natural shades – a handwoven textile collection developed by studio gutedort with the women of the handicraft village Iraq el amir/ Jordan comissioned by Lina Kanafani, owner of mint-shop in London.

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Iraq el Amir is located within the municipality of the capital Amman, in the Jordan Valley. Beside its handicrafted products, the village is famous for the historical site of Al-Iraq which was build by a persian prince in the 3rd century BC and in the surrounding hills, ancient caves dating back to the Copper Age can be found.

The workshop of the women’s cooperative is organized in three domains: handmade paper production, pottery and a handweaving mill with three handlooms. Besides there is a kitchen, which offers local jordanien food to visitors. As the women’s income is based on the products they sell, they are dependening on the number of orders. The idea of the workshop is to support the women with new product ideas and new designs, based on local possibilities and ressources, to improve the image, the quality and the range of their linecard.

In spring 2015 studio gutedort hold a workshop for three weeks with the women of the paper workshop. Together they developed a series of “Handmade Paper Bowls” coloured with spices and plants from the region which reflect Jordans landscape and natural beauty in earthy colours and the smell of the different bowls is reminiscent of the Jordanian food.

The second workshop in may 2016 took place at the textile workshop together with five women, who were working with the hand looms for many years. The goal was to add new ideas, techniques and designs to amplify their textile collection and work them to extend their existing skills and experience in weaving.

To follow the idea and the concept of the paper workshop in 2015, natural colours of the surroundings were used and studio gutedort set up a dye work by using simple tools.

They took a selection of 5 different colours – alkanna root, red cabbage, pomegranate skin, onion peel and black tea to get a colour spectrum from purple-grey to blue, green, yellow and brown. A new collection of natural coloured and handwoven textiles on the dobby looms with two shafts is the result of the one month residency.

Inspired by the whirring light and shadows you often find in the village’s main yard, gutedort used a technique to tie the threads before dying to create a pattern, which reflects the play of shadow and light of the place.

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In the beginning, it was important to find local ingredients, especially yarns which are stainable. Due to the political situation, it was difficult to get natural yarns like cotton or wool, because Jordan used to import it from Syria.

Also for economical reasons, it was necessary to use cheap dyestuff. Onion skin, pomegranate peel and black tea, could be collected of the waste from the kitchen or on local markets. Additionally the left over dyebath was used afterwards in the paper workshop to create new colours for the paper collection.

 

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photocredits: studio gutedort