16 May 2017
Part 5, Stage 1 – Review
This final assignment of the course is designed as an opportunity to bring together all the learning within the Mixed Media for Textiles module. It is a chance to consolidate practices, combine methods and take them further; to explore and be creative.
I was pleased that the course notes encourage students to consider the final piece as prototypes or maquettes. The fact that there is an empasis on experimentation promotes a relaxed and open approach to risk taking.
I decided that I would start by concentrating on the “sorting” stage from each assignment. Mixed media for textiles is my third level one course, and I am now sufficiently confident in my down selection selection process.
Part 1 was a series of samples selecting 10 exercises from the following projects/categories:
- Folding and crumpling
- Tearing and cutting
- Heating and fusing
- Scratching and embossing
- Puncturing and stitching
These exercises generated lots of samples. The techniques which I found most stimulating were Project 2, exercise 5 “creating flaps” (Along with the related technique of Project 2, exercise 4 “cutting holes”) and Project 5, exercise 2 “stitching”.
Below are the samples from project 2, exercise 5 which I selected as most inspiring and promising for development – from left to right: samples 3, 4 and 5:-
I found that many of my samples could be enhanced by the use of lighting to heighten shadow and tonal contrast. I also found that part of their appeal was that they could be configured into a variety of three dimensional shapes. These pieces also have an element of pattern repeat (or at least a suggestion of rhythm).
In Project 5, exercise 2, I started to combine ideas of stitching with holes and flaps, exploring the sampling in the context of sutures or surgical stitching. I used stitching to hold back flaps: Project 5, exercise 2, sample 11 (below left) and emphasise the openings of holes: Project 5, exercise 2, sample 12 (below right), referencing the work of Rozanne Hawkins and Ann Wilson.
This was a topic which I revisited in Part 3, end of project 1 (thinking about how the techniques in parts one or two could be used to embellish or manipulate samples).
I used a papier mache sphere: Part 3, project 1, sample 28 (below left), into which I cut “windows” which I stitched across to bridge the gaps: Part 3, project 1, samples 62-67 (below middle and right):
Again, the appeal for me was the tonal variation created by the different thickness layers of material which constituted the sphere when it was lit from behind. I also liked the idea of cutting holes, to allow viewing of the interior surface of the sphere (and possibly an object placed within it). The papier mache surface reminded me of the skull bones, so it was natural to consider suturing and the bridging of the holes with stitches. However, for me, samples 62-67 did not really move the idea forwards; the investigation was not bold enough – there was insufficient contrast of materials to make the result exciting. In hindsight I should have taken more risks. However, I had already made 61 samples for project 1, and because I didn’t get the balance of allotted time correct, I left myself short of time to explore the idea properly. The same can be said of sample 72:
Part 3, project 1, sample 72 was developed from the ideas arising from a latex mould of an aluminium pie dish (part 3, project 1, sample 48, below left). Coloured with red paint, duplicated and pulled and stretched between holes in a cork backing, it reminded my of a grotesque body part, pulled out ready for investigation or dissection (Part 3, project 1, sample 72, below right). I referenced the work of Rozanne Hawksley and the “bodyworks” exhibition of Gunther Hugens.
Although I really like the concept, I do not feel that the development led to a line of enquiry which was sufficiently stimulating or fruitful. The same can be said of the skull bone and suture idea. I had found out after selecting the latex moulding for development that they discoloured in a way which I didn’t like because it made the moulding less similar to biological tissue. For these reasons, rather than continue and look for an alternative, I have decided to seek an alternative line of enquiry for my final project.
Part 2 was about joining and wrapping.
From project 1, all of my favourite samples were three dimensional. I like the fact that they could be viewed from different angles, and that in some cases they were configurable. Part 2, project 1, exercise 3, sample 4 is one such example (see below):
The strength of it’s appeal is its simple geometry, repeating pattern and shadow. Although I feel that the colour choice is not especially important, I do like the pattern created by the two colours being “randomly” placed. The colours are harmonious, so do not detract from the geometry of the circles, their shadows and negative spaces.
Two other stand out samples for me are Part 2, project 1, exercise 5, sample 8 (below left) and Part 2, project 1, exercise 5, sample 9 (below right).
They appeal for the same reasons as sample 4 of exercise 3, but I feel more excited about their possibilities for development. Both these have the possibility of using contrasting materials on each surface; perhaps a contrast of colour, reflective vs. matt, smooth vs. textured. There is the also possibility of exploring transparency, or surface treatment such as stitching, embossing or scratching. If these samples were to be developed, consideration would also need to be made as to whether they could be scaled up/down, multiplied and joined to make a constructed surface or more complex 3D shape. The sample made with Möbious strips, in particular, is suficiently developed to show strong potential, so I feel confident that I could develop an excellent final piece from this idea.
Wrapping encouraged me to move away from realist representation and to become more abstract. In this respect it is especially liberating and fun. Part 2, project 2, exercise 5, sample 5 was my strongest piece (see below):
All the elements work extremely well: variation in texture, contrast of thread thickness, orientation of wrapping and especially the colour scheme and colour accents (which are complementary yellow and violet). However, to me this sample is a finished piece, and does not suggest any immediate ways which it could be developed or taken forwards as a line of enquiry. Similarly, whilst I produced some exciting results using Japanese package techniques (part 2, project 2, exercise 2, samples 5-8, it has not prompted any immediate thoughts for a line of enquiry, so at this stage I would probably bear it in mind to bring into my work as an influence rather than basing a project on it.
In Part 3, I explored moulding and casting. I have already discussed some of the samples which I chose to take forward and develop. Other than these, the samples which most appealed to me were:
1. Moulding of bubble wrap – Project 1, sample 36 (with Mod Roc) and Silicone)
2. Moulding a sample of knitted string
3. Moulding the surface of a chard leaf
The bubble wrap moulding are very geometric with strong tonal variation. The moulding of the chard leaf and the silicone moulding of the bubble wrap are interesting because of their fragility. The silicone cast of the knitted string mould, presents a contradiction; in essence capturing the minute textural detail of the source material and translating it to a material with very different properties. In this respect it draws on principle underlying the success of Rebecca Fairley’s concrete mouldings from knitted fabrics.
From this group of samples, it is silicone which is standing out as being the most versatile and inspiring. The suggestions of my tutor to look at the work of Laura Simpson and Xiao Li gave me some ideas as to how it might be used in association with textiles to provide contrast and structure in the handling and texture of a fabric. The work of these artists/designers captured my imagination. I feel that it would be interesting to conduct further experiments to investigate the behaviour of silicone moulding in conjunction with other materials. This line of enquiry would no doubt suggest ideas for how it could be used in a final piece, perhaps in combination with other treatments, such as folding, cutting or scratching, depending on the materials. This would be a highly innovative and risky approach which could easily end up taking longer than my allotted time.
My favourite sample from Part 3 was sample 6 from project 2 (see below):
I decided to rule this sample out for further development on the grounds that I do not have the facilities to enable me to do large plaster casts. For this reason, I view the sample as inspirational, rather than being one which I would develop from directly. It shares many of the characteristics from other samples which appeal to me: the concept of holes to enable the interior surfaces to be viewed, strong tonal variation resulting from shadows and a 3D structure viewable from different angles.
Mono printing and collatype printing was the subject of Part 4. From project 1, my most successful samples were these in which I combined techniques to make a series of related figure prints (see below).
These were prints which I developed from the samples which I produced for project 1, exercise 4 (stencilling). This line of enquiry opened the possibility of using stencils as a means of embossing as well as printing. It also got me thinking about combining mono printing with cutting holes or flaps, to emphasise part of the negative space. An obvious development was to join and fold the individuals prints to make a concertina book. Another thought I had was to consider scratching and distressing part of the surface. Although my results of my surface scratching sampling had been underwhelming in part 1, project 4, exercise 2, I now wondered whether contrasting effects might be achievable in conjunction with printing (either distorting the surface after printing or before printing).
Although I achieved some interesting textural results with collatype printing in project 2, I do not feel that these samples present such an interesting line development as the figures which I produced for project 1. Below are my favourite examples: project 2, sample 2a (left) and project 2, sample 3c (right):
The landscape and portrait prints feel less developed technically and are not suggesting to me a clear line of development. For these reasons, I would favour the figure prints for development.
From my review of the work I have completed for this module, three possible lines of enquiry have emerged:
1. Constructed surface
- Themes of three dimensionality, repeating pattern, geometry, light and shadow have consistently featured in samples which I have selected as visually appealing.
- It offers possibility for investigating and combining surface treatments from other parts of the course.
- It offers the chance of strengthening what I see as one of my weak areas (i.e. not being sufficiently bold an innovative with material combinations).
- Sample 9 from Part 2, project 1, exercise 5 (Möbious strips), in particular, is sufficiently visually appealing to be developed in it’s own right.
- It would be easy to get carried away with permutations of shape, surface treatment, materials and scale and run out of time.
- Overcomplexity of surface runs the risk of detracting rather than enhancing the visual aesthetic.
2. Silicone moulding textured surfaces in combination with other materials:
- Silicone has proved to be a versatile and interesting material during sampling.
- There is a strong element of risk an innovation in pursuing this idea.
- It would push me to explore dissimilar and novel material combinations.
- Moulding with silicone is an area of relative technical novelty for me. It is not a technique which I feel comfortable with, so the project would rely heavily of additional experimentation, which is highly risky.
- Because my sampling is not well developed/resolved, there are no obvious directions in which to take the development of a final piece at present.
- This line of enquiry could be seen as simply an extension of the sample-making process, rather than leading to resolution.
3. Mono-printed figures in conjunction with other surface treatments
- Mono printing is a technique which feel comfortable with and enjoy
- It utilises my drawing skills (one of my strengths)
- This is the least risky proposal of the three because the idea is already well resolved and I am comfortable with the processes.
- Less scope for being innovative with materials or material combinations (which is one of my weaknesses).
At this stage I have decided to rule out option 3 because it is too safe. Presently, option 2. feels too risky, and probably too large an undertaking for a single assignment of 7 weeks duration. However, at this stage, I haven’t ruled out incorporating it in my final project. In particular, the fragility of surface interests me as does the contrast between very thin areas which are translucents, and thicker, opaque areas.
Next, I will conduct some preliminary research along the lines of option 1., reveiwing other practitioners work into constructed surfaces.