TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Rayela Review: HAND/EYE Magazine

HAND/EYE Magazine, World Textiles, Summer 2011

I was honored and super pleased to receive a copy of HAND/EYE's latest magazine, World Textiles, in exchange for a review here on Fiber Focus.  This is an easy task, theroretically, for the magazine is right up my alley, showcasing textile efforts happening all over the world.  But, of course, I also want to do something different with this review, so I hope that what I say will encourage you to jump up and immediately act on buying your own copy.

HAND/EYE's bi-line, right under the name, says: Connecting cultures and inspiring action.  That is exactly what it does.  The 68 pages tell story after story about how one person had a vision, pursued it and in doing so is transforming a community as well as impacting how that specific tradition or technique can thrive in a modern and industrial world.

Take a look at the table of contents:

  • From Australia, India Flint shares how her children have taken the skills handed down within the family to express their own interests in unique ways.  
  • Six stories follow from Asia, zooming in on Laos, Japan, India, and Cambodia.
  • In Africa, three stories look at silk, weaving and Berber rag rugs.
  • A quick stop in Europe takes us to a tiny Dutch area where women still embellish their clothing with a dot technique.
  • Latin America gets five stories: Mexican Maya, Colombia, Peru...
  • Then, another six stories in North America.
These stories are about empowering indigenous people, healing social wounds, exploring how one tradition can refresh another.  The engine behind the movement comes from the people.  The resulting products are eye-popping, gorgeous, and marketable to high-end markets (as well as affordable ones) which can sustain the communities that make them.

Anouphanethong Thammavong fled Thailand in 1975 and returned in 2001, finding his grandmother's legacy in woven silks.  From the ashes of history rose Soie de Lune.
The magazine, richly illustrated, does a wonderful job of showcasing both the people and the product.  Eyes and silk glow, hands and weave touch, bodies become color, washed in the folds of gorgeous fabrics, embroidery, and stitches.

This is a great time for me to do this review as it was almost exactly a year ago since I first heard about HAND/EYE.  I had launched TAFA earlier that year and one of the members sent me a link and said, "You will love this!"  I began getting the weekly e-mails.  (Subscribe to them, too!)  Eventually, I approached them and asked them if they would do a story on TAFA, which they did.  (Click to read it.)  One thing led to another and they also became a TAFA member:  HAND/EYE's TAFA Member Profile.

Our long term goals are very similar: we want the world to be place that understands and supports the power of craft, of creating something beautiful that is functional or that makes us think.  HAND/EYE has a broader focus, as they also write about clay, wood, glass, and other handmade traditions, which I think is just great!  And, from our communities on facebook and other online groups, we are not alone.  There is a thirst out there for the stories we are telling!

Rehwa Society trains and employs women with limited opportunities in India.

What is the place of a magazine in our techy world?

Even with all this enthusiasm, we are also coming out of whiplash from the demise of another favored magazine, FiberArts, which had published for over 30 years and was a mainstay for many of us.  The reality of today's world is that we are seeing magazines, newspapers and publishing companies closing down their paper products and moving them to cyber venues only.

Should we even be in the business of publishing anymore?  Why have a hard copy that you can hold in your hands and turn real pages?  If we are concerned about the environment, why should we encourage paper production?

Well,  I must say that I am happy to see many paper things disappear or decrease:  trashy novels, catalogs that were not requested, junk mail....  The cost has cleaned up a lot of the abuse.  But, at the same time, there is a place for documenting our stories through hard copies that are not electronic.  Information on the web can be so fleeting.  And, if there is a power shortage, there goes the access.  I have many books on textiles, cultural anthropology, theology, etc.  Those are references that I can check at will, that I can hold in my hand and feel connected to that paper.  Plus, there is a whole segment of our population, like my mother, who refuses to learn how to use the computer.  HAND/EYE Magazine is one of those publications that should continue to tell the story for many, many more years.

The highland communities in Chiapas, Mexico, continue to have dynamic indigenous traditions and dress.

What you should know:
HAND/EYE publishes these beautiful magazines a couple of times a year.  Back issues are still available for their issues on Central Asia and Haiti.  Each magazine is $15.  Think about all of the time and effort that goes into collecting these stories and then taking them to print.  In between, there is much, much more that you can access online.  There are three sites that you can visit:
  • HAND/EYE Magazine  (online) discusses the intersections of art, craft, design, effective philanthropy, and enlightented consumption.  Get it by email once a week with an average of three new stories. 
  • HAND/EYE Blog  invites makers, collectors and commentators alike to be part of the discussion by bringing what they make, what they collect, what they obsess about, onto the screens of our devoted handmade community.
  • 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE offers high quality, handmade, artisan goods from around the globe. Our collections support craftspeople working to improve the lives of their families and communities in some of the most challenging situations on the planet. Their stories are those of strength, hope, and beauty, and each of our products reflects these qualities in their design and craftsmanship. 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE strives to assist these communities and artisans through commerce. 

Native American artist Teri Greeves tell her story through hand-sewn beads on manufactured high tops.

The Key Words

Here is my exercise:  we are always reducing our curiosity or hunt on the web down to key words that capture what we want.  I will pick a word from each page of this World Textiles issue and see what we come up with.  Ready?  Here goes:

Hope + India Flint + child + Laos +Paris + baby + weaver + Japan + origami + nuno + handloom + heritage + Muslim + saris + India + UNESCO + eco-culturalist + silk + ancient + yam juice + Raw Mango + royalty + sustainable + road + Cambodia + Madagascar + feathers + South African + embroidery + rags + Morocco + Amazigh + Dutch + dots + Chiapas + Maya + backstrap + fashion + threads + globetrotter + sophisticated + indigenous + Peruvian + ancestral + nature's + organic + Rome + costume designer + hope + symbols + vision + empowerment + textures + conscious consumption + indigo + Korean + moccasins + beads + healing + machine embroidery + Rowland Ricketts + sukumo + opacity + vitality.

What do you think?  One page, one word.  Are we speaking the same language?  Is there enough there to spark your interest?  Order your copy of World Textiles and support HAND/EYE in the wonderful work that they do: connecting cultures and inspiring action.  It is not only fascinating to those of us who love these textiles and techniques, but also so important in making the world a safer and healthier place for all.  The more we can communicate, share, learn, and break down the barriers that divide us, the more we understand that even if names, places and techniques are different, we are really all on a common journey.

And, if that journey includes some raw silk, indigo and a good story along the way, I am a happy camper indeed!



Related Posts with Thumbnails