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  • Karhina Designs

Tamara and the Art of Mending and Recycling

Tamara Russell - I am a Textile Artist specialising in free machine embroidery, hand stitching and mending. In my textile art practice, I explore my surroundings and interpret what I see through the medium of embroidery. My work has been exhibited in the United Kingdom and Australia.


My practice engages with the natural environment recreating the images and shapes in my embroidered works in both 2D and 3D form. My photos are the starting point as I explore my subject matter directly onto fabric, painting with thread. I also create work portraying my concerns surrounding climate change and the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia. I find textiles to be a perfect medium for expressing my thoughts using both hand and machine stitching.

I have been making, altering and mending my clothes since a teenager. Loving to personalise my wardrobe with visible mending and embellishment. I also accept commissions to mend other people’s old favourites.


The majority of the things I make are made incorporating upcycled or reclaimed materials. Every year tons of perfectly good clothing and fabric ends up in landfill. It takes a huge amount of water and energy to grow and manufacture fabric so I like to be sure to get the most out of it before it ends up in landfill.


Each time an item made from recycled fabric is purchased or clothing repaired, rather than buying new, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water, reduce pollution, decrease land clearing, and keep fabric out of landfill. By ‘closing the loop’ through mending and purchasing products made partially or wholly from reclaimed materials, we can ensure that the market for these materials remains strong and recycling schemes flourish.

To this end, I design workshops to teach people how to revitalise their wardrobes trying to address the 6,000 kilograms of used but still wearable clothing that goes into Australian landfill every 10 minutes as by getting people to hold on to their clothes for at least 9 months longer reduces the water, waste and carbon footprint by up to 30%. (Craig Reucassel, right, standing on top of textile waste, in the ABC's War on Waste.)


Repairing and reinventing the clothes you already own enables you to express creativity and individuality whilst reducing your impact on the environment! We all need to buy less, buy better and keep asking questions about the realities behind what we’re purchasing. Fast fashion is not sustainable, so loving the clothes we already own and working to make them last is imperative. By mending our clothes, we create a bond with them ensuring we wear them longer.

If you are in Melbourne during February and March I will be donating 50% of my workshop fees to Wildlife Victoria.  I see the wonderful work they do as very important after the devastating loss of habitat throughout Victoria. With so much wildlife and insects having been killed by the fires I felt the need to offer all the support I could to help Wildlife Victoria to heal and relocat animals from the burnt out areas incredibly important.  Workshops can be booked at karhina.com/workshops or come to one of my workshops at Arts Muster in April.



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