My Textile design path

My textile design path was influenced by a variety of things and situations. These include my Latvian heritage, printmaking, my love for colour and patterns, and textile designer, Zandra Rhodes.

In my ongoing research of textile design, especially Natural Dyeing, I read some interviews with successful textile artists.

Then, I decided to interview myself, in part to give myself a better look at my textile design path to date.

Here is my introduction:

What attracted you to textile design?

Growing up in a Latvian household, I was exposed to stitch work, embroidery, as well as weaving. Linen was the pride of Latvia’s textile industry. Therefore, coveted woven, linen items were in every household! Even more so, after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Hand woven Latvian linen towels

As well, there were embroidered pillow covers, stitched pin cushions, crafts at summer camp, always using ancient Latvian symbols.

Diaspora Latvians who are actively involved in cultural events, such as Song and Dance Festivals have a national costume

Womens’ costumes include long, woven wool skirts, matched with a billowy Linen blouse, often a woollen wrap (vilaine) which is hand embroidered and finally, a beaded headband, for young girls. In some cases, the headband could be of brass, dependant on the folk costume.

The head gear of married women is often a linen kerchief or felt cap. This also features some kind of embroidery or beading.

My first tautas terps (folk costume) was simple and made from store bought fabrics, as my parents couldn’t afford to buy me an authentic one. My mom and I sewed a chain stitch yellow stripe along a printed blue one on the fabric, to embellish it.

In later years, my parents bought me a previously loved, Piebalgas tautas terps, which I still have.

Piebalgas Folk Costume

My dyeing experience in growing up was dyeing Easter Eggs with onion skins, and embellishments of petals, chives and other herbs.

One of my airbrushed paintings entitled “Easter Egg’, as many of our onion skin dyed Easter eggs turned out like this

In Art school and University, my concentration was Printmaking

As I became more proficient in silkscreen printing on paper, the natural continuation would be to someday print on fabric.

As the years went by, I continued to work in various art mediums, including coloured pencil drawing, papier mache, collages and airbrush on paper, canvas and fabric.

Fast forward to my retirement from my teaching career- I visited India

Specifically I visited some textile artists in Gujarat. They worked in Block printing, weaving and dyeing, for generations. Even though they were using mostly synthetic dyes, this was the beginning for me, in working with natural dyes. The work of these dyers had a major textile design impact, on me!

https://maijazemitis.com/natural-dyes-on-silk

My plan was to work with natural dyes and my airbrush. But, I was familiar with synthetic inks! To work with natural dyes using the airbrush is a whole other thing. At some point, I will try it!

Printmaking has long been my main technique. And the way that fabric drapes and affects the printed image is moving art!

Upcycled Cotton or Linen is currently my fabric of choice

I like the idea of reusing something for a new purpose. I’m a strong believer in the preservation of the environment and this is such an obvious thing for me to do.

In my most recent studio work, I am sewing together some of these fabrics to create new items. Recently, I finished sewing a functional, patchwork style summer jacket using some of my indigo dyed napkins.

Usefulness in daily life, while eating, travelling or for daily wear is my primary goal in my textiles work.

I have taken a step back from Wall Art and exhibitions, for the time being.

One of my early textile design influencers, Zandra Rhodes