Friday, December 21, 2012

Part Four: Project 9 - Stage 4

Developing Design Ideas into Weaving
For stage four I have to develop one of my ideas into a large sample piece using some of the techniques learned in the previous stages of project nine.
The OCA course book outlined the different types of sample that could be made for this stage, I chose sample 1.

Sample 1: With reference to the Interlude exercise, link , the approach to making sample 1 deals with colour, texture and proportion.
When choosing the source material for this sample we are asked to consider the information we learned in both Stage 2: exploring different techniques to create different effects; and Stage 3: weft yarns which create different surface qualities.

Source material can be chosen from a sketch or from a painting that I like, this will then be transformed into a tapestry.

Step 1 is to make a yarn wrap.
"Wrap the yarns in the proportions of colour that are shown in the framed area, as accurately as possible. Regard the wrapping as a design in itself, with proportions that give the feeling of the drawing and work well together." OCA course book p.197

I decided to choose a piece by Hundertwasser. I have a few books about this artist and love the colours that he uses in his work, the shapes and ideas that he paints. I will write about Hundertwasser at the end of this post.
He also made a tapestry himself entitled "Pissing Boy with Skyscraper" link, which made me think that one of his works would translate well into a woven piece.

I chose his work "Landscape with Violet Sun", 1956, to work with - link to an image of this work is here. I worked from a reproduction of this picture in my book Hundertwasser by Harry Rand. The illustration featured in the book should be renamed 'Landscape with Red Sun' as the colours don't resemble the one that I linked to on the internet.

I pulled out the various yarns that matched the colours in the picture.
The landscape has a large blue and red (violet) sun that swirls across the top half of the page, a band of red in the middle, with the lower half of the image made up of yellows and greens.

This is my yarn wrap:
Yarn wrap next to Hundertwasser image
Just over half of the wrap features red and blue yarns.
The blue yarn is made up of different shades of the blue - it is much thicker than the other yarns, this may be a problem when I weave with it, but the colours are perfect.

The lower part of the wrap features yellows, gold and shades of green. There is also a very fine orangey/red mohair yarn twisted in with the bright yellow yarn to give it a more interesting finish.

Step 2 is to take a sheet of graph paper and mark off in horizontal stripes the exact proportions of each colour.
Referring back to my yarn wrap and the Hundertwasser image, I marked up the graph paper in coloured pencil.

The OCA course book p.197, says, "The graph paper will enable you to be very precise. Stripes can be as narrow as a single weft pick and your colours may be interpreted as spots, narrow vertical blocks, stripes or small squares."

My graph paper with the weaving design:
Graph paper with the design marked on it
I drew my 'cartoon' to scale - cartoon is the scaled drawing that the weaver works from.
The cartoon was approximately the size of an A4 piece of paper - a size that I knew my loom would be able to accommodate.

I marked the lower section with horizontal stripes of gold and yellow ochre, the next section with vertical stripes of green on a gold background, followed by green and yellow horizontal stripes and then red and blue thin vertical stripes. Lastly the broad red band followed by the big blue and red swirl.

This would involve several different weaving combinations to achieve the horizontal and vertical stripes, some colour mixing with the orange mohair and the gold yarn, lastly some slit tapestry to create the swirl at the top of the weave.

Step 3 is to weave the sample.
First I laid the warp yarn on the loom - this process is described in Stage 1. This is where I realised that dressing a loom is not really a job for just one person.
Then I made the heading cord - this time tying the cord to the frame at each side of the warp threads.

Tying the heading cord made a huge difference when I started the weaving - there was something firm to push the weft against after I wove my first few picks.
I wove approximately 1cm of a green yarn before I started to weave the sample - this would not be part of the finished design.

Following my 'cartoon' I started by weaving:
  • First section of gold and yellow ochre stripes (the gold yarn had mohair twisted in with it). I wove three picks of gold, one pick of yellow ochre. This was repeated five times.
  • Second section of dark green and gold vertical stripes (gold yarn is twisted with mohair). I wove one pick of dark green, one pick of gold repeated four times, switching to one pick of gold, one pick of dark green repeated four times, back to one pick of dark green, one pick of gold for four repeats.
  • Third section of olive green and gold vertical stripes (gold yarn twisted with mohair). Same instructions as second section - replacing dark green for olive green.
  • Fourth section of gold and bright green. two rows of bright green, two rows of gold yarn - repeated three times.
  • Fifth section of blue and red vertical stripes. After five rows of plain blue yarn, one pick blue, one pick red for seven repeats.
  • Sixth section, the wide red band. Initially this was going to be plain red - but it was too flat, so I unpicked what I had woven and twisted a dark red mohair yarn in with the bright red. Plain weave for seventeen rows.
  • Seventh section - the blue and red swirl. The red yarn was thinner than the blue - having made a decision not to double the thickness of the red yarn, I worked out that ten picks of the red was equivalent in width to three picks of the blue yarn. To achieve the design meant I had to follow the graph paper very carefully, marking off the design as I wove.
I used slit tapestry to achieve the vertical stripes, although the difference in thickness in the two yarns meant that interlocking the threads every 5 - 10 rows looked messy - I decided to leave the vertical stripes free and sew them up after.

This is the sample mid weave with the many ends of yarn in place to weave the various sections. At this stage I was using a weaving needle for the larger horizontal passes through the shed, and had 'butterflies' of yarn to pass through the shed by hand for the smaller areas.
Making the swirl

This is the finished tapestry sample after it had been released from the loom.
I finished the top and bottom of the sample off by using buttonhole stitch on the edges and knotting the warp threads. I decided to leave the initial and the finishing rows of the green yarn on the sample and not turn them under.
All the slits were stitched up using the long ends that I had left at the back of the weaving for this purpose.
The size of the piece is approximately 18cm by 28cm.
The finished sample for Project 9, Stage 4
You can see that the shape of the piece is not uniform - this may have been due to the way I beat the weft down. The OCA course book p.190, mentions the technique is "to pass the weft thread through the warp threads on a diagonal and beat it down across the warp, moving in the same direction as the weft." I may have missed a step when completing this motion - not following the direction of the weft. This meant that my weaving started to slim down in the middle.

The swirl also starts to bulge, although I do like the way the shape of the sample has turned out.
The bulging is due to the way I wove the vertical stripes. I may have woven them too loosely, not wanting them to become very thin, it may also be due to the blue yarn being so much thicker than the red yarn.

The central red band, and the red and blue vertical stripes have a different feel to the rest of the yarns used - the blue was a crochet cotton, the red was a thin coarse yarn.
I like the different textures, but when weaving with these thinner threads the tapestry really started to get narrow. The instructions did state "If you think that some of the yarns you have chosen may be too fine, then use several thicknesses together." This instruction should have been followed to avoid the difficulties in weaving with the different types of yarn.

This is the sample next to the yarn wrap:
Finished sample next to yarn wrap

The colours worked well and are in the right proportions, adding the dark red mohair yarn added the right colour and texture to the wide red band in the centre.

The horizontal bands work well representing the colour changes on those parts of the Hundertwasser picture.
The slim vertical stripes resemble the marks made for the grasses in the original image.

The swirl is very dynamic amid the horizontal stripes of the lower sections of the sample.

I have learned a huge amount weaving this sample.
Apart from the technical difficulties that I encountered when creating the sample and the length of time it physically takes to make - the hardest part was deciding what my sample was going to be.
These were some of the thought processes that led to my decision to go with Hundertwasser, the image I chose and why I chose to go with Sample One instead of Sample Two.

I started by looking at and brainstorming sample two.
Sample 2: "If you enjoy working more intuitively with material you might like to try another approach. Choose from one of the following words":
  • Tribal
  • Dreamlike
  • Exotic
  • Sacred
  • Minimal
  • Tranquil
  • Rural
  • Futuristic
  • Nostalgic
I started to make word links to a couple of the words and settled on "Tribal" as a favourite.
Having travelled to South Africa a few years ago I knew I had source material in the house - textiles, masks, wood crafts etc. I also knew there would be many images to base a piece of work on, on the internet.

I really got excited about tribal masks and started to draft a design on graph paper.
What I didn't have was time - there was the selection of a warp yarn, "your previous warps have been in cotton cord which was easy to use; you are now a bit more experienced and could use an alternative."

I really think that if there had been more time I would have liked to try something more experimental.
I am, overall, happy with my finished piece and glad to have had the limitations of "horizontal stripes of colour" to work with.

In all my previous pieces for all the projects I have worked with my own sketches, developing a design from them. This time I thought I would use a piece of work by an artist that I have always been inspired by.

These were the other images that I looked at working from, all by Hundertwasser.
"Singing Bird in a Tree", 1951, link here
I looked at this as a whole picture, not thinking to put a frame around a small section. There was also many greens - I knew I didn't have enough shades of green to do this image justice.

"Bleeding Houses", 1952, link here
This would have worked well as slit tapestry - lots of squares within squares. I felt any design based on this would have looked too similar to the original.

"10002 Nights Humus Come Va How Do You Do, Spinea", 1982/83, link here
Whenever I tried to draw this onto the graph paper, I kept drawing the face. I couldn't seem to develop this into an image of horizontal lines.

"Tender Dinghy", 1982, link here
This would have worked well in horizontal stripes, but my yarn collection was not colourful enough to do justice to this piece.

I really think that time was against me on this stage. I may have done more developmental stages towards the finished piece if there had been more weeks to complete it in. I may have also opted to dye yarns and threads with which to use in the finished piece.
There is always time to 'redo' or time to put more experiments in my sketchbook over the coming months - it would be nice to live up to the standards of Jilly Edwards' work (as mentioned in the blog post here).

Friedensreich Hundertwasser 1928 - 2000
  • Born in 1928 in Vienna, Austria as Friedrich Stowasser.
  • He was self taught and was inspired by the artist Egon Schiele's work.
  • An artist, architect and an ecologist.
  • Died 2000
"It was around 1953 that Hundertwasser painted the first of his famous spirals, a form with which he was to become increasingly obsessed." The Times Obituary, February 22, 2000.
A link to the official Hundertwasser website is here, this page is entitled "The spiral is the symbol of life and Death." It also features some images of his 'spiral' paintings.
These are beautiful works, they are painted in bright, bold colours, they have a rhythm - your eye follows the spiral in and out of the picture, the spiral is not uniform in shape and size.

In 1959 he decided to address the idea of the straight line: "he launched an attack on the straight line in his commentary on modern architecture, known as the "Mouldiness Manifesto." The Times Obituary, February 22, 2000.
"The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature. And (it) is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilisation." FH. Extract from Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture - for the full version please see this link
From being renowned as an artist he was now involved in architecture.
With his manifesto he aimed to "revise functional grid architecture and introduce a natural and humane way of building." p.121, 2nd paragraph, "Hundertwasser: The Art of the Green Path", Prestel Publishing.
He was a visionary, he realised that we did not just need functional spaces to live in, but nature to enjoy, plants and trees in our living spaces.
A brilliant example of his architectural practices is The KunstHausWien - link to all his architectural projects is here.
The KunstHausWien is the Hundertwasser Museum, this was rebuilt as the museum 1989-1991, it was originally the site of the Thonet Brothers factory, built in 1892.
"Working with architect Peter Pelikan, Hundertwasser designs a building consistent with his philosophy. "Tree tenants" are incorporated, as is a tree covered roof, "dancing windows" and ceramic columns in Hundertwasser colours. Already in the lobby, visitors are greeted by the characteristic slanted floor." p.177, 1st paragraph - "Hundertwasser: The Art of the Green Path", Prestel Publishing
This building has an undulating roof, black and white chequerboard paintwork - although not a straight line in sight, trees, plants and grass adorning the roof space and the surroundings. If only some of the architecture in our towns and cities looked like Hundertwasser's work, they would be more inspiring places to live in.

I love Hundertwasser, both the work he created as an architect and as an artist. He was committed to environmental and ecological ideals.
He eventually settled in New Zealand, and died peacefully aboard his ship "Regentag" on his own land on the Bay of Islands.

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