Timm Ranch sheep shearing with Fibershed.
Raise your hand if you don’t own an iron…
I love getting inquiries from new companies, especially from industries that I haven’t worked in very often. Today I was asked about my experience photographing textiles. At first I kind of stumbled to think of examples, but after our phone call I went digging in the laundry (hard drives) and realized that I do have a lot more experience with textiles than I thought… which I owe largely to my five years of photographing the talented artisans of Fibershed.
So here is me, putting my best wrinkle forward…
Lucky for me owning an iron isn’t a job requirement for photographing textiles… but being friends with talented stylists who do own such devices is. And from this day forward, I vow to never leave home without my stylist when photographing textiles again.
these are a few of my favorite things…
If only all photo shoots could happen at sunset, with perfectly fluffy puffy clouds, donkeys, barns, brand new tiny lambs and a community of lovely people who work to take care of them. Thank you, Fibershed, for bringing me out of my editing shell to Bodega Pastures. Look for a full Farm Story on Fibershed coming soon.
My new home studio…
If you move enough furniture and hang up a black sheet in my living room, you get this…
And if you take down that sheet, and add a cute baby, you get this…
I am very slowly (10 years in to this career) realizing why people have studios.
Just think… no commute, no schlepping stuff, predictable light all the time… sounds pretty dreamy.
What do you think, 2015, could it be time?
All of the beautiful clothes and accessories featured here were created by the talented Fibershed community. Look for these products and more on the Fibershed Marketplace.
Huge thanks to everyone who made this photo shoot happen… especially Tessa Watson, Debbie Wilson, Dan K, Lindsay Riddell, and all the baby holders… I couldn’t have done it without you.
The Artists meet the Alpacas…
Rebecca brought two of her Fibershed artists…
…and the black felt jacket they made together…
…to meet the alpacas who grew the wool for the jacket…
…and the ranchers who raised the alpacas for the wool.
I am not sure who enjoyed the meeting more…
…or the artists.
But I think everyone, including the dogs, can agree that it was another super fun Fibershed adventure.
We learned, and saw, so much more than we ever thought we would…
…including all of Rebecca’s cute new leggings.
To learn more about our alpaca adventure, and Rebecca’s cute new leggings, check out Rebecca’s Fibershed blog:
The Artist Meets the Farmer…
This is Zara Franks, creator of Venn Apparel, in her impromptu outdoor studio in Berkeley, California.
Zara is one of the talented fiber artists contributing to Rebecca’s fibershed wardrobe.
And these are two pieces Zara created for Rebecca, with wool that Rebecca acquired from Kenny, a farmer in Mill Valley, who raises his sheep just 21.7 miles away from Zara’s home.
Zara was kind enough to meet with us and show us how she creates her magic…
She makes it look easy, but I am not fooled. It takes more than a machine to make the lovely pieces that Zara creates.
After our visit with Zara, we scooped her up and took her to meet Kenny and his sheep at The Woolly Egg Ranch.
Kenny’s family has been farming this property for multiple generations and Kenny is doing his best to keep that tradition going, even though the land around him isn’t so rural anymore.
Kenny raises his sheep for meat, not wool. Meat sheep typically do not have the quality of wool that knitters want to use. So until Kenny met Rebecca, he threw away the wool after the sheep were sheared because he didn’t know what else to do with it.
Rebecca was not scared off by the meat sheep’s wool, so she made a deal with Kenny to pay for the cost of the shearing in exchange for the wool.
Next Rebecca had the wool spun with a softer wool at Jane’s Mill, and she is giving the wool blend to fiber artists, like Zara, to create clothing for her fibershed challenge.
And now Kenny, excited about the new potential market for his sheep, is looking into breeding his meat sheep with wool sheep, so ultimately he will have two products to sell.
The fiber artists, who Rebecca is working with, were very excited to meet the sheep responsible for the wool they are using.
And they were excited to meet Kenny, the biodiesel making, chicken farming, sheep herding, stage building man of many hats.
As an extra bonus to Rebecca’s fibershed challenge, to keep her wardrobe entirely locally grown and produced for one year, Kenny makes his own biodiesel fuel out of leftover grease from a local Chinese restaurant.
So the lifecycle of these these two pieces of clothing goes… from sheep on a biodiesel fueled farm in Mill Valley, to a mill in Yolo County, to Rebecca in Fairfax (where part of the wool is dyed with indigo that was grown in Fairfax), to Zara in Berkeley.
By my googlemap calculations, that equals about 198 miles from start to finish. It is hard to get clothes with a smaller carbon footprint than that.
And it is especially hard to find sustainable clothes that are as stylishly fantastic as these.
For more information on Fibershed hats.. email Zara, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Bags Full… and only 15 days left to help fund this project…
The first step for Rebecca’s Fibershed challenge is to process all of the locally sourced wool and cotton that the local fiber artists need to make the Fibershed clothes that Rebecca will be wearing every single day for the next year.
So our first trip was up to Yolo Wool Mill in Woodland, California… which is 82.3 miles away from where Rebecca lives in Fairfax, and therefore it is well within the boundaries of Rebecca’s 150 mile Fibershed. And there we met Jane Dreamer, the owner of the Yolo Wool Mill.
Rebecca brought with her three bags full of wool that she bought from a meat sheep farmer in Marin, who was planning on throwing away the wool because he didn’t know what else to do with it.
Rebecca and Jane weighed the wool so the processing of cleaning, carding and spinning, in all of these big machines, could begin.
Jane was an excellent tour guide. She carefully explained the history of each machine and showed us how each one worked in order to make the final product.
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It is amazing that such big, clunky, ancient, greasy machines can make something so beautifully delicate… and it is even more amazing to think that it all is made right here in our very own Fibershed.
To learn more about the history of mills and more about the machines we saw at Yolo Wool Mill, visit the Fibershed blog: http://fibershed.wordpress.com/
If you are curious to know more about what Fibershed is you can read more here: https://paigegreen.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/fibershed/
We have only 15 more days to reach our fund raising goal on kickstarter. If we don’t reach that goal we will not get the funds that have been pledged so far.
So if you enjoyed this post and if you would like to see more of them, then please consider making a donation here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fibershed/funding-fibershed-one-year-150-miles
If you liked this post, but you can not support it financially, then you can vote for our project to win a $10,00o grant here: http://www.nau.com/collective/grant-for-change/rebecca-burgess-1355.html
Next stop: Sally Fox’s farm in the Capay Valley and Rebecca wearing her first complete Fibershed outfit.
Do not take stylists for granted…
With our fingers crossed, I think I can say that Rebecca Burgess and I are finished with photo shoots for her book… seven months, six blog posts, four states, and at least twelve photo shoots later.
Our last and final task was to photograph the beautiful knit pieces that Heidi Iverson designed and knit to represent spring and winter.
Seemingly not a hard task, but for some reason we didn’t quite get it right. With our focus on other aspects of the photo shoots (like: logistics, lighting, timing) and no budget for a stylist, we forgot to think about styling, and we left that job up to the models…
Which is not always the best idea, especially when the models have no idea what they are supposed to be styling their clothes to match, having not seen the knit pieces.
So when the models showed up with clothes that didn’t quite fit the look we were going for, we dressed them in my clothes, which also didn’t quite fit the look we were going for (and made me depressed about my wardrobe,) and as a result we got photos that didn’t quite fit the look we were going for.
We needed hip but not hippie, natural but definitely not synthetic, and style…. so we had to take-two. And for that we called in the professionals… like Genevieve who was born with style and knew exactly what to bring when I showed her the photo of the scarf.
And as you can see, it makes a big difference…
Notice beautiful Shugri’s over-sized and synthetic sweater?
Not her fault. Shugri did a fantastic job and she was so gracious to volunteer her time on her birthday. But unfortunately the goofy gray sweater from Ross Dress for Less (embarrassingly mine) doesn’t quite do it… in either of the photo shoots…
Both Sarah and Elizabeth also did a fantastic job being beautiful in the woods with the hats… but I can’t get over the sweater, the stupid sweater, which is also mine. This just proves that I need a stylist to come have an intervention in my closet.
So we tried again with the hats too. And having gone through the first failed attempt with us, this time the very stylish Sarah knew just what to bring to match the hats, including her cute son, River.
So, as my friend’s toddler says, “Ta-dah!” I think we did it.
I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who very generously contributed their time and energy to make this such a fun and eventually successful project.
This is how we do it, and you can do it too…
Nature created amazing plants.
Rebecca Burgess dyed wool into cool colors… with the amazing plants that nature created.
Heidi Iverson designed patterns and knit fun gloves and a blanket… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.
Beautiful ladies and cute children modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.
I took photos of the beautiful ladies and cute children… who modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.
All of this teamwork is for Rebecca Burgess’s book about creating dyes with native plants from the different regions in the United States. Her ultimate goal is to help people become more aware about their fiber-shed, which means thinking about wearing clothes that are made locally, just like the food we eat. Through her book, Rebecca hopes to show people how easy it is to create vibrant colors and cool clothes from the plants that are in our own environment.
It has been a fantastic project to work on and I can’t wait to see how all this teamwork comes out in the end.