ISSUE 1  |  New Beginnings

Farm-to-Table Textiles from Voices of Industry

January 08, 2014 2:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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Weaver and designer Adele Stafford has taken the concept of farm-to-table and applied it to textiles. As she explains, “I’ve built a model that puts the farmer at the heart of what we’re doing and relies on the expertise of other makers—pattern makers, tailors, designers, photographers—as a way of building a collaborative industry. I’m the weaver, but it takes this team to make the work happen.”

Adele graduated from RISD in 1999 and spent the following five years in Rhode Island living in an old mill town along the Blackstone River that had one time been an important part of the domestic textile industry. Now based in Oakland, California, she found herself with direct access to farmers producing cotton and wool. As she explains, it was a visit to Northern California’s pioneer organic cotton grower Sally Fox where “I saw a clear opportunity to make products that embody the stories of domestic fiber farmers with a unique approach to the way that they work.”  Adele launched Voices of Industry last month and was part of our Remodelista Holiday Market in San Francisco where almost all of her pieces sold out. You can view her limited-edition designs at Voices of Industry and contact her directly to receive notice of her next production: each month she’s able to create 15 to 20 pieces of work.

Photography by Brian Ferry

Above: Cloth 6 of 7, Warp 1a design that can be used as a throw, wrap, or scarf; $465. 

Above: Cones of organic naturally colored yarn on display. Adele tells us, “In a weaving class, I was introduced to Sally Fox’s cotton and couldn’t believe that it grew in such a spectrum of colors.”

Above: Adele hand weaves on a mechanical loom. Every piece comes with a record of the farmer who grew the fiber, the warp on which it was woven, and the order it appeared on the loom. 

Above: Views from the Voices of Industry studio in Oakland. When Adele lived in an old Rhode Island mill town, she avidly researched the history of the region and came across the story of Sarah Bagley, a factory loom operator during the mid 1800s who organized the first all-womens’ labor reform movement and edited its publication, The Voice of Industry—the namesake for Adele’s company.

Above: Painter Afton Love models Shirt 1 of 7, Warp 1, the Voices of Industry signature shirt, sewn from a single piece of woven cotton with selvedge-edged sleeves and a pleated shoulder; $390. “We are influenced as much by the modernist heroines, like Anni Albers, Agnes Martin, and Sheila Hicks, as we are by traditional textile makers like Harris Tweed and Swans Island,” says Adele.

Above: Wooden shuttles and other weaving implements in Adele’s tool kit.

Above: Cloth 6 of 7, Warp 1 worn as a wrap. 

Above: The source for Voices of Industry’s organic cotton: Sally Fox’s California fields.

For more Studio Visits, see Small Trade Company Gets BigAccidental Doll Maker Jess Brown, and London Artist Sue Williams A’Court at Home.