Exhibition Visit: Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2017

I spent yesterday with my friend, Margaret, at the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show. The first port of call was the Fine Art Show in Trongate.

Gemma Eun Bin Kim, Blue No 7, acrylic paint and mixed media on canvas

This student’s abstract paintings were very striking, with their limited colour palette of shades of blue and white. The marks seem to have been made by using a combination of letting the paint run by holding the canvas at an angle, and using bubbling in the blue paint (would washing up liquid added to the paint produce this effect?). I felt that the controlled runs in the paint gave a dynamic feel to these pieces, as well as evoking associations with Jackson Pollock‘s Abstract Expressionist work. I found the ‘bubbled’ areas interesting and may try to incorporate something similar into a painting that I’m working on at the moment.

Hannah Mooney

I loved this artist’s subdued colour palettes and her style of painting that reminded me of Paul Cezanne‘s work, and that of the Scottish Colourists, such as Peploe. The artist was born in Ireland and has painted numerous landscapes from that region. Her work was proving popular with the public and every piece had sold.

Reflecting on what I might learn from this artist:- use of traditional media, with a nod to previous artists’ work; simplified forms; carefully chosen palettes; beautifully observed subjects.

Dougie Blane, Elements of Easterhouse (above left), installation made from cubicle walls (above right)

This artist had made the small sculptural objects (balls) from materials taken from the Easterhouse area in Glasgow. The balls show the marks of the tools used to make them while retaining the properties of the source materials (earth, sandstone, vinyl, foil, wood etc). There were some missing as they had been stolen from an exhibition held in Easterhouse. The artist was philosophical about the public ‘interaction’ with his work. I found the mixture of textures and the marks of making on the pieces and the differences in the materials used, together with their link to a particular place an interesting record of the area. The huge ‘urn’-like sculpture made from part of the cubicle itself evoked associations with Andy Goldsworthy‘s work, using materials found in specific locations. I’m not sure how this could relate to my own work, unless it is in re-purposing textiles found at home and in the local area, or incorporating found objects into my work.

Over at the main site, opposite the Glasgow School of Art building, (which is still shrouded in scaffolding and undergoing extensive refurbishment following the fire), we visited the work of the students studying jewellery, textiles, fashion and design.

Adrienn Pesti‘s jewellery, silk clay, enamel, metal

This colourful collection was larger than life: like a small sculpture to be worn on the body. The black presentation ground set off the colourful palette of enamels well. The technique appeared to be using a very fine clay extruded through a mesh to form the ‘tufted’ texture, which was then mounted into silver settings. It appeared to be a fabric at first glance. I liked the mixture of metal and ceramic; the colourful enamelling and playful shapes of the arranged forms.

Miki Asai, various brooches

This Japanese-born jeweller conveys the “fleeting moment” in her jewellery, and espouses the wabi sabi aesthetic (a concept I had researched earlier). She uses a wide variety of materials for her work (paper, eggshell, seashell, pearls, Japanese lacquer, metals, gold leaf etc). The pieces had associations for me with micro mosaics and Gaudi’s architecture (such as Casa Batllo in Barcelona). I liked the sculptural shapes paired with interesting surfaces; the irregularities and variety.

Laura Herdman, final year project

This student had produced a highly textured collection based on her photographs of flowers (hydrangeas, in particular). She had conveyed the delicacy of petals and faded flowers in her choice of translucent fabrics and use of a subtle colour palette of faded watercolour tones. She also had developed a black and white version of some of the fabrics.

This reminded me of a sophisticated version of a prodded rag rug texture. The use of ?silk or organza-type fabrics gave a blurry, frayed, fragile look to the resulting textiles, however, unlike the more traditional heavy wool and cotton fabrics used.

Chantal Mcleish, A Repetition of Lines Creates a Pattern (samples and inspiration)

This student had taken inspiration from lines found in shipping containers and bins, which she collaged into images such as those above, and made drawings from them, before translating them into knitted samples. She used various weights of cotton paired with lycra to give stretch and raised linear elements to the textiles. Her textiles were created as a menswear/unisex knitwear collection for commercial Fashion.

These textiles appealed to me because of their linear pattern and the raised textures created. Although I don’t work in knitted fabrics, I can imagine creating raised lines (or the impression thereof) through print or sewn textile manipulation. The simplicity of the source material and its presentation looked very professional. I liked the bold contrasts in the colour palette, but would choose different combinations of colours for my own work.

Natascia Forte

Italian student, Natascia’s, collection used her home town, Pescara’s, architecture to inspire her. The resulting textiles show a mixture from highly textured: fluffy, bobbly, woven-look, to smoother, patterned knits, with a vibrant colour palette of pinks, creams, greys, and yellows. These would make an exciting collection of accessories or fashion clothing.

The creation and juxtaposition of different textures is something to bear in mind for my own work.

Becky Moore, printed textiles collection

This student’s bold, graphic prints seem ideal for this year’s trend of ‘tropical’. The collages used for exploring shape and colour are shown above right. The flat colour and forms of the patterns combining recognisable images (leaves) with abstract marks make a pleasing combination, and remind me of Lucienne Day‘s fabric designs (such as Dandelion Clocks, 1953). I like the combination of black and red in parts of the fabric, and can see this working well on wall hangings, curtain fabric and furnishings, such as sofas and rugs.

Joanne Mearns, a Scottish-born student is a Fashion designer whose final year project is a Womenswear collection inspired by Mediterranean and Caribbean locations. The garments created had a feeling of layering, collageing of materials, colours and textures. I enjoyed the updating of a tweed fabric as a ‘cut and shut’ coat. The highly textured fabric and high contrast palette worked well close up and at a distance.

Summary

This was an inspiring visit to see the students’ work. I especially enjoyed seeing the development work and varied interpretation of third year projects. I have given a tiny taste of the work on display, but will take away ideas on gathering inspiration; keeping sketchbooks; using considered colour palettes, and presenting work professionally. Other aspects to consider include the sound, (some students had sound installations) and explanations available. Some students provided outlines of their thinking for the projects: these were helpful when viewing and interpreting the work; also some provided business cards and contact details. While writing this article, I noticed that not all of the students had set up an up-to-date website showcasing their work. In this age of online connections I feel that this is a serious omission: most people who are interested in their work will search online for further information.

The student who had sold all of their work, seemed to be the one using the most traditional of materials: oil paint on board. Something to think about if one wishes to make a living from art!

References:-

Websites:-

https://www.facebook.com/adriennpesti Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/ Accessed 16/06/17

http://gsapress.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/final-year-fashion-design-students-to.html (Joanne Mearns statement included in link) Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.hannahmooney.co.uk/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.jackson-pollock.org/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.mikiasai.com/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/paul-cezanne Accessed 16/06/17

http://picbear.com/beckymooretextiles Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.robinandluciennedayfoundation.org/lives-and-designs/1950s Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.scottishcolourists.co.uk/peploe/gallery/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://the-dots.com/projects/final-year-project-158666 (Laura Herdman link) Accessed 16/06/17

https://the-dots.com/users/chantal-mcleish-206350 Accessed 16/06/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Batll%C3%B3 Accessed 16/06/17

http://yooying.com/fortenatnat (Natascia Forte link) Accessed 16/06/17

 

Sketchbook Scans: Mesembryanthemum Studies

Carrying on from Part 5 of the Course, I thought I would draw some more flowers…

Some representative drawings in felt pen, and a couple of stylised versions, and a small sample cut from felt and dip-dyed in ink.

Many years ago I simplified a painting I’d made of mesembryanthemums, to become three overlapping circles of colour, which I went on to use in a lot of small textile pictures and a couple of rag rugs, so they are definitely a favourite subject of mine.

I can imagine these appearing on printed fabrics, mugs, wrapping paper, etc, or stylised versions being made into brooches or joined together as scarves or shawls.

Assignment 5: Self Evaluation: Performance Against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Materials – use of both traditional and atypical materials, eg, nail varnish, wax and plastic.
Techniques – exploring a diverse range of media and techniques (eg, drawing with paint, nail varnish, wax, paper cuts etc; melting, stretching and cutting plastic; cutting, printing, bleaching, painting, embroidery, batik, layering, appliqué, couching, needle punching, etc used in textile creation. Book-making to present work.
Observational Skills – drawing from primary sources and for evaluative and planning purposes. Evaluating and selecting work throughout the development process.
Visual Awareness – selection of appropriate media and colour palettes when drawing and creating yarn and textile samples. Selection of elements from drawings to develop further.
Design and Compositional Skills – picking the motifs, marks, patterns, materials and colours to use. Developing a coherent capsule collection appropriate to its proposed end use; and following a logical development path. Creation of a presentation book.
Quality of outcome
Content – choosing which samples to develop further and include in the presentation book. The book also illustrates my design process.
Application of Knowledge – the lessons learnt so far on the course came together in Part 5 – eg, how to:- carry out relevant research; select primary sources to arrange and draw from; selection of appropriate media; abstracting elements of drawings to develop into paper and stitch manipulations, yarns and then textiles; regular evaluation and reflection throughout the process.
Presentation of Work – work has been simply presented in a workbook and textile collection book, demonstrating the flow of the design process. Larger samples and drawings are presented separately.
Demonstration of creativity
Imagination – using the drawings to suggest appropriate techniques and designs for use in the created textiles.
Experimentation – some unusual materials have been used where appropriate (eg, melted plastic to represent the chard leaf drawing); small samples have been created to test ideas, materials or colour combinations (eg, paint-on dye sampling; tulip motif samples).
Invention – the patterns and motifs used are all developed from my drawings and samples. Making textiles (coursework) that could be layered allowed unusual mixtures of colour, texture and materials (eg, cut plastic layered over batik fabric).
Personal Voice – use of simple, abstract motifs, textures and patterns, inspired by nature; paired with strong colour contrasts, flat colour and uncluttered designs represents my ideas and voice exactly.
Context
Reflection – continued reflection on my research, progress, ideas, experiments and outcomes in my learning log; and through the use of evaluative drawings.
Research – focused research has been very useful for Part 5: looking at drawing techniques; artists’ working practices; textile design processes; current design trends; as well as exhibition visits and lectures that proved to be timely and appropriate.
Learning Log – research, course and assignment work, and reflections are recorded in my learning log blog.

Assignment 5: Building A Collection: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing yarns and textiles?

  • drawing from primary sources is a necessary starting point to gather original material for making future developmental work unique
  • researching other artists’ and designers’ work provides ideas for new directions to take your work in
  • similarly to yarns, textiles can be infinitely varied by playing with colour palette, pattern, motif, scale, fabric weight and opacity and the treatments applied (eg printing, batik, embroidery etc)
  • revisiting earlier coursework refreshed my memory about ideas, techniques and processes that I could use and also aided evaluation of what had gone before, and how it could inform current work
  • one design could be adapted to suit many end uses, from textiles for the craft market, to fashion, to interiors. Techniques applied and materials used can be varied to suit a luxury, mid or mass market
  • considering the context of the textiles is helpful in determining the scale of the design and type of pattern that is suitable to the end use
  • experimenting with a single type of fabric provides knowledge of what is possible with that material

Strong points of my work

Experimental approach; varied research; a variety of techniques used to create a related set of ‘mix and match’ textiles inspired by plants. Simple presentation of my developmental process in a book format. A workbook keeps research, inspirations and unused ideas ready for future reference.

Weaker aspects of my work

I felt that I was rushing through the textile creation phase due to time constraints, and would have liked to spend longer exploring possible variations and developments for the textiles. I think that I should have concentrated on just the final six textiles in the presentation book, but I had already mounted the earlier samples before beginning Assignment 5, so I just had photographic references to show that part of the development process.

New skills

I re-acquainted myself with batik and paint-on dye techniques. I aimed to work in a productive and logical way in creating these textiles, using sampling and drawing to achieve this. Thinking about the context of the capsule collection was helpful in determining suitable materials to work with, and the scale of the patterns required.

Potential work in future based on this project

The potential for printed and batik fabrics is exciting, and I can imagine combining these with stitch and rug making techniques to produce interesting wall art. I enjoyed the bold, flat colour and non-fraying aspect of felt and will use that fabric again. The whole development process has illustrated the importance of gathering original source material; carrying out related research; making samples, exploring materials and combinations thereof; drawing, evaluating and reflecting on the work at every stage; revisiting earlier work; pushing the sample-making and ideas further than my first thoughts, and these are all techniques that I will incorporate into my practice.

Assignment 5: Your Capsule Collection

I started this Assignment with a review of the coursework created for Part 5, and took time to consider the context of the collection I was going to put together.

As I had been working through the coursework, I thought that several of the designs could be adapted to work well in felt, which could then be used in household decor, such as cushion covers or wall hangings. I decided to apply some constraints to the created textiles: they would all be in felt (some with embellishments in other materials) and would feature white, green and pink from my originally selected colour palette.

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Drawing #10 colour palette

I carried out some research into current trends in interior decor on amara.com, vogue.com, telegraph.co.uk, thatssogemma.com and pantone.com. I was pleased to see that Pantone’s colour of the year is ‘Greenery‘ – a yellowish green that is a slightly darker tone of the green in my palette (which was originally derived from tulip colours).

The white, pink and green from the palette have a fresh, Spring/Summer appeal with strong contrasts and a connection to flowers and the white of summer clothing, white interiors, and weddings (the ideal wedding gift!). It also has a cheerful and light-hearted feel to it, while the warm, fuzzy feel of the felt gives a comforting, cozy, homely element to the created textiles.

Other trends that I thought I might be able to incorporate into some of my designs included:- tropical; texture; geometrics; natural materials; varied patterns; romance; eco-friendly interiors; and plant motifs.

I made some drawings of ideas for further development.

Textile #1 – “Scribble”

This has come a long way from the source material of tulips. This idea was one that I went back to: Yarn Concept #1 and the subsequent drawing of it. I tried a couple of samples. The first was machine sewn, but I found the thread was not bold enough for my liking so I changed to couched yarn. I thought that this was quite successful and I could imagine it as a handmade cushion for the luxury market or as a printed textile for the mass market.

Textile #2 – “White Bamboo”

This textile was again derived from the tulip drawings and subsequent plastic manipulations, and this evaluation drawing, in particular. My husband gave me the idea for this name, when he said that it reminded him of bamboo.

The construction involves cutting the white layer with a scalpel; sewing it to a layer of green felt, then using large hand couching stitches to secure the two layers while adding the pink highlights.

I liked this textile and felt it could be used in a similar way to Textile #1 – handmade or converted to a print version.

Textile #3 – “Flower Net”

This pattern emerged when I was drawing ideas. It flowed from the idea for Textile #2, but as a regular, rather than a random pattern. I remembered making a net yarn for 4.2/3. I initially tried it with strips of felt, but they did not lie flat or change direction in the way that the cotton cord I eventually used, did. The buttons perform the function of holding the cord in place, as well as providing a focal point embellishment to the design. The hardest thing about this was getting all the measurements correct for placement of the cord and buttons to make a regular grid. The resulting textile has a geometric look to it, and combines that with the floral theme that is on trend for this year’s designs.

Textile #4 – “Pink Catkin”

This textile was a development from Textile #10 from the last part of the coursework. That was a mixture of textile marker marks with needle-punched embroidery thread in a small scale pattern. I enlarged the scale, added colour and made the imagery more abstract for this piece. I tried needle-punching on felt, but it didn’t work at all, so I had to inset monk’s cloth areas into the felt. I like the contrast in textures (another of this year’s trends) and colour. I made the pink areas too large (the monk’s cloth seems to stretch when needle-punched – something to bear in mind for future projects). I liked the contrasting textures and there is the possibility of changing the length of the looped yarn; cutting it to produce a velvet-like texture; and using all sorts of yarns and even fine strips of fabric using this method. I can imagine producing wall hangings with textured areas combined with patchwork or plain fabrics such as this example.

Textile #5 – “Blossom”

This piece was a more regular version of the paper and textile manipulations inspired by the plum blossom drawing.

I tried various sizes, layouts and petal types on rough paper before making a template for this one. The petals were hand drawn in slightly different sizes to give an irregular look to the piece. I did not want it to look ‘machine-made’. The white felt was cut with a scalpel and scissors to make the petals, before layering with the pink felt. I debated about adding centres to the flowers, and made a few tiny samples, but felt that the simple version was more successful. The petals fall outwards to reveal the under layer when the fabric is vertical, so it would be best suited to cushions, room dividers etc. Having said that I wanted it to look ‘handmade’, I think that this could be manufactured with a laser cutting service.

Textile #6 – “Magenta Tulips”

Derived from Textile #3 from the previous set of samples. I had envisioned this design made from velvet ribbon, but my sample wasn’t satisfactory, so I tried a few variations in felt. The heads alone looked as if they needed a stem in this iteration, so I took the opportunity to add a touch of the green from the palette. I attached the ‘petals’ so that they were slightly 3-D, but in retrospect, I think they would have been better flat. Each one was attached in a slightly different layout, so that the end result was not too uniform. I liked this simplified tulip and will probably use it on future projects. The basic flower head could be arranged in various patterns, printed or appliquéd.

The Plantasia Textiles Capsule Collection

The work will be presented in two books:- a workbook with some of the drawings, samples and notes in it, and a “Plantasia” presentation book showing the development work carried out for the 10 textiles samples made during the coursework, and a short section showing how these were then developed for the capsule collection (above). The capsule collection are 30 cm square samples, so will be labelled and presented separately, as will the larger drawings and paper manipulations.

Coursework Part 54

sample pages from workbook (above)

Coursework Part 55

sample pages from “plantasia textile collection” presentation book (above)

Summary

This has been a satisfying conclusion to the earlier experiments, and I feel that the six created textiles hang together as a collection, connected by the materials, colour palette, source material and some common techniques (appliqué, hand stitch, couching, cutting, layering etc). The context of designs for interiors helped to focus my efforts on a simple combination of contrasting colours and bold patterns that would work on cushions or wall hangings, for example.

What have I learnt during this Assignment?

  • thinking about the intended use of the created textiles made me think about suitable materials and techniques for the end product
  • working with a limited set of materials, colours and techniques led to new avenues for exploration and pointed to the best way forward for development
  • samples have again been useful in showing successful scales, techniques and colour combinations
  • four of these ideas evolved from a single source (the tulip drawings), so I can see the benefits from gathering lots of source material from first hand observation and drawing, and continuing to draw throughout the design process

References:-

Websites:-

https://www.amara.com/ Accessed 24/5/17 – 01/06/17

https://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/index.aspx Accessed 25/5/17 – 01/06/17

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ Accessed 25/5/17 – 01/06/17

http://thatssogemma.com/ Accessed 25/5/17 – 01/06/17

http://www.vogue.co.uk/?international Accessed 25/5/17 – 01/06/17

Coursework Part 5: Project 3: Experimenting and Taking Risks

My first task was to evaluate the work completed so far in this part of the course. I laid out my drawings, paper manipulations, paper with stitch, yarn concepts and evaluative sketches and realised that there was too much to cope with, so I split the material into five groups. Each set of materials was inspired by a different subject. I will show each set of source material followed by the textiles that I created, inspired by it.

My approach was to continue in a spirit of experimentation, with a view to creating a collection of mixed fabrics, using some unusual materials, that can perhaps be layered with one another, or would create a strong contrast when placed next to each other, either in a fashion context, or for the interiors market. I am currently reading two books which have helped to shape my ideas and to give me some context for designing textiles: Briggs-Goode (2013) and Ginsburg (1991).

Alexander Calder Black Furrows Tapestry

Alexander Calder, Black Furrows, 1965, tapestry design

Source:- Ginsburg, 1991 (1995 reprint) p 181

Kontiki Liberty

Liberty’s Kontiki fabric, 1958

Source:- Ginsburg, 1991 (1995 reprint), p 94

Lucienne Day, Calyx, 1951

Source:- https://www.cranbrookartmuseum.org/artwork/lucienne-day-calyx-drapery-fabric/

paul nash cherry orchard

Paul Nash, Cherry Orchard, 1930-31

Source:- https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/180988478751040862/

I particularly admire designs such as those shown above. The use of strong contrasts in the colour palettes, paired with a bold, graphic style and abstract imagery are all elements that appeal to me.

Tulip

P1290942

#1 plastic bag, cut with scalpel into fine strips, joined at top and bottom

#2 postal sack, as above, with added ties

#3 polyester fabric with 3-D, cut and applied ‘tulip heads’ made from the same textile

The first red textile was directly derived from a sample made in the ‘plastic manipulation’ stage of the process. I felt that it represented the lines seen on the tulip petals well and could be layered over other textiles to give movement and an interesting shiny texture to an end product. It had quite a ‘punk’ feel to it, as did the next textile sample. Although, I felt that both might work on a larger scale as room dividers, or similar.

I introduced ties to the second variation, which was a bi-coloured plastic, and therefore has a different appearance when viewed from the front or reverse. The red ties give a random highlight of colour and perform the function of holding areas of the strips apart. Both of these textile samples have a very floppy, drapeable, lightweight feel to them. I have used a dramatic combination of colours from my chosen palette, giving strong contrasts.

Aiming for a more luxurious take on the idea, I made a repeated ‘tulip head’ shape from cut and gathered squares of a polyester, medium weight, faux silk fabric and attached them to a background of the same fabric. I chose a more muted, orangey shade of red from the palette. The three-dimensional aspect worked quite well, and I could imagine this fabric as a long evening skirt, or as a cushion cover.

Chard

P1290943

#4 cotton fabric with ‘paint on’, liquid batik dye, batik technique using paraffin and bees’ waxes

When I was drawing the plastic samples that I made, inspired by the chard leaf drawing, I was particularly taken with the one seen at centre above. The marks would, I thought, be suitable for representing in batik. I watered the dye in places to give the ‘shiny’ effect seen in the drawing. I did consider adding stitch to this piece, but decided that I preferred the simple and striking marks as they were, in the monochrome palette. I had tried and enjoyed making batik pictures about 35 years ago at school, and had recently purchased a second-hand wax melting pot on Ebay, so this was the ideal chance to try it out. The pattern contains more random dots than the original drawing thanks to wax drips, but I felt that these added to the variety and spontaneity of the design. One unexpected outcome occurred when I washed three samples together in the washing machine: the wax cracked, and the cracked areas re-dyed themselves with the mixture of dye in the water, so a faint secondary colour appeared, which softens the design, compared to the original drawing. Using a cold water dye would probably avoid that happening.

The resulting textile sample feels rather stiff from the dye and wax residue, but I think it would soften with repeated washing. I think that this design could be extended to form a fairly random-looking all-over pattern on fabric and could be rendered in a number of colour combinations, although I feel that the design suits a strong colour contrast. I think it would be suited to a dress or shirt fabric, a curtain fabric, or rug design.

Plum Tree/Blossom

P1290944

#5 cotton textile with cut petal shapes, wetted and crushed

#6 cotton textile with large lines of petal shapes

#7 pongee silk with cut voids, textile marker, net inserts, layered appliqué and French knot embroidery

Trying to emulate the cut paper samples from the source material, it was not so easy to cut folded fabric, so I felt that the first two samples were not very successful. I imagine that a laser cutting service could provide a much better outcome. On the positive side, the samples were quite interesting with the cut areas giving the possibility for layering, and good drapeability. In a finer fabric, such as silk, they might be suitable treatments for wedding dresses. Using laser cut felt, on the other hand, the textile samples might inspire interior fabrics. One unfortunate outcome was that I discovered that my ironing board cover bleeds colour onto wet fabric, so sample #6 ended up with a pink tinge in places.

Textile sample #7 was looking at the distant blossom, and exploring a more delicate scale. I had hoped to find a very fine cotton, but none was available at my local fabric shop, so I opted for pongee silk (sadly cream, rather than white). I was aiming to create a variety of textures and patterns. I thought that this piece had some nice aspects and it felt like a very feminine, light and ethereal fabric. I can imagine a blouse made from this, paired with a skirt made from #4. It might also be suitable as a Summery window treatment.

Catkin

P1290947

#8 cotton fabric with ‘paint on’, liquid batik dye, batik technique using paraffin and bees’ waxes

#9 as for #8

#10 re-purposed linen table-cloth, cotton embroidery thread, textile marker

Following on from my batik experiment with #4, I decided to try my hand at a larger, single motif that could be repeated all over a fabric, giving a large-scale pattern suitable for both clothing and home furnishings. (This reminded me of some earlier research into the Dutch company, Vlisco, as many of their fabrics sported large motifs in a printed, faux batik for the African market).

#9 concentrated on an all-over pattern that might have a number of end uses, such as for a craft fabric or wallpaper.

#10 simplified the colour palette to an all-white scheme, highlighting the subtle self-coloured textile marker pattern with added texture in the form of needle-punched ‘catkins’. This was carried out at a half-size scale of the previous sample. The combination of drawn marks and textured embroidery worked well together, and the embroidered aspect could be expanded to include all of the catkin heads and the stems for a more textured version. Its delicacy made me think of wedding dresses and veils, if it were executed on silk or satin fabric.

Distant Mixed Foliage

P1290949

#11 printed acrylic paint, embroidered ‘leaves’ on cotton fabric

#12 discharge dyed marks, painted marks, embroidery thread ties on cotton fabric

#13 couched, crumpled polyester fabric, wool chenille, and disassembled pom pom trim on dress net

#11 was inspired by the embroidered texture of one of the sewn paper manipulations, and the resulting yarn. I chose the burgundy from my colour palette with printed white stems and an orangey red for the leaves. The asymmetry would have to be reigned in a little to create an all-over pattern, but I think that this would make good curtain or cushion fabric, and could be turned into a printed fabric in a number of colour palettes.

I decided to continue the linear theme with the next textile sample, using bleach to create some marks inspired by the tree twigs and resulting yarn concept. To give the fabric a little texture and movement, I added embroidery thread ties in the soft green from the palette. I thought the reverse of this fabric was interesting (the white-painted aspect doesn’t show and the ties appear as little dashes of green). It is a very strong pattern, quite masculine in feel, and has a 1980s vibe. It reminds me of Chinese painted brush marks. It is possibly suited to a bedding or rug design, but I think a simpler version (similar to the reverse) would have been more successful.

#13 was a playful take on an idea inspired by the distant plum tree in blossom. I used bold shapes and colours from the palette on an almost transparent background, introducing exaggerated texture, with the intention that it could be layered over other fabrics. In a larger scale, I could see this embroidered on a dress bodice, or full skirt. I think it would also work well in a pastel or monotone palette. It could be developed into a simplified tree shape for printing in a repeated pattern (such as the design by Paul Nash at the start of this article).

Summary

I could have carried on this project for weeks: I have so many ideas generated by this work, and I barely touched on printing, as the textile paint I ordered has yet to appear! I will certainly return to this source material in the future, as I think that coming up with more stylised repeat designs for printing would be a fertile area for further exploration. I would also like to use a similar development process for making textured, abstract wall hangings based on landscapes.

What have I learnt during this Project?

I seem to be narrowing down my preferences to bold, abstract patterns and strongly contrasting colour palettes. I prefer very simple, uncluttered designs.

It has been interesting to try the batik technique after all these years, and it is certainly a technique I will revisit. The discharge dyeing with bleach was new to me and another way of altering fabric to add to my ‘toolbox’.

The idea of layering textiles has great potential for creating exciting combinations of colour and texture.

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References:-

Books:-

Ginsburg, Madeleine. The Illustrated History Of Textiles. Studio Editions, London, 1995

Briggs-Goode, Amanda. Printed Textile Design. Laurence King Publishing, London, 2013

Jilli Blackwood Lecture at The Embroiderers’ Guild, Dumfries

I attended a lively and entertaining talk by Glasgow-based textile artist, Jilli Blackwood yesterday. Her famous ‘Slash and Show’ textiles are a riot of colour and texture and embellishment. They include hand-dyed fabrics, layering, weaving, pleating, with freely worked hand and machine embroidery. She has a loom in her home studio, and this informs her work, and she returns to weaving between her embroidery projects.

I had researched this artist in respect to contemporary embroidery in an earlier article, so will not repeat that material here.

As a third year graduate, Jilli had been invited to meet fashion designer, Jean Muir, who encouraged her to make a 1 metre square version of a layered and cut sample. She also offered Jilli a job, which she turned down, despite being a huge fan of Muir’s designs. Jilli strikes me as a very independent person, who was keen to develop her own ideas.

Her breakthrough moment for the future direction for her work came with the Millenium Kilt, an altered, second-hand kilt with a three-dimensional surface created with the techniques mentioned above. She told us that she had had a last minute moment of doubt about exhibiting the kilt in The McManus Galleries in Dundee (2000) as part of an exhibition called ‘Textiles for the 21st Century’. Was an ‘altered’ garment an original work of art? However, she need not have worried, as it went on to win the award for first prize and was then exhibited at the V&A as part of an exhibition called ‘Men In Skirts‘. Despite several offers to buy this piece, Jilli retained ownership of it, but went on to create a series of similar pieces for sale. A collection of ‘Art to Wear’ pieces, forms another series, including kimonos.

Jilli Blackwood, Millenium Kilt, 1999-2000

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/projects-millenium-kilt.html

It was interesting to hear about Jilli’s working practice: the piece above started as a sketch on an envelope, before hands-on work on the kilt itself. At other times she will dye the fabrics first. She uses Kemtex dyes because of their light-fast qualities. The dyed fabrics will be hung together so that she can see how the colours interact, as she selects a colour palette for the project in hand. Next, an A4 – A3 sized sample may be made, before the full sized piece is worked on. The work moves from floor to wall to sewing machine as Jilli works on it by hand and with her sewing machine, adding and subtracting elements until she is happy with the outcome. This process can take several years to complete on a single piece. Although, The Glasgow School of Art can make digitally rendered prints if large scale production is required.

One piece that she brought along to show us had not, she felt, worked, but instead of discarding it, she ended up cutting it in half, re-joining it with two upward arcing lines now meeting in the centre. This gave it a new dynamism that resembled various buildings she had seen, and Jilli wondered if the influence of this architecture had subliminally affected her development of the piece. The colour was altered by folding and over-dyeing the wall hanging several times, and it now has a background of dark lines with the bright pink elements glowing against it.

She advised us to try to develop our own ‘handwriting’ through playing with materials (much as we have been doing on the course!), because everything has been done before, it is just a case of putting one’s own mark on the different techniques available.

Another piece that I found interesting, consisted of a black ground fabric with machine sewn, irregular rectangles of silver leather attached. This had started as a landscape-format wall hanging, had been cut in half and joined to make a long portrait-format wall hanging, and had ended up being made into a skirt as a wearable piece of art. Jilli was sporting some of her wearable art in the form of a hat and tunic dress as she was speaking to us.

For the Flag Handover Ceremony at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Jilli designed an eye-catching red tartan for the entire Scottish team. One aspect that she had to give thought to was that it had to be ‘larger than life’ as the human figures would be tiny in the huge stadium to the audience there, but would also be seen around the world on television. The design had to work in these two, very different situations.

After she had designed the Team Scotland parade outfit for 2014 Commonwealth Games, she was dismayed to find that the outfits had been photographed for publicity purposes, against a green countryside background, instead of the grey or dark background that she had envisaged. The interaction between colours is very important to this artist.

However the green in the photographs went on to inspire a bright green tartan which was used in the World Anti Doping Agency space at the games.

Jilli Blackwood, WADA design, Commonwealth Games 2014

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/news.html

More recent work has been embroidery over worn, antique, South African rugs, echoing the existing pattern. Jilli mentioned that as well as being extremely hard to work on, she was amazed to find all the ‘errors’ in the seemingly perfect patterns on the rugs.

Her future plans include re-branding her website and producing a luxury catalogue and generally ‘raising her game’.

We were allowed to handle some of her artwork and samples, which brought home the highly textured nature of the work.

 

What can I learn from this artist?

This was a timely example of how wonderful textiles can be created or altered, and will feed into my experimental approach to creating textiles on Part 5 of the course. Jilli’s playful, colourful, ‘anything goes’ approach was very refreshing, as was her persistence with pieces that aren’t quite working, but can be altered and re-formed by changing the format or colour palette, for example.


References:-

Websites:-

http://www.jeanmuir.info/pages/secret_life.shtml Accessed 12/05/17

https://www.jilliblackwood.com/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.kemtex.co.uk/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/men-in-skirts/ Accessed 12/05/17