BRIEF – Explore hand processes to enrich work, traditional and unorthodox techniques and manipulation of the plane itself.
Consider and record my thoughts about digital and hand processes.
For the fabric sampling for this exercise I took the opportunity to have some designs printed from a digital print studio choosing different fabrics on which to print to get a feel for the possibilities. Although this was not necessary for the exercise I felt it was something I wanted to explore in order to complete the digital exercise and process as if I were practicing commercially as a designer. Paper sampling in my sketchbook felt insufficient and I wanted to investigate it further but I was unable to use my printer at home, being a laser printer, for fabrics intended for home use ( although I have tried this with reasonable results with an inkjet printer before) . Using a print studio was exciting and invaluable as I learnt how to create files suitable for printing at specified sizes and also how to set up and use Dropbox to send digital files. It was very exciting to see my fabrics arrive and looking so professional. However, being so delighted by the quality of the samples made it hard to then manipulate them but I knew that was the intended purpose.
I have tried various surface and 3D applications and also combinations of techniques to ensure that each sample had more value than previously.
- Foiling – 2 colours
- Laminating – 2 weights of vinyl
- Smocking- tying with Mizuhiki cord and cable ties
- Melting ( with soldering iron to replicate laser cats)
- Folding – securing with studs
- Folding – securing with stich
- Stich and slash
- Stich and fold
- Screen printing
- Laminating to wood ( to replicate heat press sublimation printing) and stich
- Transfer of digital image for shibori
- Wire stitched in channels for manipulation
- Pleating – burning, weaving, studs
Whilst I was working with the samples I noticed that I was starting to incorporate techniques and ideas that I had explored on a Paper Engineering workshop and realised that with more time and further sampling I could combine stitches and stitched structures using stiffened fabrics and paper type “fabrics” to create some interesting forms. I have also been influenced by Ealish Wilson and her contemporary take on smocking and to my surprise found the process less time consuming then I thought. I encountered some difficulties with fabric suitability and depth of fold and how to secure the folds but I like the way each pocket reveals a shape, the curve of the circle in a ridged angular form. Once again I would like to work with this idea larger scale to be able to incorporate detail within the scale which hasn’t been possible with a small sample suitable for sending. I was also disappointed with one sample that I had printed onto transfer paper as a domestic iron is not hot enough to transfer the image properly ( the shibori sample) but the idea is there. Thinking along the lines of using sublimation printing I had also wanted to print a digital transfer image onto plywood as I have done this before with good results and also to extend my experimentation with wood textiles that I had touched upon for my African triangles, but not having the equipment meant I couldn’t investigate this sampling as I had wanted to. Instead I decided to print my image on fine satin and laminate it to the wood with acrylic wax before stitching to give the impression of transfer printing. I do not like the drilled holes as these are distracting from the stitches and disappointing as the paper sampling was more successful in that respect so for further investigation I would have to look at other substrates or ways of refining this, for example the bradel holes I made to mark the holes may have been better. It is still successful in its own right but not as developed as I would have liked. I had one very dramatic error when I mixed Indian Ink with Puff paint to make a circle on a large circular print but after heating it looked like it had been left outside with pigeons all day long – a lesson learnt ( in sketchbook). Generally I feel I have made a good start to “thinking outside the box” techniques for manipulation sampling but there are so many more possibilities to try.
I have also made a folder to contain the finished print outs from this exercise using one of the large scale digital prints as “wallpaper” as I was intrigued to see how effective the design was in this context and how durable the product was. I am not sure yet if I may continue with this idea for my personal project but I like the idea of digital printing and creating a wall paper or even products using this material for market. I am also working through ideas of using some shibori prints.
Before starting Digital Textiles I was unsure of how I would feel about it, apprehensive of learning something so complex, disengaged with using something so detached from hand skills, but recognised that digital processes will increasingly play a part in the future of textiles and textile developments and so I was determined to overcome my frustrations and lack of knowledge and persevered with the designing. I am so very glad that I did. There is still so much to learn but I feel comfortable now with developing an idea digitally to achieve some unexpected results. After all, my collection of designs were all developed from 3 Henry Moore samples and yet I have created many different options. And now, having returned to hand skills to develop them further my samples are so much more than I feel they might have been had I just relied on hand skills. I don’t feel I could ever design solely with software and, as mentioned previously, I would still prefer to trial imagery and scale by hand at the start. I found using Photoshop too time consuming when auditioning shapes with backgrounds and felt quickly placing them on a background in real-life would be better to asses their potential and then I could develop them more methodically with software. I’m sure this would change with more experience and understanding but the next frustration I anticipate would be not having all the printing and laser cutting equipment at home!