Thursday, 16 May 2013

Tulips, Textiles and Travels

Focussing my ‘phone camera is one area of ‘continuing professional development’ that I’ve yet to get completely under my belt. You know the feeling: you’re out and about and see something wildly beautiful, zap out with the camera, only later to discover that what you thought was the focus button in fact is nothing of the sort. You’d think I’d have learned how to do it by now, as I’ve been on frequent ‘Textile Travels’ from west to east in the last few weeks.  

WonderWool Wales was just as it said on the tin: wonderful. This year’s visual treats were provided by the felters, with some amazing work on show. For me, the best was the many-layered, complex and beautiful work of felter Caroline Merrell of Felt in the Factory. Her felted chair covering was a masterpiece: my picture on the ‘phone camera just doesn’t do it justice. She apparently runs felted footstool courses, which I’m now desperate to do, as I’ve got a really old footstool that could really do with this kind of felty-facelift.   

Felt in the Factory also had a neat machine on their stand called a Groovi, which takes out all the hard work in the rolling and enables you to do deep layered felt that you can then cut and shape. Good for people with arthritis in their hands who can’t do the heavy wet rolling, though a bit of rolling is very good for getting rid of unwanted flab in the upper arms... says she, knowingly. I suppose it’s a matter of what’s easiest – and of course of the expense of a big machine like that.  

My next foray with the ‘phone camera was this last weekend’s Textile Fair at the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree. A friend spotted this piece of cloth for sale, all tied up in Shibori style. The myriad of little pinches of cloth, all tied with ultimate precision, reminded me of springs in a mattress. The utter patience of the person who prepared this! It was just one of many international textile cultures present at the fair. I bought some scraps of Kente cloth to try to learn the language (another long-term project for when I retire), and some African bark cloth with a feel under your fingers that’s totally unique.  

Braintree has a long association with textile company Warners, just as neighbouring town Halstead has a long association with the well-known textile family Courtaulds. It was in Halstead recently that the ‘phone camera came out again, this time with a great deal more success, to capture this colourists’ dream bunch of tulips. The florist who put them together is an artist in her own right: Monet couldn’t have done any better I’m sure. And at least I got them squarely in focus – which is in itself a small miracle. Here’s wishing you a weekend of small miracles of your own, and lots of focus to concentrate on enjoying them. 

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