jump to the left – part i

by maggie

Some time in February my friend Phil asked if I’d like to take part in a blog hop about practice and process. As you know I’m happy to talk about my work I just didn’t have anyone to hop onto – kinda shy like that. Here are Phil’s answers. Looking at them I see that the questions are actually quite difficult, but over the next few weeks I’ll take a stab at them.

This time I thought I run through some work that I’ve taken though to completion and what I remember of the process at the time. Next week I want to try to put my work into some kind of wider context. Then finally I might be able to take about why I do the stuff I do and not something else.

So about a decade ago I got my self a BA in Textiles. The 1st year included print modules although I went on to specialize in woven textiles. Each module was five weeks and generally followed the same schedule; week one observational and developmental drawing, week two and three sample printing and developing design ideas, week four and five production of finished sample and lengths. Although there was plenty of scope for circling around to the beginning or having tutorials on techniques and ideas.

The first module was an introduction to screen printing techniques in black and white. It occurred in autumn 2001. I’ll say now that my designs weren’t exactly cheery.

finishing wool cloth usually involves very sharp nails to keep it in place

finishing wool cloth usually involves very sharp nails to keep it in place

We were encouraged to draw all sorts of stuff from around the studio and play around with mark making. I liked the endless simplicity and brutality of these crabbing bars. I also remember big flat floor nails and african nail fetishes.

2tonenails

this is how the bars ended up, little copper nails getting longer and wilder, I have two metres of this fabric but I don’t think I could ever wear it as a shirt

The nails turned into this

big fat nail painted directly on to the screen - maybe too much subtext?

big fat nail painted directly on to the screen – maybe too much subtext?

and this

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as well as various depths of shade of black dye we were also using discharge (bleaching) and reprinting – the mis-register is intentional

and oh yes forks were also involved.

lots and lots of innocuous tines

lots and lots of innocuous tines

The second module was all about colour. I think my development work was more successful than the finished samples, as I didn’t really have much of a sense of what i wanted a full width of fabric to do. Or the kind of thing I was really interested in when it came to blocks of colour.

Initially we painted fruit laid out on coloured fabric.

limes on blue and yellow fabric

limes on blue and yellow fabric

Then we were supposed to work with some of the elements that had come out of our paintings.

rather eighties, but so many hideous possibilities

rather eighties, but so many hideous possibilities

I think you can see where I was going with that. Quite bold. Today I think I would have the confidence to stick with investigating the tonal variation with the shadows around the fruit and folds. So having taken all the potential subtlety out of the design I attempted to put it back in.

or was that just poor print technique?

or was that just poor print technique?

and finally floating things, pollen or algae

and finally floating things, pollen or algae, or something

As well as my initial observational drawings I was always looking and thinking and pulling extra elements into some kind of story that the design told. I’m still learning about when to be ruthless and cut things out and simplify.

The third module was really complicated and huge. (I’ll only be talking about a small part of it technically.) It was all about, building up a design from different elements. Metaphorical chocolate boxes were involved.

We started drawing random plants.

 

this is a little cherry tree. the blossom and leaf buds on the right were transferred to a screen

this is a little cherry tree. the blossom and leaf buds on the right were transferred to a screen

At the same time were working on resist dyeing using masking and tying. I thought the cherry blossom looked like a bow, a lot of the resist patterns came out very linear and the colours were interesting. Overall the design elements were coming together and felt a bit like vintage chocolate boxes we kept jigsaws in. So that’s the way I rolled.

IMG_0861 IMG_0869 IMG_0862

I don’t think that there is any particular conclusion to be drawn here. All these projects needed to come to some kind of finale or I would have flunked out of college, but the path was open and wandering. Some destinations more successful than others. What interested me at the time was that all the students had the same starting point and we all ended up producing unique pieces. Everyone has their own influences and preoccupations that take them in a certain direction. The important thing is not to be afraid; of yourself, your own mad ideas or what other people think. It may be that you might not know yourself yet, but keep watching – see what turns up again and again. Then run with it.

MER

 

 

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