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Widnes student creates unusual upholstery to highlight pollution damage

08 July 2014

Bridie Farrell

Creative Gemma designs fabrics with a twist

A Widnes student has shown the negative effects of pollution through a series of interior fabrics she has created for a final year university project.

Gemma Grace, a 22-year-old textiles student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston, has created several interior fabrics, including a covered chair, that depict the negative effects of pollution and the decline in the Earth’s environment using a series of techniques including piercing and heat damage. She also used print, dye and machine embroidery to create a series of interesting textured surfaces on the fabrics.

Gemma’s idea came from initially looking at corals and other types of organic forms.

The former Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College pupil said: “My work soon evolved and my interest shifted to the negative effects of pollution on our planet. I then investigated topics such as bleaching, trawling, global warming and other negative factors on the environment and looked at how these things would affect marine life and inevitably, our own.”

Another technique Gemma employed was the use of devoré paste straight onto the fabrics. The paste (from the French word ‘devour’) burns away certain fibres on materials, leaving other fibres behind. This gives materials a burned and eaten away effect.

"I am hugely pleased with the result and incredibly grateful to the upholstery service that helped me with my finished product."

Gemma’s passion for interior design was a huge inspiration behind her work which led her to create a piece of furniture, specifically a chair.

For her final piece Gemma used computer software to create a vector file of the images and patterns she wanted to turn into a 3D texture. Then, using fabrics such as velvet and silk, she employed the techniques she had been practising and combined piercing and embroidery straight onto the fabrics.

With her design complete, Gemma received help from a family-run upholstery service in Widnes called Arm Chair Upholstery to help bring the vision of her work to life.

She added: “I am hugely pleased with the result and incredibly grateful to the upholstery service that helped me with my finished product.”

Due to her highly creative final project and hard-work throughout her time at UCLan, Gemma has completed her degree with First Class Honours.