14 Apr 2017

Natural Dye Workshop - Colour in Cloth

I have had an amazing few days in Scotland at the Colour in Cloth conference. Day one I listened to some amazing research presentations. Day two was much more practical and I got the chance to attend two workshops. One of which was natural dyes which is something I have wanted to experiment with for a while. Science has never been my strong point but it is amazing how much more interesting it is when the intended outcome is as desirable as these were. The workshop introduced me natural adjective dye-baths and methods on producing aqueous extraction of colourants and experimental tests using colour modifiers. We explored the ph balance of dye-baths and how to change them with chemical reactions from bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, vinegar and lemon juice.   

I used the cochineal dye-bath and experimented with various different natural fabrics. It was great to see how you could manipulate the colour by changing the ph balance with products from your kitchen cupboards. I had the opinion that natural dyeing would be much better for the environment which is not necessarily the case. You use mordants in natural dyeing, which you treat the fabric with so that the dye is colourfast as many natural dyes would wash out. Some of the mordants used in natural dyes can still be quite hazardous. Less toxic mordants can be used but them you are more limited with your colour pallet. 

Natural dyeing is whole new area where much experimentation can be done. At this stage I am not sure how much time I want to invest in this area but it has definitely been good to increase my knowledge and experiment; perhaps it will be something that I revisit with a specific result I want to achieve.  

27 Mar 2017

Decluttering -objects

With much of my university work focused on objects and consumer behaviour I have spent more and more time reflecting on my own items and trying to understand my connection to them. Why do I keep certain things and throw other things away more readily? I thought it would be a good time to go to a decluttering workshop and see how my organising skills could be improved and also learn more about the habits of others. At the workshop we went through the Marie Kondo method of decluttering which is famous for decluttering by category rather than location. At the workshop I was lucky enough to win a personal decluttering service for my clothes.  

The session involved gathering all of my clothes, shoes, handbags into a pile so that I could visually experience the volume of what I had. I then went through all of my clothes one by one and asked myself  whether they 'sparked joy' and were absolutely essential. When I got to an item of clothing I wasn't quite sure about, Jane would ask me what I was unsure about and why. It was things like the length, fitting or price. The idea is that you learn from those reasons and become more conscious of your purchases and make better decisions moving forwards. It was quite an experience to understand what made things valuable to me and what made something more difficult to get rid of, whether that be nostalgia or the price I paid.  

Putting the clothes back that I decided to keep involved some folding techniques. You even fold your socks! The folding techniques encourage you to touch your clothes, almost to that you value them more. Apparently, folding also takes up less space than hanging. My wardrobe is no longer the over crowding mess that it was. Every item is now visible and easily located. Each box is categorised and located based on its frequency of use. I can honestly say that when I opened my cupboard it 'sparks joy'. 

This session has encouraged me to think about display, use of space and how this can impact our emotions positively and negatively. How the display of something in all areas can completely change how it is viewed and how much it is appreciated. I also think that the experience has been educational and will influence my future consumer behaviour - I don't want to mess up my nice neat space now do I?

6 Mar 2017

Caroline Bartlett - Behind the Wall

Caroline uses swatches and samples from the Standfast and Barracks archive and then layers, folds, stitches and manipulates to create these amazing pieces.   Reference is made to the complex processes of manufacturing printed textiles and to innovation in dye chemistry. I especially admire the reference to design processes such as repeat systems and grids and the use of handwork.

The marriage of digital print and hand stitch is emphasises the use of traditonal techniques as well as celebrate modern ones. The disruption in pattern and the creases create faults challenge the perception of what pattern is, was and will be.  

For me, creases give the feeling of something being old and emphasise the aging process. The pieces are celebrated by being put into frames and hanging on a gallery wall, valuing what we have as well as what we had.    

3 Feb 2017

Natural History Museum - Vienna

Looking around the Natural History Museum in Vienna made me appreciate natures own colour palettes. We can look to trends for the latest seasons colours but the options are endless when we look to nature for complimentary colours. I notice myself being more aware of my own environment and what colour surrounds me on weather beaten walls or a sunset.


I do not usually follow a specific colour pallette.  I use many found materials which can restrict my colour pallette to a certain degree but I like the idea of using colour pallettes inspired by nature on manmade items. We really on nature for resources and I like the idea of this being apparent in my work.   

25 Jan 2017

Daniel Greer - Embroidered Packaging

I have recently come across the work of Daniel Greer who describes himself as 'unlearning and reshaping the way we experience mass culture'. The use of product packaging is something I find really interesting. Products say so much more than what is inside the pack. It is reflective of the day and age we live, of how advertising impacts our daily lives. Packaging is also interesting to me because of nature's inability to get rid of it.