Threading the needle
Portland's becoming a design town, but it is happening in small steps. Design Week (April 6-12, 2019) and the Modern Home tour (June 2019) are both well-known events. But some of the others cluster in the fall. As well as the AIA architectural awards (Nov. 2, 2018) and FashionNXT (Oct 3-6, 2018; see sidebar) there's a new one: October is Portland Textile Month.
If those events are well-oiled machines by now, Textile Month is more of the zippy little drone: all vertical take-off and no flight plan required.
Organizers Annin Barrett and Caleb Sayan invited the Portland textile community to host their own events, which will be mostly talks and open houses. If people want to charge money, Barrett and Sayan told them to go through Eventbrite, which handles payment and ticketing.
Otherwise the events resemble an ad hoc gathering of like-minded souls. The textile community in Portland covers everyone from traditional quilters to those trying to make streetwear out of Digital Age fabrics.
But to Barrett and Sayan, the community has reached critical mass, to the point where they need to meet each other and cross-pollinate.
Fortunately the tools to do that – MeetUp, EventBrite, Google Calendar – are free and easy to use.
They promise a month with a "broad range of events such as artist lectures, seminars, workshops, gallery openings, and community-craft projects, among many others."
The more than 30 events include:A sustainable fashion forum panel discussion at Kat + Maouche Studio tours at Adam Arnold and Pensole's MLab for sneakers Textile art openings at Blackfish and Wolff Galleries Classes at WildCraft Studio School and Textile Hive
Caleb Sayan runs Textile Hive, the textile library that his mother Andrea Aranow founded from her years of traveling the world and collecting fabric. (Textile Hive is at 133 S.W. Second Ave., Suite 430, near the downtown Voodoo Doughnut, and offers free tours by appointment.)
"It's important to me to keep it as open and flexible as possible," says Sayan. "We didn't have the time to or resources to curate everything. The goal is to be decentralized, and use the website for listing everything."
One event is a class on Japanese embroidery. He says they also limited people to one or two events so the website doesn't become dominated by long series of classes.
Barrett, a lifelong weaver, came up with the textile month logo in July. She used scraps of fabric to spell out Portland textile month, photographed it an threw it up on Instagram in August. People caught on.
The pair drew inspiration from Textile Month in New York City and Design Week Portland.
"Textiles are one thing every culture has and relates to," Sayan says. "Coming from New York City I really miss the diversity, so I am proud this is diverse in subject matter and organization."
Who you know
For his day job he consults with people wishing to digitize their textile collections, as they have done at Textile Hive.
Sayan named some of the highlights for the Business Tribune.
"Soft Century is a home line by Katherine Entis, who went to the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is in MadeHerePDX," he said, name-checking the store opposite Powell's Books on Northwest 10th Avenue. The store has become a byword for the new wave of high-quality crafts made in the Portland region.
Fashion designer Adam Arnold is another name to follow. "He has been cutting cloth since he was nine." Kat + Maouche sell vintage berber rugs.
"A lot of it was just people we knew, from the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland Community College."
One out-of the-ordinary group from Cascade Locks is The Renewal Workshop. They take outerwear seconds – say a North Face jacket with a wonky zip – and refurbish them for resale. They call themselves a circular business, recycling, reusing and upcycling materials that would otherwise be thrown out by the apparel industry. They also provide data back to the manufacturers to help them refine their own process.
Sayan says the time has come for Portland to make a statement about not just its corporate apparel industry, but the ecosystem of designers and craftspeople
"The intention is to bring various elements of Portland's textile community together all during October for a festival of knowledge, experience and practice across cultures, viewpoints and generations.
Textile Month opening reception, Monday, Oct. 1 at Textile Hive, 133 S.W. Second Ave., Suite 430, 5-7:30 p.m.
Caleb Sayan, co-founder of Textile Hive, says "Portland has a rich textile and fibers history. There are so many vibrant textile communities and pockets of activity. We hope to bring these communities together for a month-long celebration of creative expression through textile-centered events."
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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