Saturday, 20 May 2017

PaisleyMake at London Craft Week 2017

As I was deciding which demonstrations and events to attend during this year's London Craft Week (LCW), one theme became clear and I was delighted to get places on LCW events hosted by PaisleyMake. My previous work with Norwich Shawls had introduced me to the world of Norwich, Edinburgh and Paisley Pattern and I was keen to learn more. 

My Paisley Pin Designs from the LCW Workshop
The town of Paisley is currently bidding to become U.K. City of Culture in 2021. Last September there were a series of exciting events in Paisley and the organisers had brought this enthusiasm to London for LCW. On Wednesday 3rd May I attended an evening reception at the Scotland Office in Westminster where several exciting announcements were made. The official Paisley 2021 bid had just been launched and Penny Martin, editor in chief of the Gentlewoman Magazine gave an excellent speech in support. Penny had contributed many ideas and is a great promoter of all elements of the bid. 

Knitwear company Pringle of Scotland followed Penny's speech by announcing details of their AW17 collection. This new collection was developed with the Paisley Museum archive and will feature designs originating from Paisley. The company explored printing on knitwear for this collection and I can't wait to see the garments in store from August 2017.

A few weeks ago I visited the Paisley Museum in Paisley and discovered that it will close next year for a multi-million pound refurbishment. The new museum will put much more emphasis on the weaving looms that are currently located towards the back of the museum. The archive of stunning shawls and designs for the shawls will also play a prominent role. It was therefore a delight to talk to Dr Dan Coughlan, the curator of the museum on Wednesday evening. He is the driving force behind the restoration of the weaving looms and his knowledge of the looms is second to none. He told us how he had rebuilt many of them in order to have working looms at the Museum. Hearing about the huge archive was amazing and as well as original Paisley pattern sample books, there is even a Norwich Shawls pattern book in the collection!

A section of a Paisley Shawl from the Paisley Museum
on display at G F Smith
PaisleyMake also supports new designers and emerging talent. I was delighted to be introduced to two creative businesses through workshops on Thursday 4th May at the G F Smith Showspace. G F Smith is a paper merchant supplying a wide range of papers to industry and individuals. Their Showspace provided a fantastic location for PaisleyMake to highlight the designers involved in the project.

The G F Smith Wall of paper
Misty Concepts is run by the talented designer Melissa Watt. Her speciality is origami and one of her stunning paper folded lampshades was on display at the ShowSpace. Mel's workshop explored the origami skills she uses in her business and we all enjoyed making folded cranes and a lily too. I will also be looking out for Mel's folded lampshade workshops in Paisley and London. 

Origami Lampshade by Misty Concepts
During a recent visit to The Lighthouse in Glasgow, I spotted a display by Paisley Pins. This creative business uses the famous Paisley teardrop design as the basis for beautiful brooches and jewellery. The afternoon's Paisley pattern workshop explored some of these designs. There were amazing pattern books, pens, pencils and more for us to experiment with. Andrea and Laura were really great tutors and we were all excited when they photographed our drawings and told us they will make one of them into a laser cut pin for each of us. Mine has just arrived and I love it!

I hope that my two blog posts have given you a taste of events and talks than happen as part of London Craft Week. I'm already looking forward to next year (9th to 13th May 2018) and can't wait to see what is included in the programme! Look out for updates on the LCW website.

Friday, 19 May 2017

London Craft Week 2017

This annual celebration of high quality craft is a great opportunity to discover more about the extremely talented makers and designers behind many well known brands and new creative businesses. This year's programme was absolutely packed! A huge range of skills were featured including those as diverse as marquetry, ceramics, origami and of course, knitting. The London Craft Week (LCW) team go to a great deal of trouble to ensure a broad range of crafts are represented during the Week and the number of events has grown from 60 to 250! I visited events and demonstrations on Wednesday 3rd May and Thursday 4th May and have decided to write about them in two posts as there is so much to say.

Art by Hazel Thorn on display in the V&A Museum Silver Galleries

My London Craft Week visits began on Wednesday at the V&A Museum. It was a delight to talk to silversmith Hazel Thorn in the V&A Sliver Galleries. Hazel was demonstrating how she creates her stunning work. We chatted about how design can be transferable between different disciplines. Hazel's work involves combining different metals by fusing them together, then in some designs cutting them up to create new shapes and patterns. Hazel can control the fusing process to create the alignment of lines that she wants. I was really struck by the similarities to weaving and knitting and I loved the beautiful pieces she had brought along.

Fused and Cut Sample by Hazel Thorn

A visit to Liberty London first thing on Thursday morning allowed me to have a close look at designer Jonathan Anderson's Loewe "This Is Home" Collection. Jonathan Anderson is collaborating with the Workshop of Robert Thompson, known as The Mouseman, for some of the items in the collection. Several years ago, I visited The Mouseman Workshop in Yorkshire with my family and we loved seeing how each piece of handmade furniture has a tiny mouse carved into it. Jonathan Anderson promotes high quality craft within his businesses and these skills are clearly important to him. In celebration of the Mouseman, Loewe have commissioned a selection of little mouse charms, made in both leather and wood. 

Loewe Mouse Charm selection at Liberty London

Loewe Wooden Mouse Keychain at Liberty London
The Loewe hand knitted cushions and wall art were fabulous. Each portrait cushion cover had leather backing with signature Loewe stitching. The hand knitted standing figures were very dramatic and Jenny from Loewe told me that they are also designed to be worn as scarves!

Hand Knitted Cushion Cover by Loewe This Is Home

Hand Knitted Cushion Cover by Loewe This Is Home

Hand Knitted Standing Figures by Loewe This Is Home

London Craft week runs during the first week of May. There is a mix of free and paying events that are open to anyone. Some require advance booking and others are open displays and demonstrations. All provide an excellent insight into the world of high quality craft and all are extremely inspiring!