Sunday, November 25, 2012

Part Four: Project 8 - Stage 2. Ex 3

Exercise 3
This exercise looks at wrapping, binding, interlacing and criss-crossing threads within a frame.

During my research for this exercise I came across the work of:
Maryrose Watson: the link to the website with images of her work is here.
Maryrose graduated in Textile Design from Chelsea School of Art in 2010.
She makes wrapped wall pieces; she wraps, overlaps and intersects yarns around a frame.
The frames are an important part of her work, they have to be strong to withstand the tension that the threads will put them under. The frame is like "the skeleton in relation to the body and clothing."

The thread she uses is made from viscose rayon and is highly reflective. The reflective surface means that the piece will "react with light to create a constantly changing visual experience, intensified as the observer moves around the work." You can see the effect the light has on the threads in these two images of the same piece: This image is from "Urban Landscape Series 2" Design 1 and this is the detail from it link. You can see that the green threads appear lighter or darker depending on the angle the photo of the work is taken.

In this exercise we are asked to make a frame and then to wrap and bind the work - Maryrose "works off loom, laying both the warp and the weft simultaneously, wrapping yarn directly around a frame structure. By applying my own mathematical formulae to the intersecting layers of yarn, geometric forms emerge." The different ways the threads intersect causes ovals, circles and diamonds to form, this is an image of "Series 2: Circle 2" link, this is an image of "Urban Series 1: Oval, Square, Diamond" link.

She states that her work is "concerned with challenging established concepts of weave." I think she truly has.

Information and quotes are from Maryrose Watson's  website:
the quotes also feature in:
Selvedge Issue 48: "String Section - Liz Hoggard unravels the work of Maryrose Watson" pg 68-70

I wasn't sure initially where to start, the instructions stated:
Decide on a shape: a square, rectangle, triangle or anything else. Use more rigid materials to form the outline of the shape so that you have a frame. Find a way of joining the ends, so the shape is firm and stable.
Once that is made you can wrap, bind, interlace or criss-cross threads between the frame.
I also had to think of the effect of light and space between the yarns, threads or other materials.

I did some research on the Internet and looked at some of the other student's blogs.
I also looked at macrame techniques for the types of different knots that could be used, and ways of tying the threads to the frame.

Sample 1:
My first sample was a dreamcatcher, this would involve making a frame, attaching threads to it and some knotting techniques.
I followed the instructions on this website - they were very simple and easy to follow.

The frame that is required for a dreamcatcher has to be round in shape. I decided to use a lid from a plastic tub, cutting out a 'hole' in the middle.
This was then wrapped with a strip of fabric, which made the frame more stable.

I chose to use a variegated crochet cotton to make the web - this has a sheen, is smooth and will allow the light to shine through.

The finished sample:

The holes in the web get smaller as you move towards the centre - the pattern becomes denser.
The variegated threads allow the web to have areas of bright, light yellow and areas where it is darker and almost orange in colour.
It has a dynamic pattern - although your eye is drawn to the centre of the design, the lines spiral outwards distracting the eye.

Sample 2:
Weaving with sticks: another simple idea with great instructions from this website.
I used a variegated yellow thread, two colours together (yellow/lilac) and lilac thread.
The threads were wrapped around the sticks with no gaps showing through
Wrapping and weaving with cocktail sticks

I like the way the central cross stands proud of the background threads.
The background threads appear darker than the threads wrapped around the central sticks.
I know you can vary the way you wrap the thread around the sticks and this would vary the overall look of the wrapping - this is something I will try out later.

I took this photo in Bahrain, it resembles the woven and wrapped sticks. The picture is of a wooden carport roof.
I have a series of photos that I have labelled 'texture' pictures on my hard-drive, maybe it's time to print them out and put them in a sketchbook with annotations, an immediate reference for my work?
A 'woven' wooden roof
Sample 3:
Having tried out some different techniques I knew that I wanted to play with light and the spacing of threads in a finished sample.
I started by joining skewers together using the technique above (weaving with sticks), I then carried on wrapping the threads along the length of each piece of wood.
Wrapping the wood gave the skewers a nice finish, but also allowed a surface that would 'grip' to any threads that would be wrapped, tied or bound onto them.

Initially I wanted to wind thinner machine embroidery threads across the frame - some areas would be dense with thread, other areas would have fewer threads.
Having tried this, the frame started to warp and buckle, as I wound more tightly, the frame started to shrink - I had to work out a plan to make the frame stronger.

The answer lay within the wrapped skewers - although the thread seemed densely wrapped, there was room for improvement. I pushed the threads tightly together, this made the finished area/frame, slightly smaller, but the frame was now much more stable.

Finished sample:
Wrapped bound and interlaced threads

Now my frame was stable I decided to knot threads onto the frame - first along one edge, then along the second edge.
I also decided to use the same variegated yellow crochet cotton that I used to wrap the skewers with.
The threads were knotted closely together at one end, gradually increasing the spacing between the threads towards the other end.
Where the threads crossed, they were woven under and over the 'warp' threads.
Close up of the threads knotted and woven on the skewers

Once the threads were tied on and woven they eventually reached the opposite side - here I tied the ends off.
This left a 'fringe' - I didn't want to remove the threads - they added interest to the design.
These ends were then threaded with some copper beads and tied together.
The 'fringe' knotted, beaded and tied together

I also added a beaded braid which hangs down from the cross bar at the bottom of the frame.
The 'fringe' has been trimmed and a hanging loop has been added in the final piece (not photographed).

I am happy with the piece that I created, I was hoping to use more colours so that there would be a play with colour as well as light and space. But, for now, this is my finished sample
The variegated thread works - the subtle changes in colour add to the piece.
The spacing of the threads gives a feeling of depth.
The design comes forward and moves away from the eye when looking at the areas of density of threads, and the areas where the threads are more sparse.

I looked up 'string art' on the Internet, and a whole world of possibilities opened up.
I found these links:
This really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what could be achieved with threads and frames, there is the incredible "Letting Go" by HOT TEA, a sun of threads. This has got to be the most tactile installation, a piece of 'grass' to lie on underneath the hot sun. what a way to experience a piece of art.

There are other artists featured in this article who have all produced great work, but, the artist who really captured my imagination was Gabriel Dawe.
He is also featured on this website:
He has created a series of installations entitled "The Density of Light".
The link takes you to one of my favourite pieces "Plexus no.13"
This image shows you the installation and then close ups of the threads that interconnect.
I think in my mind this is what I would have liked to create on my very small wrapped frame - maybe it was lack of space and inspiration? (I think I have a long way to go before I can envisage work on the scale and excellence of Gabrielle Dawe!)

According to the bio:
Originally from Mexico city, Gabriel Dawe creates site-specific installations that explore the connection between fashion and architecture, and how they relate to the human need for shelter in all its shapes and forms. His work is centered on the exploration of textiles, aiming to examine the complicated construction of gender and identity in his native Mexico and attempting to subvert the notions of masculinity and machismo prevalent in the present day.
I first saw this artists work on this blog:
This image really shows the work in a beautiful architectural space.
It is as if a rainbow appeared inside the building.

This has been a bit of a journey for me, initially I was thinking 1970's pin/string art and wondering how it was all relevant to textile art today.
Then the wonderful Selvedge magazine issued the article on Maryrose Watson and I was sold.
I think I have a long way to go though, these pieces require planning and certainly in Maryrose's case - an element of mathematics to make them work.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Part Four: Project 8 - Stage 2. Ex 2

Exercise 2
The instructions are to make a collection of hand twisted ropes or three/four strand braids.
They should have different surface qualities: hard, soft, smooth, shiny, rough.

I have made braids before, but it has been a while. This time I am asked to experiment with different threads, yarns or materials, for example, fabrics, fleece, leather, plastic.

We have been given diagrams which show how to make a four-strand chevron braid, a four-strand round braid, a four-strand flat braid and a twisted rope.
I also have two Kumihimo braiding disks - one round, one square, and a lucet. I will include details of these braid making techniques with the samples that I have made.

Four-strand chevron braid
Sample 1: Soft chunky wool
This produced a nice even braid, the technique was easy to do.
Using the soft chunky wool produced a braid which had soft and smooth surface qualities.
Four-strand chevron braid using soft chunky wool
A close up of the braid:
Close up of the four-strand chevron braid

Sample 2: Using contrasting textures.
This sample uses chunky brown yarn, rough twine and fluffy, silky eyelash yarn
Using the contrasting textures of the yarns and the twine produced a really interesting braid.
When you look closely at the finished braid it is hard to tell that it is made using the same technique as the first sample.
This braid has many surface qualities: soft and smooth from the thick yarn, silky and shiny from the eyelash yarn and rough from the twine.
Four-strand chevron braid using contrasting textures
A close up of the braid:
Close up of the braid with contrasting textures
Four-strand round braid
Sample 1: Soft chunky wool
Another simple technique that creates an interesting braid.
This round braid used the same chunky, soft wool as the previous technique and has the same suface qualities: soft and smooth.
Th round shape makes the braid feel firm and strong.
Four-strand round braid using soft chunky wool
A close up of the braid:
Close up of the four-strand round braid

Four-strand flat braid
Sample 1: Soft chunky wool
This braid features a herringbone type pattern on the surface.
Surface qualities are: soft, smooth
Four-strand flat braid using soft chunky wool
A close up of the braid:
Close up of the four-strand flat braid

Sample 2: Fleece
I really like this braid - the fleece fabric was great to work with and the scale of the braid produced is huge in comparison to the other materials I used.
Surface qualities: soft, smooth
Four-strand flat braid using strips of fleece
A close up of the braid:
Close up of the braid made of strips of fleece

I really enjoyed making the twisted cords - I have made them before, but it is so easy to do and the finished product is strong, versatile and can have an interesting finish.

Sample 1: Knitting wool
The two cords were made using a combination of yellow and green knitting wool.
The finished cords are both very different from each other - there will be handwritten notes on how each finish was achieved in the work that will be sent off to my tutor.
Surface quality: soft and smooth - although not quite as soft as the pale pink wool in the previous exercises.
Rope made with double knitting wool

Sample 2: Twine
I really like the natural colour and the rough feel of twine, by making it into a rope it has been made even stronger.
Surface quality: rough and hard
Rope made with twine

Sample 3: Thin, clear plastic
Having rescued a dry cleaning bag from the rubbish, I though that I would cut it into strips and make it in to a rope.
What surprised me was the result, I had expected this flimsy, clear material to have a rough / ragged finish, and that it would be able to twist like the previous materials had.

The plastic got smoother and shinier the more I twisted; the amount of twisting did not impact on the elasticity of the plastic - it was very hard to get the cord to twist back on itself at the end of the process.
I ended up with a smooth, shiny rope with very little twist.
Rope made with thin transparent plastic
A close up of the rope:
Close up of the plastic rope

Three-strand plaits
I have made hundreds of plaits over the years - it's the sort of thing girls like to do.
I thought I would plait some materials together and then gather them at the end.
One of the strands was a thin, but strong, thread - once the plait was complete the thicker threads were pulled up together - causing it to buckle and gather.

Sample 1: Knitting ribbon, cord and thread
I like this sample - it is tactile and would work well in a piece of stitching - the cord could be gathered on to another surface to add texture.
Surface qualities: shiny, soft, crunchy
Three strand plait using kitting ribbon, cord and thread

Sample 2: Thin, clear plastic, wool and thread
I started this sample by plaiting the strands quite tightly, this produced the part of the plait on the left of the picture. It is tight, knobbly, narrow and was hard to gather.
I then decided to plait more loosely and achieved the section of the plait that appears on the right of the picture - when this was gathered it became looser, wider and softer than the first part of the plait.
It is also more interesting visually than the tighter part of the plait.
Surface qualities: shiny, soft and smooth for the right hand side of the plait. Rough, crunchy and hard for the left hand side of the plait.
Three-strand plait using thin plastic, wool and thread

Sample 1: knitting wool
For more information on the Lucet - here is a link
The cord produced from the Lucet is square in shape; the Lucet has been used for making cords for 'over one thousand years'.
I chose to use knitting yarn to make my cord, but, you can use 'any material, any size, any colour' to make a cord using the Lucet.
It produced a tightly woven, smooth cord - I really like this cord, especially the way the colours are distributed along the length.
I may have to experiment with other materials using this technique.
Surface qualities: firm, smooth
Lucet cord

Kumihimo: a Japanese form of braid making.
A few years ago I bought a card disk to make Kumihimo Braids - realising that it would not last I then went out and purchased a round one (for round braids), and a square one (for flat braids), made of polystyrene - examples of these can be found here.
Of course these have sat around in my cupboard since then, this was an ideal time to unearth them and make a sample for this section.

The Kumihimo disk has notches which are numbered, once threaded, you follow the 'simple' braid-by-numbers instructions to achieve a finished braid. These can be tied off or you can use 'jewellery findings' to hold the ends together.

Sample 1: cotton knitting yarn
This flat braid was made using the square kumihimo disk.
The soft knitting cotton provided a smooth surface to the braid.
Kumihimo braid

I have really enjoyed making the ropes and braids in this exercise.
The process makes the fibres stronger and they are both decorative and useful.
They could be used to attach and hang work, be stitched down onto surfaces .... I then did some research and found this artist:

Jacqui Carey - Information about this braidmaker is here
As you look down the pictures shown at the bottom of her C.V. you start to see really interesting images of braids made from unusual materials such as: tube lights, wire and beads, paper porcelain, my favourite has to be her "Monster braid, bolster cushion" - this really shows you the scale that you can work to with braiding -the bolster has a diameter of 20cm.

Jacqui uses a wooden maudai with separate bobbins to achieve these really large braids - there is a picture of her at the bottom of her C.V. demonstrating Kumihimo using this tool.
A page with links to some of the 'bigger' tools for making kumihimo braids is here - there are plenty of other sites that sell this equipment - but  a marudai is definitely on my list of 'must have' tools now.

Seeing these images and reading some of the history of kumihimo has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that can be achieved with braid making - it does not just have to be practical, these cords and braids can certainly be transformed into a piece of art.

References with links have been included in the text.

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.