Shanti Bell – Fashioning Wood Work

One of our newest members is Fashion Design student Shanti Bell. During her summer break she came to the workshop to experiment on some woodwork creations, with the intention of combining woodwork with her clothing designs. She tells us how she found the workshop and what she’s been up to.

‘I am currently studying Fashion Design with Print at UAL, Central Saint Martins, specialising in Menswear Design.  I would say I have always been a creative person and love everything and anything to do with art and design and just general making. Studying fashion design with print means that I can explore screen printing, fabric dyeing, heat press printing alongside my work so I am constantly working with colours and textures.

‘A project I did about a year and a half ago inspired by craftsmanship was the first time I experimented with combining some wood elements with fashion. I built a wooden style bag and experimented with thin flexible bits of wood by integrating them with the fabric. I then went on to make a wooden portfolio. From these first experiments of working with wood I realised it was something I was really excited about and interested in. I am currently coming to the end of my placement year out of university so during this year I wanted to use the time to develop my woodwork skills. Firstly I built myself a floor to ceiling wooden wardrobe in my room to house all my many clothes which was a relatively simple project, so after it’s completion I wanted to move on to something more complex which is where I found Blackhorse Workshop!

‘Finding Blackhorse Workshop was so amazing as they provided an induction so you weren’t thrown in at the deep end with using the machines, I booked a month’s membership with not much of a plan of how I wanted to use that time.

‘After my first day at the Blackhorse Workshop I knew it was the right choice, I found the technicians to be so helpful taking the time to answer any questions I had or if I wasn’t sure how to go about a project.  Working  alongside other craftsmen was one of my favourite parts of using the space, it was so interesting to see what other people were up to and how they were approaching different projects. Also I was given a helping hand from a couple of them which was so lovely and made it a really nice environment to be in.

‘The scrap bin pile of wood became a great source of supplying some of the wood,  I found so many great offcuts in there and also the builders merchant up the road, and the onsite wood shop which had such a beautiful selection of wood so I was never short of getting wood.

‘I felt like a month was a really great amount of time to get stuck in and just use the studio and what it offers. I was able to make quite a few pieces of furniture as I found once I started I couldn’t stop and wanted to be there pretty much everyday. The experience I had over the month was so incredible, I felt I learnt so much by just experimenting and going out and doing it and not thinking about any boundaries with any project I had in mind. Also you leave the studio with some nice hand made pieces of furniture which is always a bonus.

‘My plans for the future are going on to my final year of university where I will be making a small fashion collection,  combining my woodwork skills with my clothing creations and experimenting with how I can combine wood and fashion. I know that designing and creating furniture is something I am interested in so continuing to develop my skills in furniture design and make some pieces for family and friends is where I see these woodworking skills taking me next. So I will definitely be back to use the workshop!’