Laura Cook of ArtSlave Designs specialises in creating unique clothing using hand-painted and hand-printed fabric which ensures no two garments are ever the same.
“I call myself Art Slave because creating is compulsory. I am entirely myself when in the process of creating something new. Once my brain is activated by some inspiration, whether it be an abstract idea or a crack in the pavement, a strategy forms to bring it into reality. The process of physically creating be it through hand painting, batik, shibori, silkscreen or an entirely new method of transposing ideas onto fabric is simply what I do.”
Laura currently lives in East Anglia but is American, and her artistic career began with a BS (American equivalent of our BSc) in Clothing Textiles and Design. Following that, “I worked for another artist as a full-time fabric designer and painter for nine years. Now I’m in the beginning stages of making my own art business a reality.”
“I’m inspired by traditional textiles, nature, art, everything. The possibilities for new combinations of colour, pattern and texture are absolutely endless. I’m also inspired by the process of hands-on creation. There is a certain perfect natural chaos that occurs as brush hits material that be cannot be orchestrated.
“I create functional beauty. It is empowering to wear something knowing personally where it came from. Every natural fibre garment is hand-painted, designed and constructed individually.”
Laura is making headway with her business but admits that “it’s a challenge to find the niche to show my work. But in five years I’d like to be at a point where I can devote more time to designing and painting. This would require enough orders coming in to employ a seamstress.”
The photos illustrate a typical work in progress for Laura: the making of a jacket from scratch. Many stages are involved. In this case, organic bamboo fleece fabric is dyed in a shade called Iris, then washed and dried. A pattern of squares is silk-screened onto the fabric in a darker shade of Iris, and this is allowed to dry. Navy-blue squares are then silk-screened onto the fabric, with an overlapping repeat. Again, the fabric must dry, before it is washed and dried yet again. Finally, the garment can be cut and sewed and is ready to ship.
“This process takes an absolute minimum of five days and the colour combinations have been developed specifically for this special order. I absolutely love working with an individual’s tastes to create something entirely new.”
Laura will have a selection of ready-made garments, including T-shirts, leggings and jackets, on sale at the Summer Fair, with prices starting at £25, and will be on hand to chat about custom orders.