I love textile trade shows. Walking from booth to booth, collecting information on new design techniques and innovative technology, being exposed to various companies that I would not have known about otherwise, getting inspired by other’s creativity, all of this adds up to my idea of a really good time. As I mentioned in To Market, To Market!, there are several textile shows coming to New York in the spring and summer of this year. However, I just heard about another one and it sounds like a really good one. SpinExpo. It is knit industry specific with 15 years under its belt in Shanghai. This is year two in New York and word has it there’s a lot to be offered.
Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the garment district on July 19th, 20th, and 21st, the event will highlight “a very focused and unique exhibition featuring the most comprehensive and creative international offering of yarns and fibers, knitwear manufacturers and innovative knitwear machinery manufacturers.” While this is focused on the knitting industry I strongly believe that anyone in the textile and fashion industry can benefit from attending. I’ve already registered (it’s free to industry professionals!) and cannot wait until they post the list of seminars they are offering. If I haven’t convinced you to attend yet, take a look at the website. It’s beautiful and inspiring and makes me wish the show was this week rather than a few months down the road. That’s ok though, I can wait. The anticipation will make it that much better!
While joining in the conversation on twitter, I had the pleasure of interacting with one of the most innovative textile designers I have come across in a while, Lynne Bruning. While she currently uses her textiles to create her own fashions, she is kicking around the idea of making her textile designs available to other industry professionals, which is one of the reasons I thought I would introduce you to her work. Have an idea for a project? Go ahead, email her. I bet she’d love to hear what you have in mind and maybe, if you’re lucky, she’ll be interested in collaborating.
1. How did you get introduced to textiles?
I remember when I was four years, old sitting on my grandmother’s lap in front of the sewing machine. She worked the machine pedal while expertly guiding my fingers as we sewed a quilt for my dolls crib. I still have this very important and sentimental piece of art in my personal collection.
2.What fibers to you tend to use most often?
Although I like to experiment with untraditional materials such as survory’s string and electronics, I tend to use natural fibers of silk, wool and cotton as my base.
3. I know you are a weaver but do you ever experiment with knits or prints?
I love prints and tend to cut them on the bias such as this piece:
I am only just beginning to experiment in creating knits and am looking forward to what I can make on the home version knitting machines.
4. What kind of looms do you work on?
I decide what I want to create and then pick my loom accordingly. I currently have an 8 shaft Louet countermarch loom and 4 shaft LeCleric jack loom.
5. As best as possible, describe your creative process.
I do lots of research and keep folders of ideas and inspirations. I generally do not ‘know’ the final project, but let it evolve through my research and encounters as I draft, sew, weave, design and product test. Sometimes a project starts because of a personal interaction – “Bats Have Feelings Too!” evolved from a conversation I had with a little girl at Denver’s Anchor School for the Blind. While my latest #nextbigproject, a garment for an autistic child, came about due to following a Twitter thread.
6. Your work is so unique. What kind of outlets do you use to sell your work to the public
This is my biggest challenge! I have been trying to break into the stage and rockstar arena but have not made the right connections. Perhaps your readers have some ideas, leads to share?
7. What is the most memorable and exciting project or piece you have created? Why?
I tend to fall in love with my hardest projects. The challenges of learning a new technique, sourcing new materials and watching the piece come together the very first time is addicitvely enchanting.
HippiePunk Love was my first eTextile project using conductive thread and LEDs I opened new doors into the exciting world of interactive design and adaptive technology.
DayGlo Weavewas the very first time I wove cloth yardage to make a dress, the first time I wove with surveyors string and my first international wearable art show! To this day this is still my favorite dress.
8. What direction do you see your work heading in the near and not-so-near future?
Deep down I am someone that believes in helping others and making the world a better place. I do this by teaching and by creating items that are not only beautiful, but also functional. I am extremely fortunate that I can fuse my educational background in neuroscience and architecture with my knowledge of textiles and fashion to create adaptive technology projects such as “Bats Have Feelings Too!: a wearable cane” and the soon to be released project “The Familiar: a whispering cloak” On the flipside – I also enjoy creating outrageous, flamboyant wearable art and egowear for stage and the ‘rockstar’ lifestyle.
Eco-Textiles are becoming more and more prevalent in apparel and interior fabric manufacturing. From retail giants like H&M creating their Garden Collection made of organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester to IKEA’s launch of organic mattresses, companies everywhere seem to be embracing what was once considered a fleeting trend. I don’t know about you but I think this is a pretty great thing. As I mentioned in my postGoing Au Naturale, I too am working on incorporating organic fabric into my design work. With that said, making this kind of major overhaul in a business requires being up to date on all the guidelines and regulations that are necessary to be considered “certified”. This can be quite a daunting task so I have to say how nice it was to learn that EcoTextile News, in conjunction with Messe Frankfurt has launched a new and updated version of The EcoTextile Labeling Guide this month. According to the website, this 100 page handbook “informs readers on the latest voluntary and obligatory organic textile standards and certification along with eco-textile labeling and the options available for sourcing textiles in a socially responsible manner.” With coverage including textile certification, accreditation companies, organic textile standards, eco-textile labels, and regional labels and legislation, I’m thinking this is probably a pretty important resource for any company making the switch or starting out in the organic fabric sector. You can easily get your copy of the guide online and it runs for about £20, which is what, like 30 bucks, right? Not that you asked, but I think it’s worth the investment and I may just make this my next business expense.
Even as someone who lives and works in New York City, I sometimes find it completely overwhelming to weave my way through the streets that make up the garment district. Recently I was asked to source a fabric for a fashion designer I sometimes work with and the thought of trudging from storefront to storefront, making calls to every supplier on my contact list inquiring about their stock, and emailing industry colleagues asking for leads were not things I was looking forward to. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned about The Fashion Center’s Resource Database. While the directory covers all kinds of fashion related topics like a retail store guide to a list of industry events and fashion attractions, it is the Textile/Fabric Resource section that really gets my heart a flutter! I am able to specify whether I want to see “For The Trade Only” or “Open To The Public” and type in key terms when performing my search. Once the list appears I learn everything from the store’s inventory and minimums to contact info and hours of operation. For someone who likes to think she is on ball when it comes to the internet world, it’s amazing to me that I am just now learning about this fantastic little “virtual kiosk”.
I’m a big believer in business helping business. In today’s economy, shifting our focus to support the small business community is what’s going to help things get back on track. This is no different when talking about the design community; and even more specifically, the textile design community. Whether designing a garment, a pillow, a rug, or wallpaper, textile design is one of the integral aspects of a successful and marketable product. So why not do your homework and purchase your designs from those people whose livelihood and passion is based in the art of fabric design? Wouldn’t it be great if there was this one central location where textile designers could come together to display their work, teach you about their business, and provide purchasing information? Well, guess what, there is. Actually, there are several. Where? In New York City, of course. In April and May of this year three shows, Print Source,Directions, and SURTEX, the marketplace for original art and design, will be holding events to display hundreds of artists, designers, and studios who are licensing and selling their work to the public.
From offering conferences and networking opportunities to promoting and exposing beautiful and purchasable design, I’m thinking these events should prove to be an excellent resource and inspiration for everyone in the industry. However, why assume, right? It’s not the first year that these shows have been going on. Has anyone attended in the past? I’m sure our readers would love to hear your thoughts. I know I would!
As someone who is always working on bringing new ideas into fruition, running from one place to another, having networking coffee dates, and sinking my teeth into new projects, I really appreciate the tools that make my life a bit easier. From my Blackberry and my iPod to Facebook and Twitter, convenient time-saving technology is an important part of my life.
So when I came across Image Terrain, I was intrigued by the possibilities. While I was cruising around the internet, I stumbled on a video highlighting a designer’s platform that allows anyone to upload an image and create an almost endless array of patterns and repeats, with a few clicks of a button.
For a textile designer this sounds like quite a handy tool, right? Well, I’m not sure. While I really like the idea that a program like this can cut your work time in half, I can’t help but wonder if something gets lost. I know, I know. An argument can be made that Photoshop and Illustrator have been widely accepted and are now absolute musts in the textile design world but I still can’t help feeling that tools like this stunt creativity a bit. Don’t get me wrong, the idea that I can upload an image of a building and turn into a long list of various plaid patterns is really cool but does this make everyone a textile designer? Why did I spend 4 years in college studying textile design if there’s now a way for anyone with a camera or a scanner to put together a portfolio of work to market to the industry?
What do you think? Do I have a valid point or do I just sound like a bit of a fogey unwilling to adapt to change? Be honest, I can take it!
Lately I’ve been doing a little research on printing techniques; screen printing, digital printing, batik, shibori, tie-dye, woodblock printing, all the usual. However, upon delving a bit deeper into the possibilities, I very happily came across Lumi Co, a company based in California and run by two innovative and fresh-faced entrepreneurs, that is experimenting with an unbelievably realistic textile printing technique the likes of which most of us have never seen before. The process itself is kept hush-hush of course but the results are pretty amazing. In my opinion, it seems like a step up from digital printing, with more detail, vibrant colors, an almost luminous quality, and a much crisper result while still being completely washable. I really do see it making quite an impact on the home textile and fashion markets. As for my research, the photographic quality won’t really be appropriate for the project I’m currently working on but I’m thinking maybe dish towels with my cheese smiling face as holiday gifts next year. 😉
It’s time again for my weekly favorite fabric blog! This week’s blog, Textile Source, focuses on “celebrating textile design and innovation”. It highlights the work of various fabric artists from hand painted wallpaper to block printed interior fabrics and airbrushed rayon dresses. This is a fun place to unwind at the end of a busy work week and allow yourself to simply get lost in beautiful art of textile design. Enjoy!
Did anyone hear about the Oscars Designer Challenge? Fashion designers competed to have their design worn by the “trophy girl” (the woman who hands the award to the presenter) at the 2010 Oscars Award Show. It was a nice idea and I’m sure the winner, Rania Salibi, was very excited to know her work was going to be seen by millions. I’m really not sure how much it was advertised as I hadn’t heard too much about it, however I did stumble across an article written by the Asian Journal that made reference to the contest. (One of the finalists is Filipino) Anyway, I’m sure by know you’re wondering why I am telling you all of this. Well, upon reading about this finalist, Oliver Tolentino, I was thrilled to find out that the garment he created was a “green”, eco-friendly gown made out of piña fiber, otherwise known as pineapple fiber! According to the article, Oliver wanted to “promote [his] home country’s native fabrics …and see the reaction of Westerners when [he] tells them that piña is pineapple fiber.” Well this Westerner is excited, inspired, and curious. So of course I immediately Googled it and learned that the piña fiber is hand scraped and the filaments are then knotted by hand and woven into a lightweight fabric similar to linen however it is softer and more lustrous. I have that same feeling of enthusiasm now that I did many years ago when I first discovered Tencel, which is made from wood pulp and takes on the qualities of cotton and silk. I’m thinking this could be a fun and unique new material to start working with. Now a bit more research on the process and suppliers…