Sorry to bring it up.... but Christmas is fast approaching! So, to make things a little easier for you, here's our last order dates to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas.
If you're in Glasgow this weekend, please join us for a special sample sale at the studio where we'll be selling slight seconds, samples and end of line products.
There'll be plenty to choose from including rucksacks, totes, pencil cases, pouches, fabric remnants, fabric meterage, lampshades, stationery and much more! Prices will start from as little as £5 and there'll be up to 50% off some things.
Find us at:
Grey Wolf Studios,
131 Craighall Road,
All are welcome! Tell your friends! We hope to see you Saturday!
The exhibition is now on tour and currently residing in Comar arts centre in Tobermory on Mull until Friday 7th July. I was thrilled to be invited to host a screen printing workshop as part of the events programme running alongside the exhibition's new outing. So I headed over to Mull with Katy for a weekend of printing, Bollywood films and exploring the beauty of Mull...
India Street in it's new temporary home at Comar
The workshop gets under way with everyone designing their two colour India Street inspired sample print
First layers of colour get underway
The second layer is adding making some beautiful results like this one above
The final part of the day - a talk by Katy in the gallery
An unexpected treat - Cafe Fish!
Huge thanks to everyone that took part in our workshop, to Comar arts for having us along to take this workshop and to KAty for making it all happen! It was so much fun and a pleasure to work with such an enthusiastic bunch of printers! Catch the show before it ends on the 7th July or you'll have to head over to Mumbai or Ahmedabad in November 2017 to see it....
Friday 24th March
It was a long four hour drive to my next museum but it actually went by in a haze. I think my brain was whirring over all that I'd seen and experienced so far and thoughts were forming. I think a lot of my best thinking happens when I'm on the move…in the car, on a bus, riding my bike…maybe it's because it's somewhere no one can get me? I'm busy pedalling or steering or something which means my brain can think things over, it's just how it's always worked for me. I just need to make sure I grab a pen and paper as soon as I stop to catch the thoughts before they're gone.
So after four or so hours I arrive in Lappeenranta and drive to the fortress where the South Karelian museum is housed and Reija (who looks after the research and collections in the museum) is kindly waiting for me. I ended up being an hour late (google maps doesn't take into account my ice driving speed and there was plenty of ice on the tiny back roads) but she was completely understanding and met me with a huge smile and bags of enthusiasm and energy for all my questions. I must admit I was feeling overwhelmed by information at this point in my trip and a bit tired after a big drive, but Reija’s upbeat attitude was the perfect antidote to my fatigue. She was so delighted to have someone visit and request info on Täkänä, it was so encouraging. It turns out Rieja had curated a rare exhibition about Täkänä last year which was how I'd discovered the museum.
The poster for the Täkänä exhibition at Galleria Laura in 2016
Reija introduced me to another member of her team who unfortunately had to leave but they had dug out lots more Täkänä drawings and diagrams from a local weaving company...
More examples of täkänä designs and colour charts
However, the weaving company was no longer inaction, it sadly shut down in the mid 70s, but it turned out to be a huge coincidence that this weaving company that first began in the 30s was the reason I'd become interested in Täkänä all those months ago. The catalogues I found in the flea market in Hämeenkyrö whilst on my residency at Arteles were from Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen’s weaving company which was established here in Lappeenranta. Reija had this amazing book all about Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen and her life which she kindly gave to me and explained how she had been a really successful business woman for her whole life and also a strong character. There was something quite incredible hearing about the determination and work ethic of this woman who decided to start her own business in 1932 with the full support of her husband. It sounded quite progressive (and impressive) for a woman to start and run her own business back in that era but also that it was a success for seven decades.
Drawing to finished täkänä
Label details from Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen's company
After my stop in Lappeenranta, it was a long drive back to Helsinki before my flight home. Despite my travels in Finland coming to an end, new things and connections were popping into my inbox all the time and it is amazing how this trip has sparked so many avenues of conversation, meetings and thoughts.
So now I'm back in my studio in Glasgow, trying to pull it all together and bring all that I've learnt into a new collection. It's taken a while to process but I think it's beginning to come together. A new collection is launching at designjunction in september and I'm collaborating with Floor_Story once more and an amazing Finnish weaver...I'll also be hosting two events in the Autumn to share the journey of this project with anyone that would like to know more, more details to follow...
Huge thanks to Creative Scotland for funding this project and to everyone that I've met and spoken with on the journey so far... x
If you ever find yourself heading towards the Russian border in the south-eastern corner of Finland, I encourage you to take a detour off the main road to this incredible (and I mean incredible) place called Pulsa. It was recommended to me by Elina earlier in the week (Elina and Petra, the owner of Pulsa are both textile designers and friends) and I had a last minute change of plan so thought I'd give them a call and I'm so glad I did.
Located about half an hour from Lappeenranta, Pulsan Asema is an old railway station built in 1869 that Petra and her family have lovingly restored over the past few years and turned into a perfect B&B, shop and cafe. It's perfectly located, perfectly restored, perfectly designed and perfectly curated....as you can tell I loved it and hopefully these photos will help explain why...
Tuesday 21st March
Today involved more travelling and learning...this time to a small village north-east of Jyväskylä called Hankasalmi. A chance introduction with a lovely textile designer called Anna-Kaisa whilst doing some solo exploring in Finland last summer led me to this exciting part of my trip. I'd been trying to find someone who still weaves täkänä through the other contacts I have but it was proving difficult. Täkänä is no longer a popular form of weaving in Finland and has disappeared significantly off the weaving landscape in the past thirty years. However, it turned out Anna-Kaisa's aunt Irma was part of a weaving community in Hankasalmi and the lady that teaches in this centre, Ritva Hänninen, kindly offered to give me a lesson in this complicated technique, but first I had to find the location. Under a new restaurant in the centre of the village (offering meat pie and 10 beers for 65 euros) was this discreet door...
the entrance to the community weaving centre in Hankasalmi
Behind the door was an amazing room packed full with looms all in use by various people from the local community with their individual projects on the go.
just some of the looms in the packed room (this was the one I was using on the left)
Ritva was an incredibly patient teacher. Täkänä is complicated, very complicated, especially when you're at home behind a print table and not a weaving loom (I studied graphic design not textiles incase you were wondering why this is so alien to me!). However, Ritva spent a couple of hours showing me the technique on a work in progress piece that Irma had kindly began in preparation of my visit.
Täkänä is literally translated as double cloth (I think I mentioned this before in my first post about my trip here) and uses a special technique where you pick up one colour of thread (using a pair of special wooden rods) whilst hiding the other colour of thread according to the pattern. Therefore you get the exact opposite (in terms of colour and pattern) on the reverse with a hollow space left in between. It is said to have been around for almost 1000 years and I read that it first appeared in Finland during the 1400 and 1500s in churches before beginning to appear in castles and upper-class homes from the 1500s onwards. They used to be fairly large in size and were often made to be used as quilts or wall-hangings to provide much needed warmth in cold, drafty spaces.
The täkänä I was working on was only about 15cm wide and maybe around 10cm so far in length with a very basic pattern, but it was enough for me!
the täkänä I was working on with Ritva's own plant-dyed wool
I had six pedals underneath the loom that my feet operated and different pedals were used for the different colours - 1 & 2 were in use for the light green threads and 3 & 4 for the dark green threads. I also had two big wooden double weaving rods to separate the threads, plus the weaving shuttle (shown in the photo above) to pass through the threads on every row.
Ritva demonstrating the technique
preparing to insert one of the rods for the next row - with Ritva's non-stop guidance!
It's a demanding technique but I can imagine once mastered, also very relaxing. There's something so nice about the pace and rhythm of weaving that almost feels a bit meditative...
Wednesday 22nd March
my desk for the day at the Craft Museum's archives
Today I was back at the Craft Museum of Finland in Jyväskyla, this time in their archives at the main museum in Jyväskylä town centre. The staff had kindly pulled out their collection of original Täkänä designs and drawings which all seemed to be from the more modern Täkänäs - modern Täkänäs seem to be classified as any dating from 1900 onwards, but these were all from around the 1950s/60s. They were all kept in brown paper or boxes and of course had to be handled with gloves like the Täkänäs themselves on Monday.
'Saatto' / 'procession' drawing in black ink
I was surprised how small in size some of the original designs were, maybe only A5? It seemed like some of them were done very quickly, instinctively, a small sketch coloured in and you could sometimes vaguely see a pencil grid drawn in the background. Many were drawn in black and white too, with colour only added later.
One of Maija Kolsi-Mäkëlä's original drawings - 'Kenno' / 'Cell'
It was fascinating to see these sketches then translated onto graph paper and scaled up to create workable instructions for whoever was going to weave the cloth. Many had written notes on the bottom and that beautiful ‘Täkänä ‘ handwriting always caught my eye. It was as though everyone tried to write it in the same block style.
'Viisaat Kanat' / 'Wise Hens'
I loved the small samples of wool that were punched onto the side of many of the designs, referring to the correct colours that should be used when weaving up the piece. It reminded me of how I like to figure out my colours for a collection, carefully mixing and playing around with different ideas physically rather on the computer screen. I think mixing colours and figuring out the correct combination for a design is one of my favourite things. It really excites me how colours interact with each other and different pairings of colours can completely change how we see a colour.
Another one of Maija Kolsi-Mäkëlä's original sketches with wool from 1966-67
It was great to see so many of Maija Kolsi-Mäkëla’s drawings and graph sketches in the flesh. It was her work that first caught my eye in the Täkänä catalogue I found whilst on residency at Arteles during 2015. The craft museum had a huge collection of her work and some of Maija-Lisa Forss-Heinonen’s whose work I was first introduced to last Friday in the archives at the Design Museum in Helsinki.
After a full day in the archives gathering photos, information and notes , I was heading to my friend Anna-Kaisa's for the night. Anna-Kaisa lives back in Hankasalmi, not in the village though, about a further 20 minutes away in the middle of a forest with her family and animals. That night was my introduction to a Finnish mode of transport called Potkukelkkaan.
my 'potkukelkkaan' for the evening
Potkukelkkaan is literally translated as ‘kick sledge’ and that's exactly what it is. A small seat, a set of handle bars and two metal bars that glide across the ice as you kick your way along. We headed from the house down to the nearby lake, but some of the ice/snow was starting to melt so part of the path was more mud, but it was still amazing fun and when we got to the lake the reward was incredible! The sun was just setting over the trees on the other side of the lake and we sledged out onto the icy lake to get a better look. I can't explain how magical it feels standing in the icy cold watching the sun go down on a frozen lake. My vocabulary doesn't seem to do it justice, but standing there in silence, listening to the wind and feeling like you're really on a date with nature is just overwhelming. It's part of the reason I love Finland so much, the connection to nature feels so much stronger than anywhere else I've experienced and people seem to work with it, respecting the cold and embracing it as a time of year to slow down, stay inside and really take full advantage of the hours that the sun is up for.
sunset at the lake
More to follow...
* This project has been kindly supported by Creative Scotland's Open Project Funding.
Saturday 18th March
Today was a day on the move…leaving Helsinki for Tampere but first a Finnish friend of mine had put me in touch with a Helsinki based designer called Elina Helenius. Elina seemed really interested in my project in her emails and had suggested we meet at a café in the centre of Helsinki called Cafe Aschen Jugend. Sadly this was shut (Elina wanted me to see the architecture) so we went to the nearby Kappeli – a beautiful building on the Esplanade that first opened it’s doors as a café in 1867. Elina was an inspiration to meet. Her career spans several decades and has also crossed over from print to weave. She’s worked with many companies I admire and has a warmth and openness that was wonderful to be around.
Monday 20th March
After further travelling yesterday, I woke up to fresh snowfall in the town of Jyväskylä which lies about 170 miles north of Helsinki. It was very cold. Today was another day inside though, this time at the Conservation Centre of the Finnish Craft Museum. I'd first contacted Anne - their lead conservationist - early last summer when I was pulling together some initial thoughts about this project and found out they had a large archive with many Täkänäs.