I’ve been stuck. I don’t know how I going to go about making my designs. I’ve thought about using Photoshop to isolate different colour layers within a mineral image, and then using these different layers as layers in a print. I’ve experimented with how to repeat these patterns, but short of ending up with a mirrored pattern, I haven’t thought of another way to make them repeat. I’m not against mirrored patterns, in fact I quite like them, but once you start mirroring a mineral, it loses some of its natural essence.
I needed some-way in which I could see these designs, in front of me, and then hopefully I would know what path I should be taking.
Using my new handy screen and supplies, I chose a mineral image that I thought would work well as a screen print, and cut out 3 stencils so that I would be able to see the layering effect that I’m after. I chose colours that matched my theme and collection, and set about creating a sample. I wanted my design to be simple, but still combining the delicate small patterns within the mineral itself, though these small details are virtually impossible to create using a hand cut stencil, as my knife skills are only acceptable.
I think that smaller detail would be achievable when using the screen machine in university, where it’s much easier to get more detail onto a screen. I think that over this next month, I will have to work over Photoshop to separate and create layers for each of the designs I need to create. I also think that after having separated these layers, I could combine them into a new document, and have them digitally printed, choosing selected pieces to then hand print over the top.
I think it’s fair to say that that my passion lies with printing; any form or type, on paper or on fabric, anything, I love it. I don’t think that’s about to change any time soon, but what I’ve noticed recently is that I’ve been concentrating more and more on my printing, and not creating samples from stitch, which is an equally big part of my course. So, in light of this, I decided to try out some free machine embroidery.
I’ve looked through many images of mineral over the past two months and their main trait is that they are quite abstract. While this will be a good trait for printing, I’m not so sure that it’s a good trait to try and translate into stitch. I was having quite a difficult time, looking through these mineral images and trying to think of how I could translate them into stitch. Agate are made up of banded lines which would be really great to use with the cording foot, but because i have already done something with agate quite recently for this project, I didn’t want to go back to the same minerals so fast, considering how many minerals there are in the world. I then created a ‘Mineral Database’ of a few of the main kind of minerals that I have looked into, and from this I found dendrites.
Mainly found in sandstone, as well as Chinese Picture stones, dendrites are black fissures in the stone which, when magnified, have the shape of delicate trees. I thought that this would be the perfect thing to start my stitch samples with.
I then started to think how I could apply these stitches into my final designs. I plan for my prints to be quite abstract, and was wondering how I would be able to add maybe these dendrite stitches, or stitch effects that will compliment the designs I’m working on.
As of yet, I hadn’t seen any mineral inspired paraphernalia anywhere in high street shop, online searches have given me any indication that anyone has been working with them. Until now! One not so quite Monday afternoon had me walking into Urban Outfitters ready to start looking through the sale when the bookstand at the front of store caught my eye, what could be standing on this book stand you may ask? Well I’ll tell you. Sitting innocently in plain view were Ohh Deer X Urban Outfitters collaboration notebooks, featuring minerals on their jackets! I’m not ashamed to say I got excited.
For this project i have been looking at minerals, as you might have guessed, but it’s one thing to troll through WGSN and understand that minerals are going to feature within the trend world soon, it’s a completely different surprise when you start seeing these creations, which are so similar to what your working on, appear on a shelf in a high street shop.
With my collection being majorly influenced my nature, specifically minerals, I decided that I wanted to know if anyone else, excluding Richard Weston, has been sing these goldmines as a source of inspiration.
Minerals generally get displayed as they come; their intricate formations make for lovely statues and focal points, as seen in the pictures above. I love how these minerals have been displayed on floating shelves, and have been chosen with care to match the interior, but this isn’t really what I was looking for. The second images touches close to what I’m interested in, using the minerals within interiors. I think these lightshades look sleek and elegant, and have made a beautiful way of displaying these minerals at their best.
The third image is what I found the most interesting; using the formation and pattern of an agate to create wallpaper. This collides with the ideas I’ve been having about my own collection, taking microscopic images of what lays inside these minerals, as using them within designs. Short of just stealing the natural patterns found within minerals, I have been thinking of ways in which I can make these designs completely my own, and also representative of everything the ‘company’ I’m design for, portrays.
A mineral is an element or chemical compound that is normally crystalline and that has been formed as a result of geological processes (Nickel, E. H., 1995). Formed within the earth’s rock, through natural formation, minerals come in all shapes, sizes and specification. Housing many different distinguishing features, each mineral has a different process to how its structure is built up over the years.
Quartz is the most common and widely occurring mineral, in its purest form, quartz is transparent, though quartz can be coloured by other minerals and elements. Yellow Quartz, Smoky quartz and Amethyst are all caused by the infiltration of iron, or iron radiation, into the rock (Richard Weston, 2007).
Agate is typically known for its internal banding structure. Not actually classed as a mineral, agate forms with the earth rocks. Each band within the agate is formed over many years, with the changes in atmospheric surroundings affecting the colour difference within each band. These bands of colour and the natural formation of the mineral are something which could be taken further into design purposes.
Orbicular/Ocean Jasper is identified by its formation which is produced by the inclusion of orbs and spheres. Each new growth with these mineral starts as a one of these tiny orbs, which can merge forming bands, similar to the agate.
Chinese Picture Stones is a grey-blue formation of limestone, often marked by gold, brown and tree like tendrils of black, which create patterns within the surface of the stone. The patterns within these stones could be taken forward into printing. The different layers of colours would work well through a screen with the added detail of these tree like tendrils, making for a very beautiful and abstract piece.
Dendrites are much like Chinese Picture Stone in the way of patter. Where as in the Picture Stones dendrites are small additional features, Dendrites are composted of many tree like tendrils of black, incorporated into stone.
Ammonites are again not classed as a mineral; they area fossil, the most widely known fossil. The typically form in a spiral shell like shape. These creatures lived up to 240 million years ago. Some ammonite shells have delicate patterns just under the top layer of their shell. These can be seen, with a microscope, if the ammonite has been subjected to weathering or artificial polishing.
Thunder Eggs are interesting all unto themselves. They form in a geode or nodule-like rocks that grow in layers. Essentially, Thunder Eggs are spherical rocks, housing agate, jasper or opal centres. From the outside they look like standard rocks, it’s not until sliced open and polished that the true essence of a Thunder Egg is found.
Over the past four weeks I have been working with Richard Weston, an architect, who has recently been working with minerals. I came across Richard because of his work with Liberty London. His designs were based around highly magnified images of minerals.
At the start of the four weeks I was told about three current projects that Richard was working on that I would be able to help with; creating patterns from Mica images, patterns from mineralised drawings of cats and dogs, and helping with an app that he was currently creating that was aimed at children.
At the beginning of this placement I was quite nervous as I didn’t know what to expect; I was also aware of my lacking Photoshop skills and how different my tastes were from Richard’s. I was very self-conscious and found it quite challenging to sit back and try and think of these designs I was creating in the way that Richard was. There were days when I was really unhappy with what I was creating and found it really challenging to find inspiration and relevant, but I didn’t let this stop me from creating what was asked of me. I came back day after day, ready to embrace the challenge before me.
As the weeks progressed I was able to work more freely and loosen up in myself. I gained more confidence in myself as a designer and in the work that I was creating because I knew that it was matching up to my client’s ideas. My skills with Photoshop have grown, as has my ability to converse with people better. I tend to feel quite uncomfortable in new places, with new people and I think I tackled this very well over the last few weeks. I’ve had to voice my ideas and opinions, which is quite a nerve-racking thing, as these creation, while made from design others have crafted, became personal to me, and were then put up for scrutiny; as such that has made me grow in confidence.
I have enjoyed developing and creating designs, I’ve found it very rewarding to see a finished design come to life. I was thoroughly pleased when Richard had my patterns printed out, and it was then when I felt truly like a designer.
This was further realised when Richard asked if I would be interested in designing patterns that could be used as part of his app and also in stationary he is working on, for which I would be paid.
I’ve realised that I am extremely influenced and inspired by nature and natural forms. I worry that because the inspiration for a lot of my work comes from nature, that my design will seem repetitive. Working with these minerals however, makes me realise that there are so many different areas of nature that I could create hundreds of designs based on nature and not one could be the same.
Within my subject I have been looking at future trend within 2017 in aid of the collection I am creating. Within my chosen trend I had briefly touched upon minerals before starting my work placement, since I have developed the direction of my collection so that it features more prominently the minerals that I have been looking at. My work has markedly been influenced by my time with Richard Weston, I’m extremely grateful because he has made me love the collection I’m creating.
Roller-coaster of minerals,
Yeah (ooh ooh, ooh ohh)
This week saw the inspiration of mineral coasters. The idea formed from me wanted to make my own agate. With some spare resin lying around the house (don’t ask me why?) I squeezed out some rough agate shapes onto some cling film, and left to dry. Ideally the resin should have hardened until rock solid (no pun intended), at which point I would have been able to paint some agate bands on top, forming my own minerals.
What happened instead was that the resin only dried in the middle, and was really crackled where it did. Off to the bin with that idea, or was it? Now I don’t know how my mind made the leap from making my own agate into making agate coasters, but I won’t fault it, it was a good idea, and one which I got a lot of satisfaction from creating.
So starting with some watercolour paper, paints and my colour board, I set about painting a collection of four agate painting, which linked together by use of colour, which would sit nicely with the table linen I’m designing for my collection. And what’s a napkins best friend? Coasters of course!
With the first agate I painted, I started to think about ways in which I could add the texture of a mineral into the otherwise flat painting? I created really saturated rings of water on my page so that the bands I painted on the edges, would bleed and mimic the natural formation of the mineral. Once the painting was completed, but while it was still wet, I sprinkled salt on top, so that it would suck up the extra moister, and add little dots of texture to the whole thing.
The other three coater all dried rather quickly, and short of pouring water on top which would have ruined the appearance, the paintings were too dry to add salt too. With each mineral painting I varied the colours slightly, though making sure that each had some colours that linked, so that together, they could be classed as a set.
Once all the paintings were dried, it was times to turn them into coasters! I did this by finding some cardboard that was lying around the house, and then tracing the shape of each minerals onto the cardboard, twice. Once the two cardboard pieces were stuck together, they would create more height in each coaster. I then painted the underside of the coasters white, but I didn’t like it. I wanted something that would reflect the nature of the mineral itself. The answer came to me in the form of a bottle of gold glitter, which I used to add extra mineral-ness to the paintings.
I coated the bottom of each coaster with two layers of glitter, and then sealed the whole thing with glue. The end result was that I had agate paintings on the top of each coaster, and then a mottled crystalline base, which helps reflect that even though it’s made of cardboard and paper, my influences have come from a completely natural occurring crystal substance.
I had a really fun time whilst creating these coaster, I was able to find an outlet for all the creative ideas I’ve been getting since this change in my collection. I’ve felt really inspired by the work that I have been doing with Richard Weston and I think I have conveyed this inspiration through my work.