London Craft Week opens London’s studios and shops giving you an insight into the amazing industries around the city. By inviting you to see what amazing crafts happen, often behind the scenes with demonstrations and viewings and showing you skills and techniques traditional and recent. Hawthorne & Heaney have been very busy soaking up all that London has to offer this week, so far we have visited:
Nest design at Blacks Club- Soho.
This is an extraordinary interior company, with delightful staff explaining the fabric origins, methods of designing and previous client projects. Nest have an amazing collection of fabrics from all over the world; linens, velvet, silks, lace as well as dyed materials such as shibori and Tussar silk.
If you love fabrics and a variety of them it’s definitely worth heading over to Nest at Blacks to talk about the collection of beautiful samples as well as the great projects they have made.
Example of a client project in Spring Restaurant, Somerset House (photo taken from Nest design.co.uk) Beautiful lines of stitch, layering and vintage lace are highlighted as well as different opacities of linens.
Christian Louboutin -Mayfair
The Christian Louboutin shop was demonstrating leather tassel making which is part of their personalisation service of the shoe. The construction of these leather tassels was amazing to watch, the demonstrator did not speak English however the skill he had constructing the leather strips into delicate but fun tassels was a great process to watch and learn. It inspires you to have a go at making such decoration as he made it look so easy. (definitely isn’t easy!)
Example of the hand made leather tassels on a boat style shoe.
As you approached Fretta the window display was a wall of work of art with a painter part way through painting a full size design of flowers and leafs
The experience in Fretta was a treat with very helpful staff showing you around the shop, explaining fabrics, as well as browsing the beautiful luxury fabrics.
I spoke to Lucia Surace (CRM & Marketing Manager) who was able to show me through the personalisation of the collection and previous examples of embroidered items. The quality of fabrics they have there are so lovely, these including, bed linens made from egyptian cotton, throws and blankets made from cashmere, wool and silk, as well as table linens and towels.
Clients for the embroidery personalisation are often for mass for example for cruise ship towels.
Above right: example of embroidered towels, part of their personalisation service.
Above left: table linens with the popular lace hole boarder.
Above: photo of Fetta’s embroidered table linen.
I found Fretta well worth a visit to see the style and quality that they produce and to learn from the staff there.
The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles – At Temple Gallery
Above image: Example of traditional Thai embroidery on garments in at Temple Gallery
The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles was founded by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit within the Grand Palace grounds in Bangkok and officially opened in 2012. This will be the museum’s first London visit, celebrating the Khon, Thailand’s oldest narrative dance forms. This exhibit is placed in the most beautiful building, Temple Gallery, located just a short walk from Temple Station. On display at the exhibit is a wonderful array of various examples of the skill which has been used to make such magnificent garments, passed down through generations, to even make garments suitable to be worn by people now.
Images above: Examples of the traditional Thai garments on display, as well as a close up of the lavish accessories
In this exhibit, we see cultures come together. There were embroidery techniques that have been apparent in our own culture for centuries, examples of this we see in our heritage museums. What a treat it was to see them on traditional Thai garments in such a wonderful building, and just like us, the skill of all of this has been lovingly passed on through generations, person to person.
Images above: examples of Goldwork on a traditional Thai collar
The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles was founded on Her Majesty’s efforts to ensure the preservation of Thailand’s textile arts for future generations. In 1976 the museum was established with the objective to help people in rural areas to gain supplementary income and in doing this, Her Majesty realised just how wonderful and truly unique the hand woven silk by villagers is.
Making A Mackintosh – At Mackintosh
Above Image: Equipment used by Mackintosh
Glasgow has always been known for its work ethic and producing hand made goods and of course its tireless war efforts. Hard working Glaswegians have been producing Mackintosh coats since 1824!
Above Image: Demonstration of the rubber glue being applied to pattern pieces
On entering, I was warmly welcomed by the lovely Factory and Production Managers of the Mackintosh factory in Glasgow, Scott Sheridan and John McGuire who have worked for the Mackintosh factory for 40 years. They gave me a fantastic demonstration on how the pattern pieces are glued, attached and arranged to ensure that they are functional and waterproof.
Above Images: Glue being applied to the button-fly of the coat, then the piece is folded over and a heavy rolling tool is applied to ensure the two pieces have stuck with no air bubbles
The demonstration was very engaging, it was so informative seeing how much time and care goes into one coat. On a basic coat, there is 25 pattern pieces, and each one is passed through different departments in the Glasgow factory before completion. I watched on as they applied glue to the pattern pieces with their index fingers, using a lot of force and pressure to get the technique correct, using the same tools and glue that the people who did it before them would have used.
Above Image: Example of the pocket patterns, tin of glue and traditional rolling tool
It is very obvious on going to this exhibit to see that Mackintosh is a company of tradition and efficiency. It was a treat for me to be able to see this tradition which has carried on through different generations and also have explained to me how the company has expanded to keep up with popular demands, cultural and even climate changes through the years. Such as detachable collars/hoods, varying fabrics and changes in the way we use our coats and what for. The traditional Mackintosh coats are still made in Glasgow, with the same glue and the same equipment as they always have been.
Shoe Making at Edward Green
Above images: Left: Demonstration of Andy Peach sewing the two front pieces that make the shoe. Right image: See front seam for example of what Andy is currently working on
Above Image: Close up of stitching on shoe, done with boar hair
Northampton has always been closely associated with shoemaking and that became very apparent to me upon entering this exhibit at Edward Green and seeing the demonstration. Andy Peach, a fantastic hand sewer who has worked making shoes for Edward Green for over 30 years gave me and a small audience a fantastic demonstration. He was very honest about his work and the methods which he uses. I was able to see him begin the sewing of the two front parts of the shoe together. He carefully inserts a sharp tool into half of the leather, which is the best calf’s leather which has been cut by hand. He then threads Chinese boar hair into that hole to attach the two pieces. He says that they use boar’s hair as over time cotton would rot and these shoes are made to last a lifetime!
Above Image: Example of the “stirrup” and Andy wearing the shoes pictured above which he is also making
The stirrup is used traditionally to keep everything attached to the knee where most of the work is happening, effectively working like an elastic band, keeping both hands free to focus on the stitching. He works on this piece for 15-20 minutes and tells me that this one small area of the shoe can take up to 2 hours to be completed, which it then it goes on to other departments to be finished and finalised by the staff at the factory in Northampton. The handwork that must go into one pair of shoes was exquisite to see.
Emblem by Rose At St James Pavilion
Above Image: The screen printing equipment Rose works with
Emblem by Rose is a beautiful independent, up and coming screen printing company. Everything Emblem states to do, is done by Rose entirely on her own, and speaking with her on Thursday made that evident to me. Visitors were even able to commission their own ties if they should wish to. This alone made me feel like Rose is very passionate about what she does and communicates what Emblem as a small independent company is all about.
Above Images: Rose Demonstrating the printing process with screen and also squeegee
Sadly I didn’t get to this exhibit in time to see any demonstrations, but Rose was wonderful to speak with. She really engaged with her audience and spoke honestly about her work and why she is so passionate about making bespoke designs for her clients. She spoke of how she is always trying out new techniques with mixed media and programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator to make her work more efficient and durable for the client. All imagery is designed and drawn by Rose, before being transferred into a screen to be printed onto silk scarves. Despite not having any demonstration, Rose was very good at explaining the printing process to me, she was a delight to speak with.
London Craft Week will be finishes on Sunday 7th May so see what you can before it is all over this year, click here to go to the website for full listings. We can not wait to see what next year will bring!
Written by Phillipa Lloyd & Amelia Beaumont-Dodd