Monday, 30 July 2012

oh boy!

Harry and Connie
Have I been having fun today. I've been to be tutored by Christine Chester at Studio 11 in Eastbourne. I had the privilege, due to the sickness of the other course attendee, to have a one to one all day with Christine. I brought along some cotton; torn up sheets, (one of which had a woven label from Harvey Nichols), used past wear, so renewing themselves to a different purpose here. They once belonged to Connie,  my grandmother's older sister and Harry, her lifelong lesbian companion - but that's another story.

Christine was a delightful tutor and, whilst enlightening me on the marvels of tied, resist, clamped, twisted and crumpled dyeing, we found ourselves chatting about; family, studying history, playing music, adopting cats, living by the seaside and other enjoyable things.

The studio itself is really lovely, with windows on two sides, an open airy atmosphere, plenty of big trestle tables to work on and a space for being messy by the sink - not to mention a rather delicious pink tin containing bicuits!

I thoroughly enjoyed tearing my sheets into smaller pieces of differing proportions, then wrapping up a variety of things; rectangular blocks of acetate, ice lolly sticks, kebab sticks, acetate circles and donuts - clamped over folded fabric, rubber bands holding pleats and pinches of fabric and, on one small piece of silk, brought for a particular reason, a combination of folding, tying, clamping and sticks!

I was shown how to mix up the dyes, add salt, immerse the fabrics and, later, add mordant to fix the dye. She also talked to me about design, balance, using colour and texture, proportion and repetition, contrast and the placing of lights mediums and darks to achieve an interesting harmony of shapes on the final piece. Then, whilst the fabric was taking up the colour, I sat down with squared paper to design, trying to bear in mind what bits of fabric I'd dyed with which technique and how much of each! I've come home with the plan and finished making out a cutting list. I've run my bits of fabric through a hot wash, and I've found myself with these.

My favourites are
Some moons
a sun filled forest

Flowers of the field
and this rather nice
Tomorrow I have the fun of going back again to think about how to put bits of these together to match my design - or rather to work with design and these bits of fabric to create something, hopefully, beautiful. With any luck my fellow student will be feeling better so there'll be twice the fun.

I am genuinely stunned at the wonderful patterns and colours that have resulted from all of this. Not because I think I'm particularly clever, but because such simple techniques well taught, can produce such riches.

Can't wait


  1. What a fun day with lovely results!

    1. it was great fun - it makes such a difference seeing someone who knows what they're doing so their "stuff" - a real education

  2. What cool designs, my favorite would have to be the moons, they really do look like a full moon on a warm summer night! And the blue is simply beautiful.