T1-MMT-P1-Research Megan Q. Bostic

Megan Bostic’s work is beautiful and terrible. The titles of her work and exhibitions have a raw emotional honesty – “The First Year of Grief”, “Stale Hope: Too Much Was Never Enough”, “Internal Bleeding”, “Self-Defense Mechanism: It Can’t Hurt When You’re Already Numb”… It feels close to voyeuristic to view such feeling, except that clearly this is the artist’s chosen way of living with and understanding her sorrows, and that the work itself is sincere, evocative, emotional, deeply thought as well as felt, often tender and beautiful. In her Artist Statement Bostic writes:

“I understand the pain.
I understand its force:
it reveals,
it confesses,

I am no longer haunted.”
(Bostic, [n.d.])

Bostic makes use of a wide range of materials including stiffened tissues, cotton, tulle, glass, wood panels, pigment, oil paints, wax, oil pastels, dental floss, plastic vinyl, bubble wrap, baby wipes, coffee grounds, twine, wire, with techniques such as fibre stiffening, encaustic, double weave and screen printing. Colours are often natural, or stained with coffee, or perhaps the colour of dried blood.

As a weaver I was drawn to a number of works using double weave – seen in a photograph of Bostic’s undergraduate exhibition (http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/artist_interviews/078_megan_bostic_12.html), and in a variety of scales in Stale Hope, seen hung as part of the World of Threads Festival in a photograph on Bostic’s website (https://meganqbostic.squarespace.com/news/). Double weave is very effective in trapping objects, partially obscured, inviting close investigation.

However this research section is about surface distortion, and there are two examples of crumpling in Bostic’s work which really take advantage of that technique to evoke the crushing of hope, the wearing down of grief.

In Family Portrait Bostic has used facial tissues stiffened with beeswax – the family images formed from the holder of their tears. Seven crumpled “heads” are suspended in a group, slightly different heights, sizes, pigmentation. The family resemblance is strong, but each is individual. I thought of a Greek chorus behind their masks, speaking hidden fears, telling their story to the audience. (Images available: http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/artist_interviews/078_megan_bostic_12.html and https://meganqbostic.squarespace.com/family-portrait/).

crumple_01The First Year of Grief has columns of waxed rectangles of organza, suspended on linen thread. On the right is my rough sketch of a section, included the very important shadows cast by the days of mourning. Each piece of organza is distorted by crumpling and what looks to be lumpy seams of stitching, like badly healed scar tissue.

In these works the materials and techniques are incredibly evocative of the emotions that Bostic is exploring/presenting. It is challenging to see that some of the works were part of her undergraduate show. It’s a reminder to keep pushing, to try to be honest, to take risks, to be ready to expose one’s self. Bostic also shows that the “simple” techniques we are exploring in this part of the course can be very powerful.


Bostic, M. Q. ([n.d.]) Artist Statement [online] Available from https://meganqbostic.squarespace.com/artist-statement/ (Accessed 20 March 2015)

T1-MMT-P1-Research Megan Q. Bostic
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Research: Megan Q. Bostic

Exhibition – Chuck Close: Prints, process and collaboration

It’s late to write about this exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (link). It closed a week or two ago, I went to a talk by curator Terrie Sultan last November and have lost my notes… still, a couple of thoughts I want to capture.

chuck_close_01Building up an image
It was fascinating to see the process of printing exposed.

This is Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio 2000 – 12 plate proofs, 12 progressive proofs, and the final work. Meticulous method. The slightest marks (and spaces) are significant in the final.

On the left of the image is an oil pointing by Close, Emma (2000). On the right, Emma (2002), a 113-colour hand printed ukiyo-e woodcut, printer Yasu Shibata.

Throughout his career Close has collaborated with others, often printers. He listens to people, inspires them, will trust them, will take risks, will push them.

A larger image of the print and some of the plates is below.

chuck_close_06Breadth and Depth
A wide range of techniques had been used in the various works. Close’s oil paintings, plus mezzotint, silkscreen, aquatint (spitbite), ukiyo-e prints, pulp paper, hand stamp – and here, fingerprints.

Leslie/Fingerprint (1986) is direct gravure, a type of etching. To quote the exhibition signage: “Close fingerprinted [Leslie’s] face on a translucent sheet of Mylar. That image was then applied to a photosensitsed surface, bitten with acid, and printed. Shades of light and dark were controlled by how much pressure the artist applied with his fingertips”. Again the collaboration, but also the inventiveness and openness.

The “depth” is how much can be found in front-on closeups of faces. Often the same faces used again and again using different techniques. But the depth isn’t in exploring the psychology or personality of the apparent subject.

In a large image (almost 1.5 m high) of a woman’s face, the work seems to me more about the artist whose fingerprints form the image. Like many of the prints shown, this forcefully asserts the handmade in what could otherwise be perceived as a mechanical process of printing. It asserts the presence of the artist.

Or rather, lack of emotion.

On the right is Roy (2011), described as a jacquard tapestry. I’ve inserted a photo showing how large the work is, and how close we were able to get to it.

I have expectations of textiles. To me cloth brings the potential for multiple associations, to be charged with emotion, to cry out to be touched … This work feels like an intellectual exercise – more that’s interesting, let’s see how far we can push the technology, let’s see how the image changes, how it responds to this different technique.

Clearly viewers found it fascinating, drawn close to the work. I found it fascinating, but I don’t think it made me feel or see something new or unexpected emotionally. Feeling the lack has helped me think more about what I want/expect from textiles.

T1-MMT-P1-p1-e1 Linear accordion pleats continued

My initial post for this exercise was 23-March-2015. That used a single A4 page of white printer paper. Time to explore wider. I started with the idea that folding damages the material.

My work notes:
Cut some white crepe paper to roughly A4 size.
Folded in roughly 2cm folds-as for previous sample. Hard to get a crisp fold. Pleated paper sits softly on the worktop.
Easy to tie in a knot.
Unknotted & tried to stretch along folds, then realised I had cut with the grain going the wrong way. Retied the knot and stretched ends across the folds. Looks a bit like a bow on present wrapping, but I think it is a good distortion.
Untied knot and stretched across the folds a couple more times. More interesting in the photo than on the work surface, as shadows are more pronounced.
Was trying to add some more random stretches when I tore the paper. Crumpled it up in disgust before remembering to document.
There’s something attractive about the torn edge and shadow line at the front, also the central tear creates an interesting gap.
Cut a new piece of crepe paper, this time changing the grain orientation.
It was tricky to fold without introducing distortions I didn’t want yet. FoIds are firmer, but not as sharp along the edge – more a crushed look.
Next l ran my fingernail along the folds, causing the edge to stretch and flute. Unexpectedly the sides of the fold caught together. I stretched just the hill folds and the paper formed a natural star profile. Good shadows and movement.
I finger stretched the valley folds, trying not to disturb where the layers had caught.
Then opened out the folds.
Thinking about accordion folds while grocery shopping, I noticed a pack of drinking straws. A little cutting and messing around, and it looks like an accordion pleat – that happily moves further into 3 dimensions.
A quick sketch of method.
accordion_25We’re meant to include failures. The idea was to create an accordion-like profile with pieces of straw cut in half lengthwise and joined using clear adhesive tape. Total Fail. Didn’t notice until later that in my dislike of the thing I took an equally bad photo.
Still thinking about the profile of the pleats, I played with some cable ties.
First a basic accordion zigzag.
Then thinking about the amount of overhang at the folds. The energy and movement changes entirely, the blue stable, motionless, the purple briskly marching us off to the right.
Then exploring some of the geometrical possibilities with overlapping. l think there is lots more to find here – something to return to.
Steel wool next. I unrolled the pads – messy, but I find the result exciting, so like sheep’s wool, especially that lovely crimp, and yet so different.
I needed a way to keep “pleats” in the material. Thinking of the crepe paper where the sides stuck together, I used party picks to stabilize the folds. A few pictures of this, to show the closed, tight shape – but still showing pleats.
I wanted something looser, more fragile (in contrast to the metallic nature), so started teasing it out -just as I would prepare wool tops for spinning.
An extra photo – because I like it.
Some soft accordion pleats – a cloud of metal.
Then form somewhat clearer with the addition of “structural” party picks.
I was rather taken with the wool tops analogy, so had to make a quick length of 2-ply. Really like the look & would seem to have possibilities, but it’s a messy material, not nice to work with.
Going back to the damage being done to a material in the process of folding it – its bending and possibly breaking fibres. Could folding thin balsawood keep structure but produce splintering to highlight that damage?
I used 1mm thick balsa, and tried to control the folds by lightly scoring on the underside of where I wanted to fold. Note with my crepe paper experience I was careful to fold across the grain.
I did get an accordion fold of a sort, with some rather nice, controlled splintering, but the material just wanted to break entirely.
Next I tried without pre-scoring, but using a ruler to try to control positioning.
This held together, although fragile, and I began to get some of that broken vibe I was looking for.
Finally, folding totally freehand. I very much like this.
The imperfect screen seems a particularly poignant effect.

That’s the end of linear accordion pleats, for now at least. I’ve experimented with

  • printer paper
  • crepe paper
  • plastic drinking straws
  • cable ties
  • steel wool
  • balsa wood
  • No conventional textiles – hope I’ve read the course notes correctly on that. I didn’t get through my initial list of ideas – trying to manage time, and I rather like the feeling of having an excess of ideas.

    I’m fine-tuning the working method. Those nasty interference lines are pretty much gone, but that was achieved by turning off one of my work lights meaning the photos are a little dim. I’ve read up on the camera controls in the tablet itself, so will experiment with that at some point. Hopefully what I have is good enough for now. Over the two posts I’ve included sketches on paper and quick computer-based notes, as well as lots of photos obviously, which I think was a good test of what my systems and I can do.

    labelI’ve printed off some standard labels, a format that I’ve used in the past that helps tracking samples. I can scrawl necessary details and attach in moments.

    Next step is to respond to my tutor and check that all this works for her and that I haven’t set of in totally the wrong direction.

    T1-MMT-P1-p1-e1 Linear accordion pleats continued
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 1: Surface Distortion
    Project 1: Folding and crumpling
    Exercise 1: Linear accordion pleats continued

    T1-MMT-P1-p1-e1 Linear accordion pleats

    Part 1 of the course looks at “ways of manipulating a range of materials as a means of discovering or rediscovering their creative potential” (OCA, p. 15). It’s also a chance to develop good working practices. There are five projects with a total of twenty exercises. We are asked to choose ten to attempt at this time.

    I’ve chosen to start with linear accordion pleats. It’s the first exercise of the first project and appears to be very simple. I take that to be a challenge to push myself to find more, plus an opportunity to experiment with work method.

    Here are notes from my first sample-making session:
    Printer paper, a4. Like the mini-pleat at the end. Unfinished business. Future connection point.
    Tried to knot -difficult. Like compression and release. Moves strongly into 3 dimensions.
    Refolded into narrower pleats.
    Smoother in a sense.
    A bit easier to fold, although still stiff. Like the extra dimensionality, some flaring in the knotted area. Interesting shadow.
    Pleat of pleat. Not very interesting
    Views from front and back of sample. Fixed second pleating at fold points then expanded pleatss between. Getting complex, interesting shapes. What would happen if paper was printed (text or images?). Decided to stay on path for now. I find this sample intriguing – quite dimensional, insists on curving, lots of detail.
    Recording, trying to focus on lines & shapes created. Felt tip on printer paper (the same as sampled). Not accurate or interesting.
    Tried adding highlights and shading. Less accurate, less interesting – and the photo flatters it.
    Tried again, this time on ~A5 pastel paper, Conte crayons, thinking about tones from the start. Not accurate, but got a sense of soft & hard folds, sharp and smooth, nested.

    The above is a blow-by-blow account of the session, with outcomes recorded as I went – both annotations and an attempt to focus in on a sample and discover more through drawing in different media.

    Looking for an effective way to sample and record, I had my tablet beside me, taking photos of the result after each sample manipulation. I could check the photos, crop them and delete duds straight away. Then I stored them with notations in Evernote as I went. See post 26-Feb-2015 for a bit more about the technology. When I finished the session I simply synced Evernote on my desktop machine. I saved all attachments (photos) and resized in gimp. Then a simple copy of everything into wordpress – this post.


  • We’re asked to record and show everything, and this really is everything.
  • Given the sampling was all one piece of paper, trying one thing after another, there’s no alternative to capturing results each step of the way.
  • I used to take notes on paper as I worked, then transcribe/interpret/summarise them in blog posts. I think the new way is quicker.
  • I like having the photos kept with the notes. I used to have trouble sometimes matching things up.
  • There’s effectively a level of backup just as a byproduct of the process (not that I want to rely on that – I’ll continue my regular backups separately)
  • Doing all this doesn’t actually interrupt work. The whole idea is to be thoughtful, attentive, in our making.
  • Cons

  • There are annoying lines of light interference in the photos. I don’t want to be running around taking photos in natural light – and it’s raining today anyway. I have multiple lights on my worktable and the combination isn’t working well.
  • It could all get rather tedious for anyone looking at the blog. Sorry, low priority.
  • References

    OCA (2014) Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles Barnsley: Open College of the Arts

    T1-MMT-P1-p1-e1 Linear accordion pleats
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 1: Surface Distortion
    Project 1: Folding and crumpling
    Exercise 1: Linear accordion pleats

    T1-MMT-P1-Research Anne Kyyrö Quinn

    Anne Kyyrö Quinn (http://www.annekyyroquinn.com/) is suggested in the course materials as an example of artists and designers who distort the surface of materials.

    I’ve done some sketchbook work based on photographs of Kyyrö Quinn’s work, and will use my sketches to illustrate my comments.
    alquinn_swissotel01alquinn_swissotel02On the right are two impressions of panels in the Leaf design, installed in the Media Room of Swissotel, Bremen, Germany. (original image Anne Kyyrö Quinn, Portfolio [online] Available at www.annekyyroquinn.com
    (Accessed 19 March 2015)).

    The actual panels are very much slicker. My top version in particular, a collage of foil corrugated card, is my emotional reaction to the precise, controlled, ultra-modern, stylish work, rather than a literal drawing. The lower version (Conté crayon on black paper) gives an indication of the patterning. I think the work is actually a single colour of very smooth red felt, cut, folded and stitched to create a pattern of shadow lines. Other works in the Portfolio use strong directional lighting to emphasize shadow patterning.

    The website describes the product as “resembling artworks more than conventional fabrics” and emphasizes qualities such as unique, handmade, not seen before, luxury, timeless, natural, “an elegant, unassuming beauty”, design excellence, tailor made (Kyyrö Quinn, n.d) .

    I have a very negative reaction to this work. It is too precise, controlled, anonymous. It’s serving a utilitarian purpose in a very stylish way, but I find it cold. The warmth and chaotic nature of felt is lost. It’s gone clinical. I also find the level of luxury off-putting, a reverse snobbery perhaps, but even the home interiors shown look like design showrooms with no personality or human presence.

    alquinn_reinsuranceIt is enormously clever and can play with lines and architectural space. On the right is my version of the reception area of New Reinsurance in London. A digital sketch seemed a good fit with an upmarket office vibe, but the original photos are so sharp, so mannered, so self-consciously clever (www.annekyyroquinn.com/portfolio/5/1.html). Anne Kyyrö Quinn’s felt panels (Leaf design again) wrap from both sides of the front wall and up along the passageways on either side of the reception desk. The lines of the felt folding and stitching play against the perspective lines. In fact the area seems all lines, with the exception of a small plant or similar on the desk. No receptionist is seen – how could a warm body survive in such a clinical environment?

    alquinn_iceworks01There are many installations shown in the studio’s portfolio, and just one seems to me a bit different – The Iceworks in Camden, London. See the photographs at www.annekyyroquinn.com
    – one of them includes a person! There is real variation in colour and asymmetry in the design. Possibly because the curtain is moved as spaces are connected, the geometry seems less rigid. (My version is Inktense pencils on watercolour paper.)

    Interestingly – significantly, I think – this project was a collaboration with installation artist Francesco Draisci – see photographs on his website, draisci.com/projects/acoustic-curtain/, from which I learnt the slashes of colour are silk inserts.

    Two other items on Draisci’s site are relevant to this Part of the course. At draisci.com/projects/structural-folding/ is research based on the structural strength given by a fold in paper. A temporary display space structure from folded 50mm thick honeycomb cardboard has been designed. The C.R.A.P.T. project (draisci.com/projects/c-r-a-p-t/) creates vessels with distorted surfaces created from adhesive tape and wool yarn.

    bueys_plightIn other reading this week I came across Plight, a work by Joseph Beuys that involves wool felt on walls. My drawing is based on an image from Bacon (2013). I used charcoal for those sagging, baggy rolls of felt lining the walls, a shiny wax crayon for the grand piano, conté crayon for the parquet floor, on kraft paper for a nice earthy tone. In my drawing the piano has too much presence, is not properly overwhelmed by the felt.

    In the photograph the felt looms, pushes into the space. It is in ranks, but not precise. It sags, is crumpled, asserts. It billows, suffocates and demands. It is not a polite, decorative element as in Anne Kyyrö Quinn’s work, although both were designed for the same function (Beuys’ installation was originally designed for the Anthony d’Offay gallery in response to noise from building work nearby (Gravelle, 2010)).

    The piano is silent. The temperature rises as warm bodies enter the space. Is it a womb or a padded cell? My mind is filled with competing associations. My eyes explore the space defined – confined – by the felt and I want to touch those beautiful imperfect rolls.

    This work has many layers of meaning. Beuys “made the material quality of chaotically structured felt a basic element of his art, integrating it in his theory of social sculpture” (Brüderlin, p 26).

    This is the line I want to pursue – concept, meaning, purpose beyond utility – although not necessarily excluding it. There is nothing really objectionable about Anne Kyyrö Quinn’s work – but who wants to set their sights on being unobjectionable? It is excellent work, excellent craftsmanship. For myself, I’m looking for something different.

    Bacon, H. (2013) “Joseph Beuys’ Plight” Art for Breakfast [online] Available from http://artforbreakfast.org/2013/03/05/joseph-beuys-plight/ (Accessed 18 March 2015)

    Brüderlin, M (2013) “Introduction to the exhibition” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) “Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present” Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz

    Gravelle, A. (2010) Felt spaces: Joseph Beuys [online] Available from https://annagravelle.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/felt-spaces-joseph-beuys/ (Accessed 20 March 2015)

    Kyyrö Quinn, A. (n.d.) “The bespoke art of felt and fabric” [online] Available at www.annekyyroquinn.com/about.html (Accessed 19 March 2015)

    T1-MMT-P1-Research Anne Kyyrö Quinn
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 1: Surface Distortion
    Research: Anne Kyyrö Quinn

    T1-MMT: Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles

    Last November I blogged about my expectations and hopes for Textiles 1 – Exploring Ideas (here). Not long later I took the opportunity to discontinue and transfer to the brand new Mixed Media for Textiles. The course course is here and my goals for the coming months are pretty much the same:

  • Make the course my own.
  • Take risks and challenge myself.
  • Surprise myself.
  • Enjoy myself.
  • There was nothing at all wrong with the other course, just that the new one attracted me. When you’re investing this amount of time, energy and emotion you need to commit yourself and not be looking over your shoulder and wishing you were somewhere else.

    There’s a new contents page – fibresofbeing.wordpress.com/textiles-1-mixed-media-for-textiles/, I’ve heard from my tutor and have a date to aim for for Assignment 1 (25 May), and it’s time to get to work.

    Workshop – 3D printing

    2015-03-103dprinterThis was an evening class, a 3 hour introduction into the huge range of materials, techniques, possibilities and opportunities in 3D printing.
    On the left is the printer demonstrated in class by Mat, our tutor. He described it as “really a glorified glue gun”. It lays down layers of material, using a spool of plastic that looks like whipper-snipper line (which was actually used in earlier days). It’s a resource-friendly additive process – I quite like the parallel to weaving, adding picks (layers) of weft to create the cloth.

    There’s been chatter in the past about printing plastic guns and so on, but while theoretically you could they wouldn’t be very good guns. Better examples are shoes from a scan of the foot, prosthetics that fit exactly and are cheap enough to upgrade each year as a child grows, a coconut cutter that was everywhere in your village but nowhere to be found in Sydney. With 3D printing you can create unique and/or customised items, or replacement parts not kept in inventory, or prototypes while developing that new gadget that will take the world by storm. For actual manufacture in bulk you’d move to injection moulding or other faster and cheaper methods.

    Mat took us on a whirlwind tour of the various methods in use – extrusion, wire, granular, powder bed and inkjet head, laminated and light polymerised. He talked sintering and stereolithography and ceramic plaster… but what I was really focused on were the techniques and materials available to me now, reasonably locally and economically, with my Mixed Media for Textiles course in mind.

    FDM (fused deposition modeling), as in the printer Mat showed us, is the most affordable, using polymer filaments – many types available in a wide variety of TLAs (three (or two) letter acronyms). There seems to be a lot to think about when printing – the grain of the printing (greater weakness on the z-axis), adhesion to the printing plate, temperatures, nozzle diameter, printer speed, layer height… and that’s after you’ve actually designed your item. It seems like a lot, but there is a very active community on the internet, lots on YouTube, and various service providers including Mat.

    The workshop includes printing of a small item of our own design, so I’ll be sending my file off to Mat soon. I’m really excited about the possibilities for combining the printed items with textiles, so the plan is to start experimenting with that. I also want to get hold of some polymorph plastic, which melts in hot water and you can then mould by hand, and perhaps a 3D pen.

    Some links:
    http://madmat3dprinting.com.au/ – website of our tutor, Mat Danic.
    https://www.facebook.com/MADTechSupport/videos?fref=photo – videos Mat has shared. In particular https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=443910142439183&set=vr.443910142439183&type=2&theater, which shows the polymorph plastic.

    http://www.threefarm.com/makers-place/ and http://www.makersplace.org.au/ The Makers Place in Sydney. You can join and access their equipment, including a number of 3d printers

    http://www.sydneycommunitycollege.com.au/course/B.3D.Prin There’s another class coming up at the Sydney Community College

    Free design software:

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