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I have just finished reading Dreaming in Colour which is an autobiography by Kaffe Fassett. I have loved everything this man has ever turned his hand to and there is a wide variety – knitting, mosaics, tapestry, interiors, quilting, painting, rug making, theatre – you get the idea!
Kaffe writes this book in a really easy to read tone, as if he is just chatting to you about life over a cup of tea. He talks about his childhood which was relatively bohemian and full of now famous creatives as they hung out at his parents restaurant in Big Sur (one of my favourite places on earth).
In fact the whole book reads like a Who’s Who - he was well-connected from the start and although he has obvious talent and drive it’s no wonder that he made it so quickly. There’s a point in the book where Kaffe has literally just learnt to knit on a train, produces something which gets shown to a friend of an editor for a Vogue publication and in the next breath he is heralded as the godsend of knitting – but I’m probably only jealous!
He talks openly about his business decisions, his mistakes and successes and all that he has learnt. I think it’s always easy to look at someone once they’ve made it big and think that they never suffered or doubted along the way – so it’s refreshing and encouraging to read about someone’s experience of being short of money, or food, or taking an unknown risk which hindsight shows paid off well.
This book has strengthened my idea that Kaffe Fassett is an open, friendly, generous man with outstanding talent.
My biggest take-away from the book is just how creatively playful and open Kaffe is to all that is around to inspire.
If you like looking at how his work has developed and are interested in his history, then you’ll enjoy this book enormously.
I have been working away so hard on my surface pattern design portfolio that I have forgotten to blog about it or upload the designs to my website! So the spring cleaning has continued today and I thought maybe a little design story might be of interest here.
These Daisy designs started at a painted ‘doodle’ in my sketchbook. Top tip here is to use a sketch book that you can remove pages from easily because you never know when genius will strike and you might want to scan a page.
I had a wonderful time filling up an A3 sketchbook when I was on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course but had to chop elements out if I wanted to fit them under my A4 scanner.
I keep loads of magazine cuttings and printed inspiration most often because I like the colour combo’s.
I love Mary Fedden’s paintings for lots of reasons but I drew some colour inspiration from Black Tray for these designs.
Learning Photoshop has proved to be the greatest compliment to my painting work and it is so much fun to let the painting and the design work feed into each other.
Well I hope that has put a shot of colour into an otherwise very cold, grey and uninspiring day.
It’s a bit of a tradition in blogland to show things you’re good at, the corners of your house that are tidy and to share all that’s successful – after all blogs inspire us to try projects out or to go and be creative with paint, yarns, fabric etc.
So it’s with my tongue firmly in cheek that I share this little sewing project I tried recently because it is none of the above. And I must rush to add that it is not the fault of the author at all – this came from Tilda’s Studio which is a beautiful and well written book. It just turned out to be a lot harder than it looked and too much for me.
Being bird obsessed at the moment, I wanted to try to make one of these but it required the stitching of wire into pockets, careful measuring and a sewing machine that will keep its tension.
As you can see mine has got the wonky factor! And that’s a good photo!
And here’s a close-up shot of how to zig-zag stitch over the top of one’s terrible stitching in order to disguise it (not).
Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained and don’t let me put you off trying it yourself if you’d planned to. I’m going to stick to making dog-bed quilts – small and flat!
Since Christmas I have been reading my way through this tome – the Collier Campbell Archive – a massive but beautiful and very comprehensive biography and pictorial archive of the last 50 years of the Collier Campbell design studio.
“It has always been our guiding principle that the painted mark gives energy and beauty to fabric.”
Susan Collier and her sister Sarah Campbell were brought up by creative parents and lived a bohemian childhood rich in colour and culture. Incredibly, given the body of work that they went on to create, neither sister set out to pursue an artistic career or had a formal art training.
Susan began painting designs at night once her children were in bed. She pitched up to Liberty’s one day and was awestruck to have 6 designs bought. This began a life-long partnership with Liberty’s. Whilst still a teenager, Sarah helped Susan out in the evenings and found herself not studying anthropology as expected but working for a French design house.
In 1977 having found favour with Liberty, Terence Conran and Soieries Nouvealites, they began working for themselves under their own name – Collier Campbell.
They went onto to sell designs to Jaeger, Habitat and international market partners and more recently Marks and Spencer’s and Debenham’s, grew their studio to 7, licensed designs globally and opened (but later closed) a shop in London.
I love their work for it’s painterly approach and beautiful colouring – you can find designs ranging from pastels to hot spices.
” Their brushes were an extension of their brains” – Joan Karron Martex
They have designed everything from delicate floral’s to bold geometric’s to painted ikat’s and fabrics with pictorial scenes. If you want design reference then this book is full of it.
The 1980′s was a prolific decade for the sisters. World travel and people movement made for a rich, ethnic society to find inspiration in and demand for their work was constant.
“the…feel of the painted hand was an essential quality of the studio.”
The 1990′ s brought about a change in tastes which leaned towards more minimalist designs and interiors and so demand for their vibrant work dropped off. I left college in 1988 with my degree in textile design. I looked to Collier Campbell as icons and business models. This was the first time I have been able to plot my own experience within the greater trend for textile design at that time. I can now see I was trying to enter an industry which was changing (possible declining) at that time.
During the following decade Collier Campbell adapted their processes and found markets for their work in stores on the British high street. Sadly in May 2011 Susan Collier lost her battle with cancer. Sarah Campbell continues to design under her own name while Collier Campbell has been acquired and sells a selection of items from the design archives.
This book is an easy but informative account of their design life together and has enough inspiration to last other designers a lifetime too.
I love other people’s ‘links’ post where they share things you hadn’t yet discovered yourself. So here’s a few good things I’ve found lately…
I have been enjoying this new weekly blog. Each Monday the The Reconstructionists celebrates a remarkable woman in history with a short write up (just enough to make you brainy at a dinner party!) accompanied by Lisa Congdon’s lovely illustrations.
Discovering the beautiful painting of Valériane Leblond.
Lapping up floral inspiration here
Have been reading Painter’s Keys by Robert Genn which is a twice-weekly letter to artists full of tips, facts and interesting things to know. (Found via Dana who knows the best links to share). This letter was fully of funny terms pertinent to artists. Hope it raises a giggle or too…
Snooler: A person who gushes over your work but who you suspect privately thinks he can do better but actually can’t.
Daddylongpocket: A man who buys a painting done by a woman who is suspicious that the sale took place because she has nice legs and she has.
Arstratto: A wannabe artist who knows how it’s done, knows all about it, talks about it all the time, but can’t bring himself to do it.
Lugg: A husband who inquires when dinner might be ready just as the artist has wax-resisted and is laying in a delicate wash.
Ungrept: A wife who doesn’t understand she’s living with a genius.
Continuing to love Anita Klein’s work and reading a book I got for Christmas – Through The Looking Glass. Did you know she alledgedly bought a house in Italy wth the proceeds of an exhibition…. I wish!
Well I hope you enjoy some of these and have a great weekend.
I promised I would show you close-up’s of some of my prized bird books, so here is the first Basil Ede’s Birds.
You know how it goes sometimes – I walked into a National Trust Property one summer and went into an unassuming second-hand book ‘shed’ and it was one of those occasions where it was a treasure trove of beautiful unwanted books at cheap second-hand prices.
My family will remind me that I bought two books – one very heavy – which we then had to carry on a walk around the lake which turned out to take 2-3 hours! Oops. Did you notice I said we carried… anyway I digress.
It turns out that this book, which I bought for £1.20 because I liked the bird pictures, was illustrated by the Basil Ede , one of the worlds best bird artists. And it is utterly beautiful as you can see.
Basil Ede became a professional artist bit by bit, working at first at sea and then in London, he gradually grew his painting career by working part-time and being supported by his family (always a story I like to hear).
In his sixties he suffered a stroke which left him paralysed down one side – the side he painted with. Amazingly he re-taught himself over a few years to paint with his left hand just as well as he had with his right.
Beautifully inspiring painting and an inspiring life story too.
There is nothing like a new year to bring about a sense of re-set even if a complete fresh start is not really needed.
Some years I don’t want to celebrate the passing of one year into another, some years I need the blank page/fresh start feeling that a new year can bring, some years I need to feel like I can write something new into existence.
This year I just wanted to spring clean and re-set my creative system.
So I spent two whole days last week removing all the old to-do lists, old inspiration material and old designs etc from my board and filing them away without a telling off from myself if they never came to anything – everything finds a time and place eventually, this I am learning.
Birds have been on my mind for a while now. I often find that I am percolating inspiration when I’m working on other things and collecting towards the beginning of a project.
And how! When I started filling up the board (which is huge) I found I didn’t have room for everything without taping stuff to the walls and hanging a mini-washing line up too.
I love it. It is a creative volcano of birdy inspiration.
My friend Dana had been painting birds just before Christmas. I was so taken with this Blue Jay and so delighted when he came to live with me here.
And what serendipity that he arrived in the mail on the day I was finishing my pinning up. She has such a talent – have a look in her shop if you’d like your own bird.
I also had a new teapot for Christmas and some new bird tiles and when I got out my collection of bird books I could see just how long I have been percolating this collection.
I’ll show the books on their own one day as this is already a photo heavy post and the books deserve to be seen close-up as the illustrations are beautiful.
And then as if to seal the deal, this weekend I opened my Country Living magazine to find even more inspiration in the form of this…
I could be here for some while!
I have discovered the beautiful work of Maria Carluccio since buying my 2013 calendar.
I love her use of painted papers and collaged pieces and the flat graphic patterns.
Her work inspires me to play with art a little more; to print, cut and paste.
If you have a look at her website you will discover the most adorable world of people and creatures. It makes me want to live there!
Here’s two new e mags out ready for weekend kick-back reading
The second issue of Moyo (from the girls behind The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design) is out today. You can find it here.
And Amy Butler has published her first e-magazine called Blossom, she says “Blossom” is a visual journal that’s all about loving your life and living it fully and authentically. Filled with loads of creative ideas and inspirations, Blossom celebrates our creative expression and passions; our mantra is “Create Love, Be Kind and Express Beauty” and you can find it here.
Have a lovely weekend.