Friday, 20 December 2013

Between the Cracks Menswear

This last project of three was an interesting one. Juggling three completely different markets at once was sometimes challenging but over all I am happy with my results. I think my menswear range was the most successful, below are some quick snaps of my samples as pocket squares.
Print using natural dye from elderberry and traditional pigments.

Digital Print

Indigo and turmeric dye with opaque pigment screen-print.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Instagram Between the Cracks Project

As my first final year project reaches its end (tomorrow to be exact), I thought I'd shape some of my instagram snaps from along the way.

This project has been stressful, to say the least, getting back into education after a year of working has been hard for all.
I challenged myself further by attempting something I have never done before, experimenting with natural dyes. It has been fun, although limiting at times and is something I would like to take further, combining it with contemporary techniques.
Printing with the dyes has certainly been challenging as the colours always came out paler than hoped but luckily worked well with the rest of my samples!
Juggling three projects at once has been interesting and in someways I think I made it harder for myself by choosing the same starting point for all three as at one point it was hard to tell the difference between the three. At that point I split my sketchbook into three and made a concious effort to take different directions. The results are pleasing, my favourite being my menswear collection - accessories and floral suiting.
My least successful is hard to say, I have less work for one but it works together well and I could see it fitting the market. My womenswear, possibly has the most samples but I found not everything fit together, so I had to go back and pull it together with some samples that took elements and blended them.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Happy Accidents.

Working with naturals dyes has thrown up a lot of happy accidents, whether it be an unexpected colour or pattern appearing on the fabric.

I found when I mordanted things in a jar or rusty water with scrap metal that anywhere the metal or dye stuffs touched the fabric, the dye would take on a different shade in this area… I don't know if anyone see finds this with natural dyes?

other happy accidents (although some would argue not) that come out of the dye room are contaminations, where other dyes or inks get on your sample in some way when drying or washing the fabric in the sinks. For this project these could work quite well, one sample in particular picked up brown coloration when drying the dyed, pleated fabric. It gave a lovely grungey look to a fabric that may otherwise have looked to feminine for men's shirting.

With the end of the project in sight, I realise this unpredictability has played a huge part in my designs, it is the unexpected elements that sometimes add extra depth and interest to my pieces and what keep dyeing with natural dyes feeling fresh.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Direct Print with Natural Dye

The natural next step for this project was to try printing with the dyes, after all, I am a printer.
My first attempt was simple, with elderberry dye exhaust and cornflower mixed to a thick paste consistency and pulled through a screen. This was quite successful, it survived being steamed and washed although the colour greyed slightly in this process. The sample can be seen below (turmeric dyed linen with elderberry starch print). I later printed a leaf design over one of my acorn shibori silks which really well and had a nice handle to it.
 After more research and speaking to an ex-student who direct printed with indigo, I decided to give gum tragacanth a go. This was soaked for a week before blending with concentrated madder dye solution and alum. The print from this was fairly successful, if not a little paler than I had hoped. Definitely a technique that may come in handy in the future, I used the same process to create indigo prints, however I used a cup of dye straight from the vat (un-concentrated) so when printed over tea dyed fabric gave a very pale result. I would like to work on getting really strong colour like the example from the ex-student but for now I need to move forward onto the next technique.
A lot of my research mentioned manutex as a carrier when printing with natural dye, so this was my next step. The process was much the same as with the gum trag. and I again used madder.
It was harder to get a thicker consistency with this one as manutex is very runny but I think it gave an interesting effect, as you can see above on this photo print of paving. The downside to using manutex was that I found the results really effecting the handle of the fabric, even after steaming. The silk became crispy.

Of these methods, surprisingly my favourite was the corn flour method... although this was one the one I thought would give the poorest results.
The gum tragacanth worked well but I think I need to refine my methods and research more into getting bolder, bright colours.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


I've really been enjoying working with the natural dyes so far, it's challenging and it doesn't always work out like the recipe I'm following but I guess that's part of the beauty.
This week I had the opportunity to attend an indigo workshop and speak to an ex-student about her work with indigo.
I'm excited to get stuck in with the indigo and to try the madder I bought online.
The challenge is to create some direct prints with the natural dye stuffs!

Dye vat, Shibori silks and wool felt strips oxidising in the studio

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Orta at YSP

As part of my current project, this past weekend I took a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
I always like an excuse to visit the sculpture park!

The reason for my visit was the Lucy and Jorge Orta exhibit which focuses on the theme of water. The Orta's work often focuses on themes of the environment and their new work "The Raft of Medusa" was no exception.

I found interesting to note that they did a piece based around refugee wear. This is something I definitely want to explore further as it links nicely with part of my own research.

My particular favourites in the exhibit were these glazed bones with species illustrations decorating them. I'm always drawn to ceramic pieces.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A World of Colour

Considering the amount of colour in the natural world you'd think it would be easy to translate that onto cloth. No.
I am having a lot of trouble get a variety of colours from the dye stuffs I have gathered, the colours I have are lovely, the problem is, there are two. a golden brown and a lush berry colour.

Studio time was fairly successful this week, I experimented with natural dye mono-prints, using reactive stock paste (a pretty natural substance containing urea) to transfer the dyes which were painted onto a silk screen. Although they weren't steamed for long enough so my results were extremely pale. I'm going to try again (and steam them correctly this time!).

I've also been working in my sketchbook with the dye berries and exhausted dyes to create some interesting textures.

My aims for next week are more colours and more fabrics! I want to get as many different samples as possible, leather and wool felt for millinery are my latest loves, for working on in next week's studio time.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Life Lately

Life lately has been stress. Final year has well and truly commenced, and as the work piles increase, time for boutique hot chocolates and lunches that aren't from Boots become less frequent.

Currently I'm exploring natural dyes, visiting galleries and trend researching.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Won't you come dine with me?

A few months ago, while still on placement, I was lucky enough to be given the task of making a hat and hair piece for a lovely lady who was going to be on Come Dine With Me!
I was so excited because I absolutely love the show PLUS something I made would be on TV!

Well last night it aired!! Take a look at my offerings below:

The first piece I made was a lovely mustard yellow, wool felt, cloche with a big embellishment made from off cuts of the coat Jan planned to wear, topped off with a shiny red button.

Second and again using fabric from the coat, I was asked to make a quilled hair piece with ruffles of the coat fabric, red veiling and a hand covered silk button.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Muddy Fields and Strange Exhibits

Last week was spent in lots of mud, not the festival kind that I'd usually be enjoying this time of year but the country show kind.
I spent the rest of the weeky eating yummy heirloom tomato salads (on my snazzy flamingo plate) visiting museums in Manchester and making friends with cows on a quest to get some photographs for my final year project... The end looms ever closer, I've started my sketchbook and I've got my moving date, which is two weeks before we actually start so that I can concentrate on work and hopefully have some crazy fun times back in the Hud.

Until then it's more museums and more sketches which I'm sure I will share here.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Dream in Colour

This week has been all about getting our first brief and thinking about Research Projects (dissertation)...
so to distract myself and get back into the swing of designing, I entered Beta Fashion's latest competition.

The brief was "Dream in Colour" so here's a little snippet of my design. Head on over to Beta Fashion to see all the amazing entries.

I really recommend this site to any students, or anyone who fancies themselves as a design who wants to get the chance to possibly win a prize??? and/or have their design made into a garment, scarf, bag... you name!

They've done competitions with ASOS and Style Bubble before so it's worth checking out :)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Vespa Love

I'm really into the 60's and 70's I love a retro style print and I love a good scooter (like Sting in Quadrophenia) hello mirrors!

I saw Vitamin Water were running this competition in the UK and Ireland so I had to run out and get a bottle of my fave hangover cure ;) and get on photoshop to design my own!

My design is retro inspired repeat in eye popping colours and kaleidoscope floral.

Like my design, take a look at the other entries and create your own by following the link here... or clicking on my design!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why Wait?

My last post, where I talked about creating a brand and getting somewhere with my designs, I had to stop and think... why should I wait to this mystical time when I've graduated and I supposedly "know what I am doing"
In high school we had a phrase drummed into us.

If not now, then when?

so theres no point in putting it off until the magical time when everything is perfect, if I've learnt nothing from countless rom com's its that there's never the perfect time.

So here's my Stuart moment...

Check out my stuff on Society 6, and please let me know what you think? I'd love some feedback!

Next stop BeFab to get some fabric printed...

Friday, 2 August 2013

Brand Inspiration

I'm always looking for inspiration/ motivation for building up my own brand - something which I have definitely started to think about but will mostly be keeping under wraps until my graduation. Behind the brand videos like this are always a great inspiration, although t-shirts might not necessarily be my chosen products, its definitely a great watch.

More inspiration comes from Manna and Whittus two skate brands both founded locally. All it takes is determination, hard work and a market right?

Check out more SBTV videos here if you're looking for a little extra inspiration.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Rome, Florence, Pisa, Barcelona, France....

This past week I have been off exploring Europe, if you can call a cruise exploring?
It was a good taster of places we want to go back and visit for more than just a day!
My highlights were Rome, Florence and Barcelona. All of which I've visited before but only when I was little and on college trips... A mini tour of Italy has now been added to the huge list of trips for the future (which Grows almost everyday).

Days 1&2

The first day of our little adventure was spent at sea having life boat drills and searching for sun  loungers, day 2 we went to Corsica,just a little stroll around the port because it was soooo hot!

Day 3

By far my favourite day! Today we went to Rome where we looked in the Colosseum, had a tour of the Roman Forum, got caught in a tropical storm, ate pizza and gelato at the Trevi Fountain and went Vespa hunting...

Day 4

Florence and Pisa were next and we saw so much with guide Umburto that I can't even remember everything to tell you! Florence is amazing and somewhere I'd love to have more time in.

Day 5&6

Days 5 and 6 were St.Rapheal and Barcelona. 
After our mammoth 2 days trying to see absolutely everything in Rome and Florence, we took a break at St. Raphael with some swimming in the pool and a stroll around the town... we also decided which million pound Yacht we would buy.
Day 6 was Barcelona where we went to the football stadium and attempted to walk to Sagrada de Familia (fail), after our walking failure we took a stroll down La Ramblas and did a bit of shopping (for once I didn't buy anything!!!)

The last day was home time :( boooo. 
I will definately be back in Barcelona, Rome and Florence soon but you defo need more than one day in these places!