Collage and Creases

Initial thoughts – Attention to detail would prove challenging. Torn pieces of paper to achieve accuracy?

Working in colour (personal preference). Skilled in colour use. Certainly with the fan and feather sweater collage I considered a paint palette in front of me complete with oil paint. The basic palette of Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Pthalo Blue. All these colours found in the fan and feather Collage. “An overall Palette” taken in its literal sense. The overall effect being of beige, with red white and blue when viewed from a slight distance. More of an interpretation of the chosen textile than a direct representation.

The fairisle sweater collage, deciding to place the emphasis more on drape and embellishment, had  a limited colour scheme. Aiming for a direct representation. Well thought out, as it did not distract from the concept. (Blue, Light Blue, Old Gold and Dark Brown.)

With a limited colour palette, this I consider to be the strongest piece. The use of light and dark paper placement to suggest form through undulation and drape, executed to a high level. A piece of which I am most proud.

Kitchen paper proved invaluable as a source of paper, application on to previously placed coloured papers, acting as a dimmer. Taking the edge off the previously placed coloured paper and also in the creation of highlights. Tissue paper, old maps, glossy magazine pages, cellophane, foil wrappings and brown paper were also used.

I had considered recycling old art work, it became apparent that it wouldn’t be necessary though. A good decision.

Colour of base paper was not a concern as I had planned to cover it completely. Certainly with the unfinished sweater, to extend past the perimeter of the base paper was vital in capturing the loose ends of yarn, unfinished qualities. Characteristics of the Wabi Sabi aesthetic.

Manipulating papers through twisting, layering, twisting then tearing suggesting both tight and loose stitching. Perspective considered. Large pieces in the foreground, smaller and distorted further back, to create a sense of depth and the drape of the fabric with the effects of such on the surface pattern. Creating a sense of 3 dimensionality.

Overall an extremely successful exercise. A refresher, when revisiting collage after twenty years. A technique I plan revisit often, especially in sketchbook work, to capture observations quickly and effectively.

In hindsight, a coloured base paper representing the chosen textiles main colour could have benefited the fan and feather sweater. Slightly overworked, with a base colour coming through, sense of depth/ 3 dimensionality could have been achieved with considerably less paper applied. Less is more. This being one of the strengths of the fairisle sweater collage.

The success of the collages meant that two were sufficient to meet the brief.

Lines and Edges

Ink and charcoal feature predominantly in this folio of work, observing the linear qualities of chosen textiles. Torn paper varying the surfaces used. Their shape considered when rendering the materials and linear qualities.

Drawing with PVA glue creating a very loose but confident result, due to the lack of control, holding the bottle up high and drawing with the trailing glue. Ink pigment dusted over the wet glue, mixed in, creating a dark line when dry.

Prints were also produced from this to create further pieces, different again. Kitchen paper proved an interesting surface for this when mounted on paper for support.

Electronic eraser removing marks on a charcoal surface created the effect of yarn – running stitch – a sense of movement achieved – life – continual – the suggestion of “less is more.” Your eye filling in the gaps. Building up layers.

Attempts at continuous drawing and drawing with eyes closed, elements incorporated into drawings, I don’t feel to be the areas of greatest strength, but to loosen up by standing further way from the paper and manipulating mark making with different tools proved particularly successful.

Using elements of drawings to create further drawings through tearing and manipulating those pieces, I have found to be liberating and the process has opened my mind to other possibilities. The main concern was the risk of overworking the drawings, this is where the printing and tearing was so successful. Creating new images without overworking, taking elements lacking in strength and developing them, adding to the folio.

On reflection, having incorporated tearing into all three folios so far, to revisit this technique too often could be to the detriment of my work. Although a requirement of collage, I will consider different techniques going forward.

Drawing with alternate hands to create a linear drawing with graphite pencil, my eyes closed for part of the process, suggests the stranding and repetitive quality of the fairisle reverse. I feel this to be the weakest piece. It has many qualities transferable into stitch, has considerable energy, but lacking in strength.

The shiny quality of the PVA glue drawings and the separating of the black ink pigments are two of the most favoured effects achieved. Equally the rendering of the double ribbed stitch with thick willow charcoal and a household brush, simple but most effective with countless stitch potential when observed both from a distance and up close. Great sense of depth achieved.

 

Recording and Capturing – Making Marks

Using a variety of different sized surfaces and although not necessary when considering the brief, the addition of colour when mark making, contributed to a strong folio of drawings, the result of close observations of my chosen textiles.

Additional words were added to the recommended list to consider, words that directly related to the chosen knitted textiles.

Tight – loose – raised – reverse – honeycomb – oxo – shape – linear – ribbed – oddments – stranded – chains – linked – memories – travel – time – connecting – past – twist – ply – finished – weave – feathered – laced – knots – stitch – bobbled – matted – dimpled – contrasting – flowing.

My knowledge of knitting I consider to be extensive. I was therefore surprised to learn so much more from close observations of the textiles themselves. Viewing the textile with a means to capture its qualities, when my focus is generally on the making of the textile.

Black ink, acrylic paint and charcoal feature heavily with the addition of soft pastel and ink providing accents of colour.

Limited regarding different weights of white paper, I introduced kitchen paper as a surface, manipulating it with spray mount and hairspray to strengthen and increase control over bleeding of inks. On reflection this proved to be well thought through as prints were produced from these drawings, the texture of the kitchen paper adding to the print. The kitchen paper also a surface for prints taken from other drawings.

Reverse was a key word when considering my textiles in observational drawings. In the case of all three textiles, the reverse of the fabric was equally and in the case of the Fairisle sweater, more interesting than the front. Stranded work and the woven nature, providing a sense of depth, looking through the stitches – captured in additional sketchbook work by adding and removing marks to create depth.

Very few traditional mark making tools have been used, pushing the boundaries – helping loosen up. Repetition was expressed using thumbprints, butterfly prints.

Painting with Cow Parsley heads as a tool, creating a random result with varying pressure and ever changing shape.

Household brushes were used to drag material across the surface or to stipple when creating sense of depth, when combined with more subtle marks.

Yarn was tied up and also used to apply ink, the dragging of which creating a blurring quality, particularly successful in the rendering of single ribbing stitching.

This folio is very strong, its strength lying in the more accidental outcomes, in particular the Fairisle prints and the thumbprints, the placement of which create an undulating effect that suggests the movement and drape of the fabric. Better results were due to loosening up – more scope for future stitch-work.

 

 

 

 

 

Recording and Capturing – Sketchbook work.

 

Substance and Story

The selected textiles are all constructed from double knit 100% acrylic yarn. The yarn choice purely for its durability and ease when washing. Acrylic yarn can be washed at 40 degrees and tumble dried if necessary. Pressing garments made from acyrilc yarn is discouraged as the heat damage to the fibres affects the life of the garment.

Hand-knitted, the garments lack labels, however the yarn skein labels provide much of the information that would be included.

The chosen textiles, all knitted garments, the fair isle sweater differs slightly, as when viewed from the reverse, shows the stranding technique adopted when producing the colour-work embellishment. This technique involves weaving the different colour yarns across the reverse of the work to create smooth changes in colour, avoiding creating holes in the fabric. Loose ends are woven in when constructing the garments and fasteners are applied in the form of Bakelite buttons, an early form of plastic made from Formaldehyde and Phenol, crocheted loops created to secure them. The buttons are attached with cotton thread.

Being handmade, the chosen textiles were made by me, the yarn from a personal archive, adding to a personal archive of knitwear.

Both the fair isle sweater and the fan and feather stitch sweater are embellished with colour-work. A traditional fair isle OXO pattern with its crosses and lozenge shaped hexagons adorns the child’s sweater, the colours true to the pattern. The ladies sweater embellished with a textured stitch “fan and feather” a form of lace work. The removal and addition of stitches in every forth row creating the form of a fan/feather and a highly textured surface. The addition of colour in the form of bands, emphasising the textured stitch. During Wartime, colour could be relied on to brighten an outfit. As long as there was enough neutral wool for a main colour, oddments could be used for the pattern.

The ” Joan Crawford” sweater lacks embellishment. Instead it has a subtle change from the traditional knit stitch (Garter stitch), knitting into the stitch below on every other stitch on alternate rows. Thus creating the effect of a woven garment as opposed to a knitted one. The resulting honeycomb effect providing scope for mark making in fine detail.

The chosen yarn, 100% premium acrylic is made in Turkey for both Premier Skipton UK and Hayfield, Wakefield. Acrylic is a synthetic fibre. Double knit referring to the number of strands that are twisted together to form the yarn. In this case, double 4 ply so 8 strands twisted together. The diameter of the plies determines the weight of the yarn. Double knit is classified as a light weight yarn.

It is rather hypocritical using acrylic yarn to produce garments from wartime patterns, however when knitting for children and in my case with children and the vast amount of family washing, acrylic is a practical choice due to its ease when washing and its durability.

It has proven difficult to glean information on the origin of the yarn used, this would be less of a challenge if locally sourced natural wool was used or if wool was self spun and dyed.

Lack of damage to the garments is evidence of their lack of use, having only been made recently and in the case of the ladies sweaters, still in construction.

The child’s fair isle sweater produced from a 1940’s Bairnswear pattern is embellished with a traditional fair isle OXO pattern. Fair isle patterns were popular in children’s knitwear at this time due to the fact that an unpicked adults jumper could provide the main colour and an oddments bag could yield the fair isle pattern. “Little figures might edge a cardigan, or flecks of different colours, cunningly patterned together would make the most expensive looking outfit.” (Knitting Fashions of the 1940’s. Jane Waller. 2006.)

The fan and feather stitch sweater pattern, doesn’t provide colour recommendations, the principle being the same as that of the child’s fair isle sweater. However drawing inspiration from the “Your Victory Jumper” pattern from “Home Notes” publication 2 June 1945, I have used red, white and blue to embellish this sweater. Red white and blue were colours prominent in patterns produced during 1952 in celebration of the queens coronation.

The “Joan Crawford” sweater is a pattern published in a book by designer Bill Gibb entitled “Vintage Hollywood Knits.” During the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s pattern books were published with patterns inspired by the knitwear worn by Hollywood starts of the time. the idea being “Knit what the starts are wearing!” This particular pattern is inspired by an iconic shot of screen star Joan Crawford. She was known for her sophistication and independence. Her outfits suggesting a freedom and independence, during wartime counteracting the potential for a feeling of lacking femininity.

These garments were traditionally made in 3 ply wool and although more time consuming, they would last longer. The complex stitching making a denser texture. The lack of natural wool in my finished garments and the use of the thicker yarn is more suited to my lifestyle, being a quicker knit and easer to maintain. Synthetic yarns are more economical, I factor I have to consider with a young family.

Nostalgia is a recurring theme in all my work.

I lost my Nanna when she was still young,  she died before she should have done. My memories are starting to fade after 20 years. However objects that I associate with her provide great comfort.. My Gramps would wear grey sleeveless pullovers at home with his white shirt sleeves neatly rolled up. Her handmade pullovers I imagine she had always made for him. I strive to be like her in so many ways. Our lives are very different, generations apart, but by knitting, I feel I connect with her. My knitwear therefore tells a story. Not so much to the viewer but the same story is behind all my knitwear. My interest in patterns from the 1940’s – the 1940’s being the decade in which they met, got married and started their family. Id like to think that we could have been producing knitwear from the same patterns. These emotions I hope will be reflected in mark making I produce as a response to these chosen textiles.

 

 

 

 

Selected textiles from an archive.

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Chosen textiles

Selected – Three examples of knitwear.

A personal archive of 1940’s knitting patterns. The chosen textiles, generated from the said patterns.

An area of which I have great interest and considerable knowledge, I have selected knitted  items for their history and their form.

A ladies “fan and feather” sweater, a ladies short sleeved sweater as worn by Joan Crawford and a child’s fair isle sweater.

Initial thoughts.

Chosen for their stitch pattern and colour-work, The fair isle providing further potential for mark making when considering the stranding of the yarn on the reverse of the fabric.

The incomplete ladies sweaters, chosen for their textured stitch patterns, common with wartime and post war patterns. A means of embellishing garments to help make up for the lack of femininity felt as a result yarn and fabric rationing. The unfinished state, (uneven edging and loose yarn) creating more scope for mark making.

Initial concerns.

Limited information to glean regarding yarn history.

 

How textiles tell a story.

When considering the next part of the course, my archive of knitwear at home was the obvious choice. Knitwear being a subject I am both passionate about and as a result, of which I have quite an extensive knowledge.

I have amassed overtime both knitwear given to or made for me and knitwear made by me.

Knitwear often tells a story. Items of clothing or blankets – Heirlooms – that have been handed down through generations of a family, who have worn them, who have made them. Stitches, hand made, still existing when the maker may have long gone.

Christening gowns and wedding dresses. Wartime wedding dresses made of parachute silk, due to rationing.

A primary school tea towel. A piece of history documenting hand drawn portraits and the names of all the children and staff at a school at a given point in time. In this case summer 2016. A time capsule. A moment in time. A memory for a school full of children. A memory of a time at home with young children, for a parent.

A modern day fabric design that is reminiscent of a curtain fabric from a childhood.

When considering Scandinavian knitting designs, the Selbu mitten whose origin is attributed to a girl Marit Emstad who wore mittens to a church service in 1857, the original pattern of which, (a vertical column of two snowflakes on the front side of the mitten) tells the story its now attributed to.

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Mittens became popular locally, with attempts to out do one another with beautiful design variations. Daily life being one of many influences on their pattern designs.

The Selbu mitten is a masterpiece and at one time was even a form of currency, being held in such high regard.

Norwegian fishermen and sailors were great knitters, their ropes and anchors translated into cable patterns incorporated into their knitted garments – telling us something of their lives.

The Story of the Selbu Mitten – Selbuvotten

Project 1 – Selecting and Identifying – Defining Textiles.

A manipulative fabric is what I believe a textile to be. Endless possibilities.

Everything has a textural quality.

Working with textiles to me is all about manipulation. Therefore something that can be manipulated to me defines a textile.

Everything can be manipulated with the right processes, artists and designers are experimenting and developing manipulation techniques all the time. Therefore everything has the potential be a textile.

As a traditionalist, I have always considered textiles to be fabrics that can be manipulated. Yarns – cloth – thread. Naturally I will always consider these first and imagine they will feature heavily in my coursework. However, already this course is opening up my mind to other possibilities hence my response when asked to  define “textiles.”

 

Reflection on the introductory project.

A strong start to the course and a thoroughly enjoyable one!

The theme “Tropical Tourist” was well considered and thought through. The idea to interpret the theme as plastic objects washed up onto the strandline was pushing the interpretation of the theme. The randomness of the objects providing me with lots of interesting shapes and textures to reflect on, observe and draw.

To vary the mark making, I considered manipulating the thread of the fishing twine and observing the objects from a variety of angles. Manipulating the paper to suggest qualities of the objects was another well considered concept.

I am really pleased with the strong body of work I have produced. The mark making is diverse and will serve me well as I proceed with the course.

For someone who can find pushing the boundaries challenging, I embraced it here. Experimenting with different papers and processes, the results are a credit to the effort I put in and have given me food for thought going forward.

I allowed plenty of time to conduct the research into the recommended artists. I found the process came naturally to me, (I hadn’t thought it would) and it was very insightful. I can see why these artists were chosen. My findings gave a clear message on how to view drawings as part of any art/design making process. The basis of all things. You can’t produce too many!

Considerable sketchbook work was produced to add to the drawings that I could work with going forward. I hadn’t felt I’d exhausted this subject.

The decision to add some observational sketches of marbles to my sketchbook is an interesting one, but something happened that made me think this to be appropriate.

Marbles have a habit of being found in gardens. They are turned out when beds are being turned over for planting. Popular with children growing up certainly in the 1950’s and before, these little glass gems have travelled through time, to be discovered by us decades later. A little battered, but otherwise beautiful and bright, with their colour emanating through the grubby exterior.

“A Tropical Tourist.”

A new polished marble would have limited textural quality to observe and capture in a drawing. What interests me is the battered exterior of an old , well played with marble, the dirt it may have collected on its travels and the beautiful form of the coloured glass – swirling – twisting – undulating – meandering – All qualities that mark making could capture and which excite me when considering the potential for thread work and fabric manipulation.

 

Miche Follano

 

A successful ceramicist and friend of mine, Miche Follano is someone I have always found inspiring.

Since meeting her in 2012, I have been fascinated by her work and her process. Mark making being an important component in her work.

She creates ceramic objects that “represent the psychological response to hidden emotional locations.” (Miche Follano)

I see similarities between the work of both Miche Follano and Roanna Wells. Both I believe use mark making in their work as a response to a psychological state of mind.

http://www.michefollano.com/gallery