Ties Launching at NYTartan Week

I am happy to report that Edinburgh is most certainly riding a creative wave. Being an 80:20 kind of person (specialising in almost ‘getting there’ but often not being able to see the wood for the trees for the last 20% of a project) I have discovered that collaborations are most definitely the way to go.

'Chalk' print on linen designed by Niki Fulton available from Printed and Co

‘Chalk’ print on linen designed by Niki Fulton available from Printed and Co

I met sisters Solii and Zoe Brodie from BeFabBeCreative fabric print bureau in Edinburgh over a year ago and they have proven to be the catalyst for turning my designs and aspirations into physical products. They print my patterns onto a variety of natural fabrics (locally sourced Fife linen being one of my favourites) in the most astoundingly efficient manner. They also own Printed and Co, a carefully curated collection of textile designs stemming from ten U.K based designers, of which I am delighted to be one. Customers can purchase lengths of any of the designs on any of their fabrics allowing the patterns to be used in dressmaking or interiors. Wonderful flexibility and it is all printed to order so no waste either.

'Pear Drops Tan' on linen designed by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed and Co

‘Pear Drops Tan’ on linen designed by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed and Co

So I have a smooth and enjoyable means to produce textile designs but I also wanted to manufacture products. Enter Nina, a Swede living in Edinburgh with an armful of design related Degrees, a Swedish fashion label behind her and honed seamstress skills.

Botanical DNA and Falling Apples available from Printed and Co

Botanical DNA and Falling Apples available from Printed and Co

She is the Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, an agency that works with textiles from concept to manufacture. Nina knows what I am describing before I even reach the end of my sentence so our collaboration is working like clockwork and I now have silk scarfs, linen make up bags, mens ties (more on that in a sec) and some silk tops in my range, some of which are available from my Etsy Shop (more being listed very soon).

'Chalk' on silk. Designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

‘Chalk’ on silk. Designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

 

'Lines' on silk designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

‘Lines’ on silk designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

But my biggest focus is currently on a niche market, a micro market I suppose. On a trip to Rome last October, I was searching for a replacement watch strap. I popped into a shop selling leather luggage and asked them if they sold watch straps. The manager literally took a step backwards and looked at me square on and said, ‘No! I sell luggage!’ My stupidity seemed to offend him but when I looked rather sheepish he softened his voice and said, ‘you need to visit Marco‘ and directed me to a tiny slim shop with a wise old man sitting under a vintage task light replacing watch straps. Attached to the wall were literally hundreds of shades and widths of beautiful watch straps and of course I found the perfect strap. Mission accomplished. I doubt if anyone would go to that shop and not find precisely what they were looking for. It was therefore very well known and a ‘go to’ destination – nobody would even think to waste their time shopping around. Job done.

With this new mind set I asked where I could buy a pair of leather gloves for my friends 50th birthday, Sergio di Cori, Piazza di Spagna of course. Again, every conceivable colour and length of leather glove were there displayed on beautiful panelled walls. They sold nothing else. Don’t complicate the process, they sell gloves, brilliantly.

So I finally reach the point in telling you this tale. I want to sell linen ties. Linen I hear you say. Yes linen, not silk. I want to design ties less ‘officey’  than silk which will convey more individuality and hopefully more spirit. Laid back formal. I want a ‘Slow Food Movement’ kind of tie. In other words I want a tie that is designed, made and stitched locally on locally sourced linen. Designs that have slowly been forming over, in my case, many years. And this is what I’ve been working on and by the end of this week, six patterns will be finished and be safely delivered into the hands of Scot Street Style who is kindly launching them in New York City during New York Tartan Week. My ties are not tartan in case you were wondering but Tartan Week celebrates all kinds of Scottish business and I am thrilled to have them represented there.

Linen Ties designed by Niki Fulton

Linen Ties designed by Niki Fulton

Below are other bolts of fabric waiting to be made into ties – cloth is cut on the diagonal for ties so these designs will look quite different when they are made up.

So more on the tie development soon and look out for NYTartan Week pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you go to a specialist ‘go to’ shop for anything? 

 

'Eclipse' print designed by Niki Fulton

‘Eclipse’ print designed by Niki Fulton

Richter Red designed by Niki Fulton

‘Richter Red’ print designed by Niki Fulton (as in Richter magnitude scale)

'Cog' print designed by Niki Fulton.  A new take on pinstripe.

‘Cog’ print designed by Niki Fulton. A new take on pinstripe.

 

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Stormy Weather, Stop by at Etsy

With a Winter storm forecast here for tomorrow, I’ve turned all festive here at unifiedspace and I am unashamedly going to give my etsy shop a little plug…

Tjornin Mug

Tjornin Mug

Tjornin tea towel

Tjornin tea towel

cotton fennel bag

cotton fennel bag

Two tone tjornin mugs

Two tone tjornin mugs

funky apple cushion

funky apple cushion

urban tea towels

urban tea towels

Night Fennel silk scarf

Night Fennel silk scarf

Summer Fennel silk scarf

Summer Fennel silk scarf

…and there is plenty more on the shop and free shipping to uk addresses.

Meanwhile I’m off to listen to Eddi Reader’s beautiful new song I heard her sing here in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Saturday night, ‘Snowflakes in the Sun’.

What are your favourite festive tunes?

The Story Behind The Design

After having a conversation with a customer today it dawned on me that there is often a reason behind a design – unless of course you are like one of my all time favourite artists Agnes Martin who claims her head was like an empty vessel which captured external artistic messages which she then applied to canvas – she doesn’t seem to take much credit for her beautiful paintings as she claimed she was just a receiver and her hand automatically carried out the work. Wow.

pencil sharpens

You may well find yourself connecting with a piece of art or design but be totally unaware of the inspiration behind it. That’s great but I find if I am able to speak to the artist and hear their story, the art takes on a new depth or an extra layer.

I was lucky enough to meet artist Sandra Robinson at the Waterside Arts Centre, in Sale, close to Manchester last month and I made an instant connection with her ‘21:00 From London Euston’ train window series. I found them immensely atmospheric as each painting depicted dramatic and ever changing natural lighting conditions on a journey. She explained she was on a train from London to Manchester and she made written notes of what she saw from the window. She took these notes back to her studio and painted from her written instructions and the result is a very intense series of beautiful paintings full of movement.

A series of ten paintings by Sandra Robinson

A series of ten paintings by Sandra Robinson

The designs I have on my mugs also have a story attached. I was working in Iceland last January and as you can imagine there was very little light and it was brutally cold. I was watching the birds at the central lake, ‘Tjornin’, in central Reykjavik when I spotted some tiny low lying flowers growing on the banks of the lake. They made me smile that despite the very harsh conditions they were still determined and gutsy enough to grow! I knew straight away that I wanted to use these brave flowers in a design. The finished design is screen printed onto bone china mugs because I liked the idea of a hot steaming drink (obviously there are lots of steaming hot geothermal pools in Iceland) being enclosed by these tough little Icelandic flowers. The sky changes very quickly in Iceland and within a few hours I witnessed a stunning pink sunrise, intense clear blue skies, grey, snow laden skies and was hoping for a green Northern Lights sky – hence the colours of the mugs…

Tjornin Mugs

I also found the town and the Icelandic people very colourful so the two tone set of mugs represent the brightly coloured houses of Reykjavik, the black one the dark winter sky – nobody would know this but I thought you may like the reasoning behind the design!

Two Tone Tjornin mugs

T

house facades Reykjavic

The powerful, strong and elegant birds I was watching are depicted on these mugs.

Flying High Mugs

My ‘urban’ series of linen tea towels were inspired by the huge brightly coloured cranes and loading machinery at Leith Docks, Edinburgh. It’s a gritty, industrial and efficient place where tonnes of cargo start and finish their massive journeys across the sea. A magical place actually, full of intrigue. I really wanted to convey the bold, brash, powerful bright shapes and screen print the designs onto linen.

urban linen tea towels DSC_0019

And lastly, my Botanical DNA scarf was inspired by my Dad who was both a geneticist and a gardener. When I placed the plants in long rows, they reminded me of DNA helixes! The design is printed on a semi- sheer, floaty silk cotton blend.

Botanical DNA Scarf

Well I think that’s probably enough about my own designs for now (!) but you can see more (like my Sol LeWitt inspired cushions) on my shop

What are the stories behind your creations? 

Colour Theory Tested

I’ve been keen to produce some designs while experimenting with colour theory.

Pear Drops and Toffee Apples are both designs where I chose analogous colours, i.e hues adjacent to each other on the colour wheel, red and pink for Toffee Apples and green and blue for Pear Drops. As I like simple flat designs, I outlined some of the shapes in black to act as a fence to contain the colours from spreading. You will see where I haven’t done this, the green and blue on the pears blend together and reinforce their similar hue parentage.

Having been blown over by the movement that Sol Le Witt created in his Wall Drawing 1136 I was determined to design something where some physical energy might appear. So for Funky Apple, I butted up complimentary colours i.e opposites on the colour wheel because these are groups of colours that spar beside each other and reinforce their differences causing a perceived vibration which in turn can give a design some energy and movement. As the colour bands are almost circular, I hope your eye will be taken on a journey around the apple.

Before I get too theoretical, there is always a danger in applying theory directly into designs, and almost always a bad idea getting too theoretical when selecting interior paint colours as there are far too many other factors to consider in a space, my final design is simply because I like vegetation and I was keen to see it on a natural linen back ground.

The cushions are all 40 cm square and printed with pigment inks onto a linen cotton blend and will be appearing in my etsy shop soon.

It’s a fabulous sunny bank holiday weekend here in Edinburgh so I’m off to prepare a picnic, with plenty cushions to sit on…

Shop Launch…and a Prize Waiting to be Posted

I am happy to tell you that I have just opened an etsy shop and to celebrate this milestone, I would like to give one of my readers a present. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me which gift pack below you would like to win and I will pull one name out of a hat on St.Andrews Day, November 30th 2012. I have also set up a unifiedspace facebook page so it would be great if you had a look (or add a ‘like’ but only if you do!) – there is a link to it on the right sidebar.

I look forward to hearing from you!