Month: October 2015

viking knit

finished braids | copper

a little bit of “nordic” magic, this chainwork technique actually originates in irish celtic jewellery. the structure is similar to “french”, spool or bobbin knitting, but instead of being produced in the centre of a hollow tube the wire is wrapped around a mandrel.

well wonky

as you can see this is a very forgiving process – even quite extreme unevenness is smoothed out later on. i found a sweet spot with .5mm wire – soft enough to weave easily but thick enough to resist kinking. it’s possible to settle into something of a rhythm once you get used to how the wire handles.

unpromising, uneven weave

this is the braid as it comes off the mandrel. this piece took 3 lengths of wire. joins are made quite roughly, with spare wire looped inside the tube (you find yourself quite often sliding the knitting off the mandrel to deal with some kink or another).

drawplate in action

the magic starts when you pull the knitting through graduated holes in a drawplate. starting with the largest hole you pull it through a couple of times, gradually reducing the diameter of the tube, increasing its length and evening out the stitch pattern.

half way through drawing

it starts to take a fair bit of effort to pull the knitting through – a pair of pliers come in handy once you reach the smaller second row of holes.

braid and drawplate

the two bands shown up top are drawn through the same hole and made from the same thickness of wire. the only difference was a larger or smaller mandrel – i prefer the closer packed stitches of the lower of the two braids, made on a smaller (and more finicky) mandrel.

viking knit kit | abby hook

for anyone inspired to experiment – i’m thinking fine silver wire and christmas… – abby hook sells a number of kits, with and without wire and tutorials, in her etsy shop.


inc. intro.

in just over 2 weeks time we have a show in cardiff bay. the space is ours but we have to curate, invigilate and promote the whole thing ourselves.

melissa from artes mundi generously shared her curating experience today, and it felt as though the group was really energised. we’re already in the first stages of promotion, having fixed on a title, significant dates and house style.

the twin themes that seemed to emerge from group tasks focussed on sensitive use of materials and responsiveness/interactivity in the final piece. in general we also agreed on tending towards the experimental and abstract ends of our practice. melissa was very insistent that *nothing* should be dismissed as impossible with a fortnight’s run-up. we identified a number of formal linking threads between the works we want to show, including square format and the bold use of colour, yellow in particular.

i want to re-show the cyanotype/led cube i made for my degree show. i feel it has a presence in an exhibition space that a shelf full of my books wouldn’t have. this would be my chance to trouble-shoot the installation, to be assured that it’s reliable in a range of situations. not committing to producing new work frees me up to work on other aspects of the exhibition – i’m keen to produce a catalogue/zine of the show.

new project: prescriptions

since starting my inc. space residency i’ve been going all out prototyping and making stock, replenishing materials supplies and working on marketing/packaging etc. but it’s always good for the soul to have an utterly impractical project to work alongside 🙂

this is a book project \o/ the theme is medicine, in the broadest sense. the piece will be a response to the work of martha hall; poet, weaver and book artist, who documented her experience of breast cancer in her work.

for a while i’ve been making book works addressing illness and loss, and their relevance is still ongoing for me. but my experience of translating the most painful parts of my life into physical form – imbued with all my fears and hopes – has been transformative. i can’t imagine going forward without my art work as a form of release.

i knew that this year i wanted to pursue the enamelling i enjoyed so much during my degree. my initial plan for the prescription project is to combine enamelling with textile work, in the spirit of martha hall.

to this end i’m exploring exactly what i can do with copper and glass and several hundred degrees of heat 😀 amongst my lines of enquiry are woven copper textiles, wire and mesh manipulation and viking knitting.

should be fun 🙂

peter hall textile designs

i first encountered peter hall’s work when i was making curtains for our vw camper. i found a vintage piece of fabric on ebay, and the designer’s name and the name of the pattern – petrus – was on the selvedge.

peter hall petrus 1967 | for heals

my research led me to the v&a, who hold a number of peter hall’s designs for heals in their archive. following the sad demise of the camper i resold the fabric, but remembered the name and the wonderful combination of geometric and plant-like forms, and strong colour palettes of his designs.

peter hall rosamund 1975 | v&a collection

when i came across original fabric another of his designs, candida – in 4 different colourways! – i snapped it up. it’s a more figurative, botanical design than petrus, but the use of bold stripes of motifs still gives it a structured feel. the pattern is a much smaller scale than petrus (ruler in top image is 50cm) and for my purpose of covering books it works well in small sections, each with an emphasis on one or two elements of the design.

peter hall candida for moygashel

it isn’t one of the designs held at the v&a and my research came to a stall, until i found that peter is still working as an artist, though relocated to new zealand. i emailed to ask if he could give me any information on this particular design and was a little star-struck when i got a reply 😀

this is what he has to say about candida:

Originally the design was printed in the early 1970’s and was part of a collection of designs I produced, some of which were also purchased by Heal Fabrics. The group were inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite and the Art Nouveau movement.
During the late 1960’s and early 70’s there was a revival inspired movement against the modernist design influence of the mid 50’s and early 60’s.
The 1970’s in Britain was a tough time for local manufactures, and consumers were also looking for a more romantic and nostalgic inspired products, for both fashion clothing and furnishing.
the exuberant print is inspiring to work with – i’m currently working on a new collection of a5 journals and albums featuring the candida design. i’m combining the four colour ways with an assortment of solid-coloured japanese endpapers, ensuring each book is still unique, never to be repeated – quite a feat at the accessible price range for this collection.
peter hall candida blue colourway

gathering images and links for this post i realise i’m missing at least one colourway – i had no idea it also comes in this glorious blue. *sets up ebay search* 🙂

see peter’s recent work on his website: