A Creative Approach??? You might think that was over and done with in my final Module Reflections posted 22-Feb-2013, very nearly three months ago.
It won’t be entirely done until the formal assessment process in July. More to the point, it wasn’t done because I hadn’t dealt with my tutor’s final report, nor with the damage to my final piece in the post.
I identified the major issues back in the project review post of 21-Feb-2013. Some critical phrases:
“the … wrapping is much too confused and visually distracting” (a quote from an even earlier post, writing about a sample – and repeated in the hope I’d addressed the problem).
“I’m not totally convinced by the black yarn binding, it’s a bit clunky visually, but it’s very important structurally.”
“The biggest test of my choices is yet to come – will the work survive multiple trips through the mail?”
Match this with Pat’s feedback:
“A bit confusing”; “dominant wrapping. Have another look at this”; “I can’t find an entry point for the eye”; “make sure the threads are anchored… one of the pieces had snapped”.
While being very clear that it was my choice what if anything to do, Pat had some specific suggestions – cutting down or rearranging the black; not so evenly spaced; perhaps leave head unwrapped.
To all this add that when the work arrived home the figure was a squashed little ball in the middle of the container. The discreet spots of hot glue anchoring the figure to the container had all failed, and clearly the figure had rattled around freely during all the handling of international postage. As a final injury, a second thread had snapped.
Doing nothing wasn’t an option – I had to take off the wrapping to re-fix the figure. Plus Pat’s points echoed what I already knew. I might second-guess myself, but it would be crazy to second-guess my highly experienced, capable and supportive tutor.
I didn’t want to give up the spikey black yarn. It fits the subject so well, plus I had a length couched spiraling up one leg of the figure and it was printed on the red ribbon between phrases.
I found it could be split into two parts, making the interesting spikes much less heavy. The downside was that the yarn was a structural as well as visual element, maintaining the interesting squashed shape of the container. If the original thread had snapped under the strain there was no possibility the weakened split version would last.
Using a 26 gauge black wire to hold the structure was the solution I found. It’s quite non-intrusive visually and I was able to use it irregularly and on diagonals, avoiding an obvious grid.
Now the black yarn was purely for effect I could strip it down and use only the interesting part.
On the second issue of an entry point for the eye I decided to take Pat’s advice and keep the binding away from the head and much denser across the lower part of the body. This would give a clear space to enter the work, with more contrast and interest across the piece.
Fixing the figure in place proved more difficult. The hot glue didn’t adhere to the container. I’ve replaced it with pins going through the container and into the figure. There are two in the torso, one from each side hopefully creating a stable centre, and more in the head and legs. I wanted to avoid anything too obvious, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will last the (literal!) distance.
All of this sounds like problems solved – but they weren’t. I had anchored the figure and it seemed pretty stable when I shook it – but it was too high in the container. The wire was holding the squashed shape unobtrusively. The binding was improved … but still wrong. I couldn’t find a way to wrap the yarn and ribbon so they wouldn’t slip around and they wouldn’t intrude on the head.
I could give up or severely limit the binding with words – but that loses my whole point in developing the piece. Both the meaning of the text and the sense of constriction would go. Yesterday morning, mulling over options and fast disappearing time, I finally noticed an assumption. I was binding the words – influenced by Judith Scott’s work (see www.judithandjoycescott.com/ and posts 21-Feb-2013 and 28-Dec-2012). I’d chosen to make my figure from felt rather than binding, but the concept was still strong. I’d made a single very long ribbon of text and was trying to wrap the container and finding it really difficult to manage.
Giving up actual binding but producing the effect with separate pieces of ribbon would make placement easier – but how to hide the discontinuity on a transparent container? Perhaps a base – but without losing the distortions. In this first mockup I slid some black cardboard between the container and the existing wraps. Not bad, but the black merges with the dark of the open mouth and the head is a bit lost.
Mock-up mark II uses red cardboard and I liked it very much. It creates a place to hide discontinuities, it obscures some of the wrapping and thereby simplifies the image, it grounds the work and stops it floating in space, the red is a contrast to both the dark mouth and the pale skin so provides a background and foil to the head, and in my eyes it provides a coherence to the work, linking the red ribbon and the red in the dress.
The bad, heavy grid is gone. It’s better having the head clear. It was deliberate in the original to have words right across the mouth – they were meant to be gagging the figure. The extra meaning didn’t come through and the design is better without.
There’s space around the head and I agree with Pat’s concern about an entry point for the eye.
The whole effect is still quite busy and messy. I haven’t achieved the increasing density of “wrapping” across the work as I intended. It would be interesting to try lighting with a strong spot on the head area and the rest in relative darkness…
A pause while I tried to simulate that with a torch. Not an easy thing to manage a torch in one hand, a camera in the other, and find a camera setting that can cope with the lighting differences. In short it’s beyond my skills to capture and the colour of the torch light isn’t attractive, but this gives the idea. I think proper, careful directional lighting could really enhance the work.
Using the cardboard base not only hides all the ends, but it gave a place to tape everything multiple times. I taped a second piece of cardboard on the first, sandwiching everything in and (I hope) making it more secure. The security of the pins holding the body remains a major concern. Everything is more stable – but will it be stable enough? It only has to survive one mailing intact.
Overall I’m very glad I made the changes and I think they go some way to meeting the concerns Pat raised.