Thursday, January 5, 2017

Planning for the Fashion/Food Design Retreat, Italy, 2017

It's that time again... planning for our annual creative retreat in Italy. This year it will be a combination of both the Food and the Fashion. The Dates are June 14th - 23rd, 2017.

Here are some highlights of past trips and a testimonial from a happy traveller who joined us in 2015.

The 2015 Fashion Retreat was a real trip of a lifetime. As an avid textile lover, it was a transformational experience! Susan’s fun and fact filled itinerary exceeded my expectations. We had such an organized agenda it seemed like we were on the go from morning until night. The array of appointments included quality museums, demonstrations, factory visits, fashion houses and many, many extras –Venice, opera, great Italian dining, terrific accommodations, and easy transportation. Susan was always there to guide and help us along the way. It’s difficult to say what my favorite experience was- it was all very exceptional.
“Eye opening, fun, educational, adventurous… not your ordinary trip!
Linda Perry
Click on this link for more info.. and enjoy the fashion and food photos here..
Painting a ceramic in Renaissance stle

Lunch at a restaurant in the Lake Garda district. We will have a cooking class here in 2017!

and of course... wine tasting in the Lake district outside of Verona

We'll have a felt workshop with Lisbeth Wahl, renown fiber artist

There are always the appetizers!

Lots of unique styles

Visiting a velvet weaving workshop in Venice

with Gloria..

and lots of relaxation!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fashion Cookies

Trader Joe's had a new version of the Gingerbread house. This was the Ugly Sweater Kit.
So... here are a few samples of decorated cookies.

My Instagram shot..

Different Styles


2016 Non-Traditional Christmas Tree


Petticoats hanging on display in LA Garment District
I'm a bit behind this season, and am long overdue with blogging.
But, annual tradition of the non-traditional Christmas tree continues. This year, the theme was somewhat Mexican.

Throughout the year, I'm scouting for a 'theme'. This year, the theme was found on a trip up to the Los Angeles Garment District in November. A group of women, who were here for the Fall Cochenille Design Retreat joined in on a day exploring fabric, fashion, and related in LA.

While walking the streets and browsing fabrics, I happened to notice this great storefront.. with hooped petticoats hanging from the ceiling... so that was 'it'.

Students and faculty from Mesa College assisted in putting the tree together.. and as you can see, we continued with the Mexican flavor.

Lights were placed on my metal frame,
and the hooped skirt was positioned above.
Dressing the head! Notice the eyelashes!

Testing the head
Hanging banners for the skirt
Almost-finished dress

 See the video above and forgive the group singing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Beauty in Chaos... Textile Art in Christchurch, New Zealand

Currently, I'm visiting Christchurch, New Zealand. My friend Betty, a native of Christchurch has been taking me around, and it is a surreal experience to see the devastation of a city I've visited on several occasions before. The earthquakes of 2011 have completely changed the face of the city, and reconstruction work continues.

Amidst all the chaos that still exists in the city is the Transitional Cathedral, designed by Shiguru Ban. Here is the outside, and a few shots of the inside.

What you are seeing is cardboard tubes, and laminated wood, amongst other things.

The alter was decorated in the most beautiful textile art; a quilted fabric rich in color.
Here are a few shots:

As in all things, beauty exists, and fiber arts play a role.

Garment Designer Pattern: Eco-Dye Style

Garment Designer Pattern Eco Dye Style was created with our upcoming Batwing sleeve! Here at Cochenille, I’m working on a group of new styles (Style Set 3) for Garment Designer. At the same time, I’m teaching a new course at Mesa College; Textile Design. I decided to combine the two as I test new styles.

The Pattern

Here we have a style I’m working on; a Batwing sleeve. My inspiration came from the costumes at a recent Ballet performance I attended. The ballerinas wore a batwing style sleeve with an extended cuff, scrunched up their lower arm.
Garment Designer Pattern for Batwing sleeve
To the left is my initial write of the style. I’ll extend the sleeve when I cut the garment.

I printed a test pattern, then taped it together. This I laid on the fabric and once I understood the shape, I began to lay out my various plants on the fabric. began to lay out my various plants down in place.

The Layout

Positioning my pattern for layout purposes.
Arranging the plant materials using the pattern as a guide.
Various plants.

The next step was to roll the fabric up, and tie it tightly. Then, it is put in a pot of simmering water. A rusted pot was put in for good measure to assist in heightening the color of the plants on the fabric.

Into the Pot

Rolling all into a tube.
The ‘sausage’, rolled and tied.
Into the dye pot

After about one hour, the fabric come out, and is untied, and unrolled. Many plants (but not all) transferred their color to the fabric.

Revealing the Fabric

Fabric fresh out of the pot.
Revealing the color upon unrolling.
Fabric, eco-dyed

My fabric is ready… now time to get the garment cut out and sewn.
Susan.. Cochenille
Fabric, after washing and drying.

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Christmas Tree

The final 2016 tree
Wishing a wonderful holiday season to all... it's that time of year, and it's been busy as usual.

Regardless of how hectic the season becomes... it is always a priority for me to create my non-traditional holiday tree. I'm in year 11, I believe, and each year, some idea sparks, during the year to become the inspiration for the annual tree.

This year, my trip to Japan,which was the highlight of the year, served as the impetus for the tree...
So, we needed a few asian elements... hmm... maybe a short kimono/haori, a painted asian umbrella.. some tulle, lights, and of course, many,many little umbrellas cocktail stirrers.

I had two gross of these....
Took a while to open them up..
And string them on the lights..

And of course, there is also my little traditional tree... a real green tree.

Not such a big tree.. easily carried

And decorated with chili lights

Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Nuno Textiles in Tokyo, Japan

I am a great fan of Nuno Textiles, an innovative textile design and manufacturing company in Japan. The driving force behind Nuno is Reiko Sudo. I had seen her talk at a Convergence (weaving conference) several years ago, and was so intrigued with the philosophy and design of their fabrics. They combine traditional weaving techniques with new fibers and technologies to create the most unique fabrics you have ever seen. And, at times, hand operations (meaning, truly by hand) are involved in the textiles.

I was honored to meet Reiko in their main Tokyo store and she allowed me to take photos of their fabrics to share with my students, and of course, here on my blog.

 Here is a fabric that now resides in my fabric collection. It is like a stained glass, with a window pane effect. The top black layer is actually cut away.

 Next, we have a scarf (also now in my personal collection), with closeup.
Felted Fiber Scarf
And now.. a fabric made by mounting small pieces of other Nuno fabrics on the surface.



This fabric is woven in such a way that it has a puckered surface.



Finally, how about an embroidery..


Nuno creates fabrics for interiors as well as clothing. They have been featured in numerous exhibits and museums, and are well known in the Fiber Arts world.

Here is a great Youtube link if you would like to see more.

Open: 11:00 - 19:00Holidays - 18:30Closed Sunday
B1F AXIS Bldg., 5-17-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan 106-0032

A U.S. office also exists, if you are interested to purchase fabrics here in the United States.

Material Things
Online store at
P.O. Box 400, La Jolla, CA 92038
T: 858-488-2000
F: 858-488-2002