A celebration of spring at Heart Space Studios’ latest exhibition

I organised and curated the exhibition, Spring Love, at Heart Space Studios. My thoughts about the themes of the exhibition and individual textiles on display are published in a Trebuchet Magazine article and posted below.

Heart Space Studios is a lively and unusual gem in North Bristol with a variety of textiles classes on offer. Peyote stitch beaded jewellery, pincushion hearts and beautiful paper cut pictures are held alongside weekend corset-making classes. Artists from Bristol and Bath lead these workshops and collaborate with the Studios on a variety of events or regular textile clubs, including a popular ‘Knit & Stitch’ club.

Janet Haigh, the founder of the Studios, is an ex-Senior Research Fellow at UWE, Bristol, and was involved with developing textile techniques for vitreous enamel and other materials. She has also written various books on crazy patchwork and embroidery design, and likes to concentrate on drawing and stitching by hand. As a consequence the workshops are detailed and thorough, with a focus on good design.

Susi Bancroft's Kantha stitched works

Susi Bancroft’s Kantha stitched works

Celebrating the arrival of spring, Heart Space Studios’ current exhibition (until 7 April) is appropriately entitled ‘Spring Love’. Supporting the making of meaningful things ‘with hand, heart and eye’ the exhibition puts an eclectic array of textile art on display, including fresh pastel coloured corsets and bold enamel hearts. Heart Space explores ‘love’ from many angles including making craft with love, and the love of materials and techniques.  Continue reading

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Some thoughts on historic Pin Cushion Hearts

Victorian pin heart cushionsI’ve recently returned from a Pin Cushion Heart making course at Heartspace Studios in Bristol, after seeing some of these objects dating back to the Victorian era for the first time this year. Two of which were in Tate Britain’s exhibition on Folk Art, which I reviewed for Trebuchet Magazine.

I find pin cushion hearts both attractive with their heavily beaded patterning and slightly grotesque, mainly because they have often ‘weathered’ over time and become stained or dirty. Making one myself seemed a good way to understand the significance and possible roles of these double-edged objects, and so to appreciate them more.

Recreated solider's pin heartThe cushions are stuffed with either sawdust or sand, which, if not machine-made, involves quite a lot of force and patience. I added lavender to my sawdust, which could be smelt every time I pushed a pin into the cushion during the decorating stage. It takes a lot of sawdust to make the cushion firm and full, and because it compacts, it takes a lot more than you think you need. The sawdust is stuffed through a long slit down the centre front of the heart. When the heart is sufficiently sturdy and can withstand the pressure of pins (a floppy cushion will result in the pins falling out), it can be sewn up with diagonal stitches that crosshatch each other. This ends up looking like a harrowing scar down the heart’s middle. So although the hearts feel strong, there is a sense of fragility and even violence at their centre.  Continue reading