Stylish, original, and slightly quirky - UK Handmade member Astrid Weigel's homewares reflect her love of Scandinavian and Eastern European folk art and the nature around her Ayrshire studio. Here Astrid talks about how she goes about making of one of her pieces.
I studied printed textiles and worked as a designer for a number of years. Having taken a “longish” career break being a full time mum, the call to return to doing something creative became really loud and strong. I started off with a few items and opened an online shop and things have grown from there.
I always loved the screen printing process but not having the space to store lots of screens or a big printing table meant I had to pare down and decided I would limit myself to one colour printing. I really like folk art from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe - it has a simplicity and naive charm to it. Very often people assume my prints are lino cuts so I have to explain that they are in actual fact screen-prints but I’ve made the original artwork using lots of textures so it looks a bit like the impression you would get using a wood or lino block.
I’m influenced by lots of things but living in the countryside means that nature is a recurring theme in my work but I love to mix that up with abstract geometric elements for a contrast.
The idea for my wall canvas “The Foragers” came about as a result of watching squirrels running along my neighbour’s fence, something they do repeatedly several times a day, all year round; the rolling hills and numerous woods in the area were an inspiration for the background - so these elements were mixed together, stylised and eventually formed the finished picture you now see.
I definitely have to work things out in a sketchbook first but my doodles are certainly not things of beauty. I sketch things out quite roughly to begin with until I’m happy with the idea, sometimes drawing it to size to see if it works. Working on “The Foragers” for example, I remember doodling ideas for layouts during a quiet spell at a craft fair! Once I’m 100% satisfied I’ll prepare the artwork for making the screens by painting on either special film or tracing paper using photo opaque paint, indian ink, crayon or a combination of the three to achieve lots of interesting textures.
I use the facilities in The Glasgow Print Studio to make my screens; the screen is coated in light sensitive emulsion and when dry, exposed in a light box to UV light. Once this is done there’s no going back! At home the messy printing stage begins; as mentioned earlier, I use one colour only for printing, which simplifies things, and a natural coloured cotton canvas for the wall pictures, which has a nice weight and texture to it. Although I have quite a lot of printing experience, it’s important to do one or two “test” prints to check everything’s OK and the screen is well coated with ink. Printing completed, it’s on to the next stage.
I like to add interest to a print by adding some colour and this can be in the way of using watered down paints and more often than not, applique. I have quite a stash of fabrics which I’ve acquired over the years - some have been given to me, others I’ve found in charity shops or bought new. I tend to use different printed fabrics in each print to make each one differ from another whilst still retaining the same general look and colour. Next, comes the machine embroidery bit which not only serves to keep the appliqued fabric in place but adds yet another layer of colour and texture; finally, I’ll add some simple hand stitches, very often a running stitch and french knots.
It’s a very laborious and hands-on approach as I do all the designing, printing and sewing but means I can ensure 100% care and attention goes into each and every piece.
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