culture.  Many of us are passionate about traditional ethnic textiles and in the cultures they represent.  Some work with vintage textiles, while quite a few work diligently to provide economic opportunities to low income artists who cannot access larger markets for their wonderful skills.  Handed down generation to generation, cultural textiles have often been marginalized and are disappearing around the world.  Old and new ideas sometimes flower into hilarious interpretations of modernity:

 You will find Afghanistan, Turkey, South Africa, Panama, and several other countries represented in Cultural Textiles.

And, of course, any of you who makes "stuff" will agree with me that supplies take up a big chunk of our real estate in our homes.  With some, it is almost a disease!  Well, TAFA members are here to help you find great supplies and patterns, handmade, vintage or designed by the seller.  Yes, we are all about textiles, fiber art, and the needle arts, but some of our supplies are made of wood, rubber and we also have patterns.  Oshiwa, for example, is a small workshop in Namibia that carves wooden stamps which can be used on fabric, paper or imprinted into clay (and soap?).

Other members design rubber stamps or salvage vintage lettering.  We now have several members on TAFA who raise herds of sheep and other animals for their wool.  This pleases me to no end!  A few of them have shops on Etsy where you will find wool, roving and yarns. 

Finally, we have the Eclectic Mix category.  As we are only allowed 10 pages on this blogger platform, we used up the others for categories where there were defined groupings of product.  Eclectic Mix houses those that don't quite fit into those other categories, like embroidery or paper.  But, it must not be missed!  Treasures are there!

This brings us to the end of our little tour.  TAFA is full of eye candy, so explore our shops here and our member profiles on our main site, TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.  There is also a lot of knowledge here.  Our member blogs hold invaluable information for the textile and fiber art enthusiast.  Spread the word about us and know that your good faith is deeply appreciated!

Interested in joining TAFA?  Click here for membership information.

September 14, 2010

Welcome to the TAFA Team!

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List is a membership organization that seeks to find new markets for its members using social media and other networking tools. About half of our members are also Etsy sellers. We aim to become THE destination for the best source of fiber art, textiles and related needle arts on Etsy.

TAFA is about product. All of us on Etsy have something to sell. We represent quality, innovation, a sensitivity to the environment, an interest in the world, and an enthusiasm for the historical connection contemporary artists have to those who have passed before us. Our materials include cloth, yarn, thread, dyes, an infinite assortment of needles, machines, scissors, and other supplies. We represent old and new, traditional and contemporary. Some of us recycle what was destined for landfills. Some of us are working artists while others represent projects in disadvantaged areas of the world. Together, our products speak about the world we live in.

TAFA is about people. We live all over the world. We are black, white, pink, brown, and some may have green or purple hair. We are women and men who believe that a small business can make a difference. We are passionate about our work and hope that you will share in that enthusiasm. We are people who understand that our work is part of a larger community where we need buyers and supporters to keep us going. Visit our shops, get to know us, interact with us. We are all part of this beautiful world; a wonderful tapestry of languages, customs, traditions, innovation, creative thought and a love for the fabric that binds us together.

Please share our blog with your family and friends. Visit our Etsy shops and our TAFA website for more wonderful work. We love comments, so please feel free to let us hear your voice. We thank you for your support.