Bridget Arnold wears many artistic hats, but has found that foraging in nature's hedgerows on the Granite Trail, provides her with all of the creative materials and inspiration she needs! Crafting her striking sun printed fabrics, Bridget cleverly uses earthy colours, to capture the plant's naturally intricate detail on her shades which are beautifully brought to life by light. We catch up with Bridget to find out more on her creative life.
How are you today and what’s on your workbench?
I've been busy printing some material for making a cow parsley Lampshade.
How do you start the design process and where do you get your design inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the plants I find on my walks, I am so fortunate to have the Granite Tramway bridle path right outside my house with lots of nature to be discovered on it throughout the year.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Your sun printed shades are very beautiful and unique. How did you discover the technique?
I started recording the plants on Granite Tramway as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project, started in 2016 forming a group of Artists called Granite Elements. I was initially sun printing onto silk making scarves and cushions and then realised I could probably make a lamp shade with the material, but needed to work on cotton instead of silk.
How do you choose what plants and flowers will work for your lampshades?
They are seasonal and tend to choose the flowers by what I can find. As they need to be able to be flattened, 3D plants won’t work unless such as alliums for instance. Ferns were my starting point as they work so well. I would like to experiment more with seaweed at some point.
We’ve noticed you’ve recently started running workshops in sun printing. Is the process tricky to learn?
I have been teaching sun printing itself for a few years now and people find it very satisfying, once they have mastered the techniques. Many workshop participants are busy making sun prints, now that the sun is shining and then sharing them with me on Instagram and Facebook. Now that I have made all the mistakes and got all the equipment together it works well and I've discovered that it needs a large pieces of glass to hold the plants in place.
When did you start making lampshades?
I went on a workshop myself to learn how to make lampshades at the end of 2018 and I took along my own printed material to make my first unique lamp shades. I started teaching a few workshops in Summer 2019, then I was gifted a large sun bed to use for making sun prints through the winter. This was the start of my lampshade making!
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
Making the material, then seeing it come together as a lamp shade it is very fulfilling. I also really enjoy teaching workshops and seeing what other people want to make - I learn from them all the time!
In your online shop what’s your most popular selling shade?
It has definitely been my 20 cm Feather lamp shades, often commissioned as a pair for a bedroom.
What’s the mix of shades you make to sell online versus lampshade commissions, as part of your business?
Prior to lockdown, I was running lots of workshops for people to make their own lampshades, which is suppose was the main part of my business.
Any tips for new lampshade makers in business?
Be open to other people’s ideas of what they want to see on a lamp shade!
Is making lampshades your main job or do you have other strings to your bow?
It is just part of what I do as a Community Artist. I run different projects and I'm currently putting large flags up in Bovey Tracey Town centre. I'm also the Lead Artist for Granite Elements based on East Dartmoor Developing a Sense of Place plus I run Artists Days and Exhibitions - I have too many hats.
When are you at your most productive?
Always! But mainly mornings.
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
Could you let us take a peek at your workspace?
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Still making and being creative although I will be old enough to retire by then though I can’t see myself stopping doing what I do.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
To be persistent and to keep allowing for change and for your creativity to evolve – things will arrive when you need them. I have found my time during lockdown to be very creative with time to slow down and appreciate nature again.
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