Textile Design

Francesca Rea

francesca rea's Main Work Image
For humans, the end of life is a heavily contemplated advent. However, even with the existing sustainable options for burials, the materials that the body is clothed in are not often considered. Around 65% of all fibres used in clothing are made from synthetic material. These materials take hundreds of years to break down, releasing harmful chemicals during decomposition. Using embroidery, I have designed textiles for burial-wear with natural dyes and fabrics that are eco-friendly and 100% decomposable.

Bio-degradable matter, when decomposing, adds to the nutrients which allow for new life to grow. This life cycle connects people to nature and provides the visuals for my design. I have drawn from disintegrated leaves as a reminder of our place in the environment, one that we must look after for the next generations. Some of the techniques and materials used are inspired by traditional Irish crafts and the ancient burial rituals of my predecessors.

Textiles tell stories, provide comfort and play an important role in specific occasions. New life is often accompanied by textiles; the swaddling blanket keeping the baby safe and contained as it adjusts to life outside the womb - equally with the deceased; as a salve and a memorial. My project aims to open the discussion around death and the rituals and practices that surround it. With beautiful, thoughtful textiles in natural materials we can return loved ones to the earth with ceremony that has aligns with the balance of nature.

Photo of Francesca Rea

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Image 1 - Linen stitched onto linen, hand dyed with acorns and iron powder, using couching technique.
Image 2 - Cotton on cotton+bamboo mix fabric, couching.
Image 3 - Cotton on cotton+bamboo mix fabric, couching.
Image 4 - Close-up of image 1
Image 5 - Three patchwork samples, hand sewn together with silk, cotton+bamboo and polyester (polyester is used because I had no access to cotton organdie after leaving uni.) Sample on the left contains silk hand-dyed with weld.
Image 6 - Hand-dyed cotton threads on polyester, running stitch.
Image 7 - Linen threads on cotton organdie, running stitch and couching.
Image 8 - Hand-dyed cotton threads on cotton+bamboo, using running stitch and weaving the threads underneath.
Image 9 - Cotton threads on polyester, running stitch.
Image 10 - Cotton thread on silk chiffon, running stitch.

Prize Winner - Textile Innovation for Industry

Prize Winner - DUNDEE and EAST of SCOTLAND EMBROIDERERS’ GUILD (EDGE Textile Artists Award)

Prize Winner - Embroiders Guild

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