Blodwen's Community Projects
Blodwen sees herself very much at the heart of her Welsh community and as such is constantly working to pull together a range of community projects which celebrate traditional skills, craft and collaboration - enabling rural communities and their artisans to sustain and prosper in an increasingly valueless and detached world.
The Blodwen Heritage Blanket Project
The Heritage Blanket Project is an initiative launched by Blodwen, in collaboration with her local Textile College and local mill, which aims to resurrect historical Welsh blanket patterns dating from the 1700's, into a range of contemporary textiles.
Using digital visualisation and virtual sampling technologies together with contemporary yarns, colourways and finishes, the Project is an illustration of Blodwen's on-going commitment to the design and manufacture of unique homewares which celebrate the preservation and revival of rural skills.
The Collection's first two new blankets - The 'Hiraeth' and 'The Pinwheel' - are both revived from an original archive pattern book, discovered in a Public Records Office in mid-Wales. The archive is a hand-drawn collection of original designs created by a local weaver and collated into a Pattern Book which was donated to the Parish on his death.
Made from 100% pure new wool and woven at Blodwen's local 180 year old mill on its original 1930's Dobcross looms, the blankets have a 24 thread per inch count. Each individual thread is knotted by hand onto the loom.
Historically, these 'double-cloth' or tapestry blankets woven from two-ply woollen yarn, were iconic Welsh textiles. Originally woven on primitive hand-looms - the weaving involved many shafts and treadles working together to produce two interlocking fabrics woven simultaneously. They were woven from untreated wool using natural dyes including madder and cochineal for reds, woad and indigo for blues and various berries and lichens for other shades and tints.
The origins of Welsh blanket patterns have long been an enigma, but their far-reaching influence on other textile traditions has been immense. Some experts believe them to be the progenitor of many of the North American folk art textile traditions, largely as a result of widespread Welsh emigration during the 1790's onwards. In areas such as Pennsylvania where the Welsh settled in significant numbers, the coverlets and iconic Amish quilts are almost identical to the Welsh tapestry blankets.
In rural Wales, almost every home possessed these blankets. They came to symbolise hearth and home and their hard-wearing texture meant that they could be utilised as everything from rugs to curtains to bed coverings.
Importantly, they were also woven as family heirlooms - given as wedding gifts as part of a girl's dowry - precious things to be handed down from one generation to another.
This is Blodwen's inspiration. The creation of these new 'Heritage Blankets' will continue the traditional manufacturing process and inspire a new interest in the giving and receiving of beautiful textiles.
Commenting on the Collection, Denise Lewis, Blodwen's Founder, said:
"Blodwen designs collections that fuse together centuries-old craftsmanship with contemporary style and utility. I have always been a passionate collector of Welsh textiles and discovering this archive has inspired me to breathe new life into these old patterns. The Heritage Blanket Project is all about the making of a modern - day heirloom, revitalizing age-old textiles with contemporary relevance and value."
View the collection here.