Wild Fibers Story: Part One
Our first fiber discovery began with a reconnaissance mission, it was a search to acquire an indigenous garment fiber. The reconnaissance mission was lead by a small team from a non-government organization, The Human Union Movement Nepal, accompanied by scouts, interpreter, and porters. The proposed project of The HUM Nepal was ‘The People and Paper’ which later transformed into Wild Fibers.
The initial objective was to locate, rent and establish a property with a retting pond and collection point for the hemp fibers. The fibers were then to be processed into organic hemp cloth for a product already conceived, the ‘MariJeans’. (what happened to them?) Over a three month harvest period, we accumulated a total of 40,000 kilograms of raw hemp bark. These fibers originated from 700 families spread across the Himalayan plateau. The collection point was a two-day travel to the fibers, and our team spent multiple trips with over 50 kilograms each round trip. After intense labor and retting the fibers, we came to a conclusion that the fibers’ textile quality was not satisfactory. However, the hemp fibers were an excellent material for paper and rough carpets.
Thus we pivoted our focus on paper and carpets, we strived to produce the best fiber paper and carpets. After a changed mindset, the construction of a water driven paper-mill was already underway. Stones were pulled out of the river flanking the property, which served to deepen and accelerate the flow of water at our site. Around 40 trees were procured from a local community, the timbers were cut and sawed before placing them on the roof.
During these constructions, our team was still on the hunt searching endlessly in the jungles of Nepal. Subsequently their determination and persistent lead them to the giant Himalayan stinging nettle. While learning more about the Himalayan stinging nettle, it proved to exceed our expectations. The textile quality and composition was perfect, seemingly this changed the course of the project once again. Now the stage was set for the marriage of hemp nettle and the birth of what we know today as the WIld Fibers.