Monday, November 25, 2013

Penny Wheeler

Last month I was really delighted to see this piece of work at the annual Portal graduate showcase exhibition at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran. I had seen images of the work by Penny Wheeler beforehand online, and they were intriguing enough for me to know that I HAD to see the work in the flesh. Those that know my work will understand when I say that I'm very drawn to the power of the unwoven thread as much as the woven thread, hence my admiration. Its not often that I manage to get along to exhibition private views these days, but this one I managed and so I was particularly pleased to meet Penny at the event. She very patiently chatted with me about her work whilst I attempted to keep my very busy 19month old from careering into the ceramics on display (hence not often going to exhibition pv's at the mo......)

A recent MA graduate from Bath School of Art, Penny has a wonderful sense of colour, and the trailing threads offer the perfect counterbalance to the structured woven cloth. I also love her use of the inlay technique, drawing with thread on the surface of the cloth.  

The Portal exhibition has now travelled to Oriel Davies in Newtown, where you can see the work until 2nd January.  

Penny is also part of a very interesting new textile collective called Seam. The members are based in and around Bath and have a forthcoming exhibition, which I'd suggest is a must-see event for your diary should you be nearby:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hiroko Takeda

I studied alongside Hiroko Takeda at the Royal College of Art, and so have long admired this seriously clever weaver. After a thorough grounding in Japanese textile traditions, a career as commercial textile designer in Japan then followed, before deciding to come to the UK to undertake an MA in woven textiles at the RCA.

Upon graduation she was unsurprisingly snapped up by the ground breaking Larsen Studio in NYC. After nearly a decade working there, she founded her own studio practice in Brooklyn, and has since worked on many inventive commissions and projects within the domestic and contract furnishings field. Recently she designed the panel drapery for ski resort in France.  Other exciting projects include creating work for the Christian Dior boutique in Milan, Beverly Hills and Shanghai for the VIP room wall.

Hiroko has an absolutely innate sensitivity to yarn and finish, and it never ceases to amaze me how she can take recognisable weave structures into such new territory. And I can't describe how much I covet the wrap in the picture above.......

Do check out this interview for more insight as well as her beautiful website.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Louise Tucker

Louise Tucker creates extraordinary hand woven lighting that is incredibly desirable and very cleverly executed.  She will be launching her latest collection at TENT this coming September, and is definitely a name to watch. Expect a beautiful exhibition of elegant, covetable work......

From her press release:

Welsh designer Louise Tucker will be showing her collection of contemporary lighting at London’s premier design event, Tent, as part of London Design Week 2013. A graduate of the Textiles Masters course at Chelsea College of Art and a weave designer with experience working within the Indian Silk industry, Louise is a designer who has been continuously fascinated by the possibilities of natural materials and woven structures. 

Launching her studio earlier in 2013, Louise has aimed to develop a practice that blurs the boundaries between craft and design. 

‘I want to make meaningful interior products that showcase the sophisticated beauty of natural materials.’ 

Over the last few months Louise’s hand crafted designs have been seen at major design events. These have included an exhibition with London’s dynamic exhibition organisers Designersblock as part of the Milan Salone 2013 and showcasing with the University Arts London’s Selected stand at Pulse London.

Supported by the Arts Council Wales, Louise will be exhibiting at Tent with a new range of PREN woven lights. Inspired by traditional weaving techniques and organic forms, the PREN lighting range has been woven out of sustainably sourced specialist wood veneer. Each PREN light pattern is developed by continuously making intricate small scale model. The design is only finalised when the organic forms balance with the subtle beauty of the wood to create a sophisticated simplicity. The woven forms not only create a sculptural object but a delicate light feature. Being a handmade product every light piece is unique and represents the time and care of the maker.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weave: A One Day Symposium: Stroud International Textiles, 11th May

Weave: A One Day Symposium: Stroud International Textiles

Helga Matos

Presented by Stroud International Textiles
Saturday 11 May 2013
‘Weave’  is a one day conference will bring together a diverse group of experts to explore weaving and woven structures. The day will discuss how weaving has progressed and developed while continuing to delight in traditional textiles skills.
Confirmed contributor speakers are Laura Thomas; Nadia-Anne Ricketts; Eleanor Pritchard; Tim Parry-Williams; Deirdre Woods; Helga Matos. Philippa Brock (Chair);
These are inspirational designer makers who test the boundaries of textile material and experiment with how far those boundaries can be pushed. The work they produce is exciting, beautiful, intelligent and inspiring.
The day will bring opportunities for makers and designers to contribute their specialist skills and knowledge of materials and encourage new systems and processes. The day will explore and discuss new techniques while basking in the pleasure of woven cloth.
Each contributor strives to push the expected boundaries of woven textile working with design, architects, fashion, science and interior design
Full price £70
Concessions full time students, unemployed and Friends of SIT £40
Early Bird Tickets: Full Price £60 Students Early Bird £35
Early Bird tickets end on March 30
This includes a light lunch and tea/coffee on arrival.
Advance booking through symposium booking page.
A bookshop run by Yellow-Lighted Books will be present.
To book a ticket please go to or and navigate to the symposium page where you will find full details on how to book online or if you prefer you can send a cheque to SIT office.
Or book through Tourist Information centre on 01453 760 960
Venue: Stroud College in Gloucestershire GL5 4AH
Contact Stroud International Textiles on 01453 751056 /

Eleanor Pritchard
Tim Parry Williams

Friday, March 15, 2013

Weave Waves, a collaboration between Scanner and Ismini Samanidou

Crafts Council commission – Weave Waves - brings together sound artist Scanner and textile designer Ismini Samanidou to explore the connections between craft and sound.
Weave Waves has been commissioned for the Crafts Council’s new touring exhibition Sound Matters: Exploring sound through forms, launching in May 2013, which looks at how and where the worlds of sound and craft collide.

The dynamic online space – – will show the process of the collaboration between Scanner and Ismini Samandiou via ‘chapters’ which will be uploaded weekly.

Scanner and Samanidou have been inspired by the visual and technical similarities between the digital software they use and the physicality of code used both in music and weaving.

Samanidou recognises code as tactile and visible and Scanner sees code as hidden and veiled beneath the surface but they both use a shared language of zeros and ones – of binary code.

A presentation of their collaboration to date will be shown at FutureEverything in Manchester at 4 Piccadilly Place, from 21-24 March.

This presentation at FutureEverything will be in the form of a film and sound piece driven by their shared interests in scale and location and includes a mapping of the urban environment and soundscape of Manchester.

Following Weave Waves at FutureEverything there will be a series of conversations and interviews broadcast on Resonance FM (London 104.4 FM) and available online, which will focus on the artists and makers featured in Sound Matters, including Scanner and Samanidou.

Visiting Weave Waves at FutureEverything

4 Piccadilly Place
M1 3BN

Wednesday 20 March*: 9-7pm
Thursday 21 March: 9-6pm
Friday 22 March: 9-7pm
Saturday 23 March: 10-6pm
Sunday 24 March: 10-6pm

*FutureEverything runs from 21-24 March however there will be an opportunity to see Weave Waves on Wednesday 20 March.

Weave Waves is a FREE event

About Scanner

Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, is a conceptual artist, writer and musician working in London. He explores the experimental terrain between sound, space, image and form, creating absorbing, multi-layered sound pieces that twist technology in unconventional ways. @robinrimbaud

About Ismini Samanidou

Ismini Samanidou designs woven fabrics for interior spaces, ranging from one-off pieces to limited edition textiles. Technology is an integral part of her creative process, her pieces woven mainly on industrial computerised looms.

About FutureEverything

FutureEverything is an art and digital innovation organization based in Manchester, founded in 1995 around an annual festival of art, music and digital culture. The award-winning organisation runs year-round digital innovation labs on themes such as open data, remote collaboration, urban interface and environmental mass observation. The FutureEverything festival each year presents the work of 300 artists across its art, music and conference strands, and is conceived as a ‘living lab’ for participatory experiments on art, society and technology.

In March 2013, FutureEverything presents the Summit of Ideas & Digital Invention, a one-off event that has been designed to showcase a wide range of digital innovation projects from international artists and developers as well as hosting their annual conference. In preparation for the 20th Anniversary of FutureEverything in 2015, the Summit in March and the next festival in 2014 have been designed specifically to demonstrate that at its core, FutureEverything is about innovation in all forms, be it in research, digital media or contemporary arts and music. @FuturEverything #futr

About Sound Matters

Sound Matters is the newest Crafts Council touring exhibition. It will explore the connections between craft and sound, investigating how and where they collide. It will feature the work of seven makers/artists that are seeking to explore and expand the boundaries of sound and craft. Musician and author David Toop is curatorial advisor for the exhibition which will launch in May 2013. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feasibility Study: Weave sampling & short runs facility

I am currently undertaking some research for a feasibility study into providing support services to the weave sector. I have compiled a short survey aimed at designer-makers and small businesses and I would be hugely grateful if you could fill in should you fall into these categories.

I know how pressurized everyone's time is, but I hope that the information gleaned from this survey will help secure funding for a much-needed weave facility which could directly benefit UK-based weave businesses in the future.

I am working to an very tight timescale to submit this feasibility study and so I would be extremely appreciative to receive your valuable answers, by this coming Saturday 16th March.

Please do forward this info onto anyone you think might be interested and keen to offer their thoughts.

Many thanks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eduardo and Maria Portillo

Detail of Nocturno
Yesterday I received these images by email from the extraordinarily talented Eduardo and Maria Portillo, and they quite frankly, made my heart skip a beat. The images show their work that is in a current exhibition 'Azul Indigo' in Caracas celebrating their exquisite use of indigo dying. But its not just about dying: the weave structures and dramatic yarn combinations take the colour exploration to another level. The work is utterly absorbing both from afar and up close: I love the way the ordered grid structure ripples, undulates and surprises as a result of the different yarn characters. 

The artworks aim to capture the various shades of blue that take us through the day; from the inky midnight blue sky, to a sky laden with rain, to the transparent air of the afternoon tinged with golden sunlight.

The exhibition is on until the 27th January. Sadly I won't be able to indulge myself with a trip to Caracas, but should you be nearby, you must go and savour this exhibition.... 

Detail of Nubes

En la Noche 

Detail of En la Noche 
Al Amanecer
Detail of Al Amanecer

Detai lof La Noche

The artists image reflected in an indigo dye vat

UPDATE, 15th March 2013
Here is some text that Eduardo and Maria have sent me translated from the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Enjoy.....

A Blue Journey
by María Dávila & Eduardo Portillo

Blue, color of multiple meanings, is also the color of hope. Every day dawns and the blue accompanies us in the sky, in the sea and in the distant mountains.

We see the blue in the morning but  in the  afternoon shows transparent with yellow and white. At night it darkens and with the moonlight follows a blue air. With the stars, in the morning, when it's almost dawn, the blue is still there.

Ten years ago, in 2002, when we found the indigo blue and draw travel lines to see the color of the peoples of Southeast Asia, of  the desert´s blue men , the Andean textiles and blue jeans, the eternal blue.

Indigo is obtained from various plants containing "indican" and Indigofera tinctoria L is the most used. As it is  insoluble in water, requiring an alkaline medium and a reducing agent to become soluble. When the vat takes an amber appearance, the fiber is immersed there, extracted  and with the air contact indigo oxidize to become  blue color.

In ancient times, due to its complex preparation process, the indigo vat was restricted to the hands of specialists. Its transformation from yellow-green to infinite variety blues was full of  magic and rigor.

In Venezuela still grows wild the indigo plant which was the base of an important industry for the country in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

In the highlands of Mérida there remains the memory of using this dye in wool blankets.

The discovery of synthetic indigo in 1880 revolutionized the way to obtain the blue in the world, in a few years replacing the use of natural indigo.

Today indigo culture remains in traditional communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America and in a wide universe of contemporary artists who see in its process a synthesis of history, culture and life.

In the mountains of southwest China, where the golden evening light bathes their endless   and steep terraces planted with rice, Dong people wears blue, almost black, their cotton fabrics dyed in indigo that seems to become waterproof paper after going through a slow and fascinating process of immersion in the juice of some plants and systematic exposure to the sun.

In northeast Thailand, indigo is full of superstition and alchemy. In every home the recipe for its preparation is different, secret ; add brown sugar, pineapple, tamarind, liquor, prove it, smell it, they keep it "alive". There all hands are blue; for a moment everything is blue.

In southern India still there are some indigo plantations, where the rhythmic "dance" of blue bodies in pools of indigo oxygenates the obtained extract , which should be processed until the dye is achieved.

In the Andes, in Africa and Japan, the art, study, research, trial and error are present in every indigo vat. To travel in search for Indigo  could be itself  a motive for a lifetime, every "vat" is different, each vision is unique, we  decided to try to find our own blue. After this intense experience, we interlaced the blue with our searchs and then brought them into the loom.

After a necessary pause we have resumed the pleasure found years ago, exploring the art of indigo dyeing, immersed in their vats again and over again, and we brought it to textiles structures that move us to get closer to blue moments of everyday: the night, the moon, the sky, the clouds, dawn, dusk, moments of everybody, moments filled with blue.

We have tried to fuse into the blue  the silk from Mérida, moriche palm from the Orinoco river´s delta, the wool of the Andes, and cotton, dyed in indigo and complementing it with other natural sources of color (cochineal, eucalyptus and onion) and with metallic yarns.

The space is constructed using blocks and mosaics born from triple weave , which is based on the interlacement of three layers of warp yarns advancing simultaneously and independently  while is weaving each one of them, therefore it should be weave three times the length  of the fabric obtained.

The various combinations of blues are revealed by Taqueté, an ancient textile structure , based on the sequences of  three or four colors yarn groups in the weft or in the warp

Today we celebrate the encounter, a blue vision of the world, a vision about the universal indigo blue, navigating the collective imaginary of some moments of the day and we endevour to get them into the space of the wide textile world.-

Dec 2012