Suddenly the exhibition happened, after about a year of work and now it’s finished. Isn’t that always the way? Something you worked so hard towards is over in the blink of an eye! But it was fantastic. Thank you to all 700 of you who visited and left lovely comments in our book. Our work looked fantastic in Cotley Barn near Chard – a rural setting for work inspired by the skills and crafts of the area. Happily everyone understood why I had dragged by 3 metre length of kersey through hedges, over mossy banks and soaked it in the River Culm. I worked with photographer, Sarah George to create images of the kersey lost and abandoned in textile related corners of the Blackdown Hills. Only twice did I freeze while burying my hand woven did I wonder “what on earth am I doing?!”. I would love to spend more time exploring our textile heritage and reinterpreting it for the 21st century. A range of warm, cosy kersey throws is called for I think!
Rather wonderfully earlier this year I was awarded a bursary by Bhaam, to create new work based on the skills and industry of the Blackdown Hills. This has allowed me to expand the research I did last year to create a length of Devon Kersey. While I can’t vouch for the absolute historical accuracy of my fabric, I am weaving a rather sturdy fabric which would be suitable for working men’s or women’s clothing as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries. Tiverton was in particular the centre for Kersey production by 1600 due to the hard wearing qualities of the Devon Longwool fleece used.
So far 2013, has been mainly about teaching weaving workshops – which has been wonderful. Spring was spent teaching two wonderful textile student from Somerset College of Arts and Technology. While they are studying textile design, they had no experience of weaving and they both took to it like a duck to water. The course, organised by Superact, allowed me the time to teach them to weave two warps of their own design, they also had the time to try spinning and braid making too.
Once again months have slipped by without posting. Sometimes life moves so far between project to project.
Dance in Devon’s Bespoke project was magical. For a week in October I worked with choreographer Freddie Opoku-Addaie and two dancers from his company. After a bit of a rubbish summer for me, it was fantastic to work collaboratively with performing artists who had very little experience of weaving. It was fascinating to see my craft through different eyes and see what aspects of it speaks to other people. There was a section where a blind was raised and lowered to reveal different people sitting at my loom and this really connected to my feeling of weaving knowledge being passed from one person to another down the generations.
I’m spending as much time as the weather allows dyeing at the moment, which is a joy. I’m creating the colours that will reflect the colours of the Blackdown Hills in late August which will then become a range of blankets. I’ve tried to capture the moment that the dye creeps up the skein as I lower it into the dyebath – it’s a real moment of truth!
These are some of the results from my ‘Love Woven Lace weekend’ in September. I really love how each person had the same structure (either Huck Lace or Swedish Lace), but the results are so different. The type of yarn, the colours used and how you use the structure makes each piece of weaving unique. It’s a exciting craft to be able to teach.
Thank heavens the weather changed for Art in Action! Whilst setting up we were dodging the showers and mud, but thankfully once the show opened the sun appeared. That made me one happy camper – our tent was pitched in the shade of a row of apple trees; quite idyllic.
Once again time has flown. Preparations for the Contemporary Craft Festival are well on their way. All my scarves, shawls and blankets are being inspected, ironed, labelled and catalogued ready to go. Some work is heading to Madebyhandonline.com and some to The Devon Guild of Craftsmen. I’ve been busily stitching a new line of purses and glasses cases using up odd warp ends of fabric. They’ve been quite fiddly (thanks for your help mum!), but I’m really happy with the results and hopefully they will be well received at the show. I’m really looking forward to being back at the show at Bovey Tracey; there’s always a good atmosphere, everyone is really friendly. Given the cold, windy, rainy weather that is outside the window at the moment, I hope we get better conditions!
The photographs are from my photo shoot last month. Thanks again to my gorgeous friend and talented brother for their time and creativity.
I don’t very often get the chance to see my finished commissions ‘in action’, so I jumped at the chance to see my 100 metres of woollen fabric as curtains in The Corn Barn. I’m so pleased with the result, they look great and really suit the space. What do you think?
The new year sees a new term of Weaving at Coldharbour Mill and I’ve never seen the workshop so tidy! Thank you all who put time in last week assembling looms, moving looms and tidying the yarn store. The last weeks before Christmas saw a flurry of cutting off of warps. Here are just a few:
Currently all three weaving classes are full, which is wonderful and I’m looking forward to seeing what the spring term brings.