Saturday 25 December 2010

Au revoir la France, hello Australia.

Wishing everyone a very joyful christmas and end of the year, with an exciting, loving, friend-filled and adventurous new year to follow.

Our family is on the move. After 11 wonderful years in France, we will now be based in Sydney, Australia for the next few years, as of early January 2011.

Joyeux noël et bonne fin d'année à tout le monde. Notre famille est en train de déménager à Sydney, Australie pour les quatre prochaines années. Ma boutique on ligne continuera de la bas, et pour toutes questions n'hésitez pas à me contacter par mail. Je vous souhaite une nouvelle année pleine de bonheur et de bonne santé, et merci pour visiter mon site. Si vous voulez voir les développements de mes créations dans mon pays natale, n'oubliez pas de regarder de temps en temps. A bientôt!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Snappy, stylish and swirling.

I'll set the scene. It's an evening with the night's sky blazing full of stars, not a breeze or chill in the air and Chet Baker is playing with his band, crooning away with his oh so cool jazz. You are dressed in your divine, one of a kind, eco pixie, romantic, poetic dancing dress, feeling fabulous... 
The ever so handsome beloved is holding you lightly around the waist and in this version of the dream he actually knows how to dance (sorry darling). Some of these things in reality are still within your reach, some, sadly, perhaps not.

Maybe that new years resolution will once again be to enrol in dance lessons.

I think enthusiasm, love and laughter brings out the best in any situation. Nature's beauty always puts me on a natural high and the energy of this collection I have been working on just makes me want to sing and dance.
Lucky I don't do youtube.

Friday 19 November 2010

Nature's whispers...

Designed by Smita Saravane - merci Smita!

My complete collection of tree bark inspired clothing will be on display at the Salon des Artisans d'Art at Toulouse, the 4th until the 12th December 

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Festive season natural splendors

My gallivanting period would appear to be over, temporarily (referring to my earlier entry). One, because it is now often too cold. Two, because it scares the sheep that are about to have their lambs. Three, I can't pin down my photographer Smita, who is busy living her own life. And four, because I am just too busy felting to get outside and frolic. 

 So here follow a few mannequin shots, to give a sneak preview of the pieces I have been creating in the last few months. I've got to say I am certainly on a roll (apologies for the pun, felters), and am very excited about what my inspirations are leading me to.

Between tree barks and Jane (darling) Austen, poetic verse is seeping through my veins and into the silken wooly works that you see before you.

Hand printed silks with plant leaves, then felted together into glorious combinations fit for a queen!

Perfect for the upcoming festive season, for all those gorgeous evenings at the festivals, theater, concerts, parties and goodness knows what other beautiful events you have up your sleeves for the end of the year.

Let's hope it involves plenty of romance!
Not to mention champagne...

These pieces will be on display at the Salon des Artisans d'Art at Toulouse in December and eventually in my etsy boutique, just in case your taste buds are tempted.

Bonne fin d'année!
Have a great end to the year!

Friday 5 November 2010

A few rolling thoughts...

I'm an 'all by hand' felter, I don't use machines to help me 'full' the felt and hence have no need for the gym! The rolling process gives me plenty of time for reflection, for thinking of new designs, etc. Some of my recent thoughts have been about consumerism, waste and non biodegradable materials such as plastics.  

I live in a household where we try to be conscientious of consuming. Not due to the financial cost so much as the environmental cost it has. The quality of the item being bought, its lifespan, where it was made, what environmental impact that had are all factors taken into account. There is nothing more depressing for me than my children's birthdays or Christmas time and receiving endless plastic articles that will no doubt break within one year and then sit in a garbage tip (if not incinerated and pollute the atmosphere) forever. Literally. What on earth does the planet need with all this broken plastic? Recycle you say? Most plastic toys are not recyclable, not to mention the pollution involved in the process. Here is a fantastic article to read further on the subject 

So I try to ask the beloved grandparents, relatives and friends, "please, no plastic... they love books, wooden toys, or an outing!" They inevitably think I am mad or cruel for not going gaga over the latest petshop or barbie monstrosity... I await the day when it will be illegal to create anything that is not biodegradable or at the least, recyclable. As for the joys of those plastic toys, reuse someone else’s, there are so many out there that some kid has outgrown, reuse it. It's the only positive thing to do with it now. But for little kids who like to chew toys, beware of the toxic ingredients and avoid them altogether. Here's a book I recommend, that I am currently reading: "Slow death by rubber duck, the secret danger of everyday things" by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. It gives a run down of the enormous amount of dangerous toxins we are absorbing into our bodies everyday from items such as shampoos and cosmetics, Teflon pans, plastic food containers, fire-retardants from our sofas and mattresses and much more. Very readable, with positive solutions and advice. Read it!

The fantastic Vincent-Mastio worm farm.
So how can I justify producing more consumer items to add to the planet's load? Well, I see it like this. I do like to buy the occasional useful, lovely thing. Shoes yes, are one of my main indulgences. I prefer to buy less, but buy something of good quality that will withstand use and give me pleasure for its craftspersonship. I prefer to support an artisan when possible, supporting the continual knowledge of how to build, or grow, or create, where I know the money goes directly to them for their work, rather than purchase from a store where you are very far from the producer and are paying for the many stages along the way.

Inside the wormfarm. It's all connected, right?

I take comfort in the knowledge that my clothing will break down into the soil with the minimal amount of residue. (I've been using a worm farm for the last 20 years to recycle my garden and kitchen wastes and this is a very important issue to me.) Also, being that wool repels dirt, they need little washing and when you do, a simple vegetable soap and water is all that is required. My wool I purchase from a local French farmer who responsibly farms a small flock of merinos. As for the silk, it is produced in Asia (no surprise there), I haven't gone as far as purchasing organic 'peace silk', for silk farming is already low in chemicals as the silk worms are very sensitive to such, and while there are no doubt some questions worth raising about work conditions etc., I have so far not found a solution I am satisfied with. So there you go, more insights into what makes this designer tick, and what ticks her off!

OK, I've finished my rant. Feel a bit better now. Please excuse the indulgence! Better get back to work now, should I feel bad about that? More to think about.....

Saturday 23 October 2010

Butterflies like natural dyes

Smita and I were taking some shots of my recent work on a lovely sunny autumn day, when who should happen along but these little butterfly friends.

They seemed to be attracted to the scent of the natural dyes in my clothing and were constantly fluttering around us, extremely happy to be included in the photo shoot.

The madame herself, who spends her evenings in company with Jane Austin, comfort reading.

Not influenced at all...

(I'm convinced Mme Austin would have been a determined ecologist if alive today and the combination of extremely astute, wise and articulate heroines she created mixed with strong environmental convictions would have made a stunning combination... )

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Bubble bubble toil and trouble...

 A little bit of witchery has been happening very frequently in the farm house kitchen of late... whilst all the children are out at school and the beloved is off doing man things...

Breaking rule number 1 of dyers handbook 101, no dyeing in the kitchen. I know, but it is oh so practical.......!

Lovely lovely peachy golds emerging...

... and then some more time spent with my humble friend, the savon de marseille.

 All new beautiful pieces coming soon, ready for the Salon des Artisans d'Art at Toulouse.

Oh so busy!

Thursday 7 October 2010

Upcoming Event

I will be exhibiting here at this gorgeous expo in Toulouse in December. Come visit my display if you happen to be in the area!

Saturday 2 October 2010

How is it made?

When I'm not gallivanting about the farm in lovely hand created wearable art with my photographer Smita in tow... (to see more of her work)
...I do get down to some serious hard work! Many people who see and delight in my creations undoubtably ask "how is it made?" So I would like to give you a brief journey through some of the stages, to give a better idea on just how much work goes into making each piece.

 Firstly, each piece starts out about twice the size of the final product. This means for a large item like a dress or jacket, working on a large table is already tricky. Lots of folding, humming and huffing.

Lots of water and savon de marseille goes into each piece to get those wool fibers to stick down and eventually penetrate through the fabric layer....

Eventually, if working on the table becomes too difficult, I resort to the floor. Many joyous hours and perhaps even days of back strain, sore knees and clenched muscles follows...

  ...interspersed with coffee...

...then back to it again. One has to suffer for their art. And believe me, I do!

If I'm lucky I then find some enthusiastic free child labour to exploit... or otherwise go it alone for another hour of rolling.

Then some  massaging to help the wool fibres  really penetrate the fabric and shrink down to a more solid felted consistency.

A bit of rougher treatment eventually such as thudding and throwing... and more massage practise. Add a pink bath and things really start moving...

That's starting to look more like the real thing. Size has shrunk at least 35%, now its time for some surface work.

After researching for over a year to find the solution to my question of "how do you avoid pilling?" (when wool surfaces form little wool balls), asking every felter I came across in my surounding France but also abroad...  Pat Sparks (a well known American felter) gave me the best advice which was to really work the felt surface to form a kind of  tougher skin. So that's what I do, and I'm pleased and confident with the result. Pilling will eventually happen to any woolen garment (and these balls of fluff can be easily snipped off with scissors or a razor blade), but it shouldnt happen after just a few wears and the piece shouldn't feel fluffy and soft to begin with. Felt has a solid feeling that when dry stretched, will really not change in size, nor distort. I did a lot of trial and error with these ideas and that is why I am now confident to say that I create high quality felt.

Rewards after a physical day at home, at work.

Nothing like homegrown heritage seed tomato sauce... but that's another story!

(and if you're curious to see the finished product of above, you'll have to come along to the Salon des Artisans d'Art at Toulouse!)

Thursday 16 September 2010

My creative process

Here's a little bit about my creative process, to show how my inspirations develop into designs, which then evolve into final unique creations. Each piece follows a path that can have endless variations at each turn, leaving me with so many options and only two hands to follow up with! In most cases I have a strong image in my mind from the beginning of what I want to create, and so from this I will decide on the major decisions at the beginning. These can be things like form, fabric, wool quantity, drape, colour: to pre-dye fabric, or after the piece is created? These decisions all lead to different effects on the clothing, which I like to think out carefully before beginning to put fingers to fabric and wool. 

At the moment I am fully in love with the layers of bark on trees, especially the paperbark as mentioned in the previous blog. I translate this into layers of fibers and fabrics, and then layers of clothing to be worn over each other, allowing the clothing to adapt to seasonal changes and be worn throughout the year in various ways. I am not a huge fan of the cold months of winter, I particularly don't enjoy having to wear heavy clothing all day, it tires me out! But here I have found a solution, with these nuno felt pieces of clothing. They are light, yet keep you warm in winter and are extremely comfortable to wear. Being so light, they also adapt very well to other seasons and are also lovely to wear throughout the warmer months - the mysteries of silk and fine wool! 

What is 'nuno'? It's a term given to a technique specific to felting where we begin with a layer of fine fabric - for myself this is often silk or sometimes cotton or another natural fiber; then we add a layer or several of wool fibers which then get felted together with the fabric to form one nuno felt fabric. Magic textures develop along the way and the initial fabric becomes about half its original size due to the shrinkage of the wool during the process. The term 'nuno' was first coined by felting artist Polly Stirling and is now a recognised term by most felters.

There is plenty of room for creative variations along the way, and requires a certain amount of concentration if you have a fixed idea of what you want to achieve at the end. Creative accidents can certainly happen and lead to new discoveries to then be exploited in the future!  Ok, better get back to it!

Saturday 21 August 2010

My inspirations

Where to begin this story? I'd like to share some images I've taken of things that greatly inspire me in the creation of my work, to give more of an insight into who I am and what I do.  These above photos are of the Boranup Forrest in Western Australia, one of my most sacred places, plus a mysterious little eucalyptus that I can't find a name for, with the breathtaking, curling purple  bark. And of course, how could I miss out my favourite of all time, the paperbark... tan/ creamy coloured paper like texture.  Voila, some of the things that take my breathe away, then feed through my heart, head and hands to be expressed in my textile/clothing creations. Enjoy!