Designing, a variable process

Night sky and ocean

Everyone comes to the process of hashing out a design in their own unique way and what works for one person or piece might not work at all for another.

My work usually originates in one of two distinct ways; either I start with an idea and create the fabrics to give body and substance to that idea or I start with a fabric that somehow inspires an idea that grows from there. In a way it’s rather cyclical, since the form (or fabric) often alters the concept (or idea) and the idea gives the colour and shape an armature on which to hang.

Frankly I often can’t figure out which starts the whole process. I have always kept a notebook of ideas to come back to or to retain for future use. It’s a repository into which to empty my brain so that I don’t have to remember things, especially the particularly good ones that haven’t quite matured yet. It’s also the perfect place to filter out the crap (pardon the language, but some ideas are just that).

Today I am working on two pieces at once; one (night- above) that started as a concept and is being developed with somewhat calculated deliberation and the other (day – below) that is starting as a cool piece of fabric that hooked on to a germ of an idea in my mind and is now spinning a little out of control in my mind.

Sunrise and ocean

I really enjoy both ways of working. One is with careful control and calculated design, in which you set out to achieve an end that has already somehow gelled in your psyche. The techniques and specifics haven’t been entirely ironed out, but you know where you’re going, you just have to get there.

The other is rather like running down a hill, picking up speed until you’re going just a little faster than your legs can actually move. You’re in some danger of falling flat on your face, but man alive! Isn’t the feeling while you’re flying with the wind in your face and your entire being is at the mercy of gravity and momentum just the most amazing sensation?

(The pieces above represent the backgrounds of both works. I’m not revealing the sketches and actual designs until the works are completed or close to it.)

In between working on these pieces, when my brain needs a brief respite and I need to keep my hands busy while my head mulls things over, I’m turning this*:

Corriedale/Romney fleece

Into this:

Carded Corriedale Romney fleece

* The pile of fleece on top represents about four times as much as the pile of batts on the bottom. I think. I haven’t weighed anyone yet.


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