Tag Archives: West Dean

Textile basketry @ West Dean College

Great weekend at West Dean, such a lovely place and a lovely tutor, Mary Crabb. We were focussing on the technique of twining, which I was first introduced to in Shane’s basketry worktop at Stave Hill last term. This course however, was looking specifically at soft structures, using textile fibres to create the basket forms. A great technique which I very much enjoyed using, where the structure is formed from the strength of the weave without needing any wood or wire supports. I think this is going to be a very interesting thing to explore back in my MA work.

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The group was 10 ladies all with a range of interests and experiences, but all of us pretty much new to basketry. It was a great atmosphere and set up, West Dean comes highly recommended – especially the Sunday roast and rhubarb crumble! This was our tutor, Mary Crabb hanging up some of our samples for display. Most of the structural supports we used were a thick paper yarn, after that we used either thinner paper yarns or any other mixed fibres – it was fascinating to see what people’s colour and textural choices were, from the huge box of goodies Mary brought for us to use.

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We were taught five initial samples using different techniques and applications of twining including a couple using willow supports. It was up to us how we developed those samples and if we wanted to add any 3D aspects or keep them flat. In light of what I am trying to do with my Camberwell work, I thought trying to see where the 3D elements could come would be most useful!

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Sunday was a little different, as we were encouraged to “freestyle” and use the techniques we had been taught on anything we had liked most. I tried two things – first a very miniature basket (so cute!!!)

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The second piece was a bit more experimental, where I wanted to see how far I could push the structural properties of the technique. This isn’t yet finished, so I will continue to work on this at home – just need to get some more paper yarn on order!

Finally, here is a shot of the work which Mary does – quite a lot of her current pieces are working with thin wires. Amazing meticulous work which takes days to do. Let’s see if I can come up with anything quite as interesting! Overall a great course.

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A change is as good as a rest

More fun things ahead on week 1 of my off-site study break!  I’m off to West Dean College tomorrow for a weekend of textile basketry. Look like it should be fun as well as a good set of new skills to add to the portfolio. We were asked to put together some images, colours, or textures for a motif that we could draw upon over the weekend. I have an idea in my head, which is aligned although slightly tangential to the current direction of my MA project. I think however it might be good for me to explore something just from my quilter’s instinct with pattern and colour, and take a break from worrying about my project for a bit.

The idea is about the Japanese concept of mono no aware, which is how I would describe my feelings towards nature. Mono no aware is roughly translated as the pathos of things – a sensitivity to things, both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. According to mono no aware, “a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard. The sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty; the flowers of the most famous variety, somei yoshino, nearly pure white tinged with a subtle pale pink, bloom and then fall within a single week.” Mono no aware states that beauty is a subjective rather than objective experience, a state of being ultimately internal rather than external.

This is a couple of drawings and colour swatches I have put together.  Let’s see what I end up making!

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