Tag Archives | colour

Pattern crazy

Apologies for the lack of blog posts.  I’ve been busy with the pattern course I talked about last month.  Module 1 has finished but I’m still enthused by it and busy creating patterns and coming to grips with Photoshop.  And observing patterns everywhere.  Such as this row of colourful wellies outside a shop in one of the arcades in Cardiff…

wellies

I dug out all the various sketchbooks I had accumulated over the last few years and was a bit horrified that they filled three plastic crates! Of course, they are not all full…. some of these are pretty empty…. There are quite a few handmade books and some little ones that I made from watercolour paper and bound with my little blue Bind it all machine.

sketchbook pile

One of the things we’ve been learning to do on the course are moodboards – this isn’t strictly a moodboard but a collage of the images that grab me, made quickly and roughly in Picasa.

collage

I have also been trying to add more colour and pattern to my studio – this had unforeseen consequences last week!  I took down a pile of patterned fabric from the top shelves there and relocated them on to one of the lower shelves – which promptly fell off the wall!  Luckily my precious thermofax machine, which was on that shelf, didn’t end up on the floor in pieces….

Remember if you use Google Reader to read this blog, that it is being shut down on 1st July so you will need to export all your subscriptions and save them on your computer.  I like the look of Feedly as an alternative – if you log in with your Google account it pulls in your subscriptions automatically and it has now introduced its ‘cloud’ service so it will no longer be dependent on Google when it shuts down Google Reader but will pull in the feeds on its own servers.  If you would like to get updates to this blog by email, you can do that by filling in your details on the form in the right sidebar and then you won’t miss a post or have to keep checking back to see if I have updated it!  I use Mailchimp and as far as I can tell it works quite well and I promise not to send you any unrequested mail.

Pattern course and a bit of colour!

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing an online course called The Art and Business of Pattern Design. I decided to embark on this because I noticed that a lot of my artwork consists of lots of overall pattern and texture and I needed something to get me organised now that my boys are all flying the nest and I’ve got more time to set up a business in it!

I’m finding it really inspiring and you’ll probably see quite a lot of it popping up in the next few months but just now we’re doing colour and here are a few photos that I’ve dug out to get colour swatches from…. UPDATE: I added the swatches I got from them at the Color Palette Generator

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A cliff in Cornwall (didn’t do one for this as both the colour generators I tried seemed to ignore that gorgeous red/orange and green and focus on the browns/blacks of the rocks).

colour-london-building

 

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A building in Bloomsbury in London

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Some graffiti near Brick Lane in London

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Rainy pavements in London!

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More rain!

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Yes, it rained a lot that time…

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Colourful containers in Newport

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The Paris metro

A couple of book reviews

Just before Christmas, Bloomsbury Publishing asked me if I would like to review a couple of their books.  As soon as I saw the titles, I jumped at the chance.

What the publishers say:

 The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnfield is a practical sewing book that arms the reader with all the techniques and information they need in order to mix and match clothing styles from the 20th century.

Accompanied by a CD with printable patterns for a range of dress sizes, this book is a comprehensive guide to creating contemporary outfits from vintage styles.

  book review    

The book is clearly and attractively set out with lots of pictures and diagrams.  It contains full instructions for printing the patterns, assembling them and making the dresses, with a section at the back covering the basic techniques of dressmaking.  

 book review  

It starts with a timeline of the main styles and trends for each decade between the 1920s and 1970s then goes into more detail about each decade.

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I liked the way it shows the way modern fashions draw on vintage styles, giving examples from different shops.  It also suggests ways to combine particular details of different eras so they work together.

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I haven’t yet tried making up any of the patterns but I can envisage playing with a few of them, notably the 1920s flapper dress (pity I no longer have the shape for it!!).

The second book is quite different in style to the first.  The publisher’s introduction to The Story of Colour in Textiles by Susan Kay-Williams -

Colour and shade of dyed textiles were once as much an indicator of social class or position as the fabric itself, and for centuries the recipes used by dyers were closely guarded secrets.

The arrival of synthetic dyestuffs in the middle of the nineteenth century opened up a whole rainbow of options and within 50 years modern dyes had completely overturned the dyeing industry.

From pre-history to the current day, the story of dyed textiles in Western Europe brings together the worlds of politics, money, the church, law, taxation, international trade and exploration, fashion, serendipity and science.

The Story of Colour in Textiles is an introduction to a broad, diverse and fascinating subject of how and why people coloured textiles.

book review

Being a historian as well as a dyer, I loved reading this book.  Again, it is attractively set out with lots of gorgeous pictures, but much more factual information too.  I enjoyed reading Victoria Finlay’s book on the story of colour generally, but this book focuses specifically on colouring textiles in Europe.  It mentions other parts of the world but mostly only as they affected European dyeing.  The book starts with an introduction to the various types of fabrics that were being dyed, mostly natural ones such as wool, linen, silk and cotton.

 book review

Unlike Victoria Finlay’s book which goes through each colour in turn, the author of this book works her way through history with chapters on prehistory, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, then each century from the 15th to the present day. It was useful to read about them in their historical context, and she draws on contemporary paintings which illustrate various dyeing processes, such as Jan van Eyck’s painting of the Arnolfinis, and the Bleaching fields of Haarlem by Jan van Kessel the Elder.

book review

It is a good book to dip into or use as a reference, but also has a very readable style.  It was interesting to read about the secrecy around new discoveries and subterfuge used to obtain valuable information.  Did you know that a whole mile of coastline around Tyre and Sidon consists of ground up mollusc shells, waste from extracting purple from the shellfish?    Colour as a sign of wealth, power and intrigue….

 book review 

She also covers the use of mordants, the introduction of patents and the development of chemical dyes as well as bleaching and the removal of colour to make white. 

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The book has an extensive list of footnotes at the end of each chapter and a large bibliography for further reading.  Definitely worth buying if you are interested in the development of dyeing and use of colour through the ages.

book review

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