Felt balls via baby cow stomach....

Not sure how I feel about these hair balls from Holland...as beautiful as they are. 

felt balls

"Calves, fed only on milk and kept closely confines so that when they are killed after a year of such treatment they yield the pale tender veal we apparently crave, start to eat their own hair. The muscular movement of their stomachs, combined with the heat and moisture, felts the hair into solid balls, which in extreme cases weight 750 gm and measure 15 cm across. such an object, the sight of which is a compelling reason for turning vegetarian, is rare. Usually the hair balls are much smaller and, forgetting their origin for a while, one can enjoy their range of colours and textures."

- The Maker's Hand, A Close Look at Textile Structures, Peter Collingwood

This is from a book Jason Collingwood gave me as a present after my rug weaving course with him. His father wrote this book and it was one of his favourites out of everything he put out.

Look ma I'm in The Independent on Sunday

👀

This lovely image was in the Independent on Sunday magazine last December. Love the way my blue jama-khan rug for Tiipoi has been styled and photographed - having gone through the process myself earlier this January, I now appreciate that shooting rugs is not an easy task - amongst other things it's quite tricky to get an interesting angle without distorting proportions. Stunning work by photographer Natasha Pszenicki and stylist Riya Patel

The rug shares the floor with beautiful pieces each connected to India in their own way
- Doshi + Levien's Impossible Wood chair for Moroso
- An ikat throw by Stitchwallah
- A table by Capsbury

Styling a band

I find that I love doing clothes and costumes for performers, outfits take on a new life and energy on stage. 

overview

I'm doing some brand identity and styling work for a band called Eclipse - they're a steel pan orchestra. Apart from bringing the v-i-b-e to the party, I love that they make a positive exchange with society. Eclipse has a core group that plays concerts and gigs, but they also perform as a community band that school children can join as an after-school activity.

I took inspiration from their name for their look - think the sun, stars, flares etc. Big, bold, fat shapes - circles, rectangles for maximum visual impact.I wanted each member to have a different outfit that reflected their personality somewhat. I had to think of a way of pulling their looks together without being too matchy-matchy. We had a short time-frame so I had to experiment quickly to find a technique that would work.

I used gold leaf to embellish t-shirts and a skirt. Not sure if my gilding efforts are dry-cleanable, but we had a short deadline and I fell back old tricks, viz., when in doubt, use tape - good ol' double-sided in this case. 

electronics not included

electronics not included

Stickers. I love stickers. They're the perfect way to add shiny to an outfit - I wear them on my clothes all the time - it's fun and playful. Plus, brush them off after they lose their glue and your clothes are back to normal. 

My brother being a patient model

My brother being a patient model

It was great fun putting this together. I look forward to v2 - our next milestone is a gig in January. Trying to think of a way to get some gold fringe on someones arms - would be fun to watch it toss around as they play! 

Next time I'll get a better photograph of the band playing.

From Intuition to Impulse: felting with Claudy Jongstra

What is felt? I've discovered that while most people know felt when they see it, they don't know it by name. Felt is both a noun and verb - you can make felt, and you can also felt. Felting is the process of evenly rubbing wet wool (by hand or machine) until little hooks present on every strand enmesh together into a soft fabric.

You find felt across the world wherever you find sheep - Ireland, Wales, Canada, Tibet, New Zealand, Holland, Jammu & Kashmir, Iran. People have made felt shoes, rugs, blankets, jackets and so on for thousands of years. The Mongolians even made their homes, yurts, from heavy-duty felt. Today it is also used for laptop sleeves, acoustics and upholstery. Felt is one of the oldest materials known to mankind and this is partly why I am fascinated by it. 

Claudy doing a quick (and I mean quick) demo

Claudy doing a quick (and I mean quick) demo

Last week I spent a week in Piemonte at a felt workshop with the magnificent Claudy Jongstra. 

Claudy's felt is large, expressive, super-contemporary. She's made robes for Star Wars, pieces for Marina Abramovic and Stella McCartney. But consider that the fun stuff. Her core body of work consists of large installations, wall coverings and tapestries in institutions, airports, museums and the like. Claudy says she likes to bring softness to places that most need it. 

Claudy Jongstra, Inner Moods installation, felted and hand-dyed wools from Drenthe Heath sheep, 2009, Cooper-Hewitt

Claudy Jongstra, Inner Moods installation, felted and hand-dyed wools from Drenthe Heath sheep, 2009, Cooper-Hewitt

I first came across Claudy's work online whilst looking for references for some felt rugs I was sampling. If Claudy's work is magnificent in pictures, I find it breathtaking in person. The first piece I physically saw was a wall-covering in the Amsterdam Botanical Garden café. Striking from a distance, richly detailed up close, I spent some time looking it. Claudy is working on a piece for SF MoMa right now so I hope more of you will encounter her work soon.

Claudy lives in Friesland in northern Holland. She keeps her own flock of sheep as a supply of wool for her artwork. She grows her own plants to dye her wool. She also regularly runs art workshops for children with the intention of bringing them closer to nature. As I have learnt more about her, I have grown to admire the way she has set up her life and her practice - integrated with nature and society. When I heard that she was doing this workshop I knew that I had no choice but to sign up.

I arrived in Italy with little to no idea about what the workshop was going to be like. Turned out that Claudy had brought along a little crew of instructors to enrich our felt-work. We had Annette giving us the lowdown on natural dyeing, Tijo teaching us about painting with minerals, Amelie and Rebecca for all-round help and Gia guiding us through an hour of body-movement in the mornings.

The workshop was titled, 'From Intuition to Impulse - Constant Meander of Perception, Selfpath, Transformation, Impulse'. It's oddly phrased – probably a literal translation from the Dutch – but I like that. Says a familiar message in an unfamiliar, energetic way.

The title in fact captures the spirit of the workshop perfectly. The instruction emphasised less on technique and more on sensing the material. I felt vulnerable - unsure if I would get it 'right'. But I quickly discarded this feeling and rose into a flow of experimentation.

We worked with different materials based on the theme of the day. Around Day 2 I began feeling the medium for myself, and set off on a line of exploration – 'painting' with wool and silk, churning out one colour study after another.

Giving wool a good massage

Giving wool a good massage

Descriptions from the workshop leaflet will give you a sense of the vibe - 

Day 1
Gold
Onion dye
A bowl growing beneath the ground, what does it feel like? Growing layer upon layer around a core, to be revealed again when brought up from of the earth; left naked.

Wool dyed in onion skins

Wool dyed in onion skins

Day 2
Silver
Sunflower seed dye
Rhythmical work to feel and understand the patternity in seeds.

blue from indigo, but there was some blue-grey from sunflower seed to the left

blue from indigo, but there was some blue-grey from sunflower seed to the left

Day 3
Brown
Walnut dye
Sensing your roots, your solid ground underneath your being that allows for growth.

brown from walnuts, green from onion + indigo

brown from walnuts, green from onion + indigo

Day 4
All previous elements & experiments come together to let reverberation sink in and let offer deeper insights and connection.

red from madder

red from madder

A selection of my 'colour-studies' - somehow VERY hard to take good photos of them.

1.
Foreground: pink silk
Background: dark green + dark blue wool.
As I found myself layering quite thin, I began using the white wool as a backing layer to 'glue' the piece and hold it all together.

lotus

The same piece, dry - in different light. You can see how the silk shines against the wool.

2.
Foreground: red Wensleydale
Background: blue Wensleydale
The Wensleydale sheep is known for its curly locks. I'm particularly fond of this piece - it looks like a stormy cloud to me.

3.
Foreground: white silk
Background: white/grey wool
Again, I was felting very thin at this point, interested in exploring delicacy.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 14.51.13.png

4.
Foreground: white cotton + blue silk + white wool
Background: blue grey wool.
Was exploring texture here.

5.
Foreground: copper silk + white wool mix
Background: green + blue wool
(channeling my inner Rothko)

5. 
Foreground: pink silk + white wool
Background: blue wool
Going larger, felting tighter. This was the last piece I made during the workshop.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 14.52.49.png

An overview of the pieces for a sense of size.

One afternoon we were asked to weave using a piece of cardboard as a base. It was my first time doing a lo-fi weave. I loved it. Weaving is easy! (I need that on a t-shirt). The point of weaving was to potentially integrate it in a felt piece. Busy with my colour-studies, I never got around to it.

weaving on cardboard - front

weaving on cardboard - front

Weaving on cardboard - back

Weaving on cardboard - back

On the 'seed day' we started the day with a blind drawing exercise - drawing a seed without looking down at the paper. I love these kinds of exercises, the ones that force you to LOOK. 

Blind drawing

Blind drawing

Though the work sessions were largely self-driven, every aspect of the workshop was thought through, from our morning warmup exercises to the unbelievable vegetarian food (both of which deserve their own write-ups).

Our morning ritual - an hour of eurhythmics. Here, we had just finished spending a few minutes looking at some plants. We are now in the midst of capturing their character through moving our body. Standard stuff.

Our morning ritual - an hour of eurhythmics. Here, we had just finished spending a few minutes looking at some plants. We are now in the midst of capturing their character through moving our body. Standard stuff.

Pasta coloured with vegetable juice, woven (to reflect our work), baked to a crisp then placed on the table to share

Pasta coloured with vegetable juice, woven (to reflect our work), baked to a crisp then placed on the table to share

Creamy cheese in a half a walnut shell, grapes covered in cheese then rolled in nuts and a ball of crumbed risotto disguised as a pear.

Creamy cheese in a half a walnut shell, grapes covered in cheese then rolled in nuts and a ball of crumbed risotto disguised as a pear.

On the last evening of the workshop, we all got together and shared a couple of words about our work and the whole experience. Let's say it got emotional.

Felt vernissage

Felt vernissage

We worked on the lawns of a house that was once the residence of the Marquis of the town – Incisiana. It's now a bed & breakfast that also makes very good wine. More info about the wine here.

The view from our work stations was grapevines, hills, forest and terracotta roofs from the village beyond. The weather was crisp and sunny for the most part and the rain was considerate enough to arrive at 6pm on our last day.

What I loved about this workshop was its conceptual rigour. It's hard to find learning opportunities with people whose judgement you trust. This was one of them, and I am grateful for the experience. In these five days I answered many questions about my relationship with felt, and I've now set some kind of direction going forward.  

Incisa Scapaccino

Incisa Scapaccino

Launch!

It's London Design Festival this week and I have two collections launching tomorrow at Designjunction – a cool trade fair in Holborn. 

Sagarika Sundaram for FLOOR_STORY is a pair of hand-tufted wool rugs.

Laxmi, 120 x 180 cms / 160 x 230 cms, 100% handtufted wool

Laxmi, 120 x 180 cms / 160 x 230 cms, 100% handtufted wool

Rekha, 120 x 180 cms / 160 x 230 cms, 100% handtufted wool

Rekha, 120 x 180 cms / 160 x 230 cms, 100% handtufted wool

My second collection is a set of handwoven cotton rugs and cushions for homeware brand Tiipoi

Jama-khan rugs in pink and blue - 120 x 180 cms Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms Jama-khan rectangular cushion - 30 x 50 cms. All 100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rugs in pink and blue - 120 x 180 cms
Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms
Jama-khan rectangular cushion - 30 x 50 cms.
All 100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rug in blue - 120 x 180 cms 100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rug in blue - 120 x 180 cms
100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rugs in pink - 120 x 180 cms Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms 100%handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rugs in pink - 120 x 180 cms
Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms
100%handwoven cotton

Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms 100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan square cushion - 45 x 45 cms
100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rectangular cushion - 30 x 50 cms 100% handwoven cotton

Jama-khan rectangular cushion - 30 x 50 cms
100% handwoven cotton

Both projects have been a labour of love and I'm delighted that they're out, all set for new lives in homes around the world.

Register here to see them at Designjunction
Wed 23 - Sun 27
Victoria House, 37 Southhampton Row WC1B 4DA
Floorstory - stand V23
Tiipoi - stand V39 (near Vitra elephants)

Get in touch if you need information about prices etc.

 

The Bhutanese Kira

I love adding folding techniques from around the world to my ever-expanding quiver. Here are instructions on how to wear a Bhutanese kira, from a book called 'Thunder Dragon Textiles from Bhutan' by Mark Bartholemew. If you look at the instructions carefully you'll see that it leaves the sides of your body exposed, which is why it's worn on top of a tunic-like garment. Mentally saved to try with a scarf and a leather skirt/crop top foundation, maybe for a party.

The Bhutanese kira

The Bhutanese kira

The aerial instruction is handy

The aerial instruction is handy

Reading at Jason Collingwood's

There is endless inspiration in Jason's back room where I am staying. It contains his father's well organised collection of books on textiles and craft. I pick out books that catch my attention when I'm done weaving for the day. Being here reminds me of spending time in my school library, or in the room full of books my parents once had at home in Dubai. I find it relaxing to read like this again.

Jason's back room – my bedroom

Jason's back room – my bedroom

Bedtime reading

Bedtime reading

Authors in these books consistently mourn the loss of material techniques to modern life. For example, Saudi nomads, as you would think nomads would, place little to no value on material possessions and repurpose objects into new more useful ones as soon as the originals have lost their purpose. Indonesia succumbed to Dutch colonialists who wanted to control their craft (and  thereby their economy). Etc etc.

I feel sad to read about these disappearances, these losses of human ingenuity. I doubt we will ever again make great analogue breakthroughs in this world of distraction (i.e. wifi) that we live in. Craft needs time, patience, love and – I truly believe this – boredom to bloom. But then perhaps this is the natural tide of human evolution - things fall apart, get lost, evolve, amalgamate.

We were taught batik at school from age 12-17 at quite an advanced level towards the end. Which is probably why I am interested in resist techniques, particularly Indonesian batik.

We were taught batik at school from age 12-17 at quite an advanced level towards the end. Which is probably why I am interested
in resist techniques, particularly Indonesian batik.

Books by an amazing Japanese collective/company called NUNO

Books by an amazing Japanese collective/company called NUNO

A page from a book by NUNO - creative, playful, innovative work

A page from a book by NUNO - creative, playful, innovative work

A selection of books I have particularly enjoyed -

1. Traditional Crafts of Saudi Arabia - John Topham (nice to learn about pre all-black-abaya and cufflinked-thobe days)

2. Decorative Art in Indonesian Textiles - Laurens Langewis & Frits A. Wagner (true researchers)

3. Traditional Indonesian Textiles - John Gillow & Barry Dawson (the batik...always my favourite!!!)

4. Thunder Dragon Textiles from Bhutan - Mark Bartholomew (amazing textiles documented by an amazing person)

5. On Weaving - Anni Albers (have to admit I find her writing impenetrable, but inspiring images)

6. Japanese Fisherman's Coats from Awaji Island -Sharon Sadako Takeda & Luke Roberts (OMG)

7. Art and Design in Textiles - Michael Ward (would have loved to have dinner with him)

8. Rugs from Rags - John Hinchcliffe & Angela Jeffs (beautiful examples)

9. The Art of Paisley - Ed Rossbach (I'm interested in how the paisley form moved from India to England)