T1-MMT-P2-p1-e3 Joining curved edges – post 1

Jemima Parker undefined objects (detail) 2014

Jemima Parker
undefined objects (detail)
2014

When reading ahead and planning this project I thought of forms such as Jemima Parker’s, seen at the Tamworth triennial (22-May-2015). I also thought of the flounces and ruffles in the amazing The art of manipulating fabric by Colette Wolff.

Samples p2-13 and p2-14

Flounce plan

Flounce plan

Now that I’ve worked through the earlier exercises, I see that curved edges don’t necessarily mean 3 dimensions. Nevertheless I decided to start with work based on Figure 4-12 in Wolff’s section on flounces. My version of that is on the right. An opened donut of material is cut for the flounce. The inside edge is applied to another edge. The fullness of the resulting flounce varies based on whether it is applied to a straight edge, an inside/concave curve or an outside/convex curve.

I used bank drafting paper for the flounce and copy paper for the base material. Both flounces are the same size. The curve on the base is the same, but one is concave (p2-13, on the left below) and one convex (p2-14, on the right). Flounces are attached using many, many short lengths of sticky tape.

Samples p2-13 and p2-14 Top view

Samples p2-13 and p2-14 Top view


Samples p2-13 and p2-14 Side view

Samples p2-13 and p2-14 Side view


There is no drape in the paper, and with sample p2-13 in particular it was very hard to persuade to sit in the same plane as the base material. I didn’t want to press in pleats, but some creasing was needed to stop the flounce flipping over the other way.

Very nice volume, shadows and lines.

Sample p2-15
For the next sample I wanted to keep flat, with curved edges that fit neatly together. This sample used 2mm balsa wood and slightly thicker cork mat.

Sample p2-15 Wood cut

Sample p2-15 Wood cut


A fairly complex line was traced from a french curve on the wood, which was then cut and sanded.
The wood then acted as a template for the cork.

Sample p2-15 Pieces ready

Sample p2-15 Pieces ready


The fit is fairly good. I chose challenging materials to cut and was quite pleased with the result.

I used a waxed linen thread, bought for bookbinding, to stitch the wood and cork together.

Sample p2-15 Stitching in progress

Sample p2-15 Stitching in progress


Stitch placement was based on a set of rules I devised. Working from one end, one stitch at a time, don’t look back, don’t look far forward. Measure forward 1 cm from the previous stitch along the join line. Lay a ruler across the join at that point, and pivot so the ruler markings line up with the next little section of join (that is, to form a continuous line). Measure out 1 cm each side and pierce to make stitching holes. Stitch. Repeat.

Jim Lambie

Jim Lambie

I was thinking of Jim Lambie (having seen Zobop at the MCA last year – 15-April-2014) – tape along the border of a room. Lay another line next to it. Repeat.
Sample p2-15

Sample p2-15


It looks a mess. The curve is lost in a jumble of lines pointing every which way.
Sample p2-15 Reverse

Sample p2-15 Reverse


The back is cluttered in a different way. Those painstaking measurements make no sense. It looks jabbed at random.

As an experiment, I drew the line in ballpoint pen on a piece of paper, and marked lines with a chalk-pastel pencil.

Sample p2-15 Drawn version

Sample p2-15 Drawn version


The lines make sense. Nothing was measured, except by eye. I can still see the flow of the curve. Just a few simplifying choices in the tight curves, a wider view taken both ahead and behind, and the effect is very, very different.

The drawn line is smoother than my cuts, and of course there are no gaps at all, which simplifies and clarifies.

I like the wood and cork because it is a record of a thing that happened. It has the imperfections of life, the mis-steps of not knowing what’s ahead. I like the textures of wood and cork and thread together. There is more to discover as I look at it longer.

Sample p2-16

Sample p2-16 Packaging materials

Sample p2-16 Packaging materials

For curved edges with a gap, I picked up some styrofoam packaging. Highly three dimensional, but my focus is the top surface and those curving edges (which cradled our new rice cooker in a previous life).

The first join of simple cocktail sticks in the sides will stabilise the large pieces while I work.

Sample p2-16 a

Sample p2-16 a

Although very simple, this takes advantage of the particular material being used. The two sticks were simply pressed into the styrofoam. Just those two connections were sufficient for a quite stable join in the light material.

Sample p2-16 b

Sample p2-16 b

In sample p2-16b two strips of heated (for colour) and embossed (for texture) metal were bent at the ends – like “[“. Each end was pressed into the stryofoam.

The play of light on the two materials works well. The decorative metal straps enrich the image, but the rather delicate line of the curved top is still visible, enhanced by the shadows of the void below. The large area of the white stryofoam is actually quite complex, and balances well with the stronger colour but smaller area of the metal.

Sample p2-16 c

Sample p2-16 c

Enjoying the technique of pressing materials into the foam to form a connection, I tried with library tags.

The tags were difficult to connect firmly – the styrofoam surface was beginning to show damage. To me it just appears busy and messy. The tags need to create more of a visual statement, or else fade more into the general view. The tag I put on the top to show the materials used now appears as a saving grace, helping the viewer to interpret the image.

Sample p2-16 d

Sample p2-16 d

In sample p2-16d the join is no longer confined to the ends of the curves. Map pins and coloured plastic string create a pattern on the surface.

The curved lines of foam and the cocktail stick “structual” join virtually disappear. The strong pattern takes over.

Sample p2-16 e

Sample p2-16 e

I expected to like a chain of giant paperclips. There is a combination of curves and straight lines which might have complimented the lines and curves of the foam. However the result is anaemic.

Sample p2-16 f

Sample p2-16 f

A series of paperclip chains in sample p2-f creates more of an impact, and there are some signs of interesting shadows below which perhaps could be developed using various lighting angles.

Sample p2-16 f - photoshopped

Sample p2-16 f – photoshopped

The curved lines which are the intended focus of the exercise have almost been lost, although now the echoing of shape (lines and curves) is more apparent. If you hide the clutter around the sides – the damaged areas, cocktail sticks, those strong circular holes in the corners – it starts working.

However for my final version I wanted to emphasise the curved line of the edge.

Sample p2-16 g Top view

Sample p2-16 g Top view

A series of flower-headed pins, with a bundle of multi-coloured wool yarn woven through, forces attention to the curved shape.

Sample p2-16 g Depth

Sample p2-16 g Depth

Extending the height of the edges above the surface also reinforces the depth of the space below. I found myself suddenly aware of the entire object, not just the surface and interior.

The colour and visual density of the wool puts the styrofoam material into the background. Its space and volume are enhanced, but the actual fabric, the textured surface with all its variations and complexity, is put into the background.

Sample p2-16 g Bridging join

Sample p2-16 g Bridging join

On the other hand, in my eyes the join – or more accurately the gap between – is more apparent. The woolen fence is a bridge, crossing a space with two distinct sides.

To wrap up this set I tried a blind sketch – 3B pencil on kraft paper – reminded of this idea by a fellow OCA student (aslowunravelling.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/experimenting-with-drawing/)

Sketch 20150618

Sketch 20150618


Focusing entirely on the sample, I felt I saw it with fresh eyes. The drawing is more a reminder of that seeing rather than an interesting thing in itself, but at least it has the advantage of lively lines.

T1-MMT-P2-p1-e3 Joining curved edges – post 1
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 2: Joining and wrapping
Project 1: Joining
Exercise 3: Joining curved edges

5 Responses to “T1-MMT-P2-p1-e3 Joining curved edges – post 1”


  1. 1 JulieB June 18, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for the credit, interesting to see another student’s exercise in blind drawing and that it proves useful to a much more advanced student (you) as well as a beginner (me!). I was also interested in your cork/wood sample and the idea of ‘rules’ for stitching. How different it looks once it’s drawn out.

  2. 2 fibresofbeing June 19, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I’ve since read your earlier post Really Looking, and see we’ve responded in similar ways.
    Rather than beginner and advanced, I think we all cycle around, learning new things, bringing past experience and skills to them, practicing and trying out, then learning and trying more new things – or relearning / rediscovering old ones.
    Distance learning has its challenges and it’s great we can learn from and help each other.


  1. 1 T1-MMT-P2-p1-e3 Joining curved edges – post 2 | Fibres of Being Trackback on June 19, 2015 at 10:46 am
  2. 2 T1-MMT-P2-p1-e4 Overlapping edges | Fibres of Being Trackback on June 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm
  3. 3 T1-MMT-P2-p1 Extended sample | Fibres of Being Trackback on July 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm

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