Friday, January 26, 2007

Packaging felt

Packaging felt - the last step in the recycling and re-use of textiles

Textiles are surprisingly often re-used and recycled considering the ease of disposal and replacement, as if deep down there was a recognition of their value and a reluctance to just throw them out. At car boot and jumble sales, in charity shops, they are the bulk of the merchandise. The purchase of second hand textiles is not necessarily an indicator for financial need - witness the popularity (and price!) of vintage textiles as expression of identity.

Many items are downgraded or become something else: bath towels line dog baskets, socks are made into hand puppets, sheets turn into halloween outfits, long trousers into shorts, scarves into cushions, carpets appear in allotments, tea towels in nativity plays. Eventually, riches become rags. Some rags are made into paper and acquire a new important life as carriers of text and images. The rest, torn up, pulped and felted, become packaging felt - to protect large household appliances during transport and pad envelopes. So many threads, each one carrying a long history, joined in a humble fabric, still supporting human activity.


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