‘Stone’ stand TG4, 2017
That was some of the many words written in my comments book at last week’s Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London. I’ve only just had time to sit and reflect on how wonderful the week was….
Some of the comments
After so long, in the planning and making, it finally came together. When I applied for the Knitting and Stitching Show almost 2 years ago I had a vision of using British wool to make large scale wallhangings that looked and felt like stone. It was so lovely to see people touching and feeling (and even hugging) the stones. I wanted the textures of all the different fibres to be felt – the organisers had given me ‘Please do not touch’ signs which I rejected, much to the pleasure of all the visitors alike!
Can I really ‘hug a stone’ ??
I really went on a fabulous journey in the research of my stones and learnt a lot along the way – from the history of standing stones to the superstitions of hagstones and the writings of ancient Ogham. Over the week I met some great people in London – from the lady who bought an art book to sketch every day (on my advise!!) to the school children who sat cross legged on the floor to work out what the Ogham lines said…..
I am still managing to work with my Kombucha and used it along side the felt. Having now worked out how to waterproof the cellulose fabric I hope to move forward with the research next year.
The physical problems of making such large pieces were also a challenge but with help from some very dear friends…both physical and mentally I couldn’t have done it without them…so thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
Two weeks and then I go to Dublin with the exhibition and on to Harrogate at the end of November..hope to see some of you there…..
PS. Helen..never got that ‘selfie’ with you…!
Stones -Sarah Waters, 2017
It’s been a while but I’ve had my head down making and teaching lots of felt classes as well working on my Kombucha research. It’s lovely to see so many people embracing felt as a new medium- whether it’s for the first time or to adding to their textile work. Great work everyone!
I had a treat for mother’s day on Sunday. My youngest daughter wanted to see Richard Wilson’s 20:50 installation at the Saatchi Gallery as part of her A level art.
So we trundled up to London. Amazing installation that had all your senses working overtime..the smell, the reflection and the silence. Also on was Pangaea ll – New art from Africa and Latin America. This was an added bonus we both enjoyed. However it was the staircase that took Amelia’s eye. She wants to now draw her version!! Unfortunately we had to finish the day with a 2 hour visit to the American clothes shop Brandy Melville, which luckily for her happened to be next door the Saachi Gallery!!!
I now have this week submersed in paperwork and getting ready for the ICHF show in the NEC, Birmingham, with the 2014 Graduates from the Stitched Textile course (http://www.fashionembroidery.co.uk/birmingham/features.php). I will be showing more of my ‘Growing Fabric’ work. Do come along and see us if you’re going- We’re on stand N16 Eastleigh College!
This is followed by an exciting week in Alyesford Priory , in Kent, felting with the International Feltmakers Association. Looking forward to meeting up with old friends again.
Plans are afoot for several exhibitions later in the year and some collaborative work to come- watch this space….!
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’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…
Very sad..it’s our last day at college tomorrow. I will miss everyone after 3 (long years). What will we do with no Wednesdays together?
Anyhow I’m sorting my last bits of work for the Degree Show, which starts next Thursday. Not sure how I’m transporting it all there…might be two trips I fear.
The last bit of sewing is about to commence. Trying to decide which order to place my 16 Kombucha pieces has been hard work. They will be displayed ontop of a lightbox to show their cell structure .
16 squares of Kombucha-dyed, printed and texture
All five plinths are having their final coat of paint, as I write this. The fishtank is ready and waiting to be emptied and tranported. I’m pleased to say that it hasn’t got any fish in it…just sugar and green tea! For those of you who know me well, next week’s display will be slightly different to everyone elses…watch this space.
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
With only weeks to go before the final degree show I am stepping up the growing of my new fabric, Kombucha. The kettle has been on all day again boiling up sugar and green tea ready for the vinegar and ‘scoby’ or mother culture. I’ve now enlisted space in a friend’s studio as my family won’t let it near the house, due to the smell! There are well over 40 trays stacked on top of each and brewing away. I’m even trying using guttering to make long lengths of Kombucha into thread. I now just need the weather to warm up to help the process, although some trays are sat on an electric blanket to encourage growth.
Then comes the creative work of stitching…….!
Here’s a piece of Kombucha that shows all the cellulose cells within the grown fabric.
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!