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A Year After Graduating in Textile Design

I’m Kirsty and I’m behind ida design. Ida is my middle name which was given to me as I was born on my great grandmother Ida’s birthday. I’ve been told she didn’t ever believe the name would be passed on as she felt it was old fashioned but I love it and wanted to celebrate it.

Last summer I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, where I studied textile design. Over the summer before my final year at university my passion for gardening grew and from that grew my interest in natural dying. I experimented sourcing colour from onion skins, avocado skins and red cabbage. I also used an iron and water blend to create darker tones. I found this all very exciting and that’s what inspired my choice of colour going forward. I can’t help but be inspired by nature around me. This inspiration draws me to have a natural approach in my work. I became very aware of the materials I was using, thinking about where they come from and what happens to them at the end of their use. After lots of research I was amazed by all the beneficial qualities of wool. Wool being biodegradable interested me as I was keen for anything I made to be able to return to the earth when the time was right. Then once I discovered that natural dye coloured wool beautifully, it was a match made in heaven. I now follow the concept of ‘borrowing’ from nature, borrowing the natural material of wool and colour.

During my final year I discovered the process of wet felting and I was introduced to a needle felting machine. I wasn’t aware of these techniques before. Once I started I just never stopped. I find the wet felting process very relaxing, creating a slow mindful moment. One of my favourite things about art is the unexpected. I am driven by the unexpected results. This is why I enjoy watercolour and often use watercolour paintings as inspiration for wet felted pieces. I personally find watercolour and wet felting wool to be a very similar process. The freedom of placement, both being directed by water. The needle felting machine can bring structure revealing new textures. It is also much faster that needle felting by hand, which I spent a lot of time doing before someone kindly made me aware of the needle felting machine.

After graduating I was back home in Helensburgh and I was a little surprised with the urge I had to keep felting. This is when the kitchen table became my felting ‘studio’. I’ve always had an interest in interiors. This came from decorating my childhood bedroom. I spent months adding handmade elements such as découpage shelfs and teaching myself how to use a sewing machine to sew cushions to match. I wanted my felting to be added to interiors. In my degree show I had exhibited wall hangings, which I was pleased with and still enjoy making wall hangings now. Though I also wanted make more three dimensional work and that is why I started making what I like to call plant pot and vase cosies. This is something I wanted to develop as I felt it would help my business grow. It stayed in line with my brand. Still ‘borrowing’ from nature as well as promoting nature within your home. I liked the idea that my felted cosies allowed a safe place to cherish nature. I have also been working on patchwork cushions, bags and purses continuing to develop my skills on the sewing machine. I feel the wet and needle felted material opens up opportunities for many different ideas and I am excited to explore them all.

I have enjoyed working on my branding to make sure it best shows me and what I believe in. I’ve been taking part in craft markets which is a lovely way to showcase my art and see so many other peoples inspiring work. Within the year since graduating I have learnt a lot, such as new skills in branding, building a website and shop. I have gained confidence in my work by building my craftsmanship and having the confidence to have it on display in markets. Most of all I have discovered the areas I am passionate about and pushed through even when at times it can seem like an unrealistic dream. I look forward to continuing this journey and seeing where it takes me.

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