Nina O’ Connor


Nina O’Connor, an OCA Textiles student has recently completed the fifth and final part of Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles. This course takes the student through a wide range of materials and techniques many of which are on the periphery of what is considered textiles. In the final part of the course students are given the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learnt and the individual creative style they are developing. I have chosen to show Nina’s work here because she clearly demonstrates the process in which creative decisions are made and how this pays off in pleasing and engaging works.


At the beginning of Part 5: A Final Piece, as directed by the course material Nina reviews her work from the course so far in her Learning Log. She does this in a deliberate and detached way, looking at her work with a clear eye exploring its aesthetic merits, the characteristics of the materials and her relationship with the processes. All this is done using concise language and illustrated with images of her work. Nina finalises her review with an honest summary where she looks for common themes and stimulating techniques. She notes how important discernment is when reviewing your work and I couldn’t agree more. This ability to stand with some distance from your work and decide what works well and what is worth pursuing is the foundation to creating engaging and meaningful work. It is therefore worth spending time examining your work, looking at it as though through the eyes of someone else to make sound judgements about its development. This process is not always easy; it takes practice and a certain amount of confidence.


Nina uses the results of her review to conduct fresh and focused research of contemporary creative practitioners. Examining the works and reading about the different approaches the practitioners take, extracting from this information what feels truthful and important in order to develop her own creative process. From here Nina explores her ideas though sample making. This is a free flowing exploration of the ideas she gathered during her review and analysis of the work of others. In her learning log she frequently refers to where her ideas come from for example she examined the work of Eva Isaksen to develop ideas around collage. This linking of previous work, research material with sample making has helped Nina to take risks and create an interesting aesthetically pleasing body of samples to work from later in this part of the course. Sample making is a crucial stage in any project; it is were you bring together your thinking with your approach to materials and techniques. It is best to keep an open mind to what is successful at this time, being aware that taking risks can result in fresh and innovative outcomes. Give yourself time to explore a range of sampling but also be conscious of where to draw the line. Certainly in my tutorial with Nina she was aware that not all ideas could be pursued at this time and she needed to decide when it was best to bring the initial sample making to a close. This comes with practice and the continuing review of your work so far as you feel your way through the project.


Nina brings this section of the course to close by reviewing her samples, making decisive judgements about the strongest designs that she develops further. Her final more resolved samples are inventive playful and crafted with care. They demonstrate a clear journey of development from her initial review though research, sample making and analysis to create articles of beauty.

I hope that in using Nina’s work I have illustrated the importance of purposeful discernment, thoughtful research, exploratory sample making and considered judgements in creating solid degree level textile work.

You can find Nina’s learning log at



  1. Julie 26 January 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I have found Nina’s work and blog to be immensely interesting and helpful for my own studies. Thank you for sharing this very useful guidance.

    One thing I’d particularly like to be able do is to incorporate some of my Pinterest boards directly into my blog as Nina has done. However try as I might (and I have looked at You Tube, Pinterest and elsewhere for instructions) I have been unable to insert anything other than a link within my WordPress posts. Would it be possible to have a few pointers on how to do this? Such a good way to share a range of photographs when reviewing work

    1. juliakwalton 27 January 2017 at 11:10 am

      Julie – re: using Pinterest boards in your blog. You can make a ‘widget’ by clicking on the three little dots at the top of the screen, above the title, when you have one of your Pinterest boards open. The third option is ‘Make a Widget’. Click on that and it takes you to a page where you can select ‘Board’ and it will generate code that you can cut and paste into your blog. It’s easier than it sounds!

  2. Julie 26 January 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I follow Nina’s blog closely – lovely work and a really inspiring approach to the creative process. Thanks for the write up, Rebecca.

  3. juliakwalton 27 January 2017 at 11:17 am

    It is very useful to see such thorough and interesting work and to know what I should be aiming to achieve. Nina’s sampling work is very inspiring (and an area I am struggling to get to grips with). I have copied out your summary as a reminder of what I should be doing.

  4. Julie 27 January 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you so much Julia, I’ll give that a go 🙂

    1. juliakwalton 8 February 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Julie – I just found an easier way to add a Pinterest board to your blog – just cut and paste the url of the pinterest board into WordPress and it will appear automatically.

  5. Alayne Robin 27 January 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I agree it is really helpful and inspiring to read about Nina’s journey though I am a bit over whelmed about the amount of work she has done – wonderful results though. Sets a very high bar!


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