Saturday, August 29, 2015

Juggling the hanging

Spent this week pinning motifs, hanging up, re-pinning, rehanging, stitching, rehanging etc etc......
You can tell where the juggling reference came from, but at last I'm at about 80% completion and the stage where I'm leaving it on the wall in view while I "consider" it.

 I like the layering effect achieved as I wanted to give an impression of looking through vegetative growth and have (at present) hung the 2 mesh layers on the same perspex pole. But I'm feeling that the layers might be better separated slightly and hung on 2 poles eg 4cm apart, which would require fixing the poles in parallel like this bracketed to the wall or hung from the ceiling.  This would be achievable in a gallery on a flat wall, but the curving wall in the office might be too challenging and the hanging slightly proud of the wall present an impedance to passing foot traffic in the corridor.

Here are a few photos of the work to date:

11.32 Complete hanging
Details of the 'bark' area with additional whip stitching to give mottled texture as on the real tree

As I've said, the depth of the layers appeals to me and I've tried to photograph the effect you get looking along the length, almost between the layers.  What you don't get from the photos is the glinting from the shisha mirrors at different times of the day.

My next task will be to see how the piece looks against the blue wall of the company foyer....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sterculia motifs

I've made a start on the final hanging itself by felting a loose mesh of yarn, threads and wool roving strands.  Laid out like this it covered an area of 2.5 m by about 1.8m as I knew it would shrink considerably once felted, probably to about 60%.

 I used bark colours on the left gradually moving to greens then to yellow and reds of the flowers.


Once felted it had shrunk to about 1.3m by 1m.  I then made a second mesh to layer in front of the first to give it more depth, and added further wool with resists on the left to give the patchy appearance of the Sterculia tree bark (see photos 11.13 and 11.14 in previous post)

At the moment (photo 11.25) the 2 layers are hanging on a metal rod simply woven through the top but I'm thinking of removing the rather solid top edge and forming thinner loops out of the felt mesh itself which will attach on to a clear perspex rod.  The rod is sufficiently flexible that it could bend with the curvature of the office wall.

11.26 detail of mesh background
The bark felt looks a little flat compared to the rest of the mesh and so I will be free machining on the 'panels' to create some surface texture before I add motifs.
I've now made a variety of motifs to attach to the mesh - paisley pattern and stylised boat (company logo) in various colours of sheer fabrics (11.27)

11.27 sheer motifs
paisley pattern felt motifs, embroidered and encapsulating shisha mirrors (11.28)
11.28 shisha felted motifs
and the same motif shapes in thin translucent polymer featuring Hindi script (11.29).  These can all be stitched on the mesh
11.29  polymer clay motifs
The polymer clay sheet was created by spreading liquid polymer clay extremely thinly on to the printed newspaper, baked in an oven at 150 degrees C for about 15 minutes (slightly higher temp than normal to give the translucency). Once cooled the paper was removed from the back of the clay by soaking in water then rubbing vigorously to take the paper off.

11.30 soaking the sheet in water
11.31 Cutting out motifs
   The process is a little like paper lamination in which paper printed images are transferred on to sheer fabric.

I anticipate the challenge will be balancing the additional weight of these motifs on the mesh without too much distortion of the hanging occurring.  I don't necessarily want to add them evenly over the mesh as there will be a design focal point which might skew the hanging physically.  Stay tuned....

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More on the Sterculia project - final assessment piece

I've got back to my final assessment piece recently that I started plans for in a previous post (longer ago than I care to note).  I've numbered the photos in this post as a continuation of the last post I made about this assessment piece in Module 5.
I had plenty of source material in the form of the tree formations, fruit and flower shapes / textures but how to bring them together in a designed hanging was eluding me.

11.13 Inspiration board
Sian suggested I go back to the sources and 'play a little' without too many design preconceptions so I created some boards of texture in paint and mixed media bearing in mind only the colours.

11.14a texture and colours of tree trunk
-the grittiness on the surface actually came from the pharmaceutical product which swells a bit like a gel when added to water but leaves the residue when dries
11.15 used a Paisley pattern wood block stamped in molding paste to give some relief - a nod to the Indian origins of the product
11.17 liked the allusion to a network of tree branches
These boards brought me to a conclusion that I wanted to create layers in the piece, not simply one decorated fabric, in order to give depth and texture but retain the light airiness that I'd seen in the photos taken through foliage found during my research and in the company's marketing material.

My plan is to create a lace structure as backdrop probably in wool in order to incorporate various fibres and yarns in the felting process.  There may be 2 layers of this to give depth.

This structure will span across the whole piece but there will be gradation of colour from browns to greens to ochre/burgundy from left to right and I propose 3 areas as in the (very rough) sketch in 11.20.  The first denotes the bark textures, the second branches and foliage, and the third the floral area.  The proportions are 1:2:3

I hope to have a horizontal connection through layered branches, perhaps machined cords.

I have been considering the floral aspect of this and looking at shapes other than the flower itself eg. sailing boat motif (company logo) or a motif resembling the Paisley pattern as in 11.21 to bring in the Indian connection.

11.21  paisley pattern inspired motif in cutwork lace
I'm also suggesting making motifs out of my coloured drawings, Indian newspaper script or even photos of the plant itself.  These printed onto translucent sheer fabric or a thin layer of liquid polymer clay could be cut out, stitched into and onto the felt backing, along with shisha mirrors or mosaic tiles to add a 'floral tribute'.

11.22  Printed liquid polymer clay

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A little too long in the ground

Back in January I was colouring some fabric and paper by various means, and I buried some cotton in the garden in the hope of some transformation.
Yesterday I uncovered the treasures after about 10 weeks of treatment to find that perhaps our warm soil had too much effect.

The fabric pieces had been soaked in soy milk before burying and I think this had promoted their decomposition.  The cotton voile and muslin had turned to "thread goo" for want of a better description.  Only the heavy cotton remained intact and even that had been eaten away considerably.  But the camelias were thriving.....

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Design from ethnic source

For this design work I looked to Australia indigenous art that I had been researching for chapter 1, some examples shown below in 4.1

4.1 from artists (from l to r) Uta Uta Tjangala, Timmy Payungka Tjapangati, and Tjukurrtjanu
From these I drew various simple motifs in coloured pencil / pen / ink.

4.2: sketches from indigenous artwork
Some totems in the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra really appealed to me and I started to sketch them while I was visiting, when one of the guides came over and allowed me to photograph them.  I had presumed this wasn't permitted, particularly for indigenous artifacts, but it seems the mobile phone has made such policing virtually impossible.

4.3: sculpture by Jeremiah Bonson of the Jinang/Marung peoples from Elcho Is, NT (nga, Canberra) (left) and my sketches (right)
4.4:  by Vincent Namatjira / Nigura (left) and collage torn papers and pen on collaged momigami'd papers (right)
4.5: Tiwi bark basket (left) and thread-wrapped bark fragments on momigami'd paper bag background
I liked the motif in the middle painting in 4.1 and cut out simplified versions of this, from my rusted papers in the last chapter, to design with.  The background black tissue paper (adhered to pelmet vilene) was sprayed with bleach carefully using a toothbrush.  Then an impression of the dotted background was produced using whipstitch with black on top and white in the bobbin.

4.6: shapes cut from rusted papers on bleached paper, additional whipstitch seeding
 A lot of indigenous art and fibrework is obviously coloured using natural eath pigments such as red ochre - a very similar colour to the inside of envelopes used by the National Bank of Australia!

4.7: negative shapes from rust paper on momigami'd bank envelopes
A piece of artwork I have in my own home is an indigenous painting called "Hunting Dreaming" by Dilli which tells the spiritual story of a hunt, featuring the hunters, kangaroos and boomerangs in abstract form.

4.8: "Hunting Dreaming" by Dilli (left) and handwritten annotations on back of painting (right)
I love the kangaroo tracks but in sketching the shapes I tried to develop a new motif to potentially use in my work.  I'm very aware that some motifs found in indigenous art have a spiritual significance that I would not wish to misappropriate in my designs, so I am trying to develop these shapes into something new.

4.9: sketches and design inspired by 4.8
Interesting arrangements were created with shape repeats

4.10: eco printed paper shapes on rust cotton rag
The 'bird like' negative shapes (in 4.11 and 4.12) might be worth taking further, although 4.12 is just a little too reminiscent of batman.

4.13 Interlocking of shapes

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chap 3: Transformation of materials

This follows closely on the heels of chapter 2, as the two overlapped more than a little for me. Essentially the unconventional grounds in the last posting and some new ones were transformed with pattern, colour and manipulation to resemble characteristics of natural materials and forms.

I did some natural dyeing of fabrics and paper using red gum bark and  onion skins.

The bark naturally strips off the trees in spring and summer so our driveway is usually strewn with the stuff at this time of the year.   It has been very hot and dry here since Christmas but this week we had 2 days of solid rain just when I decided I would collect some bark!  It actually counted in my favour as normally the bark would have to be soaked for a few days in water before using.  I reckoned that 3 days of saturation naturally meant I could use the soggy bark as it was.  So it was boiled in water for about 2 hours, bark removed, some alum added to the water as mordant and then my fabrics steamed over this for a further 2 hours.

3.1 naturally dyed fabrics with red gum bark
The fabrics came out a pale brown or fawn, no more than I really expected, but any patterning that I'd tried to create with shibori tying techniques didn't come out very well, just an even mottling.  You can vaguely see a ring resist in the foreground.

The onion skins were more successful - boiled them in a net bag for 1 hour, added alum and steamed fabrics and paper for 1 further hour.

3.2 Naturally dyed fabrics with onion skins
My shibori patterns were quite evident and the leaf markings can be seen (left of photo) where I bundled them in the fabrics tightly before steaming.  A good bright yellow dye was produced.

I found some potassium permanganate in the local chemist here for the first time - hadn't found or used it before and go a bit carried away with it.

3.3 Fabrics dyed with potassium permanganate
I loved the ochre colour that was produced, particularly dark on the sample of wool flannel (top right of photo).  I found that it even overdyed synthetic Chux cleaning cloths so I made some twine with those for future use, incorporating torn scraps of teabag in the twists.

3.4 dyed strips of Chux cloth twined with teabag strips
Soil dyeing - A couple of fabric pieces were soaked in soy milk for 1 hour, warming in the sun in a sealed bag then buried the warm fabric in a muddy part of the garden.  The protein in the soy milk will help bind the colour into the fabric.  I'll hopefully leave it there for a month or so unless the brush turkeys get to it first!  Watch this space...

I made some egg tempera which was new to me and tried it on a couple of the momigami'd paper grounds from before.  The grounds had been 'sealed' with gel medium so the tempera sat well on it, interestingly pooling in the creases.

3.5 egg tempera on paper gel medium grounds
The yellow was made by mixing turmeric in the egg yolk, the brown from paprika, and the red (i have to admit) from a Brusho powdered dye.

3.6 egg tempera on paper gel medium grounds (detail)
I liked the transparency of the paints and the ability to create orange from the overlapping red and yellow strips.

Rusting experiments - I didn't have any suitable gardening tools / implements that were rustable so I decided to create my own rust for the paper, fabric and tyvek using a method I learned from an online workshop by Lynda Monk and Carol McFee.  I won't give details as that wouldn't be fair to them but essentially the ferric oxide is created from a reaction of ferrous sulphate using caustic soda and precipitates out on to the paper / fabric.  Add some colouring like tea or natural dyes to the mix and you get lovely patterns.
Once I got started with the 'mess' outside I couldn't stop - must be the chemist in me.

The tyvek works so well with this technique.  The colours were quite dark but I like that.  It was a dull day so took a few hours to dry and I think that was the reason for the browns / blacks.  If it had been very sunny, drying would have been quicker and perhaps brighter oranges and even blue/ greens are possible -

3.7 rusted tyvek paper
3.8 rusted tyvek paper
3.9 rusted tyvek paper
3.10 rusted tyvek paper
3.11 rusted tyvek paper
3.12 rusted tyvek paper
Then tried it with Lutradur, Crash, handmade cotton rag paper and calico fabric - like I say I couldn't stop.

3.13 rusted Lutradur Crash
3.14 rusted cotton rag paper
3.15 rusted cotton rag paper
3.16 rusted cotton rag paper
3.17 rusted cotton calico fabric
 The fabric samples were initially very dark and strong in colour even dried and heat set, but once they were rinsed the patterning and colour were reduced.

I did some 'transforming' of the momigami'd paper surfaces in chapter 2 (photo 2.3) to make them resemble particularly resin in red gum bark and green vegetation.
This was done by adding first expanda print, texture mediums and heavy structure gel medium, and then paints (Goldon fluid acrylics, alcohol inks and waxes)

3.18 paper surfaces before transformation (left) and after (right) 
3.19 paper surfaces before transformation (left) and after (right)
Finally I did some bleaching out of the potassium permanganate fabrics using lemon juice and some surface monoprinting.

3.20 Potassium permanganate dyed cotton bleached with cut lemon
I tried crushing aluminium foil to make a textured surface on which to roll printing ink and use it to monoprint on to my fabrics 3.21) and then inked up one of my textured paper surfaces itself to print with 3.22)

3.21 inked foil used to monoprint on cotton fabric dyed with onions (left) and on bleached pot permanagate dyed cotton (right)
3.22 inked paper ground (left) used to monoprint on pot permanganate dyed paper (right)