Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 11 - Janet Phillips, "Designing woven fabrics"

The thing with weaving is that you can only do stripes and checks.

That's what Janet Phillips told us before showing us how versatile and varied stripes and checks can be.

Janet's interest in weaving was sparked during a family outing to tweed mills where the threads and colours made a lasting impression on her. The memories of that visit lead her to study Industrial textile Design at the Scottish College of Textiles.

Janet confessed that she does not do any embroidery and although some of our Branch members have also done weaving, must of use had not, but as Janet remarked, a shared passion for fibres and colour gave us a lot of common ground.

Some technical weaving terms inevitably cropped up but Janet explained these as she went along so that the non-weavers among us where not totally lost. The focus of the talk was on the use of colour, texture and pattern and Janet had brought with her a selection of her beautiful hand woven scarves to illustrate what she was talking about.

We were told how, by its very nature, weaving tends to 'dull' colours but where shown how use of other shades can enhance and enrich a colour. The same shade of pink is used in both of these scarves in the picture below, but different shades of blue alter its appearance.

All pictures courtesy of Janet Phillips

This scarf demonstrates the same principle. On the left the colours of the rainbow are 'dulled' by the adjacent black threads but on the right the same colours are enriched by using other threads of a similar shade.

We were also shown how pattern could also greatly alter the appearance. In this photograph, the same two weave patterns are used on both scarves but there position is transposed.

Not so easy to show in a photograph, but obvious when allowed to feel the samples, is how the weave alters the drape and handle of the fabric just as much as the threads used to create it.

Also on display was a multiple section sample blanket woven by Janet in blue and white to sample some of the many different weave patters that can be achieved from the same basic weave, in this case twill. The blanket, woven in one piece, is divided into 10 by 50 sections and no two sections have exactly the same weave design. Starting in the bottom right-hand corner with basic 2 and 2 twill, the sections move through different variations of herringbone, zigzags, wavy lines, and a variety of textures. This blanket is a working reference that Janet uses when creating new designs.

At the end of her talk Janet reminded us that everything we had seen was either a stripe or check.

Monday, November 2, 2009

September 25-27 - Frances Pickering, Weekend Workshop

Nine beautiful handmade books were the collective outcome of a fun and creative weekend with Frances. I had no idea what to expect as I arrived at the village hall on Friday evening, but we were soon put to work on designing the covers. The theme for the weekend was 'Elizabethan Splendour' and this gave us a starting point for our designs, patterns and colours. Using Gesso, wax and a wide range of lovely colour and thread products brought by Frances we turned a strip of calico into a rich, leather and jewel encrusted, book cover. Each of the nine books were so different and individual. Frances also brought many of her own books to give us inspiration.

Creating the inner pages and content were as much fun. The good pace, the mix of mess and meticulous work and the constant entertainment from Frances’s husband who was on hand to help with technical matters, made the weekend most enjoyable. The shared meals eaten outside in the beautiful September sunshine added to the enjoyment. I have come away with a lot to work on and lots more ideas to develop in the future. It really was a stimulating, fun and entertaining weekend. Thank you Frances and all who made it happen.

by Polly Woolstone