Friday, 10 June 2016

M3 - Evaluation of Functional 3D Embroidered Item

The completed embroidered assessment piece for Module 3 is a pair of shoes based on the design topic of spirals.

How do you feel about the resulting conclusion?

Overall I am pleased with the final pair of shoes. Having never made shoes before, and not realising quite how fiddly they can be to hand craft, I have ended up with a matching pair. The shoes are quite fun and the colours are bright and strong. I used fabrics I had already dyed and buttons etc. that I had made for samples and it has been good to use things I have already made.

I have found this module the most difficult so far; I didn't feel I really connected with the design topic and it has taken a long time for me to work through, mainly due to procrastinating rather than a physical time issue. This may also be because I am reaching the half way point of the course. By the time I got to the assessment piece I felt I was struggling a bit and needed to loosen up. Encouragement from Sian gratefully received. I was also not keen on my initial colour choices. But I finally tried to view it as if I had a deadline and brief and got on with it!

Is it fit for purpose - give reasons?

The shoes are fit for purpose because they fit and are a pair, and seem to have held together well. It might be quite hard to find an outfit to match the shoes but I'm sure they would go with a summer dress etc.

If you were asked to make it again, what changes would you make to the way you designed it and the way you made it?

Firstly I would stitch each component part on a larger piece of fabric to give some more play on size and movement. The pelmet Vilene was probably not the best choice for stiffening the heel sections, although it does work. The DMC memory thread spirals have not held as tightly as I would have liked and it was very expensive to use, coloured or covered wire would be better. Regarding the design component I could have gone much bigger on the Hunderwasser inspired decoration for the tops of the fronts and cut and changed more from my original design.

[Cost and timings etc. listed on top tabs]

M3 - Chapter 12 Research Three Artists

Zandra Rhodes (1940 - Present)
Fashion Designer

Zandra Rhodes is a British but internationally known fashion designer who was born in Kent, instantly recognisable with her bright pink hair.  Her designs are theatrical and extrovert. In fact, her first designs were so outrageous for British manufacturers, she pioneered the use of her own printed textiles. Her original printed textiles form the basis of her work. Her Textile Design Bible includes all her designs for printing. I particularly like her references to nature, her travels and mark making designs. What I found interesting is that she uses these print designs several times and often comes back to them in different collections. She keeps all her printing screens and it would be fairly easy to keep a record of marks and designs I have used for mono printing. I am particularly enjoying the printing components of the course and like the idea of building my own 'bible' of marks.
She incorporates embroidery and beading, and pays particular attention to hems, including hand rolled for chiffons and baby overlocked for jersey. The attention to detail makes her designs stand out amongst others. The finish of her pieces makes them especially beautiful.
She is not only known for her fashion and printed textiles, but also for her accessories, including shoes, jewellery and handbags. Zandra has been commissioned to design costumes and sets for operas and spent much time setting up the Fashion & Textile Museum in London.
Fortunately as Zandra believes strongly in digitising her work it is available to browse and study online and it is very easy to lose yourself in her work -
There are some very interesting tutorials with Zandra available online for free - It's fairly unusual for an artist/designer to be so willing to share all of their work in this way.
Deirdre Hawken (1945 – Present)
Hat Maker
Deirdre Hawken was born in Reading and is an internationally recognised designer and maker of headpieces. She trained in theatre design at Central/St Martins and is also described as a mixed media artist often inspired by food related subjects.
Her art hats are instantly recognisable and I always think they look as though they have just been picked from the garden, and are always fresh and bright. The berries on patisserie head piece look as though you could pick them off and eat them.  The thing that strikes me most about Deirdre’s work is the attention to detail, similar to the work of Zandra Rhodes. Also, the pieces are very humorous but remain beautiful pieces of work.  She often works with dyed silk organza and taffeta, and mainly uses hand stitch and traditional millinery techniques.  I like the way in which she crumples organza to achieve leaf effects and the lovely tonal changes achieved with hand dying.
Deirdre also works with fashion head pieces and I particularly like the work that incorporates feathers. These still have a very natural and organic feel to them, although on close observation I feel that each feather is carefully planned and placed.
The other interesting thing I found out was that Deirdre won a QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) scholarship in 1999 when she was 54 years old, showing that age is not a barrier to art!
Sonia Delaunay (1885 – 1979)

I visited the Sonia Delaunay Exhibition at Tate Modern last year and found it exciting to see an artists’ work from their very early pieces through to some of the last work produced. She is described as a ‘key member of the Parisian avant-garde’ and the ‘European doyenne of abstract art’. Her work spanned many areas and similar to Zandra Rhodes she worked with textiles, accessories and set designs; and poets and magazines. I particularly attended the exhibition to view her textile work but found that I became far more involved in looking at her other art work.
Most of her work involved strong geometric shapes and colour, including circles, rings and spirals. One of my favourite pieces was Le Bal Bullier (1913) an abstract painting of dancers which gives the impression of the dancers twirling around – spiralling – you can almost feel the movement and hear the music.
Of her textiles I mostly liked the printed spiral fabrics and found her use of colour inspiring, one pattern but many variations. As Sonia’s sketchbooks and other colour studies were on show it was easy to see how her thoughts and processes of design were worked out. The following images are a design for Metz & Co (1934) for silk, some of which was used to make shawls.

There were several accessories available to view and I was drawn to the beautifully embroidered shoes; court shoes made in c.1926. They had a strong geometric ‘1920s’ design and the colours were still surprisingly deep in tone.
Unusually Sonia swopped between using textiles to inspire paintings and paintings to inspire textile design:
"About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son, who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Ukrainian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings."
Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delaunay was an unusual artist in that not only was she accepted as a female artist of some repute for her era but she was also accepted as both an abstract painter and a textile artist at that time.

M3 Chapter 11 - Composite Sheet with Completed Accessory

And they fit!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

M3 Chapter 9 - A Resolved Sample Revisited & Framed

After some discussion and suggestions from Sian I decided to take the last sample layer back, so I removed all of the buttons and spirals. It was all too 'busy'. Then I added some spiral back.

I pinned them in place first to check I was happy with the design. For the framing my husband made a wooden frame and I added some mount board to one side before using strings to hold the work in place. This was quite tricky because of the 3D part of the work. Eventually the frame could have been just slightly smaller or I could have had a wider background to wrap around the sides. This did work quite well though and I will use this method again.

The final work:

Reflecting on this sample I'm pleased with the final work and glad I took time to re-work the final layer. I could have made a second sample which I would probably do if I were working on a larger piece of work or a series of works.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Interior Landscapes with Sarah Burgess

I spent a lovely two day with a small group and Sarah Burgess at Art Van Go recently. We got to see some of Sarah's beautiful work and because the group was small lots of one-to-one help and advice. Sarah demonstrated several techniques, including mono printing on papers and fabrics, and then how to compose sample pieces by tearing and adding inserts. I love mono printing and so thourghly enjoyed myself.

As always with printing you can produce a huge array of papers. I had several holidays to family in Menorca in mind as my 'landscape', and in particular the rocky coastlines and caves.

The next two pieces I had a specific place in mind with caves and fabulous views. I inserted fabrics and collaged some of my papers. I need to add some stitch and do a little more work on these. I'd like to work something similar to these on a larger scale.

I played about with some long strips of creased and folded printed cotton organdie, which I stitched onto when I got home, and also experimented with collaging some of my papers and adding stitch to paper.

I stitched my papers straight onto khadi paper and used a large needle on my machine.


There was an added bonus that there was an exhibition of Maggie Grey's work, which is fabulous and really told her journey through stitch. I am so glad I went to this workshop, lots of inspiration and encouragement from Sarah, and I am pleased with my samples. A nice welcome from Viv at Art Van Go of course!

Friday, 8 April 2016

M3 Chapter 10 - Design An Accessory

For this chapter I initially thought I would like to design and up-cycle either an umbrella or a pair of shoes. Although I like umbrellas I do love shoes so it seemed to be the best way forward for me. I haven't actually counted the shoes, sandals and boots that I personally own but it is a lot!

I found a pair I bought very cheaply and very quickly for a holiday, I've never liked them and only wore them a few times so they are ripe for up-cycling.

Obviously there are a pair and the intention is they will match. The wedge heel is a rope/hemp type material and can be pulled off or covered.

The inner sole should pull off fairly easily along with the straps and toe covering.
Firstly I looked through pictures I had of spirals and drew some small sketches to stimulate some ideas and I looked for 'spiral' shoes on the internet. I thought about how I could add 3D sections in different ways to the shoes, and also how the 2D parts of the shoe could be designed, for example; the inner sole.
I put everything together on some working sheets to refer to. I might find if something does not quite work the way I plan I will need to come back to my original thoughts.
I liked the idea of adding spiral tendrils and leaves and these were my first thoughts for design. I decided a spiral flower could work with this. I decided to build up the 'back heel' section of the shoe and to design a peep toe. The heel could be painted or covered with fabric.

I then had a look at my 'top 3' shoes I own and thought about why I like them. Mainly I love the way they are co-ordinated, the inner and outer sole, the added charms and bling. So bearing this in mind I looked at how I could add bundles of cords and 'piles of spirals' or snails shells. I have particularly liked making cords with wire cores in this module and mainly because they are so nice to bend and mould. Also with cords its nice to add beads to them for another dimension.

I lastly looked at an astrological star spiral which is not one I have looked at previously in the module. I liked the flow of this spiral when I sketched it out, it had a feel of a Catherine wheel firework. This fired my imagination to make some spiral stars. I think they could be made from covered wires attached under a covered button and maybe something feathery. I could add beads to the ends of the main wires in each spiral, this would mean the wire would need to be thick enough to hold the weight of a bead. For the wedge heel I will add cords. Looking at the drawn design the plain colours need to be added to as they look at bit flat. 

 I looked at some coloured fabric from my stash but I have decided to dye some more.
Finally I ripped the shoes apart to start to get an idea of the actual construction I can use. Surprisingly for cheap shoes I had a bit of a job but eventually I was left with a wedge heel.

I decided I might be able to use the toe part as a pattern and roughly drew a peep toe line.

This is what I am left with. I have decided to leave the heel as it is because it has a good surface to attach cords to - I tested with a curved needle. Thinking about the construction, Pelmet Vilene for stiffness and support could work with some padding, and possibly use a fabric such as heavy calico. I have some silk noil that I would like to use if possible. Embroidered surfaces will need support, and I need to take into consideration adding an ankle strap if necessary and how to cover any edges.

I found these on the internet, very appropriate but maybe a bit beyond me, and also probably not very comfortable!


Thursday, 7 April 2016

M3 Chapter 9 - A Resolved Sample

When I started to think about my resolved sample I decided I wanted to do something a bit more delicate than I usually do and something rectangular rather than square.
I began by looking at some of my source images and drawings etc. with a 'window'.


I had lots of options to choose from but decided on the last one (above) to develop further. I enjoyed cutting and rotating to produce further designs from Module 1 and decided on this route. I used the cropped image to redraw and form a design, using coloured papers.
I then cut the design vertically into three strips and turned them, which gave me a new take on a 'Hunderwasser' spiral.


I then looked at how I could turn my design into a stitched resolved sample.

I looked previous modules and samples. I wanted to try to get good tone and a feeling of movement, alongside a lighter, more delicate feel.


I had to concentrate on not using every technique I have ever learnt! and concentrate on what would suit the resolved sample and what I wanted to achieve. I tried to think of the design in layers and concentrated on the base layer first.
I made some samples of different techniques that I thought I might use:

I liked the fabrics made with soluble film and made a second sample, also thinking about cords and beads for further layers.

Having decided on this for my first layer I snipped pieces of coloured habotai silk, scrim and chiffon.
I made a 'sandwich' of aquabond, snipped fabrics and dissolvable film. The aquabond worked very well and I did not need to pin too much.

I free machine stitched the layers together using variegated thread. I stitched in spiral shapes and added more stitching than in my samples, which made the fabric a little heavier, but I was concerned that it would fall apart!

I then moved onto making my second layer. I wanted to keep the edges irregular so I decided to draw a rough outline from my design to get a placement guides for the snippets. I did not have anymore aquabond so I used solufleece. Unfortunately I had probably worked back to front, as this piece was more delicate and it would have been easier to use aquabond; the solufleece would be better for more random work. However with lots of pinning and patience I completed the second layer ready to applique into place.
I then used hand stitch to applique, using straight stitches and a variety of threads. I had added some metallic thread to the first layer and on reflection I could have added more. I then added some small glass rocaille beads and stitched cords.


I was fairly pleased with the results so far but felt the sample need more movement and looked a little flat. So in the final layer I played around with some cords and wrapped buttons I had made in previous chapters, and then I added some more rocaille, seed and bicone beads, and added made myself to the ends of the cords.


The top plaited cord was easily twisted into a spiral shape and added texture, and the 'ends' were ideal for adding beads. The twisted 3D cord worked well as the cord had a wire core. This gave some depth and I added some beads for more interest.

 The wrapped buttons added another dimension and different points of interest.

Overall I am pleased with my resolved sample. I felt I achieved a 'lighter' piece of work and it has balance and proportion with different points of interest. I still feel I struggle with tone and I seem to manage to tone everything together so the work becomes flat. I liked the contrasting colours but maybe could have added another to improve; some of the buttons and beads have a dark antique gold tone which I could have enhanced more. Also, I think I could have achieved more movement, maybe a larger spiral shape radiating outwards. I particularly enjoyed working with the soluble film and will experiment further with this.