The Heart in Kith & Kin

Paper dolls are about family. They invoke not only our immediate family, but also our chosen family of babywearers in this vast passionate community of critical thinking people.  Kith & Kin evolved, as so many of our projects do, out of a craft started with our children. We cut snowflakes, fold origami, and rediscover connecting families in paper.  As we played, I remembered one of my oldest and most valued friends, Cynthia Director, and her textile design degree project honoring our often painful childhoods as little girls. Her work was about being two dimensional, about love, about solitude, and about holding someone's hand.  She strung long lengths of dolls together; she made lonely girls waiting for dresses with their folded paper flaps; she made sense of growing up.

Paper dolls come from an innocent place, I think for a lot of us they conjure up memories of the past. Kith & Kin celebrates our present, where we are now with our families, babywearing, undefined, all holding hands through our journey together.  

The paper doll pattern is one directional to help aid in the learning of new carries, or just to assist with old favorites.

Kith and Kin will debut during national Heart Month in February of 2015. All proceeds from the sale of Kith & Kin will be donated to The Children's Heart Foundation.  

 

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Of Whales and Mermaids

Pencil and watercolor on paper by Joseph Bogart Hersey, American (fl. ca, 1843-51), Ship Corinthian of New London, from Hersey’s journal aboard the bark Samuel and Thomas of Provincetown, MA, John Swift master, September 12, 1846-April 13, 1848. 

Pencil and watercolor on paper by Joseph Bogart Hersey, American (fl. ca, 1843-51), Ship Corinthian of New London, from Hersey’s journal aboard the bark Samuel and Thomas of Provincetown, MA, John Swift master, September 12, 1846-April 13, 1848. 

One of the greatest pleasures in working with a close friend is that they understand you, perhaps even more than you understand yourself at times. Erin gets me; I only hope I can do the same for her. 

Anyone else like Melville? Probably not. I admit to not caring for him that much either, but Moby Dick gets me every single time. And although I have read the book too many times to count, the ending still always comes as a surprise. 

Late last winter, I had just finished reading Moby Dick for the millionth time and was very caught up in the history of the whaling industry in Nantucket and New Bedford. Not exactly fodder for design inspiration, but I admit to being swept away by nostalgia and well, was overly excited, as I often am when I feel inspired. This led to a rather amusing conversation: 

J$: What if we did something along the lines of Moby Dick? I just reread it and think there might be something useful there. 

(Insert long pause)

Erin: What I'm hearing is that you would like a wrap with a whale on it? 

J$: Well, not just any random whale. 

Erin: An albino sperm whale with a grudge? 

J$: Yeah—maybe a man eating whale isn't such a good idea for a baby wrap.  Maybe something less literal? It doesn't have to be a whale. Maybe a boat?

(Insert second long pause)

Erin: So like a yankee schooner or whaleboats? On a Pavo wrap? 

 A whaleship sailed with three to five whaleboats swinging from davits (cranes used on ships). Spares, usually two, were stowed on top of the after house at midship.

 A whaleship sailed with three to five whaleboats swinging from davits (cranes used on ships). Spares, usually two, were stowed on top of the after house at midship.

J$: Hmm . . . well, when you put it that way. Maybe not? Maybe something else? I don't know. 

Erin: Let me think. 

See, when Erin says," Let me think," that is typically code for, "Oh Good Lord, J$ has lost it." And in hindsight, I do feel rather silly. I mean, Herman Melville in wrap form doesn't exactly call to mind images of snuggles or sleepy dust. So, I dropped it and reminded myself that perhaps not everyone loves a good seafaring tale of whales and revenge. 

But here's where things get really, really amazing. 

Ama in work

Ama in work

Later that week, inspired by the powerful women sea urchin collectors in Japan known as Ama, Erin texted me a painting she had done. It was a gorgeous mermaid, painted with dark, bold strokes on rich, creamy paper. I gasped and dropped my phone. Erin will never call herself a painter, but I will. That painting painted on a cold winter's day in the filtered, lingering sunlight of a late afternoon would become our Ama.

 

Of course, no mermaid is complete without her coterie of friends. Aquaria followed the next week and Sea Star, which had been on the back burner for months, finally found her home with Ama and Aquaria. 

It's not Moby Dick for sure, but I will always have a deep and abiding fondness for Ama and her many friends. 

With special thanks to Cleo Li Lebron and her photogenic family.  

Unicornio Otomi

Winter has just begun, but we are busy with spring and summer here in the studio.

Bright colors, playful motifs, and a dash of sunshine!

We are excited to present our new website which will be exclusively Pavo Form and will debut with the launch of Unicornio, our personalized Otomi inspired pattern, in March

Birds of a Feather

When we sat down to formulate our business plan for Pavo Textiles, one of our initial goals was to locate a reliable mill in the United States working with natural fibers and a transparent manufacturing process. If we did not find the right mill for our venture Pavo would remain an intangible concept.  File under: Dreams

Our intent was to find a mill in the United States, but we cast our net wide, looking at mills from all over the world in order to compare price, skill, sourcing, and technique.  The more time we invested in our search, the more it became clear to us that we absolutely needed to find a mill domestically. The number of textile mills in the United States had been quickly dwindling and when those mills closed, decades of knowledge and expertise were quietly being lost to the dust of history.  From 1997 to 2010, over 1200 textiles mills closed, with most weaving equipment in those mills being shipped overseas to be used in mills producing cheap textiles, destined for import to the United States. Between 2004 and 2009, almost forty percent of the jobs in the textile industry were lost with such jobs being outsourced to cheaper labor in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and China.

We were firm in our conviction to produce American-made textiles and we renewed our search with gusto.  Our initial efforts were disappointing; there were a limited number of mills who could produce to the quality and specifications we required and those that were able to do so were decidedly wary of working with an unknown entity, which is what Pavo was at the time.

In our search one mill we heard about over and over again was The Oriole Mill; they came highly recommended by our contacts in the industry, and were spoken of with a hushed, reverent awe.

The Oriole Mill was founded in 2006 by Stephan Michelson and Bethanne Knudson as the textile industry in the United States was quickly transitioning production to cheaper overseas facilities and leaving laid-off workers and deserted towns in its wake. While other mills were closing their doors, Oriole was setting up shop.  To say that this was a bold, risky, daring move is most certainly an understatement.  In the face of a flagging industry focused on cheap disposable goods The Oriole Mill is deeply committed to weaving high quality textiles made with the finest natural fibers and have made a reputation for being innovative, independent, and luxurious.  Their ideology embodied everything we wanted to be able to say and do with our textiles.  Oriole seemed like a natural fit for Pavo since we shared many of the same convictions:  the desire to create heirloom quality products, fair wages, the use of natural fiber, superior design, unsurpassed technical skill, and a deep and abiding commitment to high quality American made products.  We wanted in.  

For us, it was a match made in heaven. So we called. We emailed. We called again. It took months before anyone at The Oriole Mill would even talk to us. In hindsight, it is not surprising; they are a small artisan mill with exclusive clientele and they offer a unique service no longer found in the States and we were a buzzing fly with an unknown end product.

 

Penumbra Matelassé baby blanket

In a textile industry that’s ninety percent gone, what’s the other ten percent doing? There’s not a lot of quality goods being made. The other part of that ten percent is the high-quality industry. That’s where we come in.
— Stephan Michelson

By the time we met Bethanne and Stephan they had taken on rock-star status, but were even more impressive in person.  Bethanne is a passionate artist and educator. She has the energy of a lightening bolt in both body and mind. She is a masterful technician and designs the cloth from the fiber to the loom, taking into consideration the innate structure of the fabric and what it can support.  Bethanne reminds us of Michelangelo, who was able to see the form of the figure within the stone before the first cut.

Our relationship began with reworking Oriole's English Sonnet design to suit the desired (and required) characteristics of a woven wrap, and, at Bethanne's suggestion, developing Penumbra as a parallel release to create the beginnings of two distinct  collections for Pavo Textiles: En Plein Air and Effets de Soir.  

After ten months of working with The Oriole Mill we are thrilled to announce our exclusive partnership and co-branding under the label 

Pavo Guild

named for our mutual desire to thrive while producing luscious textiles in a constantly shifting market and to also capture the synchronicity of the birds in both our brand names.  The Oriole Mill produces home furnishings that complement Pavo Textiles’s collections, and Pavo Textiles will work with The Oriole Mill to extend our product line and continue our commitment to producing strong, safe, beautiful woven baby wraps.  We plan to innovate and overlap as much as possible, incorporating our collective designs with the traits appropriate to woven wraps to bring you the finest textiles made in the United States.  

Pavo Guild will distinguish itself from Pavo Form in that it will be made from the finest most luxurious fiber on the market, and will be woven exclusively under the partnership of The Oriole Mill.   

In addition to The Oriole Mill we are also deeply indebted to Libby O'Bryan of the adjacent Sew Co, who is responsible for our fine finishing and the development of our final product. She spent hours of her life aligning the border of Parterre, and adjusted our raw size chart to allow for little to no waste in the cutting room.  She asked all the right questions and had all the right answers as we fumbled through the explanation and demonstration of our woven wraps.  The combined forces of The Oriole Mill and Sew Co listened intently as we explained our product—its need to be weight bearing, what safety standards it must pass, how it should feel to parent and baby—and they are continuing to listen and innovate as we grow in our relationship. 

The most sustainable is that which need not be replaced.
— Bethanne Knudson

Pavo Textiles is incredibly lucky and infinitely grateful to be working with both The Oriole Mill and Sew Co. as we begin our exclusive collaboration into woven wraps and beyond.

Form and Substance

Authentic, simple, elegant, luxurious.

These are the principles that inform the Pavo aesthetic. Working with several different mills and designers over the last year we have seen our concepts evolve and divide.  While all are true to the spirit of Pavo Textiles, we saw a need to introduce a new narrative; one that will live alongside our original artisanal line.

We wanted to offer wraps that would be playful and fun: the type of wrap you take to an afternoon at the beach or on a relaxed early evening walk to the park. We wanted these wraps to be the ones that your littles reached for first when making a wrap fort or for swinging in a hammock.  We wanted them to be reliable, lighthearted, classic, and effortless. A storyline to encourage spontaneity in your routine. 

The colours of love

The colours of love

With our carefully coloured stripes and fanciful hearts,  we have put together the beginning of a collection that will define our new line: Pavo Form. Woven with natural fibers, a brighter palette, and conversational motifs, the textiles in this collection have a more casual look and feel, with the same craftsmanship you have grown to expect from us.  Pavo Form is a relaxed and playful Pavo. It is the perfect exemplification of the form and substance that drive Pavo Textiles.  

And, as always, made in the United States.  

Pavo Form will complement Pavo Textile's artisanal line, the soon to be re-branded Pavo Guild, and will be making its debut near the end of August 2013

Stripes in Form

Stripes in Form

Inspired by Otomi

Inspired by Otomi

Natural Otomi samples

And Otomi Unicornio in work. Shhhhh . . .

And Otomi Unicornio in work. Shhhhh . . .

Cobalt 100% cotton

Our third round of samples arrived this week and we are both elated!  

These wraps are on a lighter-weight warp than Garden Nuptial and therefore are a bit less cumbersome to wrap with. The density is quite high though, making this 100% cotton wrap extremely supportive. 

The Cobalt colourway we are calling Co 27 for the atomic element, it is the silvery blue of long winter shadows on snow.  Cobalt blue was always one of six colours I had in my limited palette when I was studying painting, it has such purity and mixes very clean. Old Holland Cobalt Blue is packed with pigment, the tube is weighty in hand, like a stone from the seashore.  

I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints
— Joni Mitchell
As the sky and the snow and the morning shadows.

As the sky and the snow and the morning shadows.

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This is Co 27 after a hot wash and dry, we like to imagine worst case scenarios with our samples.

This is Co 27 after a hot wash and dry, we like to imagine worst case scenarios with our samples.

Quickly ironed after the washing embossing incident.

Quickly ironed after the washing embossing incident.