Thursday, 2 January 2014

Assignment 5 - Project 10 - What Have You Achieved?

Can you see a clear line of progression from source material through to finished piece? Was there enough information in your source material to stimulate your imagination and sustain your enthusiasm?
When I selected the original theme of the Ocean this seemed like a very broad topic (a thought echoed by my tutor!). However, using the mind maps was a really useful way to "download" ideas and images as they came to me without the pressure of analysing or refining them. Once I'd done this it was easier to sift through the random assortment of ideas and thoughts and to rationalise them into the areas that were most interesting.

Having narrowed down the wider theme to just Waves this quickly led to a whole series of further ideas which again I captured using a mind map. The beauty of this approach for me is that it is a repository for all my initial ideas that I can come back to and work on in future. It is also a good way of forcing me to think freely without a pre-determined plan.

Going from the mind map to actual images was quite natural and exploring the symbolic nature of wave imagery made it relatively straightforward to simplify and refine my waves into a workable design.

I have many more ideas just around the basic wave motif that I would like to explore further and if anything it became quite difficult to know where to stop!

Do you feel you made the right choices and decisions when selecting at each stage of the project? If not, what would you change and how would it alter the outcome?
I did decide on the idea of a garment quite early in the process so this influenced the nature of the materials I chose to work with (see, for example, the reasons for rejecting the felted sample). It also had an impact on the scale of the image and the nature of any repeating pattern. It would be interesting to re-focus on a larger piece to see how the wave imagery could be translated into other media.

Are there more ideas you would like to pursue that have come out of this project? Are they similar in feeling to the direction you took, or different?
There are many ideas I've pencilled in for future exploration! I've noted a number of them in my learning log posts about the theme book and the experimental work. I also have additional drawings and ideas in my sketchbooks. There is also plenty of scope for future development of the mind maps.

Which stage did you find the most exciting? Which stage was most arduous and difficult to get through? 
The most exciting stage was exploring the samples, trying out different techniques and media, seeing how a simple motif could be interpreted in so many ways. The hardest part was gathering source material. I wanted to try as far as possible to source material from a range of places but it is difficult to ignore the lure of the internet! I did use my own photographs, magazines, some drawings and postcards but even with my own images I much prefer to photograph and save images to the computer so I can use them later for image manipulation, colour manipulation, printing and collage etc. I do, of course, keep found objects, fabrics etc. for textural and tactile study but even these I like to photograph and record details online.

Do you like your finished textile? Can you say what its strengths and weaknesses are? 
I do like the finished sample. The colours are perhaps more delicate than I would personally wear but I think the silk paints give lovely tonal qualities that really capture the variety of shading in waves. I like the repeating shape - it has movement and rhythm and it appeals to my passion for ancient symbols and traditional patterns in textiles, art and architecture. I also think that the beads add a nice touch.

In terms of weaknesses, I am not sure how easy it will be to repeat the pattern over a larger area and I can't be sure that the silk will be sufficiently robust for regular wear. It will also be necessary to ensure that any wadding is fine enough to allow for drape and movement so that the wearer doesn't look like a Michelin Man!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Assignment 5 - Project 10 - A Design Project - Silk-painted, hand-stitched and quilted waistcoat sample


Following on from my experiments, I concluded that I liked the effect of the silk painting but preferred the pattern used for the felting. I therefore decided to combine these two aspects into a further design. I had used wadding in earlier exercises and found that this was a good way to add depth and texture without weight.

I began with the pattern sketch..

And the translation of the sketch onto a waistcoat front...

I then used graph paper to plot out the pattern so it could be traced out for a repeat pattern....

On the graph paper I tried out a sample colourway based on the original source material and the subsequent silk samples...

I worked this up into a sketch to see how the design and colour scheme might look in practice...

As the waistcoat would be viewed primarily from the front, I concluded that it would be more cost-effective, practical and comfortable if the back of the finished waistcoat was made with a satin fabric in a co-ordinating colour. A standard dressmaking pattern sourced from an old magazine provided the basis for the full-size waistcoat and I used this to create a large scale template on graph paper. This gave the basis for the dimensions of the pattern and the best size for the repeat (pattern and graph paper mock-up can be found in the theme book).

I used this article to refine my techniques for silk painting and using gutta as my initial results, whilst acceptable for sampling, were still a little random and I didn't want to waste precious silk. I also used Painting on Silk by Jill Kennedy and Jane Vassall.

Final sample
For the final sample I created a section of the front of the garment at actual size. I began by tracing the wave shapes onto parchment paper using black marker pen. The marker pen lines were drawn thickly enough to enable them to be seen through the silk. I stretched and taped the silk to a silk painting frame then laid it over the tracing. I used clear gutta to outline the wave shapes and allowed it to dry. I then used steam-fix deka silk paints to paint the silk, working carefully to ensure that the paint didn't bleed across the gutta lines.

One change from the original sketch plan was to use a crimson silk paint and a fine gold gutta outline instead of a thicker gold line to delineate the wave repeats. I felt that gold would be too heavy if worked entirely in gold metallic paint as the metallic fabric paints tend to be stiffer than the normal paints. They also have a tendency to flake off when flexed or during washing. This would limit the practicality of the fabric for a garment. Stitching a solid gold thread would need to be done in a satin stitch which would, I felt, be too dominant and could distort the fine silk fabric.

Once the fabric was dry and the gutta had been removed, I cut a piece of thin wadding and tacked it to the silk. I then used machine-stitching to outline the wave shapes in white thread. At this stage the piece was taking shape but the waves were flat and uninteresting, so I used a variegated metallic thread and hand-stitched into the waves to create sparkly highlights. I also hand stitched in gold thread along the dividing crimson wave lines which gave lift and additional texture. I also added a sprinkling of metallic and pearlized seed beads along one of the repeats in the sample to create flecks of foam. I wasn't sure if this would be too much but I think that it adds life, interest and a sense of movement. Interestingly, although it wasn't strictly planned the use of the clear gutta left a white outline around the crests of the waves which gave them life and the appearance of seafoam.

Assignment 5 - Theme Book - Experimental Work

Armed with a wide range of images, ideas and possible strands for idea development I felt ready to do some trial designs.

Drawing on my wave theme I selected some source images from my collection that I felt had potential for development into interesting designs. A greetings card provided the inspiration for the wave shape....

A postcard provided the colour inspiration....

Before I finally settled on waves as my theme I experimented with alternative interpretations of ocean/water themes from my mind map. Utilising the colours on the card, I made a selection of drawings and samples extrapolated from words that I felt were appropriately expressive and creative.

I selected splashing, undulating (rippling) and crashing (waving).

Beginning with the basic idea I made a very quick line drawing for each of my chosen words. I wanted a bold, simple image that could be readily translated into a range of different forms - scalable and with scope for interpretation across different media.


Undulating (rippling)


 Once I was happy with the line drawings, I painted a ceramic tile thickly with gouache paints and used a cotton bud to recreate the image that represented my chosen words. I then used paper to create prints of each image.




For the next stage I considered how each pattern could be developed into a finished textile project. My initial idea had been to create a waistcoat so I drew a couple of quick sketches showing how the pattern might be applied to the fronts of a waistcoat.



Waving (horizontal)

I also tried a slightly quirkier version, adding in the dolphin's tail emerging from the waves...

And a coloured version....

Splash design
I liked the splash image and thought this would look interesting on silk, so I tried sampling various colours, using deka salt to create the foam/bubble effect and table salt for smaller droplets.

I experimented with a clear gutta to create the splash and droplets.

 I did a further sample using gold gutta and fine table salt to create bolder, highlighted splashes and delicate droplets...

I liked the colours of the silk samples and the splashing pattern was really quite attractive with the fine salt and the gold or clear gutta. However, I didn't feel that the pattern would scale up well and it didn't look right in the pencil sketch as a repeat pattern. It was also quite difficult to achieve the desired effect and it was slow to create. This would make it impractical for a project which was for resale. I'd like to come back to this for a different project, perhaps a cushion or bag front, or maybe a long wrap?

Wave design
For my next sample I chose the wave design. My initial sample used hand-stitched chain stitches worked in hand-dyed stranded cottons onto hand-marbled thin card. The card would be replaced by a fabric in the finished piece. I mounted this into a dolphin's tail for added interest.

Again, this was a time-consuming sample to make, particularly taking into account the hand-dyeing and hand-marbling. This could be speeded up by using a commercial space-dyed thread and by using a marbled fabric. The sample could be resized and the scale altered, however, I feel that this design would be very intense covering the entire front of a waistcoat. It would be interesting to play with other mounting shapes and perhaps to use a wadding/quilting and maybe reverse applique for a fun book cover, cushion front or bag.

Wave design (vertical)
As I still liked the wave pattern I decided to try an alternative medium. For the next sample I turned the design through 90 degrees to create a vertical repeat. I added a wave-line to delineate the repeat and create a strong vertical line.

I then sketched this onto a waistcoat front....

Felt sample
I used pure wool and a wetfelting technique to create this pattern. For the lines I added a hand-stitched gold thread.

This piece was heavy and lacked drape so wouldn't be suitable for the intended waistcoat project. It would, however, be suited to a project requiring a more sturdy fabric. I wouldn't completely rule out a garment but it would need to take into account the weight and stiffness of the resulting fabric. Perhaps an outer garment? Alternatively, it would be a great pattern for a rug, large bag/holdall or soft furnishing. It may be necessary to needlefelt the finer parts of the design and to wetfelt more thoroughly if using for an object which would be subject to wear as otherwise pilling and fluffing may occur.