Zara's talk was riveting, and as a bonus she had brought along two of her stunning chairs for us to see firsthand, along with a range of exquisite samples.
She outlined her development as a textile designer from studying print making for fashion at college, through teaching to the time when, as a Leamington branch member, she came along to a talk by a textile artist that inspired her to review what she was doing and to consider the possibility of working for herself. Zara had been teaching textile art at Warwickshire College and took the decision to invest in a secondhand Bernina, which opened up a new textile world for her. She became hooked on drawing with the sewing machine and soon began to exhibit her beautifully stitched designs at textile and handmade craft shows.
Zara carried on teaching for a while longer, working on her collections in her spare time, but arrived at the point where she knew she would have to commit all her time and energy to her growing business. As a result of successful exhibitions at events like Heal's Modern Craft Market in their London store, where her furnishing designs made a great impact, Zara realised that the handmade aspect of her work, though time-consuming, was what satisfied her. She didn't want to go down the retail route, which would mean losing control of her work after the design stage.
Inevitably, the market for her work is niche - at the higher end, reached mainly through working with interior designers on designs for individual and corporate clients. She has produced a number of collections and now works on leather, silk and other fabrics, as well as her trademark wool.
We were privileged therefore to benefit from Zara's expertise in a whole day's workshop to produce our own designs for a panel on wool fabric. This involved cutaway and appliqué techniques, free machine embroidery and hand stitching.
|Zara Day - cutaway, appliqué, hand and machine stitch designs on wool|
The design element took some time, but we all managed to create a design and start the stitching - to be completed at home, of course ....
We had a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable day, and our thanks go to Zara for returning to Leamington to inspire us in turn!