Different materials, different result

I seem to be getting more obsessed with basketry at the moment – I’m currently doing an eight-week course (one day a week) on coiled basketry with Polly Pollock at City Lit.

The first four weeks have been spent exploring different ways of starting baskets and working with different materials and stitches. In the second half of the course we are expected to work on our own projects around the theme of seedpods. So as you can imagine, this suits me down to the ground! 🙂

So far I’ve experimented with colour:

raffia coiled with hemp
Raffia coiled with hemp

With softer and harder materials:

fabric coiled with paper yarn
Fabric coiled with paper yarn
seagrass coiled with paper yarn
Seagrass coiled with paper yarn

With additions:

seagrass coiling with hare barley additions
Seagrass coiling with hare barley additions

And combining with felt:

coiling with felt
Coiling with felt

I also tried some “linear” coiling – creating rows rather than spiralling from the centre. The first sample I made with this technique had a thick core, which I wrapped with a stiff paper yarn. As I progressed, the piece began to twist quite spontaneously.

twisted coiled piece
Twisted coiling

I made similar pieces with the same core material but different wrapping fibres, which were all softer than the paper yarn. Some of these pieces twisted a little, others hardly at all.

I also tried making a piece with “ribs” to give a more defined form. I bound five lengths of seagrass together and coiled a thinner piece of green seagrass around them using blanket stitch. Because the seagrass ribs were relatively soft, the tension of the stitching tended to twist them slightly to the right, which made the final piece look a little unbalanced.

As a felter, I am used to shaping a piece while fulling it – the final form can look very different from the original! So I thought I would try reshaping this piece to emphasise the twisting even further. The paper yarn is strong but flexible, so this worked out quite well.

twisted coiled seedpod

This week we were working with natural materials, so I repeated this form using strips of cordyline as the ribs, dried daffodil leaves as the core, and waxed polyester string for stitching.

The cordyline was much stiffer than the seagrass, and I found that if I pulled the ribs together at the top, the coiled sections between the ribs bulged outwards, producing a completely different shape.

coiled daffodil leaves

It’s a useful reminder of how you can achieve completely different results with different materials, and making samples is a very worthwhile exercise. 🙂

Prism Textiles “Fragility” exhibition

My first exhibition with Prism, the international exhibiting group of textile artists, is fast approaching. The theme is “Fragility”, and you can get a glimpse of the various ways this has been interpreted on the Prism blog.

My piece, called “One in Five”, was inspired by the effect we humans are having on our fragile environment: scientists at Kew Gardens estimate that one in five plant species are in danger of extinction due to activities such as intensive farming, deforestation and construction.

I have made five stylised seeds combining felt and paper yarn, to represent the fragility of the environment in general as well as their own precarious existence.

The five seeds loosely represented are sycamore (maple in US), dandelion, bean pod, physalis and sweet chestnut.

Sycamore seed by Kim WinterDandelion seed by Kim WinterBeanpod by Kim WinterPhysalis by Kim WinterSweet chestnut by Kim Winter

The hardest part was working out the best way to display them, as in the London gallery we cannot suspend things from the ceiling. Luckily, I managed to find a windfall branch with an interesting shape and lots of lovely lichen. This can be mounted on the wall with the seeds hanging from it.

One in Five by Kim Winter

All photos of my work by Owen Llewellyn.

Fragility runs at Hoxton Arches, Arch 402, Cremer Street, London E2 8HD, from 29 May to 9 June. The private view is on Tuesday 28 May, 7-8.30pm, to which you are all warmly invited!

Workshops and American Museum Textiles Fair

I thought I’d already posted about these events but it was actually on my website and newsletter, so sorry about the short notice!

Workshops

Next week I’m running a couple of workshops for beginners on felting and ecoprinting. The venue is The Old School, School Lane, West Kingsdown, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 6JN, just off the M20. For more information and to book, please contact Judith Yarnold, judithyarnold@gmail.com, 01474 852669.

Introduction to felting

Tuesday 21 August, 10am-4pm

Felt is one of the oldest known fabrics in the world. It’s made by wetting layers of wool roving and rubbing and rolling with soap until the fibres interlock to form a robust fabric. This one-day workshop introduces you to the basic felting technique.

In the morning you will start by making a flat piece of felt to learn the basic technique. You can decorate it with yarn, silk and other embellishments.

In the afternoon you will make a 3D object (a small bowl) by felting around a resist. Again, you can decorate this in various ways.

We provide: All materials, but please bring an old towel and a plastic bag to take your work home with you

Numbers: Min 5, max 10 in class

Cost: £60 to be paid up front + £6 for materials to be paid in cash to the tutor on the day

When: Tuesday 21 August, 10am-4pm. There will be an hour’s break for lunch. There is a small shop that sells food about 5 minutes’ drive from the venue or you can bring your own.

Introduction to ecoprinting workshop

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Ecoprinting is also known as botanical contact printing or bundling. It involves making a bundle of leaves in fabric and steaming or simmering in water or dye. In these conditions, certain plants leave their imprint on the fabric.

We will be working with silk in this workshop, as it is one of the easiest fabrics to use with this technique. In the morning we will go on a foraging walk to look for leaves and other foliage to use for ecoprinting. Then we will come back and make a couple of small samples using iron as a mordant. They will steam or simmer during our lunch break.

In the afternoon we will unbundle the samples to see the results and then lay out a larger piece (a silk scarf). While this is steaming we will experiment with hapazome (flower pounding), another method of using plants to make marks on fabric.

We provide: All materials, but please wear old clothes and bring an apron

Numbers: Min 5, max 10 in class

Cost: £60 to be paid up front + £15 for materials to be paid in cash to the tutor on the day

When: Wednesday 22 August, 10am-4pm. There will be an hour’s break for lunch. There is a small shop that sells food about 5 minutes’ drive from the venue or you can bring your own.

American Museum Textiles Fair

Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD
Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August, 10am-4pm

Spend the weekend browsing antique, vintage and world textiles as well as yarns, and makers’ suppliers at the ‘home of quilts’ in the South West. I will be bringing my latest batch of upcycled indigo shibori and ecoprinted garments and accessories.

 

More felting with old sweaters

Now I realise that those of you who live in parts of the world where you have to live underground for six months of the year because it gets so cold may regard the recent UK weather incident as a bit of a non-event, but we’ve been able to talk about nothing else for the past week.

Living in London, it’s rare that I get to witness the meteorological messes that get dumped on other parts of these islands. But even in the city we had six inches of snow, and now a burst water main in our street has led to our cellar (and that of our neighbour) being flooded. ESP spent the weekend lugging buckets of water out into the street, and we wait in vain to hear from Thames Water about when they might send an engineer out.

But life goes on. I’ve been doing some more felting experiments with old sweaters (though frankly I needed every layer I could get my hands on last week!).

Here’s a flat piece mounted on a small canvas.

Here’s a felt cushion.

And here’s a felt vase (with a jar of water inside). I forgot to take a photo of this before felting.

I’m planning to display these on my stand at the Contemporary Textiles Fair in Teddington in a couple of weeks. The theme of the fair this year is ecotextiles, so hopefully this will encourage people to upcycle their old sweaters (and maybe I will get some commissions 😉 ). Come and say hello if you’re planning to visit!

 

My work at Tate Modern

It’s not a solo exhibition – yet. 😉 But you may remember a couple of years ago that I took part in an exhibition organised by South London Women Artists (SLWA), entitled Pillow Talk. It was a collaboration with the Women’s Art Library (WAL) and took the form of a pop-up reading lounge in a geodesic dome furnished with a selection of readings, cuttings and ephemera from the WAL collection and art pillows by SLWA artists as seating.

My contribution, a felt snail pillow, was inspired by the idea of a nomadic library, carrying information about the ambitions, stories and histories of women artists around the country.

Felt snail pillow
Photo: Cygnus Imaging

Now the exhibition (and snail) has reached Tate Modern. As part of a homage to the centenary of women getting the vote in February 1918, Pillow Talk will form part of the Uniqlo Tate Late event on Friday 23 February, 6-10pm.

For this event, the pillows will be laid out on the floor in the shape of the female symbol where visitors will be invited to sit, read and have conversations. At its heart will be a mobile library full of publications, catalogues, magazines and ephemera about women artists.

Pillow photos: Yoke Matze

We’ll be on Level 2 in the Blavatnik Building – hope to see you there!

Galapagos-inspired tablet cover

When we were on holiday in the Galapagos, S, one of the other passengers on the boat admired the felt tablet cover I had made for Ever Supportive Partner (ESP). So I agreed to make her one when I got back.

I was delayed working on this because of all the Christmas markets and other activities on my return, but while ESP went back to work between Christmas and new year I finally had the time and headspace to think about it.

S hadn’t expressed any preference about colours, leaving it up to me, so I thought it would be good to make a piece inspired by the Galapagos. Looking back through the hundreds(!) of photos of the trip prompted various ideas, but I finally went for the landscape around Lake Darwin, on the largest island of Isabela.

Lake Darwin is a seawater lake in the caldera of an old volcano. The surrounding lava folds and ridges are covered in incense (palo santa) trees, with ghostly silver bark (in the wet season, a few weeks after we visited, they would burst into leaf, transforming the landscape).

Other trees were covered with beautiful lichens of grey, bright orange and pale mint green.

And here is the tablet cover inspired by this scenery.

I started with two layers of orange merino (to represent the volcanic interior). Then came two layers of grey Norwegian wool, to provide robustness, then two layers of Finnish wool (blue at the bottom for water and brown at the top for the lava). I laid pieces of darker brown yarn on top of this to represent the lava folds. There is also a faint strip of yellow between the brown and the blue.

The tree is made up of two layers of prefelt (white on top of grey), plus prefelt lichen in orange and very pale green. Using prefelt also gives a more textured effect more like bark. Let’s hope S likes it!

Felting get together

Every few months my partner Woman of the Cloth, Carol, organises a felting day with a few friends where we all bring a pot luck dish for lunch and catch up with news and gossip (and occasionally manage to make a bit of felt in between!).

I used the opportunity to make myself a new phone case, as my last one was wearing through. You can see it here in the centre, along with a nuno felt case made by Carol (above).

felt phone case

Happy new year to everyone!

RHS London Autumn Garden Show

RHS Autumn Garden show

Next week I’m taking part in my first RHS show in London. A lot of my customers are keen gardeners, so I thought this would be a good event to try.

As well as my ecoprinted and indigo upcycled scarves and garments, I’m going to try selling some felt pots. I really like making felt pots, and when I first had a market stall I tried selling them. Although people liked them, the most common question I was asked was “But what would I do with it?”.

Then recently I ran a felt pot making workshop at Brixton Windmill harvest festival. After the workshop, I sent one of the sample pots I made to my friend and festival organiser Magdalen. She promptly posted a photo on Instagram of two pots I had made for her, containing some succulents.

Felt pots
Image: Magdalen Rubalcava

This prompted a lightbulb moment – show, don’t tell! So I’m hoping that by showing people how they can be used, this will inspire them to think more creatively.

felt pot and succulent felt pot and succulent

I will also have a couple of the abstract seedpods to see if they attract any interest.

felt seedpods

Wish me luck!

SLWA My Place exhibition

I’m very excited to be taking part in the My Place exhibition organised by the South London Women Artists. The work of 30 artists will be on show, each exploring their sense of place and belonging.

My piece combines ombre-dyed cotton scrim and felt, because my place – where I feel most at home – is by the indigo vat.

ombre dyed felt

The colour indigo is traditionally thought to stimulate right brain or creative activity, but for me it is more of a meditative experience, disrupting the coppery sheen of the surface as I dip the fabric, and watching the magical alchemy as it turns from green to blue before my eyes. The white clouds in the sky above are mirrored by the clumps of foam, or indigo “flower”, floating on the surface of the vat.

My Place runs from 7 to 12 July at Brixton East 1871, 100 Barrington Road, London SW9 7JF, 11am-6pm daily.

The private view is on Friday 7 July, 6-9pm – everyone welcome!