Sustaining the Art of Weaving

David Robinson is neither the average textile artist nor an environmentalist in any strict sense. Yet this textbook buyer for the University of Alaska, Anchorage, creates unique, even timeless designs in his office in the university bookstore from a wide range of recycled and reclaimed materials. Writer Paul Brynner of the student newspaper The Northern Light notes that Robinson's focus isn't on the current language of sustainability, but on the careful, patient art of weaving, and an ability to see possibility in things others discard as waste:

Robinson, a wiry-haired man with John Lennon glasses, showed me two bundles of yarn. The first was dyed ethereal blue and indigo and composed of something called banana silk. The second bundle seemed a kaleidoscopic chaos of every color imaginable.

"It's made from Indian saris that were going to be thrown out," Robinson said, turning the yarn bundle in his hands. "A co-op over there shreds the saris and makes the yarn. I buy a lot of material now from Third-World co-ops. They're people who can use the money. And the banana silk is separated from the bark of banana trees. They don't have to kill the trees." ...

But Robinson seemed reluctant to advertise any new environmental paradigm. I asked how much difference he makes by using recycled products, and he scrunched together the tips of forefinger and thumb.

"Teensy weensy," he said.

You won't find Robinson's work in a gallery or museum -- he gives it away to friends, or keeps it in his office. He's not a big name in either the art world or environmental circles, but certainly provides a compelling model of a sustainable life. ::The Northern Light