Monday, December 16, 2013

re:loom - an environmentally friendly fiber-based industry with a heart

Friday morning we headed to the retail space of re:loom. The building was tucked back from the road under other businesses

but well worth finding.  On the beautiful postcard, it says "re:loom employs and empowers homeless and low-income individuals through weaving beautiful, one-of-a-kind products out of upcycled materials. re:loom is a program of the Initiative for Affordable Housing in Atlanta, GA." You can read more about them on their website, but I took a lot of pictures for you to enjoy right here.

The retail space was a good sized room packed with the products the weavers of re:loom make - you can see stacks of rugs here

and more rugs, placemats, and bags of all shapes and sizes here.

 I dug through the blues and greens and pulled out this medium sized one, modeled back home by Lilly.

Lilly shooed Lu off the rug so she could enjoy it. The color of the wide stripe seems a little bluer in real life than in these photos.  It is already doing its job in my studio with Moki so Lilly can't hug it any more.

We all spent some money in the store, then headed to the Weavehouse, a short drive away.

The raw materials other than the warps for the re:loom rugs and other products are donated. These include fabrics, as you see in the next photo taken in the cutting room, as well as plastic - bags from retailers and those one-use light plastic banquet table covers. The plastic rugs are just as colorful as the rag ones, and suitable for outdoor use.

This is the other side of the cutting room.
All the cutting is done by volunteers. They use fabric, but also clothing, after removing seams, but little is wasted. Smaller strips from garment sleeves make it into smaller items, like checkbook covers and clutches. 

Tucked in one corner of the cutting room was one of the weavers working on a smaller loom. Except for a table in the laundry area for a break area, every bit of space is given to production.

After cutting, the fabric is rolled up into balls, sorted by color and fiber, and stacked up in bins on shelves in the center of the Weavehouse.

Then we came to the main weaving space.

Fred is working at the largest loom on the floor. They have 80 yards of warp on the loom.

The weavers were pleased to show us what they were working on. The looms were all donated, and are named for the donors.

Notice the blue jeans pockets sewn on the rugs on the walls behind where the weavers work. They have all the tools they need handy.

Fred wanted to make sure I got a good photo of him - he probably wove my rug.

One of these two men certainly wove it. Because it is such a wide warp, they make all the larger rugs. Fred was happy to tell you he knew nothing about color and design when he started his job at re:loom about two years ago but he's clearly delighted with it now.

re:loom mostly employs people with no prior knowledge of weaving, pays them a living wage and provides health insurance. The products cost more than the imports we buy at big box stores, but the workers make fabric that will last, and they are extremely conscientious about getting beautiful straight edges!

The bright orange fabric was donated by Delta Airlines and comes from expired life jackets. Delta donated the fabric and bought back items to give to their employees.

I like this color wheel prominently posted in the area with the bins of prepared fabric.

More finished items were stacked up everywhere.

Do you see a rug that would fit in your house?

Maybe a sturdy pillow?

The soft blue and black wool scarf used to be a plaid skirt.

Our guide was the manager of the Weavehouse.  She was explaining the fabric on the table beside her to the weavers in our group is an experiment with finer fabric, possibly for baby wraps.

Here's our happy group in the middle of the Weavehouse floor.

Cheryl, Susie, Cindy, Judi


Vicki W said...

What a cool place! How did you find out about it?

Cheryl K. said...

Social media of course! Someone shared a link to a local news story about it on Facebook. Susie and Judi in our group are weavers, so they were immediately drawn to the idea and Cindy and I were enthusiastic in support of a visit.

Sherrye said...

What a great place, and so welcome by the community!! Glad you got to experience it and bring home a memory!!

Anna Banana said...

Oh, I want to go there, too, and buy myself a rug. Very interesting, Eco-friendly enterprise.

pinkdeenster said...

If I ever find myself again with a long layover in Atlanta I'll have to plan a visit or two! Sometimes I have to stay overnight for the flights to work. Thanks for the info and pictures. Looks like ya'll are having fun!