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’m teaching a Fabric Manipulation long weekend workshop at West Dean College 16-19 March 2017. If you love texture and structure in textiles this is a perfect course for you to get really absorbed into exciting techniques and develop your own style with three days of teaching with loads of studio time and inspiration.
Ruth Singer: Metamorphosis
Monumental Folly circular frame, detail
Monumental Folly frame, detail
Over the weekend you will have chance to try out a wide range of fabric manipulation techniques, taking inspiration from historic textiles and contemporary fashion. Techniques include formal and organic pleating and folding, stitching and gathering to create interesting textures and 3D appliqué to create bold, exciting fabrics from scratch. You can make samples or work towards a finished textile piece. Fabric manipulation techniques can be combined with embroidery and quilting to make really unique and exciting projects, or learn skills to add into fashion and dressmaking.
West Dean is a spectacularly lovely place to study (and indeed teach) which makes it a perfect place to recharge, learn new things and absorb inspiration. The workshop starts on Thursday evening with dinner with the students and tutor, followed by three intensive but relaxed days of tuition. Students can choose a full-board residential option and stay on site and have access to studios in the evenings, with all meals and equipment provided. You will need to bring some of your own materials to get the best of this course but there is nothing expensive required.
I’ll be returning to West Dean in the summer to teach Stitched Textiles from Historical Inspiration.
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.