Heather Dutton – fabric design

Heather Dutton originally studied fashion design at art school, it was here that she first had her eyes opened to the wonderful world of textiles and surface design. After working in the fashion industry for several years, she finally took a brave leap out on her own and started Hang Tight Studio. She says “It’s been an amazing ride so far & I feel lucky
every day I wake up… realizing I get to draw & create.”

I first came across Heather’s designs via Spoonflower, and was struck by their clarity and fresh, cool palette.  She states “I’m a surface designer with a serious love for pattern, fabric and the color green!” But it’s not just any green – her tendency is to green, tempered with muted yellow, and balanced with teal and soft coral pink.

 

into orbit

 

Several of her designs have a mid-century flavour to them, and remind me of dress fabrics and linoleum patterns from that era. However, her choice of designs also extends to whimsical animals, as well as some sweet little ditsies.

 

crazy daisy

 

skipping stones

 

twiggy (teal)

 

Despite several discrete groupings of designs – geometric, ditsy, and whimsical, the constants that tie her work together are her colour palette and the clarity of forms. Flat colours and clear shapes give no illusions of depth. These are very much surface designs – nothing painterly here. Having said that, she still manages to achieve a beautiful softness with her choice of colours. I think what appeals to me here is that William Morris idea of giving enough structure that the eye does not get confused, but enough detail the eye doesn’t get bored, and I find my eye is drawn equally around and through.

 

berry branch

 

entangled

 

Heather runs her freelance graphic and textile design business out of the small town of Kennebunk in the USA, and provides work to both small and large companies, including multinationals such as Tupperware and Starbucks.

Well done Heather! We wish you all the best.

More of Heather’s work can be found on her website (HangTight Studio), and her fabrics are available through Spoonflower.

Saraban – A chef’s journey through Persia (a book review)

I was given this gorgeous book for my birthday last year by my wonderful partner. He has a real love for the cultures of this part of the world, having spent a substantial amount of time in the nearby countries of Turkey and Syria.

From the first, I was drawn in by its promise of exotic mysteries and the beautiful, beautiful photographs. Mosque domes, city squares, tiled gateways, carved screens, and yet more dazzling tiles. I love pattern and colour, and the Persians do these so well – and in my favourite hues of turquoise and lapis blue. Pictures of markets, harvesting saffron, spectacular landscapes, and people enjoying each other’s company – all contribute to the sumptuousness of the text.

Lebanese-born chef Greg Malouf and food writer Lucy Malouf have already written a number of other books exploring the food of nearby regions, and carefully tease apart the differences between the Arabian food of Lebanon and Syria, the Ottoman and Anatolian food of Turkey, and the Moorish food of North Africa, and state that the culture of Persian food ‘is one of the most sophisticated, elaborate and complex food cultures in the world’.

The text weaves intriguingly through stories of the countryside and people, of travel experiences and meals shared, giving factual snippets about present-day Iran, interspersing the stories with sections filled with recipes.

The photographs of the food are stunning. Curly cucumbers, fresh herbs and cheese, rose petals,  pomegranates, and saffron, all take their places among rustic tableware and elegantly patterned bowls. Arranged in chapters corresponding roughly to the roles various foods play within the Iranian meal, these recipes are described by the Maloufs as being based in Iranian cooking, but include the occasional modern twist and loose interpretation.

I have cooked a few of these recipes, and they were rather fabulous! My one tiny sadness about this book is that there are a few recipes I may never get to try, as they have less usual ingredients that are difficult to find unless you live in a large city with access to a well-stocked Middle Eastern delicatessen – dried limes, pomegranate molasses, and dried barberries are simply not available to me. Nonetheless, the flavour combinations sound heavenly – and believe me, I’ll be making Persian baklava with rose-lime syrup shortly.

This book is a treasure indeed.

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Saraban – A chef’s journey through Persia, by Greg & Lucy Malouf, is published by Hardie Grant, 2010. ISBN 978 174066 8 620

The textured garden – Vicki Mason, contemporary jeweller

‘Xanthorrhoea’, 2009, ring, hand-dyed PVC, powder-coated brass & silver, 6.2 x 4.5 x 4.5cm

I am so very pleased to officially launch this site and present my very first post to you. And I am even more pleased that preeminent jeweller Vicki Mason has agreed to share her ideas and wonderful work with us! I first met Vicki at a Jewellers & Metalsmiths conference in 2000, and have been loving watching her progress ever since.

I hope you enjoy Vicki Mason’s work.
x Julie

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Vicki Mason was born and trained in New Zealand, but is now based in Melbourne. She has most recently been busy completing her MPhil, including showing her body of work at Bilk Gallery in Canberra, and at e.g.etal in Melbourne.

vicki mason - offshoot series

Vicki Mason – ‘Offshoot series’, 2007. Printed & hand-dyed PVC, polyester thread, nylon, sterling silver, rubber, copper coated wire. Largest piece 5 x 5 x 2.7cm

 

Vicki uses an eclectic range of materials, chosen for their aesthetic value rather than any inherent monetary value. She uses PVC, cotton, rubber, brass, and sterling silver amongst other things, with equal vigor. She loves the colour, fluidity, and range of textures that textiles can bring to a piece – often difficult to achieve with the more traditional materials used by the jeweller. And as with many craftspeople there is also the influence of a family history.

“My mother was a brilliant spinner, knitter and dyer of wool, so I think I was destined to work in the crafts from a young age. I’m a jeweller but my interest in incorporating textile techniques goes back to my undergraduate studies as my New Zealand course focused on both textiles and jewellery. I found it difficult to select only one medium when I reached my third year, as both disciplines resonated with me. I’ve never quite been able to let go of textiles and combining the two seems to make perfect sense.’”

Single stem banksia spray, Powder coated brass, copper and sterling silver, PVC, hand-dyed PVC, polyester, rayon and viscose thread, 7.2 x 6.7 x 1.8 cm, 2011

 

Vicki has been working with plant-based motifs for some time, and melds inspiration from various sources, including colonial interpretations of indigenous plants on jewellery and objects, chinoiserie plant motifs on Mason ceramics, and plants common to the Melbourne area. “I continue to be enthralled by plants as subject matter, and the potential they have to tell stories about our lives and the societies we live in.”

Mixed floral bouquet, Powder coated brass, copper and sterling silver, PVC, hand-dyed PVC, polyester, rayon and viscose thread, 7 x 8.5 x 2.5 cm, 2011.

 

Circular flower bouquet, Powder coated brass and sterling silver, hand-dyed PVC, polyester, rayon and viscose thread, 9 x 8.5 x 2 cm, 2011.

 

Vicki has located herself firmly within the traditions of jewellery, by producing elegant and very wearable pieces, but simultaneously hovers outside it, questioning the preciousness of jewellery with her choice of materials – by choosing mundane, synthetic, remnant materials and reinvigorating them with her artistic vision and skillful manipulation.

I love her sense of play, her quirky interpretations of flower forms and rich colours; but what draws me in the most is the wonderful textures. Wouldn’t you just love to fondle these lush things? So so gorgeous!

vicki mason - the entangled garden

Vicki Mason – The entangled garden, 2011. Powder coated brass, copper and sterling silver, hand-dyed PVC, PVC, polyester, rayon, nylon and viscose thread, cotton interfacing, Largest 9.5 x 9.5 x 4 cm




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Vicki Mason’s work can also be found on her website – http://vickijewel.com