As you're reading, I'm actually at the New Designers graduate show in London, setting up my area of the Glyndwr University stand. With any luck my displays have made it in one piece! More about that later.
I've been studying a part-time MA in Design Practice since October 2011. Around the same time, I was one of the first to start Rachael's Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design e-course.
As a textiles graduate of the pre-digital era, I spent the first year of my MA updating my skills in surface pattern design (thanks to 3 modules of ABSPD!) creating drawn, painted and cutwork motifs which I manipulated in Photoshop and Illustrator for various commercial markets. I began freelancing and developed my own collection, which I now sell online.
|Eco-friendly printed products from my 'Folk Flora' collection, available to buy from Folksy|
For my final MA project however, I chose to rediscover hand made surface pattern design as a balance for my computer based work. I believe passionately in natural materials and enjoy working in relationship with thread, cloth and dye using unpredictable, ancient and sustainable techniques, which demand I relinquish control.
|Shibori resist silk dyed in wild camomile flowers, madder root and rhubarb then modified with solutions of rust - hence my lovely fingernails!|
I shifted my focus from the requirements of designing for a client and product, to creating purely for the pleasure of the process, without design, taking inspiration from the materials themselves. The MA gave me the luxury to delve deep into my own creative process, to find what it is I really love to do, so I decided to take the opportunity while I had it!
|I got into quite a bit of trouble for using all my beloved's large pans and even dyed my linen shirt in our copper kettle!|
I had great fun exploring wild flower, root and bark fabric dyes, Japanese Shibori resist techniques and narrative hand embroidery. Each unique result inspired my hand sewn embellishments, from a simple running stitch around complex patterns to more intricate philosophical graffiti that I embroidered into pictures and text.
|Pages from my sketchbook where I've worked into the dyed patterns with embroidery, recalling my early childhood memories in St. Ives, Cornwall.|
I thought I loved colour before beginning this process but I realised I had probably never seen natural colour, only its flat, more perfect, chemical equivalent. Botanical dyes offer a beautiful complexity, especially in daylight, that is impossible to reproduce synthetically. There is a wise, sustainable provenance to the cloth, which honours the slow pleasure of making and infuses the garment with a subtle, natural aroma.
|Cloudgazer Treehugger Silk Scarf - appliquéd silk letters embroidered on to scarf dyed in madder root and modified with ammonia|
If you're in London this week from 26th - 29th June, you can come and visit my exhibition at the New Designers graduate show. It's at the Business Design Centre, Islington. I'm the maverick textile designer in amongst the ceramics, glass and jewellery in the Contemporary and Applied Arts section (long story!) up on the right hand side gallery on stand CAA20 (Glyndwr University). I'm a little worried that all you SPD and textile enthusiasts won't venture upstairs, so hopefully this will convince you to come and say hello! If you are coming, you can get a discounted ticket with the code: NDEXHIBITOR1
In the meantime, you can check out my artsthread portfolio, visit my blog, where I'll be posting in more depth about the techniques, thrills and spills I've been having or pop along to my website. I'll be running eco-textile and yoga retreats soon and if you like my new 'Lose Yourself Retreats' facebook page, you'll have the chance of winning a free place. Have a great week! Justine x