Gems

imageI have a real love for gemstones! and recently I have felt very drawn to incorporating them into my textile work.  I have yet to decide exactly how to do this, but in the meantime I am getting a collection of beads together in readiness.  Above is a string of labradorite chips, a very popular stone due to the captivating but elusive colours found within it’s structure, definitely a favourite of mine! There is an otherworldliness about it that is entrancing.

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This is clear quartz, pure, clean and evocative of winter due to its similarity to crushed ice.  These chips in particular have a beautiful sparkle to them.

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This is fluorite and it can exhibit both purple and green within the same specimen.  This to me is a dream, as I love that colour scheme in all it’s possible variations.

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I was so pleased to get my hands on these! They are pink tourmaline beads and the colours are a mixture of rose and (I think) champagne! – pink champagne! and as divine!

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These are emeralds and there is something really beautiful about emeralds, rubies and sapphires in their more humble and less expensive form.  The photo does not capture the depth of green in the actual stones unfortunately, but in the flesh it is reminiscent of an evergreen forest in the darkness of winter.

All of these stones are different types of opal.  There are fire opals (the bright orange ones if you haven’t already guessed:)) Egyptian, Australian and pink.  Again, definitely one of my favourite gemstones! Another stone displaying shifting colour within itself.  When these qualities are present in a stone, I think that they seem to suggest other dimensions and realms.

Now all that remains is for me to find ways to use these treasures within textiles; a journey I look very much forward to beginning.

Lourdes x

Miniature Roses

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I have been buying quite a few of these plants this year and roses have been a focus for me.  Do you find that different things can catch your attention at different times and almost seem as if they are asking you to notice them? I find this happens with colours, gem stones, plants and animals, but also sometimes characters from myths or fairy tales.  I believe that there is a reason for this and I think that the symbolism of certain things are relevant to us at different times during our journey through life.

Last summer I felt an urgency to take care of all the rose bushes in the garden as well as collecting these little pots of miniature roses as in the photo above.  The garden had been neglected for a few years and the roses were no exception.  When we first moved here I made the mistake of planting the rose bushes in a shady spot in the garden under a tree – foolish move! Unsurprisingly they really haven’t prospered in the way that they could.  So this autumn I prepared a new border for them where they will get plenty of sun and I am waiting for the winter before I transplant them while they are dormant.  I can’t wait to see them flourish!

Lourdes x

Wilted Tulips

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Today I couldn’t stop myself from photographing the tulips which had began to fade in a vase I had in the house. It has been thoroughly enjoyable trying to capture the exquisite and delicate veining running through the petals and the forms of the flower heads as they soften and appear as if they are about to fly away. So entranced I have felt that I am tempted to dabble in some painting and drawing too.

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The colours are beautiful too and I may have mentioned before how much I love the way the colours in flowers intensify as they dry.

I haven’t really considered use of colour too seriously in my recent work yet, rather focussing on recreating textural qualities and experimenting with these, while pretty much just grabbing the first colour scheme that evolves as I rummage through my supplies. However I think that these tulips could be a fine place to start!

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The tactile quality of the petals is incredibly gorgeous, as it becomes silky soft before it starts to dry and with the richness of the colour scheme is very luxurious. It is like very fine paper, but also very obviously like pure silk.

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It is so exciting that inspiration is everywhere and that at anytime something else can provide new input for ongoing work!

Lourdes x

Crochet, Tucks, Cords & Thoughts

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As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am at the point in my project where I am having to consider how to bring my visual research and development to some point of culmination.   I have been looking through all of my samples to see what jumps out for more in-depth exploration and potential for some kind of eventual conclusion.

I have also been thinking about concept and how my visual work could suggest ideas, as these I have found are always interwoven with my visual sources of inspiration and chosen route of investigation.  I don’t want to be too definite in describing the ideas I have, as I know how these grow and change, but I would say that I am interested in analysing the relationship we can cultivate with nature through acknowledgment of it’s cycles.

In addition I am also interested in the meaning of beauty and what happens to many of our ideas of what constitutes beauty as we get older.

I began this project with the idea of a secret garden where unexpected treasures can be found and would now extend that to include inner secrets and mysteries particularly as relates to femininity and how they can be revealed.  So, in summary I am curious about nature, cycles, beauty and feminine mysteries and possibly how our awareness of these things could be improved.

Healing is always of fascination to me and I am also curious about how healing can take place.  The challenge is how to incorporate these ideas and questions into the physical act of constructing textiles and clothing.

In terms of textile work I have decided to focus on freeform crochet which is very effective at describing an organic, but also pretty quality.

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When a really large crochet hook is used with a fine thread, a very loose and ‘irregular’ fabric is formed, which is great for distorting as well as creating a very open work material like a net.  It is even reminiscent of the veining on the wing of an insect.

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I love using tiny hand stitching and when combined with fabric scraps and patchwork suggest repair, patience and healing as well as also having an organic feel.  I will also continue to explore ways to create form and texture with bias-stitched tucks which are perfect for creating again very pretty flounces, ripples and ruffles.

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After looking through all my samples so far I have decided to look again at this idea of combining crochet with fabrics and stitching the crochet in places to create a corded lace effect.

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At this stage I am thinking that this could work well as a detail on a corset or bra top.  I have begun by looking at different threads and yarn and how they look when covered with machine zigzag stitch, I need to research ready-made cords too.

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Here, torn satin strips have been handspun and then covered in zigzag stitch and crocheted.  Although an ‘open’ material has been formed, it is rather bulky and stiff.

Textiles Inspiration: Seed Heads

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I really was delighted to come across a set of withered stems crowned with these little pods of wonder as I walked our dog in the very water-logged and bedraggled garden the other day.  Such is the obsession of the textiles designer!  Anyone who knows me well has seen me with handfuls of seaweed, skeletonised leaves, dried ferns… If it’s from nature I’ve collected it! And people don’t always understand where I’m coming from, but that’s ok, I don’t mind being insane in a textiles kind of way! If you are a textiles person or infact anyone inspired by nature you may relate to what I am saying! Somehow just a single petal, feather or pebble suggests a universe of possibilities and these flower seed heads were no exception!

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Spring is on it’s way and I guess that these tightly-packed ‘cushions’ of seeds are ready to burst out into the breeze where they will be carried to many different spots in the garden to create new plant life for the coming summer.

This is a photo of the flowers they come from taken last summer.

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What is of great interest to me is the contrast between the seeds when they are squeezed together into a ball, reminding me of a congested pin cushion and the fluffy, fibres peppered with green black dots as they separate themselves.

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So much comes to mind in terms of stitch , form and material!  For example I would be tempted to interpret the wispy fibres and suspended thread-like seeds with stitches and the tiniest french knots, perhaps even using plant fibres as a ‘fabric’. The effect is incredibly delicate.

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When looking at the more closely packed seeds, a thicker fabric is suggested and the surface has a bumpy quality.  This brings to mind velvet as a material, perhaps again with french knots worked within the pile as the velvet nap will separate and appear ‘tufty’ much as the fibres do once the fabric is rounded.

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Straight away exciting ideas emerge and I am particularly looking forward to taking some of these characteristics into the medium of textiles!

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Lourdes x

Crochet and Stitch

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This week I have been experimenting with different ways of combining hand-stitch with crochet.  The cotton yarn I used above was crocheted freestyle, varying the size of hook and there is a contrast of texture between the firmer, tighter stitches which have been worked with smaller hooks, and the loose, droopy, more bedraggled feel of the stitches formed with huge crochet hooks.  One of the attractive features of using crochet as a foundation to add other materials or stitches to, is that it has an appearance of a net which has debris caught up and entangled in it.

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The crochet in this sample has been worked using a much finer cotton thread and therefore creating a more delicate result.

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In this sample the idea was to trap the crochet with transparent fabrics secured with small stitches around it, on a foundation of fabric patches which have been sewn together.  I quite like the idea of different elements being trapped and enclosed within a garment so I decided to look at this idea more closely.

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The crochet flower has been enclosed in an envelope of organza and is free to move about.  A few wisps of Angelina fibre has been added to suggest a hint of faery magic.  This idea suggests things which are collected perhaps on a walk through a forest, on the beach or in a meadow and it brings to mind childhood, where shells, flowers and pebbles are pieces of treasure and in fact for anyone who loves textiles and sees the world of nature as their main source of inspiration, the scavenging for a natural jewel of some kind, continues.  Pockets, pouches also play a part as vessels for collecting, enclosing, protecting and trapping.

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I made some crocheted flowers with a variety of yarns, deliberately aiming for an uneven appearance by using thick and thin handspun yarn and varying the length and size of the petals.

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I ironed the flowers to create the impression of pressed flowers.  I like the fact that the irregular appearance of the flowers suggests that they may have been drawn by a child.  My next step is to explore ways of combining these floral shapes with fabric and looking at ways to enclose them.

Lourdes x

Shapes that Twist and Curl

I have been particularly inspired by the shapes formed by leaves and petals as they shrink and shrivel when they dry.  So many possibilities for textile interpretation becomes apparent when examining these organic structures.

Some of the spiralling shapes are beautiful and hosta leaves are particularly interesting as the prominent veining along their length, forms ripples as they are contorted into a curly appearance.

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Inspired by these characteristics I experimented with machine stitching to recreate the twisting and turning nature of the leaves.

I found organza to be particularly suitable as it distorts easily when stitched on the bias and I also like the fact that it is transparent as it adds another dimension that can be utilised.  An interesting effect is created when layers of different colours of organza are used as there is an interaction between the colours and weaves of the fabric, causing a watermark-like pattern to appear.

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I also liked  the effect created when different fabrics were stitched together before stitching on the bias to form tiny tucks.

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An organic texture is formed by adding more lines of stitching along the bias coming from the opposite direction.

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The fabrics were made to distort further by using a heat gun to melt the fabrics causing them to shrink and also form holes which more closely mimics the deteriorated leaves.

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Melted with Heat gun

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I played around with the bias-stitched organza to form a flower shape which could be used as a brooch or embellishment.

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When I begin to work around a theme I really enjoy experimenting in a broad way to explore all the things that I find mesmerising.  Even if I don’t use all of my ideas they are never wasted as they are often found to be useful in another project later on.   I am finding that as time goes on my ideas are becoming more focused and hopefully more relevant to my work as a whole.

I have lots of different ideas radiating out from this theme which I personally like to think of as a secret garden theme, where memories can be deciphered from the remains left behind.

Lourdes x

 

My Current Project

 

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My current project begun last summer with bits and pieces I had collected from the garden and on walks in the countryside.  My collection included pieces of bark, dried leaves and petals which were twisted and contorted into interesting shapes and often exhibited striking colour combinations.

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One of the shrubs in the front garden was so attacked by insects that the leaves barely held together for the holes left behind! What remained were incredibly delicate lacy leaf-shapes, perforated with irregularly shaped holes.

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To begin with I was interested in how pieces of bark were layered with scales and their irregular shapes when they have come off the tree trunk. I made some similar shapes from papier mâché which I then used as surfaces to draw patterns and do mark-making on, inspired by the materials collected. Experimenting with different paint effects and methods of distressing, applied to twigs and the papier mâché shapes has inspired me to look at ageing and deterioration again – a theme I often return to.

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I think that there is something really beautiful about the effects of  deterioration, in nature, on man-made materials and also on textiles.  Methods of repair, such as darning, patching and the tiny stitching used in Japanese boro can add further character.

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I have always found the use of clothing as a statement about attitude and unorthodox ways of thinking as displayed in youth culture groups, to be very interesting and particularly when clothes and textiles are deliberately damaged to express a spirit of defiance and deviation from convention.  As more environmentally-considerate approaches to lifestyle are adopted as well as in this time of ‘austerity’, economic restraint;  methods of re-using, re-cycling and up-cycling are highly valued.

Textiles displaying meticulous mending skills or being of vintage origin are viewed as treasures which have survived the passing of time.  These are the ideas I am looking at as I endeavour to explore textile possibilities at the moment. There is a romance about something which is worn or weathered and  it becomes the subject of a story that the imagination seeks to define.