Friday, 27 September 2013

Final Reflections

Overall the course, and the final project particularly proved more challenging than I expected.  I didn't realise at the beginning exactly how hard it would be to motivate myself to get going, nor how hard it would be to set time aside for myself.  before starting the course  I believed that I was home all day with my kids doing nothing and I had heaps of time to myself, I see now that that was incredibly naive, all the little things I do, the hoovering and the washing and the reading and the playing and the teaching and the endless, endless cooking actually add up to quite a big thing and I am quite short on time because of it.
Aside from the actual logistics of just getting things done I have found the whole course thoroughly enjoyable, maybe apart from the design section, the practical work has been a wonderful experience and an excellent way of getting back into using creative processes every day.  I have found it hard keeping the learning log and being honest a good deal of this was typed well after the fact.  During the first two assignments I kept a logbook written by hand and filled with stuck in images an paraphernalia and I was much  happier with this way of recording my learning processes, but after my tutor told me I should think about the presentation of it my head interpreted that to mean that my way was wrong and I should keep a digital log like everyone else.  This would be the one thing that I would go back and change, I would have stuck to my guns and worked in a way that suited me better.
I think I have got a lot out of this course and I really can't wait to begin the next one, which hopefully I can complete at much greater speed!

Project 10 - Stage 4 - Making Your Textile Piece

This the final piece.  I'm pleased with it all overall, I managed to include many of the techniques that I had wanted to.  My tutor felt that the large mushrooms were too big and dwarfed the smaller elements somewhat, but that is sort of what I was trying to achieve, I didn't want lots of dainty little things on a minute scale, it would have been too fiddly and finicky for me to execute well.

The large mushrooms were constructed using calico on the outside, the tops were painted, the brown ones spattered with sepia ink, the purple one was decorated using my favourite watercolour ink and bleach and salt technique, unfortunately with age the bleach has yellowed slightly, but I am unsure what else I could have used to avoid this, I constructed tube stems from the same fabric and then for the underneath I made some yo-yo puffs, to echo the gill shapes of field mushrooms, from lighter fabrics and then stitched the whole lot together.

For the grey and purple lichen, I used the kunin felt that I'd been experimenting with in my sketchbook, using heat zapping techniques, this ate wonderful lichen like holes in the felt, although slightly singed it in some places, I then stitched on small patches of purple sheer to echo the colours that I had been so inspired by, and  stitched them down with white thread.

I love these little parasol mushrooms, they are made with a top of painted felt, stuffed with pink roving that was felted into a cup shape and stitched together very tightly to achieve the fluted edges of the real mushrooms, the stalk was made from beading wire wrapped with embroidery thread and glued in place.

The cage fungus was made from a twisted beading wire frame wrapped in cream mohair to give it some texture.

The whole thing is mounted on a bed of pink slime mould that I built from a base of quilted hand painted calico, quilted in organic circular shapes to echo the pillowy mass of slime mould.  I also constructed some tube lichen made from a puff paint, layered net and painted base, some small slime moulds from silk flower stamens glued into clear glass beads.  The whole thing was enhanced with some needle felted lumps, French knots, cross stitches and a little beading.


I can see a continuous thread of development running all the way through my themebook, my sketchbook and then into my final piece.  For my final design I painted a very loose watercolour, gathering together all the design ideas I'd been working on up to that point and I think I remained quite true to that painting in the finished piece.

I find it hard to say that I managed to make all the right decisions, i question myself so much that I'm never totally sure about anything.  I can only say that I am content with my choices and overall pleased with the final piece, although I think maybe it should have been more circular.

i interpreted my ideas using my chosen techniques and the materials at hand to the best of my abilities I think, although I began this assignment convinced that I wanted to make a weaving, I'm glad that I ended up making the choices that I did.

I believe that my final design is both inventive and coherent.  I managed to carry through the ideas that I had during my theme book and I think that I did it in quite a creative way.

Project 10 - Stage 3 - Developing Your Design

The bottom image is a painting I did right before I began doing any practical work on my final piece, it was, then, just an idea of what I wanted to create, but it became  almost like a pattern that I started to follow and in the end what I made was very like this painting.

I chose not to do the geometric shape/framing design exercise that is mentioned in the course notes, I found this way of working during project 4 quite non-intuitive for me and I really didn't wish to revisit it.  Also by this stage I had a pretty firm idea of what I was going to create, i wasn't looking to design any further, i was just figuring out methods of execution that were going to work well in the context of the sculpture.

Project 10 - Stage 2 continued

Sketchbook work based on my Theme

Working directly from my themebook I tried out a lot of different drawings and colouring techniques to find methods I felt went really well with the different fungi and lichens that i wanted to use in my final project.  I already had it in my mind that I wanted to make a sort of a fabric sculpture of the different sorts of cryptogams that I'd come across during my research.

Project 10 - Stage 1 and 2 - A Design Project

I have to be honest and say that I really struggled with this project, it's been quite a journey and what I've ended up with is nothing like what I began.  I started 4 different projects and became disenchanted with the first three very quickly.  I lost my original theme book in a small kitchen flood and it was overall quite a traumatic project for me.

Stage 1

Reviewing all the work that I have done so far reminded me of all the things I have loved doing since I began this course.  The things that were foremost in my mind after sorting through all the work were:-

the watercolour, bleach and salt effect from Project 1
the French knot exercises from Project 2
the yo-yo puff fabric manipulation from Project 6
the needle felted nodules from Project 9

Stage 2

Theme book inspiration can be found here.

The more I researched the family of cryptogams the more I fell in love with really strange ones, the slime moulds and the alien looking fungi, and especially those that were in outlandish colours, wonderful pinks and purples, even blues.

I was thinking of some of the things that I'd found inspiring over the duration of the course, the beautiful biotopes of Amy Gross, the incredible imagined worlds of Pip & Pop and the breathtaking fabric sculptures of Mr Finch.  This led me to the thought of creating a small secret world or cryptogams.

Sketchbook 5

Project 9 - Reflective Commentary

I think I did manage to gather a big enough selection of yarns and materials to experiment with during this project.  Unlike the last one I never felt that I was restricted by not having the exact right colour I was looking for.  I was most drawn to natural fibres, as always, which I think add a lovely feel to any piece, they also add a solidity texture wise that I enjoy.

I expected to be frustrated by the relative slowness of weaving techniques but actually I revelled in it, until I started messing about with strung  beads.  I suspect that this has something to do with the loom I was using having a heddle, and that was just down to good fortune!

Apart from the problems I've already mentioned I am genuinely really pleased with my final sample.  I struggled with the pattern as I've already mentioned, I find it far easier to work from the internal pattern in my brain than I do sticking to a paper pattern.  This was as far as I am concerned the only part of the design process that just doesn't work for me.

I do enjoy putting things together more intuitively rather than working from a source, mainly, i think because when I use a source I fall back into the trap of trying to match things exactly, finding the perfect shade.  I find it a lot easier and preferable to choose yarns that I think will work together and then deciding what to do with them.