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Our trip to Southern Asia earlier this year (here, here, here and here) was rich in visual and cultural inspiration.

I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed by how deep and far I could go into this vibrant feast of creative stimulus and output – whether to start with painting or stitch or print. And all the while I’m spinning the other plates of my self-employment as an artist: delivery/teaching and all the admin that it takes to run a small business. It can be distracting and actually difficult to get time to be creative some weeks.

So I just began. One day unceremoniously. Just where I was. No fanfare or special time set aside. I just started. I took off simply by doing a little each day – whatever I had time for.

As I teach screen-printing and mixed media textiles twice a week at MAC, I kicked off this intention by focusing my preparation for these classes on my Asia photos – and I have a lot to choose from as I took nearly 7000! inc duplicates for a better shot – you know? So to make that task less anxiety inducing, I split those into files: Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I currently haven’t got to the end of the 2.243 photos taken in Malaysia!

So if I was demonstrating cutting a screen-print stencil I based it on a motif from of a beautiful textile in the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur or if I was making an example of free-machine embroidery for my Mixed Media Textiles class I referenced a drawing I’d done from a beautiful silk kimono.

Sometimes that was a basic quick line drawing, other times I had paints out to use. On some evenings I have doodled in front of the TV on my ipad pro – not that I’m especially proficient but it’s a great way to easily draw and digitalise your handwork.

It’s true what they say about ‘a little and often’ –  gradually my pile of Asia work is coming to life.

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On Saturday 18th May 2019 The Tutors Exhibition  – at macbirmingham opens and in it will be one of my pattern design pieces and products – would you like to hear the story of how it came about?

I recently watched The Creative Brain on Netflix, which advocated the importance of open-ended play for creativity to blossom and this, is very much a story of that process too.

It all began with a painting I did one afternoon where I textured up a piece of watercolour paper with a lovely deckled edge and then overlaid white paint leaving the negative space to describe birds flying. And that was it – that piece of creativity sparked something else and off I went down that rabbit hole leaving this painting in the plan-chest drawer for a few months.

Then by a series of serendipitous events I found myself a member of the wonderful SteamhouseUK community where I get to play about with the most amazing array of machines and learn techniques and processes that have been invented since I was last in college.

Sublimation printing (or dye sublimation printing as it is sometimes also known) is the process of transferring images onto a fabric (or other substrate) using a heat-press to print the image. At macbirmingham we have a heat-press and we use disperse dyes to paint and print onto paper which can then be heat-pressed onto fabric (if you think that sounds fun come along to my Tues afternoon class and have a go!)

But I had never hoped to ever have access to using an actual Sublimation printer until now! In this case the disperse dyes are in the printer ink cartridges and the computer sends your image to print onto heat resistant paper in wide format.

At Steamhouse the heat-press can print onto fabric up to 175cm in width. The heat-press technique is also great for capturing textures in designs onto fabric. The Tutors show was coming up. All this got me thinking what could I make with the size of fabric that I could print to exhibit for the show?

One morning I woke up with the answer ringing clearly in my mind and it didn’t take long to make it a reality – I’m single-minded like that sometimes – use the Swifts painting to make a pattern and construct a kimono!

The pattern had to be cut down the back and re-seamed in order for all the pieces to fit one at a time into the heat-press for printing and the Swifts pattern was easy enough to put into technical repeat using Photoshop so that I could use the sublimation printer to print an all over repeating pattern.

After that it was a steady job to sew it all together nicely including a partial lining so it looked good hanging up for exhibition.

If you’re local and can make it to MAC to see the show ( – Tues – Sun, 11am – 5pm, First Floor Gallery) you’ll see that kimono hanging on the wall and who knows, after the exhibition is over I may even wear it 😉

Still catching up my blog – back in January I re-introduced myself on Instagram after realising that even my old friends weren’t really sure what I do day-to-day. So here it is for any of you who’d like to know too 😉

Hi friends, family and followers HNY! 🍾
I met an old friend who’d I’d lost touch with and it made me realise that these pictures here don’t fully describe my Work Life and so I’m starting a fresh year with one of those little Insta intro’s people do….
28 years ago I graduated in Textile Design specialising in Printed Textiles.
26 years ago I got my teaching qualification and began teaching Primary-aged kids with a specialism in kids with Additional Needs.
7 years ago I stepped out of the school classroom and into other places and spaces where I can teach people, work with kids and develop my own art practice.
👩🏻‍🎨 I’m an artist at heart and I love to paint. And print. And add colour to things. And meet people and share art and creativity and the good it brings.
📆I hardly have a typical week (which I love) but it might look like this:
🖼 I spend some of my time painting pictures to sell and until May 2020 I have the whole of Winterbourne House and Gardens @winterbournehg to inspire me as I am Artist in Residence there @artist_winterbournehg come and follow that account too if you like!
🌳🏢I work regularly @macbirmingham teaching Mixed Media Textiles on a Thurs night, Pattern-design/Screen-printing and Heat Transfer-printing on a Tues afternoon, running a Baby Creative class (messy/sensory play) and also the cutest Toddler Art Group. 👬👭
Then there’s work that comes in blocks such as delivering a whole range of multi-disciplinary workshops locally at places like @birmingham_mag and @winterbournehg for adults and children, working with local and national social enterprise groups developing skills with a group of refugees and offering paint-therapy for ShelterUK and I also take workshops and demonstrations on the road to art groups as far as my travelling time can take me.
🤫I design patterns commercially using any number of ways; print methods, stitch and all sorts of paint techniques and a local print agent takes them out to the textile fairs to sell them on my behalf. It’s secret work (copyright issues) and not often seen here.
📺 And of a night I still knit, weave, stitch and crochet in front of the telly because I love to.

Thank you for reading if you got this far x

This week I got one of my much-liked London fixes by popping down to see a couple of exhibitions.

First up was Oceania at the Royal Academy which was equal parts inspiring, educating and humbling.

The show is made up of ethnographic collections dating from the 18th century to the present with a free audio guide explaining the thought behind practises which go much deeper than simply surface decoration or use.

I thought it was a clever idea to look at what else was happening in the world when the RA was being founded… the answer was Captain Cooks discovery of the island civilisations from Tahiti in Polynesia, to the scattered archipelagos and islands of Melanesia and Micronesia – all collectively known as Oceania.

The indigenous populations they met came with their own histories and practices of social and artistic traditions. There is a rather sobering (and very well done) video graphic of the impact European adventurers had on these communities that we are now re-evaluating without the assurity and self righteousness of previous generations.

So there is a lot to wonder at, understand and learn in this exhibition and of course there is always pattern to be found!

Just back from a few days away in Portugal – Lisbon and Sintra.

Here’s Lisbon looking moody (read that as bad weather) My umbrella, gloves and hat were the best things I packed.


When in Portugal you must partake of the Pastel de nata – a Portuguese egg tart pastry that it’s famous for.

And of course there are old and new tiled buildings everywhere.

Heaven for the pattern lover here!

This was my favourite tile and that’s no men feat because I probably photographed 50 plus!

And of course one must ride on and also photograph the ubiquitous old yellow tram.

We also went out to Sintra (an hour away from Lisbon) a lovely rich, old town bursting with old palaces and old mansions with beautiful gardens to explore. The stand-out place being this: The Pena Palace.

There are more (and different) photos over on my Instagram account  here if you enjoyed.

 

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Did you notice I’d spruced up the website? New, fresh work samples in the portfolios, updated text and more representational photos of me…i.e. older looking!

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As any sole trader will tell you, there’s a gazzillion things one could do with every hour of working time and for me the thing that slips is the website maintenance. But it’s been worth all the slog as I think it looks great and just like any good clear up (once it’s done) its been cathartic and satisfying.

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Hope you enjoy it too.

I have a ta-dah for you today – a tablecloth I hand-printed recently.

One reason I like to keep blogging is to record such things – when I looked back to see when I started my Fish project, I was surprised to see the date on the upload was May 2017. It takes a long time for some ideas to percolate and evolve and then actually get made.

You can find the beginning of my Fish sketchbook workings here and here although the actual inspiration came back in Summer 2016 whilst on holiday in France when I saw a lovely tablecloth in Fragonard.

I’m very lucky to have the best p/t job freelancing at MAC Birmingham the most brilliant arts center.

And sometimes I can use the space which I needed to for this big print job.

As you can see, the following day I wasn’t so fortunate and was squeezed onto the floor of my studio at home!

It took about 20 hours to print using around 10 colours so I won’t be going into production anytime soon but it’s important to art-play as it releases surprising creative avenues.

And it did – 6 fishy themed surface pattern designs got designed last week to go to market. Now wo’betide anyone who spills red wine on it!

 

 

 

 

Exciting news this week! A design of mine that I sold to Huggies through my agent in North America, has hit the shop shelves. It’s exciting because I don’t often get to see what becomes of my patterns once they are sold. They are each like my little babies so it’s fitting it’s on a baby wipe pack 😉

Angela, this one is just for you 🙂 Thanks for asking 😉

Some more snippets from the pages of my Fish Sketchbook (see previous post) showing bits of pattern exploration, a little painting, rust dying, block printing, collage, string printing, applique and free motion embroidery.

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I’ve been Spring cleaning of late – you know all those little jobs that you put off but need resolving eventually. So I’ve cleared and filed my desktop…dating back two years! collated all my pattern designing files into one place which was a major task and I’m making inroads into clearing out iphoto.

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Which has prompted me to show you what i’ve been working away at over the last few months alongside other painting and design work.

Every 3 months I get a new group investigating textiles at MAC and I like to have a theme to demonstrate the techniques to and to show how you can develop ideas along an idea.

I was inspired by all things fishy when we were in the South of France in the summer and so that was my theme with my last group.

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Above is a demo of open screen direct dye printing – fish scale style.

It’s always good to play around in a sketch book and I generate so many samples that I find it helpful to theme them into a book.

Students seem to appreciate looking at them and getting their own ideas of what to do.

And I love looking at students sketchbooks – one of the best things about textiles is that there is always something new to try or a new way of seeing or applying a technique.

We use a wide range of approaches in Mixed Media Textiles at MAC Birmingham and so I set myself the task of including a piece of all those techniques into one final piece.

An underwater scene lent itself nicely to the many layers of textile applications.

Hope you had an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend whatever you were doing x

Copyright notice 2015

All images, text, and content on this site are the sole property of Claire Leggett and may not be used, copied or transmitted without the express consent of Claire Leggett.

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