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Amanda Cobbett

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As long as I maintain my observational skills, capturing the detail to reproduce the object as faithfully as I can, everything else falls naturally into place.

The desire to create has always been an integral part of my life. I grew up surrounded by makers—my mother and both grandmothers were skilled seamstresses and, from the age of 4, I would while away happy hours with them, watching and learning. I have inherited from my father, who was a draughtsman, and my grandfather, an engineer, the ability to visualize in 3-D and to turn a 2-D drawing into a tactile object that can be explored with your hands.

I was fortunate that my parents actively encouraged me to study art, so after an arts foundation course, I pursued a degree in printed textile design at the Chelsea College of Arts (UAL). I went on to spend 12 years designing print for fashion, furnishings and tableware, a job that I loved.

Amanda Cobbett

Once I started a family, I needed to find work closer to home, and the gift of an old Bernina sewing machine set me on a new path of discovery. Funneling all my previous artistic experiences into my experimentation, I began to play with free machine embroidery, creating textile landscapes, sculptured birds and vegetables.

It was whilst exploring these various ideas that I had an epiphany. I recalled a visit whilst at UAL to the Mycology Department at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and remembered how my thrill of anticipation was dashed when I saw the once beautiful specimens of fungi now shriveled and underwhelming, their vibrancy lost forever.

Amanda Cobbett
I love being in the forest, particularly in the autumn, when everything is slightly damp and starting to decay, yet is still rich with colour and intricate texture; a combination that lends itself so perfectly to embroidery.

I lived surrounded by a forest offering a cornucopia of inspiration—all I had to do was get out there and find it. There was a delightful synchronicity in being able to draw on my environment, combining my passion for nature with my career, whilst remaining at home to care for my family.

Amanda Cobbett

My twice daily walk in the forest with my dog is not only precious time for me, where I can mull through an idea or solve a problem, but it’s also my hunting ground—something akin to a daily treasure hunt! I’ve always been a collector and when out walking, rather than admiring the views, I’m scouring the ground looking for fallen bits of lichen-adorned twig or mossy bark that I can stash into my forager’s bag whilst hunting for mushrooms to photograph. I always leave the fungi in situ, allowing them to continue their vital work.

Amanda Cobbett
I knew that I wanted to celebrate the beauty of fungi and create a body of work that would not only document them, but preserve them for the future.

Once back at the studio, I begin the process of making: the mushroom tops and gills are made by stitching with the sewing machine needle into a dissolvable fabric that I have fixed into an embroidery hoop. The machine’s feed dogs are lowered, enabling me to have complete control of the process. Using a rayon thread due to its strength, sheen and vibrant colour, I create a densely stitched web of thread. Once I have finished sewing I can cut away the remaining film and then wash the remainder away with warm water. The oversewn stitches prevent the thread from unravelling, and will hold together once the dissolvable fabric is washed away. I can then mould this new fabric to the shapes that I want.

The stems are made from an array of papier-mâché tubes, which are moulded into shape. I cover each stem with a fine, hand-dyed silk, which I subsequently burn into using a fine pyrography (soldering) tool, imbuing them with a sense of decay. This tool is also used to shape Lutrador for my hand-dyed lichen. Lutrador is a non-woven, spun-bond fabric that lends itself perfectly to artwork. Great care is taken not to burn away too much. I wear a mask for this process to protect myself from any acrid fumes. I place the machine-embroidered lichen onto an embroidered moss twig, which is made from papier-mâché and then covered with the embroidered fabric. I will touch up with dyes once the embroidered lichen has been sewn in, which adds the effect of aging.

Amanda Cobbett

Finally, I sew fine silk threads into the base of the stem to imply roots that have just been plucked from the ground. Each specimen is drilled and mounted on a clear Perspex rod and drilled into a Perspex back, which forms part of a bespoke Perspex display case, so that it can be seen from all angles.

I am constantly pushing the boundaries to stretch myself and develop my process—I have an open-minded and experimental approach and I’m rarely disappointed with the end result because I have no initial expectations.

Amanda Cobbett
I love it when people believe that the sculptures are real and ask how I have preserved them!

Learning to ‘see’ what I’m looking at has been paramount. Where possible, I provide the GPS/OS location of the original found item, which gives provenance to the sculpture and adds another dimension to my work. I am interested in continuing this type of research and would like to get involved with organizations that record data and preserve endangered species by highlighting them through my work.

Amanda Cobbett

The challenge for any creative person is producing work that appeals to an audience, earns money and yet remains desirable. It is important to me that my work has integrity; a ‘production line’ style of business doesn’t interest me. In order to successfully maintain this solo business, I have an incredibly able and brilliant assistant, Sarah, who relieves me of the administrative side of the business, allowing me to focus on making. Small businesses can flourish with the correct help, and mine seems to be doing just that. In the future Sarah and I have plans to produce work collaboratively, perhaps in the form of a publication. We recognize each other’s strengths and, with our combined desire to succeed, we aren’t ready to give up on the dream anytime soon!

I like to see the long line we each leave behind, and I sometimes imagine my whole life that way, as though each step was a stitch, as though I was a needle leaving a trail of thread that sewed together the world as I went by, crisscrossing others’ paths, quilting it all together in some way that matters even though it can hardly be traced. A meandering line sutures together the world in some new way, as though walking was sewing, and sewing was telling a story and that story was your life. —Rebecca Solnit

As long as I maintain my observational skills, capturing the detail to reproduce the object as faithfully as I can, everything else falls naturally into place.

The desire to create has always been an integral part of my life. I grew up surrounded by makers—my mother and both grandmothers were skilled seamstresses and, from the age of 4, I would while away happy hours with them, watching and learning. I have inherited from my father, who was a draughtsman, and my grandfather, an engineer, the ability to visualize in 3-D and to turn a 2-D drawing into a tactile object that can be explored with your hands.

I was fortunate that my parents actively encouraged me to study art, so after an arts foundation course, I pursued a degree in printed textile design at the Chelsea College of Arts (UAL). I went on to spend 12 years designing print for fashion, furnishings and tableware, a job that I loved.

Amanda Cobbett

Once I started a family, I needed to find work closer to home, and the gift of an old Bernina sewing machine set me on a new path of discovery. Funneling all my previous artistic experiences into my experimentation, I began to play with free machine embroidery, creating textile landscapes, sculptured birds and vegetables.

It was whilst exploring these various ideas that I had an epiphany. I recalled a visit whilst at UAL to the Mycology Department at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and remembered how my thrill of anticipation was dashed when I saw the once beautiful specimens of fungi now shriveled and underwhelming, their vibrancy lost forever.

Amanda Cobbett
I love being in the forest, particularly in the autumn, when everything is slightly damp and starting to decay, yet is still rich with colour and intricate texture; a combination that lends itself so perfectly to embroidery.

I lived surrounded by a forest offering a cornucopia of inspiration—all I had to do was get out there and find it. There was a delightful synchronicity in being able to draw on my environment, combining my passion for nature with my career, whilst remaining at home to care for my family.

Amanda Cobbett

My twice daily walk in the forest with my dog is not only precious time for me, where I can mull through an idea or solve a problem, but it’s also my hunting ground—something akin to a daily treasure hunt! I’ve always been a collector and when out walking, rather than admiring the views, I’m scouring the ground looking for fallen bits of lichen-adorned twig or mossy bark that I can stash into my forager’s bag whilst hunting for mushrooms to photograph. I always leave the fungi in situ, allowing them to continue their vital work.

Amanda Cobbett
I knew that I wanted to celebrate the beauty of fungi and create a body of work that would not only document them, but preserve them for the future.

Once back at the studio, I begin the process of making: the mushroom tops and gills are made by stitching with the sewing machine needle into a dissolvable fabric that I have fixed into an embroidery hoop. The machine’s feed dogs are lowered, enabling me to have complete control of the process. Using a rayon thread due to its strength, sheen and vibrant colour, I create a densely stitched web of thread. Once I have finished sewing I can cut away the remaining film and then wash the remainder away with warm water. The oversewn stitches prevent the thread from unravelling, and will hold together once the dissolvable fabric is washed away. I can then mould this new fabric to the shapes that I want.

The stems are made from an array of papier-mâché tubes, which are moulded into shape. I cover each stem with a fine, hand-dyed silk, which I subsequently burn into using a fine pyrography (soldering) tool, imbuing them with a sense of decay. This tool is also used to shape Lutrador for my hand-dyed lichen. Lutrador is a non-woven, spun-bond fabric that lends itself perfectly to artwork. Great care is taken not to burn away too much. I wear a mask for this process to protect myself from any acrid fumes. I place the machine-embroidered lichen onto an embroidered moss twig, which is made from papier-mâché and then covered with the embroidered fabric. I will touch up with dyes once the embroidered lichen has been sewn in, which adds the effect of aging.

Amanda Cobbett

Finally, I sew fine silk threads into the base of the stem to imply roots that have just been plucked from the ground. Each specimen is drilled and mounted on a clear Perspex rod and drilled into a Perspex back, which forms part of a bespoke Perspex display case, so that it can be seen from all angles.

I am constantly pushing the boundaries to stretch myself and develop my process—I have an open-minded and experimental approach and I’m rarely disappointed with the end result because I have no initial expectations.

Amanda Cobbett
I love it when people believe that the sculptures are real and ask how I have preserved them!

Learning to ‘see’ what I’m looking at has been paramount. Where possible, I provide the GPS/OS location of the original found item, which gives provenance to the sculpture and adds another dimension to my work. I am interested in continuing this type of research and would like to get involved with organizations that record data and preserve endangered species by highlighting them through my work.

Amanda Cobbett

The challenge for any creative person is producing work that appeals to an audience, earns money and yet remains desirable. It is important to me that my work has integrity; a ‘production line’ style of business doesn’t interest me. In order to successfully maintain this solo business, I have an incredibly able and brilliant assistant, Sarah, who relieves me of the administrative side of the business, allowing me to focus on making. Small businesses can flourish with the correct help, and mine seems to be doing just that. In the future Sarah and I have plans to produce work collaboratively, perhaps in the form of a publication. We recognize each other’s strengths and, with our combined desire to succeed, we aren’t ready to give up on the dream anytime soon!

I like to see the long line we each leave behind, and I sometimes imagine my whole life that way, as though each step was a stitch, as though I was a needle leaving a trail of thread that sewed together the world as I went by, crisscrossing others’ paths, quilting it all together in some way that matters even though it can hardly be traced. A meandering line sutures together the world in some new way, as though walking was sewing, and sewing was telling a story and that story was your life. —Rebecca Solnit