Coursework Part 5: Project 2: Building A Response: Developing Yarn and Linear Concepts

I made some drawings to inspire my yarn-making. These drawings explored the textures and type of marks found in the paper and plastic manipulations, both with and without added stitch. Sadly, I won’t have time to make all of them, so I will pick out those that demonstrate a variety of texture and line.

Yarn Concept #1, inspired by Plastic Manipulation with Stitch #2

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I was aiming for a springy look with loose texture, and used the French knitting technique. The first sample was made with a single strand of rayon embroidery thread. For the second sample, I decided to use a combination of the red, pink and burgundy found in my chosen colour palette. I added in a strand of invisible sewing thread with sparsely threaded white glass beads to represent the glints of reflected light seen in the plastic sample.

I think that the single thread was the most pleasing of the two samples – it has a simplicity of line and clarity of colour, lacking in the more complicated version. The springy loose threads and gleaming look of the thread were just what I was aiming for.

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Thinking of how I can take this texture forward: rows of the French knitting could be joined, or I could experiment with knitting or crocheting with a very fine thread like this, on large tools, to obtain a similar effect. Alternatively, I could make small areas decorated with this texture on a background fabric, or printed or drawn lines imitating this ‘scribbled’ line.

Yarn Concept #2, inspired by Plastic Manipulation with Stitch #2

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This yarn concept was formed by stitch on plastic with acrylic painted dots added to represent the texture of the source material. The ‘Bargello’ stitch of the original was simplified to become three staggered stitches.

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I quite liked this idea, but felt that the plastic made it a little too inflexible, but it could be translated to a shiny red textile such as silk or synthetic organza. The white paint could become printed white dots or rows of beads. The scale could be exaggerated (larger stitches in a thicker thread or yarn, in which case the background fabric could be more substantial, such as a faux leather.)

Yarn Concept #3, inspired by Plastic Manipulation with Stitch #3

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This yarn concept was made from fine strips of plastic bag (much like the source material), but rolled, then tied at 5 cm intervals with rayon embroidery thread. The strands were slightly stretched and separated to give areas of irregular lines and waves.

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Although I was not particularly keen on this one, I think that it could inspire a textile made from areas of cut plastic, with some areas tied to give voids, or possibly a ‘woven’ cut texture with different directional cuts, or areas of irregular cuts interspersed with uncut areas.

Yarn Concept #4, inspired by Paper Manipulation with Stitch #4

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A synthetic fabric was cut and ironed into shape, then couched with chenille yarn, and decorated with black crochet thread stitch, and white glass beads.

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This has an autumnal feel because of the muted colour palette: the green was not as bright as the one in my palette. It makes me think of seaweed for some reason, but perhaps with a fluffier or more petal-like decoration instead of the beads, it might more successfully represent the source material. I did like the mixture of textures and ‘marks’, and can imagine branch-like areas of this set against a translucent fabric.

Yarn Concept #5, inspired by Paper Manipulation with Stitch #10

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A simple yarn inspired by the catkin source material. This sample was made from white yarn with tied bunches of embroidery thread in the soft green from my selected colour palette.

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I thought that it was delicate and quite attractive and did remind me of the tufty texture of the catkin-related drawing and paper manipulations. Thinking of how this might be developed: I can imagine this couched onto a light cotton fabric, perhaps combined with a muted, pale background pattern resembling leaves or branches.

Yarn Concept #6, inspired by Paper Manipulation with Stitch #10

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This yarn showed a more literal translation of the catkin texture, made with a fine punch needle, worked in two heights of stitch, on a synthetic ribbon, with added stem stitch. The punch needle makes a good texture that is very like the catkin texture.

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The time-consuming nature of this technique means that it would only be suitable for use in small areas of a larger project. I think that the varied textures work well together. This could be simplified to an all white palette. It has a delicate and organic feel to it, enhanced by the translucent ground that the stitch is worked on.

Yarn Concept #7, inspired by Paper Manipulation with Stitch #7

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Six strands of black embroidery thread on paper cord. This was almost exactly like the drawing I had made (shown at the top of this article), and I felt that the separating black threads represented the fine black pen lines of the drawing well. It could be carried out in a very regular way (side to side, so that the yarn lies flat), or (as here) deliberately irregular. The paper cord can be twisted to make the black looping stitches spiral round the cord.

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I think that the technique might suit textile jewellery, but the stiffness of the paper cord would be hard to translate to a textile, so I think that the best way of taking this forward would be to form a print for all of the lines and textures seen, or perhaps, just for the white lines, with the black carried out in stitch. It has a bold, graphic feel, that I thought was quite successful as a pattern.

Yarn Concept #8, inspired by Paper Manipulations #1 and #2

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This ‘twiggy’ yarn concept is made from lengths of fine plastic tubes, sewn and tied together with white and black threads. I tried a few methods of joining these units together, until I realised that I could pierce them with a fine needle and tie them together, leaving the loose ends to enhance the twig-like effect.

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I thought that this was probably the most successful of the yarns in translating the source material. I immediately thought of making a textile printed with these lines and then adding tied stitch over the printed area. Like the last yarn concept, it has a bold, graphical feel and reminds me somewhat of Chinese brush strokes.

Summary

I have some interesting textures, marks and lines to take forward to the textile design part of the coursework. The challenge will be to make them form part of a collection.

What have I learnt in this part of the course?

  • once again, the value of trying different techniques with the materials in hand has been helpful in finding solutions (for example, ways of joining the plastic tubing in Yarn Concept #8)
  • working from the drawings made initially, has given me something concrete to aim for, and has informed the sorts of materials that might work to produce the desired outcome
  • some of the yarn concepts have suggested direct translations to textiles, whereas others have demonstrated possible patterns that may be suitable for printing onto fabric

Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Exercise 4.4 Deconstructing Colour As Yarn

This exercise makes reference to the striped watercolour representations I made for Exercise 3.3, which were derived from a glass still life arrangement.

I studied the five versions I had made, which varied in colour palette from analogous greys to a comparatively ‘dramatic’ peachy red palette, enlivened with yellow.

I made a mind map of ideas to inform this series of yarns:-

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I then drew and wrote down some possible interpretations for the yarns.

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1#

Materials: lightweight cotton and cotton mix textiles, tulle netting

Construction: four textiles were chosen to represent the colour palette. Trials were made for dipping the yarn in wax to give a ‘glassy’ effect (zero to four dips in the wax were tried). I decided that I preferred the undipped textile and proceeded to make a yarn based on deconstructed fragments of textile. One piece was torn frayed and twisted to become the main thread. Smaller pieces of other textiles were torn or cut into pieces that were hand sewn or tied to the main thread.

Handle and appearance: soft, floppy, frayed, scruffy, random appearance, but with some repetition of colour and shape.

Possible variations: heavier or lighter textiles in different colour palettes could be used; could be scaled up (clothes on a washing line?).

Thoughts and ideas: my first attempt focused on matching the colour palette and the light airy feel of the painted palette. It was painted in a slightly irregular manner, with blending colours, and I think that suggested the frayed texture to me. I wondered about adding a wax coating, hence the sampling, but decided that what it gained in translucence, it lost in texture (the frayed areas and the netting filled with wax). The samples also became stiff and unflexible. Possibly using a cooler wax dip and more immersions could lead to an interesting finish, where the surface beneath is barely visible – suggesting artistic links to ‘hidden’ or ‘buried’ subjects; experiences you are trying to forget, etc.

#2

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Materials: assorted embroidery threads and yarns, some snipped into short lengths, others coiled; ice cubes

Construction: two lengths of yarn were constructed: one made from short lengths of embroidery thread, with a connecting thread and frozen in an ice cube tray. The second yarn was made from coiled pieces of assorted yarns, again with a connecting thread and frozen in ice.

Handle and appearance: heavy, translucent ‘beads’ with the coloured yarns and threads just visible. As the ice melted the connecting thread uncoiled and made larger gaps between the ice cubes, and the contents of the ice cube were visible on the surface.

Possible variations: anything could be frozen in ice in the same way (eg, flowers, pieces of cloth, messages on paper?). I would have liked to make a time lapse photography version of this, as it would be interesting to see the hidden contents slowly emerging as the ice melts.

Thoughts and ideas: I was looking for something that mimicked the shiny, transparent aspect of both the original glass arrangement, and the watercolour studies. I was surprised to find that this worked quite easily (I had thought that the connecting thread might pull out of the ice when they were released from the ice cube trays, but it stayed firmly in place). The emerging threads as the ice melted were as interesting as the encased versions. Thinking of artistic metaphors: thawing of emotions; hidden aspects revealed; ephemerality of life, etc. I feel that there is a slight connection to the work of land artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy, whose beautiful structures may only exist for a short time, captured in photographs. The short-lived nature of the yarn concepts, I think, fulfilled the coursework brief for deconstruction.

#3

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Samples for deconstructing plastic/cellophane packaging tubes.

Materials: plastic or cellophane packaging tubes; Sharpie pens

Construction: after investigating various means of deconstructing the tubes (cutting, piercing, punching holes, crocheting a thin strip, removing sections and melting). I opted to combine the two samples shown in close-up above. One was melted over a flame, the other cut from alternate sides (almost up to, but not through the opposite side). The tube was first coloured with Sharpie pens matching the colour palette, then was melted over a flame, before being wrapped with the cut sample.

Handle and appearance: very light in weight, feathery, glimmering, shiny, reflective and a mixture of irregular (melted area) and regular elements.

Possible variations: this material had great potential for alteration. It was quite durable and could be knitted or crocheted, possibly sewn through or couched to a project, if required. When using melting, it could be almost melted away entirely to leave a skeleton of the original material remaining.

Thoughts and ideas: I felt that this shiny, transparent material took on the colour of the pens well and reflected the light in a ‘glass-like’ manner. Melting the material gave even more planes and facets for the light to bounce off and it concentrated the applied colour as the material shrank. It could form a useful layer to place over another texture, or could be added in small quantities to an artwork where a reflective quality is required.

#4

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Samples for combinations of hair and various media.

left: A4 POSCA pen and pencil drawing; centre: strands of hair with paint attached; right: two close-up images of completed yarn concept made from braided strands of hair and paint drops.

Materials: human hair, acrylic paint

Construction: hair was ‘deconstructed’ from my head, then paint dots were applied along the length, as it rested on a non-stick surface; paint dots were loosened from surface with scalpel; hair strands with paint dots attached were braided together.

Handle and appearance: light, but with a slight weight from the paint drops – feels like a finely beaded necklace. Appearance is cute and bright, like confetti – until you notice that it is mounted on hair – yeuch!

Possible variations: I tried to make the dots smaller and more globular by having the hair raised off the surface when the paint or varnish was applied, but it would not stick like that. However, my samples show that beads or a number of other substances could be used instead of paint. A very fine ‘yarn’ can be achieved by using a single strand of hair (see strands before they were braided, centre image, above). Hair alone can be braided or used in cut lengths as decoration, (as seen in Victorian mourning jewellery – examples on this Pinterest board).

Thoughts and ideas: I chose to use hair because I was looking for something light, fine and strong with translucent qualities. I had seen  Lucy Brown‘s Ladies Companions at the Making Space exhibition last August, and appreciate the many reactions the use of human hair can generate from the viewer. During the discussion after the study visit, the majority of the group found the artwork so repellent that some people couldn’t even look at it. I find this an interesting reaction when we see it every day on people’s heads, but there must be some innate repulsion reaction to it when found detached! The associations are with remembrance of the dead – keeping ‘a piece of them’ close to you in jewellery.

Lucy Brown, I Serve Only You …, 2012

This sculpture explores the relationship between a lady and her maid over 60 years of service (repetitive tasks such as hair brushing). In this case, the hair refers directly to the tasks performed by the servant; hints at the intimacy, trust and care required for such tasks; but also has a shock value. The collected hair changes colour with the passing years reinforcing the length of time these women were together.

Well, I thought I would try using hair for this exercise, since it seemed to fit the requirements and associations with light, fine, airy, reflectiveness and transparency of the watercolours, but I, too, find it rather disgusting, so will probably not repeat the experience.

#5

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Materials: plastic tubing, invisible thread

Construction: plastic tubing was cut into fine rings, that were connected randomly using invisible sewing thread.

Handle and appearance: quite stiff, but light. The appearance presents a repeated element with variation and feels transparent, reflective and ‘glassy’.

Possible variations: I initially tried longer tubes stuffed with yarn, threads or textile, which might be another approach. Any tube-like or cylindrical form could be treated in the same way (copper pipe, loo roll cardboard centres, wood, rolled textiles, etc.) My joining is not very neat: maybe welding the loops together with heat, or gluing them together might be better if no flexibility is required. Or joining the elements with jump rings or wire. A visible thread or yarn for joining would give a secondary pattern to the ‘yarn concept’.

Thoughts and ideas: As mentioned above, I had considered adding more colour and texture to this, with other materials, or paint, but after exploring various options, I decided to keep this yarn simple with the light reflections providing the white and grey palette. This was one of my favourite yarns. I liked its simplicity and the effect of the overlapping ovals/circles. I can imagine the technique being transferable to fashion and accessories, jewellery, or interior decor, and pattern for art or craft applications, such as decorating ceramics.

Visual evaluation drawing – ‘pattern’, printed with masking fluid (removed), watercolour

Visual evaluation drawing – ‘surface quality’, PVA glue

Summary

I have done my best to stick to my resolution of trying something on a smaller scale than my previous efforts, as befits the source material.

I have learnt that:-

  • exploring a material with small trial samples can give a variety of options to choose from
  • keeping an outcome simple is often a better option than overcomplicating a design, ie ‘less is more’ constraint
  • created work does not have to be long-lasting to be interesting
  • working with and manipulating the actual materials is a good way to provoke new ideas and find solutions to problems (such as ways of joining materials)

References:-

Websites:- 

http://beautifuldecay.com/2014/01/07/andy-goldsworthys-ice-snow-works/ Accessed 19/02/17

http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/lucy-brown/ Accessed 20/02/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 3: Texture and Tonal Qualities

I chose to work from the painted extension of the neutral sample from Exercise 3.1 Part 3.

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I made a mind map to stimulate some ideas about colour, tone and texture.

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I made some drawings, which explored the diamond or squares pattern seen in the source textile, also the folded nature of the fabric.

#1

Materials: white wool mix felt, grey linen thread, amber/gold glass beads, tea dye

Construction: squares of white felt were sewn diagonally onto grey linen thread, with interspersed glass beads held in place with a knot either side. The completed yarn was given a quick ‘tea bath’, rinsed in clean water, then dried.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, slightly ‘furry’. It has an ‘antique’ appearance thanks to the tea dye, but the diamond shapes and glass beads make me think of Art Nouveau style.

Possible variations: this simple construction could be adapted with numerous shapes; different sizes of shapes; three-dimensional shapes (eg pom poms); overlapping shapes; etc.

Thoughts and ideas: I chose felt as being matt like the source material, and abstracted the square/diamond shape from the original. In my drawing I had imagined metal jump rings connecting the shapes, but opted for thread and beads as being more in keeping with the source textile. I quite liked this yarn but felt that the colour was a bit too pink-brown rather than cream coloured. For possible applications: hanging room dividers, jewellery, an over-skirt of vertical rows of this yarn.

#2

Materials: cream curtain lining (re-purposed fabric), peach cotton cord, grey ?silk embroidery thread, lilac cotton embroidery thread.

Construction: the textile was torn into roughly 3 cm strips and then into squares. The edges were frayed (resulting in some squares being larger than others). The textile squares were placed in an overlapping pattern and the cotton cord was laid on top and couched to it with a single strand each of grey and lilac embroidery thread.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, feathery texture and look.

Possible variations: other textiles or media (?leaves) could be used; different shapes and colours of textile, frayed or unfrayed fabric.

Thoughts and ideas: I was happier with the colour of this yarn: the creamy colour with touches of grey, lilac and peach that I had seen in the original textile. The fluffy, frayed edge came from thoughts of the original textile being a ‘worn out’ duvet cover. This yarn brought to mind ephemeral sea creatures, as well as feathers. It can be twisted into a spiral as well as being used flat. It made me think of millinery uses – decorating a hat for a wedding or a fascinator for a bride. It had a 1920s feel to it, so maybe decorating a flapper dress.

Visual evaluation drawing, in mixed media, of a close-up area of the ‘feather’ yarn.

#3

Materials: cream curtain lining (re-purposed fabric), cream cotton crochet thread, Japanese matt glass beads.

Construction: the textile was torn into a 2 cm strip and was pleated and oversewn with two rows of straight stitches. A further row of straight stitch incorporating the glass beads was sewn along the centre.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, slightly ribbed feel, with the rough, gritty feel of the beads. Appearance – well one word came to both my husband and I on seeing this: tapeworm – ugh!

Possible variations: other textiles could be used; wider or narrower strips of fabric, frayed or unfrayed fabric, different or no embellishments could be used (the reverse, without beads, is shown above, at bottom right).

Thoughts and ideas: In this yarn I was exploring an all-cream palette, concentrating on the pleated nature of the source textile. If I ever want to re-create the verisimilitude of a tapeworm, this will be my ‘go-to’ technique. In other colours and scales, I can imagine that this could be used in the fashion arena, or for embellishment of home furnishings.

#4

Materials: cream cotton crochet thread.

Construction: I watched three You Tube videos about making nets and followed the advice in two of them, (links below). The third used a different technique involving a specialist tool. You basically knot alternate pairs of cord (or in my case, thread) as it hangs down from a horizontal thread. It is quite time-consuming to make, but a simple process.

 

Handle and appearance: lightweight, delicate, lacy, semi transparent, with a repeated pattern of knots and diamonds. Can be stretched flat or twisted, or coiled into a cord.

Possible variations: this technique can be scaled up or down; different cords, yarns or threads can be used singly or in combination. Embellishments such as beads could be added at each knot or on the sides of the ‘diamonds’. Irregularly sized holes could be formed by varying the knotting pattern.

I was generously given a beautiful handmade scarf constructed with a similar technique involving two delicately-coloured yarns: one with a bouclé finish and the other with a feathery effect. This shows the sort of texture combination that could be achieved.

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Sarah Beattie, Scarf 4 (detail), 1999

Thoughts and ideas: I opted to simplify the colour palette and construction, being influenced by the words ‘grid’ and ‘net’ in my mind map. I was pleased with this miniature ‘net’ and could see that the technique had a lot of potential in a number of areas: fishing (nets for catching and holding fish); fashion (the scarf shown above is an example, I can also imagine a garment for layering over other textiles); survival (for making hammocks, or textiles for carrying loads, as a base layer for a brush-covered tent, for example). I like the appearance of my net yarn, whether stretched flat or as a cord, with the knots appearing in suspension along the length. It may be useful for artistic constructs where themes of capture, imprisonment or struggle are involved.

White gel pen drawing of a section of the net yarn.

#5

Materials: card, gouache paint, Czechoslovakian matt glass beads in mauve.

Construction: the card was cut into diamond shapes. Some were painted in cream, and others in lilac with a grey stripe. The latter diamonds were cut in half and glued to the cream ones. Glass beads were knotted onto linen thread with two diamonds glued together around the thread in between the beads.

Handle and appearance: medium weight, stiff, spiky, semi-flexible, flat, but reversible.

Possible variations: the diamonds could be made from textiles using English paper piecing technique; different shapes, colours and scale could be used. Different media such as metals, plastics, air-drying clay could be used. The pieces could be joined by metal jump rings instead of thread.

Thoughts and ideas: I think Jane Bowler‘s influence was felt in this exaggeration of the yarn, as were memories of Mary Katrantzou‘s chain mail fashion, from earlier research on the course. Shapes that tessellate are ideal for joining into two-dimensional textiles, with joins at the points. I think that jump rings would have worked better, as the thread kept the two pieces of card from joining perfectly. I increased the proportion of grey and lilac in this piece, as seen in my paint extension of the textile source. I think the colour palette works well together and could be used in fashion (in knitwear, or on a silk blouse, for example); or for interior decor, such as wallpaper, or paint colours. It creates a soft, gentle, calm appearance.

#6

Materials: wool (mix) and acrylic felts, linen thread.

Construction: three colours of felt were cut into wave-shaped sections (example shown at bottom right, above), which were concertinaed and sewn onto linen thread.

Handle and appearance: medium weight, springy, soft, rippled. The appearance is festive and fun and can be varied by twisting the shapes to give a more three-dimensional effect.

Possible variations: different shapes could be used, or strips of felt or other materials; larger or smaller folds could be made in the fabric; matching or contrasting thread could be used.

Thoughts and ideas: Ideas of ‘ridges’, ‘folds’ and ‘waves’ came up in my mind map and influenced this exaggerated yarn. The colour palette I chose, was a more saturated version of the cream, grey and lilac of the painted textile extension. I used three different weights of felt, which means that the purple dominates as it has the most ‘body’. I thought that this was quite a successful experiment and had potential for fashion (scarves, jewellery, accessories, etc); and in art (creating lots of texture and variation from a flat material, maybe suggesting the texture of bark or water).

Summary

What have I learnt?

  • a simple, neutral textile can generate numerous ideas for yarn concepts (colour palettes, textures and patterns)
  • a mind-map suggests associated ideas that can lead to new avenues to explore in yarn design
  • how to make a simple net structure

 


References:-

Websites:- 

http://www.janebowler.co.uk/ Accessed 02/02/17

http://www.marykatrantzou.com/ Accessed 02/02/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 2: Materials Exploration

I chose two textile and paint chip samples from Exercise 3.1 to inform this part of the Exercise. I made some exploratory drawings and tried to think of suitable materials that represented the look and feel of the textiles

 

 

#1

Materials: jelly beans, invisible thread.

Construction: I purchased some bulk jelly beans in order to have enough to extract the colours I needed (although the colours were not an exact match, I felt that they linked with the bright, colourful nature of the source textile).  The sweets were laid out, exploring a possible pattern of an irregular vine-like structure (inspired by that seen in the textile) and rings of beans forming ‘flowers’. In my imagination it would be like stringing beads on a thread: the reality was horrendous! I had chosen to use invisible thread so that it would not detract from the colour of the sweets, but even this fine thread was extremely hard to pull through the sticky, dense centre of the jelly beans. Even a fine needle had to be forced through on a hard worktop and I am sorry to say that I gave up on this one, so it will remain an unfinished sample (in photographic form only, since I doubt it will keep fresh!). The needle, thread, my fingers and the outside of the jelly beans became a sticky mess. I tried heating the needle and ‘burning’ a hole through the sugary centre, but it was scarcely any better.

Handle and appearance: heavy, flexible, sticky; with a fun, lighthearted, edible appearance!

Possible variations: I have since seen plastic jelly bean beads available from the US, so they might be a possible, if more costly, alternative. I think there is further mileage in this idea, but maybe using an assortment of plastic sweets or food items.

Thoughts and ideas: I was most excited at the thought of making a jelly bean yarn concept, which I felt would represent the bright floral textile well. I made links to colour, and a joyful, playful mood that I thought the textile portrayed. I did consider gluing them together, but that seemed like cheating, as it would have been more of a jelly bean ‘sculpture’. The use of food for art reminded me of Lady Gaga’s vile meat dress, or the portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

And this is more how I imagined the linear concept to look. Drawn A5 size with POSCA pens.

#2

Materials: plastic coat hangers.

Construction: It was only after I started to try and assemble them into a chain that I realised there were numerous ways of combining them: a simple chain; reversing the direction of every other hanger; altering the side of the hanger the hook caught onto; forming a regular pyramid-type shape by hooking an increasing cascade of hangers; or attaching them randomly. This seemed to offer a ‘DIY’ yarn concept that could be altered to suit the whim of the person assembling it.

Handle and appearance: quite heavy, ungainly, fragile construction that can be broken apart easily, playful, childlike, simple or complex.

Possible variations: anything with a hook on one end and a place to attach another unit’s hook could be used (there are toy monkeys that can be joined like this, for example). Units with numerous ‘hooks’ could be formed into 2-D and 3-D structures. Metal or other materials could be used.

Thoughts and ideas: I was walking around IKEA and saw packs of brightly coloured coat hangers. The idea of a chain of them came to me. Colours could also be played with to form another pattern within the structure. This felt like quite an important discovery: how a simple unit can be combined with other similar units in so many ways, somewhat like knitted or crocheted stitches; or molecular structures. I decided to try a blue background to mimic the textile source, but it was so windy that the photographs did not come out well. The ‘linear concept’ seemed quite at home hung from a tree in my garden, though. An idea for outdoor sculpture, perhaps?

A3 size gestural drawing, quickly made, with only a few glances at the paper, using POSCA pens.

#3

A4 size on Japanese paper, mixed media (ink applied with a brush, Sakura pigma pen, carbon pencil and gel pen). Don’t look too closely at the skinny, wobbly washers! I chose the paper and media to match the Japanese feel of the colour palette.

Materials: metal washers, dogwood twigs, willow twigs, wool rug yarn.

Construction: five twigs were placed in a bundle with some facing one way, some the other, to form a roughly equal diameter along the length. Metal washers were spaced out at 1.5 – 2 cm intervals. Wool yarn was added in a sort of blanket stitch, threaded through the centre of the washers to hold the washers roughly in place.

Handle and appearance: stiff, cold washers, ribbed. The appearance is an interesting mixture of materials – shiny, hard metal; natural, smooth twigs; and hairy, woolly yarn.

Possible variations: the washer could be strung onto cord, rubber tubing, plastic-coated wire, or textile strips; combinations of different sizes of washers or washers and nuts (as in nuts and bolts!) could be used. Also, altering the placement of the washers to give an irregular pattern. Wrapping the washers with thread/yarn before threading them on.

Thoughts and ideas: this linear concept was inspired by the linear, bound nature of the source textile (the washers seen sideways on reminded me of the pale grey marks on the source textile) and the masculine feel of the colour palette led me to think of more traditionally ‘masculine’ materials (wood and metal). I really preferred it without the wool, but the washers would not stay in position without it. I tried a small sample using glue to hold them in place, but the glue was too visible for my liking. Adding more twigs to form a very tight fit meant that the bark was scraped off as the washers were fitted. This might suggest designs for interior furnishings (blinds, for example); jewellery (a choker necklace, earrings etc); or might be a useful technique for making sculpture. I liked this piece and it reminded me of the combination of materials found in work by artists such as Ella Robinson and Sophie Smallhorn, whose art I had studied in my recent research here and here.

#4

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For the next linear concept, I started by making some wrapped samples using slate, beach pebbles and various threads and yarns.

A5 watercolour and coloured pencil drawing (shown before the pencil was added on right hand side – a simpler grey and white colour palette option).

Materials: grey polyester ribbon, pieces of slate, beach pebbles, embroidery thread (linen and cotton), quilting thread, linen sewing thread.

Construction: after completing the trials shown in the first image, I decided that I preferred the finer threads to the thick yarn as the proportion of thread to stone/slate felt right, and allowed more of those materials to show through. I chose the fairly straight wrapping as opposed to the random wrap, as it again referred back to the straight lines of the source material. Slate chips were collected from the garden and pebbles from a beach. All were washed before being matched for colour to the source material (many of the pebbles showed the pinkish hue often found locally, so will be saved for another project). 10 each of the selected slate chips and stones were wrapped with five colours of thread (teals, burnt orange, mid orange, light grey and dark grey), and the knotted ends of the threads were used to anchor them to the fine ribbon with linen thread at 2 cm intervals.

Handle and appearance: heavy, makes a chinking sound as the stones and slate knock against each other, cold stones with the ribbed feel of the threads. Appearance has a connection to the Stone Age, natural materials, landscape inspired colours. Hard, rugged, masculine, randomness.

Possible variations: drill holes in the stones/slate chips; use sea glass for a translucent alternative, or broken china; wrap other objects; scale up or down; use wire for the wrapping.

Thoughts and ideas: This idea emerged from word associations with the source material, such as ‘landscape’, ‘earth’, and ‘strata’. The wrapping technique seemed to suit the linear quality of the source textile, and the materials and colour palette also fitted the landscape theme. I decided to use some colours that almost blended with the stones and some that were a bold contrast: this following my study of the designers (eg, Sophie Smallhorn) that Cari recommended to me for their interesting use of colour. It quickly became apparent that any stones with large slopes to the edges would quickly lose their wrapping, so I tried to select squarer profile, or longer pieces to wrap. I think that the random wrap pattern tried in the samples could work with other shapes better. None the less, I think this linear concept is only suitable for decorative purposes, as the wrapping could easily be dislodged. I did consider using glue or varnish, but preferred the matt, natural appearance of the stones and slate. I think that this technique would make interesting jewellery, or household decorations such as decorative trims. Thinking of an artistic narrative that might relate to the wrapping: bondage, enslavement, swaddling, imprisonment, war paint, keeping ‘it’ together, landscape. This was my favourite linear concept of those I created, for the simplicity of the materials used, the colour palette (mainly shades of grey with smaller proportions of oranges and teal), and the combination of materials. It could be used hanging down in a vertical display, in which case the stones and slate overlapped each other; or horizontally, in which case the stones and slate dangled beneath the ribbon.

#5

Found linear concept. Not inspired by any of the samples, but spotted on a recent walk.

This beautiful larch tree, seen in winter, hanging with ‘Old Man’s Beard’ lichen and larch cones is a lovely yarn concept: long trailing strands with knots in them, pale grey-green fluffy texture, and embellishments like natural wood beads.

Summary

What have I learnt?

  • until you try a technique with the actual materials (ie sampling) you can never be certain how they will react!
  • word associations and drawing can suggest new ideas and directions for work
  • when selecting a palette, consider using some low contrast areas to balance out the high contrast highlights
  • textiles and yarns can work with a wide range of different materials including stone and metal, giving interesting new meanings and qualities to a piece of work

 

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References:-

Websites:-

http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/fashion/celebrity/news/a38329/lady-gagas-meat-dress-what-looks-like-now-photos/ Accessed 27/01/17

http://ellarobinson.com/index.html Accessed 28/01/17

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/arcimboldos-feast-for-the-eyes-74732989/ Accessed 27/01/17

http://www.sophiesmallhorn.co.uk/ Accessed 28/01/17