Devon Guild Summer Show

The Summer Show, the annual exhibition of work by the Devon Guild of Craftsmen membership is on at their Bovey Tracey gallery until 4th September 2016.

This year’s show has no specific theme and features a particularly wide range of exciting work. Wai-Yuk is represented by her “Taunton Kimono”.

Devon Guild Summer Show

Private View

The Summer Show Private View

If you have the chance to be in South Devon over the next month, try to get along to see a very fine selection of the best in contemporary craft.

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Riverside Mill, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9AF
Open seven days a week – 10.00am to 5.30pm.

The Taunton Kimono -part 2

This is the second post covering the making of a silk dyed Kimono for the “Imprints” exhibition at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

Detail of the finished Kimono showing the Shibori textures

Detail of the finished Kimono showing the Shibori textures

Stage two of painting the silk involved adding detail and richer colours to the design.

Fossil ammonites were used as motifs to add detail

Fossil ammonites were used as motifs to add detail

While the Rhinoceros teeth were my main inspiration, many other items in the museum fossil hall were used as inspiration for decorative details. These included ammonites, crinoids (also called sea lilies), gryphaea (devil’s toenails) and the ribs of an ichthyosaur. Some fossil cabinets had photographs of coral as a background, and these too found a place in the decorative scheme. Even the colour scheme of the Kimono was originally inspired by a picture of a red desert scene on the end wall of a display.

Fossil Crinoids or

Fossil Crinoids or “sea lilies” were another source. The dye didn’t work as planned, and so some of the fine detail was lost

The long white bars were inspired by a cluster of fossil ichthyosaur ribs

The long white bars were inspired by a cluster of fossil ichthyosaur ribs

At this point the front of the Kimono was lagging behind the back view

At this point the front of the Kimono was lagging behind the back view

Here the garment is pinned up prior to the second steaming

Here the garment is pinned up prior to the second steaming

Some of the detail and colour intensity was lost in the second steaming process. This was partly due to my unfamiliarity with the dyes, but mostly due to fact that the silk was just too lightweight to take intense dye easily. If I make another Kimono like this I will certainly use a much heavier silk.

Adding stitches for Shibori knotting

Adding stitches for Shibori knotting to create texture (click to enlarge)

Texture was added to the silk using Shibori knotting techniques. First the areas to be textured were stitched

Stitching a different pattern

Each thread was then pulled tight and knotted before the fabric was steamed again to set the creases

Each thread was then pulled tight and knotted before the fabric was steamed again to set the creases

Fully knotted silk ready for steaming

Fully knotted silk ready for steaming

After the final steaming to fix the texture, all the Shibori threads had to be carefully removed before the Kimono could finally be assembled.

Assembling the garment. The main body panels were nearly 4 metres long and everything was hand stitched

Assembling the garment. The main body panels were nearly 4 metres long and everything was hand stitched

Preparing the silk lining material

Preparing the silk lining material

The Taunton Kimono

The Taunton Kimono

The “Imprints” exhibition is on at the Museum of Somerset, Taunton Castle, Castle Green, Taunton, from 10th October 2015 to 2nd January 2016.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm

The Taunton Kimono -part 1

The Taunton Kimono – part 1

A couple of years ago The South West Textile Group arranged a future exhibition at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The long time scale and the chance to exhibit in a beautiful space made me decide to take on a major piece of work. I have long wanted to tackle making a Kimono and this seemed the perfect opportunity. The project proved to be a long and steep learning curve, but on October 9th I got to see my piece (now known simply as “The Taunton Kimono”) on display at the private view of the “Imprints” exhibition.

My Kimono on display at the entrance to the

My Kimono on display at the entrance to the “Imprints” exhibition at the Museum of Somerset

All the work in the exhibition was to be inspired by items or displays in the Museum of Somerset permanent collection, so a day trip to the Museum was the starting point for everyone. A tour around the collection begins with the fossil gallery. It was here that I found the objects upon which I wanted to base my design. One was a 55,000 year old fossil Woolly Rhinoceros skull which featured the most amazing teeth. The serpentine graphic shapes of these teeth just begged to be reused in a piece of art, and the fact that the skull had been dug up just a few hundred meters from the museum seemed to make it even more appropriate.

The 55,000 year old woolly rhinoceros skull at the Museum of Somerset

The 55,000 year old woolly rhinoceros skull at the Museum of Somerset

Design work began with sketches based on photographs taken at the museum. (In the end I almost filled a couple of sketchbooks with ideas big and small.) These led on to a large number of watercolour sketches where I began to get an idea of the colour scheme I wanted to explore.

Watercolour sketch exploring ideas for the Kimono design.

Watercolour sketch exploring ideas for the Kimono design.

Preparatory watercolour sketch

Preparatory watercolour sketch

Work on the Kimono itself started with a full-sized line drawing that was then transferred on to the silk.

The final design was drawn out full size on pattern paper

The final design was drawn out full size on pattern paper

Transferring the design to the silk using a fugitive ink pen

Transferring the design to the silk using a fugitive ink pen

I had originally planned to use exclusively Shibori techniques to decorate the fabric, but the silk I had was too lightweight and too prone to bleed along the satin fibres to be reliably dyed using these methods. I therefore resorted to conventional silk-painting techniques and used Shibori purely for texturing.

The silk was pinned to purpose made frames and the design was divided up using water-based gutta resist

The silk was pinned to purpose made frames and the design was divided up using water-based gutta resist

Using a hairdryer to selectively dry the dye allowed the creation of tonal variation

Using a hairdryer to selectively dry the dye allowed the creation of tonal variation

The two halves of the Kimono were developed together to ensure a good match

The two halves of the Kimono were developed together to ensure a good match

My husband Alex was heavily involved in the project throughout. As well as helping with both the design and execution, he also made the painting frames with rollers on each end to cope with the long fabric lengths. His other great contribution was in making a really good steamer to fix the colours. He simply fixed an aluminium tube to the top of a large saucepan, with a hollow tube suspended down the centre around which the silk was rolled.

The silk was steam fixed in a steamer made by my husband Alex

The silk was steam fixed in a steamer made by my husband Alex

After the first round of painting and steaming, the pieces were pinned together to see the effect

After the first round of painting and steaming, the pieces were pinned together to see the effect

The “Imprints” exhibition is on at the Museum of Somerset, Taunton Castle, Castle Green, Taunton, from 10th October 2015 to 2nd January 2016.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm

My next post will cover the remaining part of the Kimono making process.

The Taunton Kimono – part 2

Embroidered Dragons

I love Chinese dragons! Unlike the fearsome dragons in the West, which must be battled and slain, the Chinese versions are, if not friendly, at least not threatening.  Here a few representations of Chinese dragons in embroidery.

Imperial court robe (V&A museum)

Imperial court robe (V&A museum)

Most of the dragons here are imperial dragons, symbols of the Emperor himself. During the final Chinese dynasty, the Qing period from 1644 to 1911, the dragon could be found on almost every piece of Imperial clothing and regalia. This may have been due to the foreign Manchu rulers feeling that they had to constantly assert their legitimacy by using this very Chinese symbol of rule.

Dragons on an Imperial Parasol (Forbidden City, Beijing)

Dragons on an Imperial Parasol (Forbidden City, Beijing)

Many of these textile pieces are Imperial clothing and accoutrements from the V&A museum and the Forbidden City in Beijing. While these dragons vary in colour there is a sameness running through them as if the makers were very careful that the forms and expressions of their creatures matched the required type.

Imperial court robe (V&A museum)

Imperial court robe (V&A museum)

Other dragons that are not from the Imperial household are much more varied, often with wonderful, mad expressions as they manically chase their flaming pearls.

Dragons chasing a flaming pearl (Taoist priest's robe, V&A museum)

Dragons chasing a flaming pearl (Taoist priest’s robe, V&A museum)

Big New Bag

My daughter Isla said she needed a new large-sized bag to hold all her things when she went to work. When I hear something like this of course, I think about creating something, rather than a trip to the shops.

Big strong and secure - a functional tote bag

Big strong and secure – a functional tote bag

I had a large piece of artificial snake-skin leather material that was looking for a role in life, so I set to work and produced this big chunky item with lots of inside pockets and a strong zip to keep everything secure.

I put a lot of effort into the interior, with discrete pockets and nice finish

I put a lot of effort into the interior, with discrete pockets and nice finish

I am not sure if this style is in line with current fashions but Isla will have a good practical bag with a unique design. The size of the body is approximately 30mm X 46mm (12″ X 18″).

I could not resist adding a few signature touches of decoration!

I could not resist adding a few signature touches of decoration!

That is one more enjoyable project completed using only materials I had at home. Though it meant a day or so without getting any jewellery work done, I think it was well worth the time spent and its at least part of a birthday present problem sorted out!

One-off items are such fun to make!

One-off items are such fun to make!

Related Post: Some Textile Work as a Break from Making Textiles!

Kingfisher Embroidery

A lot of my work used to feature hand embroidery. The picture I am featuring here is a fabric collage of a woodland scene, complete with a hand-embroidered kingfisher, that I completed several years ago. I must apologise for the photographs not being as good as they should be.

"Kingfisher" - fabric collage with hand embroidery

“Kingfisher” – fabric collage with hand embroidery

Unfortunately, I used lots of rather coarse mesh to adjust large areas of the background which looks OK in real life but refuses to photograph well. The camera seems to be able to “see through” the mesh without registering the change in tone that eyes do.

I was very pleased with the kingfisher, which was stitched quite boldly

I was very pleased with the kingfisher, which was stitched quite boldly

Detail of the kingfisher's wing

Detail of the kingfisher’s wing

Size of the picture: 450mm X 350mm; size of the kingfisher is approximately 165mm X 170mm

TAFA List

I recently became a member of the Textile and Fiber Art list. This is a fairly young but very impressive organization dedicated to helping textile artists access the power of the web by working collectively. TAFA now has over 400 members from 35 countries. Each member has their individual profile page on the TAFA website, which is based on the idea of linking all the various presences an individual has on the web in on place.

The images here are just a tiny glimpse of the work to be found on TAFA.

Leaves - A hooked wool wall hanging by Hana Rosenmann Leaves – A hooked wool wall-hanging by Hana Rosenmann

By going to my profile on TAFA, you can see the work currently for sale in my Etsy shop, view my Flickr slideshow, check out my location on a world map and access direct links to my Facebook, Etsy, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr accounts, plus my website and this blog. It is a very well thought out solution which must be a great model that many other organizations could follow. In addition to the main website, TAFA also has a presence on Facebook, etc., as well as running an Etsy group.

Colourful felted and crochet handbag by Renate KirkpatrickColourful felted and crochet handbag by Renate Kirkpatrick

The driving force behind TAFA is its founder Rachel Biel who supplied a great deal of assistance in getting me up and running on the site. Rachel is a great believer in the power that comes from people working together and has clearly put in a great effort to make her vision a reality. As well as trying to build a successful business model for individual craftspeople, the organization also pays a lot of attention to issues such as fair trade, sustainability and the environment.

Rachel Biel is the driving force behind TAFARachel Biel is the driving force behind TAFA

If you have an interest in textile art then the TAFA list is something you definitely should explore. All the members are professional artists and the work is both very diverse and of high quality. Walk in the woods - A felted picture by Stacy PolsonWalk in the woods – A felted picture by Stacy Polson