Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Part Four: Project 8 - Stage 2. Ex 1

Experimenting with Structures
To be able to understand the construction of a textile surface I need to experiment with simple structures.
Exercise 1: concentrates on experimenting with basic weaving.
Exercise 2: is where I make simple ropes, braids and plaits.
Exercise 3:working with threads and yarns within a frame.
Exercise 4: working with a grid

The course book states:
These exercises aim to stimulate your imagination and develop a more inventive approach to traditional techniques.
By working in a freer way I hope to be able to develop some interesting structures, colour combinations and use a variety of different textures.

Exercise 1:
1)Find two pieces of paper or thin card that are the same size; cut the pieces into strips of equal width, leave the strips attached at one end.
Two pieces of paper with strips cut

2) The warp is formed by taking one of the sheets and laying it so that the joined edge is at the top, and the strips are lying vertically.
The weft is created by taking the other sheet and laying it so that the joined edge is vertical and the strips are lying horizontally.
Warp is on the left, weft is on the right

3) Start to weave the horizontal strips 'over and under' the vertical 'weft'.
Continue until all the horizontal strips have been woven, secure the edges with a dab of glue to hold the 'fabric' together.
The woven structure

This is the basic principle of weaving - all I have to do now is experiment around these 'rules' for weaving.

Basic Weaving:
I painted two sheets of card and cut them to the same size.
One was watercolour paper painted with blue watercolour, the other was thin card painted with red and yellow acrylic paint.
The blue sheet formed the warp, the red sheet formed the weft.
Basic weaving with painted sheets of card
The main problem I encountered when weaving the strips together was that the card was not flexible, it was hard to get the strips to lie closely together. The next time I do this I may leave the warp intact - ie. leave the sheet joined at the top, but cut the weft into strips.

I like the contrast in colour of the red against the blue - I think the streaks of yellow add interest to the woven sheet.

Varying the size and shape of the strips:
With Gwen Hedley's book 'Drawn to Stitch' in hand - I followed some of the suggestions.
Pages 40 - 45 give suggestions for exploratory marks and some basic paper weaving which was perfect for this exercise.

Sample 1:
I prepared a page from a book - using different mark making tools, bamboo pens, round sponge brush, paint brush, I applied black ink over the text on the page.
I made different marks placed in different directions across the page
The book was obtained purely for making marks on... one that I will never read, but one that will be incorporated into some art exercises.
I then applied some coloured pastel to a sheet of brown paper - random marks and colours were used.
Woven sample: brown paper and a printed page
This time the weft was cut into strips and threaded through the warp - it was much easier, the ends were glued into place to hold the woven sheet in place.

I liked the outcome of the weave - the two background colours work well together, the brown and the white.
The black marks make an interesting contrast to the background sheet with the pastel on.

This sample was much more exciting and dynamic than the basic woven sample - the blue and red one.

I decided to take a small section of the woven strip and enlarge it: 
A small section from the woven sheet
This could be very exciting if taken into stitch - an idea for a further exercise or sketchbook work.

I then chose a small section from the woven strip and made a repeat pattern from it.
Repeat pattern from the woven sample above
I really like the repeated images - the colours and the marks are very different from the form they appear in, in the original woven strip.

Cropping the image to an oval and repeating the design achieved this:
Repeat pattern using an oval shape
Another interesting pattern appears - light seems to glow from some areas where the ovals meet.

Taking the same woven sheet - but this time photographing it from the back:
The reverse of the woven sheet
Without the marks and the colors of the 'right' side - the pattern seems very clean and clear.

I once again cropped the image and produced a repeated pattern:
Repeat pattern of the design above
 I like the repeat pattern - it has started to look like a lace design.
Visually it gets lighter and darker in areas - the design seems to undulate.
The accidental marks - the dots and dashes where the ink bled through the paper add interesting marks to the design.

Sample 2:
I used two sheets of paper from my book - this is the first, prepared with orange and blue inks
Prepared page with ink

This is the second; a page with different sizes of type and interesting line drawing
Page chosen for the weaving

I then cut the sheets and wove them together:
Sample 2: Woven sheet
There are some interesting areas in this weave - with a little more practice I would like to be able to plan the design - Gwen Hedley says:
"with a little experience it is possible to plan areas of colour and shape, by judicious placing of colours, papers and marks on the two papers to be woven." Gwen Hedley, "Drawn to Stitch" p45
Having cropped the image I produced a repeat pattern:
Repeat pattern from sample 2
This really shows the effect of varying the size and shape of the strips - the central section seems to be raised against the background.
The other interesting parts are the lines of text that appear near the top and bottom of the repeat pattern.
Different areas of the design really pull your eye in - it has become a dynamic design.

Sample 3:
First sheet: Dots, dashes, squiggles, lines were applied to the paper using different mark making tools
Page with marks made in black ink

Second sheet: Using a page with little text on it, I applied swirls of black ink and lines.
Swirls of black ink applied to the page

These sheets were cut and woven together:
Printed sheets woven together
The result is more interesting than either sheet was before they were woven - the dark marks on the second sheet really break up the finished design.

I cropped the woven sheet into a cross shape and repeated the image
Repeat pattern from a section of sample 3
This has become a very busy design without any light areas - although I like the look of this design, I should have tried using an even smaller segment from the woven sheet to work with.

Use a variety of different materials
I used a variety of materials in this exercise: plastics, materials, batting.

Sample 1: Plastics.
I cut two pieces from a plastic bag - the plastic is quite a rigid material, it was easy to cut.
The cut pieces were from the same bag, which meant there was continuity in the colours of the red, blue and white.
One of the pieces had writing on it, the other diagonal stripes.
Plastic bag weaving
Having woven the pieces together you can see a new design.
The reds and blues from both sheets almost run into each other, creating new shapes.
The plastic has a level of transparency allowing some of the design that would normally be hidden within the weave, to show through.

I then isolated part of the design, this is a very small section with parts of the lettering showing:
Cropped section of the design

The section was then repeated and rotated to make the picture below - the red has gone and this image now shows a bold graphic design.
I also like the shadow images that appear 'underneath' the design - the shadows of the weaving.
Repeat design created from the cropped image above

Sample 2: Muslin
I cut two pieces of hand dyed muslin, both pieces were taken from the same piece of cloth.
When they were woven together you can really see the changes of colour.
This piece was harder to manipulate when weaving because the cloth is very flexible and soft.
Woven pieces of muslin
I know that I could have bonded both pieces onto stabiliser first - but having chosen not to, I persevered with the weaving - the ends were glued into place to stop the cloth from coming apart.

I really like this piece - there are shadows where the fabrics overlap, the colours are almost similar in some places - then areas of bright or lightness appear.
This would make an interesting piece to stitch on to.

Sample 3: Quilt batting
I really may try bonding the materials another time - although the fabric stays soft and squishy when you don't. I resorted to stapling the ends to hold the piece together this time.
Woven pieces of quilt batting
Lines and shadows appear where the fabric overlaps, the start of an interesting surface. One that could be used to stitch on, thread things through.... the possibilities are there.

Sample 4: Felt and muslin
This sample was created when I read 'use a variety of materials' - I translated this to meaning in one sample.
I had a left over piece of felted knitting and used this as the warp, a piece of hand dyed muslin was used as the weft.
This could almost be a sample for the next section - 'hard materials against soft'.
The muslin really struggled to be woven in and out of the felt, the two materials fought against each other.
Weaving: felted knitting with strips of dyed muslin
Although I managed to get the woven strips to sit snuggly next to each other - it is not an attractive piece of work. The softness and thinness of the muslin make it gather and wrap around itself, this quality is usually a good thing - but here when the felt is so rigid - makes it just look 'scruffy'. Or, does it now have texture?

Using hard materials against soft materials.
I used cardboard, batting, sticks and twine.

Sample 1: Cardboard cereal packet and quilt batting. 
This took many hands to achieve - the rigidity of the cardboard and the flexibility of the quilt batting meant that I had to work out a way to hold the weaving together, otherwise the cardboard would just slip and move about.
I held the weaving together by stapling the strip of cardboard to the one next to it as soon as that piece was in place.
Weaving: Cardboard and batting
Although tricky to put together it has quite an unusual look - the batting really stands out from the cardboard. There are very good shadows due to the difference in thickness between the card and the batting.
From this side you see the print and the pictures from the cereal packet being broken up by the weaving process.

This is the reverse image, the shadows show up more clearly without the colour from the print interfering.
The reverse weave

Sample 2: Skewers with twine
The hardest part of this sample was working out which piece of twine went over and which went under the skewers.
Having mastered the weaving part I then had to work out how to hold the sample together - there was the last skewer that needed holding in place, and then there were the sides - would the skewers just fall out?
I decided to tie the string in pairs at the bottom and then glue beads to the sides to hold the sticks on to the weaving.
Weaving: Skewers and Jute twine
I like the way this sample worked out - It starts off being woven as tightly as you can make it and then it naturally moves, as you can see in the photo there are waves and curves happening down the strings.
Turned on its side - with the skewers vertical - this piece reminds me of garden fencing.

This sample could also have been used in the next section 'make a more open weave' but I decided to leave the sample just as it was.

Making a more open weave and then weaving across diagonally with threads or paper.
Notches were cut in a piece of thin card and then warp threads were placed through the notches.
I then wove other threads across to form an open weave.
I used another colour, green, to weave across the sample diagonally.
Open weave with diagonal threads across
The loose weave meant that the sample was unstable - so I decided to keep it on the card backing.
I have seen similar samples in books which are then stitched to a stable backing fabric.
I decided to tie the weft threads together to hold them in place.

I like the loose weave and the diagonal thread - there is movement and interesting shadows that are starting to appear.
However, I probably need to experiment a lot more to get the best out of this technique.
I can imagine threading fabrics or silky thread through a loose hessian, eg. darning, would achieve a better and a more interesting finish.

This has been an interesting exercise and one which I will use the techniques again to create an interesting surface to use for stitching.

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