Monday, 12 August 2013

Assignment 3 - Tutor Report & My Thoughts

Part three : Creating shapes and three dimensional forms
In this assignment, you are asked to manipulate fabric in different ways : to use your own sketchbook as the starting point for ideas and to  experiment with shapes, colours, textures, using techniques such as collage as development tools.

Overall Comments

'You undertook a good deal of interesting experiments, attended craft workshops to improve your skills, undertook useful OCA study days and have made you blog more easy to navigate. It is highly reflective and revealing of your thought processes. You have also looked at different areas for source material. You are beginning to find a way of working which involves experiment with materials and process in parallel to developing ideas from source material, You need to make sure that you don’t rely on memory alone, but collect enough source material to work with. In addition, make sure that you are not simply reflecting in your blog at the end of the project, but keeping a visual and written diary on a more regular basis in your on-going working notebooks.'

My Response
I'm glad that my tutor agrees that the time I've spent on workshops and study days has been beneficial.  I'm also particularly pleased that she's found my blog easier to navigate. This was one of the main concerns following feedback from my previous assignment.  I've added labels and standardised the post titles and I find it much easier to find content myself, as I regularly refer back to previous posts.  I really enjoy reflecting on my work here now - I find it really helpful to gather my scribbles, photos and thoughts and organise them in a more meaningful way for future reference. With regard to source material, I have no problem finding inspiration or ideas but I do procrastinate when it comes to stopping to sit and record.  I think this is partially due to lack of confidence in my drawing skills.  I've just come back from a holiday in Slovenia where I've had a little more time. There I made a concerted effort to draw most days. It still feels uncomfortable, not yet a habit, but at least I have begun a sketchbook which is chronological and more portable than the A3 hardback book I was sticking my loose drawings in. 

Feedback on Assignment  
Project 6 - Manipulating Fabric
Stage 2: Developing Ideas
You were asked to select 6 interesting drawings or other source material; abstract out colours, patterns and textures shapes. To develop these radically into designs by working  with copies – cutting, cropping, developing these radically through collages.

'I think here, you were ingenious in finding source material which would inspire you – using the limitations of having to take your children with you forced you to look beyond the obvious – and you began to make connections, collecting interesting source material both various events – eventually focusing on glass. You were, in parallel, exploring new iridescent materials – and I think you began to see links and ways forward to develop ideas. I think this way of working, for you is very productive. Sometimes the materials lead you forward – promoting ideas, at other times ideas lead you to search for techniques and materials to explore them. Basically, you are finding that you need to do both alongside each other to successfully produce a body of work, you need to understand and to explore materials in order to know which is the most appropriate to choose to realize an idea. You are also now aware of how to develop designs from source material (even if they don’t always work to your satisfaction).'

Stage 3: Applied Fabric Techniques
Here you were asked to amass a quantity of experimental samples showing exploration of different techniques such as bonding, using dissolvable fabrics and fabrics which can be manipulated by melting such as Tyvek.

'Some of the early fabric design developments seem a bit laboured; an arrangement of flat shapes of glass bottles and you were obviously seeing what you wanted to express, but unable to realise it in the materials effectively. I think that the problem here is that you are working from shape and colour rather than looking at a small section. I suggest here that you could develop this idea by drawing a highly reflective glass bottle, or jar half filled with water, but forgetting the ‘object’ or outlines and simply drawing the colours reflected in the glass. Use a viewing frame to take several small sections from the subject. You could even try photographing these sections. The most successful experiments were made with  Angelina fibres (none labelled). I felt that something really interesting was happening with one or two of these and have made notes on the pieces.'

My Response
I'm pleased with the Stage 2 comments because it seems my tutor has noticed how I'm relating my explorations with fabric manipulation to drawings I already have to generate ideas.  With regard to Stage 3, I was aware that the early applied fabric design developments were not as successful.  I mentioned in my learning log how I attempted to rework them and how, though they improved, without being sure what the problem was, I was still not entirely satisfied.  They just felt a bit flat and contrived compared to the samples I made with unpredictable materials like Tyvek and Angelina. Pat, my tutor has suggested going in with the scissors and re-assembling them to see what happens, which I'm happy to do.  I will definitely use viewing frames and/or photograph and crop my drawing in future. The note about Angelina fibres confused me as I presented all my Angelina experiments in a book fully labelled.  I've now realised that the samples Pat has described as 'exciting', are actually thin snippets of shiny ribbon rather than Angelina fibres, trapped between layers of organza by bonding with the tip of a soldering iron.  However as I'd only described these as 'burning and heating' with no more than a sentence in my learning log, this is what Pat is referring to when she advises above to 'not simply reflect at the end of a project......keep a visual and written diary on a more regular basis'.   

Stage 4: Raised and Structured Surface Techniques
Try gathering, folding, pleating, tucking, tearing, fraying and slashing; quilting, stuffing, moulding.

Lots of experimental practical work here, with some well executed geometric fabric relief based on origami twists, and some cut work . There was also some 3d work.

You are asked to develop the final sample from drawings –choosing carefully one which suggests a three dimensional quality. To develop the drawing further by enlarging, masking out, etc or cutting and reassembling. You are asked to use plain fabric 30 cm square – possibly self colour stitches so that they disappear into the fabric structure, become part of the fabric structure.

You worked here from ‘memory and imagination’ and went straight into working on the piece rather than from thinking ahead and planning. The problem with this approach is that it leaves no margin for error or going back and redoing – short of cutting the piece up and reforming, recycling it. You were remembering something you saw – no problem with that – providing you have collected enough information as an ‘aide memoir’ to work from. If not you have to rely on invention and embellishment to hide things you cant quite remember. (Be very careful of over embellishment) We all have to rely on memory sometimes, especially when conditions don’t allow us to draw, but it leads to weak compositions. You were asked to use plain fabric but you dyed and patterned much of it. The objective – to reinforce the 3d effect has been lost. You made a different kind of piece. Nothing wrong with being free, but sometimes it can cause you to go over the top. You wanted to show lots of different techniques, but there are too many conflicting shapes, materials stitches and colours.  I can see what it is you were aiming for, but too much is happening in one piece. You need to be more selective – more restrained. This many different elements might have worked in a plain fabric, but by using lots of different patterns together the effect is over the top.

My Response
The experimental part went well but yes, I'm guilty of not planning the final sample.  I think that, as I been disappointed with the flat samples I'd developed from my bottle drawings, that I'd spent a lot of time planning, I wanted to create something more lively and spontaneous here.  I'd hoped for better feedback as I rather liked my sample when I sent it off (I still do!) but seeing it again now with fresh eyes, I agree that I threw everything at it and it feels a bit like a kids collage.  I've decided I'll re-do this stage before assessment.  I intend to develop drawings of my glass bauble for inspiration and create a sample with Angelina fibres or film. Hopefully, this will give me a more successful balance of planning and spontaneity.
Project 7 :  Your theme book
A book of visual information based around a theme of your choice which will provide you with the starting point for part 5 of the module, in which you will design and make a piece of your own.

I think you are on the right track with your theme book. I have seen nothing practical from it so far, but your blog explains your reservations and concerns about the choice – that it has no obvious source material. However, you began to look at the occupations of your family , and where this has led you seems to be in a direction which is inspiring you. You need to make sure that you have a cohesive theme. If it moves away from your original plan, don’t worry, but make sure that the visual research in the theme and the practical outcomes can be justified.

My Response
Due to my reservations mentioned above, after much consideration and a conversation with my tutor, I've decided to pursue a different theme, 'Rust', for my theme book.  Work on this has begun and a blog post will follow shortly.  I'm confident this is the right decision. 

'Next time I would like you to leave your working notebook for the project with me so I can have a good look at it. I know you don’t like leaving this, but for the final project your working notebook will be a separate theme book.'

My Response
This should be no problem for assignment 4 as my new sketchbook is much smaller and lighter for posting.  Maybe I should think about scanning pages from the old overflowing one for assessment to keep within the weight limits? 

Learning Logs/Critical Essays
(Research Points)

As a background to the work in this assignment, you were asked in Research Point 1 to start a collection of examples of furnishing or fashion fabrics of any technique to illustrate diversity of fabrics which are popular and available – contemporary or traditional.
In Research point 2 You were asked to survey craft based techniques – from individual designer makers who concentrating on small production runs to those who make art based textiles. You are also asked to look at the relationship of the crafts to industry – consider how new technology has influenced the crafts, and how crafts have inspired those designing for industry.

'I have not seen any evidence that you have completed this work - only a file of scraps. It is really important that you do this and put evidence of Research Point 2 on your blog which I will look at with the next assignment.'

My Response
I contacted my tutor regarding this as I was really concerned that she had not seen the research points on my blog after I'd spent such a lot of time and effort on them.  (The 'scraps' were just the samples, leaflets and magazine I'd collected in a file when researching.)  I'd had a similar comment after Assignment 2 when I'd also completed the research point but the tutor hadn't found them.  I thought now I'd added labels for 'Research Points' they could be now easily found on my blog.  I since received the following update:

'Many apologies. Sometimes these blogs are really difficult to navigate.  I had read the Glass piece before and never twigged. You did them all so well. I was particularly interested in the Centre for Textile Excellence - and Ventile - my husband had a tent of Ventile in the 60's which kept us dry in Scotland in 1966, then disintegrated into holes after about 5 years. Since the report has gone to OCA the best thing to do is to simply make sure that the links are prominent when you submit - and make a note of my missing the research point. What matters is that they see it. (I will make a note in the next report about this). I think rust is a great idea. Good luck with it.'

I'm really not sure at the moment how to make the links any more prominent. Having looked at other student blogs, I think those on Wordpress have much clearer indexes because you can have subheadings. Blogger has some limitations but when I looked up how to migrate my blog, I've discounted it as this would throw up a whole new set of issues (but I will start a new Wordpress blog when I start Exploring Ideas.)  I have thought about printing out all the Research Points and binding them together into a document.  Or maybe I need to send a cover sheet which clearly documents where to find all my work. 

Suggested Reading/Viewing Context
Check out Susie Freeman, who weaves and traps objects between translucent fabric.
Dorothy Cauldwell : in good repair
The Book Arts Newsletter is published at the CFPR, edited by Sarah Bodman.

Pointers for the next assignment
The next assignment is about combining fibres, colours and textures to create tactile surfaces. The accent is on experimental construction forms using processes such as interlacing, weaving, plaiting and or knotting of yarns, ribbons, torn strips of paper or fabric, plant fibre, wire, etc. Project 9 in particular is important and  involves developing visual design ideas into sample pieces with the objective of reinforcing good practice in working method, enable you to develop personal design ideas around organization and colour.

Tutor name:  Pat Hodson
Date: July 4th 2013
Next Assignment Due: October 2013

To summarise, I think the comments are positive and encouraging overall and I have a clear idea of what I need to work on for the remainder of the course.