Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Sew Simple Quilts and Patchworks

17 Designs using Kaffe Fassett’s Artisan Fabrics. By Kaffe Fassett

Published by Taunton RRP in UK £17.99

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. It is a fantastic event with lots of exciting and stimulating work on show as well as masterclasses and lots to see and do. With this in mind I have reviewed a new patchwork and quilting book by Kaffe Fassett.

Unlike most ‘Sew Simple’ books Kaffe Fassett manages to create easy to make projects and yet at the same time make them look sophisticated and very appealing. I have long been an admirer of Kaffe’s since he first came to the UK as a young painter who morphed into a knitwear designer. He took on tapestries and then mosaic before turning his hand to quilts and fabric design.

The secret of his success has to be his wonderful use of colour and the way he uses different patterns together. He had an exhibition of his work at London’s Fashion and Textile museum and my lasting memory of it, was being enveloped in a riot of colour and pattern.

Throughout this book he uses his artisan collection that is inspired by different types of fabrics from different cultures from around the world. He uses both Ikats and batiks and uses them with quilting cottons perfect for the projects in this book.

The project each come with clear instructions and their own assembling diagrams. The projects include throws, quilts, cushions and simple stylish garments and fun projects for children, a tent and a pillow bed.

A lovely practical book. Distributed in the UK by GMC Publications.

Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.

Blog, Exhibitions

WEAVERS OF THE CLOUDS: TEXTILE ARTS OF PERU

21 June -8 September 2019 at the Fashion and Textile Museum London

Weavers of the Clouds brings the captivating designs of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful art and textiles. Peru has a world-renowned heritage of fibre arts and costumes, from a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Weavers of the Clouds examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond.

The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including the Museo de la Nación, Museo de Arte, Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana in Lima and the British Museum in London, including full costumes, tapestries, adornments, trimmings and accessories. 

Highlights include a 16th century Quipu – knotted fibres that were traditionally used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. Also on display; a rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers, a sequined and embroidered waistcoat, emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map.

Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave, one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years and in the works of many great designers, including the Bauhaus and Anni Albers. These incredible costumes and textiles are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging paintings, photographs and illustrations.

Images by highly influential photographer Martin Chambi and paintings by Indigenista Peruana – a group of painters who were active in Lima from 1890s – 1940s – are accompanied by finely drawn paintings by Pancho Fierro and Francisco Javier Cortés. A further selection of vibrant watercolours by Francisco Gonzaláz Gamarra’s will be on show for the very first time, illustrating and celebrating traditional costume.

Finally, The Fashion Studio hosts a display curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by award-winning Peruvian restaurateur and chef, Martin Morales, exploring the work of 15 contemporary Peruvian artists and makers. These ground breaking artists combine the patience and skill of traditional techniques with contemporary materials such as nylon, copper, wire, photographic paper and thread.

Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.
The exhibition is curated by Guest Curator Hilary Simon in collaboration with Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions and The Fashion and Textile Museum. Interviews available on request. 

  The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
T: 020 7407 8664 | E: info@ftmlondon.org

Museum opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm; Sunday, 11am – 5pm; Late night Thursday until 8pm; Last admission 45 minutes before closure. Ticket prices: £9.90 adults*, £8.80* concessions, £7 students and free entry for under 12s *including Gift Aid.  Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.

 
Blog, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

A sneak peak at Zandra Rhodes archived knit wear

Dame Zandra Rhodes selected ten, rarely seen, pieces of knitwear from her design archive as an exclusive for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show recently on at Olympia. Many of these pieces will be on show along with her beautiful textile designs and dresses in the exhibition 50 Years of Fabulous at the Fashion and Textile museum later this year. From 27th September to 26th January 2020

Black and Red ‘heart’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 Venetian Palazzo collection
Black ‘Magic Head’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes

The acclaimed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE founded her eponymous fashion house in 1969 with a small collection. Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.

In celebration of fifty years of the Zandra Rhodes’ label, the Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous. This retrospective will highlight 100 key looks, as well as 50 original textiles. This comprehensive exhibition will explore five decades of the distinguished career of a British design legend.

Grey jumper with pearl shoulder detail Autumn/Winter 1980 ‘Elizabethan’ collection
Rib machine knit

Black and Gold Lurex Jacket Autumn/winter 1987 ‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection Double Bed jacquard machine knit
‘Magic Head’ dress Spring/Summer 1989 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes
Blue and Gold Lurex coat
Autun/Winter 1987
‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection
Double bed Jacquard machine knit

Blog, Exhibitions

SWINGING LONDON a lifestyle revolution Terence Conran –Mary Quant

Fashion and Textile Museum from 8th February to 2nd June
If you are interested in post war British design from fashion to furniture and beyond, then this is a ‘must see’ exhibition.

Tucked away in Bermondsey Street not far from London Bridge Station is The Fashion and Textile Museum. The brainchild of textile designer, Zandra Rhodes.  It is small purpose built and for anyone with an interest in textiles and fashion it is a Must See. You can’t miss it, a bright orange and pink building designed by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreh

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I have been to most of their exhibitions since the museum opened in 2003 and this particular exhibition is their best yet, and the very clever Fashion and Textile Museum have stolen a march on the much larger V&A museum who have a Mary Quant exhibition starting in April.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 07: New exhibition, Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution, featuring the work of Terence Conran, Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and more at The Fashion and Textile Museum on February 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fashion and Textile Museum)

         We often think of Swinging London having started in the late nineteen sixties but it was between the late nineteen forties and the mid nineteen sixties that the real changes took place. It was the young who, in the aftermath of the destruction and devastation caused by WWII, were determined to bring about a new, fairer and certainly more fun approach to life than had previously existed.

         In Britain the ‘Pop” revolution was led by the ‘Chelsea set’ a loosely connected group of young designers, artists, musicians, fashion models and intellectuals. Their social activities were centred on the Kings Road, at the time, a somewhat shabby street in Chelsea. The people who made up this set, are featured in this exhibition. Mary Quant the fashion designer who opened her first boutique, in 1955.

         Quant asked Terence Conran to design her second boutique, Bazaar. Much of the design was influenced by the style of Italian designers such as Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti. In 1963 Quant went mass market and the fashion brand ‘Ginger Group’ was born. She also worked for J.C.Penny in the USA; and designed dress patterns for Butterick.

Mary Quant is credited with inventing the mini skirt although variations of it had been around before, though perhaps not as short as hers. What happened was, when she looked for clothes she wanted to wear she couldn’t find any so she designed her own, and the rest they say is History. Mary Quant did invent tights to wear under the mini skirts. This was a great improvement on stockings and suspenders that were worn by every woman up until this point.

Terence Conran was designing furniture and fabrics from the early 1950’s. He was interested in modernist ideas and the architecture of Mies Van Der Rohe.

He was heavily influenced by the food and lifestyle of the continent, particularly France. He promoted the work of food writer Elizabeth David, who was bringing the best of continental cooking to Britain. He opened his lifestyle store Habitat in 1964.

There are small room sets, featuring Conran designed furniture, fabrics and home accessories. A special section of the exhibition features the work of textile designer Natalie Gibson.

A treat is to see the early work of Bernard and Laura Ashley who from 1953 -1960’s produced furnishing ‘art’ textiles from their kitchen table in Pimlico. Yes this is the same Laura Ashley who had us all dressed as Victorian Milk Maids in the early nineteen seventies. 

Don’t miss this exhibition. It is fun, informative and you are bound to find something you have either worn, sat on, or used in your own or your mother’s kitchen.  

Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm

Thursdays until 8pm
Sundays, 11am–5pm
Last admission 45 minutes before closing
Closed Mondays

TICKETS
£9.90 adults / £8.80 concessions / £7 students

Children under 12 are free

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Exhibitions, Uncategorized

Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern

This summer the Fashion and Textile Museum is hosting an exhibition ‘A Life in Pattern’ showcasing the work of Orla Kiely

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This is the first exhibition to feature her work. She set up her company in 1995 after graduating from the RCA . Before that she worked as a textile designer for the company Esprit. After leaving the RCA she produced a small collection of accessories for Harrods. Originally she was producing hats. After attending a trade show with Orla, her father suggested she venture into producing bags, as he had noticed that he hadn’t seen a single woman wearing a hat but they were all carrying bags!

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Her work is inspired by the patterns of the 1950’s and 1960’s, by designers such as Mary Quant, Shirley Craven and Lucienne Day. IMG_1455

Nature is the most significant inspiration for her designs. Each design is developed carefully by drawing and refining the essential organic elements that are the foundation of her repeating designs.

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The exhibition is presented thematically rather than chronologically, and explores all aspects of Orla’s creative output, from lifestyle and fashion ranges to use of colour and detail and the geometry of pattern.

The exhibition draws on an archive of over 20 years work, offering visitors incite into her methods and concepts, exploring sketches, mood boards samples and a range of techniques.

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The exhibition charts the growth and success of the Orla Kiely brand from her first hats presented in London Fashion Week 1994 through the advent of the iconic Orla Kiely bag in the mid nineties to her freelance work for department stores undertaken from her kitchen table in 1998IMG_1472
Orla’s patterns work on any scale, and the exhibition brings a playful element with super sized dresses alongside tiny dolls in replica dresses.

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Her dresses and bags are displayed on the mezzanine floor. What strikes one after a while is that the work has evolved and is still evolving. Pieces from different collections and different years, work well together. IMG_1457

The work is beautiful, original, well thought out made to the highest standards. The exhibition is a must see. It has been put together by Dennis Nothdruff Head of Exhibitions at Fashion and Textile museum and by Mary Schoeser Exhibition curator and Textile historian. There is an excellent book published by Conran Octopus called A Life in Pattern that I shall be reviewing soon on the blog.

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Uncategorized

Meet the Maker: Hilary Simon

 

Francescas flowers close up copy

Silk painter, curator, artist and costume designer are just some of the fields of excellence for which Hilary Simon is known. You just need to peek into her house, a riot of colour, and you know you are in for a visual treat. I went to visit her in her home to see where she works.2C2A6051

Hilary is a human Magpie, the house is jam packed with colourful ephemera picked up on her travels plus lots of examples of her own work. Oh I forgot to mention she also runs fabulous guided tours to both Mexico and Peru.

J.B. Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into Silk painting.

H.S. I trained in Costume design at Croydon Art School but I was always interested in textiles. As soon as I had the opportunity and had saved enough money I took myself off to Java to learn about Batik. I stayed for 3 months.

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J.B.Who trained you to do silk painting?

H.S. No one, I taught myself.

On my return from Java I learned about a silk painting technique practiced in France. I went to Paris and bought up the dyes and the resist gum, and with a book, started painting on silk and made cushions for Liberty’s and then Harvey Nichols bought some too. I had a fashion show with a range of silk painted clothes and a stall at Chelsea Craft Fair

.Oaxaca landscape close up copy

J.B. It sounds like your career was really taking off.

H.S. Although it sounds really good and they were great commissions they were not bringing in enough income. I was doing freelance costume design for films and I still do that occasionally. When I had my first baby I started doing craft fairs, selling my silk paintings. A job then came up as a Costume Supervisor at GMTV working three days a week. This was great as it gave a stable income whilst at the same time lots of time to do my own work.

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J.B. In what way was your work developing?

H.S. I started making greetings cards and had an exhibition of painting on silk. I showed at Chelsea Craft Fair.

J.B. How did you get into running workshops?

H.S. Because of the contacts I made when I was exhibiting, I was invited to start teaching workshops. The first ones were at The Polka Children’s Theatre when my children were very young. Later I worked at the Eden Project and then I taught at Art in Action for many years. I still teach at the fashion and Textile Museum and at some of the London Art Schools. I also run weekend courses at West Dean College.

I have taught at Wildfibre in Los Angeles https://www.wildfiberstudio.com/

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J.B. How do you make your contacts for work?

H.S. I am always on the look out, for example My trip to Guatemala, was from showing at Art in Action in Oxford, when someone told me about an American arts centre in Antigua called ARTGUAT http://www.artguat.org/I contacted the owner, photographer Liza Fourre, and gave a 10 day workshop there two years running.

Inspired by my time in Guatemala, I later had a Solo exhibition of 55 paintings at the Stephen Bartley Gallery, Old Church Street, Chelsea.

To fund my visits to Mexico whilst I was researching, I gave tours in Mexico for Day of the Dead. I have run a workshop in Mexico in Guadalajara at ‘Hard to Find’ arts centre http://htf.org.mx/.and at CaSa,Centre of Arts San Agustin,Oaxaca.http://www.mexicoescultura.com/recinto/57071/en/san-agustin-arts-center-oaxaca.html

J.B. How did you get into curating exhibitions?

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H.S. Having done many tours in Mexico I became aware that no one had done an exhibition about Rebozo’s that are hand woven on a back strap loom. I thought I would create an exhibition.  A rebozo is a hand woven garment ,with ikat design. Its characteristic is the hand laced fringe.The rebozo evolved with the influence of the Spanish, and the weaving skill of the artisans creating this garment. The artist Frida Kahlo wore them. It was a great idea. I just didn’t realize that it would take so long from the initial concept to the actual exhibition. The Fashion and Textile Museum in London was my choice of museums. It was there that I set my heart. It was designed by, Mexican architect, Ricardo Legorreta. I met Ricardo in Mexico City before he died. We made a shrine for him in the exhibition.

My Mexican Shrine close up copy

Exhibitions are expensive especially travelling ones. I managed to get funding and support from a number of different organizations, including the Anglo Mexican Foundation, The British Council, The Mexican Embassy and the Fashion and Textile Museum.   I bought Mexican’s over to the UK to demonstrate the skill needed to make a Rebozo. All in all it took 5 years from the initial idea to the London exhibition in 2014. It also showed in Mexico City in 2015.

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J.B. Are you thinking of running any other exhibitions?

H.S. I am currently working on an idea to exhibit Peruvian Costume. The working title is “Weavers in the sky’ although this may change.

J.B. What made you choose Peru?

H.S. They are outstanding weavers and there is currently a great interest in Peruvian crafts, particularly the weaving, culture and cuisine.

J.B. Where do you get the inspiration for your work?

H.S. My inspiration comes from my travels, decorative things such as textiles embroideries, shrines, bright colours, textures and different cultures.

J.B. Who are your design heroes?

H.S. Andrew Logan, Zandra Rhodes, Molly Parkin, Missoni Leonora Carrington. I am influenced by Mexicans including  Diego Rivera, Francisco Toledo.

J.B. If you were starting on your education and career choices again, what would you do?

H.S. I would always be an artist, but it’s a hard life.

J.B. What are the benefits and downsides about working from home?

H.S. The upside is that I love being on my own and being able to work whenever I feel like it, even quite late into the night. There are no distractions from other people and I don’t waste time travelling. The downside is I don’t get the critical information that I would if I were working with or near to other artists.

J.B. Apart from Peru what other projects are you currently working on?

H.S. I was commissioned  by the Swedish church to paint two, four feet long, panels of the tree of life. These were for the vicar to wear. I posted the finished design on face book and out of the blue was asked to come up with another Tree of Life Design for a Classical CD sleeve for musician Morgan Szymanski. I have just finished this. I have recently completed some Silk squares that I will soon be selling and I am constantly working on new designs.El Arbol de la VidaFE8A7467 copy

J.B. Thank you for a glimpse into your artistic life.

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