Sunday, 22 December 2013

Approaching the finishing post?

Having homed in on a few ideas hopefully this submission will produce a sample that gets across the idea.  I always find it difficult to decide which of the techniques in the twelve chapters of the  module will feature in the final piece.  Too many techniques could swamp the piece but there is a  need to show key aspects.  I particularly like some of the features of chapters 5 and 6 but these do not feature in the sample below, should I content myself with the samples done specifically in those chapters, eg Ref 4.6.3,4,5 ,and see this piece as a separate entity?
Here goes...
Ref 4.11.3a
Ref 4.11.3b
With decisions left unresolved  from the previous posting the key was to ensure that the hinge pleats were in keeping with overall size of piece. Rather than doing one inch pleats that were edge stitched on each fold I decided to go for half inch pleats that were only edge stitched on the internal fold.
Ref 4.11.3c
Ref 4.11.3d
To replicate the atmosphere of the seabed I chose a shibori silk ,that had been dyed for an earlier chapter to be used as the hinge fabric. The fabric, once bonded to vilene would be machine stitched on the internal pleat edge and then the external fabric would be hand stitched so that the hinge could be drawn in if so desired.  

The decision to make the flags out of fabric again bonded to vilene came after I had devised a method of writing onto the fabric, basically print the sayings onto paper, rubbing the reverse of the paper with oil pastels and then tracing over the letters with rounded stiletto thereby transferring the oil pastel onto the cloth.  This proved a bit messy, - a caution when using oil pastels, really clean the surface you work on after use as little pieces of crayon seem to attach themselves to everything! The first attempt of using cream oil pastel had a lovely elusive effect but thought I would need something that could be seen in a photo! 
Ref 4.11.3f

The saying 'If we assume we have arrived we stop searching' seemed particularly appropriate.
Ref 4.11.3e

Ref 4.11.3g
Ref 4.11.3h
Having completed the hinge, by making three twisted cords from linen hand dyed thread for earlier chapters, a running stitch was pulled through each pleat.

Ref 4.11.3.i(b)
Ref 4.11.3i(a)
Ref 4.11.3j inside
Ref 4.11.3j outside
The next stage was to attach the shells to the hinge. As green shell was  a little bit crumbly decided to glue a fabric muslin with the title of the piece on the 'front' shell to give it more strength and possibly a diffused edge. The fabric muslin was wrapped round a stiff cardboard oblong that was sewn in place onto the vilene hinge.  As this proved effective decided to cut and glue  an arc of muslin in the 'back' shell and attach in same way to hinge.  

A picture I had seen when looking at design ideas encouraged me to fringe the fabric

Ref 4.11.k side
Ref 4.11.k bottom

The razor shells were filled with double sided foam mounts as although I had sewn the cardboard to take the strain I didn't want the razor shells to split with too much pressure when pulling in the hinge ties. The result...

Ref 4.11.k closed hinge
Ref 4.11.k open hinge

                                                                                    Ref 4.11.k closed hinge, top view

Ref 4.11.3 k top view  Ref 4.11.3 k bottom view

Ref 4.11.3k open
When completing resolved samples a thought pattern seems to prevent you from being happy with what you have done - early ideas that you rejected seem so much more appealing!   My critique of this piece is that it  appears a little too contained and perhaps an earlier idea which involved a series of pages that could be tied and closed as in the origami sequence or opened out as a wall hanging would have given me more freedom to explore and have incorporated more techniques. That maybe something for another day and possible use  poems rather than sayings!  However I will close this post on one of the sayings included as a 'pearl', it is by James Thurber...
It is better to know some of the questions
 than all of the answers….

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Further thoughts

After a holiday break more issues for consideration appeared: Sian had highlighted scale and thread structure and I had a huge note on my desk that said 'surface integration' to which I had added 'integrity of shell'!! 
My immediate action was to review the surface structure and think of how it could be improved...after a few hours, many cups of tea, a period of pulling things apart, machining different ideas of radiating threads  a thought arrived saying 'how will the shell covers work?'.   Scale was indeed the first issue to be resolved the shell needed to be large and strong enough to attach the inner pages and would my book need to stand  up alone or was it OK for it to lie down? 
Back to the drawing board and here is what followed:
Ref 4.11-2.1
Ref 4.11-2.2
I reduced the scale of the original fan shape by 70% and added in the horizontal lines that were as much a part of the shell as the radiating lines.  For stability of the cover to the inside pages I would need to ensure that the oblong shape at the top of the shell was firm and large enough!

Ref 4.11-2.3a and b

Considering how exactly the surface would be made and how large,  I wanted an incorporation of fabric, paper pulp and thread.  4.8.4 appealed as a role model but it would need more strength in its structure.  Here is a first stage of fabric and thread,

I decided to distress the finish before adding the paper pulp and the fabric to set in the shell. While they dried - it was taking two days for each side, even with a wood burning stove going full bore- thoughts turned to the hinge!

 The key was a hinge that was strong enough but that blended with the 'fabric' of the shells. Would I have to use stitches on the folds to stabilise the piece?  I did not want to adversely effect the movement of the 'accordion' or impinge on the word flags making them difficult to read.  I was considering using a combination of hand made paper and opaque or tracing paper for the flags. A rough sample of an accordion fold was made, a piece of fabric bonded to pelmet vilene in an earlier module came to hand so had a practice. Image 4 below shows it folded, image 6 shows the inside view with folds machined stitch on the edges.

                                     Ref 4.11-2.4
                                                                       Ref 4.11-2.5
Two razor shells that had been in my treasure box could be used, the theory being that they would cover cardboard 'stays' that attached to the accordion folds.  See ref 4.11-2.6The bonus of this book began to appear that it would look interesting when open and also flat - was I hedging my bets by not making it compulsory for it to stand up! 

Ref 4.11-2.6
Oh dear after two days of nurturing and turning the first shell set had moved!!! Would this be useable? Onto the next piece and would decided if it was back to the drawing board once I saw how that one worked.  At least the waiting meant I could get up to date with my admin report.
Below more views before  making colour co ordinated accordion  and doing some fine tuning!
   Ref 4.11-2.7

Ref 4.11-2.8

Monday, 11 November 2013

Next steps to presentation piece

Nothing like the onset of the day of reckoning to make you really work out how you are going to complete a piece! Lists of what you have got to do, lists of how to do it, lists of what you may need - but nothing like getting stuck in on stage one to find out that you should have done something else first or there could have been another way to do it!!!  
Ref 4.11.1
Ref 4.11.2
Making internal copy of shell with paper pulp wanted to get the ridge pattern and did a thick layer pressing hard into shell.  It took three days to dry and in that time contempated that I should have layed thread layers in shell to integrate into the piece so when it was dry did another shell to see what looked best!  I also noted that the 'hinge' edge needed to be stronger so incorporated that into second trial piece.

Ref 4.11.4
 The process of making another shell to see if what I thought I should have done first helped to focus me on the next stage.  I wanted to have a more diffused image on one of the shells, so hopefully next stage will come up with the goods!

Friday, 25 October 2013

First stage - book structure and presentation sheet

In previous modules the last three blog postings before approaching my resolved piece see me contemplating and collecting ideas and making small samples that help me explore further in the last push before completing my final piece.  
For this last chapter the picture, left, of Oysters by Jason Houston,  who has kindly agreed to allow me to reproduce it, has  pushed me along a track I began when I made the shell paper in Chapter 4
As well as going through my sketchbook I enjoyed going through pieces rejected from previous chapters to see if they make a last call on my imagination. The picture,right of a grid pattern found as a path on Hadrian's Wall had a certain resonance to how my thoughts were progressing. I also looked at my pinboard to see if something was lurking behind the plethora of notes and reminders - it  helps me clear my workspace which by chapter 11 is somewhat overcrowded! So here are the evolving thoughts for the final sample. 
Perhaps before I go into my concern regarding the fact that the sample must have an A4 piece of fabric for the cover I should talk through the background concept of the piece.
Ref 4.11.1
Ref 4.11.2
The concept of the fan and shell remained an image that I wanted to investigate. Ref 4.11.1 shows simple fan shapes that could become books one using a screw bolt, bottom left, to secure the papers but it was the concept of an accordion flag book , bottom middle that appealed to me.  The fact that the inside flags gave a rhythm and interest while also showing an 'E' shape held a certain irony.  My thoughts played on the theme and in 4.11.2 I considered how the flags could be elongated with handmade paper flags and attached with buttons. The strips of paper also appealed as I wanted to use favourite sayings in the finished book. The scale of the piece needed to be resolved as the large plastic fan shape, top right, seemed cumbersome.
Ref 4.11.3
Ref 4.11.4
Drawing the shell shape onto a piece of A4 paper - not very evenly -I could see how the piece could be made but would I be cutting away too much of the fabric in the shaping to qualify the piece for a resolved sample? Ref 4.11.3.  The accordion fold could be placed in the centre of the two shells and attached with sticks or shells to the covers.  I thought square board covers would be needed for stability of the piece so that the book could stand open. To this end I made a sample with thick card and an additional accordion ridge for the flags thereby allowing 18 rather than 9 flags to be included (just 9 flags are shown in 4.11.4) but the idea would be for longer flags.  I also noted that the accordion needed to be as long as the cover boards to ensure stability!! A decision would be needed as to the material to be used for the accordion ridge.  The ridge needed to be stiff  with a clean folded edge to hold the flags - could bond webbing fabric on the 160grm paper I was using be the solution? 
Ref 4.11.5b
Ref 4.11.5a
I considered making the front cover- seen on yellow felt in 4.11.6  as a three dimensional shell shape which would be achieved by machine stitching threads and wire onto water soluble fabric and molding it over the shell 4.11.5a.  Becoming playful, 4.11.5b  shows  letters that could be visible under the shell and would incorporate the random letters of the title of the piece that had been playing through my mind, Pearls of Wisdom  - a title I had used previously in a commemorative bowl to my mother using clothing and her pearls.  It would be timely to revisit the theme and give a new twist.

The concept is still to be worked but has been roughly placed and unworked in 4.11.5a.  The letters could be stitched in place on a piece of hand dyed fabric.

Ref 4.11.6
The reverse cover, shown on green felt on 4.11.6  could be made as a flat textured surface, reflecting the ridge shape of the front cover placed over hand made paper.

Hopefully the piece has a resonance with the theme of Module 4 and the rough drafts of my idea are acceptable for the final workout!  I have many of what I used to call 'wise oneliners' it will be lovely to sort priority ones into this book.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Artists Module 4

Cas Holmes
While walking it has become a habit for me to pick up pieces as I journey along.  Something that started in childhood when treasures were put on a nature table (the coal bunker) this must have inspired a friend to give me the Cas Holmes book Found Object. The book inspired me to incorporate these treasures in my work and on reading more about Cas Holmes one realises that she inspires many people with her involvement in community projects as well as personal recollections of a moment in time.
The wealth of techniques she uses lies beneath an apparent simplicity of line.  The design details behind the images pulls you into her story, journey or treasure hunt. Holmes values the use of recycled objects - giving a refreshing insight of personal associations with the object rather than setting off into the 'purchase list' culture.  Imaginatively looking at what you have, surely, adds to the authenticity of the finished piece and gives something you have valued to someone else. Holmes has fellowships and major awards that recognise her skills in the subject that she teaches at Middlesex University: Environmental issues and Art Practice.  While studying for this module it was a bonus to watch her ‘field studies in Australia' through her blog.
The images selected from her work  provide resonance and inspiration to the themes of Module 4; These booklets, Breakwater on left allow an intimacy on each page which can also be opened, as in West Dean Mapping, to a panoramic view.  The layering of fabrics and papers in the pages of the booklets give textural interest and the contrast of framing of pictures in Breakwater are a contrast to the more free flowing images of West Dean Mapping.

In Slate Book, right, the use of natural 'book ends' not only gives contrast in texture and weight but replicates the shape into a dynamic third dimension.  Without actually see the piece the folding of the 'papers' appears to give a strength to the internal structure allowing it to become a sculpture. One also suspects that when all of these books are closed the nature of the outside covers and the ability to see an edge of the inside layers encourages you in to opening the book.  Perhaps the saying you can't tell a book by its cover takes on added meaning!

While the dynamics of Holmes's story telling are clearly shown in her series two of her larger pieces also show the value of a narrative behind a piece of work, Counting Crows, left, and Indian Journal, right even though its not a book form it can be read as you pass by the 'pages'.

Lois Walpole
The three dimension objects produced by Lois Walpole hold the challenge of mastering a design where recycled objects take on a dynamic new look.  In many cases she chooses to celebrate the original objects, rather than disguising them, presenting a sense of fun and imagination in the process.
A weaver by nature, basketry techniques featuring heavily in her design work.  She is the author of several books on the subject. I have selected the following images to show in this precis.
Gallery 5 20005 – present day. Fishing floats and ropes are used given a new utility to the pieces and presenting an object that has found a new purpose for these discarded objects as well as telling a story of their origin.  The colours and energy in the piece give a sense of the tides and flow of the sea and the flotsam that these items had become.

Willow, wire and rubber form on the right and Beer and wine muzzles on the left are from the same period showing circular grid patterns that gave me a further incentive to form an embroidered piece worked over a ribbed structure.  This complete circle could be the answer to making a shape that could be folded.  Her use of shell designs attracted my interest as the shell made during the paper making process had caught my imagination. I was, however, getting bogged down in the practicalities of how I could make it for the purpose I wanted.
In Gallery 4 her work from 1999 -2005 she uses books as her components as show her  in Something Wonderful Can Come Out of Books piece. The structures are bound together in a variety of shapes and colours that when joined complete a series of patterns that bring a new life into being.  The components  show, even celebrate, their original form but come together  with a delicacy of detail in the wings that attach to the strong , central body of the butterfly. 
As a pieces that had relevance to the shape I was considering for a resolved sample I had to include these images.  Lois Walpole exhibits and conducts workshops across Europe and the UK with her furthest extremity appearing to be the Shetland Isles. While I have taken most of my pictures from Lois Walpole's web site I have included her blogspot address as it shows some exciting new directions and would encourage you to read Looped and Found posting in May 2013.  As a collector of china pieces that I constantly dig up from my garden this is an inspiring idea - I have woven mine into pieces of jewellery Lois piece is far more monumental and she has collaborated with a potter for this piece on the left.

Alice Fox
I become aware of Alice Fox's work after starting my Distant Stitch course.  While researching artists on the internet for earlier Modules  one is overwhelmed by the plethora of artist, images and ideas that abound.  It was therefore with some relief that I found images by Alice Fox which stood out in their clarity, simplicity and authenticity.  Following her work through her blog invites the reader on a journey where her value of the place and the objects she finds during her work is as interesting  and informative as the series of mark making she makes.  

Stitches complement found objects, printmaking and dyeing processes also use these objects  but it is in the joining together of these techniques  that her work shows simplicity and integrity to the original pieces and  the places were the objects were found.  Her involvement with specific areas, often as an Artist in Residence, adds to the relevance of her work.  For the viewer it  brings a meditative experience to the pieces and the place even though one may not be seeing it 'on location'.
Her work as artist in residence at Spurn Point National Nature Reserve during 2012.Textures of Spurn :  an 80 page book on the project is available .
She was also Artist in Residence at Farfield Mill, Cumbria, July 2012.
Fox's recording of her work in a series of hand made books and publications are a valuable resource.  Recording as well as making is something I am beginning to value in my on work - its amazing how one forgets the intensity of feelings and process that go into pieces of work. While wishing to live adventurously and move on to new projects and ideas reflection can often show new potential or new paths to follow from  pieces of past work. The deisre to move on can leave some questions unanswered and the reading of notes at a later stage may well inform and unearth unfinished business. 
For  me the following quote  from Alice shows the value she places on exploring a wider audience  and sharing her work, “I have an intense interest in the natural world and in the detail of organic things. Spurn provides so many possibilities for developing my work. I’m very excited about being able to focus on this special location and to then take something of the experience of Spurn to other audiences through the gallery tour next year."

Earlier work that Alice produced reflects the depth of her exploration and the recognition of her skills. Joint winner of Quilters Guild student bursary at Festival of Quilts 2011 she went on to enter the  European Art Quilts VII : Festival of Quilts, NEC: 2012 .  Alice is a Licentiate member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen.  

Producing series of pieces to narrative her chosen subject I have given links to her various projects in order they may be enjoyed as complete a complete series:
Fabric of Building and Tidemarks: colour palette shows exciting twists in:
Fifteen Images: where stitch detail has been converted to digital images also includes a sound and visual video:  Sense of Plac:,  music  again relates to images: