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Growing up in China, designer Ejing Zhang was fascinated by traditional calligraphy and ink painting — art forms that are both fine and expressive, requiring a fluid interaction with brush and ink. Zhang is now based in London, but at the heart of her work is the same sensitivity to materials that she observed growing up. Four years ago, while studying at the Royal College of Art, she developed a new technique for creating work that involved taking spalted beech wood (partially decayed wood that has a marble-like pattern), wrapping it with colored thread, and casting it in resin, before sanding and polishing it to reveal its beautiful cross-sections. It was a lengthy, but rewarding, process.
In the years since graduating, Zhang has continued to develop the technique (investing in a spool-winding machine to make the process a bit less painstaking), creating atmospheric compositions using this innovative craft process. When Zhang finds a color palette she is drawn to — whether from an image, sculpture, or textile — she’ll often make a painting to familiarize herself with the palette and work out the right color balance. She then matches thread to the colors in her painting as closely as possible, and makes a small yarn winding to refer to.