Since the startup of Pepavana in 2007, I have been using second-hand materials and fabrics to design new products and, at the same time teaching kids and adults my recycling skills. That all started at Studio Hergebruik at the Coolsingel in Rotterdam, a playground for recycling products ànd designers, spread out by initiator Jan de Haas.
For me, recycling was second nature, partly because of the lack of money and materials. Growing up at a barge, we often had to cope with the materials that were present because there were no shops around during a trip. My father was very creative in engineering with recycled materials. At school, we also learned all kinds of crafts, like woodworking and all sorts of needlework.
Sew, knit, and knot.
Then I had two skilled grandmothers who taught me how to sew, knit, and knot. I made my first pair of hippy jeans in the Seventies; I was twelve years old. Since then, I made all my clothes, using vintage linen from my mother’s wardrobe. Or I bought fabrics on the market from my pocket money. Even then, I started to use leftover fabric from the industries. Most of the time, it was little scraps that I had to sew together, or I designed ultra mini tops and lingerie from it; not strange considering it was the Eighties back than.
Teaching old skills
Back to teaching!. My second nature is still using the materials that are around. I know everything about recycling excising goods and materials, which allows me to design creative workshops and lessons for kids and adults and, at the same time, share my vision about sustainability.
We are not afraid of needle and tread
Nowadays, needlecraft and embroider lessons are missing at primary school. Not a lot of kids are educated at home in the skills that use to be standard in our times. I encounter kids that have never used a pair of scissors or are not allowed to hammer at home. I find it very important to learn kids to use their heads and hands. I am showing them that a little effort will result in more sustainable gadgets.
During the Pepavana workshops, I encourage kids and adults to use techniques whereby they make a creation that lasts longer and looks professional. Our motto is: We are not afraid of needle and tread. It is easy to attach stuff by using glue, and we do so, but I always offer them old fashion hand stitching. How to stick the thread through the eye of the needle. How to hold it instead of knotting the thread to the needle (taught at primary school or at home?). Everything they learn or try out is considered a victory. Showing how it works, doing it together, making small steps, is the beginning of consciousness by the new generation.
Pepavana workshops are not like other workshops. I design a concept, make examples, and build in different levels of experience. Sometimes workshops are attended by kids and adults and everything in between. They can learn each other under my guidance or work individually and finally go home with their handcrafted treasure.
Old Dutch skill Staphorster Stipwerk
Every time I recall old skills and crafts. Some that I use myself and some that I stumbled up upon, like Staphorster Stipwerk. Stipwerk is an old skool and cheap method of decorating fabrics by the woman of Staphorst. They were using spikes stamps and paint to make patterns on cotton or silk.
I found out that it is fun to make your own stamps, and I have to admit it is more complicated than you imagine at first sight. It is even more fun to do stipwerk, on black fabrics or jeans. Making patterns and combine all the different stamps.
Try out the various skills at Kings day.
For the next workshop, I prepared black bandanas and felt or leather bracelets that kids can work on with stamps and paint. Bring your old jeans to give it a new look.
Hammer spikes in a piece of wood, to create your own mark. Tie the leather bracelets on your wrist with a ribbon that you make by braiding or crotching wool treads, after you make beautiful stipwerk on the leather.
Pepavana is present with ‘Bandanas & Bracelets Stipwerk’ at The Royal Rollerdisco on April 27 during King’s day! Find us at Delieplein Rotterdam.