Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Artist Feature - Tinctory.

Tinctory makes wonderful, wonderful things. A Czech textile artist originally from Prague and now living in England, her current obsession is smocking. As she says in her etsy shop:

The smocked jewellery is inspired by the intricate needlework seen on historic textiles. Each piece is made entirely by hand using old elaborate techniques which I think gives it a certain magic.

This interest in textiles isn't new: My interest in textiles probably dates back to a silk painting kit I got years ago as a birthday present. Painting on silk led me to batik, dyeing and shibori. With shibori the focus shifted to manipulating fabric into 3D textures rather than colouring it and that sparked off the search for ways to make the texture permanent so it could withstand wear and washing.

It was this permanent, textured, alt-shibori work that I first noticed on Etsy - it's a totally unique, remarkably beautiful and instantly recognisable signature - and unsurprisingly, it proved very popular. Despite the vibrant colours and the crisp, futuristic lines of these pieces, I have always had a feeling of space, stillness and calm from Tinctory's work. I think it's partly because these qualities come across so beautifully in her very accomplished photography, but it's also due to the completeness of her work - the wholeness of each piece, if that makes sense.

As interest in these pieces grew, Tinctory's work changed from the ultra-modern to an old, traditional European technique of gathering and manipulating fabric - smocking. But smocking with a modern twist...

The pendants, rings and beads she has been making recently are as unique and instantly recognisable as her previous shibori work; though in direct contrast to that the materials are all natural and the techniques and tools centuries old:

...I wanted to find something that would work on natural fibers ... and came across smocking. The principle of smocking is that the fabric is pleated and the gathers are held together by embroidery stitches. It is decorative but also practical and was often used to gather the neck or cuffs of loose clothing. I enjoy the fact that smocking has minimal requirements for specialised tools and materials (all you need is fabric, needle and thread), instead it demands time and concentration...

...The process involves several stages. First, fabric preparation - washing, ironing, cutting and sewing. Then I gather the material into fine, even pleats (by stitching it - no pleating machine). After that comes the fun bit - choosing the colour combinations and smocking several rows (the smocking stitches hold the pleats in place and also add colour and texture). Finally, the fabric is threaded on silver wire and made into a piece of jewellery...

Right now I'm really excited about what's called North American smocking. The textures are stitched on the wrong side so the right side shows only the intriguing lattices and other patterns and doesn't give away how they're held in place. I'm working on bracelets made with this technique.

It's impossible not to be delighted by Tinctory's work; as well as being beautiful it's very intelligent. She trained as a Art (and English) teacher and the discipline and rigorous, slightly sparse aesthetic are very apparent. As well as her Etsy shop she has a flickr page - but beware, only visit when you have much time to spare. I can spend hours looking at the photographs; they are wonderful.

all images copyright Tinctory; reproduced with permission.


Elizabeth Scott said...

thanks for posting this i really enjoyed reading it- beautiful work!

Catherine Chandler said...

Wow! Those are really gorgeous pieces! I've always loved textiles, and had that desire to start sewing, but haven't gotten around to it yet :)

Lynette said...

Love this work! Beautiful!

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