Spiral and Twistie with Pam de Groot

I realised at the weekend that I hadn’t written up the rest of the Pam de Groot online workshop on texture and dimensions.

For obvious reasons I’m not going to give details of how the Spiral and the Twistie were made. But I will say that I found both methods extremely innovative, and Pam is to be applauded for her ambition in trying to teach them through an online workshop.

Unlike face to face workshops, the tutor can’t advise during the making process that, for example, you need to lay out the fibre more finely. She can only judge from the finished piece, and Pam was very good at doing that.

Here’s my first Spiral, made using one colour. The curvaceous bottom led to it being named a Beyoncé spiral!

Then I had a go at a double ended version, with a colour change.

The final piece was the Twistie, and I had few problems with the structural support for this. I also probably laid out the fibre too thickly. Like the Spiral, it relies on a lot of shrinkage, so I might have another go at this on a smaller scale.

 

Metal and textiles taster

Last weekend ESP and I attended a workshop together for the first time. The workshop, held at Morley College’s Pelham Hall, was billed as a one-day “Textile Metal Taster”.

Pelham Hall is an amazing converted Victorian chapel equipped for clay modelling, wood and stone carving as well as metalwork (there’s even a forge). ESP has done stone carving courses there, but this was a first-time visit for me.

Pelham Hall

I was expecting to be working with wire, mesh and textiles, but this was very much an introduction to proper basic metalwork techniques. We started with cutting, using tin snips and air tools. I had a few problems with the air tools so stuck to cutting by hand with the snips, where I felt I had more control.

Then we did a bit of beating with hammers, hole punching and soldering. I cut a circle of steel, punched a circle in the centre and pierced some holes.

As you know, I hate waste, so I then used the spot welder to attach all the tiny metal circles produced by the hole puncher.

One of the tutors said the tiny bowl on the right reminded him of a dalek!

In the afternoon we had a go at heating metal so that it changed colour – you can get some lovely rainbow effects, like oil patches on the road after rain. Naturally, I spot welded some more circles onto mine!

I didn’t do any proper soldering, but played about with the solder to produce different textures instead.

While I produced various small samples, ESP combined lots of different techniques in one piece. This included bits of metal that were left over after I had cut out more spots!

He also played around with a piece of flattened copper tubing, heating it with flux and punching it.

I really enjoyed the workshop – the tutors were enthusiastic and encouraging, and it’s surprising what beginners can produce in a day. One of the students made a bird bath; another made some angel fish.

However, I did think that the textile content was fairly token. There was a pile of fabric scraps, and we were shown how to rivet and attach textiles to metal by soldering with a copper strip. Rather than treating metal simply as a way of holding up textiles I guess I was expecting the two media to be combined in a sculptural piece. I realise this is a lot to ask in a day, but a collaboration with Morley’s excellent textiles department could produce some interesting results.

There was a box of embroidery threads and ribbons there, so I did make an effort to introduce a textile element to one of my samples! 🙂

I’m also thinking about how to incorporate some of my samples into felt, so there may be more to come on this!

Contemporary Textiles Fair review

Phew! I’ve just about recovered from a very busy and successful Contemporary Textiles Fair at the Landmark Centre in Teddington at the weekend.

Image: Contemporary Textiles Fair

The private view on Friday evening was one of the busiest I’ve ever experienced, and with more than 60 exhibitors there was plenty to see.

Image: Contemporary Textiles Fair

The organisation was superb, and everyone was really helpful, especially the unflappable guy in the car park scrum at the end!

The felt corsages I’ve been making certainly brightened up my stand.

And a couple of pieces I recently ecoprinted with onion skins were the first to sell.

ecoprint scarf with onion skins

I didn’t have much time to have a good look at the other stands, but some near me are worth a mention.

Sarah Grove makes lovely porcelain pieces from plaster casts of stitched, stuffed and upholstered textiles. I couldn’t resist this jug, which reminds me of the pleated shibori pieces I make.

jug by sarah grove

I also signed up to No Serial Number, a quarterly magazine about eco-conscious and heritage craft, design and lifestyle.

I also liked the work of artist Rachel Pearcey, who had the stand next to me. Her drawings in black thread are very meditative.

Image: Rachel Pearcey

All in all, a great weekend – roll on next year! 🙂

Spring flowers

The online workshop with Pam de Groot continues – I’ll post an update on this later.

In the meantime, partly inspired by the Josef Frank exhibition, I’ve become a bit obsessed with making felt flowers. As you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, my colour palette is normally quite subdued (and usually involves a lot of blue 🙂 ) but the flowers have really allowed me to take advantage of all the brightly coloured fleece in my stash!

felt-corsages

I’m hoping to have a good selection of these corsages to brighten my stand at the Contemporary Textiles Fair in Teddington later this month.

I’ve also been continuing my work with dress net, exploring other forms. Coincidentally, one of these also happens to be a flower.

net-flower-1

The next step is to make enough of these to create a ball! Two down, 10 to go. 🙂

net-flower-2

Josef Frank at Fashion and Textile Museum

josef-frank-spotlight4

If the long cold winter is getting you down, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see  “Josef Frank: Patterns – Furniture – Painting”. The riotous lushness of his colourful designs will send your spirits soaring.

The exhibition covers his textile designs, furniture and watercolours, including many paintings that have never been seen in public before. But it was his textile designs I found most entrancing, so I focus on those here.

Josef Frank (1885-1967) was born in Austria and trained as an architect. However, he was interested not only in construction but also in interior design, feeling that a home should be a cosy and comfortable haven.

In 1925 he founded the design and furnishings firm Haus & Garten, but in 1933, with anti-Semitism on the rise, he moved to Stockholm with his Swedish wife Anna. For almost 30 years he worked with Estrid Ericson at Svenskt Tenn, producing more than 2000 pieces of furniture and around 200 carpets, wallpapers and textile designs.

Frank was a great admirer of William Morris, as can be seen in his stylised motifs from nature, geometric order and repeat patterns.

josef-frank-1
Teheran, 1943-45
josef-frank-2
Nippon, 1943-45
josef-frank-3
Nippon, 1943-45

 

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Aralia, 1928

There was humour, too, as in this design called “Italian Dinner”, showing aubergines, peas and garlic growing alongside a river stuffed with seafood.

Italian Dinner, 1943-45
Italian Dinner, 1943-45

Some designs zing with colour.

Three Islands in the Black Sea, 1935
Three Islands in the Black Sea, 1935

Others use a pared down palette.

Aristidia, 1925-30
Aristidia, 1925-30
Window, 1943
Window, 1943

Other natural inspirations included birds.

Green Birds in the Trees, 1943-45
Green Birds in the Trees, 1943-45
Anakreon, 1938
Anakreon, 1938

I also liked Rocks and Figs, clearly influenced by Chinese ink paintings of mountains.

Rocks and Figs, 1943-45
Rocks and Figs, 1943-45

In contrast, Terrazzo was inspired by agate rocks embedded in a terrazzo floor.

Terrazzo, 1943-45
Terrazzo, 1943-45

And Manhattan featured maps of New York.

Manhattan, 1943-45
Manhattan, 1943-45

Finally, there was also a complete room showing examples of how the furnishings worked together. So that’s where Ikea got the idea from! 😉

josef-frank-14

Josef Frank: Patterns – Furniture – Painting runs at the Fashion and Textile Museum until 7 May.

Svenskt Tenn still sells textiles, wallpaper and furniture designed by Frank – and its website has much better photos than mine!

And here are a couple of felt flowers I made, inspired by the exhibition. 🙂

frank-felt-flowers