Monday, 19 July 2010

Time to reflect

geraniums in the garden

I have now returned form my second London show- New Designers 2010 -which I found very inspirational. The standard of the work there was extremely high and it really encourages you to push yourself within your own work. I had some interest shown in my work and made some contacts which was really encouraging. I have since had time to reflect and organise my future work practises. To be true to one's own ideas and inspirations is the ultimate goal. I have an inkling of what my next set of designs will be based on, but will let it simmer along a bit more for now.

Monday, 28 June 2010


I have returned from Graduate Fashion Week last month, which was all very exciting and nerve racking at the same time.
There was some interest shown in my work which was encouraging. My decision to showcase some of my extra designs within a sample book (that I recycled from the upholsterer who recovered my chair) was very successful and made my work look very professional.
Our stand was put together using our pattern cutting tables and some old science glass bottles/jars to create the idea of our mixing the old with the new, regenerating constantly. The result was a very dynamic and diverse display of our students work.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Presentation day

On Monday I did a professional presentation about my work and future plans to a group of year two's and the tutors. For once I actually had my name as first on the list (my surname starts with a V)so that was brilliant. I found that I did not have so much time to get nervous, so it went better than usual, I probably did talk a little fast, but I felt (hopefully) that I managed to get across my passion for drawing and nature. Showing my work alongside the presentation really helped as it showed how I had developed my designs over a period of time. The picture of my chair with the chicken in it always goes down well, something about animals seems to make people smile. I will now have to get on and approach all those companies with my CV as I said I would.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Paperwork and Presentations

I am currently attempting to sort out my file for the PDP module and the powerpoint presentation which is quite a large proportion of the final mark......I have been concentrating on the practical screenprinting aspect of my work, so this side of my work gets put aside. To make a marvellous coherent presentation is my aim, but invariably I stand up and forget my name...but the powerpoint side is looking good, I have chosen to omit a lot of the writing from the slides as when it is shown on a laptop I will probably be unable to read them (as I am now the proud owner of 2 pairs of glasses, having one for reading!) Making sure that I cover all the learning outcomes is really important, as I know I sometimes stray a bit. This time tomorrow it will be all over with, then I can concentrate on all the other aspects of my final major project, which I feel is progressing rather well. There have been a few changes made in the past week, which I need to consider...

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Reflecting on my designs

These are some of initial screen printing designs, which came from my studies of winter flowers and silhouettes. My first foray into colour was somewhat brighter than it is now , as I have gradually evolved and altered it. The designs themselves don't really line up very well or use the space as well as they do now. This has been a steep learning curve for me, as I last attempted screenprinting back in Year 1, which although achieving a reasonable result at the time it, I was not overly convinced me of the possiblities that I could acheive with this process.

The other day at college when I was laying out my fabrics for a selection process to try and deduce the best line up, I realised that my work has really evolved a great deal and designs which I originally very pleased with have faded into the background almost as other designs have come forward.My colour scheme has become much more harmonious and my placement of the designs has also improved considerably. My screenprinting skills have improved a great deal, even to the point of now being able to manouver the much heavier wooden framed screens, which I had previously found far too cumbersome. I am up to date with my current schedule of work and plan to keep printing for as long as possible to acheive the best results from my designs. After much consideration I decided to call my collection "Fragile Things" as it is based on botanical drawings of plants in winter, which can often be far more fleeting and fragile due to the harsh weather, but can also be more delicate and beautiful at the same time.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The chair is finished...

I have finally picked up my chair from the Upholster's. It was really nerve racking leaving the fabric, that I had screenprinted by hand with him last week. I almost wanted to cut it up for him...I think I am used to doing everything myself and getting another person involved leaves you feeling a bit unsettled, as you lose a bit of the control process.
After collecting my images from the photographer at college (more on that later) and yet another bout of screenprinting, I finally returned to my hometown to collect my chair. It was just as I wanted it to be, with beautiful dark legs set against the oatmeal coloured linen. The foiled part of the design glistened and caught the light in a very subtle way, contrasting well against the black printed treestars. In all the whole design for the chair has materialised really well, resulting in a contemporary, yet natural looking organic design.
The decision to photograph it in my garden alongside one of the chickens (Tilly), whose feather colours were part of my colour story, was deliberatly natural looking, as I did not want it "staged" within a sterile photographic studio. So phew, one more thing to cross off my action plan for this project!

Very Sanderson -150 years of English Decoration

Whilst in London for the New Designers' preparation day, I took the opportunity to visit the Sanderson's exhibition at the Fashion & Textile museum in Bermondsey Street. This was an exciting display of their archive material, moving on to the present day. They had chosen to reconstruct the display layout used in the 1950's using some of the original designs from that era, these worked extremely well alongside a selection of designs that were reintroduced from their archives to celebrate their 150 years anniversary. I have found their range of designs to be very inspiring and influential within my own work. To see the breadth and scale of some of their designs up close and read the information explaining the way the design evolved was extremely helpful.

Petula Clark in her swiss chalet, 1976.

The designs from the 1970's made me reminisce as my late father (he was a painter and decorator) was well known for his love of clashing bold colours and there was not a wall left unpapered in our house when I was growing up, let alone our matching painted skirting boards and doors!

One of the features of the exhibition was a display of shoes in a glass case made from Sanderson's fabric, the design was reintroduced from the 1890's. They were by footwear designer Tracy Neuls (she collaborated with contemporary artist Nina Saunders, alongside Sanderson's back in February, when she opened her shop TN29 in time to coincide with London Fashion Week). They were a stunning use of the vintage design over a 3D surface. Sanderson are again forging links with current contemporary designers and artists and encouraging innovative design.

Friday, 30 April 2010

From patterns to quilts

I came across this designer as she was featured on the, which was originally given to us when I started the blog. This blog is a source of endless inspiration and the person who runs it and updates it constantly deserves a medal. I do sometimes wonder when they sleep.
The afore mentioned designer produces patterns for fabric, quite bold and modern, almost graphic in style. You can see a bit of Orla Kiely in there and a 1960's influence in the strong single colour designs. Whilst reading this designer's blog she mentioned some quilts made with her fabric designs, by a lady called Ashley.
I love the name of her web site, as my brother used to be a photographer when I was a teenager, so I know all about storing camera film in strange places...This person makes the most beautiful quilts in a lovely selection of fabrics some more modern than others, beautifully pieced together, with what appears to be an almost unbroken line of quilting across it. On the backs of the quilts which are often left plain, she has chosen to adorn them with some of same pieces from the front in a block formation.

The location that she chose to photograph her latest quilt in was quite unusual, but I felt it worked really well and gave a more modern look, to what is often viewed as old fashioned pastime.
Within my final major project, I plan to have a quilt made of my remaining samples, as the best ones will be bound into a sample book.

Pick Me Up exhibition

There is an exhibition of graphic art on at Somerset House in London at the moment. Rob Ryan has currently moved his studio there for the duration of the show, so people can see an artist in situ so to speak.I recently read a comment by Rob Ryan where he admitted that he was not sure if he was a graphic artist really. In reality the lines between graphic designers and pattern/textile designers are often blurred with many people overlapping in each direction. Is it really so necessary to label people just to define them anyway? Personally I think it is worthwhile keeping an open mind on these matters.

New Designers Visit

A few other students and myself went along to Islington recently for the meeting about the New Designers show (Preparation Day) in July.
This definately made it all seem a lot more real for us, as for the past few years I have always gone along to look at all the other student's fantastic work- to think that this year I will be there whilst everyone looks at my work is a bit daunting, but exciting at the same time. The information the various speakers gave us was very helpful. As Colchester School of Art and Design won the best stand last year, we have been promoted to a lower level (previously we were on the balcony) with a larger floor space. We are now up there with the big universities as you walk into the show. We were told that they get 17,000 visitors to the show each year, so exhibiting there is so important for future oppportunities. I am currently sorting out business card designs to promote my work, as this is vitally important that you select the best images that portray your work as it is all your visitors will have to remember you by.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Contemporary designers

This gallery features the work of Angie Lewin, Mark Hearld and many others. Angie Lewin has designed a new range of fabrics entitled Hedgerow which has a harmonious, but muted colour palette on a neutral background. This is very 1950's, and retro in appearance, due to the use of strong graphic lines, giving an almost geometric look to the organic plant shapes, and muted colours not dissimiliar to those used in Lucienne Day prints from the 1950's.

Photo Shoot

There was a recent photoshoot of everyone's work by David Lam. This is the first time I have had my work professionally photographed, so it will be interesting to see how they come out. I chose to keep the layout simple by just having my samples photographed flat, with the focus being on the designs.
Whilst being able to access the studios over easter, for the days of the photoshoot, I was able to print over 3 metres of fabric for my chair. It was extremely hard work and I managed to rope in a helper in the form of my son, but I did get it done and even managed to foil over the entire design. As the upholster has now made it back from Europe (volcanic ash clouds not withstanding) I can get my chair upholstered. This is a fundamental piece of my collection and to finally get it realised will be one less thing to stress over. Hopefully it will convey a modern contemporary feel with a luxurious edge due to the foiling. Then it will be time to consider the best way to photograph it, I do have some ideas in my head but will have to ponder on them a little bit longer, whilst I wait for the chair's return.

Modern designs

Stunning, intricate embroidered designs by Neisha Crosland.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Vintage designs made contemporary

This is a current version of a vintage pattern from the Sandersons archive by C F A Voysey, an associate of William Morris. It is in the Arts and Crafts style, and was produced as wallpaper in 1890s. The design incorporates tree branches and squirrels on a neutral background. It is a very bold, strong design which would not appear out of place now, and as it has been currently reproduced, it seems that there is a demand for this style of design. The limited colour palette links in with my own current collection,which was also originally inspired by tree branches and other plant forms in silhouette. I have made a conscious decision to use natural fabrics and keep the background neutral so as to highlight my hand drawn designs- basically the less is more philosophy.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Some Final Designs

This is a detail from one of my designs based on plant forms in the winter months. There is a wealth of interest to be found at this time of year and in particular the silhouette of plant forms against a muted background always inspires me. The plant forms I have chosen to feature in my final collection entitled "Fragile Things" are of the more unusual, sometimes architectural style and shape. By adapting the tree branches into another shape, they almost become completely different to how they started out. It would have been much easier to have concentrated on simplistic tree forms, and I have found many of these designs within my research.

Willow by Prestigious Textiles from

This design is a very simple straightforward tree drawing repeated all over in a selction of muted colourways. It works well, but confirmed for me the idea that I needed to develop my drawings in other directions, moving away from the obvious, something which has took a bit of time but the end result has been worthwhile and looks almost eerily beautiful yet still a little strange.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Some of my work so far....

I have been printing like crazy for some time and my designs are gradually beginning to evolve. Within this design of winter flowers, I have changed the appearance by using acid discharge on black cotton, which gives a ghostly almost eery contrast agains the severe black. The intertwined branches seem to form some sort of abstract pattern, so I am really pleased by the effect. It has been quite a drawn out process developing my designs, and has given me lots of time to reflect on what I would really like to acheive. It is difficult to be truly original in this busy fast paced world, especially after seeing a much publicised design by a current interiors company, blatantly copied by many other companies. Design wise, my work is still evolving at quite a pace.

This is a chair that I plan to get uphostered in my one of my handprinted fabrics. The current choice of fabric is a dark oatmeal coloured natural looking linen. Inspired by organic forms in the winter months, I plan on producing a highly unusual striking design, which may or may not involve foiling to contrast against the black ink.

Ongoing research that continues to inspire

This design is called "Dandelion Clocks" from the current Sanderson collection. There is a definite 50's feel prevalent here, with the
bold almost geometric style, and stark drawing. The muted but harmonious colour palette is not that far away from the one that I am using for my final collection. The bold design with overlapping colours, works really well, without being overpowering. The current trend for strong, often botanical style patterns on wallpaper and fabrics has been hugely inspiring for me and has influenced my current hand drawn collection based on winter plants and silhouettes.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

This is some of my research for my final major project, where I will be producing a selection of work for interiors (comprising of wallpaper and fabric). The striking selection of designs for the British Surface Design of the Year 2009 (featured in Elle Decoration magazine)shows that there are some incredibly talented up and coming designers. The strong architectural plant drawings, as shown by this design for Farrow & Ball, are very striking and would make a strong statement on the wall. Using just a single colour and strong graphic drawing, works amazingly well filling the entire paper area. Drawing is a fundamental part of my work and helps to maintain a personal connection to my work.

This image is from a current designer, Neisha Crosland, featuring one of her wallpaper designs (entitled Hedgehog), she really promotes drawing as part of her work, and has been known to draw to scale on lining paper on the wall, when working out her designs. There is a great fluidity to her drawing, whilst the enlarged scale of her design manages to fill the wallspace without overcrowding the paper.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

For my final major project, colour and line is very important. Our beautiful chickens (aka Margot and Tilly) have marvellous contrasting markings. Here Margot's blue laced feathers contrast really well with the rusty, almost red colour. Whereas Tilly's stunning gold laced feathers contrast well against the black. The natural colours work together extremely well, as opposed to man made synthetic colours, which can seem rather harsh by comparison.

As far as colours go, I tend to veer towards a more natural colour palette. My local beach has a lovely selection of contrasting but harmonious colours, not including the is a shame one cannot hear the sea rolling in too. The sense of wide open expanses always photographs well.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

This is one of the stunning images from an exhibition I visited recently, (the Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the NHM in London) it was taken by a child in the 10 years and under category- absolutely stunning. Something about silhouettes, really grabs my interest at the moment, I think it is all about the lines and shapes, almost like an unfinished jigsaw- where your mind always seems to fill in the missing details.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

This is a detailed image of one of my designs that I have produced for Indigo trade fair, Paris. I was influenced by the ironworks seen at the V & A and also the Telling Tales exhibition that was on at the time I visited.

This had a wealth of darker fairytale images of old, as in the past these stories were a lot darker. In fact it is probably only in the recent century just gone by that they between became more watered down and sweeter. The original Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid is not a story that Disney would retell in it's original form, it has almost become censored really. Personally I like to show a bit more of an edge to my work, as whilst I appreciate the beauty of nature I personally think it could be found in many more diverse places than one would think to look.....

This wonderful and slightly surreal sculpture was seen in Kew Gardens last summer, it was one of a series made to commemorate 250 years of Kew Gardens. It was rightly striking and symbolic, by really making a statement and yet retaining an organic feel to it whilst showing the propagation of the species, through the wind. The beautiful sinewy lines were in contrast to the delicate hues of the sky behind, and I felt that I attempted to capture the essence of this in my recent work for Indigo.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Knitting as therapy

My latest creation, I think knitting is my solace, whereby I can create to my own desire. It is a comfort to me, especially when my mind is stressed out by dissertation deadlines. It also keeps me warm serving not only a practical purpose but also a creative one, whilst helping me feel that I am keeping a traditional skill alive.

This is somtheing that I discussed within my dissertation in far greater detail, examining the idea of it being used as therapy, or as a way of bringing communites back together once more (also discussing how the loss of knitting was due to the knowledge not being passed along the generations anymore for a variety of reasons). There was an interesting poem I came across by the first Welsh Poet Laureate (2006) Gwyneth Lewis (this was featured on a series of programmes broadcast on BBC Radio4 about knitting- entitled "How to knit a poem") -

Hypnosis knitting

A day of wordless misery,
thorns in the heart
that refuse to budge.
No matter, I’m keeping company
with myself, though hurting,
redeeming time that was torturing me.
My grandmother’s craftwork,
I suddenly see, was self-medication,
her fanciest knitwear
anti-depressant hosiery:
a stance against melancholy.
This pattern wants only rhythm from me:
no judging, no knowing,
just moving on
into a future. I’m working three
axels. First a new personality
Made from my patience.
Second, a scarf
composed in calm,
a respite from my usual self-harm.
The third is my finest.
Look! I’ve unpicked
myself from my worry, a delicate stitch
into the present. No one can see
this last. Mindfulness charges the air,
arrays me in intricate gossamer.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

This is the stunning work of one of my favourite current designers- Angie Lewin, who does a selection of linocuts and screenprint designs. I recently saw her work on my box of organic porrdige oats, it was quite distinctive so I immediately new whose design it was.

Another designer whose work I admire is Rob Ryan, a man with a very steady hand, all that paper cutting eh..the beautiful silhouettes and the way they are all interlinked with one another is amazing. I used to have trouble getting my little newspaper cut outpeople to link hands, for the kids when they were little, alright maybe last week as this is an truly astounding feat..

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Extreme knitting!! I made a blanket for a friend's baby- he certainly won't get cold. this was also an excellent way of using up all those odd balls of yarn that i buy, and i have a fair size stash....
this was my way of destressing, as i am in the throes of my dissertation, yep that is also on knitting or the loss of it over the years...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

It is officially cold, really cold and that snow just keeps falling, but the garden looks magical in this weather. The chickens finally came out of the coop, but they are not too keen on this white powdery stuff and would rather attempt to eat it.

This weather has encouraged me to pursue indoor activities, so i dragged out my extreme knitting needles and made an extremely warm, chunky blanket for my friend's baby.