After watching a video about Picasso’s bull, we started by selecting an image that we were going to draw from; the idea being that the drawing we were working on would be photocopied every 20 minutes to show the progress of the drawing, until the point where the drawings isn’t recognisable. I chose a photo of a pattern I found while travelling over the summer, and started to draw. After 20 minutes, I took the first photocopy, it didn’t come out too well because I had used pencil to start my drawing, I then switched to fine-liner and carried on with drawing my image. I liked that each stage of my drawing was documented, and that each change could be viewed at the stage it was made.
I liked this method, because it shows the development stages of a drawing, and can help influence the next steps you take; whether to use different materials, or when to stop or carry on with your drawing.
Monday morning’s lecture was simply fascinating. Given by Dr Keireine Canavan, the lecture explored her career through textiles, highlighting on the different degree’s she specialised in; woven textiles, knitted textile design and applied computer application, and how these led her to the work that she has been doing with weavers in the Middle East for the past 11 years. Keireine took us through the different places that she visited in the Middle East, Malaysia, Gujarat, Kuwait and Morocco, and the different methods and traditions that the weavers there incorporate into their fabrics.
In Malaysia they used the traditional Iban Dayak wrap technique to make their Pua Kumbu’s; traditional woven blankets that are created at birth and are made to stay with the owner through all the stages of their lives. The blankets are used for special occasions and depict their lives and culture. Using backstrap looms, the pattern for the Pua Kumbu is dyed onto the threads using a resist technique, which looks extremely difficult but completely worth it, the results are stunning and exceptionally intricate.
Gujarat is the home of traditional Salvi Patola silk weaving; historically the weavers only created fabric for royalty, but a newer tribe broke away. The method for dying the thread is similar to the method in Malaysia, where they are bound before being put into a bath for resist dying. Only two Patola weaving groups left in the world, creating the most beautiful silk weavings that take over 5 months to create.
The Al-Sadu is an ancient traditional weaving art form, used to create Garta/Injad, which are huge tents that house the Nomadic tribespeople who weave them. Made from goats hair, and dyes that are collected from the dessert, spices like henna and cumin, the women of the tribes weave the thread together, creating symbols that depict their lives and traditions, as well as their surrounding environment. The technique itself is passed down from person to person, nothing is written down or recorded, and there are only eight master weavers left in the whole of Kuwait. What I found most interesting about this tribe, is that everything is kept ready to move, their wealth is shown in the fabrics and jewellery they wear.
I enjoyed hearing about Brocade Weaving from Morocco, how a place full of stunning colour and culture inspired one man to re-start the old traditions of brocade weaving, making him the only brocade weaver in all of Morocco.
Each of these weaving methods are fascinating to behold and create stunning and individual creations. Keireine’s work has helped to keep these traditions and technique around, making sure that the methods of resist dying and weaing are preserved.
Today’s lecture was given by Dr Natasha Mayo on The Sensorial Object; how all our senses play key roles in how we look and feel and think about even the most ordinary and mundane objects. One thing that I picked out of this lecture was that the materials that we use in the creation of our artwork, can speak for themselves, and extends meaning; and how the process of making transforms the expressive value of that which is being made. I liked this idea of the materials that we use can have their own meaning, and how they can speak volumes about how and why a piece of work has been created. I also found it really interesting, how Natasha would show us artwork, and then she would read out a piece of text which had been written by a theorist, and then show us the artwork again, and how after having listened, to the way that sound, and movement and knowledge effects the way we look at a piece of work, we could no longer look at that piece of work in the same way we did before hearing how these simple things change the way we would view it.
Today’s study skills lesson was with Jon Clarkson and was about understanding an argument; I enjoyed this session because it was extremely informative and helpful in doing exactly what it says, understanding an argument. Jon explained how an argument is an attempt to persuade, and that all arguments will have a point, they will include claims and a conclusion, and that the conclusion will bring all the claims together and is the main point for which an argument is directed. The structure of an argument was explained and so was how we would be able to find an argument in a text, which is especially helpful because we would then be able to identify the arguments, and would then be able to say whether we agree or not, and then we would be able to form our own argument, based on what we had learned.
Last week’s study skills was based on reflection and evaluation; how and what you’re learning and how to keep a record in the form of a blog. This was a very useful session because we were shown examples of how to write meaningfully and effectively, and what to include in our blogs; that we should explain how we have learned from the things we do, what went well, and what didn’t.
The thought of making a blog and writing effectively seemed quite challenging, even after I had already started posting, how do I know that I’m doing it right? but Ashley said to think of our blogs and reflection as our own personal journey, thinking about where we are now, where we’re going, where we will be, and how we’ll get there. Our reflection is a personal matter and that we should demonstrate awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and show what we have learned, what we are doing and how we can help ourselves; find what is useful and what needs improving upon; self-evaluation.
I liked this session because it helped me to understand what I should be writing in my blog, and how I should be reflecting on the work I’m doing and on what I’m learning.
The keynote lecture that I attended was given by Dr Jon Clarkson on post perspective; looking at art in different ways, and how we can look at something that has different view perspectives and layers and assume that there is nothing strange about this, how our minds can make sense of something that otherwise doesn’t make sense. I found this really interesting because it makes you look at everything with a different view. How now, when I’m looking at an image, I think about whether there’s something I’m not seeing because my eyes and my mind have already tried to make sense of it for me.
Today was the third week of the Stitch workshop, and we were working with dissolvable, which is almost a clear plastic sheet of PVA glue, which dissolves when placed in water. We were given a run through of how to sew onto the dissolvable sheets, which stitches would have to be used together to make sure the sewing kept its shape when dissolved. I still have difficulty using a sewing machine, in particular when trying to understand when the stitches are too loose, and also remembering to thread the machine when the foot is up. I found the process of stitching quite tricky because I had to make sure that all the stitches overlapped and that there were no loose ends, because otherwise all the stitching would unravel.
I chose to do quite a large area of stitching, using different thread, and adding some material, but this was quite time consuming. When I was using textured thread, my machine kept jamming, so I switched to using different coloured thread and adding material into the embroidery. After lunch we were shown an example of cut-away. This is where you use a sheet of fabric, and dissolvable together, so that when you cut the fabric, the dissolvable will still keep the fabric sturdy. I really like this technique, it’s kind of like having a window within the fabric. I love learning these different techniques, because once you know enough, you can start experimenting and mixing the different stitches and techniques.
Yesterday we were working outside, around and inside Llandaff cathedral, where we had to face the challenge of timed drawings; trying to work freely but quickly enough to capture what you’re looking at. The drawings were focused around nature, looking at the contrast between the man-made interventions and the patterns that appear naturally. On the walk to the cathedral, and outside the cathedral, we stopped to make a few 2 minute drawings, focusing on the different aspects of nature and the man-made. While drawing it was suggested that we look at our surroundings with a soft-eye; instead of focusing on wholly one part, we would focus on the surrounding areas as well and see how that would affect our drawings. I found this technique quite interesting, how by looking at the surroundings and what you’re drawing instead of looking at the drawing you’re making, the outcome is quite expressive, with parts overlapping and contrasting with each other.
Inside the cathedral we created a 15 minute drawing and a 30 minute drawing. While I could draw slower while creating a 15 minute drawing, I drew too slowly and didn’t finish my drawing in the allotted time. I plan to carry on with this drawing, but I’m going to photocopy the drawing before I continue so that I can see where the 15 minutes ended and the development from that point. These exercises were really helpful, because they have helped me to draw more freely, which I’ve been trying to work on since my last lesson.
Last week I learned how to use a sewing machine; how to wind a bobbin, how to thread the machine, to change the foot and the needle, how to open up the machine so that any jammed thread could be fixed, and how to set the length and width for each of the different stitches. This was especially useful to me because usually, when I;m faced with a sewing machine I become rather dramatic and insist that I can’t use them because they scare me; but after last week’s introduction, I am now able to use the sewing machine completely and freely (while feeling like a sewing ninja).
This week I was going to tackle free machine embroidery, appliqué, painting onto bonda wed and precision stitch. This sounded like a lot to be tackling in one day, which sounded pretty good to me. I want the day to be packed with amazing new things I could learn and get lost in, because I’m really loving these sewing work shops.
With the drawing that I made yesterday, I was going to take parts from the image that I would turn into a work of stitch. The first thing I was shown was how to use the bonda wed for appliqué. The image or shape would be drawn onto the bonda wed, and then the bonda web would be placed on the back of the fabric, with the rough side down (the waxy side) and then ironed. Once the bonda web was stuck to the fabric it was time to cut, and try (because it takes a long while and many tries) to pull the backing of the bond wed, off the fabric so that the fabric could then be attached to a backing fabric. Then it was on to the embroidery.
As I said earlier, I was pretty much feeling like a sewing ninja at this point. I was in love with the free machine stitching and how I could guide the fabric in anyway to create the most amazing and beautiful lines. Looking to my drawing from yesterday, I used the embroidery as an outline, as well as to add in all the little details of the drawing. I loved how my work looked like one intricate and textured line drawing.
Drawing from another thing I learned last week, using different/textured threads in my sewing. This was done by winding the textured thread around an empty bobbin, and then sewing with the fabric upside-down so that the textured thread that was acting as a bobbin would be on to top side of the fabric once the stitching was complete. I used this method of textured thread for some of the shading that was in my original drawing, which would then come into my appliquéd drawing.
I then used different coloured threads for the section on the left hand side of the appliquéd parts. I tried very much to use mark-making again, I stitched in long and short lines, and then for the parts that were darker and needed shading, I attempted cross-hatching with the machine and I was extremely pleased that it worked, and that it looked good.
I said earlier that I was going to tackle painting onto bonda web. This is pretty much like it sounds. Using green, blue and white material paints, I painted in lines and strokes on the rough side of the bonda web, waited for it to dry, and then cut shapes out of it. This next bit was similar to the applique I had done earlier. The bonda web was placed onto the fabric with the rough side down, and then carefully ironed so that it would stick to the fabric. The backing of the bonda web would then be peeled off, again taking ages because the edges are so difficult to separate, and then the waxy bit would be left on the fabric, along with the paint.
After this, a demonstration of precision stitching was given. This involved following the outline of a shape or image, so that the stitch was nigh on perfect. I used the precision stitching over the painted bonda web, giving it a practically perfect stitched edge, before swapping the foot over and going back to the machine embroidery! my new favourite way of stitching (until probably next week when I see something new, like dis-solvable!).
I loved today. The lesson was packed full of all the things I’d want to learn in a sewing workshop, giving full instructed direction and demonstrations of how to do everything that was asked of us, which I was really happy about otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it, and the lesson was really informative, in that I will be able to take everything I have learned from today an apply it into other areas of my artwork, and continue to develop them.