As part of my prize for winning the national final of the SDC Design and Colour Competition back in April 2018, I was kindly invited by Judith who was one of the judges for the competition, to Franklins Group Irish Linen Company in Banbridge, Northern Ireland to have some of my own designs woven.
Franklin's Group is unfortunately the last remaining old established Irish linen Jacquard weavers in Ireland. They began weaving in 1854 and have since joined three companies to make up the group: Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, John England and Franklins. They work primarily in linen with cotton and wool and specialise in producing smaller, more specialist finer linens and bespoke weaving's but also weave fabrics for upholstery, apparel, bedding and theatrical linens for film and stage productions.
I arrived into Belfast Airport on the 8th August, mid-morning and after around a 40 minute car journey, we arrived at the factory in the small town of Banbridge. Already coined as " Wee Yasemin", I was greeted very warmly at Franklins; with a very small workforce everyone felt like family. I was given a whistle-stop tour of the factory, seeing all the behind scenes of the warp threads being set up to go on the loom, the industrial looms in action and the room where all the samples of all the fabrics are kept. After being treated to lunch at the local gallery in Banbridge, we then set to work prepping my designs for the loom by mid-afternoon.
As most of my designs were already in repeat, it made the process of prepping them for the loom quicker. If I hadn't already set my designs in repeat beforehand then due to the complexity of my patterns, we would've only gotten one woven in the short time I was there for.
The first design off the loom was my 'Peak' abstract pattern, in white linen warp and a deep sage linen weft, constructed entirely from base weaves.
The second design to come of the loom was my 'Scribble' print, again a white linen warp but with a dark navy cotton weft, woven entirely in base weaves. This made for the fabric to be a lot softer and malleable than the pure linen sample.
The last design to come off the loom was the 'Fern' print in white linen warp, with both light grey and tortoise shell wool weft in both base and compound weaves.
Watching the weaving process in real-time anf first hand was amazing, it was so fast! For paintings to turn into prints and then into woven fabric is quite a wonderful concept. As I am primarily a printer, to see how the patterns change and evolve with the process is really lovely.
To finish, I would like to say a huge thank-you to Judith who made this whole trip possible, the lovely ladies in the office and for everyone else in the factory who I had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone was so welcoming and warm, I didn't want to leave - truly a lovely place to be apart of. I am very grateful for everything I learnt in those two short days as well as being able to come home with a suitcase full of fabric with my own designs on them, it all felt a bit surreal in the best possible way. A final thank-you for my stay at the Belmont Hotel just outside of Banbridge; it was honestly a very special trip that I will never forget.