Summer Semester 2010,
TEXTILE CONSTRUCTIONS MADE FROM HEMP
How can I restore acceptability and awareness for hemp as a native fibre crop?
Considering our enormous energy consumption in combination with increasingly sparse resources and the high rate of import of textile fibres, native fibre crops like hemp might pose an interesting alternative. Not only is it easier to
cultivate and grow this local plant, it hardly needs any pesticides, sometimes none at all. Hemp is easily composted, brings higher yield and shortens the distances of transportation, which again would make things easier and cheaper. Flax, nettle and hemp have been cultivated and used for a multitude of purposes in Germany and all over Europe for centuries. Today we mainly use the hemp fibre for insulation and a constituent in building materials. But one hardly ever sees the material and so one of our most versatile renewable resources has slipped from our minds. With my project ‘ROHSTOFFE (raw fibre) – textile constructions made from hemp’ my intention is to give this versatile material the deserved public recognition.
ROHSTOFFE is made of the same hemp that is in Germany traditionally used to seal water and gas-pipes. It is relatively rough in structure and needs to be manipulated and utilized accordingly. The aim was to achieve a mono-material use, since every mix with other fibres would pose further problems related to raw material extraction, transportation and recycling costs and would also raise the question of sustainability of whatever other material I were to use. Furthermore I wanted to take a direct route from fibre to fabric, which is why a needle felting process, which joins the fibres without any further addition, was employed. Additionally I used different sewing methods – which, as well as the fibre’s elongated structure, give the final fabric further stability.
The result are textiles with qualities ranging from smooth and shimmering to a soft wool-like fleece. Sometimes single strands of fibre are openly visible; sometimes they are hidden in the textile mix. Even though ROHSTOFFE collection is very close to the source material, its look and feel does not reveal its origin easily and allows new associations, raising the question of our knowledge of materials and their production. I imagine my fabrics could be used for insulating yet lightweight and breathable clothing as well as interior textiles, which create a comfortable room climate, durable floor coverings or outdoor textiles, which are water resistant, yet compostable.