My initial thoughts on working with plastics were that I probably wouldn’t find much to hold my interest. This sounds more negative than it really was! I was looking forward to experimenting with fused plastics, but I didn’t really expect to discover any thing exciting. That sounds almost as bad. Let me try to explain…
My first attempts to research this exercise on the internet were frustrating, all the results were similar looking images and all seemed to lead back to Kim Thittichai, or to her blog: Kim’s Hot Textiles. Whilst I really liked the examples I saw everything seemed very much the same. ‘Hot textiles’ seem to have been extremely popular over the last few years (possibly in part due to the vogue for re-using and re-cycling). In an interview I watched on YouTube, Thittichai talks about how the techniques she teaches are often student led or product led: “Whatever new product is coming out, I want to find out what’s going to happen and then I want to show people how to use it and then how to incorporate it into their work”¹ She is an immensely popular tutor, teaching her techniques internationally, but something about all this put me on edge. I wondered if ‘her’ techniques have become too popular? They seem almost formulaic. In the same way that I felt concerned about the gelli plate, I wondered how I could maintain my individuality. In my feedback for Part 5 of ATV my previous tutor warned:
‘Be careful that the wet felting does not remove the subtlety of your drawn approach – look back at the delicate stitches and the scribbles and layered drawings. In those you are being very individual but in the felt it would be hard to pick out your identity from another’.
Identity. Individuality. A personal voice. These things were at the forefront of my mind as I considered how to investigate Fused Plastics’. I decided the best way to find out what was possible, was to stop over thinking (!) and just try it!
I used Gwen Hedley’s book: Surfaces for Stitch, Plastics, Films and Fabric (2000) BATSFORD for inspiration, I preferred the ‘recipes’ in this book as they were much more basic and open to interpretation. I wonder if this is because it was written in 2000, before the technique became as popular as it is today?
¹Thittichai, K. Quoted from Colouricious interview: ‘Mixed Media Techniques’ (see link above)