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Kitty Came Home: Stitching life

black-and-white-abstract-clWith more interest than ever in sustainable fashion and design, many artists are turning to reclaimed and recycled materials – rebelling against the mainstream push for the new. Amanda Matulick examines the passionate practice of Adelaide artist and entrepreneur Katrina Weber. Kitty Came Home is an exciting node in a recent radical agenda to incorporate reclaimed and recycled materials in fashion and functional design.

Uniting a strong vintage aesthetic with contemporary design and hands-on craftsmanship, creator Katrina Weber is dreaming into existence unique accessories that take existing materials and rework them, rather than waste them.

Solidly stitched into Weber’s ethos is her consideration for the community and environment, creating products that give back to our world while performing their functions with glamour. Where possible, all of the products incorporate recycled materials.

The tale of Kitty Came Home began in 2004 in a small Adelaide studio, where previously discarded snippets of domesticity found in op shops were stitched back into life with Weber's great grandmother's sewing machine.

“I love hunting down of all the little treasures that make their way into Kitty Came Home creations…and then seeing the items being used and loved,” says Weber.

She says she finds delight and inspiration in the intricacies of her work. “Perhaps because of my jewellery background I always find myself lost in the most tiny details of the bigger picture.”

Weber trained as a contemporary jeweller and visual artist before undertaking a residency at the prestigious Gray Street Workshop, a considerable achievement in Australian jewellery practices. Today she also makes her own range of contemporary jewellery, exhibiting in contemporary gallery spaces across Australia.

Although there is often considerably more cost associated with using the reclaimed materials, Weber feels that the end result is worth the toil. The PVC for example, is often collected for a fee from scraps at industrial sites.

It is then taken back to the studio, cleaned and rolled back into functional material for her products. In comparison, Weber can purchase new rolls for roughly the same price, and without the time and effort.

“Plastic is fantastic but we all know the environmental costs associated with manufacturing and disposing of it,” she says. “The time I spend sourcing industry waste that might otherwise go to landfill, I feel is a really worthy investment & makes for a feel-good happy product too.”

KCH-Wallet_Sailing-ShipsWeber supports local community organisations, including The Royal Society for the Blind Industrial Services and Wesley Uniting Care Sewing Service, by outsourcing stages of her operations. She is committed to this process, enjoying the ability to help local people in need to find employment and enjoyment.

“My long term goal is to ensure production of handmade, ethically outsourced and environmentally considerate jewellery and accessories for men and women,” she says.

Weber hopes to one day release the option for customers to return their goods once they feel they have done their time as a means to save the items going to landfill. They will then be reconditioned back into functional pieces and put back into the market – meaning the cycle Weber and others are creating, continues.

Visit the Kitty Came Home website.

From a geek-in-learning, to generally-pretty-geeky, Amanda Matulick has a passion for digital communication and online environments and has recently launched her freelance PR company, GeekSpeak. She works with clients from the arts, travel and not-for-profit industries.

Images from top: Black & white abstract clutch bag; Wallet sailing ship.







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