Posts Tagged 'CA1-P5-P10-S3'

Project 10 Stage 3 – part 5

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.

p10materials04I 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.

p10materials01This 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.

p10materials02Some 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.

p10materials03In 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.

p10materialscomboI 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.

p10materials05Missing 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.

p10materials06The 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.

Project 10 Stage 3 – part 4

Previously I decided to put my preferred idea for this project to one side and explore other options (see post 11-Jan-2013). I went back through my theme-book, framed out sections of drawings, used mirrors etc, looking for shapes to develop. Even attempting an open mind it was only the sketches directly related to the contorted figure that caught my interest. The aged faces and hands, white daisies and falling leaves just don’t speak to me at the moment.
The result is a new set of drawings on my pinboard.
sketch201301asketch201301bI printed just the outline of photographed shapes, then coloured in using watercolours. My intention was to focus on negative space, but you can see I got distracted. One version shows the figure with a black rot creeping up the limbs. Another is more an experiment with colour, plus the additional draping of fabric that I’ve been considering.
sketch201301dI worked on this A3 page over a week or more. Each vignette is based on lines and marks I found in my earlier sketches, photographs and the printed outlines. The lines were drawn first using crayons, then I used watercolours to “discover” the shapes.
I started using mirrors to further develop some of the vignettes, but decided instead to scan the page and use gimp.
scream_2smlThis is a pretty straight-forward distortion, reminiscent of Munch. Looking at a larger scale, there are some quite interesting textures happening.
scream_1smlThe basis of this one was an open, screaming mouth and teeth. It seems strange to see it so de-identified and contained – which now I come to think of it is pretty appropriate to the entire theme!
bordersmlHere I played around with the colours, then mirroring and repeating. It looks like it could form a lacy border pattern – although there seems to be an angry face in there, which could be off-putting.
scream_kalThis one has only just gone onto the board. I was using mirrors on the original sketches, liked the result but found it tricky to draw while keeping the mirrors in place. Computer and gimp to the rescue! This one is interesting because it’s not perfect and contained – I created the kaleidoscope effect “manually”, rather than using one of the program filters. Also the original source is still very apparent – at least when looking closer. An interesting idea, to have something that appears innocuous at a distance, with a (nasty and jarring) surprise when you look closer.
sketch20130123This is a brush and ink sketch based on the results of the “glass tile” filter (shown in earlier posts and on the board above). While doing this I could really see the gymnast or dancer that Textile Ranger ( mentioned in an earlier comment. I could almost imagine this a stop-frame picture of a high jumper.
I’ve found this “side-excusion” very helpful, really looking at my shapes. It should be useful when I am attempting to create the final shape in felt. Some of the results also have potential to be developed further into cushion covers or edgings or flat wall pieces… except that I still have a problem with the idea of extracting shapes and leaching out all that emotional content. The only context I can see is some kind of Festival of the Dead item or costume where the origins of the design could be still apparent and meaningful.
figure_experimentNow I’m back to working on Plan A – the 3D trapped body. This final image is a photo-montage, using some of the “glass tile” in the background and adding potential colour and pattern to the body shape.
I have had one additional idea – partially crushing the box containing the figure. It would enhance the idea of the binding / crushing / suffocation while making the whole thing a more dynamic shape. If I use a cellophane box it could also add some interesting reflections.
The next step is consideration of materials and colours.

Project 10 Stage 3 – part 3

Process – developing, using and demonstrating use of a methodical design process – is an important part of the OCA course. In this post I’m showing progress to date on development of the container element of my design, plus reflecting on how well (or not) some parts of the process are working.

One element of the process which has really taken hold for me is using a pin board, as a mood board or to review progress. I don’t have a lot of wallspace in my workroom, but I now have three pinboards in almost constant use. I glance at them as I walk past, or sit in contemplation.

One pinboard currently has lots of textile samples produced during the course which I picked out as having potential for the container. I showed this earlier (28-Dec-2012).
The focus is on containing but revealing the tortured figure within. Fabric could be distorted, in tatters, layered, partially concealing… I like the idea of using text or imagery in the container, as long as it doesn’t distract too much from the figure.
A second pinboard is mostly inspiration images.
Clockwise from top left is:
* work from OCA student Jackie
* A postcard of Study for self-portrait (1976) by Francis Bacon
* Sue Hotchkis, Ardwick (detail), (illustration in Mary Schoeser’s Textiles, page 316)
* Twined cotton covered bast fibre bag, (source, accessed 26 April 2012).
* Pandora Vaughan, cross stitch from “All the Little Rooms of One’s Own” series based on prison architectural plans (source accessed 8 November 2012)
* Elana Herzog, Plaid (detail), (illustration in Jessica Hemmings’s warp & weft, page 25)
* Shi Jindian, Beijing Jeep’s Shadow (detail), (at White Rabbit Gallery – see blog post 9-Nov-2012)
* Some project 2 stage 5 work (blogged 2-Oct-2011)
* Ron Mueck, Untitled (old woman in bed) at the NSW Art Gallery, included in my initial post about Ageing as a potential theme (4-Jun-2012).
* Liz Williamson, Loop series (detail) (see post 24-Nov-2012)
* Sue Lawty, Lead Weave (detail), (illustration in Jessica Hemmings’s warp & weft, page 22)
* Still image from performance at Ruark Lewis exhibition (see blog post 4-Nov-2012). The frames in the background are interesting, but it is the lines/trap being created by the performer (unfortunately I don’t know her name) which feels particularly important in the current context.
* and in the centre Dion Horstman, part of moonfire lm series (see posts 2-Nov-2012 and 4-Nov-2012).

sketch20130108Another important element of The Process is sketchbook work. Thinking about layering and about text, Monday morning this week before work I started writing down some of the words and phrases I’ve collected in my Themebook. These words make me so angry – written by people who claim to be so worried about protecting the vulnerable in our society, but are willing to deny them choice or personal control, willing to condemn them to months and years of pain and despair…

stitched_wordsMy working week is Monday to Wednesday, and each day this week I looked at my pinboards and my sketch and tried to figure out where to start experimenting and sampling on Thursday morning. I could write text on tyvek and try a variant of Jackie’s technique – but how readable would it be (it doesn’t have to be easy, but shouldn’t be impossible)? Could I use free-motion stitching on a light or dissolvable fabric (lots of practice needed)? How could I print legibly on fabric at a reasonable scale? Wednesday night I suddenly “saw” it. On Thursday I used a (rather laborious) feature of my sewing machine and stitched on tape.

Here’s the latest mockup (on Friday):

a4p8s2e4_02In terms of The Process, the trouble is that I really, really like this. I like it so much I feel totally unmotivated about exploring further. I can trace its antecedents in the pinboards and sketch above, and in earlier work such as the photo on the right (project 8 stage 2 blogged 27-Sep-2012), but I can’t claim to have gone through the design development process we learnt in terms of developing ideas by framing areas of sketches or working within geometric shapes. I’ve focused on meaning or concept rather than formal design. This is what I want to make.

My current feeling is that I should ignore “the rules” and continue with what is speaking to me. If my overall purpose is learning and stretching myself, I can honestly say that I’ve done a lot of both during the course and while I could do more… well, there’s always the next module. I’ve always said that the mark didn’t matter as long as I passed and could continue to the next module. Hmm, or am I being a bit nice to myself, a bit safe, taking it a bit easy, being a bit too keen to get to that exciting fresh next module?

I have one idea that I believe is very strong, that has become stronger and better with the thought and development process so far. I don’t think I have it in me to ignore that and work with an open mind with other possibilities. However, if I weren’t working towards a particular assignment perhaps I would develop a series of works, exploring different aspects, developing imagery further. So the current plan, always subject to change, is to take a week, put the Plan A design to one side, and try just exploring my material, playing with shapes, seeing what happens. I haven’t been able to do that yet without immediately comparing results with Plan A – so instead I’ll accept A as THE plan, but just have a little time-out before getting stuck into the final stage of making it. Maybe I can follow the process better if I stop being protective and let go, try to be not so focused on making a Statement but allow the visual a bit more air.

Hemmings, J. (2012) Warp & weft: Woven textiles in fashion, art and interiors. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Shoeser, M. (2012) Textiles: The art of mankind. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Project 10 Stage 3 – part 2

In the first part of this stage (blogged 1-Jan-2013) I found some shapes that looked really good. Before going further I decided to do some sampling – could I create those shapes in textiles?

bluemountainvenusFirst I reviewed my very small experience in creating 3-dimensional forms. On the right is Blue Mountain Venus, created for ATASDA’s From the Earth exhibition in 2007. This has a foam core (like mattress foam), roughly carved to shape then wool felted over (wet and needle felting). It’s about 39 cm high. The result is very rigid (after all, it was meant to have emerged from a sandstone cliff), and I didn’t think the method would work for the finer limbs and sense of contortion I want for the current project.

needlefelt_headThis little face is about 5 cm long, and was made a few years ago following instructions in Patricia Spark’s Making Faces: using wet and dry felting methods. The level of detail isn’t needed for the figure I want to create, it could risk becoming doll-like, plus I was interested in using materials that suggested an aged body.

shape_sample_01My first sample for this project used a wire mesh sold as an armature base for modelling. I have an old dress of Nancy’s and used torn strips of the fabric to wind around and cover the mesh. Some stitching helped to form the shape and hold the fabric. I like the idea of the figure being overtaken by the suffocating binding of society and law – in the final piece the black could be replaced by something that reflects the material(s) of the container/cage. The sample is around 15 cm long.

I don’t like the shape – it is too rounded. The fabric pattern is too obvious. The scale is too large, and I don’t think I could go smaller using this kind of armature. The whole thing looks like a bad hand-puppet. The spiky yarn encroaching works quite well.

shape_sample_02In sample 2 I ran the torn fabric through the spinning wheel. This breaks up the pattern of the fabric and also creates more of a “binding” look. The fabric is wound around some old stockings and wool to form the shape. The whole thing is about 12 cm long.

This sample doesn’t work on any level. It is a rounded, shapeless shape. In terms of the theme it makes little sense for the figure to be bound by its own clothes (although Nancy is bound by her own beliefs and upbringing that isn’t the focus of the work). I used wire inside to help create shapes, but it’s never going to be angular.

I made starts on a few more wound/bound samples, thinking back to Judith Scott’s work (
), but with nothing to show for it.

shape_sample_03This sample is about 11 cm long and I think is promising. There is a wire core to support shaping, and the “arm” proportions (relatively thin and long) allow for some fairly angular shaping. I used wool around the wire, then wrapped and needle-felted with the fabric strips. The scale of the pattern appears a little smaller and distorted by the needle-felting – it could be effective in suggesting an older woman in the shape. The torso would still be shaped as in the plasticine model, with the fabric forced into it. Perhaps it would be interesting to leave a “skirt” loose, ruckled up a bit and falling towards the floor of the container. However the head and neck were still a question mark.

shape_sample_04This started as a felt ball, with the “scream” sliced into it. It’s around 11 cm long. I like the flat plane of the open mouth within the rounded head. The neck shown here was an accident. I started going for the thicker and rather rigid neck of earlier modelling, but while working on the head and inserting a wire for shape-forming it started thinner and those folds appeared.

shape_sample_05Here’s a closeup from the back. To me those folds are really exciting. Adding that to the shape, together with Nancy’s dress fabric, has good potential to resolve the “generic trapped person” concern.

Current plan and questionmarks:

* Figure shape felted over wire.
* “Skin” colour could be constant, or if binding creeping on could change to reflect the incoming poison.
* Folds in neck (and other skin?) may slightly soften lines, but supports aged look.
* Nancy’s dress fabric needlefelted in, generally following shape of model but could have a loose “skirt”. Could leave existing colour or stain/over-dye all or part.
* Open mouth could be a contrast colour (make felt ball with different interior, then layer of “skin” around).

Colour(s) is a big outstanding question – after all the “skin” doesn’t need to be skin colour or any single colour. I’d like to have a clearer idea of the container before considering colour further.

figure_in_clearI found a see-through shoe storage box and tried it with my model. It has somewhat of a suffocating look, but also makes it look more like a specimen. So the container will be my next focus for sampling.

Spark, P. (2004) Making Faces: Using wet and dry felting methods Albany, Oregon: Fine Fiber Press.

Project 10 Stage 3 – part 1

Developing Your Design.

I have decided to begin development by working on the central figure. Virtually all my (obsessive) drawing has been from one point of view. The current intention is a 3-D work – I need to think about shapes from all directions.

Effort 1 was in pipecleaners (thinking about lines and curved shapes). This was not satisfactory.

sketch20121229_01sketch20121229_02Effort 2 used some old modelling clay found when I was looking for the pipecleaners. The 15+-year-old “never dries” clay was rather hard to work, but the basic method seemed good.

figurev2_01Effort 3 used some new plasticine, making working the shape much easier. Photography and viewing the shape from different angles was difficult, and different parts kept falling off as I tried to manipulate the shape. The mixed colours are basically because that’s what I was able to buy, not necessarily what will be in the actual work.

figurev3_setupThis is the current setup. Yet another plasticine figure, this time with a core of 18 gauge copper wire (what I had in a drawer).

I’ve created a framework using a bucket of old building blocks and a rusty cooling rack from the kitchen. The figure is suspended by ribbon. So far this setup is working well, allowing me to view and photograph from many angles, plus to experiment with the shape itself. The ribbon is a bit distracting, but I didn’t want to go finer in case it started cutting into the shape.

A multitude of images of the shape so far:



With all the colour and support mechanism visible it’s a little hard to see what is going on there. I tidied up each of the images and converted to black and white to focus on the positive and negative shapes.


I think all of these are interesting and dynamic shapes. Some rough measurements suggest the figure would fit into a container 26 cm wide, 16 cm high and 13 cm deep – no opinion yet on whether that is good or not. My tutor has suggested that I need to work with my source material more – make myself aware of shapes, patterns, lines, and give myself more alternatives to work from. I’ve made a start, just playing with various filters and combinations on the computer using gimp.


A simple overlay of all the shapes looks quite different when a black background is used.




More to be done here. Moving from digital to paper-based would be useful.

The work so far has raised some points I may/will need to address at some stage:

* the importance of shadows in the shapes made. I would love to be able to exploit this but lighting won’t be in my control when the work is viewed, plus it would hugely increase the complexity of design work. Perhaps I just need to remain aware of it, and make shapes as interesting as possible with the assumption that the resulting shadows will be interesting.

* there is nothing “aged” about the body shape. I risk making a generic “trapped person”. This could be addressed by the materials used in making the actual figure. I wonder if introducing a blanket part-covering the body within the container would work. I would need to think about texture, opacity/transparency, and also postage concerns (eg if the parcel has been turned upside down in transit will the blanket be dislodged?)…

* from some angles the long neck and head look rather phallic. This might not be a problem in practice, depending on colours and technique used in making the figure. A change in proportions might also help.


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