Thursday, 23 June 2016

Jeweller: Jan Smith + Studio Visits

I had the pleasure of a studio visit with Jan Smith, who is a brilliant jeweller and printmaker visiting NSCAD as part of the University's Artist in Residence summer series.

Enamel Brooch and drawing by
Jan Smith 
Jan combines mark-making in metal with enamelling techniques with fascinating results ending as wearable jewellery pieces. She is based in British Columbia where she also teaches.

Because of her interdisciplinary approach, I found her feedback to my studio work incredibly helpful.  

One of the key things she suggested was to tidy away all the 'conversations' I was currently exploring (I have about 10 different directions my work could go in) and focus on just one of the conversations. This is harder to do than it sounds, and I have 'hidden' half my work behind sheets so that I cannot see it and be distracted by it. There are now about four 'conversations' which will eventually need to be paired down into one. 

This is a photo of my studio before her visit. It looks quite tidy - but within this are too many ideas for me to focus on over the next 6 months.  There is probably a lifetime of exploration within this space, which is why I am thinking of doing a Phd next - but more about that later. 

Studio space before Jan's feedback

So I took Jan's advice and did a BIG tidy up. Ill post an 'after' picture soon.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Shibori - the art of binding fabric

Most of us are familiar with the beautiful effects of the ancient Japanese art of shibori. Fabric is dipped in rich indigo blue with white organic patterns created as a result of the binding and resist methods applied to the cloth.

The Simply Irresistible Dye class have been experimenting with the indigo dye vat throughout the duration of the course. With an array delightful designs to share with the class we all 'ooh and ahh' as we discuss how we achieved the desired affect.

Fabric folded and a resist is formed using wooden sticks

It struck me that the binding of the fabric is also an art form, often under appreciated and overlooked as the shibori fabric (the end result) which is what we strive to achieve.  

The wooden blocks used to create a resist have also been dyed by the indigo and become beautiful artefacts in the process, retaining the memory of where the bands were placed to hold the wood in place.

The lines show where elastic bands were used
to hold the wood in place on the fabric. 

These binding techniques could be applied to my fascination and exploration of 222 grips for a stone.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dying with Rust

The fun continues in the Irresistible Dye Class I teach at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.   This week we explored dying with rust. Its quite a simple process and it achieves some fabulous results. 

To start we laid down a large plastic bag and upon this we placed our fabric that had been sprayed with a 50/50 water vinegar solution.  

Fabric with rusty huddles from an old loom laid upon it

Then we placed the rusty objects on the fabric and covered the rusty pieces with another bit of fabric. This was all wrapped in the plastic bag to prevent the fabric from drying out, the dampness encourages the objects to rust onto the fabric.

The rusty fabric after a week of soaking

We left the fabric for a week, and the above is what happened in the space of 7 days.

Each layer of fabric reacts differently to the process

Tori displaying her rust dyed fabrics 
For more images of the results of our rust dying visit the Irresistible Dye Facebook page.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

222 Grips for a stone - the imprint of touch


222 Grips for a Stone - unfired cone 6 stoneware clay 
  1. 1
    a firm hold; a tight grasp or clasp.
    "his arm was held in a vicelike grip"
    "a tight grip"
  2. 2
    a part or attachment by which something is held in the hand.
    "handlebar grips"

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange - My exchange partner

Brooch by Stephanie Ormon

Meet work created by Stephanie Ormon, my exchange partner for the 2016 Contemporary Jewellery Exchange.

Stephanie is based in the UK and creates jewellery works using mix media. The above brooch is a combination of ceramics, enamelling and sterling silver.

Im incredibly excited to be paired with someone with a similar aesthetic and who works with a variety of mediums. If you would like to see more of Stephanie's work visit her Facebook page.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Shibori is a Japanese resist dying technique, which produces patterns on fabric. Resists are created by binding , stitching,  folding , twisting , or compressing the cloth.

Kimono made using different shibori techniques

There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns. Each method is used to achieve a certain result, but each method is also used to work in harmony with the type of cloth used. Therefore, the technique used in shibori depends not only on the desired pattern, but the characteristics of the cloth being dyed. Also, different techniques can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve even more elaborate results. 

I have been enamoured by this ancient art for many years, and held a solo exhibition inspired by an exchange trip to Japan, Fish Bells and Teapots in 2001 of kimono's created using these techniques. 

I am now teaching these techniques as part of the Irresistible Dye Class at NSCCD - and we are having a wonderful time. The results are documented on the Class Facebook page. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Irresistible Dye Techniques - Flour Paste Resist

It was the last of the six week Irresistible Dying Class at NSCCD on Tuesday and we saw a number of ideas and experiments through to completion. 

We had fun experimenting with cochineal dye (natural red dye that comes from a beetle) and the different colours it will create depending on the different mordants used to fix the dye. Alum created a scarlet pink/red, where as vinegar created a plum purple. 

Shiori resist using cochineal dye and discharge techniques

We dyed using different shibori resist techniques, and then combined these with the application of discharge dying (which is the removal of colour) using bleach.

silk resist dyed using cochineal and indigo natural dyes

Sophie explored stencilling a flour paste resist onto cotton. After it had dried she then brushed screen printing ink over the resist.

And making the flour resist was very easy, and much quicker than the Japanese rice paste method.

Flour Paste Resist

150g plain cooking flour
200ml (¾ cup) cold water
150ml (2/3 cup) liquid gum arabic

Mix the cold water and flour in a mixing pot, stirring well. Heat the mixture on the stovetop, stirring continuously until a thick paste is formed.
Allow to cool slightly, then sire in the liquid gum arabic.

Strain any lumps through a sieve (very important if you want to pipe the design onto the fabric. not so important if you are painting or stencilling the design)

Sophie with her flour resist design

A detail of the flour resist
Using a similar resist method, this time gel glue on cotton, the class created an interesting resist which when dried was dipped into shibori. 

gel glue resist with indigo

We also had fun experimenting dying with rust, which is so beautiful in colour, and so easy to do. 

Dying with rust.

I have put together a pinterest board of ideas and techniques here if you would like further inspiration and ideas.


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