Yesterday I traveled down to London on the megabus to attend an Experimental Materials workshop with the designers Jane Bowler and Heather Orr, I found them on Instagram and noticed that they do regular workshops in their studio, they offer knitting, crochet, macrame and other workshops but i went for the experimental materials one because it sounded like the broadest so I thought it would be a good place to start, I was so excited because I haven’t done anything creative in so long because I’ve just been working my little bum off at work.
There were three other girls attending the workshops all from various backgrounds, we introduced ourselves and it was really interesting hearing everyone’s different reasons for attending the workshop, Jane and Heather told us a little bit about the label and made us cup of tea and coffee, they then passed around a bowl filled with little pieces of paper with a different material written on each one, they asked us to pick 4 without looking, they said that they do this because if we were given free reign to pick what materials we liked we would probably stick with colours and materials we feel comfortable with and the outcomes wouldn’t be as exciting, i think this is very true, its good to be pushed out of your comfort zone every now and again or else we’d get stuck in a rut creatively. The materials I got were; clear plastic, net bag, blue foil, blue cone and white foam ( as you can see in the pictures above) we were then given lots of different tools; hole punchers, electrical tape, scissors, needle and thread etc, and they gave us 20 minutes to put our materials together and make 3 samples with the tools we were given, they told us that they used to give out glue as one of the tools but it made it too easy.
I actually found this first task really challenging but its okay because we then took our samples over to the heat press and pressed them between two sheets for Teflon for 20 seconds, this made them look 100x more interesting, each material reacts differently to the heat so some samples didn’t really do much but some completely transformed, we could then use any materials that we wanted so I started mashing a bit of everything together and whacked it on the heat press to see what would happen, it was so much fun, I could have stayed for hours putting different combinations of materials together but unfortunately the workshop only lasted 2 hours. I feel so inspired by the samples I’ve created, I think I’ll try and scan them in to photoshop and have a go at turning some of them in to prints if I can find the time. This workshop has given so many ideas for my final collection in third year, I’m not the best at pattern cutting or sewing with traditional fabrics so its really uplifting to see that you can run a successful fashion label using unorthodox methods and materials, I now feel confident that I can create visually exciting samples and garments in my third year at uni.
At the end of the class, heather told us that we could have 20% off of her jewelry and got loads out to show us, they were such a bargain with the discount I couldn’t say no and I treated my self to two new necklaces, I’m absolutely in love with them they’re gorgeous.
I definitely want to come back down to London for another workshop over the summer. It was also good experience to find my way around London on my own because I’ll have to go there for the Free Range shows and when I graduate and get a job I will probably end up in London or at least have to travel there regularly for trade shows and events.