Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Assignment 5 - Tutor Report

Overall Comments
This final assignment demonstrates a steady development in your technical and visual skills over the five assignments. You are now able to make more considered choices in terms of the selection of materials, techniques and processes and your visual awareness and compositional abilities have become more acute. You have recognized the need to focus your thinking more clearly on the task in hand and this has resulted in significant progress in relation to a more creative development of ideas from starting point to final outcome. As your confidence grows, I think you will feel more assured about taking risks with your work. Your logbook and reflections on your progress and assignment outcomes show me that you have become increasingly able to make pertinent observations about your own work and that of others. You have made very steady progress throughout the course and a key development is your willingness to take a more open minded and enquiring approach to your work. Congratulations on the successful completion of the course, Donna. 

Feedback on Assignment: Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Stage 2: Focusing on a Theme: Funghi
Although it took you a little while to narrow down your choices, I think that you undertook some valuable research in order to arrive at your final decision. You produced a competent documentation of your ideas and visual stimulus in your theme book and justified why you changed your focus over the course of completing this final assignment. I felt in this respect that the theme book was a truer reflection of your learning than the final outcome.  There was evidence of your ability to identify some strong starting points and to use sampling to good effect in order to make decisions about what might work or otherwise. I do hope that now the course has finished, you find time to return to some of your initial ideas and take them further. For example, the pottery shards have great potential. You might like to look at Japanese Boro textiles This might give you some further ideas in terms of piecing cloth together as in your random patchwork sample. 

Stage 3: Developing a Design
There was some good experimentation and sampling here which showed the extent to which you have internalized and applied learning from previous assignments; the tearing and slashing, pleating and folding being a good example of this. I liked the way you attempted to contrast surface textures by your choice of fabrics and I think that you could have taken this further with reference to your photos of fungi against tree bark for example where you had different surface levels as well as textures. I also thought that the distorted fluted curves of the fungi in the photo were something worth taking on board. You made some good links through to costume and fashion with your folding, gathering and pleating samples. Think carefully about your choice of fabric though. The taffeta and chiffon although attractive in terms of surface, are not the easiest of fabrics to manipulate in this way as they tend to be stiff and unyielding. Experimentation with black thread and soluble fabric picked up on the strong linear qualities of your pen and ink drawings. Is this something you might take further in the future? There was a delicate and fragile feel to this sample. 

Stage 4: Making a Textile Piece
Your choice of embellishing to bond your fabrics together worked well, although I also liked your earlier sample where you folded the fabric in layers. In most of your sampling, you showed good understanding and use of colour and there were close comparisons with some of your earlier drawings and imagery. I felt that your final piece could maybe have been developed further and perhaps the choice of a bag limited you somewhat in terms of scale. For example, what might you have considered in terms of further surface manipulation if the piece had been larger and flat, rather than folded into the small bag shape? Could you have begun to distort your layers as in the fungi photos to give a fluted, curved effect? Could you have varied the height of the layers? Could you have combined with the layering and slashing technique that worked so well in your sample? Did you notice how when you moved the stitched lines closer together, the frayed effect of the layers increased proportionately? How might this have enhanced the fraying of the scrim? Another approach might have been to produce three smaller linked pieces where you varied the surface height from almost flat through to raised. You could also have allowed the surface manipulation to extend right to the edges of the piece and become an integral part of the design rather than trimming or stitching. By pushing your exploration of surface to its limit, this would then have been the main focus of the piece, rather than the functional element. A final question is whether you needed to further embellish with sequins? Did you really need them? Can you justify them in terms of your deign source? 

Sketchbooks - Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
You have become increasingly confident in the use of drawing as a means of recording your observations and ideas. Please try and maintain this approach as it is certainly strengthening your design work. You have also recognized the value of using your sketchbook for different purposes e.g. to explore design possibilities, to link ideas from other sources etc. 

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical Essays - Context
For me a key area of your development is your willingness to undertake experimentation in the interests of developing your creativity. Your review also indicates that you have gained a great deal of personal insight and self-awareness of the ways in which you work and you have discovered what motivates and excites you. This is the first step to finding a more personal style of working. For the future, try to maintain gallery visits and reviewing artists’ work. This will strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the wider context of your own practice. Your review indicates how much you have enjoyed the course. It has been a pleasure to tutor you Donna. Best wishes for the future

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Assignment 5 - Reflective Commentary

When I introduced myself to my tutor at the start of the course this is what I wrote:

I have always had a passion for making things - Blue Peter has a lot to answer for - and I still have that passion, I have however moved on from making clothes and horses for my Sindy doll and jumpers for my trolls and teddies.  Crochet and hand embroidery are probably my favourite mediums to work in and I like to use found objects and re-cycle wherever possible.More years ago than I care to remember - after leaving school - I studied Surface Pattern Design at college, and although I gained A level Art and a North West Regional Textile Design Certificate I decided that the course wasn’t for me and left after 2 years.

Over the last two years I have been studying A Level Textiles at night school.  I attend the class once a week at the local high school, but did the majority of the work at home. I achieved an A (100%) in the AS and A* (98%) in the A2.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two years and have learnt a lot (although I did find it quite hard at first to get back into the writing part of the course) so decided to take the next step and enrol on this OCA course.I am  looking forward to the challenge, although I am not good at drawing and I am sure I will find this part of the course difficult.

So two years down the line, it is now time to reflect on my experience with the OCA.  I have really enjoyed doing the course and am glad that I decided to enrol.  I have found it hard at times to get the work done, there are a lot of other things that demand my time and I think if I decide to continue, I will have to find a different way of working.

I have found the keeping of a sketchbook quite hard work, although I do think my sketching and drawing has improved, and I have got a lot more confidence in being able to get my ideas down on paper.

I enjoy working through each of the exercises and this has opened up different ideas and methods of working; I didn't think I would be able to do the colour matching exercise, but found it wasn't as difficult as I had imagined; and I had never tried weaving before and found this very enjoyable.

I think the thing I enjoy the most is creating the mood boards; collecting together different fabrics, yarns, threads and notions to create the mood of a piece.  I don't think I have found my personal style yet but I am getting there and am realising more and more what I like and don't like.

I definitely need to visit more exhibitions, take part in an OCA organised gallery visit and do more research.

As I have applied for formal assessment, which takes place in July, my course is not quite over; I will wait for my final tutor report and take it from there.

Project 10 - A Piece Of My Own

Looking back over the work I have completed so far; realising that my garden features a lot; and as my Theme Book is Funghi & Fragments - the following are the pieces I have picked out to continue to explore.

These examples are from Assignment 1, Stage 3, Exercise 1.  These were not my images that I used as a starting point, but I do have both funghi and turkey tail in my garden.  I made sketches from both images.

From Project 1, Stage 4, I isolated two sections of my drawings and enlarged them, using different drawing media.

In Project 2, Stage 4, I had created mood boards with samples of fabrics and threads and a small sewn piece.  This first one is based on the mushroom gills biro drawing and the second one is based on a photograph I took of funghi growing on a fallen tree.

These are two drawings in my sketchbook based on the photograph.

This is from Project 4 - Stage 2; Exercise 4, using pottery shards that I find in the garden as the starting point,

and this is the mood board I created in Project 2, Stage 4 for the image of the blue and white ceramic mug.

Underlying all the work that was being undertaken for each assisgnment, was the thought of the personal Theme Book and Final Outcome.  I had found it quite difficult to choose a theme - I wanted something that was personal to me so I made a mind map to look at anything that related to me.  

I am not a brilliant gardener (or a very consistent one) but I do find a lot of inspiration in the garden.  I am always photographing interesting shapes, patterns and colours.  So I decided to use my garden as the inspiration for my theme book.  I then narrowed this down to two choices - Funghi & Fragments.

Blue & White
When we first moved into our home, over twenty years ago, there was no discernable garden.  So over the years, we have worked hard to create one. This has involved a LOT of digging!  Which always turns up lots of treasure.  I always find small pieces of blue and white china - wherever I dig - I even find pieces in molehills in the fields.  I always image the farmers wife bringing her husband a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone, and him leaving the plate and cup on a fence post and it being forgotten about.  The truth is probably less romantic and there was more likely a rubbish heap where all the broken china, bottles and tins were dumped.  Whichever notion is true it has left behind lovely fragments of the past waiting to be discovered.  I do save all the pieces I find - one day I am going to make a mosaic bird bath. 

This is a very small selection of the lovely patterns and shades.

My partner collects blue and white willow pattern, this is just a few pieces on the dresser.

I had collected images, fabric, thread, yarns and notions so I started by creating a mood board based on the blue & white fragments.

Mushrooms always fascinate me.  They come in such interesting shapes and have fantastic patterns, folds and pleats and frilly edges.

Again I created a mood board.

Stage 2 and 3 got merged together really.  I started off by making a number of sketches based on the china fragments.  I also tried bleach and tissue paper which I then ripped and layered and sketched over.  I tried a number of rubbings - with crayon on paper and also with fabric crayon onto fabric. I then manipulated the image on the computer and tried weaving two different effects together.  I thought this looked like crazy patchwork, so tried a sample with fabric.  I then tried a different method.  Cut up fragments of fabric, laid them on to a base and covered them with organza and overstitched along the pieces.

I love the coloured samples created by manipulating the image on the computer, although I decided not to take these ideas any further.  I created two felted pieces using the embellishing machine.  The first one is mostly cottons on a felt base, with lace and beaded trim.  The pieces didn't felt very well and needed a thin layer of wool tops on the top.  On the second piece I used mostly organza and wool tops which created a much better felted surface.  I then added embroidery over the top, of shapes taken from the patterns on the china fragments.

The last sample I created was a distressed piece using the embellisher again.  I cut small pieces of fabric and laid them onto a felt base.  I laid a piece of net over the top and randomly stitched it in place.  I then slashed into the surface and folded bits of fabric back and went over the whole surface with the embellisher.  It created too thick a fabric really to do this and I ended up breaking a lot of needles.  I like the effect though and thought it conveyed the old, distressed surface of the china pieces.

I then looked at the funghi photographs.  I thought one of them looked like a wedding dress already. The gills look like a very finely pleated skirt.  I thought some of the gills looked like smocking.

I did some drawings of mushrooms using watercolours and a black gel pen and inktense pencils.  I also tried manipulating the images on the computer, heightening the contrast.  I also played around with corrugated card, tissue paper and sweet wrappers.

I then developed these images and drawings into fabric samples.  I tried a very fraying cream fabric with brown yarn and a piece of tweed fabric.  I really like how this has turned out. I don't know what the fabric was, but it feels synthetic and when I used the embellisher on it, the effect it created was ruffled, but it needed the addition of the yarn to hold it all together - it didn't felt very well without it.

 I also tried a little gathered piece, using cordrouy, velvet and organza and simple running stitches.  I also really like how this piece has worked out.

I dyed a strip of cream fabric with various colours of dye.  I then used a strip of it and gathered it along one long edge and created a circle of fabric which I sewed onto a base using shiny thread.  I also tried using dissolving fabric and black thread to create the gills of the mushroom.  I like the effect of this, but it was hard to dissolve the paper where the sewing lines are very dense, so this spoils the effect a bit.

I tried using the embellisher on different kinds of fabric and making folds and then cutting the folds.  

I also tried a piece on the embellisher using organza and velvet with the wool tops, on a felt base.  I then embroidered lines in running stitch.

I tried various other combinations of fabric and wool tops on different base fabrics.  The dryer sheet is a very lightweight base fabric and really contributes to the felting process. The piece of knitwear is OK to use on the embellisher and creates a nice texture in between the top fabrics.

I also tried just using the wool tops and yarns on a piece of tweed fabric.  This created a lovely flatter felted fabric.  I really like the colour combinations in this piece and the neatness of the finish.

A lot of the samples resulted in a lot of broken needles on the embellisher.  The last few samples were the best.  Not too thick.

I also tried some fabric manipulation.  I used the leftover piece of fabric I had dyed and gathered both long edges.  I then used some plain cream fabric to create flat strips between the coloured gathers.  I think this would create lovely decorative panels on a cushion or a shirt or jacket.

I tried gathering a piece of fabric using four rows of tacking stitches.  I didn't do them evenly because I wanted curved lines, but it was very difficult to get them to curve.  I then distressed a piece of organza over the flame of a candle and attached this over the top.  I wasn't very happy with this piece, so didn't take it any further. 

Looking back through my workbook I am drawn to the fabric created with the embellisher and this is the direction I want to take.  I have decided to make an evening clutch bag.  A simple fold over design to show of the very textured surface.  I am going to combine a number of the different ideas from the fabric samples I have created and try and keep the fabric fairly lightweight so that I don't break too many needles.

For my final piece I decided to make a simple evening clutch bag.  I planned to make a felted fabric using the embellishing machine, which would be quite textured, so thought that a simple design would work best.  I made a paper pattern and used this to cut a piece of knitwear, as the base fabric, to the approximate size I needed.  I then used the embellisher to attach wool tops and yarn, to create a felted surface.  I cut strips of cream fabric and attached these to the fabric by using the embellisher and a length of yarn.  The yarn was needed to create a felted surface.  The fabrics would not mingle together without the yarn.

One on the images looks like it has beads on the gills.  

I added some sequins and beads (to the front flap only) as it was an evening bag and I thought it needed a bit of sparkle.  I used a piece of red silk fabric to line the bag and pinned the two fabric together.  I sewed the top fabric and liner together around the 3 sides of the front flap.  I then attached a magnetic clasp and covered this on the front with a lovely button.  I sewed the bottom edges together (inside top edge when finished) then by folding the bottom edge I sewed the two side seams, leaving a flap to fold over at the top.  I trimmed the fabrics back to the sewn lines.

I am very pleased with how the bag has worked out.  I think I like the colours and the surface texture.  I haven't made a bag before, but I thought the magnetic clasp was really good and easy to fit.  I like the loose threads, it gives it an organic feel.

Can you see a continuous thread of development from your original drawings and samples to the final design?
I think this piece has definitely developed from my original photographs and biro drawing of the mushroom gills.  Having made the small samples, I have used the ideas that I thought would work best in the final piece.

Do you feel you made the right decisions at each stage of the design process?  If not, what changes would you make?
I am happy with the decisions I have made throughout this project.  I enjoyed developing ideas from my photographs and was happy with my decision to use the mushroom images to continue to my final sample.  I like how the final piece has turned out, it is how I imagined it to be.

Were you able to interpret your ideas well within the techniques and materials you chose to work with?
I thought the materials and techniques I chose to work with interpreted my ideas well.  Some were less successful but the felted surface I was very happy with and I thought they portraed the mushrooms very well.

How successful is your final design in terms of being inventive within the medium and conherent as a whole?
I am pleased with how my final piece has turned out.  After making the sample pieces, and combining some ideas - the finished bag worked just as I wanted it to.

Project 7 - Theme Book

I have been thinking about my Theme Book on and off for quite a long time.  I have found it quite difficult to decide on the subject.  I wanted it to be personal to me; something that inspires me often. 

I started with a mind map - based on ME!  I wrote down anything that I could think of that was part of my life.

After looking at all the ideas I decided that my garden features quite heavily in my work and photographs already and as I am outside everyday that this would be the best choice.  I made some notes about ways to develop this theme and a few sketches for ideas for a final piece.

I then looked back through some of the photographs I had taken of my garden.

I had also already used my garden as inspiration in my sketchbooks.

I find all the images inspirational and I could use any of them I think as a starting point, so I had to decide which were my favourites, this was very difficult but in the end I decided on the funghi and blue & white fragments.

I then started to collect fabrics ...

... and resources; threads, yarns, pens, pencils, beads, buttons, inks, crayons and anything else I could find that fitted these images.

I also started a collection of images from magazines, my scrapbooks and the internet that I felt suited the themes I had chosen.

I am happy with the choices I have made for my theme book - FUNGHI & FRAGMENTS.