We are excited to continue our series, FeelGood Features, with fiber artist Maday Delgado! FeelGood Features showcases artitsts that work with upcycled/recycled and sustainable materials, or focus on making with intention. Because it’s not only important WHY we quilt, but it’s also important HOW we quilt. Our hope is that this series will introduce you to artists that you will love learning about and will demonstrate the ways in which you, too, can incorporate sustainable materials into your craft and practice creating with intention. Thanks for being here!
About Maday: I aim to create in harmony with the environment, leading workshops in a variety of subjects. My goal is to create dynamic pieces that include some form of upcycled and vintage materials.
Why do you feel called to use upcycled or recycled materials in your work?
I find that there is an excess of “cloth” everywhere, from vintage shops to family heirlooms passed down from generations. Growing up in Cuba I never saw anyone discard their clothes; we always found someone to share them with and appreciated what we had because it was not easy to come by. The environmental cost of creating textiles is too high, so why not use the excess textiles that already exist?
How did you get started using these materials?
Once my neighbors found out that I sewed in my Midwestern community, textile donations followed. I would receive boxes of “attic” fabrics that someone had found cleaning and I would tend to them by washing and sorting. It made me feel sad that so much material would have been otherwise sent to the landfill. The natural progression to get into creating t-shirt quilts for customers ensued. Working with preloved materials makes sense to me.
Cloth is imbued with memory and when I use upcycled textiles, I can feel that energy. I know that I’m doing my part by bringing something meaningful to life, to its full potential, to be enjoyed again.
How do you source your materials?
I receive donations from friends and/or I use my family’s clothes that have become worn out in specific areas. In years past I visited vintage shops in the downtown area where I live. I love the texture, smell and quality of feed sacks and I try to use them in my work whenever possible.
Does using these materials have any additional impact/value for you personally? (i.e. does it make you feel more connected to the earth)?
I love technology; it can make our lives somewhat easier. Since 2016 I have however transitioned to sewing by hand as much as I can given my job in a sewing shop. I enjoy slowing down and the sound that the needle makes as stitches get made. I look forward to the peace and quiet that hand-stitching affords me as well as the portability of the work. Working by hand makes me feel connected to the people and materials that came before me and it is an important skill to nurture and pass down to the next generation. Hand-stitching makes you appreciate how long it took to create garments long ago and hopefully teach us to respect and engage in mindful consumption. Being scrappy and resourceful is a part of me.
Thank you, Maday! You are inspiring for so many reasons! Thank you for sharing your story with us. To learn more about Maday and her work, find her on Instagram and visit her website.
Want more inspiration? Check out our interviews with Shelagh Jessop and Kate Kilmurray!