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 :)