Thursday, 21 February 2013

Design an Accessory Part 1

Picture  from Elle France
When reviewing the concept of what makes an accessory I looked to Chapter 12 and selected artist Zandra Rhodes for inspiration.  In looking through her collections I realised that an integral part of her designs was how the models make-up complimented /contrasted with the clothes - could make-up be considered as an accessory?  
Ticking away in my brain over the dark winter months of January and February the Venice Carnival also caught my attention and a seed began to take root, could a mask be considered an accessory?   I had bought a mask, when in Venice in 2007, see left.  I had intended to paint it but just loved its shape and simplicity and did not want to spoil it!   
 In exploring the idea of a mask I needed to work through 3 key exercises in design elements to investigate the choices.
Some design ideas from earlier chapters, see right, were placed on a worksheet to try and maintain focus.

While exploring the mask shape I wanted to be able to have some sense of what was underneath and off the extremities of the mask therefore the mask did not cover the whole face.  The following shapes were cut out:
Ref 3.10.1a                          Ref 3.10.1b
Taking each mask in turn, numbering samples from top left to bottom right, I then took a piece of tracing paper and did some initial design ideas, which had been influenced by shapes that had been used in earlier chapters, and the original inspiration of Zandra Rhodes and Venice.
 Ref 3.10.2a Ref 3.10.2b
 While each design had merits on the original shape the design was made for it then became apparent I could play, moving the tracing paper onto different shapes, this gave a permutation of 36 designs and that was without turning the masks upside down!! While I did not want to make a decision at this time, I felt the need to consider more design elements before making my final design choice, my preference was narrowing down to shapes 1, 2, 4 and 6 and designs B,D,E and  F,  with thoughts that design A was a bit messy and could be improved as an asymmetric option.
TEXTURE, DIMENSION, SURFACE                                                                                        
While textured surfaces of cords, braid, beading would be a part of the finished design it was a key part in the process to establish whether this would be a 2 or 3 dimensional piece.  If it was to be 3 dimensional how would this be made? I was not going to be able to simply put a mould over my venetian mask, I need to consider how to add dimension.

Ref 3.10.3.Let the play session begin, a brief flirt with seeing how a mould would work and how this could be replicated by hand. Using smocking stitches to give contour, shown on the left, on the right fine layers of tissue with a muslin surface that was brushed with PVA and then place on cling film and placed on mask. 

Looking through The Art of Manipulating fabric, by Colette Wolff  stimulated me to consider using tucks, Ref 3.10.4,  or darting, Ref 3.10.5, to bring additional dimensions to a flat surface, or to possibly use a technique shown in Janet Edmonds' Three Dimensional Embroidery - vilene and paper machine stitched shapes
                                                        Ref 3.10.4 reverse                       Ref 3.10.4 front
    Ref 3.10.5   

Should the shaping happen before or after the design work had been done?  
  • The smocking, ref 3.10.3 and tucking ref 3.10.4 were easy enough to pull up. Needed to consider whether design should be worked before or after pulling up the shape. Dart seams could be covered by a designed or a space could be left in design to incorporate dart with base fabric, but after initial experiments making darts were the least favoured option, perhaps pleats could be an alternative option! The tucks seemed to offer a good element for shaping and giving a surface That could be embellished through inserting/emphasising cords.
  • The paper and fabric sample, ref 3.10.3 was stiff when dried but a needle could be pulled through.  A thought, could you prick pattern onto surface with a needle to aid process? This was thin tissue and muslin would it work on heavier paper/fabric?
Time to reflect on what fabric could be used; while my fabric stash included silks and cottons that could be dyed and used wanted to consider surfaces that had texture. Previous work on Modules 1 and 2 had left me samples.
Ref 3.10.6                                                         
  Left: threads sewn onto plastic sheet
  Middle: threads trapped in bondaweb sandwich
  Right: threads in chiffon and muslin sandwich with     bondaweb

Ref 3.10.7 For a previous project on bowls I had used soluble fabric to encase threads and connect with machine stitching.  For the mask perhaps it should be worked worked more lightly?                                                                              A more open use of this soluble fabric method using  just machine stitches with no captured items could be a useful feature or perhaps a combination of the two!
                                                              Ref 3.10.8a                                                Ref 3.10.8b
While considering surfaces I had a play with marbling on paper and fabric and also revisited the idea of bleach to make lace pattern on tissue paper and cotton. The marbling was more subtle on the reverse of the paper and fabric . If this was a look I wanted to have as a background for stitching  there would be a need to use a lighter touch with the quantity of colour!
Ref 3.10.9a                                                    Ref 3.10.9b

Ref 3.10.10a                                                                                                                                       Ref .3.10.10b
As a preliminary sketch for Sian I had identified the colours that I was considering, violet/pink to yellow/green moving across the mask. I felt this would give greater dramatic effect than if I worked it horizontally. 
The colour board on right was made when I found this rather Rococo image and while I mused on the bright sheen of papers at the top my thoughts were more for a pastel theme from the colour charts at the bottom with areas of  intensity of colour.
And now to consider each of these design elements and to come up with a short list! Details to be included in the final piece will be decided when the final shape is selected.  It will be important to ensure there are  areas where there is not too much detail to detract from the shapes and to consider what happens at the edges of the mask and how to bring a touch of drama to the piece.  The next act of play is about to begin!


  1. Fabulous idea to choose a mask! It seems like it will be a really exciting project. Can't wait to see more.

  2. Judith, this looks fantastic. You will have go to Venice again next year so you can wear it!

  3. Thank you both. Hope it lives up to your expectations!!!