Hello May, hello friends,

Welcome to my monthly update, a recap on what's going on the previous month. I've created the LIFE CYCLE OF TREE monthly series in the beginning of 2021 to document my journey to achieve my personal goals for a greener lifestyle for myself and the environment. 

I have selected 5 personal goals from my wishlist and hopefully see how it grows at the end of the year.  From my personal experience, mastering a skill will usually take me more than a year. Keeping a journal like this will allow me to remind myself of what I have done and have the opportunity to share my journey with you (so that it will give you an idea on how to start one on your own too).

Let's talk about the title of the month: ROOTING
Root strengthening 
Before you begin mastering a skill, a reason to start is a must to ensure that you will not regret starting it. Subsequently, this same reason will be your "power bank" reserved to push on when you have doubts about your choice of skill to master. The more you learn, the more you should want to dive deeper into the chosen subject, as that would be a sign of you rooting your interest (just like a stimulating relationship with your loved one, don't you think so?)

The root of the problem 
There are times when you find yourself repeatedly doing something without significant improvement. Take my daily swimming for example: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you are only allowed to swim in a public pool for 55mins. As I usually swim for more than an hour, this new limitation makes my usual swim of 40 laps harder to achieve. For months, I have been achieving 26 laps within the limited 55mins,  and my body is always in pain after every swim (what a wonderful and perfect excuse to call it quits!). 

It was so painful that I have to take a break off swimming for a week and looked for ways to improve my swimming form. Watching videos after videos from youtube, my perspective shifted when I discovered Island of Mountains: Believe it or not. This is Taiwan.  One of the biggest take away from this video is when you are feeling pain, it is a sign that you are growing simultaneously. I used to see pain as a reason to fear and it prevents me from pushing further (when returned to swimming again, I have managed to break my plateau of 26 laps to 30 laps (and this number is still increasing weekly!). By understanding the root of my problem, I've learned how to embrace pain :)

"Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional."
- Haruki Murakami

"Unless you heal the root of the problem, the pain will not go away. You can hide from it, but the problem stays until you dig deep."
- Leon Brown

This month I am not able to share my progress on needlework, pattern drafting, and illustration. All my time and effort have been put into Wabisabi's upcoming collection. This means that I will also have to double up my efforts to make time to catch up on these skill tasks this month.

Below are the 5 goals and their updates. If you read my blog often, you might notice that at the end of each update, I will also share with you what I've discovered in the previous month. All these gems help me to be a better version of myself and I sincerely hope that they too will benefit you. Here's the update below... do remember to check the end of my update for these treasures.

1. Gift Wrapping
Last month, I used what I foraged from the ground and used local market herbs to create a series of plant-based wrapping.

2. Natural Dye

Last month I bought a book from a multi-disciplinary artist Studio Nienke Hoogvliet who created several projects to address the environmental issue. Looking at her artwork gave me a fresh perspective of unusual materials like bones and she always begins her work by asking herself a deep question like:

"Do bones of an organically grown animal result in a better quality of bone china than bio-industry grown animals?"

She creates a series of bowls that are made with entirely bone from organically grown animals and bio-industry grown animals for comparison. In general, it shows that what we choose to eat, wear, live and travel to, will directly be reflected on our body-mind, and soul.

This made me curious about her thinking process and how to craft a project that will create an awareness that will be tightly linked to our daily life.

So I spent a day reading and digested her book  H.E.R.B.S. Surprisingly, they have 2 versions of the same copy, a perfect version that cost Euro 49.95 and an imperfect version with a slight bend that cost Euro 39.95. My purchased imperfect version was definitely just as good as the perfect one. 

H.E.R.B.S (A short form for Healthier Environment Remedy for Body and Skin) documented the process on how the author, Nienke, began this project. Have you ever wondered whether the clothes that we purchase are safe to wear? Tracing the pollution problem from textile production to its roots, she wondered if the application of a toxic chemical on our second skin (textile) will have an impact on our body.  If it does, are we better off selecting a healthier approach by dyeing textiles with herbs?

The outcome of this experiment was tested by Centexbel, a textile research facility in Ghent, Belgium. As I am keen to discover more possibilities for herb dyeing, I was very curious about the result of her experiments on ayurvastra practice (an ancient natural technique that originated from India, I will elaborate on this holistic approach a bit later). The test has proven that it is possible to transfer the essential oils of the herbs through the dyeing process to the fabric. With this finding, it also means that our clothes which are treated with toxic chemicals (which we can't see with our eyes) will stay on our clothes. Whether this will have an effect on our body, is still currently a big puzzle waiting for us to solve. 

Video via youtube

About Ayurvastra
In Sanskrit, Ayur means life, and vastra means clothing. It is the ancient practice of creating clothing with natural fibers with medicinal herbs that also help heal the body. The process of making ayurvastra is tedious, as every ingredient involved in this process has to be organic, or grown in a non-pesticide and non-fertilized environment. 

You might wonder what the differences are, compared to natural dye?
In general, the textile dyeing process can be categorized into ayurvedic dye, natural dye, and synthetic dye. If you are interested to dive deeper into details, I've found the comparison of the dyeing process on different practices. This will help you to understand more about dyeing processes.

Feedback for the book and its content
The biggest takeaway from this book is Nienke's drive to come out with several innovative solutions that will shake the world. Her unique approach to unique and unwanted materials is fresh and poetry. I am delighted to know the H.E.R.B.S project will be an ongoing experiment for Studio Nienke Hoogvilet and as a reader, I am really looking forward to seeing how this project will evolve over time.

Thoughts after reading
"New" is addictive. We express our personality through what we wear and how we carry ourselves. What we wear, is what we called "clothing", a second skin to protect us and a way for us to "say" who we are. Ironically, this "magic tool" has created huge pollution issues to our environment which is closely intertwined with the food we eat. With that, it got me thinking: What more should be done on my part to replace this rapid buying and ever fast-changing "fashion"? 

3. Needle Work
No progression - will double the time and effort to do this in May

4. Pattern Drafting
No progression - will double the time and effort to do this in May

5. Illustration
No progression - will double the time and effort to do this in May

New Treasures of the month:

One Army

Super excited to have found a website that provides caring, repairing, and upgrading services for your clothing for FREE! For those who wish to know more about how to mend your own clothing, you've come to the right place! Fixing Fashion will walk you through the general knowledge of fabric before you prepare to fix your own clothing.

Photos via Fixing Fashion

To solve the current fashion waste issue, they have created very useful content to educate the public, so that we can help to reduce fashion waste by salvaging our existing clothing. In return, you can help them to spread the word about #fixing fashion or support them with a donation to help them continue their research on new techniques and greener ways to lengthen the shelf life of our clothes.

The founder One Army is a design house that has dedicated their lives to serve and protect planet earth. If you admire what they do, do also check out their other project, Project Kamp, and follow their journey on a sustainable footprint to revamp a piece of abandoned land.

Video via youtube

Thank you for reading to this point. Here's a sneak peek of my upcoming launch on Monday, 11th May 2021, at 8pm (GMT +8) at WABISABI Etsy store. I don't have a theme for this collection but the selection is grounded, classy with a tiny touch of artsy. It is dedicated to all forward-thinking ladies who have a unique perspective of life, and have a nostalgic affair with who they wish to be, deep within their hearts. They are definitely conscious about environmental issues, love challenges, and are always young at heart. 

At finally, I would like to share a quote from Benjamin Franklin (discovered this beautiful quote while reading H.E.R.B.S)

"Tell me and I'll forget
Teach me and I remember
Involve me and I'll learn."

A drastic change requires you to be involved in something. Mine began with my love of hiking and it made me who I am now. When I saw people dumping their trash all over the mountains, I just want to be the change to protect nature, the nature that is so beautiful and yet so fragile. The more I learn about trash dumping issues, the more I want to find ways to slowly change selfish human behavior including the selfish side is see in myself. 

I hope this article will inspire you to want to learn more and be involved in a greener future. 

Rooting for a greener planet earth,
Waee Waee