Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Evening With Liberty & The New Craft Society...

Last month I was invited to attend a special evening at Liberty hosted by the Liberty Art Fabrics Design Studio and lovely ladies over at The New Craft Society! The event was to celebrate The New Craft Society’s first blog Birthday - congratulations girls! A group of fellow craft bloggers and I enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, scones, macarons and dainty little cakes whilst the Liberty design team treated us to a fascinating presentation all about the inspiration behind the new seasons collection of prints as well as a sneak peek at what’s in store for Autumn / Winter 2014!

As the starting point for Spring / Summer 2014, forty design briefs were tucked into Liberty print envelopes and handed out at random to Liberty’s in-house designers as well as guest artists and collaborators. Inspired by a 1970’s map of the store, each of the design briefs related to a particular department within Liberty. The colour pallets for the collection were all drawn from artists materials – Winsor & Newton pigments, Faber Castell coloured pencils, Sennelier oil pastels , Pro Arte brushes and Stabilo pens. I loved hearing how each of the designers had interpreted these starting points in different ways and the diverse processes they used when developing a design!

Anisha / Jennie and Steve

We got to see original sketches for the ‘Anisha’ design which was built up with layer upon layer of wax crayons and represents the furniture department as well as glass tiles painted with the beautiful flowers that would go on to form the print ‘Jennie and Steve’, inspired by the old decor in the Liberty cafe. I found it fascinating to see how the designers worked with different media in different ways and how these elements were then brought together, worked into repeat and printed flat onto fabric. It’s incredible to think of a Liberty prints journey from the initial inspiration to being drawn, painted, sketched our cut out of paper, then being worked up into a final design and printed. And that’s just to make a bolt of fabric –  the prints then get bought by the likes of me and made into all kinds of things that go on to have a life of their own!

As well as designing new prints from scratch each season, the Liberty Design Studio also frequently re-vist their extensive archive and these archive prints are often re-coloured or re-worked into a new collection. We were so lucky to hear Liberty’s head of archiving Anna Buruma talk about the great wealth of history that Liberty have stored in their warehouse in Bermondsey – they have a record of almost every print ever created since the 1880’s! Although often (especially with the older prints) the individual designers have only left their initials against each design so we have no way of knowing the artist behind each print! Anna showed us the most enormous book from the Liberty print archive – it was massive and full of original drawings and fabric samples. I think Anna might just have the best job in the world – you can read a really interesting article all about the Liberty print archive over on the Liberty blog here.

As we looked at each of the prints in turn there was so much to take in! It was fantastic to get a guided tour of the store afterwards and see the departments that  inspired each of the designs. Here's a little peek at some of my favourites from the new collection!

Forget-Me-Nots A / Handbag from Liberty's handbag department.

Forget-Me-Nots -  This is one of my favourite prints from the new collection and is based on all the little bits and pieces we ladies carry about in our handbags! I learned that this type of design is called a ‘conversational print’ – basically a print that portrays recognisable every day objects. The name seems apt as this print really does speak to me – It was named Forget-me-nots by the designer because these are the things that you wouldn't want to loose from your handbag. I treated myself to some of this fabric and am planning on making one of my DIY Liberty print quilted zipper pouches. I think the name 'Forget-me-nots' is perfect because although some of these items are really current (like the iphone, oyster card and little tin of Vaseline!) in 20 years time I might not have an oyster card or an iphone but I'll still have the little pouch I'm going to make so the print will feel lovely and nostalgic.

Daniel DJ C / Fornasetti plates from the Liberty gift department.

Daniel DJ - I absolutely love this design! Inspired by two 1950’s sun prints this design is was also heavily inspired by the iconic Fornasetti plates found in the Liberty gift department. This print was hand drawn in Rotring ink and Stabilo felt tips. I love the sketchy, 1950's line drawings and the way you can just make out the serene faces of the suns!

Queue For The Zoo B / Clothes from the Liberty childrenswear department

Queue For The Zoo by OK David - It was so lovely to meet David, the children's author and illustrator behind this fun and clever print (which has actually gone on to be Liberty's best selling print of all time and represents the childrenswear department). David spoke about the way that he approaches his children's illustrations by giving his animals and characters props to help express their personality. I love the detail in this design - the giraffe is wearing miniature Nike X Liberty wedge trainers and the elephant has just thrown a paper plane!

Alexandra C / Gem stones from the Liberty Jewelrey Department

Alexandra – Representing the jewelry department, this print feels so modern and fresh! I love the way the gemstones have been layered up – it looks so opulent and rich! This print was created digitally and is a nice contrast to some of the more traditional, floral prints. This print is available printed onto 100% silk as well as classic Tana Lawn – wouldn’t it look beautiful as a simple tank top in the Summer?

As for what Liberty have in store for us next season, let's just say if you're a fan of beautiful floral designs you won't be disappointed!

Thank you Liberty for such a lovely evening and a big thank you to The New Craft Society for organising the event! It was so lovely to meet some of my favourite craft bloggers and we each took home the most marvelous goody bag crammed with beautiful, crafty bits and pieces. I'm looking forward to sharing more soon!

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