Reflections

Third year has been the best year for me by far. I’ve felt happier and more creative. My designs have developed, and my university work has felt so much easier, as if I finally found the way I design, the way I think and what style I like. 

It all began in subject when I realised I loved using urban inspirations to design for the male market, due to the angular shapes and gritty subject matter, and I haven’t looked back, deciding to take this through to field. I love the moody colours, and even the bright ones, and I like that my designs are more masculine in nature; they seem to fit me better than what I’d created in the last two years. I’m a city girl, and I don’t know why I thought my designs would be influenced by anything else.

After determining what inspires me; black and white with a little 80’s thrown in there, I started looking on WGSN for the next trend to work with. I came across Youth Tonic, and therein, Slactivist Slogans, which is when I decided to put the theory of my dissertation into practice; using my craft as a medium for message. I’ve really enjoyed this topic and being able to design and create textiles that satisfy my love for creating with a deeper purpose.

Slactivist slogans is a transitional sub trend for autumn/winter 2018 inspired by bold graphics and political ideals. It has a bright colour scheme but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get in there some dark colours, so I included a dark grey and a dark purple. I am much more passionate about social ideals than political, especially when it comes to the welfare of people, and one group of people that really tug at my heart strings are the homeless. Living in a city I understand just how much money gets thrown away on useless things, I do it myself. I also understand how horrible it can be to be in a city, and I have a home and friends and people to protect me, the homeless don’t have those things. They are abused, ignored and treated as less than human because they are unfortunate enough not to have enough money to live on, let alone spend on unnecessities.

This is what I wanted to convey in my collection. That homeless people should not be treated as lepers because they’ve fallen into a difficult situation, or because they are living in a way that is contradictory to what ‘normal’ people consider living. Linking urban designs with homelessness wasn’t difficult, it was finding a design idea that was new and unusual that took a bit of time. I’ve seen a lot of collections/designs that are based on homeless people, and that was when I decided that I wanted to focus on what homeless people see, as opposed to looking at the homeless. I went to Cardiff city centre in the early morning, when most of the homeless have disappeared off the streets, and sat on the floor, and looked. The homeless people I see, more often than not, sit on the floor, which is a completely different perspective from almost everyone else who is in and out of the city centre each day. What I saw most of was the ground, and I started to look at the different markings and paint on the tiles, slabs, and manhole covers, and I found the inspiration for my designs. 

The first few weeks of designing difficult. Instead of thinking about designs surfaces I was too focused on designing my garments. While I was still experimenting with hand dying and screen printing, I wasn’t playing with designs or having fun with them because I had tunnel vision which only let me see my finished products. After I realised what I was doing, my designing got easier. I started to play with fabric manipulation, and laser cutting, I went back to mark making and turning the shapes and marks I found on the floor into designs. When I got to printing, I had some trouble with choosing the right colours to print on top of my coloured fabric. I’m used to working with black and white but I was so inspired by the colour scheme of Youth Tonic that I wanted a collection full of bold bright colours that would snatch and hold people’s attention.

I love fabric dying. I hadn’t practiced any since my first year, and I honestly don’t know why. I adore mixing and creating colours and then manipulating natural fabrics into a colour that I envisaged. I love having control of my designs from that very first step. It means that I can create something which has a part of me in it, which is so much more powerful that if I’d bought fabric that was as close to my chosen colour as possible. Each and everyone one of my designs I created from start to finish. I methodically created each piece all the while thinking of how these samples, these ideas could impact the change I’m striving for with my collection.

All in all this year I’ve learnt what I am comfortable with; fabric dying, screen printing and creating visual aides, and what I need help with, which is to not overthink and make sure that while I invest my time into my work, that I find a balance between relaxing and creating, meaning I’m able to think clearly, enjoy what I am doing and get involved in every part of the creating process.

I’ve also learnt that it is important to ask for and to thoughtfully consider others opinions this year instead of going full steam ahead. I’ve found it useful to have a team (even if it’s a team of friends) to give opinions to help me view my work with a critical eye and through this feedback, and helping others, my creative output, and my work has greatly improved for the better.


Mineral Spirit – Reflective Statment on the 12 Designs of my Collection

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During November/December 2015, I undertook a work placement with architect Richard Weston that massively impacted my collection. With background research on my client and the upcoming trends on WGSN, I was able to use my work placement to further my design ideas to a much greater extent than I had imagined. While on my work placement I was constantly observing and learning about minerals; I was able to see their beauty and to let this beauty inspire me; this is what sparked the ideas that I built upon during the creation of this collection.

With this new inspiration, I wanted to experiment with as many techniques as I could. I have a love of printing but I didn’t want this preference to hinder my designing in any way, so I chose to explore and experiment, and I was able to fully embrace my abilities as a textile designer within the creation of this collection. I revisited techniques that I learnt last year and was able to build upon what I had already know; I also used techniques that were new to me, such as digital stitch.

I’ve felt really free to experiment within the creation of this collection. My inspiration was something completely new to me and I wanted to embrace all aspects of textiles so as to find the best techniques that fitted with my style, the collection and the company that I have chosen to design for, Kelly Wearstler.

With a keen focus of mark-making and luxury items, Kelly Wearstler caters for both the residential and contract market. It is the latter that I am aiming this collection at. I have also taken my inspiration from marks and patterns in nature, and this has helped me to know that I have been taking this collection in the right direction. I have mimicked Kelly Wearstler use of luxury materials, creating this collection with the aid of both cottons and linens; I have also kept to their preferred colour scheme, while adding hits of colours from my chosen trend.

While designing this collection I used both the inner and outer structure of minerals as influence; small fissure called dendrites, the abstract nature of quartz and the angular outer surfaces of the minerals themselves. Each elicited different ideas from me, making my collection a compilation of mineral themed designs. With each different design I wanted to incorporate every aspect of the mineral, including their inner beauty; the layers within each mineral gives great inspiration on how to add texture and layers into my own designs, this has helped me to constantly develop my collection.

My collection includes a number of different designer techniques which I have been able to explore, experiment with and combine. I’ve used techniques such as;

  • Painting
  • Screen-printing
  • Digital printing
  • Machine embroidery
  • Digital embroidery
  • Applique
  • Fabric manipulation

Recently I’ve really wanted to experiment with fabric manipulation, having never used the technique before, I thought it would be a great way of showcasing the different visual effects that are found within mineral structures. I experimented with hand and machine manipulation, and digitising the results, which has been a really great undertaking. It has opened a new door for me into designer techniques which I plan to fully utilise in the future.

From graphic structure designs to abstract experiments, I have explored different avenues in my quest to create my twelve designs. To create effects that I had seen within minerals, and their structures I explored with both painting and marbling. Both techniques were helpful in the creation of my designs. I have been able to manipulate and experiment with them so that I could then place them into later designs, to further tie my collection together.

To bring added texture into my work I experimented with applique, and layering fabrics which I really enjoyed. I added embroidery into the mix to give detailed focal points within the designs. I then further experimented with embroidery; using this technique as a way to lift my hand printed designs, and to add that level of sophistication and elegance that is known of Kelly Wearstler.

Towards the end of my time creating this collection I was thinking less about the different aspects of what I needed to have in each designs, and instead was focused on the different techniques I could use, and enjoying these as much as I could. I feel that because of this, I have created designs freely, and have been more open to different kind of experimentation, and joining these techniques to explore the best results.

This collection has changed slightly from what I had originally planned, but I feel that this is a very positive step. I have not tried to force my collection into the set ideas I had at the beginning, instead I let myself try out different paths to see which ones conveyed my designs in the best way. I have thoroughly enjoyed using different techniques that I wouldn’t usually have during the production of my twelve designs, because I have been able to broaden my skill set and really enjoy all aspects of textile design.

I feel that my exploration into all these different avenues is clearly seen within my twelve designs. I have tried to make each design link in with my chosen company, theme and with my own personal style and feel that I have achieved this. Each one of my twelve designs is linked by the inspiration subject that I had chosen, and by techniques that I have explored. I feel that my response to each different designs has helped me to grow as a designer, considering techniques that I might not have before, and being open to explore all aspects of textile designs. This openness and willingness to experiment and develop will be extremely helpful when the time comes to further refine these designs.