How is it that Christmas is at the same time year in year out but that even with meticulous planning you always end up running behind and chasing your tail in the last few weeks? I’m still teaching right up until school breaks up and also felting in the studio space on Wednesdays at the Rum’s Eg gallery in Romsey, Hants. They’ve been selling my felt hats as fast as I can make them!
Last weekend my copy of Felt Matters, the International Felt Makers Association quarterly magazine, landed on my doormat. How I got asked to write an article on the techniques on Indigo dyeing I’m still not quite sure but it was good to see my words and pictures in print, that was until my father-in-law, a retired epidemiologist and writer of many books and magazine articles, read it. ‘You’ve not mantioned the Latin name of the Indigo plant and who proof read the text?’ (I did) he commented. (Note to myself -next time you write an article for a pulication get your father-in-law to read it first)
I have had a chance to do some research on my ‘growing fabric’ and in the New Year will continue with the waterproofing of the material. I’m lucky enough to have a neighbour who travels worldwide in the tannery business and has given me lots of advise. So my new year’s resolution is to try out all the potions he has given me!!
Watch this space…
In the meantime I’m taking part in the Society of Designer Craftsmen’s 25th Designer Crafts at the Mall Galleries in London in January . Do come and see all the wonderful work on display.
Well I have truly hit the ground running in the past week, including two trips to London and my graduation in Winchester Cathedral.
Firstly I went to Ally Pally to support all my ex friends and collegues from Eastleigh College. What a representation: Helen Sill, Caroline Bell, Nicky Barfoot, Conseulo Simpson and Alison Hulme all whom were exhibiting. Great to catch up and see how they are all progressing.
Caroline Bell’s eco printing stand
The amazing Helen Sill and her machine stitched women
Then two days days later I was invited to Tate Britain to look at their archives and discuss the future development of the Demarco Archives with Adrian Glew, senior archivist at tate Archives, and the Demarco European Art Foundation. How I got to involved in their meeting is a long story but so glad I went. What an insight.
Archives of Tate Britain
Tuesday saw ‘us girls’ from The Foundation Degree in Stitched Textiles have our graduation Ceremony, in Winchester Cathedral of all places. Just a small quiet ceremony (not!) with hundreds of other excited students – well it was quite emotional as I hadn’t done this for thirty years! Julian Fellowes (writer of Downton Abbey) should have been there to add to the excitement, but missed his slot so got his honoury degree in the afternoon (very disappointed needless to say).
I have also moved my felt making into a new studio (thank you Wendy) just a stone’s throw from my house. So I now have space and can get down to working on my Kombucha and the growing of my new fabric. Watch this space…I’m rested and rearing to go!!
It seems like an eternity since the Degree Show at Eastleigh College, in July. I’ve had time to clear, sort and enjoy the summer and even get to doing some felt making, ready for the open studios. Now September is just around the corner and I’ve recovered from the 10 days of the Hampshire Open Studios my mind is focused on the future.
My plans are to spend the next couple of months continuing to research the waterproofing of my growing fabric. it’s been very evident that it’s something I have to continue with. The potential for the future is endless- from science/art collaborations, medical uses to the next ‘new’ fabric. I’ve come across several people who have been very helpful recently with suggestions and ways forward. I shall be following up these and finding out more.
In the meantime I have two daughters to sort ready for university and college. We are all moving to new beginings and hopefully there are exciting times ahead for all of us.
The Class of 14- Foundation Degree in Stitched Textiles
It’s actually happening tomorrow night. After 3 fabulous years our Degree Show in Stitched Textiles will be opening tomorrow night with the private view (6-8.30pm at Desborough College, Eastleigh). All calm, collected and ready to go…look forward to seeing some of you over the coming days…!
Lots to see- my growing fabric and a science lab!
And to wet your appetite here’s a sneak preview…
At last I’ve got to doing some long-awaited indigo dyeing, but this time with my Kombucha fabric. It’s the last few weeks till our degree show and I am at full speed ahead with plans for the final show.
I have been seeing how my ‘growing fabric’ takes to being coloured. ..and it does..beautifully! At the same time the sweet sickly smell disappears too, which is an added bonus for some.
Out of the indigo bath
Shirbori technique works well-just like normal fabric
Samples out to dry
Close up of the cellulose fabric
Once dry I will start to do some stitching with it, although some pieces are too thin and will tear. Tomorrow I’m going to be trying cochineal…..
It’s been a very busy time. At college we are on the last six weeks till the Degree Show and finishing touches are now being put in place. At home I am at maximum capacity with the amount of trays that are growing Kombucha. The smell in this warm weather is very acidic and it hits you you when you first open the door into the studio. So my daily rouine is to check and tend to the growing fabric. .. a bit like when I was sheep farming and checking my flock on a daily basis. Very theraputic I find.
I have been doing several experiments with printing and colour and having found that the cellulose fabric takes the dye very fast. The rusty nails worked very well and have a very DNA look about them now that they are dry. Washers have produced very dark spots onto the cellulose.
Vegetable leather printed with rusty nails and washers
I have had fun photographing the pieces up close and they have produced some very ‘landscape’ like results. You would never think these had come from cellulose fibres.
I have several challenges ahead over the coming weeks. One of them is to waterproof the growing fabric. It is not stable and can reabsorb moisture! Last year frankincense and myrhh resin worked well but today I am making soy milk to try. I have also heard that persimmon (or commonly called Khaki fruit) is a Japanese method of tanning. Need to see if I can obtain some.
I have been asked several times in the past few days as to why am I growing such a vegetable leather. So it’s got me thinking..well why not. But that’s not really a very good answer. My vegetable leather is made from bacterial cellulose and could have enormous potential in the future of fabric development. It is organic, biodegradeable and regenerating which in these current times of looking for alternatives could be a real possibility. It could even have potential uses in the medical industry.
I have also been looking at mark making and printing onto my growing fabric with rusty nails. I’m very pleased with the outcome. The kombucha takes the colour almost instantly.
Nails sandwiched between two layers of kombucha
The vegetable leather takes the rust very quickly
We have now taken delivery of the leaflets and posters for our Degree Show in Stitched Tetxiles, in July
So it’s actually happening in only 9 weeks! Our Degree Show in Stitched Textiles is officially being shown at Eastleigh College, nr Winchester. Until you see it actually in print it all seems a long way off!!
Our group, Fabricformation, is working hard on the final details of the preview evening whilst at the same time all working on their final pieces. We had a group crit this week and everyone’s work is looking so wonderful and varied. I seem to be the only one ‘growing fabric’. I wonder why?!!
I have spent the entire day going into mass production of the vegetable leather, Kombucha, that I am growing for my final show…all made from green tea!! It takes several weeks to grow and the days are counting down till our final body of work will be displayed. I managed to lay several finished leathers out to dry in the sunshine and re stock over twenty cat litter trays ( you’ll be amazed what uses you can find for them…especially when you have cat that doesn’t use one!)
green tea solution
The growing kombucha
The final fabric
If you want to know more…do come to our Degree Show in July…details here shortly!