EXERCISE – Textiles from the natural world.

BRIEF

  1. Use drawing and other media to articulate ideas for original textile creations inspired by the natural world.
  2. Focus on the most interesting idea and create experimental samples to communicate concept and thought process. Ideas are important more than a fully resolved piece.
  3. Write evaluation.

1 – Use drawing and other media to articulate ideas. Below are only some of my sketchbook pages as I didn’t want to post every page. There are photos/ drawings in different media and other ways to record information. Subjects that I considered were

  • Shells /stones
  • Tree bark /moss etc
  • Twists in trees
  • Leaf / grasses etc
  • Boulders in waterfall
  • Rockface/strata lines
Shells and pebbles

Shells and pebbles

Tree bark patterns and moss

Tree bark patterns and moss

Cyanotype prints to record leave shapes - this was on paper as a trial towards sun sensitive fabric

Cyanotype prints to record leave shapes – this was on paper as a trial towards sun sensitive fabric

Leaf pounding onto cotton sheeting - this was to record leave colour as much as anything as I was considering some eco-dye samples.

Leaf pounding onto cotton sheeting – this was to record leave colour as much as anything as I was considering some eco-dye samples.

Twisted tree photo and watercolour/ink sketch

Twisted tree photo and watercolour/ink sketch

Several rock strata and lines in rocks sketches in charcoal, watercolour, sharpie on salvaged paper etc. Different sized papers for interest.

Several rock strata and lines in rocks sketches in charcoal, watercolour, sharpie on salvaged paper etc. Different sized papers for interest.

Rock lines and patterns - gesso on calico and pastels, masking fluid and watercolour. Different papers for interest.

Rock lines and patterns – gesso on calico and pastels, masking fluid and watercolour. Different papers for interest.

Patterns and colours in rocks - really zooming in on texture and detail.

Patterns and colours in rocks – really zooming in on texture and detail.

Quick studies in oil pastel and charcoal. Almost abstract but great fun to do.

Quick studies in oil pastel and charcoal. Almost abstract but great fun to do.

2 – Samples. As ideas were the focus rather than moving towards a resolved sample I was very relaxed and just experimented. Some are focusing on the lines and others are more about the colour. Some are representative of the subject matter and the inspiration subject can be seen whilst others have moved more towards a graphic interpretation.  I am however, starting to see a familiarity to the way I design. My first sample is a paper book sample that I began on a Gwen Hedley workshop where the intent was to create a sketchbook of ideas to inspire other work so I started ( finished it) there.

Double spread photos of rocks for inspiration

Double spread photos of rocks for inspiration

Some gathered ideas to inspire.

Some gathered ideas to inspire.

Triple page to give me inspiration for monoprints. These are the scanned copies of the ones I did on the Gwen workshop for the book.

Triple page to give me inspiration for monoprints. These are the scanned copies of the ones I did on the Gwen workshop for the book.

Some layout ideas

Some layout ideas

Made a record of the fabrics I used just for good practice.

Made a record of the fabrics I used just for good practice.

SAMPLES

Small sketchbook as monoprint exploration which then informed other sample ideas

 

25 24

A square was cut out and the image replaced with identical stitch marks.

A square was cut out and the image replaced with identical stitch marks.

All the pages are made to be lifted out and moved elsewhere to inspire new ideas.

All the pages are made to be lifted out and moved elsewhere to inspire new ideas.

21

Rock lines book

Rock lines book

These pages inspired a bigger sample

These pages inspired a bigger sample

sample 2  - hand painted and monoprint

sample 2 – hand painted and monoprint

sample 3 - monoprint in black sheer

sample 3 – monoprint in black sheer

sample 4  - monoprint on sheer and hand painted base.

sample 4 – monoprint on sheer and hand painted base.

Sample 5 -  black and white monoprint masked off lines

Sample 5 – black and white monoprint masked off lines

sample 6 - double layering of sheers printed both sides over hand painted base cloth

sample 6 – double layering of sheers printed both sides over hand painted base cloth

sample 7 - rust dyed base and mono printed lines

sample 7 – rust dyed base and mono printed lines

sample 8 white stitches lines, grey dye and monoprint over the top

sample 8 white stitches lines, grey dye and monoprint over the top

sample 9 - rust dyed bottom with grey monoprint and rust dyed wool with monoprint top

sample 9 – rust dyed bottom with grey monoprint and rust dyed wool with monoprint top

sample 10 - rust dyed silk and monoprint and hand dyed cotton top with silk organza strip and grey monoprint.

sample 10 – rust dyed silk and monoprint and hand dyed cotton top with silk organza strip and grey monoprint.

sample 11 - monoprinted leather top and monoprinted hand dyed cotton bottom with screen print and machine stitching

sample 11 – monoprinted leather top and monoprinted hand dyed cotton bottom with screen print and machine stitching

sample 12 - rust dyed linen "bled dyed" with grey on one side and hand dyed white strip. hand stitching on acetate

sample 12 – rust dyed linen “bled dyed” with grey on one side and hand dyed white strip. hand stitching on acetate

12 detail

12 detail

13 - monopint and screen print on sheers and machine print

13 – monopint and screen print on sheers and machine print

sample 14 - dye ripples

sample 14 – dye ripples

sample 15 - monoprint, screen print, sheer and acetate

sample 15 – monoprint, screen print, sheer and acetate

Sample 16 - Monoprint onto sheer and screenprint onto cotton. The sheer has vertical folds as a 3D reference to rock strata lines.

Sample 16 – Monoprint onto sheer and screenprint onto cotton. The sheer has vertical folds as a 3D reference to rock strata lines.

16 detail showing the upstanding cotton organdie.

16 detail showing the upstanding cotton organdie.

Sample 17 - monoprint onto organza and stitched over double screen printed background with free screen printed image

Sample 17 – monoprint onto organza and stitched over double screen printed background with free screen printed image

sample 17 detail under the organza

sample 17 detail under the organza

sample 18 and 19 - hand dyed and monoprint hemp in different ways. hand stitching and sheer appliqued sections.

sample 18 and 19 – hand dyed and monoprint hemp in different ways. hand stitching and sheer appliqued sections.

 

17 detail

18 detail

I then returned to my sketchbook with left over bits that I was going to throw away to see what I could make of them.

Some further experiments in the sketchbook using the reject bits - amazing what you can make from the bits you throw away !

Some further experiments in the sketchbook using the reject bits – amazing what you can make from the bits you throw away !

Another left over idea

Another left over idea

More left over ideas - I really like the way these work.

More left over ideas – I really like the way these work.

More still

More still

These are the samples I didn't like enough to use. I might use them in the future but for now I have made a note of the technique on the reverse for reference.

These are the samples I didn’t like enough to use. I might use them in the future but for now I have made a note of the technique on the reverse for reference.

3 – SAMPLE EVALUATION.

Q – What did you set out to do?

The brief was to use drawing and other media to articulate ideas for textile creations inspired by the natural world and then to produce experimental samples for textiles with the focus on ideas rather than arriving at a final piece.

The natural world has to be the widest ranging source of inspiration there ever was ( in a visual context as well as scientifically which is relevant in this section) and so to filter all the ideas down to just one took some doing. After looking at my “ideas” box I began with the very popular choice of flowers with the idea of silhouette flowers and weeds. This then developed to dyeing with leaves (eco-dying like India Flint) and mono printing leaves over the top as I thought this would start to look at the different levels of biomimicry. However after some research walks and sketching/ taking photos it failed to motivate me really and felt it too obvious and lacked sophistication. I was also mindful that I really didn’t want to create my own version of similar work that is so popular now. I also considered heliographic prints of leaves using light sensitive paint  and investigated a new product called Inkodye which also works in the sun but uses negative film that is printable at home with our own computers ( this is where my high contrast photos would have been useful). The colours are limited to 3 at the moment and although intermixable to a point it just didn’t offer enough scope for me consider it further.  Feeling frustrated with my false start I left making a decision for a couple of days which gave me time to reconsider the textile sample book I had started on a Gwen Hedley workshop. The inspiration subject for the book was rock face and rock lines (from a photo) with the emphasis on creating ideas for future work using reclaimed materials. In the spirit of recycling and nothing going to waste I decided to finish the book and in turn this tied in very neatly with the reuse and recycling message.

I had planned to go to Devon and Cornwall over the school summer holidays so it was a good opportunity to not only finish the book, but also to gather some first-hand resource material with sketches and photos. Knowing what my subject matter was made recording my visual information a real joy. I took photos and made sketches and watercolour marks to record lines and colours. I intended my drawings to capture the colour and textures and lines of the rocks rather than for them to be true representations. Some of them were very simple 30 seconds of mark making but this was useful as I was free from being precious or even precise with them

Q – How did you develop your samples? And what problems did you encounter along the way?

The book is the first sample which allowed me to explore all the different mixed media combinations that I had made on the workshop using reclaimed materials (envelopes, acetate windows from boxes, scraps of fabric etc). The book proved to be very useful as by the end I had ideas to use for fabric samples.

As the focus was on ideas rather than progression to a resolved sample I felt very relaxed in trying out techniques just to see what happened and if I didn’t like the results I tried something else to change it or to add to it. Sometimes this worked, other times it didn’t. Interestingly in the end nothing has been wasted as I used up scraps and the samples I didn’t use for various reasons serve as ideas for more work.  I set some parameters – a limited palette of colours and I knew I wanted to develop the monoprinting technique I used for the book and to consider some of the combination methods from the book (incidentally some of the transparent pages are removable so that I could move them to another location in the book for other design possibilities). I had so many ideas and thoroughly enjoyed this section and could have continued to make more. Some samples are more abstract in their approach and some the source inspiration is very clear. I also realised that I need to consciously think about what kind of textile work it is I am producing. My former training was to produce 2D paperwork designs that were repeatable by screen printing etc onto long lengths and I naturally default to that way of thinking, which is perfectly acceptable if I wish to be a print designer. When I realised this I then thought about creating the more one-off pieces of textile art intended to be displayed or exhibited in their own right. I am still very confused as to which kind of designer I am or would like to be but I hope as I progress through this course the former commercial ways of thinking will move to one side as, after all, any design can now be repeated with digital printing.

Q – How might you develop the idea in future?

When I was cleaning the monoprint plate I noticed some really lovely marks and layering of colours. I wondered if it might be possible to print some deigns in the future with the intention of then cutting the acrylic plate into sections and stitching into them or stitch them together in some way. I realise this wouldn’t necessarily be textiles in the true sense of the word but wondered if by simply having the stitching present this was sufficient for it to be considered as textile art. This is another on-going question that I am looking to answer as I don’t know how far can we push the boundaries to what we consider to be textiles……..

Q – Anything else the tutor might want to know

I have come to realise that my work often involves building layers and whilst I don’t want to squash something that naturally occurs in my work I need to be aware that I shouldn’t consciously design this way or it might become formulaic. Repeating something that has been successful previously is tempting but working in a safe zone where work has a likely and expected outcome doesn’t produce new or exciting ideas – I need to remind myself of this.  I haven’t yet explored one idea that I keep returning to and that’s the idea of applying a wax layer to give a similar effect to the organza and sheer layers that I use. It would be interesting to try and less obvious than using fabric but I am reluctant to use wax until I have made some experiments on less precious work. I am beginning to think about this as I made some “textile paper” samples with acrylic wax to see how translucent they became. These are in my sketchbook and I wanted to see how stable they were to be stitched.  I will return to this idea soon.

With regards to Biomimicry, I think it’s a fascinating area that will deliver great ideas in the future. To truly use nature as an inspiration for intelligent functional textiles, rather than just visually creative designs, a designer would need to fully understand the properties of a living thing to be able to adapt the design for textile use.
I therefore think this is an area when collaboration between scientist and designer would work best as on our own, speaking as a visual textile designer rather than a constructed textiles designer, we can really only use the visual beauty rather than the functional beauty.

This entry was posted in LEVEL 2 - P2 - Sustainable textiles - Project - Biomimicry - Exercise - Textiles from the natural world, LEVEL 2 - TEXTILES 2 : Contemporary Practice, TEXTILES 2 - PART 2 - Sustainable textiles, TEXTILES 2 - SUSTAINABLE TEXTILES - Project 4 - Biomimicry. Bookmark the permalink.

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