The project work you have completed shows the extent to which you are beginning to recognize the development of a personal style and a particular way of working and you clearly recognize this from the entries in your learning log. There is a clear link between work in your sketchbook and the identification and development of possible starting points for your design ideas. Your visual awareness as well as an increasing fluency with design based work is becoming increasingly evident as shown in stage two and this is backed up by the implicit connections you make with wider artistic context. Your technical skills continue to develop and the work you have completed shows a professional concern for the presentation of outcomes.
Your suggested theme for your final project has some exciting possibilities which will allow you to make the most of your experiences in Japan.
Feedback on assignment
Project 6 Manipulating fabric: Creating shapes and 3D forms
To explore how work from your sketchbook can be used a starting point for the development and realization of your ideas
To explore different ways in which stitch can be used to assemble fabrics and hold structures together
To experiment with a range of 2D and 3D fabric manipulation techniques and processes
To gain an understanding of the diversity of style and design in textiles
To consider why craft produced textiles maintain a place in our society
Stage 2: Developing design ideas
What struck me very forcibly is the very close relationship between your sketchbook work and the exploration of a variety of textile techniques. Your selection of photos as starting points is further integrated through the use of mark making and painting and at times, as in your landscapes images, it becomes quite a challenge to distinguish where the mark making ends and the stitch begins. Were you aware of this? You also show how by using the most basic stich as a holding device, you can quickly build up surface texture through layering. You could take this a step further by incorporating fragments of torn fabrics within these pieces. The paper is tough enough to stand it. With your peeling paint samples, you again effectively combined photos, collage and drawing as a way of exploiting visual imagery. The later tearing and slashing experiments fitted in very nicely with this work. Have you also thought about maybe extending this technique to include some torn papers? Fine printed tissues might work very well here.
Stage 3: Applied fabric techniques
There was some interesting experimentation here with a good cross over between conventional and reverse applique. The series where you used fine silk and cotton and again, very simple hand stitching showed a good understanding of the relationship between positive and negative shapes and this is an idea which you may like to take further into a larger and more resolved piece. It would also work well as a set of repeating images.
I particularly liked the experiments with felting. You have recognized the value of using pre-felts in that you can retain more surface detail whilst retaining a much softer malleable felt. I liked the way you linked the peeling surface to nuno felt as a technique. This would work really well if you have time to try it. I noticed with your two later nuno samples that you worked on chiffon. Have you tried scrim? I ask because you comment on the reverse side. With scrim, you get a much more pronounced texture build up, with a lovely crinkle.
The bonding/trapping samples worked well. If you start with a fairly substantial base and then build up thinner layers of plastic, it will take quite heavy machine and hand stitching. Good links here with your recycling ethic!
Your final sample, based on the leaf and grid photo perhaps needed a little more experimentation in terms of the materials you selected. You included some lovely examples of ‘free lace’ leaves made with water soluble fabric. This may have been a better choice as fabric leaf shapes always have a rather solid appearance to them which doesn’t capture their delicacy. You might also like to think about the construction of the grid a little more carefully. The string seemed very solid and hairy; quite unlike the metal grid in the photo. What about trying florists’ wire, which is easy to twist and manipulate, or fine chicken wire? The background was a good contrast which tended to disappear with the subsequent layers. Could you have spaced the background away from the surface netting in some way? You might like to look at some of the box constructions of Joseph Cornell to give you some further ideas here.
Stage 4: Raised and structured surface textures
There were some great samples here. I thought you used simple gathering very well to create your own pleats and tucks. You clearly recognized the potential of the running stitches as a means of threading additional materials though the gaps as in the cream/paper sample. You could take this further by using say, rolled paper tubes made from patterened papers or magazine photos or by inserting plaited or rope strands. (Think about this when you start on the next assignment!) You also saw several possibilities of linking gathering and scrunching to landscape. The MT Fuji was a good example of this.
My favorites were the shibori; the black/green and purple one was particularly effective and one which you might think about in terms of extending into surface stitch. Think back to some of the experimentation in assignment 1 where you used stitch to create texture. The final 3D steam set shibori pieces were amazing. They retained their softness but the form was firmly set and lovely to expand and contract. I hope you have the chance to extend your experimentation here.
Preparation for Project 7: Theme book
You have laid out your ideas very clearly and I can see how you have arrived at your final idea. You have effectively pulled together several important aspects of Japanese culture to allow them to contribute to the ethos as well as the design of your tea ceremony bag. It is a very coherent and well thought through idea, which resonates with the philosophy behind the ideals of William Morris as well as wabi sabi. Coupled with your interest in Boro and recycling, you have a firm foundation upon which to start exploring your design ideas. However, a word of warning. You seem to be thinking about using a number of different dyeing processes on your recycled kimono fabric as well as a number of different techniques inspired by Japanese motifs. You could end up with a series of unrelated samples and a very cluttered design. Think less more! Otherwise, you will lose that simple, beautiful aesthetic. Be more selective in your choice and apply what you have learned so far.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Your reflections are thoughtful with a good analysis of working practices and learning to date. There is a sense of emerging preferences in terms of ways of working and this will lead you further to develop a much more personal and individual way of working.
Craft produced textiles
This was very well researched and the reference to the recent report by the Crafts Council gave you a good structure to work with in terms of the four themes you identified. Whilst acknowledging advances in technology and its impact on textile production, you tempered this nicely with environmental, ethical and economic considerations. Your arguments were well considered, objective and persuasive and your reference to Bryan Woodhead’s work at the end lent weight to your arguments for a strong personal ethic to craft practices.
The diversity of styles available to the consumer.
The separation of two distinct markets made it easier for you to consider each in depth and to organize your research material. There was also an interesting balance which emerged in terms of the possibilities afforded by new technologies when considering issues relating to recycling and reprocessing. You signaled the new possibilities afforded by digital printing and the effect this has had in creating new avenues for designers to explore. Your consideration of Japanese textiles gave another perspective which contrasted nicely to your earlier research. In total, two thoughtful, articulate pieces of writing, demonstrating a good intellectual understanding of key issues.
Your sketchbooks continue to be strength and I am really intrigued by your brush and ink drawings from the workshop. It would be interesting to see what happens when you work on fabric. I think that there may be a tendency for the ink to bleed o silk but it’s worth a try. I also like the way you have started to include inserts and fold outs as your ideas progress. This is a good working habit to get into.
Pointers for the next assignment
Think carefully about possible starting points for your weave. The structure tends to dictate what will work for you so simple, abstract shapes are easier to achieve. Keep the sample size quite modest as weave can be very time consuming. Think about more unconventional materials that might give you more unusual surfaces and structures i.e. wire, plastic etc.