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Use less text on mobile! beautiful textiles for your home, designed by the sea and made in the British isles

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drawn to design

drawn to design

'Why draw?' This is a question I asked myself when applying to do a textiles course at university. At the age of 49, I had never really drawn anything. I had been creative all my life but I was a maker, not a sketcher. I soon found out that drawing is something that is absolutely necessary if you want to become a designer, so I had to book myself on to a crash course to learn how to draw before my application was accepted (thank you Michael Troy!). Although I was fearful of failure to begin with, and I can see the tightness in my early drawings, I eventually learned to relax and enjoy playing with colour and texture, mark making and experimenting.

I remember one particular day in my first year at university, when it all became clear to me. There were almost 70 students squashed into the art room and we were all given the same drawing task. Only, we were asked to use the hand we don’t usually draw with and we were encouraged to use charcoal, attached to long sticks. Our large pieces of paper were pinned onto walls and we had 3 minutes to draw a cross section of a tree trunk. Once the 3 minutes were up, our drawings were taken off the walls and placed side by side on the floor and we were asked to walk around them. There were 70 different drawings of exactly the same thing. Not one was better than the other, not one was worse, but each was individual.

This is why drawing is so important for designing. It comes straight out of you and is as individual as a finger print, it represents your style, your voice. It is completely original and this is the starting point for designing; to create something that does not already exist. I never draw objects, I see that as copying the designer who made the object in the first place. I prefer to use nature and landscapes as inspiration and as I walk a lot, I have an ever changing source of material to work from. I sometimes use photographs to keep records of what I’ve seen, but always get better results if my subject is in front of me. I use my imagination, or memory, for creating more abstract drawings and these work well too.

The sketches I make, the marks that appear on paper, are not works of art as such. That is, I am not about to frame them and hang them on the walls. But they are the beginning of the design process and will fuel weave designs or perhaps give me ideas for stitch. And because they come directly from me, I can be sure that what comes next will be original.

These drawings were very quick to do following a day on the beaches at Llandwynn and Newborough Forest on Anglesey in North Wales, and form part of the research for my next woven designs. For me, trying to capture the essence of the place is more important than it being a true replica of the scene itself.

 ...I used my finger to make this drawing. The textures of the pastel oils is perfect for smudging and you can see how excited I was by the bright greens. I took photos of my drawings at different angles:

This is a sketch of the forest, again I was playing with textures and looking at pattern this time. Using my camera to find different angles of interest, I can see structures for weaving here:

Why not try it for yourself? It takes a little time to find your style, but you will most certainly have one. Don’t be scared and don’t care too much. There is no bad. Make some marks!

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rockpool

rockpool

I must admit to being slightly obsessed with water, especially the way it changes colour, depending on what is underneath it and what the sky is doing above it. Every time I pop out to the beach, the sea offers up different, ever-changing shades and the rock pools it leaves behind as it falls away from the rocky edges of the beach are also full of colour and texture.

 

I often surprise friends when I return from holiday with my holiday snaps. I hardly ever take photos of people, instead my images will be of the sea, or a lake or perhaps a structural plant or a dead tree or two. I am fascinated with just how brilliant and bountiful nature is as a source of inspiration, and I am always looking out for colour. During a recent trip I found myself captivated by the beautiful greens and blues of this fast flowing river in Hukka, New Zealand. It reminded me of the colours of the rockpools back on the pebble beach at home.

I have been making sketches and colour studies based on rockpools and am currently developing this work into designs for weaving. Here are a few drawings taken from my sketchbook:

I will be making some yarn wrappings next and then I can begin designing the weave and making a warp to take on to the loom.  Hopefully I can produce some samples worthy of becoming a new throw design.......think I will name it 'rockpool'.

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Island Inspiration

Island Inspiration

When I am surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, either sitting on the pebble beach outside the cottage or watching the boats come in out of the tiny harbour at Beaumaris, or walking for miles across sandy beaches at Newborough Forest, I am filled with the need to capture it.

I have collected hundreds of photographs over the years, and filled sketchbooks with colour combinations, sketches and texture studies. These are a very valuable resource for me when I begin to think about a woven design.

The structure of the weave reflects the textures that I find in this natural environment. My latest collection has a structure inspired by the impressions left behind on soft sands. For instance, the ripples that are left as the sea pulls away at low tide and the heavy indentations of tyre tracks made as boats are taken out to sea on trailors by tractors at the bay.

 

These markings can be seen all over the island of Anglesey, as can the colours that appear in this collection. Many shades make up the ‘white’ pebble beach outside the cottage and I spend a lot of time sitting on the pebbles in one position and counting how many different colours are laying all around me. When I visit the sandy beach at Newborough, I literally walk for miles with my head down, marvelling at the myriad colours of shells and fascinating rocks thrown out by volcanoes on the romantic island of Llandwynn. Then there are the colours of the sea and sky and these change dramatically every day, from green, to palest duck egg, to dark navy, to grey.

The light on the island is very special, the air is clean and the weather can be mill-pond still or stormy savage from day to day. This resource of inspiration never fails to excite me.

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