I really enjoyed this exercise! I started with a mind full of doubts but I gained so much more than I thought I would, perhaps this is due to the incorporation of stitch in many of the samples? I am always happiest sewing either by hand or machine.
SAMPLES 3.1.1 (a), (b)
The first two samples that I produced which combine stitch and plastic carrier bag fusion immediately grabbed my attention. They remain amongst my favourite pieces.
I really like the bubbly texture of the plastic and the way the stitches have been rejected by the surface as the bag has shrunk. Both samples have a very ‘wearable’ quality, I found myself instinctively wrapping them around my wrists as I handled them. I looked at Silvia Beccaria‘s audacious jewellery designs, although my samples look nothing like her work, I think they share a similar aesthetic. I really admire the way Beccaria has re-interpreted historical ruffs, using traditional weaving techniques but in contemporary (perhaps even marginal) materials. This is the type of individuality I aspire to.
At the beginning of the exercise I taped the samples into my file as I made them, adding notes as to how I achieved each effect. I soon discovered the technique is so unpredictable (and addictive!) that I had more samples than I knew what to do with! Having all these little pieces of shrunken plastic loose in a box drove me crazy…. so I had an idea…. I decided to stitch them together like a Victorian Crazy Quilt:
I always assumed that Victorian Crazy Quilts were born of necessity, but I discovered that these patchwork designs were actually created as a leisure pursuit by affluent ladies to showcase their sewing and embroidery skills. (see example here). Had I realised this earlier I would have made more of the stitching I added. The photographs below show detail of some areas where I used the decorative pre-programmed stitches on my machine, on reflection I probably could have done more.
Once stitched together, the sample has a really nice feel to it. It is light and firm but not stiff; I could envisage constructing a bag or garment from it.
SAMPLES 3.1.3 (a), (b)
Inspired by the Gwen Hedley book¹ (P53), I cut a pile of strips from an assortment of carrier bags and arranged them into random ‘composition’ which I then ironed between baking parchment. Previous experimentation had informed me I could continue adding strips to the design afterwards, until I was happy with the result:
I am pleased with the outcome. It is open and airy, like a net or piece of lace, I really like how the individual strips are bonded together into a single piece, without adhesive or stitch. The haphazard pattern is complemented by the deterioration of the straight edges that have become irregular as they have shrunk. The colours are brighter in real-life (they have lost some of their vibrancy in the photograph) they add to the confusion of the image.
I decided this piece should be called ‘Migraine’, not just because making it gave me a headache (I must be careful of the fumes!). These jagged, linear flashes are what I have experienced when I have had a migraine, they are often caused by exposure to very bright light and the colours I have chosen are exactly what I see: darkness punched through by intense blinding light.
As always, I sought to bring order to chaos and decided to revisit the exercise, this time using a more formal arrangement. I wove strips together, using staples to secure the ends:
I don’t find the resulting grid as successful as the random composition, although some interesting negative spaces have been formed.
SAMPLES 3.1.4 (a), (b)
It seemed quite a natural progression to move the weaving onto a loom (just a very simple child’s one). I made two pieces, using a DK cotton in dark green as the warp in both. In the first sample (a, left) the wefts are spaced out, in the second (b, right) they are beaten down.
I prefer sample a, it is really light and delicate. The weft threads have been held taught by the cotton warp which has prevented excessive shrinkage although some textures have still occurred. By comparison b, is tight and rather stiff. I think it is also perhaps more predictable?
I made several attempts at capturing sequins, netting and thread between layers of carrier bag plastic, I’m not convince by any of them. I wonder if a transparent plastic such as clingfilm or poly-pocket plastic might have been more appropriate?
Up close, the images reveal interesting little snippets but that is all. This is another example of how I seem to struggle with layering. Also the sequins smelt (no pun intended!) really toxic as I heated the samples- I decided to stop here!
¹HEDLEY, G. Durfaces for Stitch. Plastics, Films and Fabric. (2000) BATSFORD.