Working with green coffee bean burlap bags in the garden studio, with cats

Garden studio with green coffee burlap and cats
Cats having a snack on the project burlap, with the cat fort in the background.

Cat assistants were in full snacking and supervision mode in a recent outdoor studio session in the garden. A sunny weekend of high temperatures saw us drag our projects out of the basement studios and onto the circle lawn. Such a strange experience, to have such a warmth and angle of light but with no leaves on trees!

Garden studio with green coffee burlap and cats
Marc works and the cats sleep on my project. Yes, I made them a cat fort to play in.

Magda was doing the first steps of converting burlap bags from a coffee roaster in Detroit into textile that could be used in other projects. Coffee roasters go through loads of these bags and either give them away to customers or simply trash them. Some have holes or rips but many are in great shapes and last very well outdoors and in other hard wearing situations. In our studio and house and garden these are used as door mats, cat beds, sacks for storage, protective burlap in the garden and many other uses.

Garden studio with green coffee burlap and cats
To gain the cloth of the burlap bags from the green coffee, the first step is to open them up, removing the side stitching. Ripping apart a seam is easy once you figure out the stitches and how to pull them apart like unraveling knitting.

The first step is to take out the stitches and turn the sacks into flat fabric again. This ripping out of stitches, when skillfully done, is as satisfying as unraveling some knitting - pull on the two entwined threads and the seam purrs apart. It can be frustrating as the ropes snag, but the effort is worth it as it is also a way to gain yards and yards of burlap twine!

Garden studio with green coffee burlap and cats
Zolus, Wafon, and Luca have a snack, one of many.
Garden studio with green coffee burlap and cats
Taking apart burlap bags from green coffee beans from roasters.

The garden is just waking up from winter and the weekend was very unusual - 25 degrees Celcius and sunny - that's in the mid 70's Farenheit! At the end of April that is very unusual by the Detroit River. Personally, it was welcome to bask in the sun and feel the warm air breeze on bare skin, but it is alarmning to think what it might mean in the future for here or elsewhere on the planet right now and later this summer.

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