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Selvedge Magazine | Issue 94

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May / June 2020

WORDS BY Polly Leonard | Editor & Founder Selvedge Magazine

Pachamama, or mother earth in Andian culture is reveared and fed during rutuals to sustain life on earth. Rewilding is everywhere from the Archers to the best selling novel Wilding by Isabella Tree and the award-winning documentary The Biggest Little Farm:  all proponents of the premise that if you have a diverse enough ecosystem then everything will work in harmony and create a healthy sustainable future. Organic food is already in the mainstream consciousness, but textiles are lagging behind and we need to pull our socks up.


The textile industry - the second-largest polluter on the planet - produces more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. This huge problem has no quick fix solution, but it is worth remembering that natural fibres: wool, linen, cotton and silk, are all biodegradable. Wool fibre can compost in as little as three months. cotton in six and linen in only two. That is if the fibres are not blended, and better still if they are produced organically. The Soil Association publishes a list of brands who use certified organically grown fibre. Fibreshed is a community of farmers, designers, sewers, weavers, spinners, mill owners and natural dyers living and working in Northern California who aim to re-enlivening new (yet ancient) connections between biology, place, appropriate technology and our clothes. Brands are emerging who promote a soil to soil philosophy. These small steps are in the right direction.

In this issue, we celebrate the soil. We are inspired by Heidi Gustafson’s extraction of pigment from the earth and the artisans from Guangdong Province of China who use mud from the river to dye their famed Mud Silk.  We marvel at the domestication of root systems on a miniature scale and a giant scale in the living root bridges of the Khasis, India.  And enjoy Nathalie Seiller Dejean’s mastery of the ancient art of straw work and Eliurpi’s stylish straw hats in time for the wedding season.

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