This is the third post by this month’s Special Guest Blogger Julie Gibbons. She’s sharing 4 of her fave creative materials, and why she loves them!
How could I do a series on my favourite materials and not include one on textiles? Of course, some of you may know this is currently my main material in my own production, with tractorgirl making cushions and bags. Like many of us, I grew up learning to sew at my mum’s side – she was a dressmaker, and always had lots of luscious fabric scraps for me to play and dream with. My mother’s side of the family has a long association with textiles – my grandfather was also a dress designer, my grandmother was the manager of a clothing factory, and a great great uncle was a tailor in the court of Queen Victoria.
There’s something very seductive about fabric – tactile, flexible, and capable of infinite variation. The cloth itself can be made from a huge variety of source materials – natural, and man-made, each with its own particular set of qualities. It can be woven in a myriad of ways, some fibres can be felted, and it can be coloured and printed. It can be as completely lavish as silk brocade or as humble as cotton. Crochet, knit, embellishment and more, all have their parts to play too.
It is also interesting to note that despite a few high-profile examples, textiles are most usually associated with the domestic and the feminine. How many men do you currently know that sew? They are definitely the exception.
Tinctory is an artist based in the UK, making small jewellery pieces from natural fabrics (mostly silks) which are first dyed using natural dye-stuffs – leaves, bark, berries etc. The pieces are then layered, stitched, and sometimes beaded to create forms reminiscent of wings, shells or pods. You should really take the time to check her blog too, it’s gorgeous stuff.
This scarf is an intriguing combination of knit and crochet, in a gorgeous variety of greens. I love it for its great combination of romance and softness, without being too tizzy. She uses a very unusual stitch in the flowers, and I’m always amazed by people’s inventiveness when presented with the same materials.
Whimsical and wonderlandish, this machine-stitched and hand-beaded queen has a life and secret all of her own. She is dreaming of other lands, to be sure. She is tiny, yet powerful.
This hand-embroidered and beaded pendant reminds my of something a little bit African, and a little bit Eastern European. It is a wonderfully vibrant combination of colours stitched onto vintage upholstery fabric.
I’m always a sucker for linen – it drapes so beautifully, has a gorgeous weight and sheen, and I love that it scrunches. These clothes have voluminous, simple forms and are adorned with gathered and folded flower shapes that emphasise the natural qualities of the fabric. They look so comfy and easy to wear!
Felting of wool has a very long history – older even than weaving. But here, a not so old woollen sweater has been transformed by felting into a lusciously thick fabric, which has then been cut and stitched to arrive at this warm and rich piece.
I hope you enjoyed these picks. I’m still deciding what my next favourite material will be – it’s SO hard to choose! There is much, much goodness in the world.
Julie Gibbons is tractorgirl, a maker of homewares and accessories, and a lover of colour, texture and pattern. She completed her PhD Fine Arts in 2001, majoring in Silversmithing, and now she blogs about contemporary craft, surface design, food and books at tractorgirl.com.au.