Technology helps business attract renowned textile artist

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Securing funding to buy state-of-the-art technology has helped a Newburgh-based business attract a leading textile artist to its 2017 workshop programme.

Thanks to help from Business Gateway Fife, Big Cat Textiles successfully applied for a Create in Fife grant to buy a heat transfer machine, which uses heat to bind fabrics and give them structure. 

With the machine, the only one of its kind in the region, now in place, award winning artist Caroline Bartlett has agreed to host a unique workshop in July which is expected to attract textile enthusiasts from across the world. 

Caroline, whose work has been exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum and across the globe, joins an illustrious array of textile artists already signed up to lead seminars in Big Cat Textiles’ base in Clinton Street this year.

Alison Mountain, of Big Cat Textiles, said: “Being able to add Caroline to our 2017 programme is fantastic news. She’d spoken to us about the machine, its many uses, and how it was fundamental to her work but we didn’t have the money to buy our own one outright. Because Business Gateway Fife had helped us secure funding a few years back to buy sewing machines, which was a real boost, we went back to see if there was any further assistance available. 

“Our adviser supported us through the application process and we’ve been able to buy a machine, something we would not have been able to do otherwise. This will allow our students to learn from Caroline whilst given them access to technology they’d normally only be able to try out in London.”

Having just been accepted onto the DigitalBoost programme, which is delivered by Business Gateway, Big Cat Textiles now hope to use the specialist online support to cement their global reputation further.

Alison said: “When we first started word of mouth helped us attract tutors and customers, now social media and our website bring people from all over the world to our doors from: Alaska, Australia, India, Russia, New Zealand and China. What we hope DigitalBoost will do is highlight new ways in which we can attract even more people to experience what we have to offer.”

Lynne Baillie, Business Gateway, said: “Having benefited from our support in the past, Alison knew we’d be able to provide guidance regarding funding and offer advice on expanding her digital knowhow. Having gained a Create in Fife award, the business now has a unique machine that helps set them apart. Over the coming months, the team will benefit from specialist DigitalBoost support that will help them showcase what they do to even more people, both here and abroad.”

Having initially launched the Hat in the Cat in 2008, Alison, a trained fine artist, and her business partner, textile artist, costume designer, and milliner, Jeanette Sendler, set up Big Cat Textiles three years later.

Launching the sister business allowed the duo to meet growing demand from students and hobbyists looking to expand their textile skills. In its first year the studio ran two workshops; this year it will host 16 including a Millinery Spring School and Creative Pattern Cutting and Sewing seminar.

Alison said: “Jeanette and I had both worked for arts councils, universities and colleges but wanted autonomy and a say in the tutors we worked with and what courses we’d run. The only way to get that creative control was by setting up our own business. However, there were only so many workshops that we could run ourselves so we started to approach other tutors. As our reputation grew so did the calibre of artists we attracted and a larger space was needed so Big Cat Textiles was born. 

“What we offer people are high quality workshops where they get the chance to work with renowned artists at an affordable price in an inspirational location without having to commit to a longer college or university course. This not only gives people an opportunity to pick and choose the workshops they do, it provides them with flexibility and I think that’s the key to our success.”

Caroline Bartlett will be in residence at Big Cat Textiles from Monday, July 10th to Friday, July 14th. 

Find out how Business Gateway Fife can help your business by visiting their local pages or call 01592 858366.

Outwith the area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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