Findings: Inventory and making the most of things

In the throws of pattern testing, I haven't had much exciting news to report aside from the fact that the new pattern will be ready this month.

But so as to not shirk my blogging responsibilities, here's another edition of Findings!

Precious Plastic is an open source program designed to allow anybody to build their own plastic recycling and fabrication studio. I can imagine all sorts of cool objects you could make with this stuff...all their examples are awesome.

I'm always thinking about the disposability of things like seam rippers and plastic spools (and, honestly, disposable culture in general) and this project has me dreaming about a line of recycled sewing tools and notions. Now if only somebody could invent a consumer level machine that could quickly process scraps of fabric into raw material to be woven/spun/etc.

While we're on the topic of 'stuff'...

I recently came across this piece by artist Simon Evans (well, artist duo really, as his wife has been his collaborator for years under his name...a discussion for another time) that got me thinking about inventory. As I work through my wardrobe revamping and thinking about living with less, slow everything, Marie Kondo, etc, the idea of creating an inventory is extremely appealing to me.

Simon Evans Everything I Have

Simon Evans Everything I Have

This Evans piece is more than just a visual inventory of course...if you examine the text below each item you'll find a variety of odd references and social commentaries, which is typical of their work. For the purposes of this blog post, I'm thinking about the work in a visual and loosely conceptual context.

I've tried to do projects like this in the past...making a visual catalog of all my clothing & accessories. I've actually helped other people do this as well, with varying success and levels of commitment. I'm such a visual person in terms of thought processes and organization, that I think seeing all my clothing at once would allow me to better curate. I could think of the collection as a whole. But the daunting process of photographing everything leaves me uninspired. If I were more of an illustrator, I might do drawings of everything, but that would take time I don't have. However, I think creating a visual wardrobe lexicon is a nice long term goal to have. Maybe on a long weekend...

Detail: Simon Evans Everything I Have

Detail: Simon Evans Everything I Have

It gets me thinking though...how will people in the future remember us and what our lives were like? Will they examine our culture through facebook updates and vine videos?

That brings me to my next finding....

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I'm currently reading a book called The Making of Home by Judith Flanders. The book examines how our idea of 'home' in America & Europe was conjured over the course of the last few centuries, through developments in technology, practice, and culture. I'm only half way through it (I'm a slow reader, especially when I'm not taking public transportation: my preferred reading scenario) and in each chapter I've already discovered some wonderful thought seeds about women & work, homesteading, the social power of furniture, etc. I'm a total nerd about the history of domestic experience.

A detail from The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck

A detail from The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck

Archaeologists and historians often rely on legal documents from the time (such as probate inventories taken at the time of death to value an estate) to figure out what kinds of items people had and draw inferences about how they lived. Part of this is because paintings, though reflective of their times in a variety of ways, are not always direct representations of 'the real life'. Things change a bit when photography is invented.

Inventory from 1792, including 1 pair leather shoes, 1 yard black gauze, 1 oz white thread, and a thimble.

Inventory from 1792, including 1 pair leather shoes, 1 yard black gauze, 1 oz white thread, and a thimble.

So, how would future cultures interpret our lives by watching episodes of the Kardashians and reading an Ikea catalog VS. looking at a collection of photos of everything somebody owned? Or reading a sewing blog? Or looking at your amazon purchase history? Of course, all of this relies on our technology surviving us ;)

Anyway, a bit of a rambling of what my brain is doing when it's not thinking about pattern layouts. I like thinking about the future in relationship to history...it gets me thinking.

Do you have any creative methods for recycling your sewing leftovers? Have you ever created an inventory of your clothes or anything else?