Outsourced Samples - Evaluation

Initial communication with various manufacturers has highlighted potential issues and risks when seeking to outsource production. The following issues/concerns have arisen;

· Communication through email only

· Security of information

· Factory health and safety standards

· Transfer of moneys

· Lead times and progress updates

· Language barrier and understandings

· Quality of make

· Material sourcing and ethical standards

The importance of sampling and building a relationship has proven to be a key factor in deciding which company would be a good fit for business and product quality.

Recommendations through word-of-mouth and conversations with various UK based designer makers have been fundamental and I am increasingly aware that there is a need for patience and persistence in this process.

Whilst the sample provided by Ballack is handtufted and not handwoven, I thought it was beneficial to gain experience in ordering samples, communicating, understanding the process and requirements. It has been very exciting and encouraging to see a design produced and delivered.

The handtufted sample is to a high standard and the colour match is outstanding. The colours were matched using pantone references that I provided and chemical dye. The backing is sturdy and sufficient but there is some puckering and glue which requires further attention to ensure a high quality finish and attention to detail.

I am also aware that the irregular shapes cause some complication and due to the handmade nature of the product, there is some margin for error. Therefore, I will ensure that designs intended for outsourced production will be set out on a grid formation to aid in production and accuracy.

Ballack Carpets have a sister factory in Nepal who specialise in handknotted and handwoven rugs and I will be looking to secure a sample from them also.

This has been a valuable experience and Ballack Carpets have been a pleasure to work with, their responses have been timely and clear tracking details were provided.

In addition, flatweave and hand loomed samples are on route to the UK from competitive manufacturers for assessment of product quality and texture.

Research has also identified the standard rug sizes for the UK which are larger than I am currently working to. At present, I am happy to proceed with the sizes I have been working to as these are manageable and allow me to test ideas quickly and develop my skillset. However, it will be important to ensure outsourced rugs are of a standard UK size to be better suited for wholesale.

In-house Woven Samples – Evaluation

Pleased with my progress this term, I have managed to learn the basic skills of weaving on a table loom and have prepared and begun weaving on a 10 shaft countermarch loom.

The two samples I have produced using the table loom have allowed me to test the colour palette and techniques of tapestry weaving on a loom. Weaving on a table loom has been quicker and I feel very comfortable with this process. The outcomes have a good textural quality and tension has been easier to manage. Some misshaping has occurred but this can be overcome with regular tension. Finishing of the warp at either end of the sample remains a difficulty and will be something that I need to test further in order to produce a market-ready product for the final MA show.

Weaving on the floor loom will be continued post submission to become fully acquainted with the larger scale in readiness of the final module. A larger ski shuttle is required to make passing of the weft through the shed easier as the current shuttles are small and slowing the process down.

Overall, I am content with how development of in-house rugs is transitioning. My knowledge of weaving and using a loom has grown considerably in the past four months and I am on track to produce a full scale rug in the coming months. This is in line with my ambition for the MA; to develop a handmade rug collection for Modern Makers.

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