Starting with Photoshop

A few months ago I mused about whether I should learn how to use Photoshop so that I could get some of my designs digitally printed rather than making everything by hand. This would enable me to make larger pieces at more acceptable prices.

This week I finally got round to doing a two-day class on Photoshop for beginners at Morley College. It was a very popular class, with most of the participants wanting to learn Photoshop to improve their photos or restore old prints. And it turned out that I already knew the tutor, Estelle Vincent, as we had been located next to each other at Lambeth Open at the Portico Gallery a few years ago. Small world! 🙂

We covered a lot in two days, but what was most useful for me was learning about layers, filters and flipping/rotating to produce repeat patterns. Here are some of the patterns I created.

The first was a section of an ecoprint of eucalyptus on silk.

Original ecoprint of eucalyptus on silk

After changing the colour with a filter and flipping and rotating:

Repeat pattern created with filter

A similar process starting with a section of sycamore ecoprint:

photoshop-sycamore-before photoshop-sycamore-blue-repeat

Then I experimented with some indigo shibori. I didn’t bother changing the colours with filters this time.


photoshop-kuno-before photoshop-new-kuno

It’s fascinating to see how different the patterns look when repeated on a larger scale, which is something I could never achieve by hand. And using different filters to create different colourways adds even more potential.

Lots for me to think about here!


Where’s the octopus?

OK – this isn’t strictly about textiles, but it is Friday, so here’s a fascinating video from Science Friday.

In justification, there’s something very textiley (is that a word?) about the patterns, textures and colours of the octopus. And with all the advances in smart and interactive textiles, similar capabilities in fabric may not be far away.

Makers’ Meetings around Brixton

I’ve been spending time recently helping out at Makerhood. Makerhood is a social enterprise run by unpaid volunteers that aims to support local makers, share creativity and skills, and help build a sustainable local economy.

In the next few weeks we will be launching a pilot website, Makerhood Brixton, to help people in Brixton and neighbouring areas buy locally produced goods and find out about local courses on making and growing things.

So if you make things and live or work around Brixton, Herne Hill,  Stockwell, Camberwell or Dulwich, come along to one of our Makers’ Meetings in the next couple of weeks. You will get the chance to meet the team behind the project, play around with the test site, and find out more about how the scheme will work.

Grow your own frock

Well, not quite. Not yet, anyway.

But Suzanne Lee at Central St Martins, along with collaborators at Imperial College London, is cultivating bacteria in baths of yeast and sweetened green tea. As the bacteria grow, they produce cellulose, which forms a thick mat over two to three weeks. When dried off, this material can be cut into shapes and sewn into garments, or moulded to fit a 3D form such as a mannequin.

Advantages: It dyes more easily than cotton and is biodegradable.

Disadvantages: It’s not easy to get a consistent quality of material at the moment. And it’s not water resistant. In fact, it absorbs about 100 times its own weight in liquid. If you get caught in the rain wearing a bacterial cellulose garment, it will get really heavy, swell and probably fall apart. Best keep a plastic mac handy.