NSCAD students get up-close look at local fibre lab

Students from NSCAD University’s textiles program took their studies on the road for a recent trip to the Taproot Fibre Lab in Port Williams, Nova Scotia.

Eight students toured the Taproot Fibre Lab where they were given a hands-on experience in the production process, which included cleaning the wool, carding the wool, and learning how to use the spinning machine.

“By operating the machines, they gained valuable insight into how that system works,” said Jennifer Green, NSCAD assistant professor in Textiles/Fashion. “We’re trying to connect the students with what’s happening in their fields of study across Nova Scotia. We’re grateful the Fibre Lab made time for us and gave the students such a personal experience.”

Green added that the tour was also about teaching the students about sustainability. She pointed out that a lot of the clothes regularly purchased by consumers in Nova Scotia have travelled thousands of kilometres before they hit the shelves in local stores. The carbon footprint of this process takes its toll, making buying locally-produced yarn, clothing and other materials an important step for students to consider.

“We should all ask ourselves, ‘Where do we get our clothes from? And what is the environmental impact of that?’ It’s something our students are already thinking about and touring a local business that puts sustainability and environmental awareness into practice was a great learning experience for them,” said Green.

The textile students also took part in a Q&A session with Patricia Bishop, co-owner of the Taproot Fibre Lab and an agricultural innovator. Bishop has a wealth of experience designing flax processing machinery and last year organized a local community shared linen initiative – a project that promotes the production of locally made linen garments, accessories and household items.

“It was really interesting to hear from her about what it’s like to start, own and grow this type of business. Hearing her describe the journey of opening and running her own business was very inspiring,” said Jessie McLaughlin, one of the NSCAD students who toured the Taproot Fibre Lab.

“Her business places an emphasis on sustainability and buying local. Community and collaboration are important to her. In order for a business like this to work, that’s the approach you have to take,” added Pamela Juarez, a fourth-year textile student who took part in the tour.

To learn more about NSCAD’s textiles program, visit https://tagon4.ca/study-at-nscad/divisions-and-areas/craft/textiles-and-fashion/.