Monday, 20 January 2014

Assignment 5 - Project 10, Stage 1: Reviewing Work So Far

Ideas for this final design project have been brewing for some time. In this stage we review the work we have done as potential source material.  By re-reading my reflections and taking a fresh look at all my drawings and samples, it's clear that I've particularly enjoyed trying various felting techniques.  I've been reading around the subject recently and watching video tutorials and it's something I'm itching to explore further.

Felting experiments carried out so far
Although I found the actual process of creating rust prints unpleasant at times, the anticipation and experience of revealing them some time later was very exciting.  I've been intrigued by some of the colours and marks that have resulted.  Now I'd like to consider ways to use some of these pieces of textile into a more defined piece of work.

Some of the prints I've made by rusting and/or burying objects

One idea I've had, to give the fragile fabric enough stability to be incorporated into a larger textile piece, is to use some of the more open weave pieces as a base fabric for nuno-felting.  I'm imagining that the puckering and gathering this technique can cause might translate some of the rust-like textures I've been drawing. It would also create a more stable surface to stitch into if I decided to highlight some areas.  As nuno-felting gives interesting textures on both sides, this idea could lend itself to something reversible like a scarf.

Gathering information and making notes of my early thoughts about nuno-felting

I've been making some notes in my theme book on these initial ideas which threw up some questions and further thoughts such as:
  • Results are unpredictable - how much control would I have on the outcome?
  • Encrusted areas are scratchy - will felting make the fabric soft enough to be wearable?
  • Do I want to shape any edges and how is this done?
  • I could leave holes as viewing areas.  Does it matter if the base fabric is holey?
  • What else might I want to incorporate by trapping between the layers?
  • Do I want borders, or to create any kind of deliberate pattern with the wool?
  • What colour scheme, and should this be rust related?
  • Might the felted piece benefit from further embellishment such as paint, beading or stitch?
Of course, it's also possible that rusting might make the bonding between base fabric and the top fibres more difficult, or even prevent it happening at all, particularly in the encrusted metalized areas.  Some advice I've read to test suitability of the base fabric is to blow through it, and if you feel your breath on your hand on the other side, then it will probably work.  If it didn't work so well, I might need to try sandwiching the base fabric between the wool tops, rather than just layering on top. This might not leave enough of the rust print visible or compromise the design.
As the rust printing process is slow, I'm also aware I only have a limited amount of fabric.  I don't have weeks and months to create more.  Felting will allow me to join patches but the different fabrics may well pucker differently resulting in narrower areas.
Clearly I will need to make samples to test the feasibility of the nuno-felting idea. I can try on some non-rusted fabric first to make sure I can get a hang of the technique than try some small areas of the rusted fabric so it isn't wasted.
I've been thinking about other ways to use the prints.  Some of the fabric pieces have areas which I find particularly interesting or beautiful.  Maybe I could highlight these small areas by patching them together somehow or cutting out shapes and using one of the applied fabric techniques I tried in Assignment 3?  If I were patching, I can imagine something like a semi-sheer window panel, or perhaps I could apply pieces onto a base fabric. I'm ready now to move onto the next stage, which is focusing on my theme book and beginning to make some design decisions.        

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