People from near and far come to Rovaniemi to explore one of the last frontiers of Europe, just like I did more than 10 years ago.
Apart from the great grand wilderness of the north, In Rollo we also have interesting education opportunities, one of them being the University of Lapland. The university is small, but has one of Finland's two (the other is in Helsinki) fully academic art departments with several faculties ranging from graphic to textile and clothing design to industrial design and art education.
As a whole, the local community here is very multi-cultural and Lappish hospitality sets a good platform for sharing knowledge and new skills.
While I got my degree from art ed, I have since been drawn towards textile design and workshop culture.
Workshops have the benefit of being very hands-on right from the start, and that's why I like them so much. And why other people like them too! We live in a world of fast information, and as information is being shred, so are skills.
BUT, there are some things you can't experience on the internet. And one of them is craft!
Now, as I work with my company Susivilla alongside the local crafts association Taito Lappi (sub-association to the larger Finnish "Taito Group") I am happy to notice that students are drawn to learning about the origins of Finnish textile design and learning how to weave themselves!
At Taito Lappi, in the center of Rovaniemi there is an open studio, where you can rent a loom readily warped, for a daily charge.
Or, ask for one of Susivilla's craft courses like the one I organized this weekend for exchange students.
As I mentioned above, the local university offers an opprtunity to major in clothing/textile/interior design and of course featured are all the modern gadgets and 3D programs that are part of almost any design process nowadays.
But while digitalization makes many things more convenient and accessible globally, people still have an inner desire and need to work with their hands! And that is what Susivilla is all about; working with people to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for textile design starting at grass root level.
I think in our inner selves we are still cave pople (at least our behavior socially is still in many ways kind of primitive don't you think?), so the natural need is within us to make stuff for our own living environment still. Whether it be interior design through Ikea or chopping wood or cooking or whatever.
But more importantly, as everything is becoming computerized, it is really freaking fascinating to see how something actually works!! To see how the making of a product unfolds before your very eyes! And at the end you can stand back and say, yeah, I MADE THAT!!
That's one of the reasons why I love doing weaving workshops (and hopefully why people like to attend my workshops too!), that wow!-feeling at the end when the project is done.
I like to say a woven product (or any hand made product, really) is at least six times beautiful:
- first, as your planning it and choosing it's materials and colors
- second, when you are making it
- third, when you see bits of color and designs matching together
- fourth, when you take it off the loom and see the whole thing, (wooo!)
- fifth, when you take it home and see it in its function or proper place
- sixth, when you show it to your friends, or really, everytime you walk past it and know that you made it, honest and true!
So, I am optimistic that people will also in the future be open to learning old school skills, even if it is sometimes the slow way of doing things, and there is no Ctrl+Z-button when you f*** up.
And what's so great about weaving in particular is that it's universal. It is one of the most primitive methods of making things, starting with palm leaf shelters. I can't think of a single culture that hasn't applied some form of weaving in its cultural heritage. So it doesn' t matter what nook of the world you are from, we all have an idea of what weaving is. But what it will be in the future, sky is not the limit.
Thanks again to Dorian, Hila, Laura, Qing and Yurina for a great workshop this weekend.