Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day series - RikRak

RikRak is a designer and maker of of handmade one-of-a-kind and limited edition upcycled vintage fabric creations. She lives in Ottawa and currently has her work for sale in over 40 shops, galleries and boutiques.

What makes your shop, art or craft eco-conscious and how do you incorporate this awareness into your shop and studio?

'Just about all of my designs & products live happily in the world of repurposed upcycling or trashion, which for me means that I upcycle as many great old vintage fabrics as I can instead of buying new material. Finding fabulous, beautiful vintage textiles is one of my joys, and repurposing a well-loved skirt, apron, bedsheet or 70’s pantsuit into something fun, functional and new is another! So my quilted bibs, wrapping cloths, wallets, purses, quilts, etc, are all made of repurposed textiles! I hope that this use of traditional materials really complements my overall approach to my art: to keep it fresh and modern, but to keep in mind the traditions it's growing out of. Sustainable art & design is central to my artistic inspiration, and my lifestyle! The repurposing of materials is really what inspires my creations!'

Do you use recycled packaging and/or materials

'Yes, I do! And I encourage my buyers to reuse my packaging materials whenever they can, as well. I’m glad the market is not just accepting recycled packaging and materials, but embracing and demanding them! I’m fortunate that there are a few great suppliers of recycled paper & packaging products here in Ottawa, and I also slip into Toronto now and then to look for materials. In the last few years, being green, packaging wise, this has become even easier, I feel,with even mainstream shops starting to carry green options. That's great to see!'

How do you save on energy consumption in your

'Well, my workspace is also part of my home, and my tools and sewing machine are portable, so there's no need for me to seek out a separate studio space, or use further energy! This works well, I think, since when I'm working at home, I'm using energy that would already be being used for heat, etc, and avoiding transportation of all kinds. I also work with natural light as much as possible, even while photographing my work, a personal preference that's also sustainable. Using the sun to power our ways of seeing seems like a pretty unbeatable strategy for creating!'

Do you practice a traditional craft on the verge
of extinction? Please explain where this craft comes from and how old it is etc. a little background description.

'Though happily it’s far from endangered, I really feel that the sustainable methods and traditions I learned from my grandmother - who was a traditional, made- by-hand quilter – have so much to offer my generation of textile crafters! Patchwork art has long been an eco-forward artform, where well-loved materials (a worn-out dress, a well-loved scrap) were repurposed into beautiful *new* functional wares, such as patchwork quilts, for a thrifty purpose. I admire and respect that sustainable quilting tradition. What I try to bring to my work is a knowledge that quilted art has been in use for centuries, (and the fabrics I use have been in use for almost half a century!) and that my own patchwork moves ahead by keeping in mind its inspiration from older traditions. I think, for me, that’s recycling & reusing in a sustainable way, at its very best!'

RikRak is such a fine example of how you can make a successful and vibrant business out of repurposing fabric that otherwise may find it's way into the landfill. Thank-you RikRak for sharing your ideas with us so eloquently.

This feature has been prepared for you by Morgen of Inkyspider textile designs and Kootsac re-usable bulk food bags.


Laura Bucci said...

RikRak - it is amazing that you upcycle vintage fabric. You must be very productive to have your stuff in 40 stores! Does that mean that you spend a fair amount of time looking for vintage fabrics/clothing?

Your creations are bright and sunny! Very upbeat.

rikrak said...

thanks so much for your wonderful interview, inky! it's an honour to be here with all of these superstar Canadian artists! many thanks!

and thanks so much for your kind words, laura! yes - i'm always on the lookout for gorgeous vintage fabrics! my poor family! :)