25 februari 2024

What's in a t-shirt?

During our residency at The Australian Tapestry Workshop, also travelling from the other side of the world, we decided to experiment with material sourced on site. We were donated post production yarn from ATWs tapestry weaving and also t-shirt waste from Textile Recyclers Australia. We worked on combining these two very different materials; one exclusive, the other worthless. The t-shirts were sliced into a stretchy warp for a tapestry weave with the already blended colours of wool as weft. 

We came home with an experimental tapestry with a jersey warp and wool weft. The colors blended in perfectly with the Autumn colours outside our studio. The idea of tapestry weaving with these materials still need to be explored further.

In the meantime we've continued experimenting, partly by using t-shirts as warp but the t-shirt as a raw material has led us into exploring many more possibilities the t-shirt offers us. 


So What’s in a T-shirt?

A t-shirt is typically made of cotton in a jersey knit and has become a large part of fast fashion. We buy them and we waste them in a fast pace. The production processes include heavy impact on the environment. They have very little or no second hand value, except those with attractive retro- prints. As with some of our previous projects, Do Redo and Re Rag Rug, we explore how we through craft techniques can add value to a worthless material. We have worked with the t-shirt as material for creating rugs, but not with keeping the archetypic shape of the T (shirt).


Looking at creative makers at social media, many cut- and re-shaping ideas have become viral. We want to transform the t-shirt in our own way by using sometimes very time consuming craft techniques, to see if we can load it with new value. Still being a t-shirt. 

Our work is challenging ourselves to be as creative as possible with a specific material. However, when working with t-shirts as material you cannot avoid talking about the invisible things that are in a t-shirt before it ends up in our wardrobes: from growing the cotton and all the following steps in a manufacturing process often exploiting both soil and labour. All for our cheap t-shirt. It is such a shame to waste them and a general question is if we make them more sustainable and valuable?

A more specific question is posed to ourselves: can we (Katarina Brieditis & Katarina Evans) come up with 100 new t-shirts, made out of old t-shirts by adding design and craft techniques? 

In the AIR exhibition at ATW we are showing six t-shirts made out of old t-shirts. In each one of them there is more than one t-shirt. They are multi-layered or made into yarn. They are made in a variation of craft techniques: knitting, crochet, weaving, running stitches, needle lace, layering etc. 

We believe the answer is yes so stay tuned, there's more to come! 

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