Silvania Trunk Show at Las Primas December 01 2015, 0 Comments

You're invited:

 Friday, December 4th
5:30pm - 8:30pm
Las Primas, 3971 N Williams Ave, Portland

Enjoy a drink or dinner at Las Primas and shop Silvania's new products. Las Primas, Spanish for "the cousins", is the North Williams restaurant of real-life cousins Catalina Acuña and Sadie Morrison. They serve food inspired by the fresh, flavorful street food of bustling Lima. I will be there with new Silvania products so fresh they aren't even on the website yet.

How I Screenprint Yardage November 09 2015, 1 Comment

A friend of mine recently asked me how I screenprint yardage, so I set up my camera on a tripod in my studio to document my first time printing  'Pasto'.
The technique I use for screenprinting yardage is not only the old-school method, it's the ultra-low-tech, do-it-in-your-basement variety.  My grandmother's screenprinting workshop used the same method, but her equipment was much bigger and better.  Behold:
Silvia in her workshop
Most of the screenprinted fabric you see in modern clothing is printed using a completely different method, in which silkscreens are cylinders and the printing table is a conveyer belt.  I have had fabric printed this way in a large factory in Lima.  While the process lacks the charm of manual yardage screenprinting, it's easier to print wider fabrics and it's a whole lot faster.  Here are the cylindrical screens used to print my fabric the modern way:
 Modern cylindrical silkscreens
So if modern factory screenprinting is the most efficient, why don't I stick with that?  Well, I absolutely plan to when I have a few hundred yards of fabric to print all in one go.  But because this expensive machinery is run by engineers, factories require minimums to print yardage - usually several hundred yards per print, per color.  While I work up to those quantities, I'll stick the more rustic (albeit more labor-intensive) process.  
I built my screenprinting table (with more than a little help from my dear dad) by covering a table-top with wool batting and canvas, pulled taught and secured around the edges of the table. My t-square keeps the screen lined up straight across the width of the table.  I made it with a couple of pine 1x4s.
There's a bit of set-up each time I screenprint fabric, especially when it's a new screen.
Step 1: Spread the fabric across the table, iron it to create a flat printing surface, and pin the edges down to keep it in place.  Cover pins with masking tape to keep them from damaging the screen.
Pinning fabric.
Step 2: Measure the repeat length - the length of the print.  The ideal is for the prints to fit together like puzzle pieces, so it's important to measure exactly.  The length of this print is 14 7/8" and trust me, one eighth of an inch is the difference between success and failure.
Measuring repeat
Step 3: Mark the repeat measurements on masking tape down the length of the table.  These are the registration marks that I'll line up my screen with to fit together the "pieces of the puzzle", if you will. 
Marking repeats.
Step 4: Line up the t-square with the first repeat mark on the table, and then create a mark on the t-square itself to line up the bottom corner of the screen.  And with that, I'm ready to print.
Lining up screen
Step 5:  Pour a generous dollop of ink along the entire edge of the design.  Where you see yellow on the screen is where the ink will pass through the screen.  The dark green is photo emulsion which prevents ink from passing through to the fabric.  Place a squeegee in the dollop of ink and push it away with light pressure to coat the design entirely.  This is called "flooding" the screen.
Step 6:  Bring the squeegee to the far side of the screen, push down, and pull the squeegee across the screen with firm pressure.  The number of strokes across the screen depends on the screen density, squeegee hardness, ink, and fabric, so getting the print to come out just right often takes a bit of practice.
Step 7: Repeat at every other registration mark, leaving spaces between prints.  Why print at every other registration mark?  The screen is bigger than the print, and if I were to print the repeats continuously all at once, the screen would pick up wet ink from the surrounding prints and smudge the fabric.  So for now I just print at every other registration mark and wait for those prints to dry.  In the meantime, I'll collect excess ink from the screen to use again and wash my screen and squeegee.
First repeats
Step 8: It takes about half an hour for the first set of prints to dry, along with the screen and squeegee.  When they're ready, line up the t-square and screen at the remaining registration marks and fill in the gaps.
Second repeats
Second repeats printed.
Step 9: Let the ink dry, then set it with an iron.
All the repeats fit together to make a continuous print.  Check out how one repeat completes the next in the two images below.

Pasto repeat 1

 Second repeat detail.

Today I printed Cuzco all day long. November 05 2015, 0 Comments


Silvia in the Market June 18 2015, 0 Comments

Silvania products from 1974 June 18 2015, 0 Comments

I recently received this email from a very kind customer.

"Reviewing my letters from Peru I wondered if "Silvania Prints" still exists. Well this way I found your shop. I don't know if you are interested, but I send you some pictures of things we bought in 74 and the flyer we got."

Victor and Silvia ca. 1952 May 28 2015, 0 Comments

Real men cut the cake with a machete. My grandparents in New York circa 1952.

Silvania ca. 2003 May 27 2015, 0 Comments

I made this photo album when I was 17. I took this pamphlet from the Miraflores Silvania Prints store in 2003, the year my grandmother closed the business. She was too stubborn to sell it, but I'm glad. She inadvertently saved the business for me. Pictured are Silvia, Ody, Silvania's sewing manager for 40 years, and my aunt Adriana.

Silvia in the Selva (in Silvania), 1950's May 21 2015, 0 Comments

In The Stude: Reinterpreting My Grandmother's Prints December 05 2013, 1 Comment

It might be blasphemy to alter one of my grandmother's famous prints, Llama-Llama, but horizontal lines are hard to wear and a headache to cut for garments.  I do love my grandmothers original, especially the way each hand-drawn llama is ever-so-slightly different if you look closely enough.  I'll bring back the original in the future, but at the moment I'm planning to print shirts and dresses with this design and I want my llamas distributed randomly like a happy herd in the Andes of Peru.  With the help of Illustrator and a random number generator I created a design, then altered the edges of my design so that it would repeat seamlessly.  I took the image to a local silkscreen shop who burned my updated llamas to a screen and then I tested out my print on a new set of business cards.  What do you think?  Which version do you prefer?
Llama llama print by SilviascreenSilvania business cardSilvania business card

Aunt Victoria October 10 2013, 0 Comments

I'm fresh off the plane from Europe, where I spent two weeks visiting friends and family from Rome to London.  One of many inspiring moments of the trip was flipping through my aunt Victoria's modeling portfolio while hearing stories about her from my cousin Phillippe.  She's precisely the kind of woman who inspires me to design; strong, smart, and adventurous.  She left modeling to become a neurobiologist at a laboratory in Paris.  An animal lover, she collected unusual pets including a lizard who made its home in her Paris apartment bathroom.

Victoria von Hagen on Vogue cover

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen Vogue cover

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Victoria von Hagen

Celebrate Silvania's New Portland Home at Queen Bee September 18 2013, 0 Comments

Queen Bee has revamped its shop and has become Silvania's Portland home.  Join me, the Queen Bee staff, and bunch of local design friends to celebrate the new space.  You are welcome to check out the Silvania work studio which I share with fellow designer Heather Treadway.  Plus, you'll see Queen Bee's Fall collection, enjoy treats from Dragonfly Chai, get crafty and invite your wee ones to get crafty too, and shop the newly expanded offerings of clothing and goodies.  More details at the Facebook event page:

Queen Bee, 3961 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227
Friday, September 20th from 5pm to 9pm

Callería July 23 2013, 0 Comments

My grandmother, Silivia, created Silvania Prints in 1958 after falling in love with the ancient artwork left behind by long-gone artists that surfaced in modern Peru as 'artifacts'.  Taking inspiration from textiles, ceramics, and the Nazca Lines, she sketched her own version of motifs from relics she found in museums and on expeditions throughout Peru.  Her fabrics brought new life to the ancient deities and designs she found, bringing them into the modern world as clothing, curtains, pillows, and purses.  I can't believe my luck in having a catalog of her designs; not only can I keep her memory alive by using her fabrics in my clothing designs, but the legacy of precolonial Peruvian artists spanning two millenia!


When I dreamt up my Silvania revival a few years ago, it occured to me that apart from breathing new life into Peru's ancient art, Silvania ought to do its part to share the living traditional textile arts of Peru with the world.  Partnering with textile artisans has offered me a unique opportunity to help keep traditional crafts alive while supporting indigenous communities.  I recently made this video to show you the origin of the embroidery you find  in Silvania garments, below.  My guide was seven-year-old Jennifer along with her mother, Casilda Isabel, and father, Florencio.  Casilda not only embroiders Silvania garments but recruits sisters and cousins to embroider garments and manages shipments of embroidered fabric to Lima.  She is teaching her daughter Jennifer to embroider 'kené', as this style is called, and hopes her daughter will go to college and become a 'professional woman' one day.  Find more photos of Jennifer, Casilda, and Florencio on our trip to Callería (six hours by boat!) on the Silvania Tumblr.


Left: the Isabel Dress is named after my star embroiderer, Casilda Isabel.  The wrap-around belts were hand-embroidered by Casilda, her sisters, and mother.  

Right: the Naymlap T-shirt depicts the god Naymlap, who rose from the sea and sailed to land on a raft according to Moche legend.  Gold sequins were machine embroidered and filled in with kené hand-embroidery.  If you look closely in Naymlaps crown you will find the initials of the woman who embroidered your shirt!

Silvania and LiFT present Pisco for Peru May 21 2013, 0 Comments

Click here to RSVP.

LiFT Label and Silvania are alike in that they are both social enterprises, meaning social and environmental goals are woven into the fabric of our businesses.  That's why our early celebration of Peruvian Independence Day, albeit from the northern latitude of Ecotrust's Pearl district rooftop, has a social mission at its core.  CARE Peru began in 1953 to increase access to education and healthcare for rural communities across Peru.  What sold me on this organization was their recognition of the important role of educating girls to create thriving communities, sponsoring girls like Eulalia.  All proceeds from our event will go to this great organization.  Please visit their website (in Spanish) here and the Pisco for Peru fundraising page (in English) here to learn more and donate now.

We are very lucky to have talented friends who will donate their ingenuity and resources to support CARE Peru's work (and provide you with an unforgettable night of music, drinks, and rooftop celebration).  Read on for their stories...but first RSVP here!  This free event is filling up fast!

The party will take place on the third floor terrace of the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (the Ecotrust building) at 721 NW Ninth Ave, Portland, Oregon, 97209 between 7:00 and 10:00pm.

Martin Zarzar

Martin Zarzar

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in South America, Europe, and the USA, Martin is a multi-instrumentalist, song writer, and producer who lives in Portland, Oregon. His work includes over 10 years with Pink Martini.  He recently won two Independent Music Awards for his first album, Two Dollars to Ride the Train, and released his second album, Libre.  Check out his music on CD Baby and iTunes!

Las Primas

Las Primas, Spanish for "the cousins" is the North Williams restaurant of real-life cousins Catalina Acuña and Sadie Morrison. They serve food inspired by the fresh, flavorful street food of bustling Lima. They'll serve pisco cocktails and nibbles at the event and you can find them here ( if you can't wait until July 18th!


Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing...from one of the coolest buildings in Portland. Okay, I added that last part. But it's true! Find out why the Ecotrust building (ie the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) rocks, here.


Mother's Day Sale May 08 2013, 0 Comments

You only have a few more days to prepare for that special day so you'd better get shopping!  Choose something special for your mama from the Silvania shop and enter promotion code mama2013 now through mother's day to save 20% off your entire order.  Two great options below; the Totora dress and Ceterni dress, both in soft organic pima cotton.

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The New Look February 08 2013, 1 Comment

The ancient messenger of the Inca empire, the chasqui, connected the cultures of ancient Peru by running the Capac Ñan, royal road of the Incas.  Inspiration for the new logo came from one of Silvia's earliest prints of chasqui figures.


The Peruvian postal service released chasqui stamps in the 1970's which helped shape the new logo, as well as the figure Silvia designed for the Inca Highway Expedition. Before she created Silvania Prints, Silvia traveled throughout romote Peru, tracing the ancient Inca highway as the team artist in her early 20's.  The sketches she came back to Lima with became her the first designs she would silkscreen onto fabric.


A map of Capac Ñan adorns the endpapers of Highway of the Sun, written by Silvia's then-husband, Victor von Hagen.  See if you can find it on the Story page.

What do you think of the new logo and online shop?  Tell me below!  (If you don't see the Leave A Comment section, click here and scroll to the bottom.)