Meet The Maker: Kathryn Green
I am a textile artist and tutor, specialising in dye and print processes to create organic, layered and textural art textile pieces for exhibition, in addition to capsule collections of wearable art and interior accessories.
Having obtained a First-class degree in textiles, I went on to qualify as a tutor, taught in Further & Higher education for several years and now teach regularly from my studio and various other venues.
I have exhibited at Jagged Art Gallery, London, Found Gallery, Wales, New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, and was commissioned by Glyndebourne Opera to create a collection exclusively for them.
I am fortunate to be a member of the Hampshire & Berkshire Guild of Craftsmen with whom I also exhibit.
I continue to develop my approach to textiles through exploration and experimentation with textile processes.
Describe your dyeing process.
I use a lot of Shibori techniques in my dyeing process. This is a form of resist dyeing using a range of folding, stitching and binding techniques to create areas that will resist the dye, leaving diverse and beautiful shapes, textures and patterns within the cloth. The key is the tightness of the bindings.
I start with plain white fabric and prepare it for dyeing by folding and clamping, stitching or various forms of binding. This can be both a relatively quick process or something slow and time consuming.
Once I have decided on my colour scheme and design ideas, I start sampling and colour mixing to produce small scale pieces. I use Procion MX dyes, and occasionally Indigo, recording my recipes, writing notes and attaching samples. This is fundamental as I will then be able to review, push the process further or replicate my pieces.
Despite the sampling and recording process, there is always an element of serendipity and each piece is unique. The fabric is dyed using the immersion dye process and left in the vats for at least 4 hours. The dyes are fixed into the fabric using soda ash and the addition of salt allows the fibres to relax and the dye to penetrate the fabric more effectively.
Although the unbinding and unfolding is exciting, I always wait until the fabric is washed, dried and ironed before assessing the results.
I also use thickened dyes to print with. Utilising a silk screen to overprint and create rich layers of texture and pattern.
How and where did you learn to work with fabric and dye?
I returned to university as a mature student and graduated with a first class degree in Fashion and Textiles. I learnt many things, the most important of which was finding my own creative voice and exploring my potential and that of the fabrics I was experimenting with. It was incredibly freeing for me, but we didn’t go into great detail on the technical side of dyeing and printing. This came later when I attended independent courses and workshops, building on what I subsequently learnt back in the studio with independent research and development. I am always striving to bend the processes I know to what I am trying to achieve through experimentation.
Why textiles and dyeing?
I grew up surrounded by an appreciation for beautiful fabric. My grandmother was a brilliant seamstress, making all her own clothes, always so elegant. She collected fabrics from all her travels and would return with beautiful silks or fine wools and tweeds. Her first instinct was always to reach out to touch any textile. Something I still do too.
During my time at University I met a fantastic tutor, who became a real mentor to me and was instrumental in changing the direction of my life to textiles.
The discovery of dyeing came later through independent study and I loved the transformation of whole cloth and the alchemy and serendipity that can occur within the process.
Where do you work?
I am lucky enough to have a studio at Making Space in Hampshire. Having my own studio has been transformative to my practice, together with the support and encouragement I receive from the wonderful people at Making Space.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
I am better in the mornings so generally get to the studio at 8.30. I try and be disciplined with this as it creates an environment of intent.
I catch up on emails, then look at my plan for the day. I work better with structure. The week tends to be a mix of admin, marketing, research, product creation and creative development. Although it is the thing I want to do the most, I find the creative development the hardest to settle down to if I don’t really have a plan of what I want to do. I will nibble round the edges, doing easy, accessible tasks, usually unrelated to the thing I need to do. Anything to avoid making that start. Once I get myself in the flow though, it is good. There is often a battle going on in my head between the inner critic who says it is all rubbish and the artist who knows that failed experiments are a vital vehicle for learning and developing work.
How long have you been using dye techniques?
About 12 years. When I was studying for my degree as a mature student, I dabbled with dyes, but predominantly focused on screen-printing using inks rather than dyes. It was after I finished my degree that I really developed my interest and knowledge in various dyeing processes.
What inspires you?
The landscape provides a constant and enduring inspiration to which I return time and again. Having travelled extensively over the years, I enjoy drawing on the cultures, patterns, textures and colours of these remarkable places. Joy and inspiration can also be found in old objects and the concept of the traces that remain from previous and continuous use.
I addition to this, I love visiting galleries and museums and am constantly inspired by a great range of artists and crafts people from different periods and disciplines.
What is your favourite dye product?
Procion dyes are my ‘go to’ dye product. They are easy to use, give good colour fastness, come in both warm and cold primaries from which I can mix a limitless range of exciting colours and can be mixed with manutex to make thickened dye to use for all sorts of printing purposes.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I was incredibly proud of my final degree collection. It felt like a real benchmark for me in my artistic evolution. Since then I have carried on learning, growing and developing. Each new piece I create has significance and of which I am both proud and critical, as we never stop wishing to grow artistically. Having said that, I am proud of the colours, design and quality of my scarves and most recently, of my recent explorations into art textile pieces. These are very organic, dyed on cotton organdie, using earthy and monochromatic colours and layers of process to create surface texture, inspired by a trip to Scotland.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I mostly sell direct, but have also exhibited at New Ashgate gallery, had work with Herbert Hedley and been commissioned to design a collection for Glyndebourne Opera. I am a member of Hampshire and Berkshire Guild of Craftsmen and exhibit at their yearly selling exhibitions, along with Hampshire Open studios and selling events at Making Space. My work can be seen on my website and on my Instagram page.
What will we be seeing from you next?
Primarily, I plan to carry on developing my textile art pieces for gallery and exhibition. I have many avenues and ideas to pursue. In addition to this I will be creating new scarves and accessories.
Do you have any advice for other creatives?
Don’t give up! Remember that creative practice is an evolving process and each stage is valid and important. You will not always feel like you are moving forwards, but you are always learning and accruing information, skills, knowledge and ideas at every stage. It is a slow process. Allow yourself occasionally to stop and reflect back, you will see how far you have actually come.
When we are stuck, a change of perspective can often help. Look at your work a different way, change your view, turn it upside down, put it on the wall. Sometimes even that isn’t enough and we just need to walk away for a bit, make a cup of tea or go for a walk You will come back to it with a fresh perspective.
Finding communities of other artists and craftspeople is also hugely helpful. It can ease the isolation we often feel by sharing with others and realising you are not alone, other people share the same difficulties and joys in creative practice. It is also great to reflect ideas and thoughts off each other. Someone else’s perspective can be immensely helpful.
Kathryn will be joining us at the Handprinted studio again this year for a few workshops: