Dana Sitar with her upcycled tunics made from recycled fabrics.

Artist finds new life and passion in fibres

Dana Sitar upcycles, recycles and fashions art from fibres

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

Dana Sitar is up-cycling her life. Gorgeous saris, remnants of antique lace, paintings on canvas, luscious brocades, silks and denim jeans all go into her one-of-a-kind creations. She’s a human dynamo, passionate about her art, life and all it has to offer.

Sitar has been a recycler her whole life. When she was young and living under communism in Czechoslovakia, she would carefully unravel her grandmother’s old sweaters and fashion herself new ones. She was taught to knit, crochet and sew by her mother and she made her own clothes. There was no such thing as boutiques with the latest fashions where she came from.

“I’ve always been a recycler, it was necessary at the time, it still is but more it’s just to save money — I hate to see waste,” said Sitar.

She came to Canada 23 years ago after escaping and hasn’t look back. Her family chose Canada because of the draft in her country and her anti-war stance.

“We thought Canada was the best place to go, Canadians are known as peacekeepers rather than warriors,” she said. They also came for the nature and the opportunities to hike, camp, cycle and ski which she did for years until 2007.

Life changed for Sitar in a split second. She was in a horrendous car accident  and almost lost her leg. This was life altering. It meant she could no longer do all of the outdoor activities she loved. She fell into a depression during the months she was recovering — she thought her life was over. While looking at art on a computer she saw a picture of the most beautiful dress made with a nuno felting technique. This got her out of bed and on the road to recovery, both mentally and physically.

She discovered felting.

“I got out of bed, ordered wool, learned from the Internet and I tried it. Since that day it is my passion.”

Her philosophy on life is simple. “Don’t dwell on what you can’t do anymore, dwell on what you can.”

Felt is an age-old technique using wool, water and friction. It’s essentially  how you wreck your pure wool sweaters when you throw them in a washing machine, except Sitar’s results are controlled. She washes, cards and dyes local fleece and supplements that with purchased fleece roving.

For the up-cycled clothing she reworks garments made from great fabrics into new styles with a slight Bohemian flair. Very trendy, very well made very and sought after. She finds her treasures in second hand stores and often wonders about the original owner.

“Old lace is so delicate and I wonder which woman made this, how long did it tale and what was her life like. I try to give it justice when I remake it into something else, that’s part of my enjoyment.”

Satir’s work was accepted for the Sooke Fine Arts Show in 2010 and she is represented at the Coast Collective Gallery in Metchosin.

Sitar will be selling her work at the All Sooke Arts and Craft Christmas Fair at the Sooke Community Hall from November 15-18. She will also be at awareness film night on Nov. 13 at EMCS to talk about recycling after the film Trashed airs.

At the fair she is offering a wide variety of creations, everything from felted slippers and mittens to bags and up-cycled clothing.

She brings new life to those things she finds and in turn they have given her a new life and new passion.