Leather is comedically barbaric if you think about it: We kill an animal. We peel off its skin. We pluck out all the hair. Then we dump a bunch of tree bark or minerals on top to change the color. And with this varnished outer animal layer in-hand, an artisan (or factory worker) carefully crafts the tanned skin into something like an oversized glove used to catch one very particular type of ball.
So…what if somebody wants to wear boots made of gingerbread?
At least, that’s my perspective on the work of Camilla Wordie. She’s a designer and artist who is obsessed with food. And for her more recent project, Edible Textiles, she’s created fabric from icing, crumble, quinoa, gingerbread, chocolate buttons, ham, licorice, and, of course, tortillas.
As these foods are vastly different mediums, each requires its own unique process to be formed into something relatively flat and flexible. But there seem to be two general approaches that Wordie has found work best: Some ingredients have been inserted into a laser cutter, where pieces are carefully carved out to create intricate, weave-like patterns. Others are made “using an immense amount of pressure and heat” that melts and reforms the foods into fabrics.
“I personally most enjoyed creating a textile from the icing sugar, as once I had changed its form it broke like slate and sounded very similar to it when dropped in a pile,” Wordie tells Co.Design. “This made it come across as the least edible, which I thoroughly enjoyed when asking people to eat it!”
Indeed, it is the shock value that Wordie is after, but Edible Textiles aren’t novelty for novelty’s sake. Because the works are presented as art before being revealed as food, Wordie is able to engage her audience in a very cognitive way, generating self-reflective questions like, “Can tortillas be art?” or “Could I pull off a licorice manbag?”
And for the record, yeah, you could totally pull it off.