Evaluation of the finished piece

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Overall, I am pleased with my final piece.  It is a good representation of what I had visualised early on in this module.  In one regard I feel that I have achieved beyond my expectations in that I think the moths do look as if they are in flight around the shade and I wasn’t sure early on in its construction whether I would be able to achieve this effect.  I was concerned that the moths might look too clumsy and heavy but the almost transparent silk organza enabled them to be very light.

I gave a lot of thought to this piece in the planning stages and found it very helpful to explore different ideas in my sketchbook.  I was quite systematic in my approach i.e. thinking about the overall design, then moving on to the materials to use for the different elements such as wire and fabric; how to construct the lamp shade; how to create the wire coils; how to decorate the different elements.  This was a much more considered approach to design than I used prior to this course and it has shown me the value of documenting ideas in order to develop them.

I am pleased with the materials that I used.  As mentioned previously, the silk organza proved to be perfect for creating the ethereal nature that I was seeking for the moths.  It is almost transparent and frays well thus creating lovely organic shapes but is stiff enough to hold the wing shapes when gathered.  It also allows the light to shine through on the mosaic piece that I used to cover the lamp shade.

The 1mm galvanised wire was the right thickness to allow me to create the wire coils so that they would be firm enough to hold their shape when attached to the lamp shade.  Ideally I would have liked the wire to have been slightly thinner to give a more graceful look to the piece but it would not have been strong enough to hold the shape.  To try to reduce the visual impact of the wire I chose galvanised wire rather than a rusted or painted wire as the beautiful silver finish reflects the light and helps to make it look more delicate.

The piece functions well as a lampshade…it does what it needs to do i.e. it diffuses the light from the bulb softly through the silk organza and at the same time it is an interesting piece of artwork.

If I were to make the piece again the change that I would make would have been to the mosaic fabric that I used to cover the shade.  With the benefit of hindsight, and having sat looking at the lamp lit in my room over a few weeks, I realise that the mosaic would have looked better if it had been cut and stitched several more times to make smaller fragments.  These would have increased the moth-like appearance further and would have given a greater number of seams which look interesting when illuminated from behind.

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Storage of materials and samples

Item

Storage place

Ideal Conditions

Design work in progress

Attached into sketchbook if flat pieces; others such as 3D samples kept in a plastic container

Away from sun, liquids, dust, children, pets

Completed embroidery

Attached into sketchbook

Wrap in acid free tissue paper

Completed design work

Lampshade is kept being used

Keep flat, and as above

Papers for design work

In sketchbook

Same as above

Inks and paints for

design work

In a plastic art box

Upright, lids secure: cool, dark conditions

Other items like glue,

bleach, sprays

In a plastic tub in art cupboard

As above, secure from children and pets

Embroidery work in progress

In a basket on my work desk.

Accessible to continuous work, away from usual hazards

Fabrics

In plastic tub with lid

Dry, away from sun. Flat or rolled in colour or fibre order. Acid free tissue paper

Threads

On a wall mounted bobbin holder or in plastic lidded tub

Dry, away from sun, untangled and in colour and/or type order

Beads, metal threads etc.

In plastic tub with lid

In acid free tissue, not plastic bags

Dyes, paints etc.

In plastic tub with lid

Lids secure, cool temp. Enclosed container

Sewing machine

On desk with cover over it when not in use

Normal room temp and humidity. Keep up-right. In working position for easy use

Other electrical equipment

In drawer in my work desk

Dry place with flex lightly wound. Stored away only when cold.

Health and Safety notes

Item

Safety precautions

Machine stitching

Use appropriate chair to support back and allow easy access to the pedal

 

Keep wires away safely so not a trip hazard

Monoprinting

Protect work surface with newspaper to stop paints/inks transferring where not wanted

Bleaching

Wear protective gloves

 

Work in well-ventilated area

 

Protect clothes and work surface

 

Excess bleach disposed of safely

Cutting with blade / rotary cutter

Use self-healing mat

 

Put cover on blade when not in use

 

Cut away from yourself

Gluing

Protect work surface with newspaper to stop glue transferring where not wanted

Ironing

Switch off when not in use

 

Ensure flex is not trailing to cause trip hazard

Log of time and costs

Chapter

Cost

Time

Introduction

£13.00 Sketchbook

5

1

Nil

2.5

2

Nil

15

3

Nil

12

4

Nil

13

5

Nil

7

6

£17.75 fabrics, dye £7.00, salt £1

11

7

Nil

16

8

Nil

12

9

Nil

13.5

10

Nil

5

11

Nil

23

12

£5.99 galvanised wire

£7.90 silk organza

£11.00 lampshade frame

£1.99 cake decorators wire

29

13

Nil

5

Total

£65.72

169

Chapter 13 – Artist’s Study

Artists Study A:   Hans Holbein the Elder and Younger

Hans Holbein the Elder was a German artist.  He was part of an artistic family in which his father and brothers were artists, and in turn his sons also became artists.  Holbein’s work included richly coloured religious works, woodcuts, book illustrations , church window designs and portrait drawings and he was particularly famous for the highly detailed elements of clothing that he detailed in his portraits.

Hans Holbein the Younger was born in 1497 and was the son of Hans Holbein the Elder.   He also completed mainly religious works and portraits.   He travelled to England in 1526 and moved in the circles dominated by Thomas More who was a personal friend of his brother. He remained in England for two years, and his fame strongly linked to the English court of King Henry VIII.

 

Holbeins’ portayal of blackwork

The amount of intricate detail in the Holbeins’ paintings provide a valuable insight into the lives of their subjects, as well as the embroidery styles of the period. Due to the type of fabrics used and the harsh alkaline laundry soaps, few actual examples of Tudor blackwork embroidery exist today.  Thankfully, Holbeins’ paintings captured use of blackwork in such detail that we can learn much about the designs of the period.

Blackwork was believed to have been present in England from as early as the 1300s as it was mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in which the Miller’s wife’s clothing was described as “embroidered at the collar all about with coal-black silk, alike within and without”.  Originally blackwork had been used by those who couldn’t afford to decorate their clothes with lace.  In the Tudor period however,  that it became more prevalent and fashionable when Catherine of Aragon  brought many clothes with her to England decorated with blackwork.

Blackwork was used particularly on collars and cuffs in order to reinforce them and, as these were the parts of the garment which could be seen from both sides, the stitch needed to be the same on both sides.  For the very wealthy though, it became a fashionable way of decorating clothes, not just the collars and cuffs. 

A double running stitch was commonly used which became known as Holbein Stitch since it was frequently seen on the paintings done by Holbein the Younger.  See cuff detail below:

image Image 13.1:  Jane Seymour – Hans Holbein the Younger 1537 (illustrating blackwork used on a cuff).

Blackwork embroidery on Henry VIII’s clothing shown in painting below.

imageImage 13.2:  Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger 

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Image 13.3 – How to do Holbein stitch

 

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  Image 13.4 – Small, very simple,  sample of Holbein stitch stitched by me.

Relevance to the Module:  The artwork of Holbein the Elder and Younger relate to this module as it helps to demonstrate the use of blackwork as a decorative form of stitching.  In the module we studied blackwork and learned that it can be used to create tonal changes by changing the density of the stitching.  The Holbein works show the incredibly intricate and complex designs used to decorate the clothes of the wealthy during the Middle Ages which would have created beautiful monochrome patterns as well as the appearance of tonal changes due to the variation in the density of the stitching. 

 

Artists Study B:  Bridget Riley

image Image 13.5 – Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley was born in London in 1931, studied art at Goldsmiths College and the Royal School of Art.  Her early work was figurative with a semi-impressionist style using the pointillist technique.  The two images below of some of Riles’ early works, painted using a single colour, show her interest in tone.

image Image 13.6 – Blue landscape – 1959

 image Image 13.7 – Tonal landscape study – 1959

In the 1960s Riley developed the Op Art style (Optical Art) for which she became famous.  Her Op Art works consisted of black and white geometric patterns that produce a disorienting effect on the eye.

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Image 13.8 – Movement in squares – 1961

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Image 13.9 – Fall – 1963

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Image 13.10 – Hesitate – 1964

Relevance to the Module:  Riley’s work is relevant to this module as it shows the power that black and white can wield in creating dramatic effects in design work.  Image 13.10 above is a particularly effective example of how the use of tonal change can be used to great effect.  When tonal change is combined with a change in the shapes from circles to ellipses a 3D effect is created.  Image 13.9 demonstrates the effect created by placing the lines closer together and thus creating darker areas. 

 

Artists Study C:  Vera Molnar

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Image 13.11 – Vera Molnar

My choice of artist is Vera Molnar.  I came across her work quite by accident whilst I was on Chapter 1 of this module.  I was staying in an apartment that we had rented for a holiday in Nice which had beautiful coffee table books.  One of these books included tonal works created by Vera Molnar.  As I had just started working on creating my own tonal columns for the module, I was drawn to her pictures.

Vera Molnar was born in Budapest in 1924 but lived and worked in Paris for many years, where she still lives.  In the 1960s, Molnar co-founded several artist research groups: GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel – Research Art Group)  who investigate collaborative approaches to mechanical and kinetic art, and Art et Informatique, with a focus on art and computing.  

Her work often featured geometrical themes and the breakup of repeating units, often expressed as a series of increasingly fractured images.  Describing her art Vera Molnar said:

“The images I ‘create’ consist of a combination of simple geometric elements. I develop a picture by means of a series of small probing steps, altering the dimensions, the proportions and number of elements, their density and their form, one by one in a systematic way”.

Molnar found that using simple geometrical shapes allowed her to easily make step by step modifications.  However, carrying out the process by hand was tedious and slow.   In order to make the necessary comparisons in developing series of pictures, Molnar needed to be able to make numerous images of the same size and with the same technique and precision.  Using a computer allowed her to minimize the effort required for this stepwise method of generating artworks.

Molnar learned the early programming languages and gained access to a computer at a research lab in Paris where she began to make computer graphic drawings.  In 2005 Molnar received the DAM Digital Arts Award for her life’s work.

Examples of Vera Molnar’s work are shown below:

imageImage 13.12  – Lettres de ma mere, variation 1990

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Image 13.13 – Structures de Quadrilateres, 1986

imageImage 13.14  – title not found

imageImage 13.15 – title not found

imageImage 13.16 – title not found

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Image 13.17 – title not found

Relevance to the Module: Vera Molnar’s work shows to great effect the interesting changes in tone that can be created by increasing the density of pattern.  Having studied the images above I note that she creates the tonal changes in two ways: 

– altering the size of the elements (e.g line thickness) in the pattern and placing them closer together as in image 13.14 and 13.17.  Image 13.17 looks at first glance as if it is made of zig-zag lines but on closer inspection one sees that it is actually rows of diagonal lines which have been made thicker towards the centre of the picture and thus creates a darker toned section.

– overlapping elements in the pattern to create darker tones.  Images 13.13, 13.15 and 13.16 are good examples of this as the patterns are the same size and line thickness but they have been overlapped numerous times to create areas of darker tone.

Module 2 – Chapter 12

Ideas for designing a functional 3-dimensional embroidered item

Stage 1 – Three dimensional shapes

In order to explore the development of 3-D embroidered pieces I created some small 3-D shapes as shown below.   I had some of my decorated fabrics left and so used these.

image Image – 12.1

Image 12.1 shows three shapes – a sphere, a cone and a triangular based pyramid.  As can be seen in the photograph, the sphere was not quite spherical!  It was made from 8 sections and would have been better made from more, say 16 sections, to get a more gently rounded shape.

image Image 12.2 – a cube and a cylinder.

imageImage 12.3.

I have a design idea for my 3-D assessed sample which involves coils of wire.  To explore this idea further I attempted to create a 3-D coil from fabric as shown in image 12.3.

 

Stage 2 – developing ideas for the 3-D assessed sample

Throughout the module I have been thinking about what sort of 3-D item I would like to make.  I decided that I wanted to create something that I will use within the home and I had been particularly drawn to the butterfly and moth patterns in the earlier chapters.  I developed an idea for a lampshade which would represent the way in which moths gather around a flame.

image Image 12.4 – idea development of  ‘moths around a flame’ from my sketchbook.

Having decided that I wanted to create a ‘moths around a flame’ lamp shade I started working on how this could be designed. 

 Design One

My first idea was to create a conical shaped shade

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Image 12.5 – Sketchbook page

I thought about making the conical shade using three tiers. 

Tier one:

  • Strips of monoprinted silk wound over a wire frame
  • Printing to be darker at the top fading towards the bottom.  This tonal change would represent a more concentrated cluster of moths closer to the flame.

Tier two:

  • Hand printed silk moths stitched on to the silk strips.
  • More moths at the top of the shade i.e. closer to the bulb, again to create tonal change.

Tier three:

  • Silk moths attached to the frame using wire stems to give depth and the appearance of a swarm.

 

Design Two

My second idea was to have a cascading swarm of moths.

image Image 12.6 – Sketchbook page

This would be constructed using:

  • a wire frame with 3 concentric rings
  • moths made from hand printed silk
  • ‘invisible thread’ in varying lengths to attach the moths
  • the central ring would have the shortest threads, middle ring would have medium length threads and the outer ring would have the longest threads to create the effect of a cluster of moths closest to the bulb.

 Design Three

My third idea was based on the patterns that are seen when moths are caught on a slow shutter camera i.e. the tracks of their flight.  I was attracted to the random, scribble- like appearance and thought this could produce an interesting basis for a light shade.

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Image 12.7 – Sketchbook page

My thoughts on this design was to use a ready-made wire frame as the base for a wire construction with hand-printed silk moths attached to it.  Again my idea was to have a greater concentration of moths closer to the bulb i.e. a swarm of moths going towards the light.  I also thought that I would use darker printed moths close to the bulb and lighter ones away from the bulb to help build the impression of a more concentrated mass of moths near the bulb.

I discussed my design ideas with Sian and decided to go with Design Three.  Whilst I had always liked this design best as it allowed me to be more creative, I was concerned about whether it used enough of the techniques used in this Module.  Sian assured me that this would be acceptable as it would develop the ideas of tonal changes and hand-printing fabrics to make the moths.

 

Ideas for constructing Design Three

The wire frame

I started thinking about ways to construct the wire frame. 

image

Image 12.8

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Image 12.9

image Image 12.10

Images 12.8, 12.9 and 12.10 show some wire structures on display at the Knit and Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace in October 2015.  These were beautiful large scale sculptures which showed the shapes and interesting lines that can be created.   The structure in image 12.8 and 12.9 was suspended from the ceiling and so didn’t need to support itself.  As can be seen in image 12.9 it was made from hundreds of pieces of curved wire, about 5 inches long connected with a loop on each end.

The structure in 12.10 was more rigid and self-supporting.  It was made with a thick wire as the rim and different thicknesses of wire bent into interesting curves, almost like arteries with thinner wires connecting to make a network of wires.

Type of wire

I decided to explore a range of types of wire.  My main criteria are that it is the right thickness to be flexible enough to bend in to shape, but rigid enough to keep its shape.

Some ideas included: 

  • Metal guitar strings – the thick bass ones which have a core with wire coiled around it.  These would be flexible enough to shape but would not be rigid enough to hold the shape.
  • Industrial wire…possibly rusted.  This could give an interesting finish to the lampshade but I liked the idea of a shiny finish and thought that rust would not blend in with the monochrome tones of the piece.
  • Florists wire – this is easily obtainable in various thicknesses, colours and so would be suitable for shaping and would be rigid enough.
  • Garden wire – either coated or galvanised

Decorating the wire – ideas included:

  • Binding sections of the wire with fabric / silk
  • Painting sections
  • Taping sections

Having tried various types of wire I found that a galvanised 1mm garden wire was the best fit.  I decided not to decorate the wire because I liked the silver colour as it gave a good representation of the moths flight trails which look bright when captured by camera.

The structure that I wanted to create needed to be light enough to hand from a light fitting and rigid enough to keep its shape and support the silk moths.  I also wanted to be able to create the swirling shapes created by moth’s flight trails.  I started playing with wire to work out ways of creating the structure.   Image 12.11 shows two of the samples I made.  The bottom sample was made by creating individual rings and then joining them together.  The top sample was created by making coils of wire, splaying them out, raising some of them and then joining them to each other.  I was pleased with this approach as it has the potential to create depth when a number of the coils are joined together but felt that it wouldn’t give the random swirling pattern of the moths flight trails that I wanted to create .  I therefore decided to explore wire coils as the basis for creating the wire structure. (see images 12.12 and 12.13 below)

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Image 12.11

I found a plastic pot with a circumference of the size that I wanted for the coil and wound the wire around it tightly.  Once released from the pot it created a long coil.

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Image 12.12 – coiling wire around a plastic pot.

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Image 12.13 – wire coil created. when removed from the plastic pot.

I decided that I would create a number of coils in this way in different sizes i.e. using different sized tubes to wind the wire around.  These would then be joined together and attached to the lampshade.

 

Ideas for constructing the lampshade

As a starting point the frame would be constructed using a lampshade frame such as that shown in 12.13.

 image Image 12.14

Image 12.15 below shows a page from my sketchbook where I further developed an idea for the construction of the shade.  In order for the shade to serve its purpose (i.e. shade the light) I wanted to have some sort of solid structure beneath the wire structure.  This could be made using a band of firm fabric such as heavy Vilene or buckram attached to the lampshade frame (shown as number 1 in the sketchbook page below).  I found a lampshade kit online which had an adhesive band onto which I could stick my own fabric and so decided to use this.

This band would then be decorated as shown in 2 in the sketchbook page below, using printed or painted silk organza.  The image below shows ideas of covering the whole band in one piece of fabric, or using torn strips of various lengths to create a more organic appearance.  I decided that a  more interesting effect could be achieved by creating a patterned band using the mosaic technique for piecing used in chapter 11.

The wire structure would then be fixed on top of the fabric band, and silk moths would be attached to the wire frame as shown in 3 in the sketchbook page below.

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Image 12.15

As a starting point I used black and white silk organza fabric and patterned it using a variety of methods as shown below:

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Image 12.16 – Black silk patterned with white fabric paint printed with a grooved lipstick tube.

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Image 12.17 – Black silk patterned with white fabric paint printed with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.

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Image 12.18 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.

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Image 12.19 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with finger prints.

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Image 12.20 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with  a splayed brush.

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Image 12.21 – White silk mono-printed with black fabric paint patterned with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.

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Image 12.22 – White silk patterned monoprinted with black fabric paint.  This was the first monoprint that I did in this batch using a gelli plate and the paint didn’t apply smoothly but instead it separated and caused this interesting cracked-earth effect. 

I pieced together pieces of my printed silk fabrics and cut and stitched them numerous times to create the mosaic-looking piece below.

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Image 12.23 – mosaic pieced printed silk organza

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Image 12.24 – close up of section of mosaic pieced printed silk organza

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Image 12.25 – close up of section of mosaic pieced printed silk organza

I stitched the piece with some front facing and some back facing seams in order to add textural differences.  I added a strip of lighter toned fabrics along the bottom edge as I wanted the shade to be darker at the top as if there are more moths at the top cutting out more of the light.

I then covered the lampshade as shown below.

imageImage  12.26  – the shade prior to trimming

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Image 12.27 – the trimmed shade

 Ideas for creating the silk moths

My next step was to work out how to create the silk moths that will sit on the wire frame surrounding the lampshade.

I attended a short workshop in October run by textile artist Amanda Clayton which was about creating interesting edges on sheer fabrics.  This was very helpful in exploring ways of creating the silk moths.

Images 12.28 and 12.29 show the effect created by cutting a piece of silk organza on the bias then stitching pin tucks into it in various directions.  Using this very simple technique I was able to create quite sculptural pieces of stitching which could work well as moths. I like the ethereal, ghost-like appearance of these pieces.  The silk moths could be strengthened in places using thin cotton-covered wire (used by cake decorators for flower stems).

image image

Image 12.28            Image 12.29

Images 12.30 and 12.31 below show some of the ideas I developed for the moths.  These included using silk organza as a base and:

  • add other fabrics hand stitched in place
  • stitching beyond the added pieces
  • cording i.e. adding a thicker thread and cording it in place to add structure
  • adding a second layer of silk organza and hand stitching over it in places.

I was pleased with the effect of using two layers of silk organza as it created interesting areas of shade and light as well as adding more body to the structure.

image

Image 12.30

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Image 12.31 – sketchbook page

I then thought about how I would attach the moths to the wire frame and decided that each individual moth should be individually wired so that it could be attached.  I decided to try to design a silk moth with wire as part of its structure.  As a starting point a painted some cake decorators’ wire as shown below.

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Image 12.32 – cake decorators’ wire painted in places using black fabric paint to create a patchy effect. 

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Image 12.33 – painted cake decorators’ wire

I then worked on constructing some wired silk moths as shown below.

image Image 12.34 – two layers of printed organza approximately 1 inch by 1.5 inches.

imageImage 12.35 – I cut the organza into a rough moth shape and made a row of running stitch down the centre

image Image 12.36 – I gathered the running stitch and fixed it in place by winding a piece of wire around the middle.

imageImage 12.37 – completed moths

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Image 12.38 – completed moths close up image Image 12.39 – completed moths close up

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Image 12.40 – completed moths close up

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Images 12.41 and 12.42 – silk moth on coiled wire next to a photo of moths trails to illustrate that my silk and wire construction will produce a good representation of the moth ‘flight trails’ discussed earlier in this chapter.

 Constructing and attaching the wire coils

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Image 12.43 – attaching the wire coils to the shade.

I used short pieces of florists wire to attach the wire coils to the shade as shown in image 12.43.

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Image 12.44 – wire coils attached to the lampshade

As can be seen in image 12.44 I surrounded the shade with a tangle of coils which were attached at several points to make it secure.

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Image 12.45 – verification photograph of me attaching moths to the coils.

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Image 12.46 – the completed shade with moths attached

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Image 12.47 –  ‘Like moths round a flame’  – completed shade

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Image 12.48 – completed shade – close up