Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Exciting video

I haven't been doing much coursework over the last week as I've been concentrating on my wedding dress. On thing I have been doing though is watching videos online of other textile courses and examples of student coursework, and videos like the one above. I've also been looking at the future courses on the BA Textiles pathway. I realised that some of the ideas I've been thinking (like fibre optics combined into textiles) might fit better into future courses - so perhaps I should concentrate on 'basics' for this course and allow myself to fully explore these other things during the later courses!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Book Thoughts - The Art of Embroidery by Françoise Tellier-Loumagne

NB How much does this book match my blog!!!

What a great book! Ihad this in my book stash and again, one of those books I had never got further than just flicking through looking at the pictures. This book is extremely picture heavy which makes it a proper treasure trove of inspiration. The book is split into 'Embroidery basics' and 'Motifs and surface designs'.

The Embroidery basics runs through both industry and home sewing and has a really nice way of showing the different stitches, techniques and materials with examples from textiles or sampler style embroideries. There are a lot of stitches made on paper which is a nice way to see the different styles clearly and is an idea for sampling in the future.

The Motifs and surface designs actually does run through making up patterns and the various permutations of putting motifs together, but really explores design concepts and inspirations taken from nature. Theres a whole ream of inspiration photos and their resulting textile designs - each exploring different techniques, plus more images to gain inspiration from for yourself.

This is one of those books you get upset when you're reaching the end - bring on the art of embroidery 2, 3, 4 and 17! I wish!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Project 2, Stage 5 Sample

Since I do have time in my 2-month-per-Project scheme, I decided to do a sample with the filling stitches. I really wanted to play around with the stone circles I sketched back in June. These came from a mini roundabout in my town. I really liked how just by putting the 'stones' in wherever goes easiest in the circles that get larger and larger your eye naturally starts to see 'spokes'.

I chose green cotton fabric from curtains that I was making for a salon and decided to use old ripped holdups to dull down the green. The wool I used was variegated in a roughly mossy colour scheme. I like how the pops of brighter, less realistic colour, like pink, actually highlight the colours so it seems more vivid.

The 'stones' are in a simple satin stitch and I worked each stone before moving onto the next so that they look uniform rather than stripy. I was ridiculously pleased with the result:

I let it loosen from the frame as I had expected that the stretched hold-up fabric would cause it to pucker, but it laid perfectly smoothly - I guess the satin stitching evened out the tension.

I think what I like most about the sample, other than the colours which are very definitely 'me' with their muted vibe, is the juxtaposition between the shine of the background and the rough bulk of the wool stones. I also like how the rips of the nylon make the whole thing look more organic and give extra interest in the background. I really love it. I originally thought I'd fill in the gaps with french knots but thought the sample looked good without them. Then I had a chat to myself and thought I should at least TRY them,  since it might look even better and anyway - this is a sample not a finished piece, and I can't keep treating samples like they are a finished artwork!

In the meantime I thought I'd see what a bit of french knitting looked like weaved between the stones (though I didn't stitch it down, its good to see the effect though).

 Heres with some french knots added (in a blended navy/black cotton if you're interested). I thought I'd be putting them in more densely but as soon as I'd started in the centre I realised it wasn't doing anything for the textile. The thing I loved (the matt against the shine, and the definition of the stones) was being lost and marred by the knots. I kept going to see what a few different densities did but I know I prefer without the french knots. At least I tried though and I'm glad I did.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Leno Weave

I was looking into Chenille fabric yesterday after reading the chapter about it in The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art by Susan Stein. In my browsing I read the wikipedia article on Chenille and noticed the link to 'leno' was in red. I'd never seen this before so found out that it was an article that Wikipedia considers should be written but hasn't yet been done. Long story short - I wrote it! I had to register and find out how to edit the articles and learn a coding language called Wiki Text!

Here is a link to the article...
Leno Weave

Friday, 3 August 2012

Project 2, Stage 5

Firstly, I did some freehand machine embroidery - lots of fun! I took some inspiration from some of project 1s exercises. Its really hard to go in straight lines so I think the best way is to embrace the sketchy nature of machine embroidery - the circles and the scribbly shading example look the best. I ended with a little test adjusting the tension but couldn't seem to find much difference in the three rows - perhaps something to look at further.

This last sample took me a few days! I started out with light  blue stranded cotton in different directions, I've then branched out to try different colours, silk, perle cotton, cotton blends, wool, sewing thread and chenille. I also introduced different directions in the satin stitch and made sure I had a diamond shape and chevrons. Towards the bottom I did a few small samples of different stitches. I made notes in my sketchbook referencing various aspects.

I always work my samples onto 6x4 inch sized rectangles, its something I decided a few years ago after becoming obsessed with Sharon Bs blog and her never-ending band sampler. I love all the random experiments being tied together with one uniform shape. But I can't help but feel my recent obsession with slate and rain has crept into this sample!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Project 2, Stage 3

I chose this image from my sketches because I found it sufficiently varies with thick and thin lines with curves, straight lines, broken lines and crossing.

and heres the completed sample - I think I could have explored some filling stitches early but perhaps I'll come back to this! I added the chain instead of thick lines as I thought it added well, I also wanted to experiment with something a little different!

Looking at this on the computer I think I can still keep adding thick and thin lines for a while yet - perhaps thats what I'll take from this - for a plain background more is more!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Research Point - V&A Exhibition

A picture in the V&A magazine wowed me recently and made me want to see the Heatherwick Studio, Designing the Extraordinary Exhibition in the V&A. My fiancé and I managed to go yesterday on a jam packed day out in London. You can see the original picture and my attempt at scetching it in this sketchbook page from the end of June.

So I wanted to take this exhibition as my next research point. I was worried that an architects studio might not really work for the sort of inspiration I'd be looking for. I was completely wrong! 

There was a hiccup though... I knew photography would not be allowed so I happily started sketching my first chosen focus piece to be told off - sketching was not allowed! I was a bit flabbergasted by this but understood that it is probably because Heatherwick Studio is still a commercial venture and they probably didn't want the intricate mechanisms of their creations copied. Of course anyone can go to the actual installations and sketch, photograph and copy from the source but thats by-the-by! I wished I could have properly sketched (and I saw several other people have to be told to stop sketching too), but I decided that I could still sketch various details from memory and also from referencing photos on the internet. If I ever have time I might also try to visit some of the creations in real life.

Here come the questions...
Is there a theme?
Yes. Heatherwick Studio, it's creations and it's methods.

Is it well displayed?
Yes, there was one large room with a lot crammed in but each item could be looked at from various angles. 

Is the lighting appropriate?
It was nice and bright - there were no delicate artworks or old items to protect so lighting was no issue.

Is there enough explanation of the exhibits?
Yes. Each item had a plaque with a pleasing amount of information and scattered about the room were more plaques with information about the studio itself. There were also video points which showed short clips which I really enjoyed.
Is it visually stimulating and interesting?
YES. Mainly because the exhibition let the designs of the studio be the inspiration. There was nothing else thrown in to distract you but the designs and concepts were enough.

The three exhibits I chose were 'Gazebo', 'Bleigiessen' and a cloud of welded discs bridge structure. The first two are actually realised but I think the last one was a studio experiment that hasn't actually been built (though I may be wrong, I think it was designed for a private home).

To what extent to the pieces refer to tradition or another culture or a period of fashion?

I think despite their super-modern overall appearance each of the pieces do refer to tradition in some way. The attention to detail and the aim to create something that is made well is paramount. In the Gazebo advanced carpenty skills have been used to form the shelter. In Bleigiessen wooden forms are used to space the beads - in some ways its a huge 3d beaded curtain!

What qualities do you like or dislike about the pieces?

I like the overall sensuous and natural shapes in each exhibit. I love the attention to detail and the determination to make a quality constructed object of beauty and also of form. The only thing I could think of that I disliked is of the disc cloud bridge - I didn't like the way the bridge walking surface was formed and I didn't like that when you got close you could see all the joins and it wasn't as smooth as it could be.

Here are the few sketches that I could make from memory...

Sketchbook Pages

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Book Thoughts - Drawn To Stitch by Gwen Hedley

I wrote about how I had hit a 'block' in my reading because I was bored with the 'basics' that come in every first chapter. I'm glad I pushed on though because I really liked this book.

Its in four sections, loosely it covers the basics, the 'ground', interpretations and line. It shows lots of drawings and embroidery and I liked the fact that a lot of the embroidery pictures were samples rather than finished pieces.

There are some nice 'recipes' for things to try though a lot of them require some supplies that I haven't already got in my stash! Perhaps for the future, or maybe I can try similar things with what I already have.

I liked seeing how the author works - she uses a lot of homemade textured papers and goes into detail with them, she attaches her sample pieces to little luggage tags which appeals to my need for some sort of order, and she does amazing drawings then transfers these to stitch fairly literally.

At the end there are a few focuses on other textile designers to show some extra perspective. The book has given me lots of ideas of how I can 'change things up', especially regarding fabric layering, manipulation, tearing and stretching. I liked this book after the initial hump and wish I'd continued with it earlier!!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Project 2, Stages 1 & 2

Stage 1 - Preparation. I chose a simple calico and stuffed three bags full of embroidery threads, wool, ribbon, lace and speciality threads. The three bags correspond to themes rather than colours. They are...
beach, galaxy and slate.

After the prep stage 2 started with lines, first in bands coming closer and closer together. I continued the theme till I had a sort of undulating pattern. The course book suggested to go with the flow so I did!

Then we are instructed to change it up with different lines and crossing in and out. I chose just two threads in similar colours and worked with the thin and the thick. It said to keep going until you've exhausted all possibilities to which I say 'thats rubbish'! As otherwise I'd be on this stage for years!

Saying that I really enjoy the section that is criss-crossed, I like the little raindrops (or sperms, depending on how you look at them)!

Finally I tried some other stitches and tried two versions for each stitch of what the stitches look like up close and personal. I'm not liking how much puckering I've let happen - I'll have to revisit the basics! Hopefully this will come out with an iron on a cloth!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sketchbook pages update

I haven't been sketching everyday! Bad Bad student. I have however started to see myself focusing and exploring ideas more. I've been a little obsessed with rain and slate. I can see one or both of these becoming my subject of focus later on in the course.

I've put a necklace I made which contains labradorite chunks (along with boulder opal picture bead and smoky quartz) onto my sketchbook page so you can see what it is I'm talking about! I want to get a picture printed and stick it in here. 

I love labradorite. I adore labradorite.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Project 1, Stage 4

The last stage for project 1 was working from my sketchbooks - again making textural studies. It asked for 4 or 5 images to work from so I then only made 2 textural studies for each. I feel partly guilty that I'm not doing more but I don't want to go on forever!

I ran out of A3 paper today so I've had to order another book - in the meantime here are all the separate studies arranged around the 5 focus areas.

And since I now have the A3 book here they are all glued in....

Now is the time to reflect upon work so far...

Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
Actually I sketch A LOT but I tend to sketch things like my dream house layout or website designs or dress designs rather than sketching for the sake of sketching. My sketching has always been for a design rather than for the art itself. I've enjoyed sitting down and forcing myself to draw. 

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
I don't think so!!! I looked at a lot of other students blogs so I think I had over-saturated my brain. Those moments where I was a bit more out of the box and free-flowing I didn't think turned out so well. I do think I've been quite inventive in my sketching at moments though so I think the exercises have opened me up a little bit creatively.

Did you explore a wide range of media?
I explored all the media I have and I don't want to go purchasing any more! I've used crayons, pencils, ink, felt tip, watercolour (hard, liquid, crayon, pencil), acrylic, gouache, chalks. On a few different papers - perhaps not quite as exploratory with the papers but I had to reign it in somewhere.

Are you pleased with what you've done? Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?
I look at my work and I sometimes I think 'it looks like a primary school kid did it' and sometimes I'm really happy with it. There are definitely some pieces that I'm thrilled with though so I have to take that as a plus. It will help me to approach drawing more confidently in that I'm more confident about starting. I'm not any more or less confident that the actual result will be pleasing!

Which exercise did you most enjoy? Why?
I enjoyed Stage 3, Exercise 1 the most - making textural studies based on images. I enjoyed it the most because I could take a starting point that I was already inspired by. I also found it interesting because I could analyse *why* I loved the image i.e. colours, textures, patterns, contrasts etc.

Which media did you most enjoy working with? Why?
Pens. I did enjoy painting but I do not enjoy the faff associated with getting out, putting away, tidying up. I love the quickness of pens, the depth of colour that I can get, the tidiness, the portability. I don't even want to try to force myself to use other media because I think instead of producing more work I'll end up doing less.

What other forms of mark-making could you try?
A lot! I know I could have gone on for a long time but I was conscious of time and also running out of inspiration and focus. I've seen posts from other students and other creative sources for different styles of sketching, painting and some amazing mixed media. But I'm happy with what I've done for Project 1 and know it will help for the upcoming projects.

How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?
I'm more focused on textures, how lines are put together, what media might be best to test out a design or to prototype an idea. 'Sketching' does not necessarily mean just using a pencil to me now. I'm happy to explore the varieties of an idea. All of these things can only help to enrich future work.

Any questions for your tutor or any points that you specifically want to remember?
Not really notes or questions for my tutor other than "Am I doing this right?!" It is a little hard to do via distance learning if only because I think I crave approval!

Points that I specifically want to remember:

* When I'm truly inspired by something that seems to often be when I produce the best work.
* When I 'force' something it often ends up disappointing
* I like dark and/or muted colours. I'm not going to struggle against it!

Notes for continuance of the course:

* I still haven't completed taking photographs of man made things relating to texture, groups of objects, looking into the distance etc.
* I need to go to another exhibition - I'm planning to go to one soon but its an architecture one - I'll have to see what sort of exhibits are there before I can decide I can properly relate it to textile studies.
* I've stalled on my reading. I'm currently on 'Drawn to Stitch' by Gwen Hedley and I'm struggling with the repetitiveness of the course textbooks i.e. Its good to sketch. Take a notebook with you everywhere you go etc etc. I've allowed myself to get slightly annoyed by taking an 'I know it all attitude'. Time to rein that in I think...
* I've been doing the work on time but updating the blog (with retrospective dates) in big pushes at later dates. I'm happy with this but wanted to note it down here in case anyone gets confused by checking in one day and seeing no posts then another day to see weeks worth backdated!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Project 1, Stage 3, Exercise 2

Similar to the last project - textural studies except with real objects rather than just images. I'm going to stick photographs of the objects (a flower, a leaf and the dilapidated paper cover of a saw) next to these images on the A3 sheets. Again, I found it hard in some cases to 'let go' of just copying the object and in other cases I wasn't happy with the actual result.

I like individual qualities of some of the work I've done here, and I can definitely see how elements of each might inspire further work so I'm not completely downhearted about this exercise.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Project 1, Stage 3, Exercise 1

This one asked me to work from visual sources which I used a postcard and magazine adverts. It was a 'textural study' so the idea was to capture the 'feel' or 'idea' of something rather than just copying. I found that easier in some cases than others. Especially the advert with the chandelier and mirror - I think I found it so beautiful that I didn't want to ruin it by changing anything - I think I should have pushed the boat out a little more on that one as my results were a little 'blah'!

I really liked some of the results but again others I was a bit unhappy with. I think it was because when I first looked at the image I thought that I knew exactly what I wanted to produce and the reality didn't quite match up - I guess thats what sketching, creating samples and prototypes is for!

I also felt a tiny bit like the first, 'most inspired' pieces I produced were the best, and the 2nd and 3rd pieces that were more 'forced' weren't as good!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Study Plan

I haven't written down my plan yet so here it is:

From May (when I started the course) to December I aim to get one project done every two months. I'll be too busy with wedding planning (and making) to do more without stressing myself out. This means by December I'll have finished Project 4. After the wedding I hope to get 3 projects done every two months so I'll be working a lot harder. This means that project 10 will be completed by the end of April 2013.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Project 1, Stage 2, Exercise 4

Blimey I got stuck on this exercise! It seemed so much to do! The thing I felt most confident on (collage) I left till last then got a massive block and didn't finish for a long time. I know that the possibilities of each of these methods are endless and want to show a 'decent' cross section but also start/concentrate on the basics. I also wasn't massively impressed with the results - many of my pages look very pre-school which turned me off the exercise a lot!

 Fixative transfer didn't work for any of my magazines but did work for gardening seed catalogues. I found that rubbing over them with a pen worked better than pencil or crayon

Bleach didn't work on some of my papers and fabrics (nylon lace, bright felt and polyester were unaffected) it worked best on the bright red tissue that came with my OCA folder

Spraying acrylic mixed with water with stencils and with just the spray bottle

Stippling and sponging with stencils with acrylic

Rubbing away and combing with gouache

Block printing with bottle tops, corks, fingers, stamps, foam stamps, comb etc

Crayon rubbings and wax resist


 I liked some of the effects and know how I might use them in the future - actually DOING some of the techniques opens up further uses - a very valid exercise even if I didn't like the results as much as I could hope! This has been quite a long time in the making, I hope I don't get as 'stuck' on future exercises.