Sunday, 25 January 2015

Tex 1 - Ass. 3 - Project 6 reflections

Here are the reflective comments to the questions raised in the course book relevant to assignment 3 - particularly the manipulated fabric section:
  • How does working with fabric in this way compare with working directly with stitch?
When working with fabric as the primary source of textile design so much depends on the actual structure of the fabric – the fibre it is made of – whether natural (wool, cotton, linen etc) or man-made (polyester, nylon, viscose, rayon etc). There is also the weight of the fabric to consider: how flexible is it; does it fold or crease well, or set under heat; is it matt and rough to handle, open or close weave, is it smooth and slippery? All these factors determine how to think about what to do with the fabric. Stitching is about applying colour and texture to the surface of the fabric, whilst fabric manipulation is about creating design elements from the quality of the fabric itself.

  • Are you pleased with the shapes and movements that you have created in both appliqué and fabric manipulation?
Mostly yes. I liked the heat setting effect and the pulled effects of layered organzas. Sticking together organzas with sandwiched materials between can be very useful and effective and I may use this more in my future project.
  • What would you do differently?
I would like to have had the continuity of time, but had this low energy period. That was disappointing as I think I could have gained some momentum on work and would have maybe experienced a bit more continuity between different sample types. I would have done better to design more, maybe.
  •  How did the pieces work in relation to your drawings?
The applique snow scene worked well – layers of organza, matt and shiny surfaces worked well together. The crumpled tissue paper was useful to evoke crinkled fabrics in the collages, and I think in general my drawings based on selected photographs and collages were useful starting points. Sometimes though, sampling alone based on ideas tested from books were equally useful. In fact, I think that I work better at times if testing techniques through sampling. That is the way you get in touch with the materiality of the fabric – drawing and sampling in a dialogues is probably the best way to proceed. Also, I feel more able to be spontaneous with the material itself as the source material; drawings change this spontaneity somehow.
  • Were the final results very different from the drawings?
Yes, drawings are two dimensional, and even if textiles seem to be two dimensional there is still something substantially different in a sample from a foundation drawing. Probably this also has something to do with the quality of my drawing at the moment.
  • Did the fabric manipulation technique take over and dictate the final result?
Yes, I think that once you are in ‘flow’, playing with the material and working out how it responds, then the making becomes a thing in itself – hence the idea of sampling as part of the creative process. I have never really thought about samples in this way, but when thinking about manipulating fabric it almost becomes necessary. I had also thought of doing some paper folding as a foundation for heat setting silk, and similarly that also would only really work when folding and practicing shapes – drawing would not carry the work very far.
  • Was it helpful to work from the drawings in the appliqué exercise?
Yes, that worked. In drawing shapes, thinking about colour or layers, the drawings point to the shapes and proportions to aim for in a textile piece. I did also consider working directly from photographs in a more intuitive way. Sometimes when I look at textile design books I do wonder whether the ‘mood-board’ photographs haven’t  been pasted in in retrospect and the samples tested first. This is part of that dialogue thing I mentioned above.
  • Would you have preferred to play directly with cut shapes and materials?
There is a difference between cut out shapes as in applique, which I think does need a drawing, and fabric manipulation which is more a matter of testing, practicing and playing with effects and fabric structures. Of course you can play with applique, and in selecting various fabrics I hadn’t originally considered, there was some of that going on, but it depends on the purpose of the applique. Some artists work with representational images in which case drawings are essential. Otherwise the drawing has a different purpose; something about working out the final piece, or understanding relationships; I have seen a drawing by Sheila Hicks that suggested the wrapped threads in her large hanging The Principal Wife (1968), but she would already have tested how wrapping would work in a single elements, she was working out textile compositions in the drawing based on her wrapped element, I think.
  • How do you feel about working with stitch in general? Is it an area you would like to pursue in more depth? Do you find it limiting in any way?
I enjoy working with stitch when it can be used freely and allows for intuitive shaping and designing, such as in my larger, complex samples. My work is more about structure and construction, and it became clear towards the end of the sampling that I was veering close to the constructive work to come in the next assignment. In the end stitch, construction and fabric manipulation can work together and it is difficult to be purist about either. In traditional textiles work it may be more clear but to allow for full and free expression it is better I think, to enable boundaries to be flexible. It is a matter of purpose of the work.

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