A ball of yarn is more commonplace in households than a pottery wheel—but even with the tools of textiles more easily accessible, there are skills, procedures, and contemporary techniques to turn that craft into a career. In NBCCD’s Textile Design Diploma program, students can focus on weaving or machine knitting while exploring the wide world of textiles.
Tracey O’Brien and Gabby Gonzalez are both weavers and graduates of the program. Though O’Brien and Gonzalez learned to knit and crochet at a young age, coming to the College was an entirely new experience.
“One of the things I really learned at school was procedure. Not just to jump in and start doing something, but to actually research it and think about what you want to do,” said O’Brien.
“How can you fit this pattern to your own needs or how can you create your own pattern? That’s honestly something I didn’t think I could do. [NBCCD] helped me because I stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to do so much more than I would have done by myself,” said Gonzalez.
“I honestly couldn’t believe I was designing the things that I designed, or that I was putting so much feeling into everything I did. I’m pouring myself into my textiles in such a creative way that I didn’t think was possible.”
In classes, students learn a range of textile skills including spinning, felting, weaving, knitting, and printing. As well, students are taught natural and chemical methods for dyeing yarn, fibre, and fabric—an understanding of which is particularly important for a textile artist.
“You have full control. It’s just like with painting; sometimes you need to mix your colours because you don’t have the right grey you want,”said Gonzalez.
While testing different dyes, students maintain a reference binder to look back on during future projects. Reference binders can also include samples of patterns. Having finished her first year, Natasha Tobias-Cliche, a knitting student, explains “This whole first year we were doing everything totally new for the first time, so we needed to make samples of everything.”
O’Brien plans to continue adding to her resource binders: “I just finished a rug and I filled a three-inch binder full of samples and research.”
Another resource the school provides is access to Computer Assisted Design (CAD). Students enter their designs computer software CAD and get a visual representation of how their pattern will turn out. Gonzalez explained that access to the program inspired her to make more detailed and intricate designs, especially since mistakes no longer meant starting over.
“It’s so much easier just to change one little dot in the computer than having to draw the whole thing again by hand,” said Gonzalez.
Though programs like CAD are a relief to use, working with textiles can still be intense. Prepping for the NBCCD Craft Show, an opportunity for NBCCD students to gain experience selling their work, O’Brien explained, “I have shoulder muscles now that I didn’t used to have.”
Luckily, that hard work pays off.
“It’s stressful, but the community does help because we are all in there together doing it, and we all knew we had to get it done and once you do it, you know you can do it again,” said O’Brien.
Building student confidence is something NBCCD strives for. Often, students are amazed at what they accomplish in the program.
“I made a skirt with lots of panels and a cable waistband that I am quite proud of. It’s just crazy to think how much you learn in that time. Like when I made this big project that took me countless hours, I’d only been knitting for a few months. I was totally new to it and I was still able to pull off this big project. It’s very rewarding,” said student Tobias-Cliche.
By graduation, students will not only have gained experience in contemporary studio practice and be prepared to enter the creative market as an artist and entrepreneur, but can rest assured that they have the entire College and faculty backing them as they make their way in the world.
“I’ve never felt so comfortable in an institution. It’s just such a comfortable and welcoming environment coming to the college,” said Tobias-Cliche.
Whether you want to continue school, showcase your work in galleries, or start a creative business, NBCCD can prepare you for a successful future in the arts. Apply for our Textile Design program or start your creative journey with confidence by applying for our Foundation Visual Arts program.