Monday, 9 May 2011

Inspiration for Textiles: Surfaces

'Surfaces' are a common source of inspiration for Textiles Artists. Indeed, the AQA Textiles Art A Level exam titles often include a variation on the 'surfaces' theme, reflective surfaces was an interesting starting point last year. Ironically, that is a title I choose to use for my students as a coursework title.

So, what do we think of when we think 'surfaces'? For visual inspiration for the 'reflective surfaces', I have taken my students to a garden center/aquarium to photograph schools of fish from the surface of the water, aiming to record the reflections of light, colour and movement on the surface of the water. (I wish we could afford to go to a Sea Life centre!)

In the past we have visited churches and graveyards to photograph the textures of weather-worn stone, lichen and moss. I have a personal obsession with tree bark after a holiday to Portugal, just a half hour walk with my camera revealed an unbelievable range of colours and textures.

I also love the beach and unusual 'found items'; my latest find being a rusted wheel washed up on the shore, which again hosted the most beautiful array of colours.

Oxford Natural history Museum 
 One of my favourite places to go to investigate or be inspired by surfaces is the Natural History museum in Oxford. It is open 10am to 4pm everyday, free entry. It's a fabulous place to take your children, with a huge collection of bones, fossils, skeletons, stones, rocks, precious stones, stuffed animals etc all providing a wealth of surfaces.

Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford
Inside the Natural History Museum Oxford, lies entry to the Pitt Rivers Museum, which contains three floors of ancient treasures: shrunken heads (real ones!), samurai swords, armoury, cultural clothing, masks, toys, jewellery, bags etc. Below are detail photos of Textiles Art panels I created after visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum and purchasing a collection of Indian Silk fabrics. The panels have been incorporated into a new range of bags called the Rivers Collection (available on Folksy).

The 'Rivers' Collection (below) available on Folksy:

Below are some other treasures from Folksy that appear to be inspired by, or link to, some of the inspirational themes briefly mentioned in this blog!


Flotsam Wall-Hanging (with detail photo) by Textile Delights (Tania Weller)

 Batik Fish Picture by The Old Forge Art Studio

Beyond the Sea - (detail photo) by C Creations

Red Grasses (detail photo) - Flotsam and Jetsam Textile Art by Ros Lymer

Felted Seashore Vessel in Grey - That Fuzzy Feeling

Bird's Nest with Eggs - Odette's Shop

Tri-Jurassic! Wood Framed, 3D, Three Panel Actual Fossil Picture - Nofkants Curios

Fossil shell in resin and sterling silver pendant by Damselfly Gemma

Fossil hunting in red hat - Original screen print by Lil Sonny Sky


  1. Thank you for including my print in this inspirational post! thanks:)

  2. Wonderful blog post, so interesting to read and such beautiful pictures.

    Thank you so much for including my fossil specimen picture in your feature gallery, so kind of you. Fossils are a real love of mine, and my idea of heaven is sitting on a beach, sifting sand, shale, slate or whatever, for hours on end and hopefully find a little time capsule gem of pre-history to bring home.

    Natalie x

  3. Loving the bark photos. Such great inspiring places to go. Your rivers bags are gorgeous.
    Thanks for featuring my pendant amongst your related finds. Loving your other choices too especially Ros' Red Grasses textile art

  4. Dear Emma,
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your inspirational photos. Thank you for mentioning my bird's nest. You are lovely. Best wishes, Odette

  5. Dear Emma
    Thanks for including my 'Beyond the Sea' I too am a teacher and would love to share ideas. Check out stitchinfingers and my page:

  6. great post.
    LOVE the red grasses but all great inspirational work and leaving me saying wow.

    {Dab and a dash.}

  7. Such a lovely post and great inspiration! The photographs are amazing and so nice to include so mony different peoples work!

    Stephie :-)

  8. Hello Emma - sorry my comment is so late, it's been a busy week! This is a really interesting feature, and what a great collection of treasures. Thank you very much for including my felt seaside vessel,

  9. Thanks to everyone for your feedback, I hope it was a good read, it's always interesting to explore inspirations and new ideas! It took me ages to find and choose all your lovely items, as I wanted to include Textiles work that really related to the blog. I just love the detail in The Flotsam Wall-hanging, so detailed and delicate, it's beautiful x

  10. Ps. I'm on to stitchinfingers asap!

  11. WOW WOW WOW Claire you have some stunning work, I'm in awe! x