Interview with Rosalind Johansson


Rosalind Johansson, well travelled Swedish, African and currently working on, Peruvian textile artist. Head down at her sewing machine where she loves being the most. Although Rosalind has a great shed she's working in her kitchen - don't ask!!! We'll explore Rosalind's shed next time (if we can get in) but at the moment it's a space in the house she finds most useful. Space to create is always difficult and many 'creatives' find it's the kitchen table which gets taken over. Don't scoff, many a good business has been started on the kitchen table, Laura Ashley started printing tea towels and look what a multi-national business that turned into.

What helps Rosalind to find space to create? She says when embarking on a new textile she often mulls it over in her head for quite some time before she starts. The mulling will bubble over into creating and she often starts in the middle and lets it develop and evolve. Sometimes starting with a detailed design it goes wrong because the right fabric in the right colour isn't to hand. Rosalind says 'If you are a creative person you need to believe in your ability to choose the right fabric and colour when the moment comes, enjoy the spontaneous/happy accident'. Also not to worry if you have to wait a few days!!

So what influenced Rosalind to take up textiles in the first place? Her mother who was a City and Guilds advanced dressmaker. Aged just 13 she started making her own clothes, choosing fabric and patterns.

Applique is one of Rosalind's many skills along with patchwork, felting, dyeing and teaching textiles.

Rosalind has many fascinating memories of textiles and is available for talks on Swedish and African textiles. Her patchwork classes are great fun as she recounts her adventures with snakes and spiders in Africa.

Talking of memories Rosalind can clearly recall one of her very early dresses she made right down to the paisley pattern and texture of the glazed cotton. Rosalind worked for a time in a Rudolf Steiner school and has another vivid memory of the lovely Steiner dolls. A Steiner doll is made of natural materials such as wool, silk and cotton. The hallmark of any Steiner toy is that it 'be nourishing to a young child's senses'.

Whilst living and working in Sweden, Rosalind was on a full time weaving and embroidery and dressmaking course for a year. She says she was 'Mad to learn to weave' and at the end of her course got her own loom and set up at home. Rosalind had her own workshop making bags an cushions. A book which heavily influenced her and as she says 'Blew my mind away' was one on Easy Clothes for Children with a focus on appliqué and patchwork.

Leaving Sweden Rosalind headed for Botswana where she set up a textile group to teach young girls skills s who would have otherwise ended up in prostitution. Rosalind also set up a printing business which enabled her to employ a friend. Her love of the big, bold, bright African designs got her thinking there must be a way of using the fabric for patchwork and if you are lucky enough to attend one of her workshops with an African theme she will share her secret!!

When using stencils for printing Rosalind found she was short of space and large tables making it hard to match the designs. So being the ever creative that she is she designed stencils which didn't need matching and combined them with Africa fabric.

More recently Rosalind has been influenced by her stays in Shetland. These stays have resulted in an interesting patchwork design using the famous Shetland knitting patterns. We are all waiting with anticipation for the book!!

Forever the traveller and adventurer Rosalind has spent some recent months in Peru on weaving and textile courses. She is due to return to take on an intern-ship with Maximo Laura, a national treasure of Peru.


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