Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A day of indulgence

As a Designer Maker I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the artists and designer/makers that inspired me at University, Betty Pepper, Jennifer Collier and  many more.  I'm afraid when I meet someone I admire I become very star struck.  I understand at the end of the day, they are just like me but it is purely the admiration of what the person has achieved that fills me with respect.

Today, I met another of my creative heroes Michael Brennand-Wood.  I first discovered him during research in my Foundation Year at college.  He intrigued me in just the same way Kaffe Fassett had in the early eighties when I came across him.  That was way back when knitting was quite a novelty for a man to be involved in and was regarded at the time as quite a feminine past time.  So when I came across the work of Michael Brennan-Wood, again coming across a man who had a passion for stitch was a pure delight.  This time though there was more than yarn used, instead materials included wood, textile, plastic and metals.

 I spent a whole morning in a workshop with him and a group of teachers who were seeking inspiration and new techniques to take back to students.  The first half and hour Michael talked about his work, how it had developed over the years and who he worked with.  I listened, watched the powerpoint slides and drank in every word, scribbling down notes as he spoke.  I found his approach interesting, his approach to the symbological aspects of the flower and how he had worked with pattern, construction and de-construction of the layers to produce lace like qualities or using materials like toy soldiers to produce sculptural pieces which, at first glance appear beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

Then following a demonstration by the master himself, the rest of the morning was spent weaving, wrapping, twisting to make a form either 2D or 3D.  Mine was inspired by the beautiful gardens at Putteridge Bury Conference Centre, Luton which was the location for the workshops.  I chose the form of a simple wing.  I let my creativity drift as I manipulated the fibres and beads over the willow shape I had formed.  I found the shape and colours of the finished piece rather pleasing.

The morning went far too quickly and it was soon lunchtime, where I was treated to a buffet lunch with the inclusion of little green flags for the veggie fayre which at most business meetings is missed.

After lunch the groups swapped and we were shown by Anne Howells how to use Angelina and similar threads along with other fusable plastics. Then she gave a demonstration on how an embellisher machine worked and finally how to fuse and cut fabrics using a tool similar to a solder iron.  I have to say the favourite part for me was using the fusing fibres on top of a wood cut stamp.

It took the impression of the stamp beautifully and ended up looking like a machine made badge for clothing, although, I feel some glitzy jewellery pieces coming on for my neices.
I'm sure they will be delighted.  I also enjoyed working with Tyvek which is another newbie for me.

The day was over way too fast.  The aim of the day was for me to experience a workshop in preparation for joining the Specialist Crafts team later in the year.  I hope I can provide just as exciting workshops as I par took of today.  It was an interesting fact finding day.  Both workshops had totally different styles of presentation and the pace.  It was useful talking to the teachers during lunch and sharing their feelings on what they had learnt for the morning and what of their workshop experience they could take back to school.

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