Thursday, 6 April 2017

Lotus silk

Have you ever heard of lotus silk weaving?  No, neither had I but when I was at Inle Lake in Myanmar recently I had the opportunity to find out more.

Lotus silk weaving is entirely unique to Myanmar and Inle Lake is the only region in the world where lotus silk is being produced. Artisans extract the delicate fibres from the lotus stem and reel them into a thin thread. The fibres of five long lotus stems will produce about fifty centimetres of lotus silk thread; a labour intensive process that results in an extremely rare and exclusive fabric.


If you look carefully above and you can see the lady cutting and separating the fibres out, they're hand rolled to twist the fine fibres together and then given a good wash.  From there it is passed to the lady, with the modified bike wheel, to wind into a skein ready for dyeing.


But before we go to the dye room, let's have a look around the workshop. Coloured silks are all ready to go...


and finished cloth is priced by weight.  It's VERY expensive, afterall Myanmar is the only place in the world that produces this fibre.


Love the colour! Here the lotus silk has been mixed with traditional silk.


Everywhere I look there's a still life waiting to be captured here,


and here


and here!


Here's the dye kit....


and this too.  You'll be pleased to know that the dye supplies at InStitches are stored in a much more orderly way!


An old 'jam' pan makes a great dye pot



and these wooden trays would not look out of place in my potting shed!


More baskets of odds and ends 


and hanks of yarn waiting to be wound and woven.


Nothing is left unused, even when it's no longer fit for its origional purpose.  So who's going to adapt a couple of old bikes and make a pair of skein winders for InStitches?  If it's you, email us....PLEASE!



The thread is dyed using hot water dyes over wood fires


and by the looks of it it's very hands on.  I had quite a laugh with the dyer over the state of her bare hands!


The colour purple.



And the colour is?


Dyed and prepared thread then comes into the weaving shop.  Can you see the buckets of stones to act as counter weights?


**sigh**just love capturing the everyday bits and bobs,


Here is some undyed fibres being prepped for weaving


And here's it being done.


Nothing is safe from my wandering eye.


Love the shuttles.


So fast..



...the bobbins fly across the loom.


It kept this monk mesmerised, so I was able to take a quick snap of his tattooed back and arms.


Preparing the bobbins, 


which are then already to be slotted into the carried.

I could have stayed all day there.











Saturday, 25 February 2017

The light of your life?

Have you seen how much lampshades cost these days? Ever wondered if you could make one yourself? Hazel has, and now all the lamps in her house have been upgraded ! Each one bespoke, each one unique, each one beautiful ( even if I say so myself 😉)

And so that everyone can have beautiful lights we've come up with a fantastic workshop, which we took to Hexagon Quilters last week.


With everything provided, Hexagon Quilters were soon busy printing  fabric using a variety of found printing blocks, stencils and brush and roller techniques. Using an evenweave 100% cotton fabric we used textile screen inks which give great coverage, are fully mixable and leaving the fabric with  soft handle, perfect for some hand stitching once dry.

The textile screen inks are designed for use with thermofax screens, which some students brought along. But it's also fantastic for use with print blocks,

Including those made from string wrapped around a piece of downpipe or offcut of wood!

Colours were bright or subtle.

And there was time to add a few hand stitched embellishments before the cutting and making up the final shade.

So if you feel inspired to create your own bespoke lampshade why not join us for our next workshop in the studio? All the details can be found on our website: http://www.institchestextilecourses.co.uk/make--create-series-2.html

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Creative stitch with paint, thread and wax

It may be cold at this time of the year, but there's lots to inspire the creative mind, 



especially when Debbie Lyddon comes to teach in the studio, as she did last week!  Following on from her very successful exhibition at The Knit & Stitch show we asked Debbie to come and explore paint, thread and waxed collages with us for a couple of days.


She brought lots of her own work to inspire us


and some objects to give us focus.


 We were encouraged to paint on paper and fabric,


we didn't need much encouragement it has to be said.  We all were in our element very quickly!



Debbie was always on hand to offer advice as well as provide a challenge or two.  It's often good to be made to think the unexpected, don't you agree?


Cutting, auditioning, folding and pulling threads until we were satisfied with our compositions before


moving on to sew, by machine or by hand.  Both were encouraged, as was liberal use of the wax pot.  Now that's something to try!


And here are the (nearly) finished results, pretty amazing don't you agree?:


Apparently Joan's inspiration was trifle...


and Gill likes seed heads.


Sarah's was full of colour


whilst Valerie's was blue.


Birds feature again


and again, here on Terry's sea themed piece.


But Japan was Teresa's inspiration perhaps


whilst Nina chose a winter landscape.


Goodness only knows what inspired Hazel, but the loops look effective.


Joan tried the loops too, and


Jane produced a peaceful summer's day.  Now, isn't that something to look forward too?

Debbie is a fantastic and inspirational teacher and we all thoroughly enjoyed our two days with her.  She'll be back in the autumn to teach this workshop again however it is already fully booked .  BUT we have asked her to come and explore 'Sculptural forms' with us in the summer - all the details and booking details can be found here: http://www.institchestextilecourses.co.uk/debbie-lyddon---sculptural-forms.html

Inspired by Debbie's work and want to see more?  Visit her web site here: http://debbielyddon.co.uk/