An interview with Daisy Collingridge

Burt LungesSome of you might know of the amazing and wonderfully fantastical work of textile artist Daisy Collingridge. I’m an avid follower of her work on Instagram and when I saw that she was coming to the Knit & Stitch shows including the RDS Dublin venue I was just delighted at the prospect of seeing the work up close!

Felt makers Ireland decided to get in touch ahead of Daisy’s exhibition to ask her a little about her journey as a textile artist. We realise that this work is not felt, nor made from wool but I hope, that you like me will love it and it will inspire you to develop your textile practice further.

Tell us a little about you as a person? e.g. upbringing/ where you work/ work other than textiles…

Mum is a sewer, stitcher, patchwork maker. She decorates cakes and constructs curtains. It is her influence that has guided me towards being practical and ultimately towards stitch. My family home is full of fabric, threads, paints, wood. We are all hoarders so there is always plenty of materials to get a project started. I still return to my family home to do large parts of my sculptural work. My family play a huge role in what a do, whether it is practical or moral support they are always there.

The current form my artistic work takes isn’t the most financially rewarding so I am also an illustrator. I have my own greetings card company; DMC Illustrations. It is very different to my sculptural work, but keeps things fresh! When I’m not sewing or drawing, I like to run. Running has always been part of my life and it has given me the discipline to grow my card company and continue to sculpt with fabric. It keeps me sane.

How and when did you start your textile journey… what is your experience, tell us a little…

From making over 40 stuffed toys as a kid. (I was a little obsessed with teddy bears) it has been a direct route through Fine Art GCSE, A-level, Art foundation and finally a degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins that has led me to this point. There were always textiles elements to my work during school, which naturally led to fashion. On reflection my heart was never really in fashion, but the freedom to create and the people that I met during my degree were invaluable. Since graduating I have predominately left fashion behind focusing more on sculpture (though still wearable). These have been shown as part of the 62 Groups’ Ctrl/Shift group exhibition as well as part of the World of Wearable Arts in New Zealand. My best story is still making a dress for Bjork. That was unreal!

Dye bath for DaveTell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? e.g. for hobby/ creativity/ art/ fashion/ health/ money…

I like a deadline. It’s good to work towards an exhibition or competition. I take great pleasure in seeing a project from start to finish and more importantly to create with my own hands. I felt that I would lose that if I were to be a designer for a company. I never stopped making even during the years that I didn’t have a focus. It is impulsive and rarely planned. The act of creating makes me happy. So, I guess my motivation is happiness!

Projects usually start with a period of experimentation. My work is driven my fabric manipulation and experimentation as opposed to concept. It can be difficult to allow yourself to just play without an ‘end piece’ at the end. I think it is vital phase to keep your ideas moving forward. The ‘Squishys’ have been a development on from my graduation collection. They are the culmination of free machine quilting pushed to the extreme. I work in the same way as I would making clothes, I work mainly on the stand. Draping and physically wearing the pieces as I go to see how they hang and move. The result is no longer a ‘couture’ dress but a ‘couture squishy’!

The fabric is hand dyed. Once I’ve selected my colour palette, I used Procion dyes to create the pastel shades. This is done in the sink (my parents kitchen sink). Each Squishy is made from 5-6 different garments; mask, trousers, top and/or jacket and gloves. I build up the underlying volume at this stage using thick wadding; essentially build the silhouette. I then begin to build up the relief and shape by hand sewing on blobs of fabric with wadding and beans (both heavy and light). I always start with the head first. This informs the character of the person I am making. They are all made up in this way (rather than based on real people).

Daisy Collingridge clive kneelerWhat currently inspires you? 

Bringing things to life.

I worked with the animator Isabel Garrett to produce a miniature squishy for a short animation called ‘Listen to Me Sing’. It was pure magic to watch the small person I built around an armature actually breath and come to life!

Similarly, I love creating videos with my wearable pieces. I am excited to do more film work. They are the most fun.

Felt makers Ireland would like to thank Daisy for her time in participating in this interview process. We can’t wait to see the work in November. We wish her every success in her textile journey.

The Knit & Stitch show is on at the RDS Dublin 7th-11th of November- where you will be able to meet Daisy’s fantastical creations- in person!


Instagram: @daisy_collingridge