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Green Tree Textiles Recycling

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

Most people have absolutely no idea how much waste they produce. "Our landfills are over-loaded with computers, phones, batteries, food, furniture, art, dish-ware, textiles, personal accessories, and clothing long before the life cycle of these items is complete." *

As you know at BALMASEDA recycling is something we avidly practice and promote. So, when we found out about Green Tree Textiles we immediately decided to partner up!

Can you believe that the average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year

"Green Tree Textiles was founded to collect unwanted textile material including clothing, shoes, accessories and household linens that would otherwise go to already overburdened landfills. Their recycling services support the disadvantaged, the homeless and those in transition, as well as the environment by repurposing clothing and textiles for reuse by environmentally minded manufacturers." *

They have fostered partnerships that support wonderful charity programs such as:

  • Foundation for Peace - by donating a variety of things such us school backpacks and other clothing items that will be sent to orphanages in the Dominican Republic and Haiti with mission teams.
  • Stockings with Care - by donating new toys during the Holidays for children whose parents are not able to afford buying new presents for them.
  • YAI: Seeing Beyond Disability's employment programs - by providing appropriate clothing for disabled individuals who have been placed in jobs.
  • Hostos Community College Suited for Success Resource Program - by providing appropriate clothing (including professional suits and accessories) for the men and women who have graduated from Hostos and are seeking employment opportunities.
  • Ujamaa Hostel - which then distributes clothing among several programs the Hostel and it’s volunteer travelers support. Some of these programs include Neema Baby House, Meru View School, Gloryland School and Ujamaa Children’s Home which is an orphanage for children ages 5 to 14 years.

On June 19th, we attended Green Tree Textiles Recycling's first fundraising event at the beautiful Griffin lounge. We spent the evening with people who are passionate about sustainability and the environment and interested in shopping for unique eco-friendly accessories while supporting a great cause.

Sophie (our wonderful apprentice) and I set up a little BALMASEDA-wonderland where we showcased our hand-spun recycled fiber yarn and the beautiful new summer pieces we made with it.

We were accompanied by the creative minds behind BHAVA studioHarkiss Designs and Indigo Apparel. Plus, there was live music by Men or Myth, dancing, and an open bar.

Learn more about Green Tree Textiles Recycling, and how you can make a difference too!

TAC Mag!

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

TAC - the magazine of the Textile Arts Center - has arrived and it is B E A U T I F U L !

''After five years of witnessing and influencing contemporary textile trends, we decided it was time to gather our resources, industry lessons, and passion, and put them in one place.

We're inspired by the innovation we see everyday in our New York studios and around the world, the curiosity and interest in traditional processes and craft, and the desire to belong to a community that shares these passions. 

...TAC Magazine brings a fresh perspective on textiles and the incredible work that's being made near and far.''  - TAC 

TAC No. 1 includes interviews with artists Ana Kraš, DEGEN and Anne Wilson. Plus, stories of an Upstate NY Solar Fiber Mill, and a conversation with fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra + weaver Isa Rodrigues. Additionally there are two tutorials, a ‘Peruvian Getaway Travel Journal’, an edgy denim/mixed media editorial shoot with Pascale Gueracague, and ‘A Textile Love Story’ by my dear friend Chi Nguyễn

As if that was not enough, you can find me T W I C E in the first 96-page publication, as it features a profile of each of the Cycle 5 Artists in Residence, and a Rag-Tied Cushion Tutorial inspired by my first trip to Cuba.

Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

Photo by Adrienne Antonson.

Photo by Adrienne Antonson.

Photo by Adrienne Antonson. Video by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

Order your annual subscription here!  

(the Spring issue out now! Autumn 2014 ships in November)

Textile Arts Center Goodness

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

Do you know the Textile Arts Center?

                      Brooklyn studio space. Photo borrowed from TAC's website.

''The Textile Arts Center (TAC) is a NYC-based resource facility dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of textiles through creative educational programs for children and adults. TAC aspires to unify the textile community and advocate for the handmade by providing accessible, skills-based classes that reinvigorate engagement with traditional crafts. Techniques like weaving, sewing, and dyeing are practical, connective, and process-driven -- common denominators for designers, artists, and creative practitioners around the world. Because these activities are so widely used, they help to foster community and bring creativity back into our daily lives. They are part of our collective history and vital to our ongoing expressions of design, art, and culture.'' -TAC

Jordana Munk Martin (President of TAC's Board of Director's and Founder of Oak Knit Studio) discussing work during our last AIR critique... with Tara St. James, Annie Coggan, Pascale Gatzen, other visiting critics and the residents. June 2014, Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

On September 2013 I began a 9-month-long Artist Residency (AIR) program at TAC. I moved my studio and BALMASEDA headquarters from Highland Mills, NY to Brooklyn in hopes of exploring new paths through my work and being closer and more connected to a creative community.

Artists in Residence stitch-sampler-making gathering at the AIR studio. Fall 2013. Photo by Barbara Pearsall.

Artists in Residence stitch-sampler-making gathering at the AIR studio. Fall 2013. Photo by Barbara Pearsall.

AIR Cycle 5 ladies learning spinning and felting at TAC. Fall 2013. Photo & Video by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

Some of my shape explorations (using foam-clay, and paper yarn) during AIR Drawing Marathon lead by Jordana Munk Martin in Fall 2013. Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

A snap of one of my 'thinking walls' at the AIR studios, Fall 2013. Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

While at TAC, I also helped teach some of the afterschool/youth programs (ages 5-9). Here during the Sewing and Fashion segment. Winter 2013. Photo by Fran Caselli.

I experimented with various materials and techniques focusing on process and the experience of making. Here, one of my first tests hand-stitching black beans. Dec. 2013. Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

Helping one of the #kidsofTAC paint her warp during the Weaving segment of the afterschool program. Winter 2013. Photo by Fran Caselli.

A later 'thinking wall' at the AIR studios, Spring 2014. Photo by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda.

This chapter gifted me a new fiber-art family, and I had the opportunity of being part of wonderful things. Since there is way too much goodness to fit in this blog, I will share highlights of the last few months through my next posts. Take a peek at the launch of the TAC Magazine, and... a bit about the project I'm developing for our AIR Cycle 5 Exhibition which opens on November 6th, 2014 at Showroom Gowanus.

A family-photo after TAC's 5th b-day celebration. Magical people! June, 2014. Photo borrowed from TAC's Instagram.

And, if you haven't do so already, I invite you to go visit TAC in person. Whether you decide to take one of their classes (they have morning series, after-work sessions, weekend intensives, and month-long courses), take advantage of their fantastic Sewing Seeds program, or rent studio time. You can also engage virtually through their blog and web-shop.

Learn more about TAC:



Fashion Revolution Day: Collaborative Action with Amabelle Aguiluz

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

You may have noticed on April 24th, a quiet revolution taking place where people turned their clothes inside out and asked "Who made your clothes?".

On April 24 2013, the world was tragically made aware of the high cost of cheap fast fashion when Rana Plaza, a factory complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, taking the lives of 1,133 garment workers. Not being the first disaster of it’s kind, this ‘accident’ ''is just one symptom of the broken links across the fashion industry’’. Enough! We need to wake-up and build a healthy and sustainable future.

A year later (on April 24th, 2014) a global movement took place: Fashion Revolution Day acted as a call to arms encouraging people to examine their clothes, the clothes we buy and wear everyday. It invited us to connect with the people who work to make those clothes, whether they are farmers who grow cotton, spinners, weavers, factory workers, designers, grandmothers or artisans.


In an effort to bring positivity, reflection, and awareness into our lives… my wonderful and inspiring friend Amabelle Aguiluz and I decided to do a collaborative action in memory of all those lives we lost last year in the Rana Plaza disaster, and in celebration of the contagious positive influence that small good actions can have. We made a piece for each other, with beautiful consciously sourced materials and with the love and care of our hands.

I got a heartfelt letter and a “spirit scarf” made from naturally colored sustainable cotton from the Sustainable Cotton Project in Firebaugh, California. This beautiful one-of-a-kind piece was knit intuitively with no set pattern by Amabelle Aguiluz’s hands in Los Angeles, California.

I made a hand-knit recycled T-shirt yarn cropped halter top which was reversible. The recycled T-shirts I used were mostly made in the US, but had reached the end of their lives as a T-shirt. 

I cut them up and turned them into chunky yarn, which was knit and purled to form a charming top for my dear friend. I added a whimsical and organic crocheted border made with the remains of a special cotton yarn I bought while we were both studying abroad in Italy, to remind us of our shared journey (Amabelle and both attended the FIT in Italy program). 

The finishing detail: a custom label highlighting the intention of the garment, capturing the origin of each of the ‘ingredients’ (materials)... and reminding her to wear it with a smile!

Amabelle and I wore each other’s piece and documented our exchange. I felt so connected to her, to the thoughtful (and aligned) making process, and the love this hand-made knitted object transmitted. 

This is how all clothes we wear should feel!

Transparency is a beautiful thing; BALMASEDA invites you to practice it!

Visit to learn more.

Photos by Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda, Amabelle Aguiluz, and Dorian Iten.

Earth Day: ReFashioned at Eileen Fisher

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

How did you celebrate Earth Day this year?

We honor Earth every day at estudioBALMASEDA... However, this year we did something a bit more 'official' and celebrated Earth Day at the Eileen Fisher space at Bloomingdales with the always amazing and inspiring Sass Brown and Karina Kallio. Eileen Fisher organized two wonderful events to support Earth Month and Sass Brown's new book ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing From Up Cycled Materials. Kallio and BALMASEDA were invited to lead engaging upcycling workshops at the Eileen Fisher stores at The Shops at Columbus Circle and Bloomingdales, NY.

Sass Brown is not only a fabulously stylish activist and writer, but she is also the acting Assistant Dean for the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

I met Sass Brown when studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She was the Resident Director of the FIT program at POLIMODA, and also ended up being my Fashion Art professor for the year. Since then she has been an incredible source of inspiration, guidance, and support. I wouldn’t be walking this path if it wasn’t for her. She is an amazingly knowledgeable and cosmopolitan globe-trotter, but also a really cool, honest, and super charming super-woman. So, I say YES, and YES every time I get the chance to stand by her.

She presented her insightful new book: ReFashioned, and remained for a book-signing session.

At the event the BALMASEDA team lead a spinning demonstration where we showed people how to upcycle their T-shirts (and other soon-to-be-tossed garments) and make their own yarn. We’ve been hand-spinning all sorts of textile-remnants into a very special and highly textured yarn, which we then hand-knit into one-of-a-kind garments since 2011. Our mission with this process is to give a new life to materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill by transforming them into something elevated that can be created with simple tools and the care of our hands.

Karina Kallio owner and designer for Kallio lead her own upcycling workshop. Kallio reclaims pre-loved vintage clothing, sorts it and and re-sews it in ethical factories to give it a new life -most often- as charming children’s clothing. She and her team set up their sewing machine and patched together vintage sleeve cuffs to make cute pouches which our visitors got to take home.

These demo/workshops give us an opportunity to share our resourcefulness and love for hand-work with a varied audience in hopes that they can begin to see the potential these offcuts have, and perhaps inspire them to reconsider the real end-of-life of our products, the value of slow work, or maybe pick up a pair of needles and start to knit.

In addition to creating awareness, these events provided us an occasion to see some of the people we love like Sass BrownAmy DuFaultMimi ProberTitania Inglis, and Lorna Daniel from Indigo Handloom; but also to meet interesting new friends like Michael KherleinKarina Kallio and of course, the Eileen Fisher team.

Photos by Dorian ItenZaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda, Amy Du Fault, and the Eileen Fisher team.