Project 5 Review

I covered aspects of this review in my post on Stage 5, when pushing last weekend to finish Assignment 2 before the end of April. I now feel a bit more is needed to support the work I’m sending in for tutor review. It leads to repetition in blogging, but more clarity in Assignment presentation.

Selection and interpretation of design material: I was able to select a range of design material from sketchbooks and earlier assignment work. Different elements were developed as stencils, stamps, resists and also in a more spontaneous way with the perspex printing plates. The most successful was the black/orange ink scribble, which combined with the technique I chose to give a lot of room for energy and spontaneity while doing the actual printing. The colours used were also well suited to graphic 2D printing. The tutankhamen design led to some of the best and the weakest work. Interpreted as two stamps, positive and negative, it allowed development of some interesting designs. However I found my initial work reproducing the fully developed design so flat and boring that I didn’t continue. Possibly I’ve just overused that design, but also it would be more interesting with extra dimension – perhaps some stitching to develop the background, and the columns appliqued or padded.

Fabric choice: I used a range of fabrics in my initial experiments – natural and man-made fibres, a range of textures. In later work I gravitated to cotton and silk, most often with smooth surfaces. Using dyes on silk allowed me to maintain the hand and sheen of the fabric. Touch is an important part of my response to cloth and when using the textile paints I preferred the samples which didn’t become too stiff. The more transparent fabrics have a lot of potential for overlaying, creating more complex imagery. This is definitely something I want to explore.

Scale, spacing, contrast and harmony: In the initial set of fabric tests my focus was on the marks made using different application methods on different fibres and textures. In all the other sampling I was aware of positive and negative space forming as I worked. The shell stencil repeat wasn’t as successful in practice as in my earlier development work. I wanted a bold print, but the paint was rather thick and stiff. The spacing between rows of printing wasn’t right – I think slightly closer lines would have been more interesting. Also I would prefer either more randomness in placement or less. It just looks a little sloppy.

The tutankhamen-based stamps were particularly successful – the effort of producing two matching stamps was worthwhile and gave a lot of opportunities in building up designs and in combining multiple colours. In the two larger samples – the scribble and the jug – I was able to get positive and negative motifs by using the ink remaining on the silk screen and print plates. This has additional benefits in providing different amounts of coverage and so intensity of colour.

Success of larger sample: This is covered in detail in my post of 26 April. There are specific aspects I really like, but it doesn’t quite work as a finished piece.

Other comments: I was fairly narrow in my printing and painting experimentation. My major focuses were different ways of applying fabric paints to mainly natural fibres, and attempts to use thickened lanaset dyes on silk, with a tiny amount of inktense pencils and fabric markers and crayons. I concentrated more on the range of marks and textures I could achieve. As with other parts of the course I was only able to scratch the surface and make a start.

To an extent I was building on previous experience – in class situations I’ve used indigo, various dyes for cellulose fabrics (procion, drimarene K), dye discharge (that one at home too, using TUD), disperse dyes and bleach. I’m also enrolled in an ATASDA workshop using disperse dyes later in the year. More importantly I think, I feel confident about being able to extend my skills with other materials and techniques, using all the different sources of information available and my own experimentation. Rust dyeing in particular could fit with a theme of memory and aging.

One major difficulty for me has been energy levels and the poor choices I make when tired. For example one day I didn’t feel up to original work and instead washed a bundle of samples. It was a bad choice not to sew over the edges of the more loosely woven fabrics but at least I thought briefly about it – unlike how unwise it was to wash black and white samples together. I was lucky that nothing ran badly, and some concentrated work with a clothes brush fixed the rest. Another day I’d just put my orange/black scribble fabric in a bowl of water when I realised I hadn’t ironed to fix the textile paint! Fortunately it had been pinned on a notice board for a few weeks and there was virtually no runoff.

There were two highlights during the project for me. The first was the work with perspex plates on the orange/black scribble. The whole process from selection of design material, through figuring out techniques and materials, to actually producing the sample went really well, with a good balance of preparation and spontaneity. The second was resolving the problems I had with the thickened dye paste. I still haven’t been able to make good use of a gelatin plate, but I was able to adjust my methods to get effective results.

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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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