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Forming Corners and Edges

Inspired by my experiments with toilet roll centres I started looking around the house for other throw away items and came across an egg box. It took me right back to my childhood and Blue Peter and ‘here’s one I made earlier’ and that slightly deflated feeling I always ended up with when my inexperienced hands attempted to replicate what I’d seen on tv (without YouTube as back up either!)

I started cutting out eggy bowls and using sticks to attach more cast off items and eggy bowls.

I just followed my intuition and curiosity until I was happy with the mix of textures and colours. It was interesting adding some gentle colour that worked with the rather naff colour of the egg box and then I got quite excited making some interesting shapes inside the little cups and finding ways to use every surface so that the composition is interesting from every angle.

It’s a cute little thing and if I didn’t have to get onto the next project ASAP I might just have made a few more.

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Forming Corner and Edges – working from a design idea

I’m sure it’s been said before (you know who you are :-))) but MMT is a lot of sampling and it does feel like sticking, cutting, fiddling for no reason. Why are we doing this without a theme? Why are we doing this without an end goal/project in mind? What the hell am I sampling for? Well? So once I’d got down off my ‘but I’m an artist’ high horse I realised it was all about working the brain, learning to demonstrate your ability to generate ideas and then talk about. Something that I am not very good at. Could this be why I am so reluctant? Why I’m being so passive aggressive about the course content and the requirements? Yet again OCA is pushing me out from my comfy corner and making me actually do something difficult and scary. Why is talking objectively and honestly about my work so difficult? Do I need fancy word? Does it matter if I use the same descriptive word twice in a sentence? Time to man up Harrison and just get on with it!

First thing I decided was not to be so lazy and to go back to my sketchbook to review what I had made so far, do any reworking and then actually follow some of the design ideas I’d thrown together in my sketchbook, see the whinging pages above!

You can tell I’m not really concentrating because I’m using big writing, swirling page filling, scruffy stuff, but hey we’ve all got to start somewhere.

After looking at the bud I did make some changes but I did decide to leave the other sample alone and the thinking part of my brain was starting to warm up. I particularly like this sample.

The angles are strong and solid and they allow me to display the interesting elements of the original pieces, which started life as my very talented friend’s C&Gs course samples. I can take advantage of Anne’s very competent colour choices to distribute the colours in differing proportions that I think work well (not quite sure at this stage why).

The pieces had originally been designed as a textured but flatish square that could be stored in a box ready for marking, it was particularly nice to be able to make them into a vibrant 3D piece that when hung looks interesting and different from all angles.

I’m still mulling over ideas that involve making much bigger structures based on this design. It could well be one of the designs that I consider for the final design project.

That’s, that all fully covered, I hope so then I went back to my sketchbook scribbles and thought how best to turn the shapes into something solid.

Loo rolls! Blasted things they are hanging about all over the place, we use tonnes of loo paper in our house so building up a collection of card board loo roll centres did not take very long at all.

I couldn’t quite believe that you could make anything so nice with loo rolls! Sorry about the mess in the background.

The spikes had to be held with elastic bands to keep them firm, the brads and the sticky labels were instantly solid and the wire gave a secure but more flexible join.

I can see this process being developed using painted and covered tubes, they could be spray painted afterwards or splashed.

There are so many different texture sprays that could be used to create an illusion of weight Rust-oleum stone textures or a metal finish. It would be easy to play with scale too.

I’ve had a play with my iPad to see if I could get an idea of what a larger construction would look like if placed outside, maybe as a sculpture in metal. It’d need some work to make a suitable surface, maybe by burning a pattern into the metal, or polishing the surface until it becomes reflective.

A good few years ago now I was very lucky to be able to go to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim museum. The metal encased building fascinated me and I fell in love with the way the metal tiles reflected the light and changed colour throughout the day and especially in the evening. I just kept going back and taking more photos!

Had to imagine it exactly but this sort of helps, even though my neat sculpture is now starting to look like a slightly crazy metal alien.

Not only have this little sample been helping me envisage more uses and projects outlines have been inspiring me to get to learn more about how I can sketch and draw with my iPad.

Last week I was stuck in Aberdeen airport for an hour or so, it wasn’t a problem, the Wetherspoons was warm and I had a glass of wine and because I had some time on my hands I created this digital drawing with the outlines as a foundation.

This has kicked off a bit of an obsession and a little bit of synchronicity and a casual brow in the Aberdeen Apple store had been booked onto an iPad sketch course, I’d highly recommend this, especially as it’s free.

Here’s the result of my layering and layering and trying out the different functions in the Procreate app.

I was meant to have written about 3 blog posts today ….. opps!

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex5 - Forming corners and angles · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

Forming Corners and Edges

These last few blogs have been slightly rushed, I’ve made the mistake of not blogging straight after I’d made my samples, or at the very least writing up my thoughts in my sketchbook.  

It’s frustrating because I don’t feel as if my critical analysis skills are improving, I’m not following the work stages as laid out in the course materials and I’m just spending most of the time worrying about what I’m not doing.

This means that tonight I’ve set my self the target of getting all of my samples onto this blog so that I can make a fresh start next week.

This is my first sample made with a sample. It’s made with samples made by my friend Anne Armes for a C & G course and during a clear out she gave them to me. 

I cut a curved shape out of 4 of her small square samples and attached them together with the small plastic tags. I think it would be improved by now being stitched together and the plastic removed.

This little piece was great for manipulating and taking photographs of from different angles.

The remaining pieces of the 4 samples made an even better mini structure.

All the intersecting lines and contrasting colours and surfaces make it very interesting to look at and photograph.  You can twist it and turn it to create different patterns of shade and shadow.

I can see loads of potential and possibilities with this method of cutting and joining. It would work equally well to make tiny delicate trinkets as it would to make huge, maybe metal constructions. 

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Overlapping Edges

For the first sample I wanted to test some sewing methods of holding overlapping edges together, the results were okay but I did have to resort to brads to keep the joins secure.

The reverse ended up being quite interesting, helped along by the spotty tape.

At this point I started to miss fabric, it was nice to use thread but I really wanted to sample with some fabric. I’d also been missing dyeing so I thought I’d use this exercise to have a play.

I started by making 3 samples using a mixture of white fabrics and natural materials. 

A couple of years ago I went to a talk by Ruth Isset and I was intrigued by her way of working, she often makes her pieces in white and creams using different materials and then added dye so she can enjoy the unpredictable way the colour develops on the different fabric/thread compositions.

I used a number of simple ways to join the materials in an overlap. I used metal and fabric and wooden objects to strengthen the joins and added ruffles for texture.

Once I’d done this I put the samples into metal trays and added a blue procion dye. This worked well on the natural fibres but it didn’t like the synthetic fabrics at all. I would need something else.

Some Brusho and transfer dye worked on the synthetic fibres okay but the yellow was a mistake. It made a yucky brown rather than a nice green. 

I was hoping it would improve once they dried.

The final samples are okay but I’m still finding it very difficult to analyse what I do in an impersonal, considered way, not here on this blog anyway.  I think I’m going to have do practising in my sketchbook.

My tutor has recommended that I do more drawing. So here are a few joins.

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Filling the hole, taking the curved edge further

Scale? Experimenting with scale is one of my nemeses, I find it very difficult to work in any sizes that aren’t A5, A4 or at a push A3. It’s the law abiding, rule loving Capricorn in me!

That’s my apology for, yet again, working a series of samples in a nice neat A5, all compact and perfect for putting in a sketchbook.  There’s nothing new with these pieces but I still quite like them.

They have a comfy and familiar feel for me, I like the natural surfaces and the inclusion of recycled textiles.

As you can see, I did consider scale and it was my intention to do that but apart from the little samples I put in my sketchbook I didn’t push the idea of scale at all.

It’s just so satisfying when you sew through paper with a sewing machine, it feels so nice catching the frayed edges of the sari ribbon and gently embedding it into the soft pulped handmade paper.

The first 2 samples I kept quite simple and with the third I put together a more complex collage design. It’s always pleasing to see flowing lines, circles and contrasts. It doesn’t break any norms or challenge but it’s nice to look at and sometimes making something that nice to look at is what you need.

The final sample is one of my favourites, this piece of tapestry has been a very useful find, it’s featured in or been the main item in many of my best samples.

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex3 - Joining Curved Edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

Joining Curved Edges

Heavens it’s been a while since I made these samples, as usual I’ve really struggled over the summer months and into Autumn with getting my head down and doing some college work. It’s an uphill journey for me, not the actual work but the sitting down and doing it. 

The more I think about the time I’m wasting the more stressed I become about working.  

It is as if my motivation and interest takes a holiday, don’t get me wrong I’m working, I’m caring for my family, knitting, doodling, gathering inspiration but I’m not making and blogging about my samples. It’s frustrating and it’s happened each summer as I’ve been studying with the OCA, maybe it’s just a hangover from school days, but come on! those days were a long time ago. Okay, enough waffling on, how about those samples.

I like to start simple and these 2 pieces of paper ephemera had been hanging about my desk for a while looking similar in colour and pleasing as a pair so I worked them into a quick sample for my sketchbook.

I like the way the bangle looks flat if you only focus on the edge that’s pressed up against the background origami paper and it only pops out as a 3D object once you look at the full image taking in the blank edge and the black rear of the under and back of the bangle. 

I thought the beads on the bangle would encourage the eye to see a raised curved surface but I think the lines on the paper confuse and flatten the image.

The lower part of the bangle looks far more 3D though and I would say this is because the is a greater difference in the image captured by the photograph of the shapes made on the bangle by the arrangement of beads.

The differences are more dramatic so encourage the eye to interpret what it’s seeing as a more solid 3D image than the flat origami paper even though both have a very busy pattern full of light and dark tones.
After that limbering up I made a few notes, sketched out some ideas and made a couple of samples in my working sketchbook.

With hindsight I actually like the train ticket / cream sample the best but I wanted to demonstrate my ability to working with a colour palette and contrasting materials. This could be where I’ve been going wrong with keeping my motivation up, I’ve been distracted by working to a brief, probably one I’ve created for myself rather that working with my curiosity and personal tastes.

But hey hoo this is what I did anyway.  I started by cutting out some Curved shapes in a light rough felt and a dark smooth felt and stitching them together with my sewing machine.

I then had a play with cutting though them again and stitching them back together again.

This has been a technique that I have loved throughout MMT, this cutting, stitching, cutting again, stitching again.

It just feels exciting, you never really know what you’re going to get as a result.

You are creating layers but flat, well most of the time! Sometimes the material gets puckered but most times it behaves an lies flat.

I’m drawn to the build up of the contrasts and the ever multiplying complexities of the result.

The edges get sharper and interest is created by the breaks in the straight lines.

Recently I’ve become slightly obsessed by fossils and geology and I’ve been learning about subduction zones and tectonic plates 

I’m fascinated by the age of the earth and specifically the bits that we walk on and take for granted each day.

In Shropshire particularly this ground we walk on has existed on the surface of our planet for millions of 

years, it’s travelled hundreds of miles from way below the equator to get to where it is now and has suffered enormous amounts of trauma and upheaval to shape it into the landscape that we have the pleasure of seeing each day and, like the coolest of cucumbers it still looks magestic, calm and serene.  I have to say it’s awe inspiring.

There’s no way these little samples do justice to the phenomenon that is Earth’s geography but maybe there is a little bit of influence visible in the placing of the shapes.

I didn’t forget the blue circle so I added one and then went on to test some joining with a gap. Nothing exciting to see there!

That’s the whole lot together, a bit bright for me really but it was interesting to see how I’d been drawn back to my repeated cutting.

It’s really frustrating sometimes when you look back and see all the things you could have done and the materials you could have included but time is short and we have to get on to the next exercise.

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More Joining

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged any college work, I have been doing the odd bit of sampling but I’ve been slow to get the details on here. Assignment 2 has yet again been a block for me. Once I sit down and get started I’m okay but getting in there and getting to work is a slow process of nagging and kagolling.

So what did I do? 

Firstly I had a play with some strange objects to create a gently increasing gap. I’d bought some huge knarly seed heads just because I could and I thought they could make interesting spacers.

So I did some fiddly threading with wire, they were quite delicate and it was easy to crack the dried out seedling.

Then I had some fun threading the wire through some very firm handmade paper. I felt that the knarly seed heads made a good contrast to the smooth wavy paper with its little pieces of dandelion clock.

Continuing on with unusual objects I squeezed some dyed leaf skeletons into some paint dapped straws and tried matching them with some colour paper that I’d manipulated during ATV.

I felt that this was too busy and a little bit confused so I made the final sample with some more of the handmade paper, this time a piece full of little specks of bark. This felt better, I’d linked the seed heads with the seeds in the paper and here I was linking the leaves with bark.

I immediately regretted not going with my first selection, the sample I’d ended up with is quite dull. Is this the problem with following rigidly through a design concept and not working with your gut. Another lesson learnt, I’m sure it won’t sink it at this point and I’ll make the same mistake again!

Then I finished off  joining with a gap by investigating the different opportunities for making a flexible and changeable gap and I had a play with joining heavy fabrics together with loose threaded joints.

The samples are okay, they’re not particularly exciting and I can’t really find much to say about them. I’m not really learning anything about technique at this point, it’s more about being able to produce a good quantity of samples rather than quality. 

The pieces are joined? check, the gap is changeable? check, contented feeling? Nope, not really but they’ll do, or I’ll be at this forever!

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Less Thinking More Doing 

Before starting this exercise I felt the need to write about recycling and waste. The notes are in my sketchbook and out of them came the idea of man made vs natural.

I am fascinated by how nature is so determined, it takes a lot for us to completely destroy any signs of nature, even when we cover an area with concrete a seed will find its way into a crack or a patch of dust and slowly get on with its job of sprouting. 

This does not allow us to ignore our responsibilities to our planet, it only makes us realise that nature will continue its slow steady work, twisting and changing. It is us that will suffer, we will alter the environment until it is inappropriate for us, we will lose many species of animal and plants that we love and need. 

And should we carry on with no regard to the damage that we are doing nature will evolve to survive in a way that we cannot. 

It’s a battle we cannot win, only consideration, cooperation and collaboration will ensure the continuation of our species. 

Film and photo images of nature returning to places of human abandonment and disaster have always excited me, the latest fashion for post-apocalyptic/distopic stories suits me perfectly!

The first few samples I did for this exercise are based on this theme. I collected some abandoned food packaging (litter) and used natural items to join straight cuts that I’d made to replicate damage caused by decay.

There’s potential here for working in different scales using larger natural or manmade items, then different sizes and maybe even tiny with drug capsules and coffee pods. 

You’d have to be careful or the work would become too obvious or twee but with careful handling it could make a more subtle statement.

At this point I stalled and work ground to a halt. My old demon of procrastination and overthinking came to visit again. I received some complements and good feedback for my ATV submission and it paralysed me.

I’ve also had some excellent feedback and this has swirled up all my thoughts until they have become tangled like a big bundle of Christmas lights. My knitting and crocheting has benefited from this hiatus but my course work hasn’t, leaving me to panic even more about how time is running out. 

This afternoon I tricked myself back into my workroom – ‘just do a bit of tidying up?’ and sat and made a few more samples just for the fun of it.

I was concerned that my joining was making the pieces very fragile so I made some pieces with more strength.

Finally I made a little piece using gentle items to join 2 solid pieces.

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MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges

Heck, I’m really quite chuffed with the structural pieces that I’ve made during this exercise, they twist, turn and can be moulded into individual shapes that can be photographed at various angles with different lighting. 

Each resulting image, even though they are of the same object invoke their own individual feelings; some are gentle, with similar tones and few angles and others are more dramatic with stronger tones and contrasts. More interest can be evoked by lighting the subject so the texture and pattern is more visible and therefore becomes a stronger element than the tonal contrasts.  If you like lines and corners the piece can be manipulated so the edges created by the slashing and sewing are highlighted and bought to the fore.

My second piece is still a paper sample but this time I experimented with a highly patterned origami paper. I’d like to say that I thought long and hard about my colour choice but that wouldn’t be true. I picked this because I liked it.

Surprisingly the origami paper didn’t adapt to my technique as easily as the handmade paper. It stitched beautifully but it was harder to assess (by touch) when it was ready to twist and mould.  The paper felt happier and more comfortable when it was flat and only started to move once it had been scrunched up a little bit.

In the end I was still able to get some interesting shots of subject, the pattern made it harder to get the same contrasts in tone as before and I had to rely more on lighting and twisting so the front and reverse of the paper was visible to get an interesting composition.

The big sheet of paper (note the blue – that’s my colour palette now!) was also difficult to mould into interesting shapes once it was cut and sewn a number of times.  It was fiddly to stitch because of its size when being fed through the sewing machine.  I have to admit that I probably didn’t carry on cutting and sewing enough times but I had lost interest and wanted to move on. 

Keeping with the blue and wanting to experiment with a softer more fluid material I repeated the cut and sew action on a jay cloth. I keep these around the place for moping up spills and it looks like they might be now saved from a life of servitude! 

It was difficult to keep the join flat and I ended up with rather a nice ridge, I also had a happy accident when I put one of the pieces to sew the wrong way round and I lost the formal rectangular shape. I did play with that for a bit but I’m going to keep that idea tucked away for now or I’ll never finish this exercise.

Now the little ticket is my favourite, it was small so easy to cut and it fed through the sewing machine nicely resulting in a loose join that was easily manipulated. It didn’t take long before the whole surface of the ticket had been altered and affected by my action, I’d put my mark on it but it still kept it original identity; there’s still no mistaking that it’s a train ticket, which journey it was for is less obvious which reminds me of my husbands yearly expenses nightmare where he creates a landscape of little piles of tickets and receipts all laid out in painstaking sifted monthly records mapping his previous 12 month work routine ready for the accountant to assimilate into that years accounts for his company.

To further make my mark, on the resulting this time I had some fun editing the images on my iPhone. 

As it say’s on my sketchbook page this got me to thinking about all these tickets that I keep as trip souvenirs; would they make an interesting time focused design? Just perfect for the call for submissions for the next edition of Uppercase magazine – if I hadn’t missed the deadline, grrh!

The only good thing was this did make me think about using the passage of time as a theme, this is another idea that I e carefully tucked away for another time, but not before looking up Michele Fandel Bonner who was featured in the Uppercase newsletter and having just a little go at making my own passage of time based collage.

This final piece gives me the most pleasure, it always breaks my heart when I see embroideries and tapestries for sale in charity shops for pennies. We all know how much time and effort goes into the making and it seems so sad to see them undervalued in this way. I often buy the item and take it home, hoping that I can later repurpose it into my own work. 

I’ve had this tapestry for a while, it made a small appearance when I was doing my City & Guilds course and as a bonus it’s blue, so I can keep to my colour palette.

It was still sad in a way cutting it up and resewing it back together, it felt quite brutal – especially when I broke a needle on the beads, it was almost like it was fighting back, struggling against the movement of time and it’s rebirth as a less twee and modernised version of itself.

That’s exercise 1 finished, it’s been quite a journey. I thought I would never find a way of making flush joins that would be interesting and inventive without having to result to power tools to cut holes in solid materials. I have an innate fear of drills and an even worse one of welding machines and grinders. Maybe that’s another idea I need to tuck away – face my power tool fear!

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MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges 

Faye’s feedback suggested that I try working an idea in a methodical fashion and it’s a good suggestion. I’m not very happy with the results of my first go at being more methodical but I did like the process.

I replicated my metal hanger way of joining a flat edge finishing off the edges in a rather haphazard and random way.

 Before I quite liked this mixed up method but I decided it’s actually better when the edges are finished off with more care.

I had more success with fine wire and the heavy wire was a disaster. I couldn’t wind it and the metal ripped through the cardboard.

It was interesting working through a pile of different elements, it made me realise how much value there is in taking this more regimented approach; you do get a sense of satisfaction from watching your result developing and improving.

 You also get a nice spread in your sketchbook.