Research Point

Refer to ‘Room Six: Territories’ Pages 146 & 147.

Investigate ‘Gers’ and other such textile based shelters/homes such as Wigwams, Tipis and Tents.

In the book “Textiles, The Whole Story” Beverly Gordon looks at the Textiles around the world, and the role it plays in bonding communities, spiritually and out of necessity for warmth and cover. She looks at the vast world of Textiles through anthropological glasses, not only in Art but science, craft, and technology.

She talks about Yurts and Gers and Tipis, used by nomadic cultures , which are light weight, portable and comfortable in harsh conditions. They are have the same common thread, they are made of wood and textiles for warmth and shelter. It’s incredible to think about how intertwined textile and humans are; warmth – fashion – shelter – tribal craft – politically – and in modern technology and medical practices. It is everywhere, from how we used to catch our food, to how we carry our groceries. From harvested fields to looms or factories, traditional making methods or machines.  Textiles are in our sports, how we protest, and where we worship. They represent our identity, our tribe, our beliefs and our creativity. Textiles are the epicentre of life.



Speaking from experience, both Yurts and Tipis are beautifully designs, circular, tall, and cozy. Over a dozen of years ago, our friends and I embarked on the beautiful journey, which is still going, call the Bimble Inn. The Bimble Inn is a unique structure made from canvas and wood fusing ancient tipi design with modern ideas. The space that is created inside is between 60 to 80 ft, it holds up to 600 people. It is a Solar Powers mobile venue normally found at festivals such as Glastonbury.

Although most people no longer live nomadic lives, I feel like many yearn to, and structures such as the Bimble Inn bring forth our ancestral feeling towards a need to be next to the Earth, to live simply, with a community, in nature, with music, drink, open fires and dancing.

The coursework ask as at this point to consider Assignment 5. I had looked at a contemporary artist, who I will research non the less, but am now considering looking at textiles such as canvases, which enable people to return to their nomadic tribal roots.


Exercise 1 — Handmade

Exercise 1


Only moments ago, I was taking apart what the H’mong textile, called a Spirit Skirt.  It’s totally sacrilege, and its taken me over a year and a half of having it in my studio, before deciding today, to change its fate. The skirt was sold to my friend Danny, who was working in Hmong villages in Sapa, helping to build stoves, and then passed to me, who had been working with the same women on a design project. I have masses amount of the Ethnic fabric which I have collected and repurposed.  I was going to frame this skirt, as well as another, but the pleats were too tights to see any of the detail, I felt like it wasn’t living up to its full potential.

Holding the pleats together, was a tiny trig on a string. which now hangs in front of my sewing machine to remind me each day of the women whose hands made it. Before I sniped the first thread that held the tight pleats together, I found myself giving thanks and appreciation for the months of work that had gone into each detail, from the hemp being harvested in the fields, each fiber attached by hand — usually done all day, from a pouch on the hip, to it being spun, then loomed. Bees wax would have been found locally as well, which is used for the batik dye-resist dots, which was next dip-dyed in an indigo bath, again, the leaves were grown, harvested, and boiled which creates a culture which is alive. Pregnant women are not allowed next to the vat, as its believe un-born babies can kill the living culture.  A whole patch of indigo leaves are used in one bath.

The hemp in next embroidered with cross-stitch patterns, and appliqued with colourful cotton fabric (the only thing which isn’t hand-made).

I find all of this extremely emotional, from beginning to end, perhaps a year was needed to make one skirt. The H’mong women make a new set of clothing each Lunar New Year, and happily sell the worn ones after the year is up — the cost of such an item pales in comparison to the work, they only want to earn some money to buy rice seeds to plant their fields.

It’s obvious that the this type of hand-made is not sustainable, because no one would spend the money to equal the time it actually takes the women, therefore these crafts are slowly dying out, the newer generation preferring to buy pre-fabricated synthetic printed patterns, from China.

From someone who has based my whole ethos on the handmade, I really hope that there will be a demand for it, not only because I believe in the story behind each object, but also I believe in the human aspect. Everything is becoming digitalized, mechanized, and mass-produced, where has the spirit gone?

I collect items from the industrial days, when metal was heavy and were made to last. Items are not meant to last anymore, because the companies who make them want to sell more, it’s not good business, it’s not the Capitalists way.

I hope there will be a revolution in the newer generation, a yearning to look back, and see that quality is far superior than quantity, and that simplicity holds more truth than materialism.

With the state of the environment, this throw away culture needs to stop, not only with plastics but with electronics, clothing, and food. I hope with all my heart that people start to realize that where you spend your money, has as much to do as how you cast your vote.

Shopping locally, independently, and ethically will change the world.

Buying hand-made quality products that will last, and have a classic design, that you love, that your children will love, that could be passed down from generations. By not buying plastic toys, plastic electronics, disposable furniture, we can control what ends up in a landfill. Everything that is in a landfill, in our waters, polluting our Earth, was once bought. By thinking more about what and where we buy, we can really make a difference.

Project 2 – research point // Slow design

Slow Design


Slow design, essentially, is the revival of the hand-made, or independent makers/designers which use sustainable materials with a low-cost on the Earth, ethically — fair trade, and local.

When looking at the Earth on a whole, the West is getting richer, whilst the East is becoming more and more poor, by lifting the West up by providing products and labor at significantly lower prices, which have a cost on the environment and the people of the East.

There’s a story about Whitby prawns (not craft related but relevant) where they are shipped to Thailand to be de-shelled, then shipped back to the UK to be sold, because it is cheaper. So the cost on the Earth simply through travel — the crude oil and the tanker, as well as the freezing process, and trucks on each side, to save money on labor, it’s crazy!

It’s cheap to ship, around $700 a container, which seems like such a small number. Everything to do with the shipping world is mechanized, the human labour cost is very small, which means getting clothing made a shipped from say India to Southampton, makes more sense for such big fast fashion companies such as H&M (which I believe are the worst).

This doesn’t take into account the fact that the owners of such companies cannot keep track of slave/ child labour – factory conditions, water pollution etc… when manufacturing overseas.

The idea of fast fashion is so superficial, and is born out of insecurity of not wanting to look different, wanting to blend in, and be a part of a whole. This is what marketing is all about.

Slow fashion is different from slow design, in a way that it’s not about cat walks and popularity, it is about individuals, being individuals.

Slow design for me means supporting artists/makers/designers who create one of a kind products, with thought, skill, considerations for the environment, with love — and probably not for the money.

It’s about knowing where your money is going, knowing where your product came from and who made it.

Of course there is a bigger price tag, but not in comparison. Shop local markets, shop online, shop on ETSY… it’s a movement where we can take control of where our money goes.  Don’t buy more, buy smarter.

I found this great company through my research who believe in selling “Classic clothing” they are called Slow and Steady Win the Race. They were featured by MoMA in an exhibition which is called  “a Living Archive” which is a set of garments on display, that were sold in 2002, and is still being sold today, because they don’t go out of style.

Each garment cost $100, which is affordable because it will last, and can be worn for a decade, or so.

I love the idea that good design can be universal. The whole goal is to make something affordable, but still aesthetically interesting. Romantically speaking, it just makes the world better.

I believe this is what Slow Design is all about — it’s the antithesis of Fast Fashion.

I felt very underwhelmed with the results from exercise 2 — I really wanted to find something wrong with Pipper Pineapple cleaning — the labeling, sourcing, anything, to make this more exciting.  The fact that it was totally legit, made me feel like I should do research into something more relevant.

I wanted to look at the sourcing of where my 100% Organic Natural cotton comes from.

A year ago I went on Alibaba, an Asian wholesale website, in hopes to source some organic cotton. I decided only to use materials that were “better” for the Earth. Although I do understand, cotton, although organic, still has a cost… but it’s much better than ‘not organic’ — this is why

Certified Organic Cotton

This means the cotton has been farmed without toxic chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers and never with genetically modified seeds.

Instead soil is conditioned though crop rotation. Weeds are controlled by physical removal rather than chemical treatment. Insects are controlled by encouraging beneficial insects with companion planting and in turn pests are preyed upon by these beneficial predators.

Why Organic?

Conventional (non-organic) cotton is one of the most highly chemical intensive crops on earth. By comparison conventional cotton covers 3% of the earths arable land, yet in production it uses 10% of the world’s agricultural chemicals and 25% of all insecticides.

In time pests build up a resistance to the chemicals used against them, so higher volumes of these toxic treatments need to be used and new pesticides are constantly being developed.

Contamination from these dangerous chemicals enters local waterways, destroying the natural environment, eco-systems and harming animals. In addition to the environmental factors, food and water supplies can also be contaminated from runoff which can ultimately cause disease, mental illness, sickness and birth defects in local communities.

But where does my cotton originate from?

I found a factory not far from my house that sold organic cotton, and when I say factory, I mean small village. Arriving at the gate, it was a 5 minute walk to the show room, where my friend met me.  He had the samples ready. I had not told him that I am one girl, on the top floor of her house, hand-making clothing. When he asked me how many meters of fabric I wanted, he looked stunned, and said, we normally do minimum orders of 10 000 meters. Doh! …but he did say, if another company made a big order he could add another 1000 meters on it for me. (I don’t really want 1000 meters, really).

A week latter, my friend emails me, I have 600 meters I can sell you. Awesome, I will come a collect it… not really knowing what that looks like.  Its a lovely story which is so true of many of my experiences in Vietnam, where everyone is trying to help you, everyone. So, we exchanged the money, and called an UBER, as you do, an UBER XL. The loveliest, giant man, arrives in his 4×4, has to go back to the entrance to get weighed, then returns to the warehouse where the cotton was being stored.  20mins latter, 8 roles of fabric were being hulled into this man’s truck, mostly by the UBER driver.

On the way out, we had to wait to be weighed again, and once clear, could make our way back to my house, which is, thank goodness, on street level. The whole time I was thinking, how am I going to carry all of this in? But not to worry when you have an UBER tattooed smily huge driver, because without asking, he carried everything inside. I gave him a 100k (£3) tip, two times the fare, and he in return gave me a massive hug! So lovely.

Back to the Organic cotton. It was made for a company called Outland Denim, which is an Australian company which employs marginalized women from Cambodia — awesome.

Outland Denim crafts premium denim jeans designed to bring the worlds of our sewers and our customers closer together. We source the finest raw materials from around the world while offering sustainable employment and training opportunities to women rescued from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The label on all the rolls say 100% Organic and was made in Vietnam, which means the travel footprint is very small.  I’m also helping local industry.

Global Organic Textiles Standard

logo-gots-ecocertThe Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) integrates all of the textile processing stages, from the fibre to the finished product: the raw fibre must be organic farming certified and all the manufacturing processes involved must be inspected. The aim of this standard is to guarantee the traceability, the use of chemical friendly with the environment and the consumer’s health, to ensure a quality system, a reduction of energy and to respect some social criteria.



Two labels for this standard according to the composition of the product to be certified:

  • Organic textiles: it requires 95% minimum of fibres coming from organic agriculture (with 5% maximum of synthetic or artificial fibres).
  • Textiles containing organic fibres: it requires 70% minimum of fibres coming from organic agriculture (with 10% maximum of synthetic or artificial fibres, this threshold to 25% for footwear and sportswear and 30% for recycled, made from organic raw material or substainable fibers ).


You can see my paperwork here : GOTS certification

Its very satisfying using a product, a fabric, which I believe is ECO friendly & local.



Exercise 2 – Hidden materials and processes

  • Find an object or product that has been marketed as environmentally sound, ethically produced, green or sustainable in some way. It doesn’t have to be a textiles product. The issue here is sustainability and transparency. Can you determine its credentials, for example by carefully examining the packaging and visiting the manufacturer’s website? In the light of your research, is the marketing and labelling accurate? If not, why not? Think about how you could investigate this further.

In a country such a Vietnam, Environmental education is ZERO. The use of plastic bags, plastic cups, styrofoam containers it’s disturbing at best. The ladies at the market are only now used to me using cloth bags, and don’t chuckle when I had the plastic back to them.  I don’t think they realize I do it to save on waste, they probably think I’m doing it to save them the cost of the bag.

When I go into shops, it’s all chemical this, mass-produced that, and although Organic is becoming more popular, it’s still comes with a high cost, which is normal everywhere. I normally shop at a cash and carry up the road, mostly because they sell frozen strawberries, and rocket, but to put it in context, there is a whole aisle devoted to MSG and another to fish sauce.

Among all the brand names I stumbled across some laundry detergent called Pipper, which uses Pineapples as its main ingredient. Often, because there is no FDA or otherwise in Vietnam, I was dubious about its certifications. Often there is an American or British flag on products, to show its foreign and therefore better. This one had a “USA PATENT PENDING TECHNOLOGY” sticker, what does that mean?

So I have a look at the website SEE HERE.

To be totally honest, it seems totally legit!  WHOO HOOO!

Here’s what it says

After years of extensive research and development, our scientists discovered a powerful natural ingredient that can be a substitute for normal chemical surfactant used in synthetic products: The amazing power of pineapple.

Our pineapples go through a high-standard selection process, purchased directly from local farmers to develop the rural economy in Nakornsawan, Thailand. We clean the pineapples using our technology before putting them through fermentation process. The process is closely monitored and quality is controlled by our scientists to ensure the best yield from our fermentation process.

Our pineapples are sourced from local Thai farmers to support the local rural community. We select only qualified pineapples to be cleaned and fermented using a processing standard recognized by international standards. Our fermented pineapple fluid is hygienic and highly effective as the key active ingredient in PiPPER Standard products.

I can always tell when counting the ingredients in a product, how bad it is, especially with E-numbers and weird scientific words. There are only 11 ingredients, the first is water, the second is fermented fruit, the third is fatty plant acid, …and three others have natural in their description.

As far as that weird USA flag, which is totally about marketing, even their patent has an explanation on the website.

It seems totally legit — my only concern would be the packaging, which is heavy plastic, instead of a pouch which could be decanted into something else.

  • no chemicals
  • biodegradable
  • sustainable farming
  • social awareness – local jobs
  • doesn’t polute water
  • natural resourse
  • a good product that smells lovely and works!

USA Patented Technology

We have multiple patent applications pending under the global Patent Cooperation Treaty (, a treaty to which more than 140 countries are signatories. We believe we have numerous inventions; our inventions include achieving performance as good as or better than the chemical/synthetic products. Our proprietary fermentation process and cleaning technology have been issued U.S. Patents. For more information click here .

Hypoallergenic and Allergy Certification

Our laundry detergent products have been clinically tested and certified to show they are hypoallergenic. Additionally, our laundry detergent products do not contain any allergen specifically listed under the allergy patch test which is approved by the U.S. FDA (the T.R.U.E. TEST ®

Our hypo-allergenic certification is from Dermscan Asia (, a fully equipped research laboratory on chemicals, cosmetics and food supplements, was established in 2002 with technical collaboration rendered by Dermscan Group in France. Dermscan Asia is dedicated to provide a broad range of efficacy and safety tests to meet customers’ need for regulatory claims and/or marketing claims of their R&D products. Dermscan Asia’s team comprises of dermatologists, scientists and technicians who have specific research experience.

ECO Certification

The ECO label means our products are biodegradable and environmental-friendly. Specifically, we meet the following criteria: our products biodegrade by themselves more than 90% within one month; our product base is natural and our manufacturer uses a green manufacturing process.

Assignment 4 – Feedback

Feedback on assignment 4 — Written by Carla Rees (my notes in red)

For this assignment, you have explored the work of Louise Lawler, a New York based artist and photographer who has incorporated portraits of other artists’ work into her own output. Her work is a good choice for this assignment, since it often emphasises the course theme of place by including the locations the artworks are situated in.

You write in a clear, well-communicated way, but sometimes your writing is be more editorial in style than academic. It would be helpful to back up your opinions with more evidence or detail, including the opinions of other academic writers who support your arguments. You should use in-text citations to show where your information has come from, and it would be helpful to use a wider range of academic sources for your information, rather than relying on websites. Now that OCA students have access to UCA’s library, there are numerous online journals and scholarly articles that you can use for your research. Remember to give references for the artwork you include in your essay within the captions; any copyright material needs to be credited, both in terms of the copyright holder and the source, using the Harvard format.

I totally understand I need to understand better the Harvard format, and could do with an example of what I am doing wrong, I thought I was siting my sources correctly, but realize I need to use in-text citations (does this mean with numbers next to the phrase?) This is the first time I have written academic papers, and perhaps I could use some help. I tried to access the UCA’s library, but had some difficulty, which the tech team told me was due to being in Vietnam, with different servers?  I will try again and hope the error has been resolved.  Being in Vietnam with no access to physical libraries, or book stores, I am sadly reliant on the internet for resources, this is why I tried to find a popular artist, which I could rely on MoMA for information, and did find a couple of papers on Acadamia.Edu, which were really helpful.


I feel there are several areas of your essay that you could explore in more depth. For example, you raise the question of whether or not photography can be considered as fine art; you are arguing that Lawler’s work is indeed art, but suggest that other photographers might not be included within the term. It would be helpful here to expand your argument further; what it is about the work of other photographers that makes it not considered as fine art? Do you have evidence to support your opinions? You say of Lawler ‘her photographs are considered art because she is an artist’ – isn’t this true of all other photographers too? If not, why not?

This is a very important point, and realize now I didn’t clarify why the art world doesn’t regard photography as fine art, and will find some scholarly papers to support my argument and maybe re-visit the idea of if an artist make work, is it considered art?

How does she ‘question the influence of the original art work’? Is it just through her titles, or would you also have the same response if you didn’t know what the titles were? What is the importance of place in her message to the viewer? What is she trying to show when she gives the viewer a new perspective on another artist’s work and how does she achieve this?

Another really great point, I think I touched upon how her words influence her work, how they talk back to the viewer, but there is an example of the same photograph in the exhibition repeated opposite the room with a different title — Lawler challenges the viewer by questioning titles as well as content.  She is constantly giving the viewer different perspectives on other artists work through both words and documentary style photography.

You draw parallels with Duchamp, and this is something that could also be subject to further exploration, especially in terms of how the context and reception of their work differs as a result to a changing cultural environment.

How has art changed since Duchamp’s ready-mades, which could have influenced the Picture Generation in the early 80’s? Conceptual and Visually — both artist question the art world, challenging the ideas of what art is at the time.

Regarding the medium of photography itself, it is clearly intrinsically linked to Lawler’s work, but what precisely is the effect of this medium in this context – for example, is she reproducing images/situations exactly as found (ie documentation) or manipulating them in a way that is best suited to the photographic medium? How different might her work be if she was painting rather than photographing, for example? What about the way the images are seen by the viewer, and reproduced? Are they designed to be seen in a particular place or context, or do they have the same meaning when reproduced and seen in other forms? What about the course theme of Time? How does this fit in to Lawler’s work? It strikes me that she is using photography to direct the viewer into a particular ‘way of seeing’ (John Berger’s work springs to mind here – you mention him in your notes on the blog but this is something else that you could bring in more detail to your essay, demonstrating context and an awareness of the work of other commentators) to enable her audience to experience her point of view.

I really wanted to include the work of Jon Berger, its so relevant to the the theme of place, and where you physically view art, I will look into this further. I did think I worked the coursework theme of Time when looking at the photograph “War on Terror” which visits the idea of matriarch lineage on powerful women through time, and their role in photography, literature and painting — art, through anti-war works. As far as looking at the medium of photography itself, reproducing images exactly as they are seen, like documentation, or manipulation, Lawler’s work used the photograph as the starting point, but through time, she has distorted or changes the medium, for example the tracings — not neccesarily a painting, like in the example, but she demonstrated many different forms, in scale/colour/words/distortion.


Imposter Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

This is what I feel like whenever I meet someone new,  their first question is always “What do you do?” This is the second most frequent question asked when living in a foreign country full of expats, the first is “Where are you from?”

I despise both questions, for they have very little correlation to who I am,  unless you have a while to discuss it, which I normally don’t want to.

I know I should just answer  “Canada, and I have an on-line shop”, then ask the question right back, to avoid further inquiry. I learnt this the hard way last Friday, when a fella asked me what do I do.

I said I was a maker, as that is what I feel I am, I create, I make. He didn’t get it, so I said I design and make clothes, and am studying to be a textile artist.

Him “Oh, so you’re a fashion designer?”

Me “No….. I’m against (most) Fashion which is based on huge industries manipulating people to into thinking they should look a certain way,  by buying clothes they don’t need, at a significant cost to the Earth”

Him “So you make things as a hobby?”

Me “I’ve got a shop on-line, I hand-paint organic cotton, and make unique pieces or clothing.”

Him “There’s no money in that unless you sell them for thousands”

Me “I’m happy with £40/hr”

Him “You should probably find a better way of selling yourself, using 10 words or less, you’re not very good at this are you?”

Me “You’re totally right”

I get paid to teach, does that make me a teacher, or do I need a PGCE to validate it.

I make clothes, but that does not make me a tailor.

I paint, does that make me a painter?

I design, does that make me a designer?

Am I am Artist? Can I call myself that? And who the hell has the right to say? Do I need a BA from a University, or have shows and exhibitions?

I’m so confused, and frankly a bit disheartened with titles and labels.

Money money money, that’s what people want to equate to careers, and even if I was making loads of money, I would never say I was a fashion designer. I have 100% more respect for those who actually know how to and make the products they design, instead of drawing a picture and getting someone else to make it because they haven’t got the skills, but have the money, and can afford to get the credit.


Reading the article on Clothing to Dye for which looks at how much water is used to dye textiles, and how the used water is the number one pollutant to the Environment, its devastating to realize the full impact its had on already marginalised people, for example in part lies in Tirupur, India,

Local dye houses have long dumped wastewater into the local river, rendering groundwater undrinkable and local farmland ruined. Despite tougher regulations, a watchful local press, and the closure of companies in non-compliance, water pollution has festered. The city’s 350,000 residents, not multinational textile companies, pay the price.

Reading on about how much more water and dye is needed to colour synthetic materials such as polyester, it makes you wonder, why anyone would want anything made out of polyester in the first place?

Synthetics textiles hold a nastier fate for the Earth, in the form of microplastics. Even after the garment has been manufactured with dye stuff and pollutants, probably made in a factory with unlivable wages, maybe by children, it is sold and worn, and continues to pollute the water every time you wash it.  Up to 1,900 plastic microfibers enters the water from one garment, every single wash.

Of course natural materials have a negative impact as well, the chemical pesticides and water needed to grow cotton for example alsongside dangerous fibers sometimes inhaled by workers, aren’t ideal, but compared to synthetics, they are a better choice.

Companies which recycle plastics into fibers and garments hoped to do good for the environment, but it looks as if they are causing more harm.

While Patagonia and other outdoor companies, like Polartec, use recycled plastic bottles as a way to conserve and reduce waste, this latest research indicates that the plastic might ultimately end up in the oceans anyway – and in a form that’s even more likely to cause problems.

There are articles writen up to 6 years ago, warning about the dangers of plastic in fish, but its far more advanced, plastic is in the water we drink, the food we each, and probably the air we breath.

Is it too late? Have we crossed the event horizon? How far does it have to go, until these mega companies actually care about the future of the earth instead of buying another super yatch?

Organic natural fibers, natural dyes, slow fashion, awareness and prevention.


Sustainability in textiles means not only to maintain stable manufacturing process with as little impact on the environment, but improve the lives of workers by providing a living wage, with good working conditions, a long-term solution which is eco and human friendly.

A company has to be profitable to work, but this doesn’t mean it should exploit its workers or the environment. The third richest man on earth owns H&M, probably the fastest fashion store on the high street, by manufacturing in India and Asia, it sells dresses for as little as £4.50. With those margins, H&M produces 600 million garments a year, a pair of jeans alone uses 1500 litres of water alone to produce. How much oil, pesticides, electricity is used, adding to global warming, and water/earth pollution? H&M may not be the worst, and they make noise about being sustainable by redeeming your old clothes for store credit. I see this as a marketing ploy to get more customers in the door.

Big brands are not only to blame, the consumers are at fault, by demanding cheap prices, at the same time being influenced by the fashion industry who dictate a change with the seasons. Fast Fashion relies on a consumer, who want to change their look from month to month.

I have no problem with Fashion, but I wouldn’t never let it tell me what is “In Style.” If individuals acted more like individuals, with their own “look” being influenced by classic timeless clothing which always looks great by working with their body type, letting their personality shine through, fast fashion would not exist.

The glossy magazines never tell you to try to look unique by shopping at charity shops, their narrative only includes names, most of which, no one can afford. Top shop and other high street names simply replicate these designs at a reasonable price.

Personaly,  I am proud to say I can count on one hand the garments I’ve bought in a mall or from a high street, aside from pants and bras bathing suits, in 5 years. I always shop Vintage/ Charity shops, or make my own, of course. I remember how liberated I felt when I finally found my style, a look which worked with my body type. Since then, I know exactly what I want to buy, and am never persuaded by rich brands.

I believe strongly in the distribution of money, where am I spending, how can it affect the people/ Earth in a positive way, oppose to a negative. Of course, I know what it is like being on the other end, being an independent seller. I depend of on-line marketing (which I am pants at) and word of mouth… I find it challenging even talking about what I make. I prefer being a modest, quiet maker — but that doesn’t sell clothes.

Marketing exploits people’s vulnerabilities, making them feel as though buying something will make them happier.  I don’t really believe in this. I believe in intelligent design based products, hand-made preferably, durable, useful, and timeless. If the fast fashion shoppers saved their £4.50 each week, they could buy 3 beautiful garments a year, from an independent designer, which I am positive, they would wear every week. There would never be crumpled up unwanted clothes at the back of the closet, but garments would be hung with pride to bring confidence to the wearer by fitting beautifully.

Part 5 — Textiles

There are a few points in your life, when you think, I’m on the right path, I followed the correct sign post, and it has directed me to this incredible place, with a spectacular view. Reading through the projects of Part 5 — Textiles; Sustainability / Hand-made / Art based pretty much sums up what I am striving for everyday, in and outside of this course, towards my BA.

This is what I’ve been working towards this last 2.5 years, my shop, called

“The old is new again” 

Sustainability — I only use pre-loved textiles; vintage lace and trims / ethnic heirloom indigo batik and embroidered hand-woven hemp (made by Dao and H’mong women) / embroidered table clothes & napkins — the only fabric I use that is new is GOTS certified 100% Organic cotton, un-bleached and natural.

Hand-made — I try and make as much as I can myself, although I have a tailor, Hoa and her mother, to help me with some tailored shirts and to replicate original Victorian garments, such as bloomers, nighties, corset covers, and dresses. I have not got the 50 years of experience these women have on a machine, they are incredible.

I make all of the one of a kind pieces, blouses, tops and boro inspired skirts.

Art based design — Using fabric paints, I delicately re-create Kilburn and Morris inspired floral designs on tops and dresses, using traditional Brush Painting techniques, originating in Japan and China, using the same brushes, which I have practiced since 2002.

The Story behind my work — (copied from my website)

« Perhaps you’ve come to tell us, don’t forget, the old is new again, each birth enriching aged ol’ earth. »

– by Richard Work,
from his poem “To Five Day Old Alyssa Jeanne,
from her grandfather whom she hasn’t seen”


These words have stuck with me through the years, in everything I have done, the decisions I have made, the friends I have loved, and my appreciation for the old.

To me it means everything that has come before, should be cherished and remembered; ancestry, heirlooms, books, suitcases, songs,typewriters, letters, paintings,textiles, crockery, photographs. They hold the key to the past, when people past down skills from generation to generation, when objects were artfully crafted with such detail and care, never thrown out, like sadly, many things are today.

We are so quick to look forward, we forget to look back.

Like the sharing of folk songs, or following a family recipe, this world is so full of past beauty we need to share and bring into the present.

We need to create to keep our spirits alive, a bit of ourselves to be remembered by future generations, leaving something behind by sharing it.

I want to find the cross roads between art and design, to make more than something you hang on your wall, to integrate it with slow fashion/design movements, to improve with every piece I make, with the help of this course, I hope to look further into how I can progress, and perhaps sell enough pieces to make a living as a working artist/designer… that is the dream, right?