Friday, 25 March 2011

Textile art / Fibre art / Fiber art - ideas, experiments and finished products

I just listed my current textile art pieces in my Blue Caravan store :) here's a sneak peek:

This piece is titled 'Ethereal Leaf' and is created using naturally dyed tea-stained cotton, wax paper rubbing (of a pastel drawing) with machine stitching. It is a one-off original, as are the others for sale.

The pieces listed are all quite varied, just from ideas and experiments, made a while back, and I plan on doing more textile art work as time permits. Before I started on the path of my own business with the hand screen printed textiles, one of my favourite things in the world to do was natural dyeing and fabric manipulation to create such little works.

As I majored in textiles at uni it was pure fun and adventure for 3 or so years playing with different techniques and the natural dyeing was definitely one that struck a chord with me and as part of one assignment I had to do a batch of experiements:

All processes were documented and I wrote up little (handmade paper) tags for each one, like in the last image. This is a great reference 'library' to have if I want to achieve a certain look. I have actually managed to experiment more since uni:

There are plenty of variations in the mix here which also range in size - a great stash ready and waiting to be transformed into something wonderful.

A while before I started my business, without knowing exactly what direction I wanted to take with my textiles and creativity, I remember being uber inspired after seeing India Flint's Watermarks exhibition at Planet Furniture in Surry Hills, Sydney in 2008. I bought her fabulously informative Eco Colour book and started experimenting again not long after and now have a yummy pile of fabrics to use in those textile art projects:

Most of these were all mordanted with sea water (or ocean as the case may be) but I didn't document any processes - just a random bunch of experiments and results. I used things like ferrous sulphate, copper, cochineal, leaves, pine needles and other goodies from my garden, separately and together with over-dyeing, etc. Some results were not as deep or rich as I had wanted, especially the cochineal - which turned out pink instead of a rich deep red I was after. There are varied fabrics in the mix, like silk, silk organza and different sorts of cotton.

I'm still toying with idea that one day I would love to exhibit a body of work that I created in my mind's eye before my life went pear shaped, so it sort of got put on hold. My plan and dream was to always have a balance of commercial textiles and art textiles, simply because I love both. The small start that I made was by doing one of my other favourite things, relief printing - that is, using objects coated with paint to leave an impression on the fabric, in this case leaves and other found objects:

You may well recognise the one 2nd-from-the-top as it's the one I used in my stilelemente logo :) If I don't go ahead and pick up where I left off with the body of work I'm sure these fabrics will show up at some stage as finished pieces in my store. I also did some similar works on paper - never mastering 'painting' I tried these little experiements and was really happy with the results:

... and so I may well do more of this type of painting because there are a vast range of colours and styles yet to be explored. The thing is finding the time...

While the ceramics course I wanted to do has been postponed I will soon start on a little (or big) venture with a co-creator and am so excited about this, especially as the idea came to us both simultaneously, almost by telepathy. Neither of us are in a hurry to complete it so there is no pressure but because of this I'm sure it will be a while before I can share anything about it here.

Since the new year started I feel like I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the computer, partly due to creating 6 new yardage designs - 3 of which the artwork is now with the printers ready to be transferred on to screens and then waiting for them to do their magic. The other 3 are my first children's designs and will be released a little down the track.

The other reason for being on the computer was re-photographing all my products because I just wasn't happy with my first lot of images. As you can imagine this was a time-consuming task as they then had to be uploaded to refresh both online stores and flickr images... but I'm really happy with the results and seem to have more sales trickling through since then so I'm sure they represent my products better.

I've also been researching a bit, wanting to branch out into the wholesale market now and finding out how best to go about it... one option ended up being a dead-end and has resulted in the past few weeks being wasted in the process, to a degree, it's always an important learning curve and so time is not really wasted in the end... but now I have to start again so to speak.

... and I'm also having a really hard time locating a supply of styrene paper or other similar paper to line my lampshades with! How hard is it sometimes... even with the wonderful world-wide web some things seem to not want to be found. If anyone out there knows of where to source such a product would you please be kind and generous and let me know. I've tried Bunnings and Spotlight thinking for sure they would stock it... but alas it is not the case... and until I can get this sorted my lampshades are on hold which I find rather frustrating.

Anyway, this is quite a long post now - I hope you enjoyed seeing a selection of my dyed fabrics and insights into future directions and so on. Enjoy your weekend :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beauty in the face of tragedy

It's heartening to see so many beautiful artworks and other products being offered up in our online community to help raise funds for valuable rescue and relief work in the devastated regions of Japan.

Earlier today I purchased this lovely print from one little bird studio where Leanda is generously offering to donate 100% of the profits to Global Giving

Image: one little bird blog
Thanks for your generosity Leanda and on a happier note I can't wait to get my print as I really love Asian-inspired art and this one is so artfully composed. For anyone who likes this print as much as I do you can purchase it from one little bird's etsy store OR head to Poppytalk's blog to read a great post by Jan on all the art she's come across to raise funds for the relief effort.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My design process

Today I thought I'd share some of my design processes with you here.

I'm sure everyone has their own way of doing things but do you ever wonder how people go about it? I've recently been working on some new repeat patterns to have printed as yardage and they're as good as finished now so once I've selected my colours and ordered the fabric the rest is up to the printers.

Remember how I started a design and illustration library a while back? Then I said I might use some of the illustrations in future work... well that's what I started out doing. You will be seeing the Lyrebird in repeat and I did do the Waratah in repeat which I really like but have decided to release it later. The reason behind that is that I was going to use my Wattle design as a repeat but wanted to incorporate a Wattle Bird, when I heard one in my back garden I grabbed my camera and took this shot:

... and well, that's when everything changed. I started seeing all the beautiful curves of the branches as well as all the new buds on them and thought the Bottle Brush would be nicer than the Wattle... and once I was on to this I thought I would stick to a bird theme as part of this suite of designs and save the Waratah for later.

As this is one of my images I decided to 'draw' straight onto the computer, so I placed the image in Illustrator and began the painstaking process of tracing the image:

After I feel I have enough form I place the design into an artboard the size of one repeat, i.e. 1500mm wide x 500-600mm high and start mucking around with the repeat to see how it works and if any areas need filling in, etc. I usually save a copy of the design each step of the way, the one on the left would be the one I'm currently working on with previous versions tucked away to the right. I continue along with this process until the motif repeats nicely (not seen here)...

... and in this case my finished motif is this:

... and I'm really happy with it so it will also make its way onto a greeting card in the future to join ranks with my other flora & fauna series... and you might even see it one day as gift wrap.

In working the repeat (which I won't show yet until it's been printed) I originally went with a more traditional repeat, i.e. where this motif was repeated continuously - vertically and horizontally. I didn't mind it so much but the Lyrebird design does this too and I wanted to make each of them a little different so I ended up making some significant changes.

The third design has a nondescript bird set amongst clusters and wisps of Brachycome (native daisy). I hope people are going to like my designs, it's always down to personal taste and I guess being so new to this I'm still trying define my own style (or that of the business products) and part of this will no doubt come from how they are received.

I have to be honest and say it's hard when you're starting out. I have had my original 3 designs out there for a little bit, as well as off-the-shelf products made from them but I don't want people to think that's all I'm capable of, like that is my only style or colour combination - which is one of the reasons why it is important to have designs printed in more than one colour way and also preferably on different colour base-cloth as this can change the look and feel of a design dramatically and where one might appeal to one person it may not to another and vice versa.

This is why I'm often saying 'stay tuned' because I want people to know there is more coming :)

Back to the subject of the design process... other designs evolve from sketches such as these: 

I would then scan these into the computer and again begin the painstaking task of tracing the drawing, which can morph into something different, as seen with the wattle (above) so the drawing can just act as a starting point for the idea. I just find that Live Trace doesn't give me the results I want and so I prefer to take the time to 'draw' it properly.

So there you have it, some of my design processes. I should probably get a Graphics Tablet but for now I'm ok using the pen and pencil tools, we each have our own way. How do you design? Feel free to share :) I've always loved to draw and it's something I haven't done for a very long time. I recently dug out some drawings I had around the place and uploaded these to my flickr photostream to share - also, capturing them digitally will preserve them as some of them are aging - but I know they're not museum pieces so it's no big deal.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sneak peek, new colour-ways on new base-cloth

Kangaroo Paw - Aged Wood on Latte hemp / organic cotton
Kangaroo Grass - Spring Green on Latte hemp / organic cotton
Kangaroos - Moss Green on Latte hemp / organic cotton
After a mystery tour of their own my fabrics finally arrived on my doorstep this morning... and I am so happy to have them here and share them with you.

They are my 3 debut designs printed in a new colour-way each and all on a beautiful Latte hemp / organic cotton base-cloth. I love how colours can change the feel of a print... my first ones are all very earthy and quite a contrast to these softer, more neutral colours. More images available in my flickr photostream, just click on the link in the sidebar.

The fabrics will be available for sale as yardage in both my Etsy and Blue Caravan stores just as soon as I list them and I will also be making off-the-shelf products for those who don't want to make their own stuff... and to show possible end-uses for the fabric.

I have some new products on my list to make, to mix things up a bit and I'm still working on some new designs which shouldn't be too far away. All this while constantly researching into ways to get my business and products out there. It's still a real learning curve for me but I'm loving it and look forward to watch the developments as I inch forward with it all.