Radical Craft and Itinerant Quilters

Living in a smallish town in mid Wales, it’s not every day I get inspired by exhibitions! We do have an Arts Centre with two galleries that curate often interesting shows but they are on for some time so I can feel culturally starved once I’ve seen whatever is on.

However I recently went to visit the ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making” exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre which really blew me away. It is rare that I visit an exhibition that I find so inspiring I want to keep going again and again. I took some students on my second visit.

I drew drawings and made notes and even bought the catalogue!

What I found so inspiring about this show was how I noticed nd it was focussed on artists who work intuitively with their process and don’t necessarily know what their outcome is going to be. Interestingly I found their work so powerful and inspiring, like really the most well curated and inspiring exhibition I’ve been to in a long time!

So as I heard myself say these words to my students, something clicked for me- that I need to work intuitively too and trust my own process….trust it will lead me down the right path.

And then yesterday I heard that Ceredigion Museum were hosting Two Itinerant Quilters so I whisked my daughter and I off wearing one of my most loved and oldest dresses to be ‘mended’. IT was a really fun experience, it felt great to take part in something, to offer a piece up to a quilt and to have my dress ‘up cycled’ at the same time.


I thought it timely since I am due to work on Research Point 1 and begin to consider artists and designers who work with the theme of mending, re-using and recycling.

Both the exhibition and the quilters have made me think about this even more. Using and re-using materials, using what is around you. The effects that you gain when you leave some of your making to chance, to working with what appears before you.




The Art of Spinning and Dyeing

A while ago, I joined my local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. And so grateful that I did. I have so far attended one meeting, where I felt a bit out of place and very much a novice. All the women there had their looms and spinning wheels and were confidently working and chatting away at the same time.

I finally plucked up the courage to approach a lady with her spinning wheel and asked her if she would be happy to teach me how to use a drop spindle. And before I knew it, I was sat down and part of a circle, spinning away. And what was lovely was that everyone was so encouraging, despite me spinning a very uneven yarn. I really enjoy the process. I’d like to spin more and create 2 ply, 3 ply maybe even 4 ply yarn.


A couple of weeks ago, I went to the annual dyeing day. I had to prepare by getting some undyed wool and create skeins (I used the back of a chair), and then washed them and put them in a pot with mordant – alum and cream of tartar. The following day was spent with a  a number of women from the guild, all bunging their skeins in to vats of onion skin, chamomile, daffodil heads, fustic chips, brazil wood and indigo. It was fun, intense and lots of quick decision making on the spot. As a complete beginner I did have any agenda other than to experiment. I learnt that next time, it would be a good idea to somehow tag or label my skeins after bringing them out of the dye pot, because by the end of the day I couldn’t remember which skein had been dyed with what, especially when it came to me mixing things up, creating greens by putting the yellow skeins in to the indigo, and viva-versa.

I don’t know what I’ll do with these yarns as yet. Maybe the next step is for me to rent a loom from the guild and learn to weave?!