I’m not sure when it became proper practice to refer to hippie tie dye as the rather more fancy sounding shibori, but that I will do. In truth, I think there is a subtle difference; 60’s-inspired tie dye tends to be quicker with more immediate and colourful results, whereas shibori is controlled, and looks directly to intricate (and ancient) Japanese binding, stitching and folding techniques. Shibori is often dyed using natural indigo – but by no means always – and the boundaries between the two techniques are definitely faint and blurry!
These photographs are from a shibori workshop I went to in the summer, led by textile artist Janice Gunner at the beautiful Cowslip Workshops in Launceston, Cornwall. Cowslip is based in several converted barns on a dairy farm, so while you are at work, you can hear the cows mooing and enjoy the view across bright green fields.
I spent two days making samples and trying out different techniques. First stitching, twisting and tying the cloth to create various resist patterns, before immersing the fabrics in buckets of deep indigo and lighter woad. When the indigo-dyed fabric is exposed to air, it is transformed from iridescent scarab beetle green to that perfect shade of deep, deep blue. It is almost a magical process and the reason many people get hooked on blues.
Laura Daza is a colourist who transforms raw materials into pigment. In her project Colour Provenance, she explores the ancient origins of colour, looking at both how it was sourced, crafted and utilised, and how different colours, shades and tints have the power to affect mood and emotion.
Laura has recently released a beautiful book based on her findings from the project. Called the DIY Colour Recipe Book, it features a palette of eight ancient colours: whiteshell, saffron, ochre, verdigris, malachite, azurite, mummy brown and lamp black, and explains how to make them. Laura shares her personal methods, secrets and experiences in creating the colours, and describes processes such as making green from malachite, considered to be the first green ever used, or white from ground ostrich eggshells, a technique commonly used by Egyptians.
The science of colour is a fascinating subject and this book would be an inspiring guide to anyone who wants to understand and appreciate the origin of everyday colour in a hands-on and authentic way.
The scenic landscape here in North Cornwall is wild, rugged and untamed. Dig beneath the surface and you’ll also find that it contains rich seams of natural materials; tin, granite, sandstone, slate and clay, each one as useful as they are beautiful.
All good cooks know that a dish is only as good as the ingredients used, and the same goes for woodwork, sewing, weaving and almost any other making activity. It’s certainly true of pottery, which is what led me to visit this working clay quarry nearby.
Situated on the seaward side of a granite uprising, the quarry is home to two unique raw materials, one a high quality silica sand and the other a much revered clay deposit favoured by many world renowned potters. It was great to be able to visit this small family owned business in person. The backdrop of the wild Atlantic coast and fields full of brassicas made for a beautiful setting, where I saw clay being prepared using simple methods, with materials dug directly from the pits.
The clay available varies in shade from milky white through buff, to toasty brown and coal black. Naturally I picked up a few samples, and now begins the journey of transforming it from muddy earth into strong and functional pots.
I’m not sure if anybody still reads this but if you do, you’ll notice that a few changes have been made. In a bid to simplify and focus more on what I am interested in, I’ll be writing more about craftsmanship, materials, people and their processes. In fact, much of it will be very similar to before, just presented in a slightly different way.
It turned out that Futurustic wasn’t a very good name. Almost everybody read and heard it incorrectly as Futuristic, causing a lot of confusion in emails, social media tags and general conversation. As anyone who knows me will testify, I’m really not very futuristic, so it seemed strange and I got tired of trying to explain a silly name.
I hope that Modern Craft Workshop is a clear and simple title that tells you something about the site’s content. From now on, if you go to futurusticblog.com you will automatically be redirected to moderncraftworkshop.com or you can go directly to the new domain. My Instagram and Pinterest etc. will all be switching over in the next couple of days too.
So, if you are still reading, thank you! I hope you enjoy the new direction… Over the coming months I’ll be profiling some exceptionally skilled craftspeople, celebrating materials, techniques and good design. I aim to post once a week on a Thursday, because a little bit of routine (but not too much) is good for everyone. I hope you’ll enjoy what you see.