In March of 2022, the MACHEN Initiative was invited by Passa ao Futuro to take part in the Alentejo Heritage Textiles Residency at the Cooperativa Oficina de Tecelagem de Mértola, Portugal. The residency aimed to facilitate international and local cross-disciplinary collaborations.
During the residency, Daniel Heer and Cian McConn developed with master weavers Helena Rosa and Fatima Mestre the custom blanket Das Tuch. The inspiration for Das Tuch is a grain sack which was on display at the Weaving Museum in Mértola. Drawn by its simplicity and functional use, Daniel and Cian re-interpreted the pattern merging it with an expanded local ‘cobertor’ pattern, such that it became an open plan design of six vertical panels to be sewn together as a blanket.
The stitching of Das Tuch is inspired by Bedouin weaving techniques and their relation to the history of Mértola and Portugal’s Islamic past. The blanket repurposes the details taken from both the grain sacks and Bedouin stitching techniques, Daniel has already worked with for the project Dewaniya in Kuwait. The seams are of specific importance, guided by two different stitches: ‘Ekshab’, a stitch used to join two sides of a cushion together and ‘Khashab’, meaning to blend or bring two things together.
Passa Ao Futuro is a research based non-profit documenting to preserve and promote the intangible cultural heritage of Portuguese artisans. Activating this network through
a series of collaborative and educational initiatives. Supporting the sustainability
of the crafts through positive social and environmental impact programming rooted in design and systems thinking.
The residency is co-financed by the European Development Fund and is part of the CreativeWearPlus project in partnership with Passo Ao Futuro, the Arteria Lab of the University of Evora, the Museo del Tessuto di Prato and the Mertola Municipality. The results of the residency will be on display at the Museo del Tessuto di Prato, Italy, in June 2022.