I have just returned from my second teaching trip at Centria University – I have had the opportunity to teach on the fur course there twice now. In 2017 I taught a week-long workshop in which the students could make a leather and fur bag of their own. I was invited back by the course leader, Pia Blomström, this time I was teaching a portfolio drawing module to the fur students along with Illustrator skills to students on the business courses.
The goal behind the portfolio drawing course revolves around my experiences of last year’s students: they were incredibly technically skilled, but I thought it would benefit them to focus on how they generate and refine their design ideas, rather than picking one idea and sticking with it, and also how they could communicate design ideas to manufacturers in the future.
The students at Centria come from all over the world. Courses are taught in English, and other guest lecturers like me have also attended, including Kiki Papadioti from CPL in Siatista, who has taught pattern making modules, and of course Basil Kardasis, teaching pure creativity! The students tend to be exceptionally self-motivated and have the chance to work on their own ideas. They also have opportunities to visit Saga Furs auctions, local fox farms etc.
The course is involved in some really exciting projects too – for example, Centria’s fur studio has recently worked on a project called ReUseFoxHair, which takes loose hair shed by Finnish blue foxes and makes it into yarn, wadding etc. and they are also proposing some household products with companies using this hair. It’s a great example of further development towards methods of using by-products from the trade, which already numbers the use of carcasses and manure to make biofuel and fertiliser.
Photos from the project taken by Kasper Dalkarl.
It was through Centria University that I was able to visit fox farms for the first time in Finland. To date, I’ve visited four, and my relationship with the farming groups in Finland is becoming a key factor in my business, especially because one of my farmer friends is breeding special colours. These mutation colours were the focus of the discussion I attended in Vaasa as part of my stay; I was invited by Swedish Ostrobothnia’s Fur Farmers Association (this region of Finland has a high Swedish-speaking population, hence two farming groups in Finland, one Swedish and one Finnish) to discuss the use of mutation fox colours in fashion as part of their day on fox genetics.
There is difficulty for the farmers in having these special colours noticed and marketed at the moment, so I came up with a few ideas that I hope they will take to heart. I’m hoping to grow my connections with these farming groups and I have a project in the pipeline to produce some collections using some special colours, so I hope to have more updates on this later!
The course is open to students of all ages and this year there is a student in her 70s, so there’s really no limit on who could try it!
It really is an amazing resource, helping to keep technical furrier skills alive!’
Applications for the fur course starting in January at Centria University are now open. For further information and details of how to apply please see here