Second-hand Cultures by Bree Croon

Thread Flower Sample by Bree Croon

My design practise explores second hand cultures and imagined histories; thrift, folk craft and emotional value in design. I am particularly interested in the late 1960s to mid 1970s ‘Back to The Earth’ style and way of life, which involved home repairing and sewing and crafts. I feel this ideal is very relevant today.

Artist Jeremy Deller regards the jumble sale as the "modern archeaological dig". For me, foraging in jumble sales, car boot sales and vintage markets is second nature, and a resource for material and inspiration.

I aim to create highly decorative multimedia fashion / accessory pieces. My current design inpiration stems from my own drawings of self seeding flowers which grow wild, particularly hollyhocks. I have been looking at flower symbolism, 1970s Victoriana, British folklaw and home made dancing costumes.

Initially, the TED 10 theme I felt was most related to my work was Number 2: Recycling/upcycling, due my key element of reworking second hand materials. However, once I started researching, and during the our group's talks and discussions throughout the weeks, the key theme I responded to naturally as my work progressed was Number 6: Design that looks at models from history. For me we can learn from the late 60s to mid 70s ‘back to the earth period’ and its historic examples of extending the life of a garment through repair and customisation;. Alteration, darning, re-use, decorative patch work and repair infused clothes with emotion. Each piece was regarded as special rather than throw away. Craft skills were used for contemporary contexts, by reworking materials with surface design.

Number 1: Design to minimise waste.
Recycle and re-use of materials. Inspired by a stitch workshop I attended with Designer Naomi Ryder where we were encouraged to stitch with her box of vintage fabric scraps, I like the idea of other people using my collected matererials to make their work. I have been thinking about the need for newness: Can something old be new? If it is new to me.

Number 8: Design to replace the need to consume.
My work celebrates vintage, personalisation and customisation. I am intersted in Emotionally Durable Design and Slow Design. An integral part of my design process is the sourcing of second hand or vintage materials and tools. This is very important and for me a rewarding and exciting part of the process- the thrill of the hunt, a time consuming and continual process.

Threads and thread flowers:
After being given a long-time stored box of coloured threads last summer, with which I embroidered a thread flower based on my drawings This spurred me to really take notice of the threads and the sewing tins within
other peoples' habberdashery stashes- the contents of imagined history. I have been hunting, collecting wooden spools of thread in specific colour ways, brightly colured Sylko threads being my favorite finds. I have been using cotton sewing thread as the material itself, rather than just the material that holds fabric

I have been scanning in my ‘thread flowers’, exploring scale and texture, and digitally printing onto cotton to then stitch into. This has led me to question whether I comprimise on my ideal of using only second hand material, as I am limited to using ‘new’ fabric that has been professionally coated to print at our University digital print studio. At this stage I am weighing up the pros and cons.

Reading, researching, discussing, and listening to my peers, tutor and guest speaker around a theme during each reading group has been highly informative, sometimes surprising, and highly inspirational. However for me things become truly clear when they are physical and I am putting themes into practice.

I experimented with different textile techniques to put my own stamp on a roll of vintage velvet. I now want to laser-cut flowers based on the silhouette of my hollyhock drawings, then dip dye each flower. I spent 2 days in the dye lab dying and and printing with acid dyes, finding the right shades of sherbet pastel, using tiny amounts of pigment in a very diluted dyebath. It really made me think about the chemicals and water consumption used during this process ( 3- reduce chemical impact and 4 design to reduce water use).

This inspired me to attend a natural dye work shop the following weekend at Hackney City Farm- Dinner to Dye For- by the Permaculture Institute- talking about foreging seasonal herbs, plants and weeds and learnng about dying with them, then having a dinner made from the ingredients.

I feel I am more aware and ever conscious of impacts (the bigger picture), and each decision in the design process is an important one.



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