The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

silk scarf

‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

silk scarf

‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

silk scarf

‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

linen tie

‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

wool scarf

‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

Relaxing With a Felt Pen

A single pen has been the catalyst to a series of new designs. It all happened a few months ago while walking down Queens Street in Glasgow. pen drawing

I stopped at a shop window full of paper and carefully stacked pens and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils wafted towards me – irresistible.

Pencil Sharpens

I had stumbled across Cass Art , a shop similar in feel to an Apple store, but instead of selling tech, it’s full of art materials. I’m quite sure it could coax anyone into becoming artistically inclined.

At this point I must tell you I am a total sucker for felt pens. I adore coloured pencils too (so long as they are waxy  – Caran D’Ashe  being my favourite). I could literally spend hours choosing a unison pastel from a drawer (in that choosing a patisserie sort of way) but there is something about felt pens that strikes straight to my core. It’s a childhood thing. I’m sure it will be the same for many of you.

You probably know that felt pens were invented in the 1960’s by Yukio Horie. He worked for the Tokyo Stationary Company at the time but went on to set up his own company Pentel – as in a ‘pen can tell a story’. I feel so indebted to this man and his invention – can you imagine a childhood without felt pens? I would like to go to Tokyo one day and buy a Pentel right there in Pentel HQ.

I had a treasured pack of 5 – blue, green, red, yellow and black. My friend however had a long transparent floppy case with a white popper stud. It contained 24 heart stopping colours. She was good at sharing. Of course we had our favourite well used colours and when they ran dry, we would spit on their tips to squeeze a little more ‘juice’ from them. When that failed, we would pull them apart and squeeze the cuboid felty innards to coax some more fabulous colour out onto our drawings. Inevitably our afternoons ended with us sporting gaudy coloured lips and fingers. Knowing now what chemicals these early pens contained, it’s a miracle we are both still here. Oddly enough the only parental instruction I recall was not to get the pen on my friends white round dining table, felt pen lips apparently no big deal…

I could go on for pages about felt pens and childhood – the joy of putting them away and in which order to slot them on their plastic cradles, the design of the lids (which for no particular reason I suctioned onto the end of my tongue rather a lot) and the ones that came with artificial smells like apple and bubble gum, again, rather a worry with hindsight :/

Anyway, fast forward 2016.

I bought a Tombow  pen and armed with a lot of blank paper, I literally ‘let go’ of any plans and allowed the pen tell a story. That’s harder than you think by the way. I asked a friend to do the same and she said she felt shy and inhibited and the pen bumped and crashed in a stumbly line and stopped. I however found the exercise liberating (I was alone, that helps) and couldn’t stop making lines. It fascinated me watching what shapes were forming in front of my eyes. I was producing nice shapes without any conscious thought. My hand had its own mind and I was the audience. I got through a lot of paper that week.

Have you heard of the stress busting exercise of going to an empty Scottish Glen (or any other vast empty space) and shouting at the top of your voice? Just allowing yourself to make whatever noise you want but as loud as possible? That’s pretty hard too – it really takes courage, believe me. Well, my pen drawings gave me a similar sensation. It’s all about letting go. But lucky for me, I found the shapes rather pleasing and after working on them more cognitively, I have created a new set of designs which will soon appear as silk scarves – no spoilers, I will show you them when they are finished 🙂

Do you have felt pen memories? 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes From Premiere Vision, Paris

Having immersed myself in the vast textile trade show, Premiere Vision last week, I can report back on some key trends – but without images – photography is strictly forbidden (taking notes is not even allowed near the stands – stands being white pens with frustratingly high walls with a humid murmur leaking out from within, akin to a set from a Margaret Attwood novel) as the textiles and designs being sold are for 2017 collections and are therefore not even launched.

Red

If colour trend forecasting leaves you cold and you put it on par with reading ones horoscope, you just need to attend a seminar at a trade fair and you will find a frenzied atmosphere, a room bursting at the seams with the worlds top decision makers in fashion and interiors – as we know colour can kill or cure a business so they need time to gear up their production to get their pieces out in time to feed our every whim.

Of course there are several trend ‘stories’ which gives a platform for a variety of colours to shine but they were mostly underpinned by a juicy, meaty red. Red, we are told is in gutsy opposition to our move towards a plant based diet (although I’m sure the food writers have this covered by giving us lots of other juicy reds from pomegranates to beetroots 😉) It’s quite an impertinent colour trend really as it celebrates  fake shiny food, artificial substances, think plastic sushi cartons, rubber cups, and bright synthetic palettes. The colours may seem a touch violent and frantic, but it works because only two or a max of three are used together.

The theme is really all about contrast, sweet and sour, rough with smooth, futuristic mashed with antique. It is designed to shock, invoke a reaction, look odd and unbalanced. In fact the stranger the better. Individualism is key. Wonky prevails.

As for patterns, designs are asymmetric, off balance, and shaky. Patterns are ‘placed’ rather than repeated and ‘colouring in’ is imperfect. Registration is ‘off’. Trusty old stripes are back (and so is gingham) but think huge, spectacular and sometimes flawed. No subtleties, no mush, just dynamism.

But then I look at my notepad and see I have written ‘epidermal pales’ and ‘angel skins’, ‘palpable paleness’ with ‘chalky finish’, ‘grating simplicity’ and ‘vapours of powdery, sage, ash and clover’ …mmm, perhaps not all red then…but then I did mention contrasts 😗

So like anything, frame your colour and design choices around the story of its creation, that’s what is important, it’s your individualism that gives your designs integrity and provenance – we all like a good story after all, and trend forecasters are brilliant at doing just that.

 

Christmas Events!

I notice a nice clean ‘1’ on my calendar today so I think now is the time for a Christmas Events round up.

This Saturday 5th of December, I am delighted that unifiedspace will be part of Dundee Contemporary Arts Christmas Market, ‘Crafted’ DCA

“This special event brings together over 30 specially selected makers from across Scotland presenting some of the best contemporary, independent jewellery, ceramics, textiles, illustration, print and homeware” #DCACrafted

The full range of unifiedspace linen ties are also available from the brilliant Dovecot Studios Shop – an inspiring venue where you can take in an exhibition, view rug and tapestry tufters at work  – and make sure to time your visit near lunch or coffee time as the cafe is great!

Fennel Tangle Linen Tie

Fennel Tangle Linen Tie

Or if you are shopping in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal The Facility , stock all the ties, scarfs and mugs and have a whole host of independent brands on display on their up cycled shop fittings.

Eclipse Scarf

Eclipse Print on Silk

All products are stocked at Whosit & Whatsit , Newcastle- Upon -Tyne a real treasure trove of a shop selling items from independent designers from across Britain. Or if you are looking for a farm shop to do your Christmas shopping in, why not visit Cross Lanes Organic Farm in County Durham – a farm shop with a scrumptious restaurant housed in an award winning building complete with a grassy roof – needless to say they stock unifiedspace’s grassy range 🙂 as does the beautiful Daisy Cheynes in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge.

 

Grassy Tea towels Photo by Food To Glow

Grassy Tea towels Photo by Food To Glow

Grassy Mug

Grassy Mug

Or perhaps you are looking for a good excuse to visit the French Alps in December? If so, Montbeliard’s famous Christmas Market has invited Scotland to be its ‘guest of honour’ and I will be there next week with the fabulous Rushworth and her brilliant (and rather addictive) range of wool garments, designed and made in Scotland.

DSCF3398

My trusty Rushworth bobble hat will be going to the Alps with me

However, if you prefer shopping online, please feel free to pop by my etsy shop or visit the glamorous Wear Eponymous (this comes with a warning though… there are a lot of beautiful products on that site) and your shopping will be delivered to your door.

There are of course, I am very happy to say, many great independent shops springing up across the UK and they are fundamental in supporting independent designers and makers like myself. Thank you indies, your hard work is noticed and appreciated and you are making our towns and cities far more interesting to shop in again.

Do you have a favourite independent shop for Christmas shopping?

Now Stocked by Wear Eponymous

Just a quick post today to announce the great news that the full collection of linen ties are now being stocked by Wear Eponymous .

Wear Eponymous

Wear Eponymous brings,

“the cream of current design talent UK wide and beyond. This isn’t the place for fast fashion or disposable purchases, this is the destination for investment pieces, stand-out accessories and unique treats”

Take a look through their site if you are looking for ethically produced independent brands and if you are quick they are currently running a great competition to win a beautiful leather VVA handbag designed by Sarah Haran.

Next post on recent travels to Norway and the London Design Festival coming shortly…

The Journey of a Linen Tie

The Slow Food Movement has been an inspiration to many and knowing that we have superb textile mills in Scotland I was very keen to produce a product with similar credentials. Scroll down and see the faces behind the various stages of production of my new range of linen ties.

Twenty nine miles from Edinburgh lies a bespoke weavers, Peter Greig, which has been weaving from the same site since 1825. 

Stacking the Flax.

Stacking the Flax. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Flax which is used in the production of linen used to be grown in Scotland and Ireland but as Angus Nicoll, Managing Director of Peter Greig explains, our climate is not as well suited as the Benelux countries.

“All the retting that used to happen in Scotland and Ireland was Water retted rather than the standard Dew Retting that is now the norm in the Benelux Countries. The problem with the Scottish and Irish climate is that through July and August we cannot rely on clear skies and warm weather. The climate in Holland, Belgium and France is far more reliable and so the flax straw can be turned daily in the fields and the Dew rets (rots) the straw off the outside of the plant as it is damp in the morning then dried during the day. With our inclement weather the rain comes solidly through all of July and August and the whole plant never dries in the field and as a result the whole plant goes black and rots”

So, the flax is now grown and spun into yarn in the drier European countries before being prepared and woven at Peter Greigs.

Linseed Pods. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Linseed Pods.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

 

Warping the Yarn Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Warping the Yarn
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving the Flax

Weaving the Flax

Inspecting the Cloth Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Inspecting the Cloth
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

And meanwhile, I design the patterns for printing onto the linen from my studio in Edinburgh

Dreaming up my next textile design

Dreaming up my next textile design

Then the plain linen is delivered to sisters Solii and Zoe at BeFabBeCreative, a printing bureau in Edinburgh where they print my designs onto the Fife linen.

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

From here, I take the printed cloth to Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, Edinburgh who stitches the cloth into ties. Kalopsia search for industrial equipment that is no longer being used and save the pieces from being scrapped. They refurbish them and the machines are used in their micro manufacturing facility at Ocean Terminal. Zero Waste Scotland are supporting this venture as it is a great example of the merits of a circular economy.

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Once the ties are stitched, I package them with the story behind the inspiration for each design and Edinburgh photographer, Abi Radford, photographs them.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

The passionate Gordon Millar of Scot Street Style launched my collection of  ties during Tartan Week in Brooklyn, New York earlier this year and their Edinburgh launch was at Design Weekend at the The Fruitmarket Gallery in May.

I have been working on the concept of linen ties since January so having worked for the last seven months with the wonderful creative people I have introduced you to in this post, it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the finished product and importantly selling this locally produced tie to people who are searching for ethically produced textiles from Scotland. The ties have a distinct character and attitude (I like to refer to them as my bad boy ties!) and I’ve been told offer some good chic-geek vibes around the office (!) so mix up your wardrobe and add some Scottish linen or if you are fed up with ‘double denim’ go the full hog and start a movement for ‘triple linen’ 😉

Thank you everyone who have helped make and launch the ties and thank you to all those buying them too.

And there is a new design coming out at the end of this week, it’s a special summer tie called ‘Prufrock’, one to be worn with white flannel trousers to walk along the beach…any guesses where the inspiration for this ones lies?

Design Market at The Fruitmarket Gallery Opens Tonight

29–31 May 2015

Launch Friday 29 May, 5–9pm

EDUCATION FLYER (New)

Featuring:  A Pair of Blue Eyes – Jenni Douglas; BertyB; Bon Tot; Catherine Aitken; Couple of Ideas; Cyan Clayworks; Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts; Eileen Gatt; Emma Noble; Fiona Daly; Fiona Luing; Genevieve Ryan; Gráinne Broderick Jewellery; Heather Margaret Grace; Jacqueline Bell Jewellery; Jessica Howarth Jewellery; Julia Smith Ceramics; K//M//J//C Designs; Lara Scobie; The Lindstrom Effect; Lisa Arnott; Lucia Castillo; Lucky Cloud Skincare; Lucy McLeod; Mairi Brown, Mhairi Braden; Michaelson; Mrs Booth; Myer Halliday; Nicole Scott; Niki Fulton – unifiedspace; Peony Gent; PickOne; Quilts By Lisa Watson; Rapa Nui; Rebecca Sarah Black; Sarah Diver Lang; Scarlett Erskine Jewellery; Susan Castillo; Tessuti; Ursula Cheng; Victoria Meacham; Workhorse Press; Zyzanna Illustration & Design.

'Blue Jotter' Fife Linen Tie Available from Design Market, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.

‘Blue Jotter’ Tie designed by Niki Fulton. Available from Design Market, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. Photo Abi Radford.

Please come along tonight to see a great variety of makers from across many disciplines. Also launching tonight is the Edinburgh Craft and Design Map – a handy tool for tracking down excellent design in the capital after DesignMarket comes to a close.

Hope to see you there!

Any Self Doubters Out There?

green man or red

I expect so, especially if you operate in the creative world.

Our heads are littered with quotes from literacy giants – “the worst enemy to creativity is self- doubt“, Sylvia Plath. Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure. Mm, here lies a problem as self doubt is a trait strongly linked to the artistic temperament. However, I think there is some good news surrounding self doubt.

I recon a little bit of self doubt can be a good thing. It forces you to work right at the margins of what you can achieve. It pushes you to the edge but in doing so it can unleash some of your best work. It demands you to analyse your work very carefully and in doing so it may lead to improvements. It will be uncomfortable but the giddy roller coaster of emotional highs and lows is in itself is a creative process.

A disappointment which leads to self doubt can be motivational. I am speaking from experience here. I’ve been riding high since my linen ties were successfully launched in Brooklyn, New York last month by Scot Street Style. Then, boom, two shows I applied to exhibit at knocked me back. They of course had every right to and had good reasons for their decisions but they were big local shows and ones I really wanted to be part of. It scuppered my plans in one fell swoop. Scunnered.

So I wallow for a few hours in the murky pool of self doubt and ask myself, is it time to change direction? My ego is low and I’m wondering if I was kidding myself attempting to carve out a career in surface design. Self doubt casting its long gloomy shadow over me. But the gloomy shadow prodded my pride. I acknowledged the nagging self doubt, that’s vital – meditation  taught me to acknowledge negative thoughts, we must recognise them, allow them to exist but then put them aside, step past them.

I decide to aim even higher. My new mantra was in place and painful as it was that trusty old self doubt had served me well as my designs were scrubbed up and ready to go. And as it happens, perfectly timed for something rather wonderful that I am very much looking forward to sharing with you soon. So, I say to Shakespeare and to Plath, yes, self doubt can be destructive but it also serves a useful purpose, just give it respect but make darn sure to contain it and push it aside.

Are you a self doubter? If so, how do you deal with it?

Fashion Revolution Day

Who made my clothes?Colours threads

This is what Fashion Revolution are asking today. They remind us,

On 24 April 2013, 1133 people were killed and over 2500
were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex
collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Social and environmental catastrophes
in our fashion supply chains continue.

Fashion Revolution says enough is enough.

They ask us to be curious and look at the labels on our clothes. Find out who made your clothes.

And remember to look what you have on your doorstep.

In Edinburgh we have many designers – look at Emily Millichip and 13 Threads and their cutting edge pieces. We have micro manufacturers Kalopsia Collective, supportive shops Concrete Wardrobe and brand ambassadors Scot Street Style. Together they not only make fashion exciting, bespoke and unique but they make it ethical.

Tonight Edinburgh College of Art will stage their 2015 Fashion/Costume/Textiles Show where their next generation of designers are propelled into the spot light. These young designers are hungry, motivated and will hopefully be the people designing and making our clothes in the future.

Do you have an art school near you? Have you been to see the students work? Do you have exciting local brands near you? If so, let us know who they are and what their story is so we can all support them.

And remember, look at your labels.