Monday, February 6, 2017

Fashion and Food Trip, Cochenille Design Studio in Italy, June 2017

Need some incentive to come join us in Italy?

June 14th - 23rd, 2017

Verona, Italy, with visits to Milan and Venice.

Come join us this June in Verona for our Food and Fashion retreat.

How about yarn shopping for Italian yarns?

Or maybe some fantastic food, cooked just for you

Then, there are the fashions ... oh how we love Italian style. In museums...

and in the store windows.

We'll visit a weaving establishment in Venice where they weave velvet on traditional hand looms using jacquard punch cards. Customers include Dolce and Gabana, the Kremlin, etc.

bobbins... for color inlay.

And, maybe a cooking class with a chef, in the kitchen of his restaurant.

More temptations to come.  Details can be found at

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Creative Strength Training... my move towards creative focus

The new year is here, and with it comes resolutions and plans. As part of my new year doings, I decided to take an online class on Creative Strength Training from Jane Dunnewold, a fiber artist I have admired for a long time.

My goal is to attain greater focus in the creative things in my life. The ten-week class has weekly readings and exercises. The exercises involve writing at times, and most recently a design exercise. I really enjoyed this exercise, as I learned about a Japanese philosophy called Notan, the study of positive and negative or the dark/light principles of design.
Here is a book which is excellent for explaining the principles.

The general idea is to start with a square of black. You then cut out shapes from each side (or some of the sides), and mirror the cut-outs on the edge from which they were taken.

Initially, I started my expanded squares on an airplane, and this led me to do so with Adobe Illustrator which doesn’t require scissors, knife, glue, etc. Somehow that wouldn’t be too easy to do on a flight.  As I teach fashion students how to use the software, I thought it would be a good exercise of thought for me to figure out how to achieve the same actions with the computer. So, on to square tool, using the Pen tool and shapes to determine cutting edges, and then the Pathfinder panel to aid in cutting out the shapes. Lastly, I used the Reflect tool to mirror the cut-outs and then created a repeating pattern so I could visualize the imagery as fabric.. As you will see by some of the examples I’m including, it is pretty easy to explore an idea and take it all the way into a garment to get a real sense of how it looks.
Cutting Four sides shows you the same squiggled line taken from all four sides of the square.
Two Sides Only and Taking a Bite files show you other experiments.

 Later, when back home, I took time to hand-cut an expanded square or two. The file Hand-cut1 shows you the result (sent via phone photo to Illustrator), and an example in a garment.
Breaking the Rules..
Now for the fun… I wanted to try and use some sort of shape for cutting that had an extra or hidden meaning. So, in thinking and doodling, it came to me that I should use a sound wave. Since Valentines day is just around the corner, I decided to use a line from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem… “How do I love thee, let me count the ways”. You can see the sound wave screen captured on my phone, and then the resulting square where I broke the rules by introducing a new color (red) and not reflecting one of the sides.

I can't wait to try other ideas with this approach to design. And of course, these must be translated to fabric.