I learned about Alfred just the morning I met him from my DO School Challenge Lab facilitator Scott Francisco of Pilot Projects. He encouraged me to reach out to Alfred in hopes that I might be able to use an industrial sewing machine to sew a whole load of disposable coffee cups together (as I am experimenting of various ways of upcycling them for our projects).
I left a message on Alfred’s voice mail that afternoon and he quickly got back to me and agreed to meet that evening. I took the F train down a ways to Red Hook from Dumbo and walked the few blocks to his studio near to the water’s edge near many a dock and storage yard. He buzzed me up into his work space – a big airy room with tall ceilings and all sorts of tools and materials covering the walls. He set his designs for a new backpack aside for a while to welcome and chat with me and quickly we were deep in a rich conversation about the predominant disposable lifestyle in New York.
He told me how much it ailed him to see materials so quickly used and thrown away, and spoke of his disdain for synthetic materials in general – all the plastics and polymers that poison organic systems and fly in the face of the natural aesthetics which he so deeply loved and respected. He went on to describe with relish some of the materials that he works with – hemp, cotton, flax, linen, jute, the magic fiber of wool, and of course… leather. He showed me a variety of the old-school tools that he uses on a regular basis, and spoke fondly of being able to take a few of them in a small backpack and make all sorts of things wherever he was.
It was an inspirational meeting and luckily we got to experiment a bit with some of the coffee cups as well. Check out some of Alfred’s top-notch hand made bags and other goods at https://www.alfredstadler.com
– Jo Stodgel 3/28/14