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The story of a fabric

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture is known for its strong textile expertise. Matilda Palmu, who will graduate from the Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design master's programme in autumn 2020, describes her artistic process. This is the story of Matilda’s fabric.
Matilda Palmu's Exhibition poster
Matilda Palmu's exhibition Pussyeyes and nippleflowers at Gallery LOKAL 11-16 August 2020

Artistic vision starts with colours

‘All artistic processes have something in common. Like an art painter, I have to have the colours first, and then I think about how to use them. So I first defined the colour palette that reflects my artistic vision. I want to engage with gender and stereotypical boys’ and girls’ colours – that's why baby pink, the most cliche baby girl colour, is included. The main colours red, blue and yellow on the other hand represent for me equality, as they can be mixed to produce all the other colours. Then I chose the even stronger millennial pink, which represents the thinking of the younger generations about equality. 

Colours contain a lot of meanings. In addition, I use three different threads in the Jacquard-technique weaving system, so there are three symbolic levels in the fabric’s structure: masculine-feminine-other.  
After choosing the colours, I decide on the patterns. I draw different patterns all the time, so it's hard in the end to say whether the pattern or the colour comes first. Maybe the sequence doesn't matter very much.’

Matilda's colour palette, pattern and norebook. Photo: Enni Grundström
Photos: Enni Grundström

In-depth understanding of textile techniques 

‘Next, I decide on the structures that I intend to use. In practice, there are endless different kinds of weaves. I want to communicate specifically through the colours, so I’m using a weave that allows the colours to shine. Satin weaves are technically those that 'hide' the white warp thread. That’s why I’m going for a satin weave.

I carefully test out the weaves and the structures and how they work together. I do a lot of different experiments with small test patterns. 

After that, I draw the structural images, first on paper and then on the computer. In the weave files, I specify which layer is on the surface of the fabric at any time, which is on the bottom, and how the layers alternate. 

I manually draw the image themes I want to use. The flowers in this fabric symbolise equality because, as is well known, ‘all flowers must be allowed to bloom’. Different characters have also appeared; different people living there in absolute harmony.

In order to weave my chosen image themes, I still need to digitize all the images and then add colour ranges and weaves for them.’

Matilda Palmu. Photo: Enni Grundström
Photos: Enni Grundström & Matilda Palmu

The work culminates with the Jacquard weaving machine

To finish, the fabric is prepared using the school's splendid Jacquard weaving machine. 

‘The final file is fed into the machine, reports are created and the fabric is woven.  

All in all, I would say that designing art textiles is similar to painting. As a material, textiles come exceptionally close. The works of art can handle sensitive and even painful things – softness and a positive general look make them easier to approach and engage with.’

At the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, students have the opportunity to design their own printed, woven and knitted fabrics for their collections. Aalto graduates and textile artists have a broad understanding of the materials and their properties. Read more.

Matilda Palmu's exhibition "Pussyeyes and nippleflowers" 11-16 August 2020
Tue-Fri 12-18
Sat 11-16
Sun  12-15

LOKAL+ Satellite space
Annankatu 11, Helsinki

Exhibition poster

Master's Programme in Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design

Aino Ojala, I Feel You 2023, MA Thesis

Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design - Design, Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design -pääaineen opinnot perustuvat tutkittuun tietoon yhteiskunnallisesta, kulttuurisesta ja maailmanlaajuisesta muutoksesta. Pääaineessa vaalitaan taiteellisesti ja ammatillisesti korkeatasoista luovaa kokeilemista ja käsitteellistä ajattelua.

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