Christmas events

This year I’ve got together with three other local makers to spread the Christmas load.

Because so many fairs and markets at this time of year tend to be on the same days, we’ve decided to organise some group stalls and take it in turns to run them. This allows us to have a presence at more than one event on the same day, as well as lessening the workload. That’s the theory, anyway!🙂

The makers I’m teaming up with are:

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

Anna Jackson of Black Cactus London, who makes lushly gorgeous handprinted art and accessories

mosaic-keep-calmKes Young of Heart in Art Workshops, who makes stylish and colourful mosaics, including door numbers and pots

ben-bowlBen Willis, who makes beautiful furniture and other household wares using traditional green woodworking techniques and timber from sustainably managed woodlands

So here’s a list of events we’ll be appearing at before Christmas.

Dulwich Christmas Bazaar

dulwich-christmas-bazaar-thumbnailSaturday 12 November, 10am-5pm
St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village
Run by Anna

Friends of Langley Park School for Boys’ Christmas Market & Craft Fair

red-baubles-soc-med-fb
Sunday 27 November, 11am-4pm
South Eden Park Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3BP
Run by Kes

Camberwell Arts Market

camberwell-arts

Saturday 3 December, 10am-4pm
Datchelor Place, London SE5 7AP
Run by me

Handmade Palace Christmas Craft Market

handmade-palace Saturday 10 December, 10am-5pm
The Alma, 95 Church Road, London SE19 2RN
Run by Anna and Kes

Rookery Christmas Fair

Sunday 18 December, 11am-4pm
The Rookery, Streatham Common, London SW16
Run by Ben

As well as these events, I’ll have a solo stall at Furzedown Community Network Christmas Market on Saturday 17 December, 4-7pm. Women of the Cloth will not be doing their usual stint at Sprout this year, so this gives regular visitors a chance to see my latest scarves and accessories!

furzedown-xmas-market

Plus I’m taking part in the Diverse Makerhood Christmas Showcase, which runs from 14 November to 8 January. There’s a special preview on Sunday 13 November, 12-5pm, with 15% discount!

makerhood-flyer-1

The other advantage of taking part in group stalls is that it allows me to go away on holiday.🙂

I’m off to Mexico tomorrow, partly for holiday and partly to attend the 10th International Shibori Symposium in Oaxaca. I’ve signed up for workshops with Michel Garcia, Ana Lisa Hedstrom and Jorie Johnson, so as you can imagine, I’m hugely excited!

I doubt that I will have time or facilities to blog while I’m away, but I may post the odd photo or comment on Twitter or Instagram, so do follow if you’re interested.

Hasta pronto!

More homegrown indigo

I’ve now got a good crop of flowers on my Japanese indigo, but before they all started developing I did another harvest of the leaves – almost 200g in all.

fresh indigo leaves

Unlike last time, I didn’t do any aqualeaf indigo, as I wanted to see if I could get a stronger colour with the reduced indigo, so I needed every leaf I could get!🙂

This time I overdyed a linen top that I had previously ecoprinted with peony leaves. It felt a little too minimal, so I thought that a pale indigo background might lift it a bit.

ecoprint linen top white

I dipped the top three times, leaving it to oxidise in between. The result was slightly darker than last time, but still quite pale and delicate.

indigo dyed ecoprint linen top

I’m drying the flowers to get seed for next year’s crop, but I’m also going to see if any of the plants survive the winter in my London garden. They are still growing – but it has been a very mild autumn so far. I’ll have to see what happens when the frosts arrive!

Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe

There’s a wonderful exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work at Tate Modern at the moment. She is best known for her flower paintings, which are indeed wonderful – you can almost feel the blossoms unfurling before your eyes, the strong lines offset by gorgeously subtle colour gradations.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Jimson Weed No 1, 1932
Jimson Weed No 1, 1932

(Interestingly, O’Keeffe always denied the interpretation that her flowers were representations of the female body. This idea came from her husband, photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, who tellingly wrote: “Woman feels the World differently than Man feels it….The Woman receives the World through her Womb. That is her deepest feeling. Mind comes second.” OK, this was written in 1919, but some might say that attitudes towards women artists (or indeed women in general) haven’t changed much since then.🙂  )

But I digress. One of the new discoveries for me in this exhibition was her charcoal work. Two early pieces, Special No 9 (1915) and No 15 Special (1916-17) seemed to glow on the wall, while her Eagle Claw and Bean Necklace from 1934 just blew me away with its precision.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Special No 9, 1915
Special No 9, 1915
Georgia O'Keeffe, No 15 Special, 1916-17
No 15 Special, 1916-17
georgia-okeeffe-eagle-claw-and-bean-necklace
Eagle Claw and Bean Necklace, 1934

There are lots of other great works, but in the last room Sky Above the Clouds III (1963) made me think of ombre indigo, which inspired me to try making a nuno felt piece.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Sky Above the Clouds III, 1963
Sky Above the Clouds III, 1963

I started by making a small sample using ombre indigo dyed cotton scrim topped with natural merino. After making this I wondered how it would look in reverse, so I made another sample with the scrim on top.

blue and white nuno felt ombre samples

I then did a small straw poll on Twitter and Instagram, asking people which version they preferred. As so often happens, opinion was divided! There was probably a small majority in favour of scrim on top – but then one person said that they liked them both and couldn’t I join them together?

So after a bit of re-engineering, here is the final work in progress.

ombre-hanging-3

On a larger scale in a portrait format I didn’t think the elliptical shapes would work, so I went for a repeating grid of circles instead, despite misgivings about being able to make them regular enough.

blue and white nuno felt ombre wallhanging

I also added some white tussah silk to the plain white circles for a bit of extra texture, which you can just about see in the detail shot below.

blue and white nuno felt ombre wallhanging detail

Georgia O’Keeffe runs at Tate Modern until 30 October.

Diana Harrison at Crafts Study Centre in Farnham

I first came across Diana Harrison’s work at Cloth and Memory {2} at Salts Mill in Bradford three years ago. Her contribution to the exhibition was a series of handkerchiefs dyed black and then discharged and laid out like flagstones on the floor in subtle quiet shades of charcoal, cream and peachy pinks.

diana harrison handkerchiefs

The handkerchiefs have returned as part of a solo exhibition at the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham, part of the University for the Creative Arts, where Diana teaches. Diana Harrison: working in cloth includes samples of her work from the 1980s up to the present.

The Textile Society organised a tour of the exhibition with Diana herself last week, and as it was the day before I was exhibiting at Thread at Farnham Maltings I went along.

Diana started off with an embroidery degree at Goldsmiths with Constance Hawker before going on to the Royal College of Art to study printed fabrics. Here she developed her technique of masking out areas of fabric before spraying them with dye – one of her dresses featured in Vogue.

She continued this at Studio 401 ½, where she made lots of upholstery fabric. After experimenting with flicking and splattering dyes she moved on to dyeing fabric black and then discharging it and stitching, which brought her fame in the quilting world – her work has been bought by museums in Japan and the US, among others.

Diana Harrison box

One of her best-known pieces was Box, made for the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition on quilts in 2010. This exhibition includes only the “lid”, but you can see the whole piece and hear about the context in the video below.

Some of her most recent pieces, Pillowcases, use a similar technique, stitching fabric together before dyeing, discharging and then unstitching and sometimes overprinting with pigment.

Diana Harrison pillowcases

Diana’s fascination with the way things are constructed is evident from the selection of found objects on display. A self-confessed hoarder, she is forever picking up roadside rubbish or coastal debris, including bits of old tyre, tape, coffee containers and envelopes, finding points of comparison between squashed frogs and Japanese clothing.

Diana Harrison found objects Diana Harrison found objects

One of my favourite pieces was a series of six strip-like panels made for the Lost in Lace exhibition in Birmingham in 2011. Each panel represents a decade of her memories – delicate networks of thread, cloth fragments and dog hair suspended on grids of black pins.

Diana Harrison lost in lace Diana Harrison lost in laceDiana Harrison lost in lace

Other recent work includes similar panels with ghostly images of dancers behind, made for an exhibition in Poland, and balls of dates, where all the dates she has worked at Farnham are printed on a piece of fabric and then moulded into a ball.

Diana Harrison A4Diana Harrison date ball

After the talk we were also lucky enough to see a slide show of her pieces in context, as well as some of her sketch books and a sample collection that we could handle. Diana also kindly showed us her collection of commemorative hankies and Japanese boro collection.

Diana Harrison sample Diana Harrison sample Diana Harrison sampleDiana Harrison hanky collectionDiana Harrison boro collection

Diana Harrison: working in cloth runs at the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham until 8 October.

Felting workshop with Dagmar Binder

I’ve finally joined the International Feltmakers Association (IFA). I’ve been meaning to do it for a while – just never got round to it.

One of the main advantages for me is that public and product liability is included in the membership fee, which is handy.🙂

Another is the chance to meet other local felters (the IFA is organised by region) and to attend workshops with well-known tutors without having to travel to the Netherlands or Belgium (though I will probably still pop over there occasionally).

And so I found myself last weekend in a lovely room in north London with Dagmar Binder and 10 other enthusiastic feltmakers. I’ve long admired Dagmar’s work, especially her surface structure and subtle painterly colour blends. Dagmar had brought along plenty of samples to inspire us.

dagmar samples dagmar samples dagmar samples

We started the first day by making a sample, experimenting with different fibre layouts and combinations with needle felt to produce different results. This was very illuminating and will be a useful reminder for future experiments.

dagmar sample

The workshop was for two days but the sample took quite a long time – I took mine home to finish in the evening on the first day. So our time for making a bigger project was a bit limited.

But as you know I am never short of ambition🙂 so decided to try a multi-pocketed circular layout inspired by a dahlia. Here are a couple of shots of the work in progress.

felt work in progress felt work in progress

I did scale my ambition back during the day – the original plan was to have some central spikes – as I needed to get it to the stage where it was felted sufficiently to be able to take it home to finish without it falling apart.

This is the final piece after finishing at home.

felt dahlia felt dahlia

I’m pleased with the result but as ever see room for improvement. If I did it again, in less of a hurry, I would lay out the petals more evenly. And I’m not happy with the central section, which is too large.

Also because I tried to avoid having too many layers of fibre in the centre I truncated the resists for the lower pockets. However, I think that extending all the resists to the centre would make the centre less flat and would give the piece more volume overall.

It reminded me of an earlier dahlia-inspired experiment (on a much smaller scale), based on the same principles but slightly different technique – here are the two samples together.

felt dahlia samples

This was a very useful workshop. I learned a lot about stabilising felt, combining needlefelt and fibre, and different layouts of fibre to produce different effects.

Dagmar is a patient tutor who encourages students work out answers for themselves by close observation of what happens throughout the felting process.

dagmar teaching
Dagmar (right) advising students in class

Thanks to Cathy and Sue and other members of the IFA for organising the workshop.