The last couple of days have been spent working through colour and material decisions – on the figure: skin, open mouth, dress; on the binding: type(s), colour(s), stitching colours. In Stage 2 (posted 28-Dec-2012) I wrote “orange is the major colour on the moodboard, but in the sketchbook pages I chose earlier there was a preponderance of black and purple, with just flashes of green and orange. As mentioned above the idea of legal red tape, and blood red keep returning, as does institutional drab”, but there’s been a lot of development and constraining choices since then.
I have three of Nancy’s old dresses plus a worn-out nightie (nightdress?), and very much want to use one of those. Black has long seemed the most likely contender for the binding, and I’ve put together a range of tapes and ribbons which might be useful. The dress fabrics are all 100% cotton, the bindings include cotton, synthetics and a raffia.
You might be able to see some lines drawn on the fabrics in the photograph. I spent some time identifying the pattern repeat, just to build some familiarity with them. The pale nightie was smallest at 9.5 x 12.5 cm (assuming I found the repeat – it’s quite faint and non-descript), up to 19 x 19.5 on the large scale print at the top of the photo.
This photo shows the bindings around a cellophane box. The box has been crushed out of shape – a possibility I mentioned last post – and as hoped some interesting reflections have been created. It also creates some space for shadows underneath, an unanticipated bonus which makes me happy. The black looks good on the cellophane box, and I don’t feel any need to explore other colours.
The sample wrapping above is much too confused and visually distracting. The final wrapping will be more considered and less messy, but I won’t be able to fine-tune placement until I’ve made the actual figure and can see the interaction and shapes created. Final decisions must wait until then, but at this stage I’m planning on using just the three different sizes of cotton tape plus the spikey yarn.
Some small swatches of the four fabrics have been added here (caught between the back of the box and the bindings. I’ve chosen the second from the left for the figure. A lighter fabric will contrast with the black bindings, and I think will probably be more visible inside the container. The large scale print is much too big for the scale of figure I am making. The nightie is nice and light, but I prefer the more identifiable Liberty dress fabrics. They were always a favourite of Nancy’s. The green-based print is darker than the others, so not as suitable. I think the scale, light background and bright colours of the chosen print will work well. As well as the personal association (having been purchased and worn by Nancy), in my eyes at least this fabric suggests an older wearer.
In this photograph I’ve put in some bindings showing text stitching. The effect on the sample is even more busy, but it shows that two lines of text can be fit on the largest tape. Again the final decision can be made later, but the current thought is to stitch in colours that can be found in the dress fabric, adding a kind of visual connection to the words and to their subject.
I spent some time using gimp to combine various photographs in layers, just to give a sense of what I’m aiming for. It actually looks pretty dreadful, in particular the shape and scale of the body is all wrong, but it provides a kind of summary of what I’m attempting.
Missing in the discussion above is consideration of the figure’s colour. The wool felt was by far the most successful of the samples I made (post 6-Jan-2013). I quite liked the colour of the sample at the time, but now it looks too clean and cheerful. I made the colour samples on the left yesterday and today, and most of them are still damp (it’s the Australia Day public holiday today, so naturally it’s raining). I wanted something just a little off, not natural, but not wildly unnatural. For the open mouth I went back to those initial colour ideas and tried a few reds and purples.
The early felt figure samples are included on the right in this photograph. The chosen fabric is in the centre, and you might be able to see the little black lines included in the pattern, which give another visual link to the bindings. Top left is the selected mix for the skin colour. There’s a bit of an old, drab, slightly dusty or grubby look, and the pinch of dark blue in the mix suggests the raised veins visible. There’s also a pinch of a darkish brown, which gives a slightly mottled, aged-spotted appearance. For the open mouth I’m tending towards the dark purple at the moment, with the dark red as runnerup. The purple should be a little unexpected, a little jarring – and also a little jarring in that it isn’t quite the black of the bindings.
After all the planning and sampling it’s now time to see if I can actually make this thing.