30 November 2016
Project 2, Exercise 3 – Uneven wrapping
The brief for this exercise was to use a variety of ways to bind an object (or objects), responding to the shape of the object in a way which seems appropriate. In particular, it was suggested that reference be made to Judith Scott’s work; wrapping in an experimental and playful way.
In some ways, I had done this already by going beyond the brief in sample 7, of project 2, exercise 1 (see below):
I got so absorbed in the making process that I didn’t just wrap, but also looped, tied and wove!
In preparation for this exercise I had purchased some second hand dolls.
I like the idea of wrapping an anthropomorphic shape, because it offers so many possibilities.
SAMPLE 1: Bandage-wrapped doll
One of the suggestions in the course notes was to control the profile or shape of an object by introducing padding, or wrapping multiple items together. The doll seemed like a perfect opportunity to use this technique to alter body shape.
Before wrapping, I added a piece of polyester wadding to the tummy to suggest pregnancy. I then wrapped the doll from head to foot in crepe bandage. The whole body (except the eyes) were covered, and the was doll rendered immobile. The symbolism was to convey the sense of anonymity and constraint associated with becoming a mum. Perhaps a bit controversial, but I feel that the analogy portrays the concept well (see below).
In my analysis, the bandage represents the “uniform” of social conformity. In this instance I don’t see the bandage as a suggestion of healing, rather as a technique of ‘preservation’ of physical form (as in the wrapping of mummies).
SAMPLE 2: Doll ‘clothed’ in cellophane then wrapped in threads
After sample 1, I was intending to wrap subsequent dolls in visually pleasing (decorative) threads, and to use the body as simply a ‘hook’ for wrapping. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was “clothing” the doll’s body. When I held cellophane around the doll, it resembled a dress – a sexy dress. The doll had become a proxy for the language of clothing. It made me think about what clothing means in relation to social acceptance and behaviour; about dress codes and the subtleties which make us view certain ways of dressing as risqué, eccentric or dowdy.
Having dressed the doll, I decided to wrap it in threads to represent the social constraints imposed. My aim was to challenge how society responds to clothing, and to suggest that assumptions can be deleterious to the individual.
I chose to wrap in pink merino yarn because it is a feminine colour. I also used the mohair because of the contradiction of it being soft and fluffy and yet being used as a restraint. The limbs were bound to restrict movement (analogous, for example, to a restriction on places where it might be socially acceptable to visit when dressed in a certain way). The wrapping extends over the whole body. Although I liked the symbolism of wrapping and covering the mouth, I found that the expression of femininity of the doll was then lost, so I decided against it.
For my message to get across, the wrapping had to be sparse, so that the doll and clothing were visible underneath. Because I feel strongly about this subject, it is difficult for me to know whether other people might interpret the sample in the same way (and if not, whether they might derive enjoyment by interpreting it differently). This makes it difficult to judge the “success” of this sample. Thinking purely from aesthetics, I don’t find the wrapping is particularly engaging. Perhaps this is an area which could be developed?
SAMPLE 3: Doll ‘clothed’ in a cardboard tube then wrapped in threads
This sample is supposed to show that by ‘dressing down’, the response of society can be equally as negative and constraining. I initially covered the doll in a cardboard kitchen towel tube, then wrapped burlap, black paper string and jute around it, to hold the tube in place, and constrain the doll’s body. I left the mouth uncovered, so that the femininity of the doll would be evident. The single pink piece of merino around the torso similarly makes reference to the feminine.
Visually, I don’t find this doll is as engaging as sample 2. It has a “Cinderella” feel, which is maybe too much of a cliché. I also think that the message is not as strongly conveyed.
SAMPLE 4: Doll wrapped to represent the two sides of depression/grief
For this sample, I drew again on the use of colour to depict mood (Tinsdale, 2016). I used blue cellophane over the head and face to represent internal sadness and loss. In contrast, the persona which is presented to the public is the wrapped body; the sparkly-dressed dancer full of zest for life.
The wrapping is pretty, but I wonder whether the symbolism is clear? The choice of fabric for the dress and leg coverings tends to suggest a sari, and the blue face shroud a religious head covering.
SAMPLE 5: Wrapped saucepan
For this sample I returned to the influence of Judith Scott. Although the course notes suggest wrapping small bric-a-brac (20cm max), I tend to prefer working in a larger scale, so chose a small frying pan which I hoped wouldn’t be too heavy and large to send to my tutor.
I started with one of my handspun ‘art yarns’ and chose conventionally hand spun yarns to complement it (see below):
The lime green colour in the hand spun yarn allowed me to incorporate one of my favourite colours – fluorescent yellow (a commercially spun yarn). I started by wrapping a base layer of purple yarn around the saucepan:
Next, I wrapped the art yarn:
At this stage the sample looks very uniform and lacks depth and excitement. I then started to add accent colours (although I went on to remove the mustard yellow tassels in the photo below because they didn’t fit with the feel of the piece).
At this stage I incorporated two sections of egg box, one each side of the pan, which helped break up the silhouette and gave hooks which I could use to wrap around and change direction.
At the next stage I added finer threads such as polyester dressmakers’ cotton, Coton a Broder, mohair, embroidery thread and ribbon. I made loops and tangles to impart depth and texture. I added accents of shocking pink jumbo pipe-cleaner, fluorescent yellow lace, yellow organza ribbon, heat-creased synthetic fabric and bobble fringe. These were woven and pushed into the piece. The final result is shown below:
This sample is my favourite of project 2. It is visually interesting with depth and a suggestion of movement. The colour balance works extremely well, especially with the complementary violet, lime green, purple and yellow. It has an organic feel; the pink pipe cleaners and fabric scraps seem to be emerging or erupting from the body of the sample. I love the complexity of the surface. Each time I look, I see new subtleties of colour and new areas of textural interest. It has confirmed my preference of working with larger samples.
Post script on the work of Judith Scott 9/12/16
Looking back at the work of Judith Scott, I can see that her style differs quite markedly from mine. Her work involves mainly threads in tension, looped under each other to provide a ‘framework’, whereas my style used mostly wrapping, and features many loose threads and tangles. Scott’s work also makes use of many more found objects (for example, her wrapped chair incorporates a large wheel). Her wrapping materials are often reclaimed; washing machine hose, old tights, for example. This gives a huge amount of depth and texture to her pieces. I would like to experiment by incorporating found objects in my wrapping and using them for wrapping materials.
SAMPLE 6: Wrapped pine cone
Because sample 5 was large, I wanted to see if I could scale down my wrapping and make an equally engaging small piece. I chose a pine cone which I initially wrapped in fine beige crochet cotton, working in a circle between the protrusions. The aim was to fill the gaps, but not to cover the cone completely.
I also selected lustrous machine embroidery threads and red and blue Angelina fibre, being suitably fine and worked these over the crochet cotton. The finished sample is shown below:
I tool photographs in both natural and artificial light but I couldn’t get a proper representation. This was the best picture that I managed to take. The graduation of colour from pink/red at the tip to blue/red at the base and underneath, and the lustre of the threads don’t show up to best effect.
I was conscious that this sample should not look like a Christmas decoration, and I feel pleased that it doesn’t. It has a ‘messy’ look due to the halo of Angelina around the outside, which I like. It is also a point of interest that some threads are wrapped in around the pine cone, whilst others move vertically between the ledges. Although the outcome is interesting, I do not feel that it is as successful as sample 5 because it lacks depth and textural variation. Perhaps it is also less exciting because the colours are not strongly contrasting or complementary.
Tinsdale, J. (2016) “Do they look evil enough?”. At: https://mobile.twitter.com/JackTindale/status/7943011177652101 (Accessed 1 December 2016)