about one of our makers: Tsia Carson :: Language of the Birds

I love the idea of the name of her collection: Language of the Birds... I think about it each morning that I wake up in Rhode Island and I have these crazy birds outside my window that certainly have their own language and I think I am starting to understand them! One is a something a-kin to a dove I think.. is there such a thing as a sea dove? "coo - coo" he softly says, or is it "whoo - whooo"? But guess what I can make the sound back to him - so yes we can talk... a language of the birds, even though I have no idea where he is or what he is... he is out there!

Spending time in Hawaii is a different kind of Language of the Birds I would imagine, much more tropical and crazy sounds is my guess. In mythology, medieval literature and occultism, the language of the birds is postulated as a mystical, perfect divine language. A green or angelic language, a mythical or magical language used by birds to communicate with the initiated. Tsia Carson aptly named her collection :: Language of the Birds. She has a way to communicate through her simple clothing collection which consists of dresses and tops, because let's face it... that's all you need! (and a pair of jeans... right!)

Tsia is a steward of printing as well as shape - I think this is what makes her collection stand out for me. At a show, there is a sea of vendors, it's terrific if you are a lifelong fashion freak as I am but it can also be overkill, it's like going to Art Galleries all day long, it becomes a glaze. But since it's my job I stay alert - and  good thing because when I walked by Tsia's booth I knew it was for us, and I'll tell you what, you don't see garments made this well often, it would be terrific if more people paid better attention to detail and crisp clean lines and a well made garment. Tsia had her daughter with her and I had mine - so that helped.

I asked Tsia a few questions so this post wasn't all about me, gushing about my new favorite designer (this tends to happen when you find something you really like). So here is our little Q and A.

NCM - tell us about how you started this collection - what was your inspiration?
TC - 1993. Chicago Sal Arms. Racks of 1960s-70s discarded Hawaiian honeymoon mu'umu'u and holomu'us. Each more incredible than the next. A snapshot of my maternal grandmother in the 1960s in Israel. Brightly patterned pant suit, cocktail ring she wore everyday, giant smoky sunglasses, laughing.

NCM - your prints are really unique and I love them... tell us about your process there.
TC - Well I definitely have a point of view with prints. I like big repeats and prints that tell a story. I like it when they feel like they are trying to speak to you. I am not one for prints to simply be pretty. I also feel strongly about how the print feels on the fabric (the sink of the ink, the saturation, the hand) which is why I usually opt for silk-screen. And I can not stand a lazy print where the repeat is poorly done. A print should feel like magic.

My process begins with a concept I want to explore. I try not to get to heavy about it. Last year was "summer", this year I tried to create prints that looked like a close up or xerox of an existing print. I tried to make them look like how things were made before we has such great technology. I was feeling nostalgic for zines. Next year I am working with parking lots. Not kidding. We will see how that goes.

I generally start with a tiny something - a fragment of a Victorian circus poster, a photo of sparklers, a detail of pavement, a paint stroke. It's definitely an open ended process. I end up throwing out a lot of stuff. I am learning on the job so the last two seasons I have worked with Gina Gregorio who teaches at RISD and is super talented. I am slowly taking over as I teach myself textile design. I have no background in it. I am completely unqualified.

NCM - since I am always into food I HAVE to ask you about your favorite recipe/dish 
TC - I love food too, way too much. I have all kinds of crazy dietary restrictions which has taught me to be a good cook. I can make a buckwheat, gluten free, vegan cornbread that will blow your mind. I use coconut yogurt. Right now I have been crazy for this charcoal bread - it's black - so I've conscripted my husband into being a sourdough charcoal bread factory. It's amazing toasted with avocado or good with just olive oil.
NCM - Injection here.. I will get the low-down on this charcoal bread as well as the corn bread so keep checking back! They both sound too good and I need to know more!

NCM - I know you have a connection to Hawaii can you give us a Hawaiian recipe!?
TC - The food culture there is amazing. The restaurants in Honolulu are unbelievably good. It's worth the flight just to eat there - so many talented people making unreal stuff. But a lot of it can't be translated due to ingredients being local and highly perishable. I have been working on a butter mochi recipe but it's still a bit rough. Instead let me share lomi lomi sea asparagus with you. 

Lomi Lomi Sea Asparagus
Lomi means to massage in Hawaiian and it is "traditionally" made with raw salmon but here't the thing- there's no salmon in the waters there so like some other Hawaiian dishes it is a hybrid of many influences. There is a huge cross pollination between Hawaii and Alaska where the salmon comes from. This recipe is adapted from Wenhao H. Sun, Ph.D and his seaweed farm in Oahu (http://www.seaoflifeusa.com/olakai). 

2 cup fresh sea asparagus tips (AKA samphire or glasswort seaweed. Also called "sea bean" on the mainland)
4 med tomato, diced
1 med maui onion (any sweet onion will do), diced

Place sea asparagus in boiling water for 10-30 seconds, and then quickly chill seaweed in a bowl of ice water. Cut the blanched sea asparagus into about 1 inch pieces and soak them in cold water an hour or longer, drain. This will make them less salty (do not skip this step). Optional step: place diced onion in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes. This will make it easier to digest.
Drain everything, mix all ingredients, chill in refrigerator before serving. Do NOT add salt or dressing.

Variations: trade cucumbers for onions. Use grape or currant tomatoes whole. Add avocado.
Thank you so much Tsia for sharing your talents with us and we are excited to see more from you... anytime soon! And if you are looking for some really amazing things to do with your kids, pick up her book, it's just enough of easy and GOOD, practical crafts to do with your kids! It's called Side by Side by Tsia Carson