Friday, 23 February 2018

Designing for felt and tapestry

Recently I have been working toward the Open Studios event in May in my local region. My studio is very cold at the moment so I have not spent that much time there, but there has been time to felt at home, and do some drawings to start thinking about composition and texture.

I am interested in the regenerative forces in nature - the way nature reclaims spaces, breaks through even in the hardest and most inhospitable urban environment or how plants can be dependent on what might at first seem like devastating fires to regenerate. But at the same time I am continue to interested in process and materials and I still wonder how you bring the two together. For that I look at certain artists on Youtube, who are generous with tutorials and ideas, and I am very grateful to them for the time they spend explaining things.

The felt I have been making is actually more a manipulation of existing fabric - a woollen scarf I cut into pieces and added wool and silk to the surface.  because the fabric was quite tightly knitted it has not picked up the felted wool to merger the materials together and currently the merino and silk fibres sit on the surface to some extent. the plan is that I will be working onto the surface with stitch and applied materials, so it won't matter and will add to the depth of the final pieces.

In photographing this work the light was a bit hard coming onto the pieces so the colours are not accurate:

These are work in progress. There is still much to do on them. I am working up four different pieces to have a small series although I hope that they will also work well independently.
To work up a plan for the next steps I have started drawing some outlines of the pieces which I plan to use  as 'templates' onto this which I can add textures, other colours and so on. These drawings are themselves work in progress as they are not complete in terms of colour etc, but some of them are in themselves not too bad as drawings and I may just leave them as they are. This process takes time and needs to be revisited several times.

An unfinished sketch to look at texture

Using wax resist, watercolour, water soluble graphite - working out texture and may use as foundation for further work on what textures, materials to apply t the textile pieces

Detail of the above

This drawing seems more of a complete drawing, various textures, marks and colours seem to balance more as a complete entity, and just suggests the felted piece - I will return to this drawing to look at how I can improve its textile sister. I don't seem to get away from a painterly type of expression.

A detail of the above
Tapestry designs
I have also been designing for tapestry. I have been interested in using oil pastels for tapestry design as my weavings are usually quite textured and the strength and weight of the colours and textures you can derive from oil pastels feel as if they would be useful. So I started a sketchbook for these designs. whenever a drawing was done there were a lot of crumbs left from the pastel and I picked these up and used them in another type of drawing which is light and is more about a mood. These may be useful sometime in the future.
The designs are based around the colours I want to concentrate on: the dark browns of wool and alpaca, orange and green. Perhaps some dark blue added to the brown.

Some designs may seem a little unadventurous and I think they could be livened up with some additional elements such as speckles of colour in the brown, textured weaving and the like. Certainly I would like the orange to sing against the brown and so I hope that a few tapestry samples will start showing how this effect could be developed.

The next images are some examples of the pictures that used the crumps from the pastel, I rubbed and dragged them across the page in different ways and the use of fingers as a tool is great and enjoyable to work with - there is a degree of serendipity in how the pastel ends up being bound to the paper. The softness and openness of the way the colours lie on the paper with a great deal of the white paper showing through is suggestive and on one I used a thin pale blue-grey wash to see how this would affect the atmosphere of the image.

And finally a simple sample of my first ever weft-faced weaving on a rigid heddle loom. At my Guild we had some workshops at the January meeting and this was the option I chose - I have a rigid heddle loom which I have not yet used, and this was a bit of a taster to get a feel for what might be achievable. The sample is shown with the warp threads showing, these will be attached to the back to make the sample a bit more tidy looking.

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