Review - Animating Pattern

by - Thursday, September 25, 2014

On September 23rd, Jane Callender delivered ler lecture "Animating Pattern" it was Jane's second time presenting at Maiwa. She returned with a substantial publication under her belt. 2000 Pattern Combinations: A step-by-step guide to creating pattern has been released in both English and Japanese. It is an invaluable source for anyone who is working with graphic material.

Jane took the audience through some of the secrets of manipulating imagery in a wide ranging talk that ranged from her first childhood fascination with textiles to her most recent studio work.

The evening was introduced by Toby Smith who has made opening the lectures something of an art form in itself. We are happy to reproduce her introductory remarks here:

I am afraid of three things. 
I am afraid of the dark. 
I am afraid of pressure cookers. 
And I am afraid of the vacuum cleaner. 
But none of these fears can compare with the sheer terror of unpicking a piece of shibori. You have spent maybe weeks sewing complicated, convoluted patterns of teeny tiny baby stitches and pulling tight, tighter, tight enough to cut your fingers. You dye your knotty little bundle in indigo. Then, carefully, you cut the stitches, now almost impossible to find amongst the folds. You use expensive pointy-nosed scissors, or a dollar-store seam ripper, or a needle, or your teeth. It could take days to remove all those elusive little stitches without cutting the fabric and making the whole thing worthless.  
And then of course there are those free-wheeling, arbitrary indigo gods. Indigo, always indecisive, first it’s yellow, then it’s green, now it’s blowing purple bubbles at you, now it’s blue. Now bluer. Now darker. Now too dark. 
Yes, Indigo, this scruffy, insignificant little plant with its ordinary leaf and unremarkable flower, that smells like a compost pile, and that bares a remarkable resemblance to a weed, has its own gods. If this is true, now would a good time to pray. Pray for temperance, pray for magic. And if you knew a sorceress now would be a good time to suck up. Pay her fee. Invite her to a city where the palm trees grow beside the beach. Tempt her with promises of cheap sushi and pious acolytes. Sooth her doubts with bunting at the airport and lotus petals in her tea.  
Jane Callender is one such sorceress. 
Her shibori starbursts and petals explode along the surface of fabric like a peony on raspberry gin. Jane’s designs draw us in and mesmerize us. The more you look at one design the more it reveals itself like the fractals of a kaleidoscope.  For all the excitement of her designs, however, they speak of calmness and patience, the patience of stitching, stitching-- through whole seasons of BBC dramas, 3 Veras, 4 Midsomer Murders and decades of Coronation Streets, stitching stitching.  
Indigo and shibori have held Jane's attention since she studied textiles at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in the UK. She went on to study at the Natalie Bray school of Haute Couture. Jane now lives in East Anglia but she teaches all over the world. She has taught and presented her textiles in schools, art colleges and universities, as well as to many groups and guilds.  
As you can see from her work and from her book, Jane has a great love of pattern. She has invented many stitch formats and motifs. Her primary dye is indigo.  Anyone who takes her workshop comes away feeling like they have experienced a huge leap in their knowledge of what is achievable with patterned stitching. I felt after taking Jane’s workshop that I had increased my imaginative capacity and that is a gift that keeps on giving.  
Jane has exhibited and lectured internationally. She has won awards for her amazing work and thanks to Maiwa we have her back in Vancouver again to give two workshops and her lecture tonight. 
I am very pleased to welcome the sorceress back: Jane Callender.
 - Toby Smith

Visit Jane Callender online at:

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  1. Jane is an amazing talent. Barbara Schey, Australia


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