I used to run the Mobile Mending booth at the Spenard Farmer's Market in Anchorage. I brought my sewing machine, fabric, notions and thread to the market and set up a tent where people could bring me items in need of repair. I hemmed pants, patched holes, fixed zippers, sewed on buttons, closed up seams, and tucked in frayed edges. It was a remarkably successful enterprise in a way. Though I was mobile, in the sense that I moved my little mending tent to and from the market, I wanted to be even more mobile, capable of traveling around in a little cart or trailer. And I also didn't like setting up and working in weather that often was cold, windy and rainy. I wanted to be both mobile and warm.
I am building a little vardo (a Romani or gypsy wagon) on a small 5' x 8' trailer. It is sort of like a little camper, with a bed, fold-down table, shelves and a tiny kitchen - but way more romantic. (Google images of 'vardo' to see what I mean!)
Part of the reason for building the vardo is so I can set up a little mending station and be truly mobile. I have a hand-crank sewing machine for places with no electricity, but will also incorporate electrical outlets and wiring so I can plug the vardo in to power my trusty 1964 Singer sewing machine.
I plan to visit places around the state, and let folks know in advance that I will take in their mending. Once I'm in a community, I will offer workshops, meet people, listen to their stories, and mend their worn and loved textiles.
Funded by Alaska (July 2015)