Before my journey to Iceland and my acceptance as a shemakes Ambassador, I’d attended shemakes and Fabricademy workshops at Fab Lab Barcelona, which provided me with know-how about sustainability, innovation and digital fabrication. As my main interest was the project’s Lab to Lab activities on wool, I was assigned to start a shemakes “sheep chase” in Iceland.
The aim of my three-week stay was to organize a series of workshops to expand the community of local artisans, designers and makers. Each day was related to one of the various topics on the edge of textiles and research. Together with Žil Julie Vostalová from a Prague-based studio GizmoLab we opened the series with an online CLO3D lecture. The tutorial explained the basics of digital pattern making and textile simulation. Then we continued with 3D modeling and 3D printing that we used for the next few days to fabricate tools and cast molds for soft robotics. During a biomaterials workshop we applied local waste or lost and found materials from the beach that we explored with Margrét Katrin, the lab manager from ITC, to create unique bioplastics samples.
Last but not least, the intense week was closed by the Little Wool Factory workshop which best reflected the idea of the shemakes to create a symbiosis between the local cultural heritage and innovation through wool research. Participants of all ages and genders arrived to discover DIY spinning, carding machines and other tools to process wool fibers. Their diverse backgrounds created very experimental groups to come up with new ideas and solutions using previous experience and newly acquired knowledge.
The locals came with handcrafted skills and great expertise in wool. They were curious and able to combine these skills with material innovation or digital fabrication. Many new solutions were created which gave me great experience in distributed design and circular economy. There is no creativity quite as important as exploring the limits of your possibilities and problem solving to detect new discoveries. Neither culture nor your background can prevent you from getting deeper into building your knowledge.
After all, I feel thankful to have had the opportunity to explore Icelandic wool heritage as much as to have shared current work with international artists from the artistic residency and also with other shemakes ambassadors. Hearing several thoughts not only from textile designers but at the same time from any wool lover can rapidly change our understanding of design and education in general. I hope to see the wool ecosystem grow further through the shemakes approach.