Collecting Stories with Bread
Stories are always present in author and blogger Malin Elmlid's life, from baking bread to sewing clothes from authentic materials.
Malin started her project The Bread Exchange simply because, living in Berlin, she couldn't find white sourdough bread and started baking her own. "I had too much and I gave it away", she says. At first, people brought her gifts but when they started offering her money, she refused. To her, stories and people's positive energy are more interesting. "It was nice to have an area in my life that didn't involve money", Malin says. Soon, Malin started traveling around the world with her sourdough. She documents these travels on her blog The Bread Exchange. She's also written a book with the same name.
Malin's life seems to revolve around stories and a love for people. She celebrated her wedding in early autumn, and describes the day as a patchwork of all the people she's loved. She designed the wedding dress herself from Kaste linen towels woven by Lapuan Kankurit, and combined them with lace from her great aunt. "We've had our second base in Finland for two years, so it felt natural that the material came from here." Before the wedding, she took a week for herself and travelled to Bangkok to make the dress together with a familiar tailor. During the same trip, she also sewed linen shirts for her son from Lapuan Kankurit scarves. The process of making linen and wool products draws her to them. "Lapuan Kankurit tells a story through their material", she says.
History appeals to Malin and is always present in her life. She finds history flowing through everything, and if something distinctly lacks a history, she doesn't find it very interesting.
To her, history is the soul of everything. "It just makes everything more colourful", she describes. The same applies to bread. Baking with your mother's or grandmother's recipe will always be better than anything else. "All the stories of my encounters are the secret fourth ingredient of my breads", she says.
Something as simple as a loaf of bread can connect people in exceptional ways. "Bread has to be shared, because we don't finish it on our own", Malin describes.
To her, bread is a metaphor for food in general. Being invited to share a meal is a strong gesture – a friendly invitation. "Bread also plays a role in many religions, but I think it goes beyond that. Bread is the smell of home. It's the definition of home." It's hard to imagine any other item that would have so much value. "Bread can't turn against you", Malin says and lets out a warm laugh.
Her journeys have certainly taken Malin to phenomenal places and allowed her to share bread with exceptional people. To her, that means all of them. "I think that's the key to why The Bread Exchange stayed successful. I didn't capitalize it or choose who to trade with", she analyses. Each moment brings something new and inspiring to her life. "A trade with a school class can be as inspiring to me as a trade with the biggest art collector in Germany", she says. Each experience carries wonder and a constant passion for story.
1/ PANAMA MINI apron 70x80 cm, col. linen, linen-bio-organic cotton, design Lapuan Kankurit
2/ UNIQUE HANDMADE wedding dress, made of KASTE linen towels
3/ LASTU tea towel 48x70 cm, col. white-grey 100% washed linen, design Masaru Suzuki
4/ HETA scarf 65x205 cm, col. beige-orange, wool-linen, design Heta Vajavaara