T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

The goals I set when starting Mixed Media for Textiles (20-Mar-2015) were:

  • Make the course my own.
  • Take risks and challenge myself.
  • Surprise myself.
  • Enjoy myself.

For me the course has been an outstanding success on all of these. I have taken sidetracks, for example into 3D printing and the 3D pen. I have interpreted various requirements to suit my own interests, such as exploring presentation as prototype/maquette-making in stage 6 of the final assignment. My attitude to risk and failure has changed dramatically, actively seeking to push boundaries and seeing failures, whether opportunities or not worth following up, as a normal part of the process. My confidence has soared. It’s been a very busy, enjoyable, engaging, revealing year.

The working process provided in the course seems a very good fit to my personal preferences. The cycle of Research – Sample making – Recording – Sorting, always experimenting and exploring, works well. Sometimes in practice rather than a well defined sequence the different stages seem to overlap, but I think that actually there are micro-cycles of making-recording-sorting happening in virtually every work session, while research is ongoing. A workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016) gave me a way of developing my own briefs, and the combination of process and self-generated briefs offers a way of working in the future that really excites me.

One of the most satisfying parts of the course has been taking new materials and techniques and developing them across assignments. For example:

  • Failed plastic bags producing a dribbly mess plus interesting samples – p3-33 (14-Sep-2015)
  • Plus a quick sample with the dregs of resin coating a leaf – p3-37 (also 14-Sep-2015)
  • Plus a mixing stick left in the resin pot which had developed a little “foot” of resin (not photographed)
  • Was combined with a heat-distorted organza sample from an earlier assignment – p1-75 (21-Apr-015)
  • To create a new sample, p3-46 (23-Sep-2015).
  • Building to a new technique that could be used in further samples, such as p5-4 (31-Jan-2016)

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That development merged with a different sequence:

  • Crumpling and shaping paper, for example p1-15 (30-Mar-2015)
  • Was used with mono-printing, p4-32 (27-Oct-2015), to create additional texture and pattern in the print.
  • That sample was later reformed in a vessel shape and dribbled with resin (see earlier sequence) to create sample p5-3, part of my final collection (31-Jan-2016)

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Sketchbook work has been integral through most areas of the course from initial research (for example 20-Mar-2015), recording samples (such as sample p2-2, 6-Jun-2015), an exploration of mark-making, media and scale (28-Sep-2015), developing ideas for sample development (included on page 047 15-Feb-2016). I struggled with maintaining a sketchbook during the printing of assignment 4 (one exception was developing the design for print p4-37, 3-Nov-2015), but refocused and came back strongly during assignment 5 (for example page 015, posted 10-Jan-2016). I extended my skills in additional workshops, for example mixed media with Graham Marchant (24-Jan-2016) and a mind-opening workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016, the results ongoing as seen page 054, 27-Feb-2016). Through these and more I have experimented with a wide range of media and substrates.

Print p4-36

Print p4-36

Research informs and underpins a lot of the work done in this course, together with large sections which have been more materials led experimentation. Research on Degas (22-Oct-2015), including an attempt to copy directly from his work (print p4-36, posted 27-Oct-2015) helped me work through initial problems and discouragment in the printing assignment.

p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

Encouragment from my tutor, Rebecca Fairley, to really pick apart my research material to learn from it, bore fruit in my work on Gillian Lowndes (26-Feb-2016). The watercolour sketch shown here (posted 31-Jan-2016) was one of many based on Lowndes work, and shows a piece that was pivotal in my presentation efforts in the final assignment.

Lorna Murray Making Space 2014 Detail, inset full view

Lorna Murray
Making Space
Detail, inset full view

As well as focused research based on specific coursework I enjoy going to galleries, exhibitions, museums, lectures and so on, and as well as general enrichment these often provided insights relevant to my course. For example Lorna Murray’s work seen at the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial (22-May-2015) became relevant research for joining straight edges with a gap (14-Jun-2016), and in this Reflection I realise would also have been of interest to my development of a collection.

Interaction with other OCA students has been of growing importance to my experience of distance study. I read many blogs, maintaining a blog roll at http://fibresofbeing.blogspot.com.au/ and there are ongoing relationships via comments and in general discussion on the OCA textiles forum. More directly various students have assisted me during this course, for instance allowing me to include their work in research (7-Feb-2016), responding to a request on the Forum for research suggestions, and after another request giving thoughtful feedback on my video attempts (including 5-Feb-2016).

My time management has been strong throughout this course and I believe that is both a cause and an effect of relatively low stress levels and high enjoyment factor over the year. The course promotes experimentation and sampling, which really has no defined end. From the start I have had an overall timetable, which has become more detailed when working on a particular section, down to weekly and sometimes daily goals. I stop when I run out of time (making sure there’s sufficient time left to complete wrap-up, blog posts etc). I’ll be submitting this assignment two weeks after the original date set, a follow-on from an extra two weeks taken on printing and year end break. There will always be loose ends, more I wish I’d done, more ideas and enticing paths to explore. I could always do better – but at the cost of not doing something else. I think this is worth recording, because it’s something I want to hold on to.

Assessment criteria
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Throughout the course I have tried to give care and attention to my making. I have a range of textile skills built up over the years and working in mixed media gave me the opportunity to adapt those and develop more.

Sample p5-12 In progress

Sample p5-12 In progress

Not all experiments have been successful. An interim stage of sample p5-12 (23-Feb-2016) had a beautiful simplicity, an intriguing shape, and I was very tempted to stop at that point. However I had further development planned and felt impelled to take the risk. The final result is problematic. It was useful to give height in group presentation, it provides a link between plaster, resin and organza samples. However there are technical flaws and clumsy elements. It is much less satisfying as an object in itself.

Sample p2-3 a

Sample p2-3 a

Composition and attractive presentation of work, especially using photography in this blog, has been a goal from the beginning of the course (shown is joining sample p2-3, 6-Jun-2015).

Sample p5-43

Sample p5-43

This led to the decision to make photographic and video presentation of my collection of samples the final work in Assignment 5, including photo sample p5-43 (12-Mar-2016).

Quality of outcome
This blog has remained the mainstay of my presentation of work. Feedback on its organisation and ease of navigation has been positive, and it’s certainly a central part of my creative work, recording almost eight years of explorations.

Recently I have added video to my presentation methods and I see that as a valuable addition to writing and photographs. During the course I have also created a series of pinterest boards, which allow easy collation of inspiration and potential research subjects and also a quick method for me to trace back to specific samples.

Demonstration of creativity

p5-sketch with 3D pen - sample p5-7

p5-sketch with 3D pen – sample p5-7

Sample p2-6 Side view

Sample p2-6 Side view

Mixed media for textiles has provided a lot of opportunities to experiment with materials. My approach has been to work repeatedly with a relatively small set, finding new variations. For example drawing in plastic filament with a 3D pen allowed creation of new work, such as p2-6 (11-Jun-2015) and provided a means of sketching / recording / focusing on other samples, as seen in a sketch of sample p5-7 (6-Mar-2016). I believe this approach both stretches and deepens my skills and knowledge.

As well as exploring a particular material it has been rewarding to use multiple materials creating related visual effects. For example there are many samples using corrugations. There were holes cut and shadow lines in cardboard in assignment 1 (including p1-129, 7-May-2015), corners in assignment 2 (p2-25, 27-Jun-2015), a similarity of form in a more ambitious join in p2-5 (7-Jun-2015), molded, distorted, stitched corrugations in composimold in assignment 3 (p3-33, 6-Sep-2015), at a stretch one could include the accordion pleated printing of p4-32 in assignment 4 (27-Oct-2015) but actual printing on corrugated cardboard (28-Sep-2015) is a better fit with the theme, and finally, in my opinion most beautifully, in plaster in assignment 5 (p5-11, 23-Feb-2016).

I find the process of reflection in this blog an important part of seeing, focusing, on work done. During the final Part of the course I used a physical sketchbook in a more consistent way, but also periodically uploaded and reflected on each page. I have found it very useful to look at the work after a short break, with fresh eyes.

Sample p2-79_Completed

Sample p2-79_Completed

As described above my research has included both in-depth analyses and more casual influences. One interesting exercise which was based on a combination of multiple fragments of research was wrapping an outdoor space, marking the changing boundary of light and shadow (sample p2-79, 31-Jul-2015). The link to the wrapping topic was perhaps tenuous, but it led to some intriguing ideas and outcome. With hindsight one can detect my ongoing interest in exploring space.

Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

Another ongoing thread is based in the work of Eva Hesse. I did initial research on this artist in the context of joining and wrapping (7-Jun-2015) and a response to her work can be seen in sample p2-4 (a separate post 7-Jun-2015). Hesse’s work was again relevant to my research in Part 5, looking at collections of vessels. As detailed in my reflection of that Part (27-Mar-2016) that research is ongoing.

“Ongoing”. Having reflected on the past year’s work it feels very appropriate to finish with that word, because that is what I want to do. Go on. It’s just not clear to me on what path. As described previously there are loose ends (20-Mar-2016), and as detailed above I feel this course has equipped me with a process to continue explorations. I know I am interested in objects and space. There’s another strand around art movements of the 20th century, both mainstream art history and the fibre arts movement. On the other hand I am not at all interested in working in fashion or furnishings, nor in colour forecasts which seem relevant primarily in those fields. I have learnt and grown so much studying with OCA, and in particular in this course. I enjoy structured learning, partly because I often discover more than I expect in things I thought I wasn’t interested in. But there is only so much time. I’m not sure which way ongoing lies.

T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 7: Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

6 Responses to “T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles”

  1. 1 Lottie March 28, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Your timescales blow my mind! This course must have become part of the fabric of you. No small wonder then that you are left with a sense of on – going. I believe this reflection is an example of how to be outstanding and the pinnacle of success. The course writer must be really excited at the results in your work their course writing has facilitated. Where next? Exhibition or more structured learning?

  2. 2 fibresofbeing March 28, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Goodness – thank you, but oh my goodness.
    Mine is one version, and I think one of the exciting things about this course is that there’s so much space to insert oneself. ATV seems similar – so many interesting blogs, so many different takes.
    I really want to shake OCA. I know there’s a lot of pressure to show worth, to be practical and vocational. The current level 2 courses do not excite. There’s talk of new courses and updates, but nothing delivered yet. And will the new stuff be aspirational or sensible? (guess which I’m looking for).

  3. 3 karenwoodfield March 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

    first of all well done for finishing and being a great inspiration to other students. You have made the course your own and its been exciting to see the work develop.
    We really need at least 4 or 5 level 2 courses or a pick and mix approach – to select from to cater for the wide ranging interests of all the textile students. Rebecca has been trying to update the courses but it cant be done quickly enough, she was right to start with level 1 courses but we will see a drop out at the end of level 1.

    • 4 fibresofbeing April 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks Karen
      I’m feeling better about the level 2 situation after my video tutorial with Rebecca. It sounds like the new one is pitched so each student can interpret a project to fit their personal interests. Fingers crossed.

  4. 5 JulieB April 6, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    This is an incredible summing-up, Judy, and I’m sure OCA will look on you as a great success story from this new course. You have really pushed the course to its limits and learned so much which you have generously shared with the rest of us. I have to echo the above comments; I’m not overstating when I say your blog and work have been inspirational. I’m not sure where you’re heading next but I really hope OCA find a way to follow on from this course that meets your needs. If not, then I hope you will continue to include us in your future adventures.

    • 6 fibresofbeing April 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks Julie . You should be able to feel the warmth of my blushes from there 🙂
      From my viewpoint there’s been a real pickup in interaction between students in the past year and it’s hugely to the benefit of us all, sharing and inspiring and encouraging each other.

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