Our regular craft correspondent Julia Little toured London Craft Week for us again this year, searching out the best of the HUGE selection of what was on offer. It was the thoughtful presentations and workshops put on by the smaller stores that caught her attention, here’s what she loved…
First up was a visit to the Guy Goodfellow showroom in Chelsea where renowned wallpaper historian, Allyson McDermott, was talking about her work with restoring and remaking historical wallpapers. She researches and studies the papers, often working with tiny fragments taken from renovation and conservation projects, to find the best way to recreate and match these beautiful papers.
Using traditional methods she, and the team at Guy Goodfellow, work with animal glue, chalk and natural pigment (distemper) to recreate colours as they were centuries ago.
Then, using large round brushes, they work the colours into the papers, carefully layering to create wonderful depth and colour. She talked of working with hand carved wooden blocks, made by artisans in the same way they always were. Each process takes time and patience, even getting the blocks and papers to register properly takes a week. Allyson also took us through the process of flocking wallpaper.
The flock is made from fine wool fibre and it’s the dust alone which settles on the pre block printed paper to create the flock wallpaper that we know. The quality and colours were truly stunning , a huge respect to this wonderful way of preserving and recreating these beautiful works of art.
Next, I popped into Daylesfords on Pimlico Road to see their botanical art exhibition of vintage herbiers – dried and pressed flowers onto parchment. All available to buy either framed or unframed. They were also running a pressed flower workshop with Jam Jar Flowers as well as a talk and demonstration by designer and nature printer Pia Ostlund.
If you remember pressing flowers as a child and would like to have a go, contact Jam Jar Flowers and book one of the workshops. Or simply buy a little press, follow instructions and do it yourself. (I’m going to a workshop on Wednesday, so blog post coming soon, A)
Then onto our friends at The New Craftsmen, for their Colourful Minds : Illustration and Pattern exhibition, especially curated for London Craft Week. Coincidentally, another wallpaper theme, with simple, hand blocked work inspired by the remarkable Peggy Angus (1904-1993) and recreated by her family using archive designs.
The exhibition, which runs until 8 September, presents craft across a variety of forms, including sculpture, figurines, decorative plates and bowls, block printed fabric and collage.
Dunhill’s Mayfair Bourdon House store was next, where they had partnered with the wonderful Hole & Corner magazine. A series of workshops, demonstrations and discussions took place across the building, showcasing glass-blowing, metal work, wood carving, ceramics and weaving.
I had a lovely chat with Maria Sigma who designs and weaves beautiful blankets and textiles using natural wools and yarns. She even let me have a go on her amazing loom, totally addictive!
(she also had a lovely craft trolley which I really liked the look of….A)
Florian Gadsby was at his potter’s wheel throwing some natural coloured teapots. He told me about his training and a recent six month apprenticeship with master ceramicist, Ken Matsuzaki in Mashiko, Japan. Apparently an amazing, but back breaking experience!
Vivienne Westwood’s The Creation of an Iconic Shoe, celebrated the heritage and British craftsmanship of their iconic shoe collection, including the timeless Rocking Horse shoe and Pirate boots. Great to see her flagship store bursting with amazing clothes and shoes. I was really struck by the friendly staff and the well cut and generous shape of some of the clothes. Definitely something to aspire to. The exhibition continues through May.
Finally, a visit to Toast on Westbourne Grove. To be honest, any excuse to be in this store is a joy, beautiful clothes, great edit of accessories and a lovely, light filled room at the back, perfect for a workshop. Long tables were laid out by Ray Stitch with pieces of fabrics, yarn and needles ready for the Boro Workshop.
Boro is a traditional Japanese art of using layers of cloth to stitch together and repair or strengthen clothing or blankets. The core value being “waste nothing”, something we are more conscious of these days. We all enjoyed the gentle craft of patching together our own choices of textiles, creating pleasing pattern and colour combinations and reinforcing them with a simple running or stab stitch. For some great sewing and making tutorials and workshops, see Ray Stitch
And one from me (Amanda), I loved recent RCA graduate Lora Avedian’s coaching and embroidery work, seen at Howe in Bourne Street, which made me want to go home and start smocking things. Lora also told me about Frida’s Parlour, a series of workshops and floral installations happening around the V&A’s up coming Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up (surely the most anticipated exhib for fashion, beauty and flower people for some time….) and Chelsea Flower Show. The Chelsea in Bloom windows this year will all have a Frida theme, I predicted a floral headdress overload….
The full schedule of what went on can be found on the London Craft Week website.