Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Symbiosis under Stress

I recently had the opportunity to exhibit 2 felted hangings in Gallery 159 in Brisbane in an exhibition of Craft NSW members' work in a Queensland setting, which I was thrilled about.

"Symbiosis under Stress I" and "Symbiosis under Stress II" felted hangings (centre of photo)

 When I was asked to participate I was completing Module 5 work of the Diploma, that in-between stage, so I took a moment to look back at my design work in the certificate and diploma for inspiration for this.
I found some of my designs I'd made for my module 6 work in the certificate.  I'd been looking at designs to convey the bleaching problem experienced by coral reefs when the balance and harmony of living coral and associated algae marine life is disrupted by phenomena like global warming of the seas.  My certificate piece was this

a disintegrating spiral losing colour and form named "Coral in Peril", but I had thought about other abstract representations of harmony disrupted eg, broken circles, un-spiraling helices.

design source for Symbiosis under Stress I
design source for Symbiosis under Stress II
So these became my focus for the hangings' designs as I felt the theme fitted in with the Queensland location.
For both hangings I prepared 2m lengths of fine white nunoprefelt using 21micron merino roving and tissue silk, then cut into sections for dyeing.  From the dyed nunoprefelt the design chapes were cut and placed on a prefelt background previously ombre dyed.

Laying out prefelts and resists

Attaching cords during felting stage
Each hanging had its own textural features eg. open craters and encased felt balls, or winding cords, which were created and attached during the felting process.  Each hanging reduced in size to approx 60% of the original prefelt, finishing approximately 75 x 140cm.
Then the fun bit started with machine embroidery when the shapes came to life for me.
So here are the finished pieces with some detail shots:

Symbiosis under Stress I

and Symbiosis under Stress II

So just to show that squiggles drawn 6 years ago are still more than useful today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Large scale assessment piece PAP4

I've begun to consider ideas for my final embroidered large scale assessment piece.  This is required to be site specific and designed in negotiation with a 'client', while fitting in with my personal diploma design theme (trees, vegetation).

A local pharmaceutical company was receptive to working with me, to create an embroidered wall hanging for their small foyer area, so I visited their Sydney offices last week to discuss further.  The company is a global operation but their Australian side is office based in a quiet leafy suburb of Sydney.  They have a largely open plan set up on the first floor, with entrance and integral stairwell up from the ground floor.

11.1 site drawing of offices
I drew a quick sketch of the layout which shows the stairs up to the main office, a left turn through the small foyer, opening out into the open plan office space with cubicles.  As you walk through the foyer area, you pass a large curved blue/grey wall which at present is blank.  I am proposing to site my hanging here to create interest in a rather 'blank' area, particularly for any visitors waiting there.

11.2 entry door and stairwell
11.3 seating area in foyer
11.4 proposed wall for hanging
Looking at these photos the perspective makes it look rather narrow but the blank wall is not quite so imposing and the area not so small.  There is a curve to the wall so for a landscape oriented hanging it will need to be soft to follow the contour of the wall.
The only natural light enters the office space from the front so I must assume that the hanging would be viewed in artificial light, specifically fluorescent strip lighting.
The client was not restrictive concerning the design of the hanging but requested that the piece should reflect the business of the company in some way and be artistically pleasing and calming to the eye in that site.

One of the company's biggest products treats the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) using the natural insoluble fibre of the stericulia urens tree.  I felt that a design based on this subject could link with both the company and with my personal theme.  Indeed the leaf of the tree features on promotional material for this product.

On researching the tree, I realised that inspiration could come from not only the leaf (which in itself is rather uninteresting) but also from the textural bark of the tree, the branch arrangements, the tiny star shaped flowers and the follicular fruit.

11.5: Leaves of aterculia urens
11.6 sterculia urens tree
11.7: Bark of sterculia urens tree
11.8: flowers of sterculia urens
11.9: fruit of sterculia urens
Since these photos were not my own, and I didn't have access to the actual tree itself, I decided to use these images and make my own sketches creating my own shapes inspired by the plant.

11.10: study of sterculia urens tree and bark
11.11: study of sterculia urens leaves and foliage shapes
11.12: study of sterculia urens flowers and seeds
Where all this is leading in terms of design, I'm not sure.  A little more creativity is required....

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Paper and silk resolved samples

Chapter 10 called for resolved samples of some of my designs using each (or a combination) of the following techniques: silk paper, soluble methods, handmade paper and pulp.
One design I picked from this module as this would extend the use of pulp around wire bottle shapes which I enjoyed.

I made a wire frame and inserted shaped wires to convey some of the bottle outlines found in the design. The wire was wrapped in masking tape as before to aid sticking of the pulp. Then I wrapped and knotted thin strips of dark green patterned sheer and perle in sections where I wanted the pulp to stick and to give a texture to the otherwise 'flat' paper (10.2). It also implied the patterns created in the original monoprinted tissue.

10.2 frame ready for pulp
The frame was dipped into paper pulp dyed green, pressed slightly and left to dry.

I went on to prepare 2 bottles stitched on water soluble fabric which would be an additional layer to the pulp frame.
This is the finished sample below:

The motifs were attached using loose insertion stitches through the wire in yellow and white perle cotton.  The knotted lattice in yellow is a nod to the strip of yellow scrim in the original design.

For my second sample I went back to a decorated design paper I had from module 2 featuring a vague gridwork effect.

I forgot to take "in process" photos so here is the finished sample:

Again there are a number of layers to this: first used water soluble fabric to prepare grids using perle cotton.  Once dried, green paper pulp was distributed over and under the grids in places to hold together.  The green of the pulp has not come out in the photo unfortunately.  Dried once more, this was sandwiched between a few layers of green chiffon and green, bronze translucent sheers.  A grid pattern was stitched through everything in gold and then heat gunned to leave only a rough grid pattern in sheers and expose the pulped grid.

My third sample derived from a design in module 4:

This time I started by making a very thin and holey piece of silk paper using silk tussah trapping scraps of dyed scrim.

Several individual lace motifs of leaves were prepared on water soluble fabric as in 10.3, and sandwiched along with thin mohair yarn between the silk paper and a layer of white synthetic organza.

These layers were free machined together using a similar leaf pattern, then heat gunned to partially remove the organza layer. Finally some very loose cabling of perle in the bobbin was stitched on top.

All are not literal translations of the designs but I'm happy that the original design features have been represented in these mediums.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Not to be Taken"

Before I went on to do some resolved samples for Module 5, I thought I'd use my bottle designs as a basis for a larger piece I would be exhibiting with ATASDA in August.  The link back to my pharmacy works well with the exhibition theme: Future....Past and demonstrates the influence of my past on my textile practice present and future.  Ok, that's a bit deep, but you get the idea...

A little bit on my thought process:

Rough planning of design true to scale
Selection of dyed nuno prefelts
Placement of prefelts and resists ready for felting
Once it was fully felted and dried the fun part of stitching back into it followed.
The yellow bottle looked a little unrelated to the rest so I stitched in yellow and couched cords to emphasize some shapes.

This changed the focus of the arrangement to the central vertical band area of the hanging I felt, which helped to balance the little white bottle inclusions on the left.  Contrasts between shapes tend to change in the felting process and those inclusions had become a bit more obvious than I had intended.  More stitching in darker threads gave more depth and layering to certain areas.  So those were my thoughts which may not be to everyone's interpretation of the design but I'm pleased with the result.

"Not to be taken"
felted hanging (65x100cm)
 and details of the piece

And why the title?
Aside from being a well used labelling instruction for external medication, it reminds us that we all made up of layers of past experiences and abilities and not just what appears on the surface.  Our first impression is "not to be taken" as the whole story.
But hey, that's only my interpretation...

Come make your own mind up at "Future....Past" exhibition at Palm House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney 14 - 26 August.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Designing with laminated layers

I so enjoyed this section of work, wanted to do all 3 parts but for the time being I concentrated on section C, which uses continuous lines and wire to create shapes, as it seemed to follow on well from the previous chapter (and post).
I began by setting up a still life arrangement of glass bottles and vessels.  I had a couple of typically scientific pharmaceutical bottles from way back so I decided to go forward with this theme.  I didn't have too many bottles "in the flesh" to refer to, so I used some photos from the internet as drawing resources.

9.1: bottle sketches on my design board
 All the designs following have been created from these drawings and not from the internet photos.
With one continuous piece of wire I recreated the principle shapes within the bottle arrangements.

9.2: wire bottle shapes
To go along with my pharmaceutical theme I needed to include the details of wide glass stoppers, glass carrying handles of solvent bottles, and the outer ribbed surface that features on all medicine bottles used for external use eg. topical lotions,emulsions, etc.

The layers for laminating were made largely from white and coloured tissue papers, and from dyed organzas and muslin fabrics so that they had some translucency for layering purposes. I also printed some papers and fabrics with appropriate text eg. old pharmacy labels and prescription instructions via the computer.
The wire shapes were used to make rubbings using crayons and acted as resists in monoprinting.  Other monoprints prepared on tissue used cardboard resists of the shapes and lines drawn back in from the reverse (as in 9.3)

9.3: monoprint

I then began to laminate them in arrangements using torn strips of layers, and positive and negative cutouts of the bottle shapes.  They were all backed with muslin to allow for stitching later.  I started to use a PVA mixture to laminate but found I preferred the feel and the translucency achieved with waxes, so the following examples are all made with melted beeswax pellets and Dorland's wax medium (the latter because I had a supply unused from a mixed media workshop in the past).
I love the way the white tissue paper becomes so transparent - particularly effective when a partially monoprinted tissue is waxed and sections appear from layers underneath (9.4)

9.4: waxed monoprinted tissues and muslin
9.5: waxed monoprinted tissues and scrim
I then went back into a selection of the designs with free machine stitching using reverse cabling to emphasize the shapes.
Those wired paper bottles from last chapter made an appearance to add some dimension.
9.11: addition of wire bottle with paper pulp
The whole idea of layering made me think of shadowing effects that can be created in nunofelting (of course) with overlapped silks and melding of wools, so I tried a little piecing of prefelts in much the same way as the tissue paper layer here.

9.14: laid out prefelts and silks
And the resulting felt:
It needs stitching into, but basically not as much loss of distinction in the shapes as I thought might happen. I liked the outlines to the shapes that appeared from the underlying felt colour.  The shrinkage of the felt means that the script would need to be larger and more distinct to work but I think it could be worth pursuing with more change in texture or depth perhaps.