Where my Passion for Fabrics Began…
I was an early embracer of the second-hand market. I can still remember my first second hand purchase from my primary school jumble sale back in the early seventies. A full circle brightly coloured satin patchwork skirt.
I was about 8 years old, and I wore it until it fell apart and was turned into cushion covers. Make do, Mend and Make Funky was perhaps the seed that some fifty years later led to the creation of Gillian Smellie Eco Print Textiles.
Clothes are important to me. I’m not a fashionista exactly and I don’t give a hoot about labels, but I do know that what I am wearing can completely change how I feel. During lockdown I didn’t sink into leggings and T-shirts. I had time to plan and experiment with what I wore, while my wardrobe remained the same size, the number of potential outfits trebled as I mixed daywear with eveningwear, heavy jumpers with silky summer skirts and bright woolly tights.
The Work Behind the Print…
I like to think of myself as a magician who takes old clothes that have years of life left in them but are ripe for change and turn them into unique wearable art.
Using just leaves, water, heat and very specific types of metal pans, a few homemade metal salt potions and kitchen ingredients, I print with leaves by harnessing the tannins in the leaves to transfer the image of the leaf onto fabric. It is a truly magical process and I never lose the excitement of opening up a bundle to discover what the leaves have given me.
To forage is to make a wide search for provisions. It is a slow process, not a grab-and-run. In terms of clothing and textiles it is the opposite of fast fashion.
It is slow and deliberate; it sees possibilities where others see old or worn.
To find a beautiful silk shirt that has been loved and worn and discarded is an eco-printer’s dream. A blank canvas upon which to create a new shirt, unique and reflecting the gardens, villages and fields where it was printed.
To wear an item of eco-printed clothing is to say I have thought about my clothes, I care where they come from, and I don’t want to add to the waste but to use it to create something new and beautiful.
I hope to change the way we think about fashion one dress at a time, and I will enjoy every moment. This is not fast fashion, this is slow and delicious fashion, fashion that can be handed down to the next generation.
If you’d like to shop for Christmas, my stock is available to purchase from fairs that I am attending across the northeast. Add me on social media to find out more. Or Shop Online.
Thanks for reading,