Thrifty Textiles - online course
Lesson release dates: 20 November – 1 December 2023 (select from options)
Continued access period: LIFETIME.
SYLLABUS: this inventive course is all about exploring different ways to use old clothing and unwanted fabric in textile art. The approach is, of course, driven by sustainability, but also by the conceptual and motivational benefits of experimentation and happenstance. In the course of ten lessons we will paint, collage, and stitch 2D and 3D pieces, starting with the creation of a book for storing annd documenting exploratory swatches as the course progresses. The principle of thrift (to use resources carefully and without waste), when applied to art, requires open mindedness and innovation. It is liberating to accept that you simply cannot have the expectation of a particular outcome when you don’t know how materials will behave. Fabric offcuts and worn garments have inconsistent weights, weaves, and patterns of wear. They receive paint and other media in different ways, resulting in unpredictable changes in colour, texture, and malleability. These, in turn, inspire serendipitous concepts, compositions, and methods of construction. The result is a collaboration between artist and material. The flexibility of this course will enable students to adapt the method to the contents of any drawer of scraps or thrift store haul. It is filled with tips and insights from an artist who has been using this approach for three decades, since making textile models at architecture school using household emulsion and the contents of her patch bag.
NB this course contains some methods and ideas that were included in my popular course “From Sketchbook to Wall” in 2021. No exercises, footage, artwork, or support material are the same however. This is a completely fresh new course, with many techniques I’ve never shared.
FORMAT: a new lesson (ten in total) will be uploaded to a course page on my website tansyhargan.com every weekday at around 9am UK time (BST or GMT depending which run you take) during the course of a specified fortnight. Each daily session will consist of a written overview - providing context, theory, and anecdotal details to support that day’s topic - and an instructional half-hour video. Some lessons may also include downloadable content, such as templates, printable documents, or stills from the video. The videos are hosted by Vimeo, which allows viewers to turn on closed captions (like subtitles) and slow down or speed up the playback speed. On each of the two Friday afternoons, I will provide a “Weekend Brief” in the form of a short bonus video, to inspire you to adapt or combine lessons from the week to make a new exercise to enjoy over the weekend.
The idea behind this format is that students may enjoy the pace, rhythm, and impetus of a course with defined dates and lessons that are released in real time; whilst benefiting from the practical advantages of recorded lessons, which can be watched, paused, and repeated anytime, regardless of time zone or schedule.
You will also have the opportunity to join a private Facebook Group dedicated to the course. Here you’ll be able to share your progress and see the work of other students. I will be available for help and advice via email throughout the course.
ACCESS: on the Friday evening before your run of the course commences, I will email you an access link and password. Please be sure to type your email address correctly when you book your place, and check your junk folder if you haven't received your email 48 hours before the course commences. Any problems, just email me: [email protected]
You will continue to have access for the LIFETIME of the course, regardless of how many subsequent runs of it I release.
PRICING: I offer a concessionary rate on an “honesty-box” basis. Please select the lower price if you are on a low income and genuinely struggle to afford enriching activities.
• A couple of old garments or unwanted items of household linen (such as a tea towel or pillowcase). Natural fibres (cotton, linen, silk, bamboo etc), or blends containing them, and non-stretchy weaves are preferable. If they are stained, torn, or scorched, that’s all the more interesting. Plain, striped, and patterned are all fine, though at least one plain would be great.
• A collection of fabric scraps, the more varied (in texture, colour, weight, opacity, weave and so on) the better. Again, natural fibres are preferable, though not essential. A mixture of both plain and patterned surfaces would be good. All shapes and sizes are fine (nothing is too small). If you don’t already have a suitable stash, they can be bought cheaply online (Google “buy fabric scraps”) or in a craft/sewing shop. You might even call a local dressmaker or repair service and ask if you can relieve them of their offcuts…they would probably be pleased to have materials diverted from the bin.
• Any other textile items you want to experiment with. Here are some ideas: fabric packaging from food or toiletries (I’ve had risotto rice in beautiful printed sacks before, and been given soap in pretty organza pouches), old cotton handkerchiefs (there must be tonnes of these lying around doing nothing these days), soft toys, dolls outfits, vintage coasters, doilies or antimacassars, tote bags (the sort with screen printed logos are fun) and so the list could go on.
• Thread (you’ll need regular gauge, for hand and machine sewing, and stranded for embroidery) in a selection of light, dark, muted, and bright colours. A minimum of six would be good.
• Needles (for both hand and machine sewing, and embroidery)
• Sewing machine. A basic one will be fine, preferably (though it’s not essential) one that allows you to lower the feed teeth, or fit a plate on top of them, to enable free-motion stitching.
• Fusible webbing. This is double-sided heat-activated adhesive that comes by the metre (or yard) on a paper support. In the UK it's called Bondaweb or Heat'n'Bond. In the USA it's Wonder Under. Email me if you can't find it where you are, and I'll try to help. A couple of pieces, each approx 50cm (20") square will be enough for starters.
• Seam ripper (aka "quick unpick").
• Cutting mat and craft knife or rotary cutter.
• Medium-sized sewing hoop (20cm (8”), or so, diameter)
• Artists acrylic paint
• Iron and ironing board
• Fabric scissors
COPYRIGHT: all content is my own. Bookings are for personal, individual use only. Sharing and reproducing course content is prohibited. If you are a teacher looking for lessons, please contact me to discuss the various options available for bringing me (electronically or in person) into your classroom.