Sunday, August 11, 2013

Paris Journal: Flax in the city

The summer in Paris often brings interesting displays in different squares, places and open spaces around the city. As we ride our bus 67, which originates just a block from our doorstep in Pigalle, we pass through some of the popular parts of Paris. One day, I saw some people setting up a huge tent-like structure in the little place in front of the northern border of the Louvre. This temporary installation turned out to be a fantastic promotional display about the "Incredible Harvest" of the flax plant or lin for the French linen industry, complete with a field of flax! 

According to the literature, "seventy percent of the world's linen crop is produced in Europe with 10,000 companies from 14 European Union countries participating in all stages of the fiber's production and transformation." 

Behind (or on the south side of) this building are the famous Pyramides of the Louvre museum.
And we walk in fields of flax.

The presentation was impeccable and informative. There was a timeline and description of all of the stages of the the flax plant from sowing through harvest, retting, scutching and weaving plus new and innovative uses for this versatile material in surfboards, planters and vehicles...

and these very unique scarecrows, dressed in all-linen garb with flax coming out of their necklines (sort of drives the point home, does it not?)!

The tent featured more of the industrial process of turning the flax into linen fabric with photos of the spinning and weaving industry and videos of the fashionable uses for flax.

Hanging from the ceiling as you entered the tent were swatches of colorful linen fabrics. 

They handed out a clever little "Be Linen" map which traces the linen industry and production in the European Union. Did you know that one hectare of European linen can equal 1,500 kg of fiber, 900 kg of thread, 1,375 pieces of composite furniture, 431 household textiles, 4,000 pieces of clothing or 3,750 square meters of fabric?  There were also complimentary postcards with photos of the stages of flax harvest and its production process to take to spread the word about linen. The campaign was financed with the participation of the European Union and France. You can find out more about it at Masters of Linen.

I really liked that the installation asked the question: What form of linen will you wear or use today? The fiber is everywhere!

From a fiber-lovers point of view, this installation was a true gem to be found in the bustling summer of Paris.

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