EVALUATION – Found materials samples
Q – What did you set out to do?
I wasn’t sure what direction I was going in with this section as the range of found materials is so vast. I am a natural hoarder and keep everything (but in an organised way!) that is interesting to me or that has a pattern /texture to it but I was still overwhelmed with the possibilities. I made several samples as I wanted to experiment in different areas before I settled on one direction as I knew the suggested 3 wouldn’t be enough given how much material I had. Only 50% materials had to be found but I felt it could be higher and more interesting to make it as reclaimed/donated/salvaged as possible especially as I had so much and why not embrace the idea fully?
Q – How did you develop your samples to your final idea?
I really enjoyed the freedom of using anything that I had to hand as I hadn’t bought it and therefore it had no monetary value and couldn’t be “wasted”. My years of salvaging all sorts of items from bins and being brazen enough to ask a complete stranger if they had finished with a particular lolly stick or sweet wrapper was suddenly all worth it!! There was quite a lot to keep in mind whilst developing the samples; – the found aspect/ a textile sample/having a message or metaphor or any of the other suggested ideas and also looking for a connection. I knew I didn’t want to replicate the work of Cas Holmes, as much as I appreciate her work, as I wanted to arrive at something of my own rather than be influenced by her style so I perhaps made it a little more tricky for myself with the considerations, self-imposed or otherwise. It was for this reason that I intentionally did not use fabrics as my medium and looked towards alternative “materials”.
Q – What problems did you encounter along the way?
During the initial samples my first mental hurdle was keeping in mind the word “textiles” and thinking “stitch/related to fabric” as there was a danger of it becoming mixed media and any piece becoming more Altered Art, although I know the lines merge in these areas. However the biggest difficulty in relation to making samples for this section was only having a limited source of any particular found item as I couldn’t simply buy more if I liked the way something worked to develop it further. It was slightly contradictory as I had the freedom to use it because it was free but felt restricted as it had a limited availability. For this reason my final sample is not a developed one from a similar looking sample but more of a continuation of a theme. Looking at the sampling process overall I found the need to convey a message etc one consideration too many and needed to constantly remind myself of it to regain focus. I have always used and re-used “left over” materials in my work for originality so that felt quite natural to me but I usually just assemble items together to loose pleasing/balanced/interesting etc as an finished textile mixed piece. This was the biggest challenge to create something with a meaning rather than just aesthetic appeal.
Q – What would you do differently another time?
I am happy with my experiments and feel I investigated the possibilities well enough. If there was something that I might do differently it could be to collect more material relevant to my final design. This would take more time to source than I had available so given what I had to work with I am happy my sample.
Q – How well do you feel your final piece succeeds?
I am very happy with my final design. It started as 5 old tatty haberdashery paper bags from approximately the 1950’s which were discovered by a relative. The bags were in a very fragile state being some decades old so I experimented with some ideas to work out techniques on how to preserve them so that they did not deteriorate any further whilst I was using them. The bags were printed on both sides with different designs and had all faded beautifully together to take on a similar colour pallete. I wanted to let the graphics blend and diffuse and the bags to lose their obvious edges so that they no longer looked like stitched bags so I made some smaller samples to try techniques. I tried laminating using Lamitex in 3 weights but the paper puckered as it is intended for a more robust fabric and I didn’t like the shine of the plastic either. I also tried other fluid preserving techniques (matte medium and acrylic wax) and finally settled on a dilute acrylic wax treatment which gave enough flexibility to bond the paper but not add a shiny layer. It also gave me the diffusing layer that I was trying to achieve with the other materials I sampled (florists mesh and cereal bag plastic). I feel the final sample works really well as the paper bags now blend well together, edges are obscured and the graphics blend together with the underneath layer traceable, barely seen, fading to represent the passing of time. Being haberdashery bags it was as obvious choice to stitch them and I decided to machine stitch them to appear like quilting, the overall effect almost taking on the appearance of fabric. I feel I have meet the brief well as all bar the sewing thread the materials were donated or salvaged ( and therefore over the required 50%) and I have made a link between the original items to the part they play in the final design. The haberdashery packaging item has become the very “fabric” of the textile work. I also chose to use a salvaged Granddad shirt from a charity shop and vintage laundry buttons found deep in the bottom of my mother’s inherited-from-her-mother’s buttons tin combined with some disks of text from a vintage sewing book to emphasie the vintage feel. I intentionally left the threads loose and hanging for texture but also to signify the continuing of life of the materials.
Q – How might you develop the idea in future?
A similar answer to what I would do differently another time. To develop it further I would need more vintage items to experiment with and perhaps look into making the paper more fabric like. I did consider at one point using a thin layer of wax to make the paper bags translucent to allow the designs to blend but I was concerned how the wax would affect the inks etc. and perhaps I might lose the graphics totally if they all merged together.
Q – Anything else that it might be useful for your tutor to know
I have learnt whilst making the various sampling that you can only really learn innovation through the learning of techniques, processes and experimentation – it’s not really something you can visualise and then create. I probably knew this already but to recognise it is a valuable thing.