We love bunting! It meets all our criteria: easy to make, good for using up fabric scraps, the result is joyous and beautiful, and, as a bonus, bunting flags are a great REUSABLE decoration in place of disposable décor like balloons and streamers. Bunting is amazing.
We have been making bunting flags for a few years. The ones above were made by WiP artist Marnie Saskin from vintage sheets- she loves the patterns but they are often too polyester-y for her quilts and other small batch goods, but perfect for bunting! These lived outside her local coffee shop for at least two years and held up marvelously, despite their raw edges.
As a collective, we run clothing swaps and we make reusable,upcycled shopping bags from unwanted T-shirts to use at these swaps (again, like our bunting, T-shirt bags are simple, practical, easy to make, and create a new purpose for an unwanted textile.) Hung on a clothesline, bags make their own kind of bunting, and we gradually have been adding more strings of bunting flags to our stash- great for the more spread out neighbour-to-neighbour swaps we have been running since the pandemic.
Bunting is also a great way to delineate space. Spring 2021, entering another lockdown. We were invited to a barbeque that Building Roots was hosting with the Encampment Support Network and did an impromtu bunting making work-in. The idea being that good fences make good neighbours and perhaps the people living in tents could use some festive fences to mark their own space, rather than have it defined for them. Plus, pretty.
Festive distancing: 2021 as our local Appletree farmer's market reopened in midtown with Covid distancing restrictions, we loaned them some bunting from our stash to replace the plastic CAUTION tape they were using to guide shoppers. We want more people making more things from textile waste, so we ran a drop in workshop during the market, and made reusable bunting kits with Building Roots which included needle and thread, fabric scraps and some snazzy do-it-yourself pamphlets (created with artist Treya Beaulieu) to distribute at the market but, to be honest, the idea of making bunting to support the market didn't really catch on. The pamphlets live on our website on our useful things page (thanks to the Ontario Arts Council and Live Green TO for funding to support some of this.
Supporting Actions and making friends: In March 2022 we were asked if the bunting could accompany a #justtransition celebration /environmental action, you can see it in the photo above, or check out this video from the day below: This lead to further collaborations between Works-in-Progress and Music for Climate Justice over the summer.
Creating community feels: In April 2022 we brought our bunting, a clothing swap and repair table to an inaugural Spring event in Davisville called Ringing in Spring. We timed our Spring neighbour-to-neighbour clothing swap to happen at the same time, and the bunting helped visibly tie it all together.
Summer 2022 Work Parties: Bunting is easy to make but you do need to actually make it. It lends itself to communal work as there are discreet jobs for people to tackle and lots of chatting that can happen in between. Over the winter we met a couple more textile artists and activists and began hosting work parties as a way to get together and make more bunting (for upcoming swaps but for other events as well) Repair activist Shams el-Din Rogers hosted us for our first work party in May, and introduced us to some new tools and another stash of fabric. Textile artist, designer and upcycler Alex Verkade helped out and took home some fabric for a textile installation she was working on. in subsequent work parties we made more bunting, repaired and deconstructed more fabric, and met another artist Soledad and introduced some other novice sewists to the ease and joy of making bunting.
The Amazing Travelling Bunting: over this past summer, we began to get unsolicited requests to borrow the bunting. From neighbourhood groups, but then from people we didn't even know, other fellow eco travellers. The bunting went from school fairs to eco fests to backyard parties to an unmaking event to the Textile Museum fabric sale. You can see some of the travelling photos above and below:
AND NOW- bunting as objet d'arte
The Future of Work: Parallel Economies Art Gallery of Burlington curator Suzanne Carte invited Works-in-Progress to be part of a huge group show in Burlington/Hamilton. The show runs from August 27-Dec 31 2022 and has artist and activists who are seeking alternate ways of making art and change. We contributed bunting to help delineate space, our pamphlets are in the show to encourage more bunting makers, and we had a wonderful afternoon at the opening event, aptly called the HIVE. Just seeds demonstrated silkscreening in the exhibition, Clay and Paper Theatre made elements for a parade and then had a parade (great way to lure everyone outside) and we took over the lobby to host a reuse and repair swap and bunting factory, where we found homes for unwanted textiles (good clothes, textiles, partly made projects, carpet samples (donated from Viking Recycles) clothes in need of logo removal or repair to be #betterthannew.) and made bunting and met some great people and had some good conversations and made some nice things.
We are all artists or makers in this collective, and this may not have been the medium we envisioned getting us into the gallery space, but it makes sense and we are happy to be along for the ride. This is a great journey and still ongoing. Stay tuned for more adventures to come with the AMAZING TRAVELLING BUNTING!
art experiments turning waste into beauty