Creative Textile Art - forgetting the rules...

by Rosemarie Smith
[Kersbrook Training]

Embroidered Book Cover

Fabric / thread art can take many forms, fabric collage, appliqué, patchwork, embroidery, tapestry weaving, knitting being but a few of them.

However one form of fabric/ thread art which has perhaps not received the attention it deserves is mixed media textiles, where the fabric/ thread itself is often manipulated and various types of techniques are used to create marvellous decorative pieces.

The joy of this art form is that you can give free reign to your creativity - in fact my message is "forget the rules". Even if you are a complete novice you can discover how to make exciting designs, using a medley of different colours, fabrics, threads, experimental textile techniques and stitches.

Disregard all the limitations that may have been freely passed on by too conservative teachers, family, friends and relations. Savour all the enthusiasm and suggestions that you can gather from those around you. With the theme "forget the rules" in mind, explore and experiment with ideas and materials, and attempt to translate both into unorthodox forms. New materials are constantly being produced and apart from being just functional, most hold very exciting possibilities for creative exploration.

There are basically two types of textile workers. One group will enjoy working through a number of exercises and experimentation to gain greatest satisfaction from the creative potential of familiar and unusual materials, allied to unorthodox means of reaching desired results. The second group will be hesitant to experiment, yet produce exciting work with traditional techniques as features. Whichever group you fall into you will no doubt face the question of whether the work is complete or not. From my point of view a richly worked textile piece is visually more exciting than one that is not.

The success of creative textiles depends very largely on how important a role creativity plays in it. This involves a questioning or even disregarding of the various rules held dear by the purists and the traditional maker. Although you can still use traditional practices as a basis for your projects the fascination of creative work lies in exploring new possibilities and finding innovative solutions to problems - there are no limits to the ways and means in which you can translate colours, fabric and textures into unique pieces of art. There is always something new to discover.

Part of the pleasure of working with textile art in a creative way is its wide potential for being manipulated to create a new textured surface.

Colour coupled with design is one of the most important elements in creative textiles. Work will either vibrate with interest or be lacking in colourful interaction.

The potential of colour is enormous. It is generally the fear of the unknown that keeps people from experimenting with colour. With practice your appreciation of colour awareness will grow and in time you will surprise yourself with your abilities. A sense of design may be inspired by the mere sight of a group of coloured threads placed against one or more coloured fabrics. The colour relationships may express a mood, or an emotion, which can be emphasized by the techniques applied.

Every artist and crafts-person has his or her own method of creating an image or achieving an object from the first rough sketch to the final moment of completion. Why don't you have a go, you will be rewarded by producing exciting creative work.

Workshops and courses

Rosemarie Smith offers a range of day workshops to Embroidery Groups, W.I, schools, etc in the South West. Find out more about these and her longer courses leading to City & Guilds qualifications, which are available through KERSBROOK TRAINING open and distance learning.