Friday 28 November 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Ruth Singer

Thing were so deadline-crazy here last week that I didn't have a chance to put together a Crafty Ladies post... so, better late than never, let me introduce you to Crafty Lady Ruth Singer.

Ruth has some mad textile skillz! She puts these to good use creating beautiful, highly textured textile artworks and teaching dressmaking and other workshops in her studio. 

She's the author of three sewing books: Sew It Up (a manual of practical and decorative dressmaking techniques), Sew Eco (which focuses on sustainable sewing, and stitching with upcycled and vintage materials) and Fabric Manipulation (which includes 150 different techniques for pleating, stitching, gathering, etc).


Hello! I'm Ruth Singer, a textile artist, author, tutor, historian, collector, cat owner, foraging addict and nature lover. I exhibit art textiles in galleries, work on creative projects with museums, write books about sewing and textiles and run a sewing school in Leicester.

Leicester is right in the centre of England, which is very handy for travelling all over the country delivering talks and creative textile workshops, as well as junk-shop forays and museum visiting.

Recently I’ve been making…

I've just received a big grant from the Arts Council for a solo exhibition at The National Centre for Craft & Design in Lincolnshire, so I am starting to work on pieces for that. I have a whole room to fill, which is exciting and terrifying in equal measure! The exhibition is called Narrative Threads and explores how we respond to and interact with textiles in our daily lives, looking at physical and emotional engagement with cloth, exploring tactility, memory and personal stories.  I'm also collecting personal textile memories, which you can contribute here.

I'm also collaborating with Bethany Walker to create a new body of work called Interlace, in which we combine concrete and delicate textile, for exhibitions in 2015. I am working on new colour combinations at the moment which is really good fun.

I’ve been working on…

Alongside my more creative work and teaching, I also work freelance to support designer makers in Leicestershire. I'm putting together some networking events and I'm also project co-ordinator for Ornamentum, a group of eight local makers who are creating collaborations for exhibitions and working on professional development programmes. I'm also teaching a social media workshop for designer makers this month too, so I have a good excuse to be spending lots of time on Pinterest!

I’ve been blogging about…

I'm only part way through a huge series of Postcards from Chateau Dumas, a wonderful venue in the South of France where I taught at week-long creative textiles course in September. Not only do I want to share what the lovely students made, but also the stunning surroundings, the buildings, the ambience of France. It was truly magical!

One of the Chateau Dumas posts to come is about the wonderful antique French linens I bought in the brocante. I blog about textile history quite a bit and enjoy sharing my knowledge and collections. It gives me an excuse to buy more too! I also write textile history posts called Pinning the Past for Mr X Stitch

I’ve been reading…

My reading at the moment is mostly research for my exhibition, so I am reading a lot of embroidery books, particularly old ones such as Constance Howard's book of embroidery stitches, textile history books like Quilts 1700-2010. I also tend to have Jenny Dean's Wild Colour open. Away from textiles, I always have a Richard Mabey book nearby and my favourite tree guide in my foraging bag.


While I sew, I’ve been watching…

When I'm working in my own studio at home I always listen to Radio 4 or 4 Extra.There's not much I don't enjoy but my favourites to work along to are classic or low-key crime dramas such as Paul Temple or anything Agatha Christie. I also like nature programmes and comedies, as well as the Archers.

In the teaching studio, I like tend to choose Classic FM as it is pretty relaxing and creates a calm atmosphere though sometimes when the music is very boisterous, the sewing machines start running faster and the students get a bit frantic!

Ruth’s 3 Top Tips for Creativity

1. Innovate, explore and find your own style. To succeed in the contemporary craft world you have to stand out from the crowd. Follow your heart, explore your own deep-seated passions and don't seek inspiration from other makers.

2. Collaborate with people whose work you love. It is fantastically enjoyable and creatively invigorating.

3. Explore the world around you. Walk in the woods, prowl city streets, investigate local museums, read the books in your library, take part in community projects. Make your work express something about you and how you engage with the world.


Visit Ruth's shop to see her range of sewing patterns and her upcoming workshops. You can read more about her work and current projects on her blog, and you'll find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.