Jilli Blackwood Lecture at The Embroiderers’ Guild, Dumfries

I attended a lively and entertaining talk by Glasgow-based textile artist, Jilli Blackwood yesterday. Her famous ‘Slash and Show’ textiles are a riot of colour and texture and embellishment. They include hand-dyed fabrics, layering, weaving, pleating, with freely worked hand and machine embroidery. She has a loom in her home studio, and this informs her work, and she returns to weaving between her embroidery projects.

I had researched this artist in respect to contemporary embroidery in an earlier article, so will not repeat that material here.

As a third year graduate, Jilli had been invited to meet fashion designer, Jean Muir, who encouraged her to make a 1 metre square version of a layered and cut sample. She also offered Jilli a job, which she turned down, despite being a huge fan of Muir’s designs. Jilli strikes me as a very independent person, who was keen to develop her own ideas.

Her breakthrough moment for the future direction for her work came with the Millenium Kilt, an altered, second-hand kilt with a three-dimensional surface created with the techniques mentioned above. She told us that she had had a last minute moment of doubt about exhibiting the kilt in The McManus Galleries in Dundee (2000) as part of an exhibition called ‘Textiles for the 21st Century’. Was an ‘altered’ garment an original work of art? However, she need not have worried, as it went on to win the award for first prize and was then exhibited at the V&A as part of an exhibition called ‘Men In Skirts‘. Despite several offers to buy this piece, Jilli retained ownership of it, but went on to create a series of similar pieces for sale. A collection of ‘Art to Wear’ pieces, forms another series, including kimonos.

Jilli Blackwood, Millenium Kilt, 1999-2000

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/projects-millenium-kilt.html

It was interesting to hear about Jilli’s working practice: the piece above started as a sketch on an envelope, before hands-on work on the kilt itself. At other times she will dye the fabrics first. She uses Kemtex dyes because of their light-fast qualities. The dyed fabrics will be hung together so that she can see how the colours interact, as she selects a colour palette for the project in hand. Next, an A4 – A3 sized sample may be made, before the full sized piece is worked on. The work moves from floor to wall to sewing machine as Jilli works on it by hand and with her sewing machine, adding and subtracting elements until she is happy with the outcome. This process can take several years to complete on a single piece. Although, The Glasgow School of Art can make digitally rendered prints if large scale production is required.

One piece that she brought along to show us had not, she felt, worked, but instead of discarding it, she ended up cutting it in half, re-joining it with two upward arcing lines now meeting in the centre. This gave it a new dynamism that resembled various buildings she had seen, and Jilli wondered if the influence of this architecture had subliminally affected her development of the piece. The colour was altered by folding and over-dyeing the wall hanging several times, and it now has a background of dark lines with the bright pink elements glowing against it.

She advised us to try to develop our own ‘handwriting’ through playing with materials (much as we have been doing on the course!), because everything has been done before, it is just a case of putting one’s own mark on the different techniques available.

Another piece that I found interesting, consisted of a black ground fabric with machine sewn, irregular rectangles of silver leather attached. This had started as a landscape-format wall hanging, had been cut in half and joined to make a long portrait-format wall hanging, and had ended up being made into a skirt as a wearable piece of art. Jilli was sporting some of her wearable art in the form of a hat and tunic dress as she was speaking to us.

For the Flag Handover Ceremony at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Jilli designed an eye-catching red tartan for the entire Scottish team. One aspect that she had to give thought to was that it had to be ‘larger than life’ as the human figures would be tiny in the huge stadium to the audience there, but would also be seen around the world on television. The design had to work in these two, very different situations.

After she had designed the Team Scotland parade outfit for 2014 Commonwealth Games, she was dismayed to find that the outfits had been photographed for publicity purposes, against a green countryside background, instead of the grey or dark background that she had envisaged. The interaction between colours is very important to this artist.

However the green in the photographs went on to inspire a bright green tartan which was used in the World Anti Doping Agency space at the games.

Jilli Blackwood, WADA design, Commonwealth Games 2014

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/news.html

More recent work has been embroidery over worn, antique, South African rugs, echoing the existing pattern. Jilli mentioned that as well as being extremely hard to work on, she was amazed to find all the ‘errors’ in the seemingly perfect patterns on the rugs.

Her future plans include re-branding her website and producing a luxury catalogue and generally ‘raising her game’.

We were allowed to handle some of her artwork and samples, which brought home the highly textured nature of the work.


What can I learn from this artist?

This was a timely example of how wonderful textiles can be created or altered, and will feed into my experimental approach to creating textiles on Part 5 of the course. Jilli’s playful, colourful, ‘anything goes’ approach was very refreshing, as was her persistence with pieces that aren’t quite working, but can be altered and re-formed by changing the format or colour palette, for example.



http://www.jeanmuir.info/pages/secret_life.shtml Accessed 12/05/17

https://www.jilliblackwood.com/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.kemtex.co.uk/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/men-in-skirts/ Accessed 12/05/17

Denise Zygadlo Lecture

The Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild invited textile artist, Denise Zygadlo to give a talk today. It was very entertaining and was illustrated with images of her work, and examples of actual artworks, exhibition catalogues and sketchbooks for us to examine.

This was the first time that I had seen her artwork and I was struck by the cohesion of the work she produces: all with an interest in cloth and the body. Her work includes drawing, print, performance, artist books, and installation. She has collaborated with various creative people to explore dance, music, movement, and poetry paired with her art works.

Denise said that she had an early interest in textiles – clothing in particular – and remembers dressing up (from a ‘dressing up box’) as a child, and can still recall the feel of some of the clothing. She completed a foundation course followed by an applied arts degree and worked with printed textiles and fashion. After raising her children, she returned to art and began with a collaborative project. She then joined the Society of Scottish Artists and has exhibited many artworks with that group, as well as holding two solo exhibitions.

When searching for ways to express her artistic ideas, she found Image Maker, a product that can be applied to a photocopy, allowing it to be transferred to a textile. (The image is coated with the liquid, applied face down on the textile, allowed to dry, before the paper is moistened and removed leaving the image intact). Before that, she had worked with images printed directly from her body using paint.

The artist chose to make autobiographical portraits of her body, wrapped in muslin, on a photocopier, then reassemble these partial images as a collage onto silk organza. She liked the intimacy achieved by pressing against the glass, giving details of skin and cloth (better than a photograph could achieve). The finished artworks have the feeling of an ancient fresco in their incomplete rendering of the figure.

Denise now uses digital printing, (carried out by the Glasgow School of Art), as a simpler way of transferring the images to silk chiffon textile. The finished art works can be large banner-sized pieces that are suspended from a gallery ceiling to hang down and move in the breeze. The finished artworks have a translucency, and are reproducible and washable, which are further advantages over the original method.

The artist has collaborated with many other artists: one example including projecting images over her hanging art works, and onto the wall behind them. On other occasions performance and music have been included. These collaborations add another layer to the two-dimensional, printed aspect of the artworks. The scale of the work varies from images just a few inches across presented in the artist’s books, to the larger, banner-sized pieces.

This video illustrates the artist’s Wrap exhibition from 2014.

Drawing is a large part of the artist’s practice. Her highly-detailed pencil drawings of lace fabric on a contorted body were very beautiful. The pattern on the textile wrinkling and twisting with the movement of the body beneath. Denise said that the drawing was built up from layers of pencil marks, worked over many hours, and observed from a photograph of the subject.

Denise Zygadlo, Tara VII, Drawing

Source:- http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/gallery.php?cat=drawings

Other artworks include the remaking of her Mother’s jacket, which had been worn and passed down through three generations. The translucent, remade version had images of the three women on it.

Another piece showed bundles of linen, or blankets, or finery mounted on plinths, relating to textiles owned by most people, but also having a resonance with the refugee crises and the belongings the displaced people choose to take with them.

More recent artworks combine classical art (such as images of one of Michaelangelo’s statues) collaged with photocopies of the artist’s body, and again, digitally printed onto textile.

Many of the images felt rather poignant, referencing cloth as a ‘second skin’, that ages and wrinkles in the same way as our own skin. I particularly liked the images transferred to old canvases that had been removed from stretchers, and still bear the marks of staples and age discolouration. These appear like abstract images, maybe landscapes, before one can discern a body part and crumpled textile. Denise cited a connection with ‘bog people‘: those whose bodies have ended up being preserved in peat, in extremely good condition, allowing a glimpse into their lives and deaths. Other people have felt a religious resonance when viewing the artworks.

The artworks feel open to interpretation: are they autobiographical? or making some wider point about the importance of cloth in our lives? The wrapping gives a timeless feel to the pieces, since they make no reference to fashion; and the use of a black and white colour palette gives them an ‘antique’ look. There feels to me to be a link to birth, life and death – the swaddling of a child, through a lifetime of wearing clothes and using textiles, to the final shrouding of the dead. The artist herself discusses the feelings of comfort, security and the holding of memories encapsulated in cloth. I feel there is a connection to the work of Louise Bourgeois in the exploration of textiles imbued with autobiographical memories and stories.

What can I learn from this artist?

Thinking of how this might inspire my own studies: re-purposing my clothing in artwork could be linked to an autobiographical narrative, or one related to associations with textiles, clothing, fashion or the body. Using the body to present images that create resonances with many viewers and are open to various interpretations is a powerful idea.

I was struck by the focus and constraints that the artist had used: photocopying; black and white images; cloth and the body. As yet, I don’t feel that I know which art form or topics of interest I wish to pursue, but hopefully, that will emerge as I progress through the course.

Digital printing seems to offer an exciting way of reproducing art work on textiles that could be used in a variety of ways: from art works, to household textiles, to fashion.

Pairing the written word with art is a combination that I may explore in the future.

Denise re-entered the art world by joining an artists’ society that allowed her to network with other artists and exhibit her work. Well, maybe one day I will take on such a challenge!



http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/ Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.dylon.co.uk/other-products/craft/image-maker/image-maker/#.WOZ7S9Lyubg Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.s-s-a.org/ Accessed 06/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body Accessed 06/04/17

Part 5: Research

For this research, I will focus on the developmental work of these artists.

Jenny Ellery is a textile artist whose work explores the human silhouette as a format for presenting her art, which comprises machine embroidery, printed textiles and handmade textiles. It focuses on the work of the textile designer in fashion, and reminds me somewhat of Marie O’Connor‘s work in that it references the body as a canvas that can have the outline distorted and decorated in infinite ways. Coincidentally, I found these images in the newspaper today, which also show ways of ornamenting and changing the human body, which are perhaps part of the wider context for this idea, and for fashion, jewellery and make-up in general.

african photos

Mario Gerth, photographs of members of the Suri tribe, Ethiopia

Source:- scanned image from The Times newspaper, pp 38-39, 01/04/17

Jenny Ellery’s practice involves “Hands-on and intuitive experimentation…”, from which the artist can make new and interesting discoveries. On her website, she mentions working from 2D to 3D and back again, which echoes the advice in our course guide, and via tutor feedback, for drawing, sample making and more drawing in the developmental process.

Jenny’s tumblr account feed shows some inspiring images illustrating her developmental work.

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles // dye tests

Jenny Ellery Source:- http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/

The artist’s practice seems to involve gathering source images on an inspiration board (prints of other artists’ work, for example), taking photographs, drawing, making samples including mixed media and stitch on textile, and making painted colour palettes. (This is sounding familiar as I work through the Textiles 1 course!)

Chris Ofili is a British artist, now living and working in Trinidad. He won the Turner Prize in 1998 and was one of the ‘Young British Artists’ to exhibit in the Sensation exhibition of 1999.

He has explored many themes, such as religion, black history, nature, high and low culture, through the medium of mixed media, painting, prints, drawings and, more recently, woven textiles.

He sees his studio as a laboratory, where he has experimented in the past with a variety of media (elephant dung, paint, resin, collage, map pins and glitter), and assorted techniques.

His practice seems to me to involve phases of interest, which culminate in an exhibition, before he launches into new fields of exploration. At one time, he made a watercolour painting each day (exhibited at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 2005), after that he moved to making more use of sketchbooks, and photography to record his environment in Trinidad, and drawing to test ideas that will become finished artworks. He describes this approach as giving his pictures “… a more automatic, stream-of-consciousness approach.”

Chris Ofili Studio

Source:- https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview

I have reflected on Chris’s quote about the studio being a laboratory, here.

Alicia Galer is a London-based textile artist and designer. Her development method is to make expressionist-style drawings, from which she selects marks and textures to produce further drawings and patterns.

In an interview with Grafik the artist describes deriving inspiration from travel, interiors, fashion, photography and graphic design. She draws one or more of her source inspirations, then simplifies elements of that drawing to develop further. Alicia favours oil pastels, marker pens, colouring pencils and acrylic paint as her chosen media.

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Alicia Galer, illustration for House of Plants, 2016

Source:- https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer

Josh Blackwell is an American artist and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. The artist’s interest in the throwaway consumer culture led him to gather plastic bags from various sources, which were incorporated into his studio practice, working with mixed media, painting, sculpture, performance art and installation. The tension between convenience and excess being one focus for his work. Trained as a painter, his use of thread and textile to embellish the plastic bags shows similar mark-making. The finished pieces are transformed from a vilified and discarded piece of rubbish into a playful, colourful and highly textured art work.

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses (Siemensstrasse), 2015, plastic bags, wool, silk, twine, acrylic yarn

Source:- http://www.joshblackwell.com/index.php?/ongoing/recent-works/

Josh Blackwell Neveruses

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses exhibition (detail), 2016/2017 at The Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Source:- http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress

On The Museum of Arts and Design‘s website, it describes the artist’s diverse influences as including Italian futurism, and the outsider art of the American South. In the image above, I can see drawings, collections of objects, patterns and the ubiquitous plastic bag, altered by having holes cut in it, hinting at the types of development work the artist undertakes. Other artworks have included lively and colourful drawings of children’s jumpers, cut out and attached to the gallery wall, Juniors (shown at Kate MacGarry, London, 2010).

Barbara Hepworth made numerous maquettes, drawings, screen prints and full size working models and prototypes of her bronze sculptures. I visited The Hepworth Wakefield on 22 March 2017 and was able to view this fantastic collection in person.

Over 40 plaster or wood, working models and prototypes at different stages of work can be seen. Barbara herself carved back many of these pieces to achieve the surface finish that would represent her ideas. Her tools and drawings illustrate her developmental process. The drawings could be simple, functional, small, line drawings, working out composition and construction. These 2-D diagrams are then made into 3-D models, allowing the artist to refine textures and test patinas before the final bronze sculpture is cast. One exhibit showed an assortment of patina samples that she had commissioned: the equivalent of our ‘sampling’ work on the course. She also made gouache and oil drawings, with pencil marks over the top. She made abstract drawings and drawings from life, such as a series made in a hospital. In quotations on the official Hepworth website, the artist makes it clear that carving was the most important part of the process for her. Once the idea had formed, she could choose the material, but it was the carving rather than the modelling that was important to her, as she could achieve so many variations depending on the material in use, and felt that it allowed her to put her accumulated experience and knowledge into the work. Her selection from the numerous types of stone and wood available, would influence what it was possible to achieve, and only by working with these materials over many years, could she master and exploit their unique properties, “… a complete sensibility to material – an understanding of its inherent quality and character – is required.”


It has been rather tricky to find details of some of the artists’ processes, as I suspect that they would understandably prefer to keep them private, having honed and refined them for their own use.

What can I learn from these artists?

Jenny Ellery’s ‘hands-on’ work with materials chimes with explorations that I carried out on Part 4 of the course – physically combining materials to find which worked well together (in colour palette, texture and scale). In Part 5 of the course, I will aim to emulate this through sample-making and drawing.

Her use of inspiration boards, colour palettes and drawings will also influence my process for the forthcoming coursework.

From Chris Ofili, I will take an attitude of experimentation and exploration of media.

Alicia Galer’s practice felt like a good fit for what I would like to achieve – making both realistic and more abstract drawings in a variety of media, then selecting and refining aspects of those pieces to take forward. I can imagine using a viewfinder to pick out almost abstract lines and marks from a drawing.

Josh Blackwell’s main focus on one material – plastic bags – links his artwork to the theme of consumerism. I will try to select appropriate grounds and media for my drawings and art work. His use of mixed and unusual media is another point of interest.

Barbara Hepworth gathered inspiration for her work through careful observation and drawing. Her total dedication to her artwork is an inspiration in itself, and I love many of her abstract sculptures with their variations of form, surface and colour. I will continue to derive inspiration from many sources and carry out more drawing and sample-making.

Barbara Hepworth’s intimate knowledge of her media and the effects that could be achieved with that material is something to aspire to. Spending time getting to know and understand my chosen media fully will be an ongoing process.





https://barbarahepworth.org.uk/texts/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.chrisofiliprints.info/biography.php?cur=EUR Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/collection/the-hepworth-family-gift/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.jennyellery.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.marieoconnor.co.uk/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/chris-ofili-weaving-magic?gclid=CP-F4MXdgNMCFQ8TGwodwmwGMw Accessed 31/03/17 (Chris Ofili exhibition)

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/f/futurism Accessed 31/03/17 (Italian Futurism)

Lace Textiles

Scottish Lace

I attended an Embroiderers’ Guild Lecture by Brian Hill entitled “The History of Scottish Lace” on 2 March 2017.

Mr Hill outlined the history of lace making in Scotland. Weaving arrived in the area as the end of the 16th Century with Flemish refugees. Alexander Morton introduced lace making in 1876 (his company Morton Young and Borland Ltd was founded in 1900), and the technology of the new power loom was introduced in 1877. The industry declined in the late 1970s due to competition from Europe and Asia.

Darvel, Ayrshire (known as ‘the Lace Town’), at one time made lace for export around the world, particularly to India (a large market for lace, muslin and madras textiles (the latter was originally called Scottish Leno Gauze Weave)). Much of the ‘souvenir’ lace sold in Malta at one time came from his company, but that business has now been taken over by Asian manufacturers. The nearby town of Newmilns was also a centre for lace making and is home to the last remaining lace making company in the Irvine Valley: MYB Textiles.

Products include: lace curtains, lace table cloths, scrim curtains for theatres, cotton baby blankets (a best seller with the US company, Lands’end), yashmaghs, commissioned work etc.

The lace is woven on Nottingham looms, with Jacquard punched cards controlling the patterns, (some dating to 1913, when they were first introduced), then the work is sent elsewhere for finishing. The damp climate of the Irvine Valley is ideally suited to lace weaving as it suits the machinery and improves the strength of the cotton fibres (which can break if too dry, or succumb to mould if too moist). These looms can weave textiles up to 1220 cm in width. Manufacture is slow and controlled, with high levels of quality control. Many of the looms have been modified in recent years, and are connected to CAD computers, allowing for improved production rates, faster turnaround times, and more design options.

Handmade Lace

The Lace Guild has an instructional video showing the basics of making bobbin lace and needlelace.

My friend, Margaret, has shared some of her beautiful handmade lace work.

Margaret Weal, assorted handmade lace textiles

Margaret Weal, sampler showing the stages of making Ruskin linen work (also known as Greek lace), and a completed pouch.

Irish Lace

Niamh McCooey’s article ‘Life-saving Lace’ in Selvedge Issue 75, discusses the importance of lace in providing an income for families stricken by the potato famine, which began in 1845.

Irish lace is formed from crocheted motifs, such as flowers and leaves, which are then combined to make the finished product. This style originated with the published patterns of Mademoiselle Riego de la Blanchardiere dating to 1846, which themselves were influenced by Venetian lace. Venetian lace was made using needle-lace techniques, while the Blanchardiere patterns and Irish lace were made using crochet and cotton thread. French Ursuline nuns travelled to Ireland during the famine years, and shared their knowledge of crochet and helped the Irish lace cottage industry to develop. Both men and women produced the motifs, and local variations developed over time, with individual families’ designs being closely-guarded secrets. Articles such as collars, parasols and bodices were sold worldwide.

Irish lace

Crochet lace border, linen, Ireland 19th, century

Source:- Selvedge Issue 75, Page 49

Contemporary Practice

Lace is no longer just for the wealthiest in society, thanks to machine-made lace, it has become a staple of the fashion industry. A recent example of lace in fashion is Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. A contemporary artist using lace in her practice is Carol Quarini, who uses her background as a biologist and her interest in lace to explore issues such as ‘memory’ or ‘the uncanny’. Her latest commission is to make a modern response to the Battle of Britain lace panel. Her blog, lacethread, has numerous articles about different types of lace, and mentions her exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, that I attended last year. [Edited 15/03/17: I have lately seen the work of Marie-Rose Lortet, whose work includes irregularly-worked, 3-D lace structures in the form of houses, windows or abstract shapes].

Final Thoughts

Although I am not likely to make any lace myself, I can quite easily imagine incorporating it into my work with re-purposed textiles.



McCooey, N “Life-Saving Lace”. Selvedge 75 (2017): 48-49. Print.


https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/battle_of_britain/bblace.asp Accessed 08/03/17

http://www.carolquarini.com/ Accessed 08/03/17

https://flemish.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/2014/02/07/flemish-religious-emigration-in-the-16th17th-centuries-2/ Accessed 08/03/17

https://www.laceguild.org/craft/technique.html Accessed 16/03/17

http://lacethread.blogspot.co.uk/ Accessed 08/03/17

http://www.landsend.com/shop/home-kids-room-baby-blankets/-/N-g4v?brandCode=classic Accessed 08/03/17

https://www.mybtextiles.com/history/ Accessed 08/03/17

https://www.mybtextiles.com/collections/ (for lace and madras fabric care) Accessed 08/03/17

https://textiledreamer.wordpress.com/needlepoint-lace-tutorial/ Accessed 08/03/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darvel Accessed 08/03/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_dress_of_Kate_Middleton Accessed 08/03/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, Re-invent: Research

I tried out French knitting on two of my yarn concepts for Exercise 4.1, and plaiting on two others, so I decided to have a look at knotting/macramé, which I had touched on with my net yarn concept for Exercise 4.2.  I found a book on the subject at Carlisle Library, (Williams and Mann, 2011).

I tried some of the techniques in the book:-


Knotting Samples

Lark’s Head Knot / synthetic mix yarn (top left)
(uses: anchoring knot, net making)

Ring Hitching / vintage linen embroidery thread over washers & nut (bottom left)
(uses: (traditionally) covering metal rings bolted to ship’s deck; earrings, jewellery)

Half Knot (macramé knot) / dyed raffia cord (second from left)
(uses: necklace cord, bracelet, macramé projects)

Double Flat Button Knot / gardening string (second from right)
(uses: closure with a large loop, focal point for necklace)

Button Knot / synthetic cord (right)
(uses: buttons, cuff links, spacer knot in jewellery making)

I have to say that I was not ‘grabbed’ by any of these samples, although they all might have their place in different types of project (the Lark’s Head Knot had been used to anchor the threads when making my net yarn, for example). I enjoyed making the Half Knot macramé strand, although I think a more regular cord would lead to a better outcome (I had tried it with natural raffia cord). The sample was further distressed by our cat. However, it is quite a rhythmic and soothing activity to make and I’m sure it would become more regular with practise.

One idea that occurred to me was to make some sort of vessel. I had seen such forms in Jean Draper’s book, (Draper, 2013).

Jean Draper, and Margaret Raine, assorted vessels

Source:- Draper, 2013

Jean Draper works the vessels seen at left, above, over a rice bag mould using a knotted buttonhole stitch to make the sides; the vessels seen on the right hand side, above, are randomly hand stitched over a mould.

Margaret Raine’s vessels (centre, above) are coiled, using an ancient basketry technique, wherein a firm, but flexible core is spiralled around and held in place with a finer thread. The resulting form can be flat or three-dimensional. Margaret’s vessels are delicate, hand-sized pieces made from cotton embroidery thread over a silk core.

I found a tutorial on coiled rope vessels, decorated with embroidery thread by Lisa Tilse, which is similar to that used by Margaret Raine, mentioned above.

I made a Pinterest board which includes images from artists working with vessels and similar forms.

Shannon Weber is an artist living and working in the US. She makes three-dimensional woven objects and sculptures from unusual materials, such as found natural materials (seaweed, wood, etc), and manmade items likes pieces from table games.

Shannon Weber, Dizzie

Source:- http://shannonweber.com/images.php#

Both the colour palette and materials used by the artist are noteworthy. The lines of the coated wires or cords appear like a spinning top in motion in this swirling mass of vibrant colour.

Lizzie Farey is an artist whose work I saw at last year’s Spring Fling event in Dumfries & Galloway. She uses willow and other natural materials to make organic forms such as bowls, balls or nests, wall-mounted art works and sculpture.

Back to previous page

Lizzie Farey, Pussy Willow Bowl, 2005

Source:- http://www.lizziefarey.co.uk/Sculpture/lfph19x.htm

This bowl appears to be quite loosely coiled without the regularity of normal basketwork. The interwoven coils that weave in and out of the structure diagonally are, I think, what holds the piece together. As well as the slightly ‘random’ look to this piece, I like the imaginative use of the pussy willow as decoration.

There seem to be numerous tutorials about weaving or coiling bowls: some use paper; some use flat grasses or fibres; others use willow or more traditional materials; and some use textiles, including braided textiles. I will try a number of samples first before embarking on a completed piece.

What can I learn from these artists?

  • there are numerous ways of connecting linear media to form a 2-D or 3-D form (stitch, weaving, coiling)
  • the media and colour palette chosen can give a very different feel to a piece (compare Shannon Weber’s Dizzie with Lizzie Farey’s Pussy Willow Bowl, for example)



Draper, J. (2013) Stitch and structure: Design and technique in two and three-dimensional textiles. London: Batsford.

Williams, L. and Mann, E. (2011) 75 decorative knots: A directory of knots and knotting techniques plus exquisite jewellery projects to make and wear. United Kingdom: Search Press.


http://www.fruncesybordados.com.mx/Knotted%20Buttonhole%20Stitch.htm Accessed 08/02/17

http://www.lizziefarey.co.uk/Sculpture/lfph19x.htm Accessed 07/02/17

http://shannonweber.com/ Accessed 06/02/17

Research and Reflection: Colour

In my feedback for Assignment 3, Cari gave me some suggestions of artists to research to feed into my current coursework for Part 4.

Sanne Schuurman  is a Swedish designer, working from her studio in Eindhoven. Her interests lie in devising unusual and unexpected combinations of materials and colours that highlight the technique she is using and the “…essence of an object…” (by which I think she means, echoing the functionality and properties of an object, such as lightness or rigidity, transparency or opaqueness). Her playful explorations seem to be her way of finding out what works well, and for sparking new ideas: a great way of working as I am finding out on this course!

The designer has a section on her website about her use of and inspiration for colour palettes in her design work. Her work with plastic has been inspired by the animal kingdom. An example of a translation of colour and form is given below. In this example she has selected just three colours for her palette from the image. Her piece has a large proportion of the background colour (light brown), with black stripes and tiny highlights of the mint green. The sample has translated some of the mood of the original image in Sanne’s lines and spots of colour, which still have an insect-like feel about them.

Sanne Schuurman, colour use: plastic research, 2013

Source:- http://sanneschuurman.com/portfolio_page/color-use-material-collection

She also has a colour magazine  where inspirational images and resulting colour palettes are shown and some are translated into abstract objects/collections of materials, made from mixed media, drawings and exploratory samples, which may go on to be used in one of a number of applications (window treatments, lighting options, textiles, interior design features etc).

Sanne Schuurman, colour magazine, 2013

Source:- http://sanneschuurman.com/portfolio_page/color-magazine

In the example above, Sanne has used Google Earth to focus in and out on regions of the Earth’s surface, and has picked specific areas to make her colour palettes from. I like this as an idea for finding colour inspiration, and I have begun to make colour palettes from specific localities (analysing photographs and observed colour on site).

What can I learn from this designer?

  • inspiration for colour palettes can come from anything and anywhere
  • one inspiration may provide a number of different possible colour palettes
  • use playful experimentation to inspire new colour and material combinations
  • associations can be made between the source material and intended end use (eg insects -> plastics)

Margrethe Odgaard is a Danish textile designer working in Copenhagen. Her main interest is in the colour, pattern, and feel of the created textiles.

Her process is described in images on her website, including collage, paint samples on ‘lolly sticks’, which can then be placed next to each other and interwoven to help with decision making about the final colour choices for the woven textiles. Small bundles of yarn in many hues, values and saturations are on hand for informing choices.


Margrethe Odgaard, selecting colours

Source: http://margretheodgaard.com/process/

Margrethe toured Japan and observed and recorded manmade colour combinations from buildings and objects that interested her.

She made an artist’s book out of a selection of her colour palettes to use for future inspiration. The colours in the book were recorded on location. She chose three colours for each of the palettes to equate to the harmonious musical chord where three notes are heard at one time, however she also notes that some palettes have “dynamic asymmetries”.


Margrethe Odgaard, Artist book, 2016 (crayons, markers, cotton paper, cardboard)

Source:- http://margretheodgaard.com/work_post/colour-diary-japan/?ref=w

I really love this idea, and the beautifully simple layout of the book. The placement of the colours on the page, so that they can all be seen next to each other is perfect. The designer has used both markers and pencil crayons, allowing her to translate something of the texture she is observing (smooth or grainy, for example), as well as the colour. It has inspired me to take some colours and a sketchbook in my bag with me to have a go at something similar. The brief descriptive labels showing whence the colour was derived are a nice feature, adding to the feeling that this is also a personal travel journal.

Margrethe muses on the question of cultural preferences and traditions in colour choices. Looking through her book, I can see palettes that I would think of as typically Japanese (browns, indigo blues, greys, teal and dark pinkish reds). There are other palettes where, for example, a dark burgundy and muted pink are enlivened by a coral. Some palettes are all dark or mid toned, others have a pale tone with two dark toned colours. Muted and pure hues jostle for attention. She plans to make similar ‘diaries’ for Brazil and Rwanda, and I’m sure that the palettes will be quite different in tone and saturation, with more bright, pure colours in both of those countries.

See this article on the Selvedge website about Margrethe Odgaard. As well as her solo designs, she also works with furniture designer Chris Halstrøm  of Included Middle producing functional and beautifully designed furniture and interior decoration, such as hanging embroideries.

[Edited 03/04/17:- thanks to Inger for finding this link to Margrethe Odgaard talking about her colour palette gathering activity.]

What can I learn from this designer?

  • abstract colour palettes from your environment (manmade as well as natural)
  • keep an ‘on-the-spot’ record of observed colours with a notebook and coloured pencils/markers
  • keep presentation and labelling simple, yet descriptive
  • think about ways of subdividing the palettes (natural versus manmade, for example)

Raw Color is a design company, owned by Daniera ter Haar & Christoph Brach, based in The Netherlands. They take an experimental approach to their work, focusing on materials and colour, and take their influences from graphic design and photography.

Raw Color, Graphic Time, 2016

Source:- http://www.rawcolor.nl/project/?id=475&type=ownProduction

The designers have made clocks with kinetic parts rather than moving hands. Sometimes a series of three faces, one each for hours, minutes and seconds; sometimes three moving, perforated parts that allow for patterns to form, interact and change as the timepiece moves. The designers have chosen very different colour palettes for each clock: one with black and white stripes on each of the three sections; another a series of three overlapping grid like forms with varying sizes of holes; a third has an analogous selection of turquoise/sea greens in layered rings. Each of these designs and colour palettes creates a different mood: fun, office-like, arty, sophisticated etc. The pattern can have meaning too: the dense pattern grids representing seconds; the medium density, minutes and the low density, hours. These clues allow the viewer to read the time without the need for numbers.


Raw Color, Mixology, created for Heimtextil Colour Trends 2015/2016

Source:- http://www.rawcolor.nl/project/?id=455&type=assignment

Heimtextil’s trend forecasting team commissioned Raw Colour to make four videos and some still images to illustrate their colour palette predictions for 2015/16. (Heimtextil is a trade fair for textiles.) They use the simple device of sheets of coloured paper and stop-motion animation to create interesting movement and interplay of colour.

The Mixology palette above contains clashing colours and muted shades, which I must admit to finding rather unpleasant. I don’t like muted colours such as the flesh tone pink near pure hues like the red and blue. However, having researched a number of designers’ use of colour, I see that it is common for them to include these seemingly disparate colour selections. I think it is because they create unexpected combinations that jar like dissonant musical chords, and perhaps grab more of the viewer’s attention than a harmonious, analogous palette.

What can I learn from these designers?

  • patterns can communicate information as well as looking decorative/interesting
  • movement allows layers of patterns to form new and changing interactions
  • experimentation and imagination can transform everyday objects into something original and engaging

The 1692 Colour Book is a hand painted and handwritten book called Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, although the text is in Dutch. It runs to c.800 pages. It was created by an artist called A Boogert in the year mentioned, and is thought to have been made as an educational resource, although only one copy is known to exist. It contains all the hues, (with different values), tones and tints that the maker could produce from the watercolour paint pigments available at that time, with notes on how to reproduce them. What a wonderful object! The online version of the book is not currently available, sadly. The modern versions are the Pantone colour guides.


A Boogert, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692, currently owned by Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence, France

Source:- http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/color-book/

What can I learn from this artist/writer?

  • the importance of keeping technical records
  • the usefulness of building a library of colour inspiration to refer to
  • a simple, but beautiful method of presentation

David Adey is an American artist, who lives and works in San Diego. His artwork are formed by setting himself constraints, as a metaphor for human life. He uses deconstruction and reconstruction techniques. (These techniques are relevant to an exercise in an upcoming part of my coursework).

David Adey, Swarm, 2007 (skin coloured sections punched from magazines, pinned to a foam panel)

Source:- http://www.davidadey.com/Swarm

This beautiful artwork is made from the found palette of human skin colours (he now works with google images in a similar way). I find this a very interesting idea, as I like to use ‘found’ colours in my own artwork. This says something more in its deliberate use of one source of material, taken together with the title of the piece, it points to overpopulation, mixing of races, and perhaps the harmony that could be found if there were no racism. Therefore, the linking of the source materials to a narrative gives added impact to an artwork. (Incidentally, I found skin tones very useful when constructing my recent pixelated collage).

The aforementioned collage prompted my tutor, Cari, to recommend the following artwork, in particular, to me.

David Adey, Anatomic Particulars (detail), 2007

Source:- http://www.davidadey.com/Anatomic-Particulars

This artwork is formed from 1 inch square, urethane plastic cubes, coloured with pigment and glitter, and configured into partial blocks up to 5 inches square. The colour palette, viewed with the hollows and protrusions, and the translucent character of the materials have the visceral quality of human flesh, suggesting both internal and external body parts. I like this piece a lot, with its abstract quality, self-imposed constraints, and considered use of colour, texture and media. Something to bear in mind when I am selecting colour palettes and media for my own work. David has now embraced the new technology of 3-D printing in more recent artworks, such as Hide, in which his body was subjected to a 3-D imaging device, the resulting information was converted into triangulated 2-D pieces (like a macabre jigsaw puzzle). These sections were split in half and reformed into a diptych of 2-D artwork, like a split human hide. Although in this case the artist has chosen a single creamy white colour to represent the skin, perhaps to focus attention on the Rorschach test-like, non-human look to the piece.

Sophie Smallhorn is an artist and consultant working in London. She “… explores the relationships between colour, volume and proportion.” The ‘Making‘ section of her website, shows her process: working with small colour chips/sticks/dots and colour samples in different media (yarns, vinyl, paint, printing pigments etc), and exploring different colour combinations and proportions, before translating these into her chosen media (eg, screenprints, or sculptures, or architectural features such as a coloured glass roof in London Victoria Station).

New work for Galerie Wenger 1

Sophie Smallhorn, work for Galerie Wenger, Cube 64/5, 2014

Source:- http://www.sophiesmallhorn.co.uk/works/new-recent/galerie-wenger/

In this series of work, the artist has constrained her medium to small cubes measuring approximately 36 mm cubed. These have been coloured, using different colour palettes in each sculpture. Sometimes the side is obscured, so you are left to wonder at what is hidden from view. The colours go from combinations of muted, analogous hues to bright contrasts. These mixtures of hues, values and saturation confuse the viewers’ eyes and minds, with the pure, saturated colours advancing and the muted, and darker value colours receding (compare the orange and dark blue-green in the example above, although placed next to each  other, the orange leaps forward, while the darker hue recedes). These optical illusions are further enhanced by the fact that the cube is incomplete in places.

ColourWare 1

Sophie Smallhorn, collaboration with Sebastian Bergne, Colourware, 2011 (Corian, wood, bronze, felt)

Source:- http://www.sophiesmallhorn.co.uk/works/new-recent/colourware/

The artist’s Colourware collection shows an interesting colour palette and use of pattern and surface qualities. The pale wood with its natural lines, knots and rings contrasts with the bright pops of colour from the felt and Corian. There are tiny injections of black and white marbled Corian; and shine from the smooth, reflective metal, creating an impression of cohesion with contrasts, in the repeated shapes (circles/rings/cylinders), and repeated and varied colour combinations.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • experiment with different colour palettes (actual colour chips) using different proportions, and materials with different surface qualities
  • consider repetition and variation in art and design work
  • saturation, value and hue can appear to change, depending on the placement of colours next to each other
  • a small injection of colour can enliven an otherwise ‘quiet’ and harmonious palette


To put my new knowledge into practice, I have begun to take photographs when I am out and about, such as the ones below of a walk at Talkin Tarn. I make collages of the colours that interest me and import them into Adobe Color CC software to highlight some possible colour palettes.



The three palettes shown at the top of this screenshot are derived from the photo collage above, focusing on different aspects of the images. The resulting palettes are certainly more subtle than my usual high contrast ones: lots of chromatic greys and muted pinks, purples and greens. These might have potential as inspiration for interior decor such as rugs, furnishing textiles, fashion accessories etc.

Here are two pages from my sketchbook showing the observed colours from two locations: a hospital waiting room and a lakeside walk. Using a limited selection of coloured pencils (I may start to include felt markers to give more contrast) means that I have to try my best to recreate the colour I’m seeing, with blends of colours optically mixing to produce an approximation of the correct colour. When I have enough samples to choose from, I will make a book like that of Margrethe Odgaard, shown earlier in this article. And to follow that artist’s example, I took some images of manmade colour palettes at IKEA today.



I have learnt:-

  • Colour palettes can be derived from numerous sources.
  • A variety of palettes (bright, muted, analogous etc) can be inspired by one source: by varying proportions, selections and combinations of hues, values and saturations.
  • Including jarring colours (such as muted values) in a palette can make a more exciting combination than gentle, analogous or purely contrasting, complementary combinations. However, selections will depend on the mood you wish to convey.
  • A technical record is a useful educational and inspirational resource for future work, and can be a beautiful object in its own right.
  • To link the narrative or meaning of an artwork to the media used, or to the source of the palette selections.




Christopher Jobson, 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book, on thisiscolossal.com, 5 May 2014, http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/color-book/

Nickie Shobeiry, Margrethe Odgaard, 12 January 2017, on Selvedge.org. http://www.selvedge.org/blog/?p=25206&utm_source=ALL+CONTACTS&utm_campaign=549d8123e5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4d59adca29-549d8123e5-55700417&mc_cid=549d8123e5&mc_eid=5bc8e82d5c Accessed 20/01/17


Hornung, D. and James, M. (2012) Colour: A workshop for artists and designers: A workshop for artists and designers. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.


http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/margrethe-odgaard-colour-diary-new-york Accessed 13/04/17

https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/ Accessed 20/01/17

http://www.e-corpus.org/notices/102464/gallery/ Accessed (in vain!) 20/01/17

http://www.davidadey.com Accessed 22/01/17

http://www.eyestorm.com/Pages/Magazine.aspx/NEW_ARTIST___%7C___INTRODUCING_SOPHIE_SMALLHORN/391 Accessed 25/01/17

https://www.google.co.uk/earth/ Accessed 18/01/17

http://www.halstrom-odgaard.com/ Accessed 20/01/17

https://heimtextil.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt/en/besucher/messeprofil.html Accessed 19/01/17

http://margretheodgaard.com/ Accessed 18/01/17

http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/index.aspx Accessed 20/01/17

http://www.rawcolor.nl/welcome/ Accessed 19/01/17

http://www.re-title.com/artists/david-adey.asp Accessed 22/01/17

http://sanneschuurman.com/ Accessed 17/01/17

http://www.sophiesmallhorn.co.uk/ Accessed 25/01/17

Research for Coursework Part 4 including my Yarn Research File

[Edited 26/03/17 following tutor feedback. Now includes the Yarn Research File here instead of as a separate page. Please see the end of the article for the artist/designer research].

Yarn Research File

Yarn’s role within the textiles discipline is to provide spun fibres to knit, weave or felt into textiles, which may be used in diverse sectors of business and industry. The type of yarn must be appropriate and suited to its end use, for example:- colour, thickness, texture, strength, water-resistance, performance, ease of care, handle, and special properties may all be important factors.

Yarn Design

Sources for Fibres

  • Derived from Plants (Minimal Processing):-
    • Abaca
    • Cotton
    • Flax
    • Hemp
    • Kapok
    • Nettle
    • Ramie
    • Sisal
  • Derived from Plants (Chemical Processing):-
    • Bamboo
    • Ingeo
    • Rayon
    • Soy silk
  • Derived from Animals/Insects
    • Silk
    • Sheep
    • Alpaca
    • Llama
    • Camel
    • Mohair
    • Angora
    • Cashmere
    • Other, less frequently used fibres are obtained from: qiviut, guanaco, buffalo, pygora, vicuna, dog and cat
  • Synthetic/Other
    • Acrylic
    • Fibre Blends: any mixture of two or more types of fibre
    • Elastane: my previous research on this fibre.
    • Lurex® is the registered name of a fibre owned by the Lurex Company Limited. It licences the use of its product and name to manufacturers to use in their products. The product is very adaptable and new innovations include  fluorescent, glow in the dark, reflective, holographic, translucent and iridescent yarns. A video about the product can be found here.LUREX RAINBOW LIGHTSource:- http://www.lurex.com/Inspiration
    • Microfibres (very fine fibres, used alone or in blends with other fibres)
    • Mylar
    • Nylon
    • Polyester
    • Synthetic Spider Silk
  • Protein/Cellulose-based Synthetic Fibres
    • Tencel (cellulose derived from wood pulp)
    • Viscose (can be from petro-chemicals or pine trees)
  • Suppliers of fibre/yarn for individual use

Issues and Considerations for Yarn Design and Manufacture

  • Ethical and Sustainability Issues (origin of the fibres, animal welfare, processing effects on the environment (pollution, water use, chemical use and disposal, deforestation etc), workers’ conditions, transportation, end of life recycling or disposal)
  • Properties/Capabilities (absorbent, breathable, durable or non-durable, conductive, insulating, waterproof, water repellent, coloured, drapable, easy to care for, colour-changing, recyclable, light- or heavy-weight)
  • Aesthetics (colour(s), method of combining, texture, repetition of pattern)
  • Application (surface decoration, knitted, woven, constructed textile)
  • Handle and Performance (softness, fullness, drape, movement, resillience – spring-back, affected by construction methods and finishes/treatments)
  • New Innovations (combinations of fibre with new technology, eg, electronics – sound, light, monitoring, communication, social interaction etc)

Yarn Manufacture

Fibres are cleaned and processed for spinning into yarns, then knitted or woven into textiles. Finishes (such as printing or water-proofing) can then be applied.

  • Spinners (link to article about the industrial spinning process, and its history) Link to further articles about industrial spinning. Link to hand spinning information and videos.
  • Worsted process – to make yarns with a smooth appearance, used for clothing such as suits, underwear, sportswear, etc. Long wool fibres from the back and sides of the sheep are used.
  • Woollen process – this system uses shorter fibres than the Worsted process, resulting in ‘hairier’ yarns, used in knitting wool and garments such as tweed jackets, fabrics for coats and Shetland jumpers.
  • New Innovations Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have an Advanced Textiles Research Group, whose aim is to “… improve knowledge and innovate in the science and engineering of fibre materials …”, which can then be marketed to industry. They have textile manufacturing and testing facilities and can call on a number of disciplines to inform their research. Increasingly, the integration of electronics is an important aspect of fibre technology. De Montfort University in Leicester has a similar department. Innovation in Textiles has up-to-date reporting about fibres and textiles.

Yarn Marketing

  • Cotton Incorporated is an organisation funded by US growers and importers of cotton and cotton textile products. Their aim is to increase demand for and profitability of cotton, through research and marketing activities. Their main areas of focus are:- cotton farming practices; fibre management (research into spinning, dyeing and finishing processes and product quality); testing raw materials and end products; developing ‘on trend’ products and communicating their knowledge and advice to mills, manufacturers and retailers in the cotton industry. They are aiming for “environmentally sustainable production” and have launched a program called “cotton LEADS™”to achieve this aspiration. It has some useful pages to consult about different types of textiles containing cotton and the benefits of using cotton.
  • INVISTA™ is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc. (The parent company also sells beef, fertilizers, building materials, electronic components, fuel etc). It operates in 20+ countries throughout The Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. It promotes the use of man-made fibres and end products, such as those made from nylon, spandex, polyester and other speciality materials. The full range of products can be found on this webpage. (Koch’s own products include: COOLMAX®, CORDURA® and THERMOLITE®).
  • The Campaign for Wool launched in London in October 2010, and now has events worldwide. It’s aim is to raise the profile of the variety of wool products available, with both retailers and the public, and to educate young designers about the benefits of using wool. The Prince of Wales is the patron. Their ‘About Wool‘ page lists the reasons why wool is such a versatile product: including:- its sustainability, biodegradability, insulating properties, resilience, etc. They also have a link to guidelines for wool-producing sheep welfare.
  • The Wool Lab This is a bi-annual brochure featuring a selection of the latest wool fabrics and yarns available. It presents samples of fabrics that tie into seasonal themes. The themes are informed by fashion, lifestyle requirements, pop culture trends, etc. A ‘mood board’ feel is created with colour charts and interesting images. The brochure is aimed at the textile industry (spinners, weavers, manufacturers), fashion professionals (designers) and retailers.The Woolmark Company which produces the publication is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, which represents the interests of sheep farmers in Australia. They promote Australian Merino wool.

Source: http://www.woolmark.com/globalassets/woolmark/inspiration/the-wool-lab/view-thepreview/ss1718/twl-preview-ss1718_landscape.jpg

  • Pitti Immagine Filati, Florence is a ‘trade only’ fair. Yarns are exhibited to fashion designers and buyers. Fashion At Work showcases exhibitors’ latest innovations in the fashion world (areas such as manufacturing, dyeing, finishing, notions and embellishments, style and trend consulting, etc). Knitclub features high quality knitting mills, where contacts can be made with firms for bespoke manufacturing. A short video gives a taste of what was on offer at the 2016 Show.
  • Yarn and Fabrics Sourcing Fair, Dhaka allows international manufacturers of yarn and clothing textiles to showcase their collections to the Bangladesh garment manufacturing trade.
  • Heimtextil International Trade Fair for Home and Contract Textiles, Frankfurt showcases the latest trends and products for interior textiles, interior design and interior trends. The exhibition halls are divided into sections for home textiles, household textiles products, and related services.
  • Spinexpo is a trade fair which will be exhibiting in shows in Paris, New York and Shanghai. This brochure features the latest collections of innovative yarns and shows an exciting way of presenting the products: with inspirational images, colour palettes with Pantone numbers, and close-up shots of the yarns and garments made from them, revealing the latest textures, colours and fibre blends.spinexplore_mag_september_2016-pdf-google-chrome-05012017-210350Source:- http://www.spinexpo.com/spinexplore/spinexplore_mag_september_2016.pdf

Uses in Industry

  • Aerospace industry (uniforms, protective clothing, aeroplane furnishing/carpeting; safety belts, in development: electronic textiles that can monitor structural integrity of aircraft)
  • Agriculture/Gardening (specialist weed-suppressant/mulching textiles; anti-bird netting; sacks for protecting and transporting plants, string/twine)
  • Architecture (fibres and textiles with electronic capabilites to monitor structures; “Buildtech” textiles: strong textiles (incorporating fibres made from carbon, glass and resin) are building components (in place of wood, steel, concrete etc). Such textiles are strong, flexible and light. Specially coated textiles may used for sunlight deflection).
  • Automotive Industry (safety belts, carpeting, seating covers; also future developments where textiles are integral to the bodywork where structure monitoring can take place).
  • Engineering (link to the Journal of Textiles Science and Engineering).
  • Fashion and Accessories (sportswear, outdoor wear, fashion clothing, luminous textiles, headwear, footwear, bags, jewellery)
  • Fishing (nets, lines, protective clothing, rope, sails, ship and boat furnishing/accessories, safety equipment such as life jackets).
  • Interior Decoration and Furnishings (Design inspiration research, seating covers, cushions, decorative accessories and art, room dividers, curtains and blinds, carpets and rugs, lampshades, bed linen, table linen, household linen, storage containers, protective covers).
  • IT/Technical (wearable computers, and communications devices, electronic components are increasingly being integrated with fibres and textiles).
  • Medical (surgical uses, bandages, support garments, gauzes, mosquito netting, protective clothing, clothing which can monitor vital signs, heated gloves for people with Raynaud’s disease, synthetic spider silk that can have medicine particles attached to it for precise delivery).
  • Military (embroidered fabric antenna that can be integrated into clothing to monitor staff location – also useful for search and rescue teams; potential for vital sign monitoring, detection of harmful gases and radiation, communications etc).
  • Sport (sportswear, clothing which can monitor performance, heated gloves).

Uses in the Arts and Crafts

Links to my research on:-

contemporary knitting

knitted textiles research

contemporary embroidery

designer research (furnishing, home goods, audio tape clothing)

textile artists (Part 2 Research)

textile artists (Part 3 Research)

drawing (including fibre work) (Assignment 1 Research)

Making Space Exhibition, Macclesfield 2016

Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, 2016

textile art at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

historical textiles and decorative arts at the National Museum of Scotland 2016

artists and designers using luminous textiles

American quilts (two book reviews)

textile jewellery

needlelace, felt pictures, performance costume (Embroiderers’ Guild talks)

Louise Bourgeois (Coursework Part 2 Research)

textile artist: Alison King lecture

performance costume: Alex Rigg exhibition

Pam Ducker exhibition (work of the late textile artist, working in patchwork, quilting and embroidery)

textile samples library (ongoing personal research into types of textiles)



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.


https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/research/document_uploads/134380.pdf Accessed 06/01/17

http://10times.com/unitedkingdom/textiles-fabrics/tradeshows Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/design/textiles/fibresrev1.shtml Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.campaignforwool.org Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.cottoninc.com Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/research-faculties-and-institutes/art-design-humanities/team/textile-engineering-and-materials-team.aspx Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.gaddumandgaddum.co.uk/silk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.georgeweil.com/Materials/Fibres/Fibres.aspx?Ref=3,66,-1,-1 Accessed 06/01/17

http://heimtextil.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt/en/besucher/willkommen.html?nc Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.innovationintextiles.com/textiles-in-architecture-materials-suppliers-for-building-and-construction/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.invista.com/en/index.html Accessed 05/01/17

http://joyofhandspinning.com/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.kochind.com/ Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.lurex.com Accessed 05/01/17

https://ntuadvancedtextiles.wordpress.com/ Accessed 06/01/17

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OliverTwistsFibres Accessed 06/01/17

https://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/textile-science-engineering.php Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.pittimmagine.com/en/corporate/fairs/filati.html Accessed 05/01/17

https://qz.com/708298/synthetic-spider-silk-could-be-the-biggest-technological-advance-in-clothing-since-nylon/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.scottishfibres.co.uk/acatalog/Fibres.html Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.spinexpo.com/ Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.theweaveshed.org/suppliers-services/yarn-suppliers-spinners/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.woolmark.com/inspiration/the-wool-lab/ Accessed 04/01/17

http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://yandfdhaka.com/ Accessed 05/01/17


Artist and Designer Research for Coursework Part 4

I visited Carlisle Library to see what I could find there on yarns and yarn manufacture. The following two books were available: Claydon, 2009 and Draper, 2013. Jennifer Claydon’s book focuses on traditional methods of spinning and dyeing different types of fibres, which will be useful if I decide to spin my own yarns in the future.

Jean Draper‘s book has some fine examples of linear media, showing knotting, binding, threading, dipping and embellishment.


Source: Draper, 2013 pp 32-38

Her textile art is mostly hand stitched and its method of creation involves forming structures and textures from linear media. Art work may be further developed by using earth to dye fabrics, and using clay slip, sanding and paint to emulate natural erosion. She is influenced by landscapes, plant life and the craft of people from SW America and Western Australia. Jean says, “My stitching is a form of drawing, an intensely physical activity; the actual process being as meaningful as the finished work.” I find that her process is very relevant to the work for this part of the course: drawing things that inspire and interest her, and translating those marks into stitch and both 2-D and 3-D forms. She discusses her work and process in more detail in an interview at Textileartist.org, where photographs of her some of her art work can be seen.

What can I learn from this artist? 

  • draw whatever interests you
  • study traditional techniques for inspiration
  • take an experimental approach

Ella Robinson is an artist working with mixed media including linear media. She makes decorative objects and sculpture; collections of found and arranged objects; altered furniture (mixing embroidery stitch with wood); and overlapping, patterned pieces, featuring repeating shapes cut from fabric, cork and other materials.

The artist is influenced by the British coast, graffiti and street art. Her style is strikingly graphic, with a focus on colour, pattern and texture. In the art work below, Ella highlights the contrasts between the dull, eroded wooden surface (?masculine) and the ‘feminine’, colourful, shiny threads. The wood is drilled to add repeated elements to the design, and the threads follow the natural contours of the wood.

Ella Robinson Canoe Cocktail, 2009. Stranded cotton and driftwood. 15 x 8 x 2.5cm.

Source:- http://ellarobinson.com/galleries/decorative%20objects.html

Ella Roinson Death By Jumbrella (detail), 2011. Five 2m poles wrapped with plastic lacing and tubing

Source:- http://ellarobinson.com/galleries/sculpture.html

Death By Jumbrella is a set of five decorated poles that can be displayed in a variety of ways, in a garden or park. The artist has played with the direction of wrapping, proportions of colour, placement of colour and a bright colour palette. The straight bands of colour stand out as manmade in a garden setting where more natural colours and organic shapes form a contrast. The use of colourful, smooth and shiny plastic materials contrasts with the texture of the wood, and is also appropriate to its end use of being displayed outdoors. To me, it evokes memories of deck chairs and the brightly coloured sweets I ate as a child – linking back to the seaside theme, although the title also suggests umbrellas. Not quite sure where the ‘death’ element comes in, unless it is in excess.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • use of contrasting materials
  • use of unusual materials (found objects, plastic, cork, wood etc)
  • use of a wide and varied colour palette
  • attention to direction of lines, proportions of colour and placement of colours

María Aparicio Puentes was born in, and works in Santiago, Chile. Her artwork involves stitching over images such as photographs after analysing them for “… geometries, rhythms, tensions … everything”. In an interview for Frankie Magazine, the artist describes using thread in this way as being very forgiving, as she can change her mind or overlay threads until she has the outcome she is aiming for, playing with the thickness of thread and density of stitch. She describes her interest in depicting:- “People and their relationship with the environment. Also working on the microscale of an object or clothing.”

Maria Aparicio Puentes, from the “Be Brilliant” series 2014, photographic paper and threads

Source:- http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/Be-brilliant

Maria Aparicio Puentes, Collaboration for Stage Fashion Magazine. Paris, France.
Model: Jakub Nowocien. The Right Stuff Agency.
Photographs: Alessandra d’Urso.

Source:- http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/07-1

The stitch gives a new dimension and layers of new meaning to the photographic image. In the image above, one can read the stitch as thoughts, music, aura, maybe even personality or actions.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • altering an existing object to give new depth and meaning
  • reacting to the qualities (such as pattern or form) of an image or object to be altered
  • sparing and focused use of stitch drawing attention to one area of interest in an image

Anton Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean artist, currently based in Stockholm. His art is concerned with “… the design of systems and the creation of tools and processes for producing products, objects and architecture.”

This interview and video of his artistic process (including an amazing thread wrapping machine!) on Artsy show him and his assistant wrapping objects such as stools with brightly coloured bands of thread for his exhibition, Wrapsody. Visitors could view the creation of the objects, as well as the completed pieces. They could also contribute objects for wrapping. The machine adds glue with paint mixed in, as it wraps the pieces with thread.

Anton Alvarez, One of a series of objects illustrating ‘The Craft of Thread Wrapping

Source:- http://antonalvarez.com/The-Craft-of-Thread-Wrapping

Anton Alvarez, The latest version of the thread wrapping machine, working on larger scale pieces

Source:- http://antonalvarez.com/Thread-Wrapping-Architecture

The artist seems to be particularly interested in the making process. The finished objects are visually interesting with their mixture of paint and thread on a 3-D object, sometimes these are recognisable pieces such as chairs, at other times, forms such as arches or blocks. In a Telegraph article he says: “I forced myself not to think about the outcome… It was important to me to maintain a level of abstraction, to not get too distracted by elements of functionality, beauty or tradition.” His interest, seems to me, to be questioning the need for a human hand in the making of art, and exploring the creation process as performance, as did the abstract expressionist work of Jackson Pollock. Anton’s more recent work is in ceramics, made automatically by an unattended machine that slowly extrudes clay through a template with holes in the shapes of letters. Although I don’t have a machine as exciting as these, I do have a new (second-hand) sewing machine that might be brought to use in the current coursework of making linear media. These are exciting art works to contemplate, but if the process eventually becomes fully automated, where is the hand of the artist? Having the idea, that is then manufactured harks back to Andy Warhol’s “Factory” method of production.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • experiment with scale
  • focus on the process as much as the final outcome
  • create an interesting story that will engage viewers and journalists

Raw Edges is a design company run by Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay. The pair met in Israel, studied at the Royal College of Art and now work in London. They have produced an interesting furniture line (amongst many other designs), The Coiling Collection out of thick felt, which has been coiled and telescoped to produce a bowl-like structure, which is mounted on wood, or has a wooden surface in the case of the tables. The felt is coated with silicone in places (adding strength, structure, cohesion and decoration). The rug consists of strips of felt placed in coiling parallel rows and set into silicone.

Raw Edges, The Coiling Collection, 100% wool felt, wood, silicone.

Source:- http://www.raw-edges.com/#/coilingcollection/

The designers have a good sense of humour and inquisitiveness that shows in their work. The colour palette they have chosen for this collection includes bright, fun hues, in solid blocks or stripes, paired with the natural wood or the white of the silicone, this echoes the feeling of playfulness. These pieces remind me strongly of the standing wool rugs I have seen, and in fact have made some small versions as trivets and wall hangings. Also a technique that Australian textile artist, Louise Wells used in her piece made from coiled neck ties, Honouring Good Men. The materials used are appropriate to the meaning behind the art work.

Louise Wells, Honouring Good Men, 2014, 165 re-purposed neck ties

Source:- http://louisewells.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Honouring-Good-Men.jpg

 What can I learn from these designers?

  • combining materials for functional and aesthetic reasons
  • playing with materials to come up with new forms
  • experimenting with scale

Michael Brennand-Wood is an artist working in textiles, with a particular focus on fusing inspiration from both historical and contemporary spheres, in particular 3-D line, structure and pattern. He has worked in areas often eschewed by contemporary textile artists, such as embroidery, lace and floral artworks, such as the piece below.

Wasn't born to follow

Michael Brennand-Wood, Wasn’t Born To Follow, 2004

Source:- http://brennand-wood.com/michael.html

Michael’s artworks such as the one above may include mixed media, eg, machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage. Viewing the image one thinks of abundance, gardens, kaleidoscopic images (except that the image has variations rather than being perfectly symmetrical), spinning and twirling, perhaps with a link to childhood games and the remembered summers of youth.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Michael Brennand-Wood, Flower Head – Narcissistic Butterfly 60 dia x 40 cm, 2005

Source:- http://brennand-wood.com/pics/063.html

In this artwork, the artist has given fairly 2-D floral images a 3-D aspect by mounting them on ?wires above a bejewelled mirror. The pattern of arrangement echoing the form of a flower or seed head. I presume that anyone leaning over to examine the piece will find themselves reflected in the mirror, thus becoming the ‘narcissistic butterfly’ of the title.

Another piece by this artist, Little Black Egg, was illustrated in the coursework and shows a black and white striped cord (which reminds me of an old-fashioned electrical cord, such as those found on irons), arranged into a fairly 2-D, rough egg shape on a pedestal. The cord loops, overlaps, and changes direction like a fast scribble on a page, and I can imagine that this piece may have started life as such a drawing.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • study traditional techniques, but include modern advances and media in your artwork
  • pattern with variation is more visually arresting than pure repetition
  • consider secondary and tertiary levels of pattern within a design, ie, layers of interest

Vadis Turner is an American artist working with re-used textiles in a painterly fashion. Her artworks reference gender roles and what was traditionally women’s work from a modern angle.

Vadis Turner, Precipitation, 2013, 60in x 84in x 4in, (ribbon, dyed textiles, acrylic paint and mixed media)

Source:- http://www.vadisturner.com/#mpf-popup@http://www.vadisturner.com/wptest/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/precipitation_sized.jpg|1448|54e663d44c373

Vadis Turner, Swamp, 2013, 7ft x 6ft x 6in, (fabric, ribbon, mixed media)

Source:- http://www.vadisturner.com/#mpf-popup@http://www.vadisturner.com/wptest/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Turner_V_01.jpg|54|54e663d44c373

I admire the artist’s use of colour and descriptive line direction, with varied sizes of ‘mark’ in these artworks. The recycling of materials is also a pleasing aspect, that I try to include in my own work. With respect to my current coursework, her manipulation of media is relevant (eg, using paint or bleach to change the colour and texture of the textiles). Other pieces by Vadis include textiles combined with resin, ash and/or twigs to create different textures and effects).

What can I learn from this artist?

  • vary the lines (thickness, direction, type) to add movement and visual interest to a piece
  • alter materials to fit your requirements
  • combine unusual media with textiles

If you want something a bit different, Jane Bowler is the go-to designer for bridal wear. The bridal collection includes pieces in a traditional colour palette of white, but combined with gold and flesh tones. The dresses and headpieces again combine tradition (net tulle, macramé knotted textiles, lace) with contemporary materials and geometric grids of ‘chain mail’, metal connectors, PVC shapes, chains etc.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/13

Source:- http://www.janebowler.co.uk/pages/aw-13

The ‘armour’ of this headpiece is constructed from silver jumprings connecting soft PVC triangles. The connections allow the material to drape and move with the wearer. The effect is like a space-age warrior princess.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/16

Source:- http://www.janebowler.co.uk/pages/aw16

This dress combines the flexible grid of PVC shapes with a macramé skirt featuring fringing and beads.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • a simple colour palette can be brought to life by using a mixture of textures
  • connect pieces of harder material together with connectors that allow drape and movement
  • combine different scales of pattern within one piece
  • mix traditional media and techniques with modern ones

Working from Edinburgh, Hannah Camp‘s company, Trail of Yarn, produces simple, functional, contemporary Scottish textile designs.

Her werkstof collection of woven textiles designed for interiors was derived from a ‘library of textures’ inspired by art from Japan, Scandinavia, and from Bauhaus style. The colour palette is simple: blues, greys, and yellow.

The created sketches and images of textures are imported into software, where the designer can explore different colour arrangements, scales and pattern repeats before sending the finalised designs to a Jacquard loom for manufacture.


Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the werkstof collection

Source:- http://hannahcamp.com/collection/#/werkstof/


Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the 554 Collection, bow tie with inspirational drawings

Source:- http://hannahcamp.com/collection/#/the-554/

The 554 is a collection of hand woven accessories in a palette of blues, greys and yellow to “…capture the urban textures of transport”.

I like the way in which the designer has displayed the finished piece with the inspirational images, and this will feed into the way I present my yarn samples for this coursework and assignment. I also admire her simplicity of design, enlivened by texture and touches of vibrant colour.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • take inspiration from everything and anything around you, including the work of other artists and other cultures
  • derive expressive and simple palettes from your inspirations
  • keep a library of inspirational images to inform artwork colour palettes and textures

French designers (and brothers), Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec design:- small objects, such as jewellery; make designs for interiors; architecture; drawings; videos; and photography. They stress the importance of experimental research and development for informing their work.

Studio Bouroullec, one of Seventeen Screens, 2016

Source:- http://www.bouroullec.com/?p=296

The Seventeen Screens are made in a wide range of media encompassing:- textiles, ceramics, metal, wood, elastic etc. The screen shown in the image above is a simple grid, enlivened by repeated pattern in a striking, but limited, colour palette. Other pieces are made from embroidered textile or strung ceramic forms. Some screens are a single sheet of material, others are formed from many individual pieces hanging freely like a bead curtain; yet others are joined with cross pieces of cord or elastic to form a flexible grid; or metal dowels which allow for a geometric construction which could be configured in a number of ways. All of them form a functional room divider, with opaque and transparent areas.

Paul Tahon and R & E Bouroullec, Vegetal chair: Blooming, 2008

Source:- http://www.bouroullec.com/?p=296

These gorgeous chairs show an updated tradition of basing chair designs on natural plant forms. Similar to the screens shown above, the formation of a structure from linear elements is of interest to me in part of the coursework. The chair seat is formed from a functional grid of lines of polyamide: they appear to cross and diverge like the branches of a tree.

What can I learn from these designers?

  • experiment with materials, combinations of materials, and configurations
  • pay attention to ways of joining materials – the join can be a design feature adding to the pattern
  • bring a contemporary slant to your work


This research highlights the importance in design of exploring:- contrasts; colour palettes; ways of joining different media; direction and ‘movement’ of line within the work; methods for altering materials; creating and layering patterns; scale; presentation; and the narrative behind the work.



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.

Draper, J. (2013) Stitch and structure: Design and technique in two and three-dimensional textiles. London: Batsford.


http://www.antonalvarez.com Accessed 11/01/17

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-anton-alvarez-brings-his-giant-thread-wrapping-machine Accessed 11/01/17

http://brennand-wood.com Accessed 13/01/17

http://ellarobinson.com Accessed 09/01/17

http://www.frankie.com.au/blogs/art/artist-interview-maria-aparicio-puentes-photo-embroidery Accessed 10/01/17

http://www.jackson-pollock.org/ Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.janebowler.co.uk Accessed 15/01/17

http://louisewells.com/ Accessed 12/01/17

http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/ Accessed 10/01/17

http://www.raw-edges.com/ Accessed 12/01/17

https://en-gb.facebook.com/Standingwoolrugs/?ref=page_internal Accessed 12/01/17

http://hannahcamp.com Accessed 15/01/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/andy-warhol-2121 Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/design/103342/anton-alvarezs-alphabet-aerobics-exhibtion-opens.html Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.textileartist.org/jean-draper-interview-hand-stitched-landscapes/ Accessed 08/01/17

http://textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/jean-draper/ Accessed 08/01/17

http://www.vadisturner.com/ Accessed 15/01/17