Weaving Color and Sustainability

July 16, 2015 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

Artist and weaver Brooke Demos

Brooke Demos

Artist and weaver Brooke Demos works with a material most of us throw under our kitchen sinks or some other sacred spot (or possibly don’t use anymore because we conscientiously carry a grocery tote). She uses plastic bags.

“I started collecting them in the 90’s. The bags were more colorful then. I guess the thinking is ‘why spend the money on dyes?'”

She weaves them into both functional pieces such as rugs, pillows, place mats, shower curtains and tepee skins, in addition to more conceptual designs.

Polyethylene Playground

“I consider the tepee skins both functional and conceptional. Native Americans always used resources from their natural environment. In fact, shelter is one of the oldest structures that incorporates the weaving technique. Weaving is a very, very old construction and women were the first weavers.”

Wantimatika Tee Pee


Conceptually, Demos has created wall hangings and larger pieces. Her American Flag wall hanging is titled Consumer Allegiance which is a meditation on patriotism, capitalism and consumerism.

Commercial Allegiance

Commercial Allegiance

“I weave discarded plastic shopping bags because of the transformation that occurs when I process this modern waste product, produced in vast quantities on a global scale, into a sensual fabric or textile construction. The material speaks to me about where it comes from and what it is made of, directing me to themes of a universal consumer culture, sustaining the environment, and turning blight into beauty.”

Shopped Down

Shopped Down

And she loves color.

“I’ve been drawn to color all my life. The more the better. I’ve been experiencing the color of bags for over twenty years. Some of my favorite were newspaper sleeves. When they started throwing those newspapers on people’s porches in plastic bags, they came in an array of colors. I have quite a collection and they’re gorgeous.”


Her technique entails cutting the plastic bags into strips, warping the loom with them and using the contrasting colored strips in the fill to create different designs, patterns and images into the cloth.

“The collection of raw material to produce my art could be likened to those who raise and shear sheep or harvest flax or cotton plants. My collection process includes gleaning bags from the street, fences and recycling containers at the local grocery stores. Friends and family have enthusiastically saved post-consumer bags for me.”

Wantimatika Flooring

Wantimatika Flooring

In addition to attending the Art Institute of Chicago, Demos studied textile development and marketing at FIT in New York where she learned the significance and importance of color forecasting.

“There was a panel on color forecasting that involved political scientists, economists and major designers from all over the world and they discussed some of the current global topics, such as war and the environment, and how these issues could be represented in color. All colors are going to stimulate some kind of emotional and intellectual response and people are paid a great deal of money to study and influence these trends.”

Ecology: For the Masses

Ecology: For the Masses

In terms of a personal color palate, Demos goes for purple.

Clayhaus Plum - Dark Purple Ceramic Tile

Clayhaus Plum – Dark Purple Ceramic Tile

“It’s a royal color. It was a very difficult color to get for the purple velvet robes that kings wore. It cost a lot of money to get the shells – actually the purple comes out of a couple plants and shells – and it would take thousands of pounds of shells to make this dye for the kings. It was considered exotic.”

Artist Brooke DemosDemos weaves on two looms; Harrisville, 36 4-harness floor loom and Toika, 60 countermarche rug loom. Her work has been exhibited at ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation in Chicago, Fibers Arts Network of Michigan, and has received the Curators Choice Award at the Chicago Art Open. For more information on her work or commissions, email brookedemos@gmail.com and see more at Saatchi Art.


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Rebecca Lonergan

Founder and Creative Director of Modwalls Tile Company. Since 2005 Rebecca has been designing Fresh Tile in Colors You Crave. Shop Online at Modwalls.com.

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