I am hosting a new three-day course at the lovely West Dean College, this June, one of only three workshops I am running this year.
This art textiles course aims to be a relaxed and enjoyable adventure into creative textiles following the studio practice of textile artist Ruth Singer. Over the course of three days you will explore a range of slow, thoughtful textile practices to create cloth with meaning.
The course begins with an exploration of antique and personal textiles, the stories they hold and how you can use them to tell personal narratives. You will experiment with simple, effective hand stitch to add pattern and text onto fabric, as well as fabric manipulation techniques such as reverse appliqué, shadow work and trapunto quilting to add texture and structure. Also experiment with using found objects, scraps, natural materials and vintage haberdashery. You can choose to create samples during the course or keep working on a piece to make a finished artwork, such as an heirloom pin cushion. 8th – 11th June. Book here. £383.00 for the course, plus accommodation.
I’ve got several Meet the Maker days coming up this month alongside two different exhibitions. Next week 9-12th May is London Craft Week and I will be showing my Precious Objects collections with Design Nation in a studio in south London. I will be around all day Saturday 12th May 11am – 6pm to talk to visitors. This event is completely free so please do pop in. Full details here.
Later this month I will be in residence in my Emotional Repair solo exhibition in National Trust Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire. You can find me 12.30-4.30pm in the exhibition space on Saturdays 19th and 26th May. I will be working on adding more names to my Forget-me-not memorial sampler, to which so many have kindly contributed.
My Makers In Museums symposium is only a month away now, on 6th June. This takes place at Gawthorpe Hall alongside my exhibition and includes makers and curators talking about working with museums collections. Find out more here.
The exhibition masterclass is now sold out, and my Festival of Quilts masterclass has just one space left but there are still a few places left on my one-hour quick and easy workshops. I will soon be announcing a couple more workshops in the autumn in the Midlands and in south Wales. And there’s still space in my West Dean weekend workshop at the end of August.
In June I will be running an exciting new 4-day course for West Dean College. In this course I will be sharing my own way of working taking inspiration from antique textiles and creating sketchbooks and samplers to develop into new textile pieces. Find out more about West Dean from my previous blog posts.
Quilt Association collection
My original career plan was to work as a costume and textile curator in museums and I specialised for some years in medieval textiles. It didn’t quite work out like that and textile history became my hobby as my day job in museums was focussed on exhibitions and other projects covering a wide range of social and design history. I spent my days off researching medieval textiles in the V&A and other collections and developing a series of talks and workshops investigating textile and fashion history. When I started out making textile pieces in 2005 I chose to work with techniques drawn from my research, in particular 18th & 19th century dress trimmings.
These days my textile research is purely for inspiration as I work in a much broader way but is still key to forming my ideas and ways of working. I am excited to be able to share my textile collections and research through this course. I am also building up a lovely Pinterest board of ideas related to this course, so you can get a flavour of the colours, textures and patterns we will be enjoying throughout the week.
This intensive and exploratory workshop is designed for others with a love of antique textiles, those who love to explore museums and antique shops and want to make work inspired by what they find. I aim to share the skills to research and explore old textiles, develop your understanding of design and technique as well as learn ways of translating what you love about old textiles into your own original contemporary work. Tuition will concentrate on sparking and developing your ideas, growing your confidence in working from inspiration material and selecting the best techniques to use to take your design ideas forward.
During the course you will have time to study my large personal collection of historic embroidered, embellished and quilted textiles and you are welcome to bring your own and explore the many textile treasures to be found in West Dean College buildings. I will share my experience and knowledge of textile techniques and design and you will develop a sketchbook of shapes, colours, patterns, materials and textures drawn directly from the textile sources, then spend time exploring and experimenting with how to translate the feel of the historic pieces into your own contemporary work. I will demonstrate a wide variety of techniques which you can use for your own designs including hand and machine embroidery, fabric manipulation, painting and stencil printing, appliqué and other methods of embellishment to create exciting surface textures and pattern to develop ideas, designs and stitched samples.
For further information please see the course details on West Dean website.
You might also enjoy my textile history posts about smocking and trapunto quilting, two of my favourite obsessions.
12 to 16 June 2017
Alongside my teaching, my week at West Dean involved a lot of both looking closely at details and looking (and walking) to points far away. I found myself with nearly two days off before teaching, time to explore, wind down and replenish. Between teaching sessions the gardens were my playground. The wide open views of the South Downs are a much-needed counterpoint to city life. The chance to stretch my vision, my horizon and my legs. The college building and the gardens invite close inspection while in contrast the farther hills and the wider landscape need wide angle eyes to take it all in.
Last year’s Postcard from West DeanPostcard from West Dean
This time five years ago I started work on my third book Fabric Manipulation which was published a year or so later. It gives me real pleasure to see these exciting techniques being enjoyed and re-invented.
It is always a pleasure to go back through my boxes of samples from the book and share them anew. Last week’s students at West Dean College produced some amazing pieces, variations and interpretations of the techniques. Shibori work is by Romor Designs.
I hope this course will be repeated at West Dean in a couple of years. In the meantime I have a smocking workshop in London in June and a couple of dates of manipulation techniques with Gillian Cooper Studio in Scotland in August. Next year I hope to launch some online courses exploring manipulation techniques in more detail. There are lots of links and resources on the Fabric Manipulation page too including extensive Pinterest boards and blog posts.
I travel a lot, often for work. I go out of my way to find beautiful places – historic buildings, parks, woods, gardens and meadows. I take a lot of photos. It’s time to share them more. Postcard from… is a new blog series with photos of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. Pictures are all taken on my phone with no editing.
At the end of May I was teaching for nearly a week at the glorious West Dean College. I spent pretty much every spare daylight moment outside in the gardens, on the estate and walking up the hill to the arboretum despite the grey and the drizzle. It is a truly magical place and I can’t wait to go back next year.
This summer I am running a three day course at the lovely West Dean College, 30 May 2016 to 2 June 2016. Find out more here.
Ruth Singer. The Beauty of Stains
Art Textiles: Creating Cloth with Meaning
Explore a range of slow, thoughtful textile practices to create cloth with meaning. Experiment with local plants and simple rust dyeing to create eco prints on natural and vintage cloth. Introduce hand stitch with fabric manipulation and trapunto quilting to add texture and structure.
Ruth Singer: Metamorphosis
Ruth Singer: Metamorphosis