Meet Kim Thittichai, textile artist and author of Reclaimed Textiles
Kim Thittichai is the author of several leading titles on the art of textiles, including Reclaimed Textiles, which focuses on recycling materials and fabrics to create new, fabulous pieces. We asked Kim some questions about her work as a textile artist.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve incorporated into a textile project?
The lead flashing from around my chimney pot, rescued from the builders when they extended my house. It made the perfect frame for a rather special hand stitched piece I had stored away until I found ‘the’ frame. It was just perfect.
If you were on a desert island with only one type of material/fabric to use to make textiles, what would it be?
Hand dyed viscose satin. Once I had finished distressing and fraying it, I would of course need needles and hand dyed cotton and silk threads to stitch layer upon layer of the only stitch I use – Herringbone!
Where’s your favourite place to spend time making something?
In my studio at the bottom of my garden (when I can get into it, I need a good clear out). It is very quiet, I can open the doors and let the breeze in and listen to the birds in the woods at the back of my house. Alternatively, I can watch TV or listen to music if I want to dance about and just enjoy the making process. It is a very well equipped studio – I just wish I could spend more time in it – maybe this year?
When teaching recently, what has been the biggest crowd pleaser?
Using newspaper or any old book or journal with painted Bondaweb instead of fabric. I have always been interested in the re use of materials but have taken it much more seriously during and since the writing of my fourth book Reclaimed Textiles. Students enjoy the redemptive quality of the papers and are fascinated at the beautiful layered effects that can be achieved.
Do you ever like to work on joint projects and if so what sort of joint projects?
The only joint project in recent times would be opening my home for the Brighton Open Houses which I do every December and in May from 2015. I invite a selection of artists who work in various media – ceramics, metal, wood as well as textiles.
I hope to be doing some team teaching with Val Holmes and Anne Kelly for the Jersey Textile Showcase in March 2016 and I am planning a joint exhibition with Hilary Beattie and Susan Chapman, again in 2016. Now I just need to find the time . . . . .
You’re known for your work with heat tools, what’s your favourite material to use with heat tools?
Bondaweb! It is so versatile. It can be painted and used decoratively; it can be foiled with heat transfer foils, used for appliqué. It can be ironed onto wood and sketch books covers as well as fabric and paper. In all my years of teaching and testing products Bondaweb is still my favourite – there is always something new to learn.
Where do you look for inspiration most regularly?
Nature! In all her forms – my training was in 3D – wood, metal, ceramics & plastics and I still love to work in 3D when I can – but using textile techniques. I love seed pods, the lines in the landscape, marks on pebbles… and chaos theory, along with fractals. To be able to find order within chaos is becoming my life’s work!
Are there textile artists of the past that really inspire you now?
Well Constance Howard would have to be at the top – her legacy informs most of what is being achieved in embroidery and textiles today. I remember her teaching a design workshop on my first diploma course in 1985. She was a patient teacher and very thorough. Her books are still so very useful. Enid Mason is another teacher whose book Embroidery Design has been very helpful in my own teaching.
Although the books by Constance Howard and Enid Mason were published in the late 1960s, they are still very relevant today.
Kim Thittichai is the author of Reclaimed Textiles (Batsford, £19.99)