The Power of Making

This exhibition, a collaboration between the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Crafts Council, presents an eclectic range of objects,  including various textiles, made by both amateurs and professionals.

Some use traditional techniques in unexpected ways, like Shauna Richardson’s crochetdermy bear, or Christien Meindertsma‘s knitted Aran rugs, requiring custom-made needles nearly 2 metres long:

I was particularly struck by a machine-embroidered snowflake made by Ellis Developments in polyester suture thread.  This delicate structure is actually a surgical implant – it provides multiple attachment points for replacing lost tissue:

Other exhibits feature unusual materials. For example, Sabrina Gschwandtner made a quilt from 16mm film stock, sewn together with polyamide thread:

On a similar theme, Alyce Santoro produced a dress woven from audio tape and polyester thread. Apparently, if you drag the magnetic head from a tape player (remember those?) along the fabric, it emits a garbled, underwater-type sound.

And then there was Elisa Strozyk‘s fascinating wooden textile, made by applying tessellated triangles of maple wood to Elaston polymer:

Finally, there were some innovative materials, like Manel Torres’ spray-on fabric, Fabrican:

And I’ve written about Suzanne Lee before – she uses bacteria to “grow” material, which she then makes into garments or other items. One of her tote bags was on display.

There were lots of non-textile items, of course, including 3D printers and sugar sculpture. But my favourite was a Santoku kitchen knife, which is made by folding and forging 101 layers of different steel, producing a stunning wave pattern on the blade.

The manufacturing technique is based on that used for making samurai swords, which you can also see in the Japan section of the V&A. In one particularly fine example, the pattern is in the shape of a dragon. Quite amazing.

The Power of Making runs at the V&A until 2 January 2012, and admission is free – definitely worth a look.


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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

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