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Final Reflections on the Textile 1 course

When I first undertook Assignment 1 I think I did not understand about really looking at the visual world around me. I was looking but not really seeing or understanding what was there. Slowly through practice I think this has changed. I think the importance of drawing and thinking through a design before actually making an art object is essential. I think for every hour that is spent making an object another hour should be spent thinking and designing the object. This strong connection between theory and practice is a revelation to me

 I think I have slowly learnt what drawing means, it is not about copying an object it is about interpretation of the visual world and integral to this is the idea of mark making.

I have really enjoyed learning the variety of techniques from drawing, painting, sewing, printmaking, 3-d construction, working with different yarns and  weaving. My favourite has definitely been weaving. I think I have been particularly inspired by weaving as I have seen many artisans in Ethiopia weaving so I have seen it as very much a living craft.

The course has also helped me to understand what motivates my art practice. I don’t think I will ever be a person who sits in a studio and creates. In fact I don’t have a studio, I have had to create work while I travel (on trains and planes), in my garden, in my flat in Ethiopia and any other available space that I can find.  I need interaction with the outside world and people to inspire my imagination. I need a narrative, a story or adventure to begin my creative journey.

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What has happened to you during the course?

Initial thoughts on the course and textile course April 2013:

I will use my textile blog to reflect on the travelling I have done to Asia, Africa and the Middle East over the past 10 years. It will also show my journey of discovery into the world of textiles.

This blog’s name is inspired by the novel ‘Travels with My Aunt’ (1969) written by Graham Greene. This book charts the travels of Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager, and his eccentric Aunt Augusta across the world. Henry exchanges his quiet suburban existence for a world full of adventure. Graham Greene opened my eyes to British literature and the adventures of travel when at the age of 12 years I found a battered copy of ‘Travels with My Aunt’ in my Grandpa’s dusty book shelves.

What has happened to you during the course?

The Textile 1 course has indeed been a journey of discovery for me not only into the world of textiles but also into the world of art and design practice. I think I have expanded my art and design knowledge and vocabulary which have enabled me to think more creatively. It has also helped me to review my work in a constructive way and to learn from the art process. There are no limits to creativity.

People and places have always been sources of inspiration for me hence the reason I called my learning log/ blog’ Travels with my Textiles’. I have used my many travel opportunities to inspire and guide my work.  The places that have fed into my work have included short trips working along the River Thames near my home in Oxford, trips to Scotland where I was inspired by architecture and visiting a local textile studio and my work in Ethiopia.

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Reviewing the stages of my Final Piece

Can you see a continuous thread of development from your original drawing and samples to the final designs?

I think there has been a continuous thread to my work based on a circle/sphere theme for the final piece. This theme has dominated my line of thinking since I took the minimal circle photographs in Assignment 3. Since then I have sketched examples of circle shaped objects and also been very much focused on spheres.  While reviewing my other assignments I explored other themes and even when I was trying to get away from circles by drawing ferns and bead work from Ethiopia again the a spiral/circle shape appeared. In many ways I was working from many drawings to start with (see the A3, A4 & A5 sketch books). I made a number of actual samples: weaving over a paper lantern, sphere shape made of wooden embroidery hoops tied together with wool, plastic bags sphere with woven string, tennis ball with woven string and balls made out of recycled wallpaper. I wanted to do a piece on a large scale and I thought the samples I had done would be hard to scale up. I then got inspiration from a parachute, Africa circle hut and mirror tent to try and do a canopy sphere. I looked at plans of parachutes and then did a simplified version. I did a rough sketch of the plan and then I did a sketch painting. I finally did a plan of the piece on tracing paper where I calculated what size each triangle panel should be. I then made a scale sample in tracing paper. This small scale parachute was a matched the design of the final piece. The actual design of each panel of resulted from me experimenting with materials as I went along rather than working from drawings.

Do you feel you made the right decisions at each stage of the design process? If not what changes would you make?

I think I could have done drawings that were more detailed.  I just wanted to design the sphere/circle shape and this dominated the design (I really enjoyed this part).   

I think I could have made the piece bigger. Even though it is fairly big, i.e. has a 2 meter diameter, I think it could have been bigger to give more of a canopy feel.

I also would have liked to given the structure a more rigid shape to show the semi-sphere shape off, perhaps with wire. When the piece is not hung it becomes a circle. I think if I had had more time I would to woven a complete sphere.

Were you able to interpret your ideas well within the techniques and material you chose to work with?

I think the continuous triangle weaving technique that I chose worked well on the small scale and then varied in success on a larger depending on the materials I used. The rug weave worked well with the fake hair.  In total I wove 12 panels and used 8 of the panels in the final piece. The first panel I did was very much a test piece as I was learning how to do the new technique. I found that thicker wool worked very well. The bamboo, wallpaper, grass and fake hair helped to strengthen the panels. I had wanted to use the plastic rope, parachute cord (too rigid) goat skin and wool fleece but these did not work. I also wanted to have the panels going from dark to light in terms of more light showing through some of the panels but these panels did not keep their shape very well.  My initial design   used more subdued colours then the final piece but I enjoyed the experimentation with the different colours.               

How successful is your final design in term of being inventive within the medium and coherent as a whole?

I think I achieved what I set out to do: weave a large scale circular/canopy piece. I was pleased that all the panels fitted together and the wooden hoop in the centre and held the weight of the panels. It would have been good to have had a large space to hang the piece but in the end I had to just hang it in my garden. I think I was inventive in the technique that I used as I did not want to just weave a giant basket so I decided to use the triangular weaving method to make panels. This involved making triangle shaped looms. I think the 8 panels did come together to make a whole. I tried to have linking colours, textures and materials between the panels. I think to make the piece keep its semi-sphere shape I could of introduced a wire frame.

Please note all photographs of the process are recorded in my sketchbooks. I am unable to up load photographs to this blog.

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Final Piece: Woven semi-circle canopy looking up

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Stage 4 Making My textile piece

I have decided to weave a circle /semi sphere structure with a 2 metre diameter. This is based on a variety of drawings (see the A3, A4 & A5 sketch books) and inspiration from basic a parachute, an African hut and a mirror tent. As this piece was quite large I did not scale it to the drawing I did. I had to experiment with lots of different materials as some were more suited to being woven on a bigger scale. I wove 8 triangle shaped panels in a variety of materials: wool silk, bamboo, grass, fake hair, off cuts of wall paper recycled from a hand printed wallpaper studio. I would weave near the completed panels so as to keep a sense of the whole piece while doing the individual parts.  I then knotted each panel together to form a complete circle. I held the circle together in the middle by tying each panel with wool to a wooden embroidery circle.

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Panels for the piece

I have really enjoyed experimenting on a large scale. I have done four large scale panels for the piece so far, some are just samples that I will not use for the final piece. I have found that I have had to add materials like bamboo to make the structures keep their triangle shape better. The first panel I did was with cord and bamboo –I hadn’t really got the technique right so doing this panel helped me learn how to do the process (the technique of using a continuous yarn). On a larger scale the yarns tend to lose their shape compared to the small scale triangles. The panels that seem to have worked the best have been the ones made out of wool not the ones made out of cord. Working on a larger scale has many implication on the behaviour of the yarns I use and I feel I have to learn as I go along as it is hard to predict how some of the materials will behave.   

I am going to do further experimentation with materials before I carry on with the large panels. I am trying to make the panels that are more stable and I think I will have to do a tighter weave to achieve this. I want to get a combination of weaves so that light will come through the piece.

 

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Small scale sample 2 triangle weaving 2

Wool and recycled yarn by Zoe Wilkinson 2014

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July 1, 2014 · 10:24 am