The inspiration for these works started with a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum. I was attracted to an 18th century ‘sack-back’ gown made from Spitalfields silk. Having spent 10 years of my working life right next door to Spitalfields I was aware of its silk weaving history.
As I researched the museum’s silk collection I was taken by one textile designer in particular. Anna-Maria Garthwaite was a leading freelance pattern designer who lived and worked in Spitalfields for over 30 years. She supplied designs to the local silk weavers at a time when few women were recognised for their craftsmanship. I have taken ideas from some of her water colour pattern designs and incorporated these into my work.
The Silk Moths piece depicts five glass silk moths (bombyx mori) and cocoon representing the different stages involved in the production of silk from the extraction of the silk thread, dyed silk skeins, a range of woven silks and finally the eventual decay of the fabric through age and wear.
The Mulberry Leaves also shows the silk production cycle. Each leaf shows a different development stage; from the young leaf through to the mature lobed leaf.
The glass has been kiln-formed using frit overlaid with stringers to emulate the silken threads. Silver leaf and patterned decals have also been incorporated into some of the pieces. The fragile and delicate nature of the glass was intended to mirror the fine quality of the silks and ephemeral qualities of the silk moths and mulberry leaves.