I chose 1.4: Incremental and Twisted Pleats, to be my first exercise for Part One: Surface Distortion. I was excited to be starting work on Mixed Media for Textiles, my second OCA Course, but at the same time felt apprehensive and nervous. I have come to the conclusion that when I feel like this I won’t necessarily produce my best work. My mind is ten steps ahead of my hands and it is difficult to prevent the controlling part of me taking over, when what I really wants is to allow the materials to dictate the investigations.
My initial thoughts about pleating were that it was a comforting technique, its regularity and repetitive nature appealed to my jangling nerves! I have some experience with smocking and found that very satisfying. I hoped the precision and measuring involved would allow me to work through this phase until I fell back into the routine of working on the assignments.
Anne Kyyro Quinn
I began by looking closely at the work of Anne Kyyro Quinn, which really excited me. She takes a conventional technique to another level by producing it on a grand scale particularly suited for wall panels. Her chosen medium is felt, which I would not normally associate with smocking (although now I come to think of it it reflects the choice of wool for pleated kilts.) I would have thought felt too soft and floppy to achieve the crispness I would expect from cotton or linen, however, it holds the shapes well.
There are of course many benefits from using felt for a decorative wall hanging: it is non-woven (meaning no distraction from the structure of the weave), it takes colour well (the monochromatic designs are often very rich and deep colours) and it has sound deadening properties (useful for high traffic areas that require a quiet environment, banks, offices and atrium). I also observed that the softness of the felt makes you feel safe, warm and protected which makes Kyyro Quinn’s designs a good choice for businesses wanting to portray a certain atmosphere.
The designs that the felt is sculpted into also create a certain ambience; as well adding a sense of movement that draws the eye, the panels are a single colour, with no additional surface embellishment. They are deceptively simple and fairly conventional but give the impression that the company cares enough about its customers to provide something more interesting to look at than a flat surface but is trustworthy and not frivolous with money. This makes the panels popular with banks and insurance companies.
The three-dimensional textures created by pleating and folding are very tactile, they invite you to touch them. I amused myself at the thought of important and well-behaved business executives wrestling internally with the urge to reach out and touch the walls- maybe they can buy a Kyyro Quinn cushion on the way home?
How is Kyyro Quinn’s work relevant to me?
Looking at the designs made me appreciate that it’s ok to keep things simple, not everything needs to be complicated with colour or additional embellishment.
Light and Shadow can be used to create tonal differences that interest and movement.
She demonstrates how an unexpected material, with its connotations of crafting can be successfully integrated into seemingly unfitting locations.