A1: Written Reflection

I actually feel quite a sense of relief to have reached the end of Part One and be in a position to receive some feedback. I found the exercises huge in their scope and the possibilities endless.

The greatest difficulty I had was getting started. I don’t mean I sat staring at a blank sheet of paper because I starting making straight away. I just found it took me two or three exercises to get into the swing of things. I don’t know if it was because I started working in a loose A4 folder rather than the spiral bound A3 sketchbooks I am used to. Something just didn’t feel right.

At the time I remember thinking choosing Pleating (1.4) for my first exercise was really sensible because it helped me work through the uncomfortable period where I tend to seize up and become controlling and rigid. Looking back during the Selection Process, I noticed the samples I produced early on are dull and look like I was trying too hard. I chose to submit 1.4.6 because it stands out to me as being the least self-conscious of the lot.

I previously identified that I find starting new projects difficult. This time I was prepared for it and actually made notes about what happened and how I was feeling. I can not say that I found an answer to the problem but it was interesting to keep track of. I wonder if this phase will always be a part of my process or if I will find a way around it?

Actually acknowledging the difficulties I was having was quite cathartic. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on and question some of the beliefs and rules I have constructed for myself over the years. This gave me a greater understanding of who I am and how I deal with problems.

I am left wondering if pleating really was the best place to start, I don’t think it did me any favours, it almost seemed to feed my anxieties! I spent more than three weeks on this exercise alone and as a result have only completed a total of seven. Hopefully the work I produced across the rest of the exercises is enough to show my tutor what I am capable of.

I am generally quite pleased with what I have produced. I felt frustrated at times, that just as I felt I was getting somewhere with a technique, it was time to stop and move onto the next exercise. This, however, is the nature of sampling and I think I was able to note my intentions and move on. An example of this would be the Incidental Brusho piece I included in my submission. I would have liked to stop and translate this into an embroidery, what did instead was make a yarn wrap of suitable materials to serve as a reminder for when I do get a chance to return to it.

Having just packed up my work from ATV, I noticed how much better I have got at discussing my work and evaluating it. I noticed this time it has been easier to make links to the artists I researched, yet I do not think the integration of my visual research, (photographs of trees) was so clear.

Pushing the boundaries and responding in an individual way has become increasingly important to me. Looking at Silvia Beccaria, helped me to identify this. Some of my samples are bolder than others, the Selection Process gave me an opportunity to determine which ones stand out in this respect. It also left me wondering have I done enough in terms of materials? For example in the fusing plastic exercise most of the samples were made from carrier bags and embossing only on paper and foil. It is difficult to balance my desire to investigate every possibility and permutation with my need to keep this degree on track and finish in the required time frame! I felt I could have given each exercise a month rather than a week!

Looking ahead to Part Two, the exercises appear much less broad. Each one focusses on a small aspect of joining or wrapping which will give me the opportunity to explore each method fully. My head is already filled with possibilities, I hope, now the nerves have gone, to dive in and be myself.

A1: The Selection Process 3

This is the final set of samples that I sent to my tutor:

SAMPLE 3.2.1

Whereas 3.1.2 was made with an iron, this sample used a heat gun. At first I found the unpredictable results quite alarming but after viewing in front of a strong natural light, on a rare sunny morning, I decided it was worth persevering.

In my drawing, I tried to capture the delicate translucency of the bubbles compared to the opacity of the dense areas. It seemed strange that such fluid, organic shapes form in a synthetic material.

I could happily produce a series of these drawings.

SAMPLE 3.2.3c

Discovering the potential of Tyvek was exciting, I was initially concerned about losing the character of my work but the experimentation won me over. I included this sample because I spent time considering what to do with it. I wondered what I could add to it? What could I layer it with?

In truth, I like it as it is. If I were to develop it I would consider making a larger piece, in similar colours. Obviously, there is no guarantee of producing an exact replica but the unpredictability of Tyvek is part of its charm.

SAMPLE 3.2.4

Anchoring non-heat reactive sheers to Tyvek with stitch and Bondaweb created effects similar to sheering, smocking or Nuno felting.

I like the composite nature of this sample because the colour balances harmoniously despite the surface being constructed from different fabrics and textures.

I learned from researching Anne KYYRO QUINN that a simple unembellished surface distortion can be just as effective as one that is heavily adorned, yet I feel I would still like to explore adding beads and stitch.

SAMPLE 3.2.7

I love to incorporate knitting in my textile work. I made yarn from plastic carrier bags and combined it with cotton DK and Kid Silk Merino which when knitted together created wonderfully scrunchy, bouncy swatches. I then used the heat gun to distort the samples which produced two very different textures: The orange is very stiff which suggests it has sculptural possibilities. The green has a much softer drape, the addition of metallic embroidery floss and sequins gives it a shimmer which reminds me of grass peeping through a hard frost.

Of all the samples I selected, I think this is my favourite. The reason being that I think it holds the most potential: there are endless combinations of yarn, stitch and form that I would like to explore.

SAMPLE 4.1.9b

Having failed to emboss some knitted swatches, I tried a piece of machine embroidery that had been stitched onto dissolvable fabric.

The irregular circles have become scale-like, reminiscent of the crochet crocodile stitch that I printed on the Gelli Plate, which in turn I related to Ann HAMILTON‘s exhibition SENSE (2.5.6)

Reading about Diane READE‘s embossed bag series, made me consider that, whereas Hamiliton’s images disguise nothing, embossing can conceal or reveal.

I like the little bit of mystery this sample creates: What is it hiding? What is it divulging? Why are the shapes irregular when the scratches that made them are linear and all orientated in the same direction?

SAMPLE 4.1.10

I have spent a lot of time recently looking at and photographing trees, so whilst I have been completing the exercises, the natural shape and form of bark has been at the back of my mind. It seemed incongruous as I heated plastic and embossed foil that the textures resembled  one another and yet they did.

In this last sample, I think I began to bridge the gap between that I was thinking about and what I was doing. I took a natural form, a Lotus Seed Head and embossed it with foil. An unusual material for a natural shape made an interesting juxtaposition. I would like to develop this by embossing the bark of a tree.

 

A1: The Selection Process 2

Continuing from my last post, these are the samples that I selected to send to my tutor:

SAMPLE 3.1.1

Incorporating machine stitch and plastic fusion was really exciting. As the plastic contracts the stitches become displaced creating interesting lines that waver and loop. I saw the potential of these pieces being developed into jewellery because I instinctively wrapped them around my wrists as I handled them. Imperfection adds an informality which compliments the unusual choice of material (carrier bag). This thinking led me to research Silvia BECCARIA.

I love her meticulously made, audacious statement pieces. I realised it was not so much the product I admired but the individuality, the daring and the attention to detail, these are all qualities I aspire to. I would like to take what I have learned and challenge myself to be even bolder in my choice of materials and application of ideas…

SAMPLE 3.1.2

Driven by the need to organise all the tiny samples and inspired by Victorian Crazy Quilts, I patched the pieces together. As I reflected on the samples I began to draw further comparisons with BECCARIA: Historical inspiration, Traditional technique and Marginal materials, that together create something a bit unusual.

I don’t know how I would develop this ‘plastic quilt’ beyond adding more stitching. Embroidering by hand would emphasise the connection to the historical quilts intended to showcase a lady’s needlework skills. There is something about the ‘feel’ and drape of the ‘fabric’ that entices me, I simply feel I want to use it for something…

SAMPLE 3.1.3

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I have taken to referring to this sample as ‘Migraine’

The vivid colours and random, spiky, linear composition reminds me of the visual disturbances I have experienced when I have suffered a migraine. The plastic strips form an informal network of lines that travel in all deirections. Shrinkage from the heating process has created holes. The overall lightness of the piece helps to suggest dancing, flashing light.

The sample interests me because I generally tend to work with what is physically in front of me. This departure has created a piece that I find quite emotive because it stirs up the discomfort I have experienced.

SAMPLE 3.1.4

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I can’t make up my mind about this sample.

Sometimes I look at it and find it really appealing: the smooth cotton warp threads and the bubbled plastic weft contrast one another in both texture and direction. The regularity and grid-like format reminds me of Agnes MARTIN and the colours suit that sombre but serene aesthetic.

Other times I worry that it is too sparse and simple. Childlike and naïve? I wonder if it looks forced and like it’s trying too hard? It reminds me of the difficulty I had settling into the pleating task, when I felt like I had stopped being myself.

RECORDING SAMPLES 3.1

I included the drawings in my selection because I really value the experience of stopping to observe an object while I draw it. In some respects, I found the drawings I made in response to the samples more successful than the samples themselves.

Drawing is much more in my comfort zone than any of the exercises I tried for Part One. I think that makes me likely to take risks. I need to apply some of that confidence to my making and really push my boundaries.

I took a lot of photographs over Christmas and could see links with the subject matter and my work. Towards the end I began to integrate these into my sketchbook but this could have been made clearer.

A1: The Selection Process 1

I found the Selection Process easier than I have on past occasions but will admit this is probably because chose too many samples to send to my tutor. Perhaps I should have been more ruthless?

I created a word document to put into the box, which provides a brief overview of each sample and why I chose it. I also tried to explain what I would do next and to relate the samples to the research I did.

This is what I decided:

SAMPLE 1.4.6

The soft,organic nature of this example makes it stand out from the other pleated samples I produced. I battled against my orderly nature at the beginning of the course becoming obsessed with measuring and accuracy. Combining crumpling and pleating I found I became more respectful of the paper, allowing it to take the form it wanted.

I compared the loose, un-pressed folds to Issey MIYAKE‘s ‘Pleats Please’ clothing line. The fluid lines, billowing cloth and dynamic poses reminded me how rigid I was being with my sampling. It wasn’t until much later I began to produce work that was more like ‘my own’ but I felt this sample marked a turning point.

SAMPLE 1.4.11b

I almost omitted this sample at the selection phase but relented; the distorted text fits in with a later theme I explored concerning concealment and revelation.

I like that the translucency of the tracing paper allows the handwriting to be viewed from the front and back. In addition, the twisted pleats distort the text so its meaning is lost (it is actually the definition of pleating). The graphemes appear disjointed and broken like a strange cipher.

If the sample were reproduced on a larger scale the arrangement of pleats could be altered to create more movement. I would also reconsider the means of securing the pleats as the machine stitching is distracting.

SAMPLE 1.4.7

The sculptural potential of this sample interests me. The incremental spacing between the pleats creates a spiralling effect, I would like to find out if this would continue as the sample grew? Could I combine multiple units?

I enjoyed adding stitch, in this instance the precision and regularity works well. I found the overall effect of channels, panels and lacing reminded me of corsetry. I visited the Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at the V&A to collect ideas about how I could move this forward.

SAMPLE 2.4.3

As it appears in the box, this sample is dull and lifeless, however, when lit from behind by a strong light the flower motifs are revealed.

I played with some pre-cut factory waste, which caused me to question some of the rules I impose on myself: Reflection. I cast a light through the holes, traced the shadows, then cut the newly distorted shapes.

The flower shapes became tropical and each one is slightly more irregular than the last as they recede into the background, I like the composition but it is much smaller than I originally intended…

RECORDING 2.4.5

For this sample, I experimented with cutting holes in salt dough.

It was not the samples themselves that caught my attention but the recording of them in my sketchbook. Firstly, I used watercolour pencil and coarsely ground salt to capture the rough grainy texture of the dough. I developed this into an embroidery onto Abaca tissue painted with Brusho.

The success of these pieces highlighted the importance of drawing (both in pencil and stitch) as a way of recording outcomes rather than relying on photographs.

SAMPLE 2.5.1b

I had reservations about the Cutting Flaps exercise, worrying about the samples looking like advent calendars! I looked to Lisa RODDEN‘s work to move me forward.

Although this sample is very simplistic, I find it quite effective. Using paint charts to produce several samples allowed me to work with combinations of colour I wouldn’t usually use. This particular piece appeals to me because it contains neutral colours reamed with a wide variety of desaturated hues. After working on this I began to use blues and eventually greens that pushed me out of my earthy orange comfort zone!

SAMPLE 2.5.6

I also looked at Maud VANTOURS, discovering an alternative way to make flaps by folding paper. This led to me trying out a new crochet stitch: Crocodile Stitch.

As attractive as the swatch was I was wondering about its application, finally after receiving a Gelli Plate for Christmas, I used it to do some printing. This led to comparisons with an exhibition of Ann HAMILTON‘s work: SENSE, which features skins pressed against glass which I found extremely disturbing.

I am interested in pursuing this idea using my photographs of tree bark to inspire the work.

INCIDENTAL SAMPLE 2.6

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I really enjoyed the tearing exercises, I am surprised that the only piece I decided to include wasn’t actually torn at all!

In my investigation I used Brusho to colour papers, before and after tearing, observing the effects on the soft edges. This piece of tracing paper was actually beneath the paper, to protect the surface, It has crinkled into wonderfully random undulations. When I look at the piece I get the impression of a torn edge although it is only a paint effect.

The surface distortions and colour are suggestive of water, in my sketchbook I have produced a yarn wrap of materials I would use to translate this into an embroidery.