San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
I am Margarita and I am a textile addict!
You live and work in Chiapas, Mexico where you make goods out of various recycled items. Tell us.. what’s a day like in Chiapas?
San Cristobal is an amazing place to live, it lets me have morning coffee in my terrace watching the foggy highlands wake up. I walk to my studio in the morning cold. The artisans work at home, so I drive to at least three workshops per day to check advances and quality control. Some workshops are in the outskirts of town and some are in communities as far as three hours. I don't cook, so everyday I eat lunch at amazing little places around town. I reserve the afternoons for myself and my music at the studio.
As in the great words of Einstein, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” Today’s environmental harm caused by our demanding society, where too much is taken from the natural world and too much is being put back as waste, you found a sustainable practice that reuses, gives back and contributes to the health of the Earth. Tell us about the techniques you use to create sustainable products.
The idea is simple; we transform trash into textile. Together with the artisans we have developed a way to make fabric out of almost every single piece of trash we generate. It has taken almost six years to date to work out the process we use.
First we have to do the cleaning, which takes up to half the time. After we prepare the material which entails things like separation and cutting, then we start up the loom (back strap, pedal or vertical) and the fun begins, weaving the trash. Final stages are product design, development and collaboration with designers from different parts of the world. We manage to export trash transformed into textile.
Sometimes you weave audio cassette tape into the weft of the fabric, do you ever listen to the music before weaving it?
I’m afraid I don´t have anywhere to play the cassettes or VHS tapes anymore. I have to admit that it’s fun reading the titles of all kinds of artists- it brings back many childhood memories. A couple of months ago I got a box filled with VHS tapes, to my surprise I discovered that one of my current favorite chefs in Mexico apparently did kitchen tutorials back in the 80’s, fun little fact.
What is the most interesting audio cassette you have used?
It’s not the actual audio cassette the interesting part, its more the different reactions the various generations have, now some don´t even know what it is. its funny to see the expressions when I try to explain we even carried them in storage cases everywhere we went.
What drove me is México, the artisans, and their tradition. To be able to combine their knowledge of using ancient techniques with my curiosity of using recycled materials and together achieve wonderful textiles and artwork.
Favorite Mexican beer?
La cerveza de la casa from ensenada.
How do you obtain the recycled items?
Usually by donations, but I do love to go to people and see what they discard and figure out if we can use it or not. like they say, someone’s trash is another’s treasure.
What was the last time you send someone a postcard? What country was it from?
Traveling is a huge part of my life. my grandparents helped me achieve my first solo trip to Europe when I was 17 years, now every time I travel anywhere in the world I send them a postcard. London was my last trip this past December.
One way the indigenous people of Chiapas sustain their economic welfare is through trading their handmade crafts, most often at San Cristobal. How does Omorika contribute to this livelihood?
I don't work directly with crafts but I always emphasize that they should never sacrifice quality, always be true to what they are selling to their client, whether it was handmade or not and always be proud of their work. To see themselves as artists, they have unbelievable talent!
Sophistication is understated attention to detail. Less is more!
Instragram : @margaritacantue
Website : www.omorika.com.mx