Once upon a time a few people and I–mainly me and a delightful co-possessor of Stewart genetic material–started work on a zine. It was about non-violent protest and about dumpster diving and about food and about books, about using pens and needles and paint brushes and typewriters and forks as the tools of our daily revolution.
But, like many of my zine projects, it has never seen the light of day, and damn it, older though they may be, more than a few of those peices deserve to escape the dusty prison of my paper-mountained office and feel the sun on their face, the wind rustling their little yellowing dog-ears.
This excerpt is written by Tara Stewart of George Goes Green (in)fame, seamstress, writer, seventh rider of the apocalypse.
Look at the tag on the nearest piece of clothing. Where was it made? It might list a country- but were you aware that the country on the tag isn’t required to be the actual country of
What name is on the tag? A company, likely. Who is that company? Who actually made the garment, who ran the machine that cut and stitched and folded and attached that convenient little tag? How many people worked in the factory? What were they paid?
How many other people in the world own that identical piece of clothing?
My grandmother taught me to sew before I could properly hold a needle: she handed me a pair of scissors, and I made a quilt with scotch tape. It is, to date, the most useful, meaningful skill I have ever learned.
I am a seamstress. I like to think I carry on a tradition. There have been seamstresses from the moment our ancestors began donning bits of fur for warmth. The same cannot be said for, say, bankers. If the economy collapses, if the world overturns, I will still have a useful skill. There will always be need for clothing.
Centuries ago, people took apart their old clothing and make it into new, until the fabric was too worn to stitch again. Then it was reused. In all ages of history, old clothing became rags, for cleaning, for filling mattresses, for soaking up menstrual blood, for the rag woman (rags were once turned in to be recycled into paper–same principle as turning in cans). Women turned pieces of clothing into quilts, works of art.
My grandmother never threw anything away, including napkins and Ziploc bags. I thought she was crazy until I made the connection that for thousands of years, people did not throw things away until they were no longer useful. There was no such thing as disposable- disposable was actually a movement in the late 60s. People had fewer things, and they were made to last- something difficult to find in modern stores full of cheap, poorly made crap that?s meant to be thrown away within a year. Every piece of clothing was worthwhile, in some way unique.
I am an artist. I make clothing from fabric inherited from my grandmother, from bedsheets, from curtains, from random items found at Goodwill for a dollar and cut up into new and interesting things. I make recycled art.
Thousands of years ago, art was what you put on your body- clothing, tattoos, jewelry. It was the image you painted on the side of a pot, the design you carved on a wooden spoon. It was useful, it was sustainable, it was a part of everyday life. It lasted, it was handed down through generations. If we are to truly start a revolution, here it is- we must bring art back into our daily lives, save it from standardization and mass production. The scissors in my hand become a weapon for change.
We are what we eat, we are what we wear. Where did you come from? Who made you? Every morning every person makes a choice- what to wear? What do you choose?