Category Archives: Assignments
Having decided on three main elements for the chair project and two possible designs for cushions I decided to try to execute all of the parts. I calculated that I had enough time and materials to achieve it all.
There are some technical problems that had to be solved in terms of the upholstery of the chair and I needed to caluculate the size and shape of each piece so that I could design and make the panels and know that they would come together at the end. I stripped the chair and used the old fabric covers to make templates for the new panels. I knew that if I had a project plan for each section of the chair and the two separate cushions that I could work on each section in tandem rather than in sequence which allowed me to do all the printing, all the painting and all the stitching in a way that made best use of time and, more importantly, let me see whether the design decisions I had made for each elements would in fact work together as a coherent whole. If it did not then I had opportunity to adjust as I went along. In fact I did do this. When I printed the trellis on the fabric for the seat cover I had intended to quilt in green and brown only (the colour of the poppy stems) however it looked at that stage like two very separate elements and I changed the plan and introduced some pinks and purples to the trellis quilting to tie it in more closely with the back. I was also able to balance up the intensity of the text once I saw the impact of the density of colour and stitch on the poppies.
I also varied the tones I used in the tapestry I was weaving for one of the cushions to introduce some brighter tones in green and yellow. This lifted the piece and tied in better to the other cushion which used yellow and orange tones in the seed pods design which was painted. I also had to make decisions on the type of thread I would use to stitch the background to the second cushion and after I had done some sampling I changed my original decision to create more lustrous background.
Constructing the seat covers was a little nerve wracking. I had spent time creating each panel and was nervous that they would not fit or that the shapes had not been calculated correctly. In fact it came together easily. I have never done any upholstery but did a lot of dress making when I was younger and there are transferable skills and knowledge. Helped of course by a very simple design of chair. I fitted the coverings but will remove them again to send them to my tutor but the pictures of the finished chair can be seen below.
I think there is a clear thread of development running through the theme book. I used my theme book for the development work, interweaving that with the earlier images and drawings and I hope this allows the development to be seen clearly. I did change some of my decisions during the making process. They were not fundamental changes to the design and concept but they were important in terms of integration and balance I think. I was able to use the materials I had and selected to realise the work. I did go looking specifically for textiles that I could re-use that were suitable not just in type of fabric and colour but also that they had a history and fitted with the concept.
At the back of my theme book I have stashed away a small list of further development I would like to do which arises directly from my exploration of this theme. I would like to weave some cloth on a loom that could add to the project and have started on that at a weaving class. This is based on the lotus seed heads. I would like to make some wall pieces taking the printing and painting of the poppies and the seed pods design further. For example I have sketched out a possible design for a wall piece that brings together poppy heads and honesty. I am sure there is a further development in the red and green colour and texture of the dock plants. Some of these might get realised or returned to later in the course of my degree of might simply be part of my own work so I have stored them as potential ideas.
This process is described in a linear way in the course notes however I find it quite difficult to separate entirely the second and third stages. As I was reviewing my theme book I was working in to it and adding development work and further ideas so that some of the design development got done as part of this iterative process. I went back and forward on several different sections of the theme book and the ideas began to come together and got selected or deselected. I now wanted to think about the overall coherence of the components that I am now beginning to bring together. I have decided that the recovery and renewal of the chair is the idea I am going with. I want to combine the idea of a trellis through which we see the colour of the poppy seed heads and which will form (literally) a base from which the poppy stems will grow. I am also aware that whilst this project is not being constructed in such a way that it will withstand many years of wear I do want it to be robust enough to have at least some functionality or utility. My choice of materials therefore needs to take account of that.
Staying with the concept of recovery and renewal I decided to hunt for textiles for the base fabric which were already used and showing some sign of wear. I unearthed two curtains from charity shops. One is a printed textiles and was 100% cotton and other is a viscose linen mix. The latter is less likely to stand much wear and tear. The cotton fabric caught my eye because it is blue / green and is commercially printed. It already has a design on it that suggested stems and seeds. Even when washed it had some water mark stains on it which appealed to me in terms of the concept and I wanted to incorporate the stains in to the surface decoration. I wanted to see how the fabric would look when it was over printed and worked in to with stitch.
My ideas about the colour and design of the lotus seed heads and the screen I had made from my design on seed pods are still at the front of my mind and I don’t want to lose them but neither do I want a cluttered final piece of design for the chair so I am still thinking I can do something else with them.
Printing out the screen print of the poppies on to different fabrics and making a colour board with yarns and beads to give a sense of colour was helpful.Dried poppy heads end up quite brown but just after the flower petals have dropped and before they have dried out they can have a range of hues from pink, through purple to blue and it was this colour that I wanted to capture in both the development work which I have added to my theme book through to the choice of yarns for stitching. Having decided on the fabric which is already commercially printed I wanted to create several layer: the original printed fabric, the over printing with the screen printing and the layers of yarn and thread.
Bringing all these ideas together I used ideas for print, colour and stitch from across my theme book and the development work I have added. I tried out the print for the poppies as actual size and developed my final idea for the chair back from this. I had already developed some actual size cartoons of the trellis print which I then developed further with the grass prints and with the addition of colour to simulate the colour in the poppy heads which would bring the seat and the back panels together.
Having chosen the text I wanted to use I experimented with fonts and materials to get a readable image but which would have a sense of decay.
Developing these ideas and deciding on the elements I would bring together meant sampling the printing, the stitch and the painting elements.
I am now keen to realise the two additional cushions. I plan to make a tapestry piece based on the colour and some patterns elements developed from the lotus seed head and will use the seed pod screen to print then paint a piece which can for the centre for a second cushion. I have found a fabric which can be used on both sides giving two colours in the same pattern which would work well with both the tapestry and printed pieces for the two cushions. Having planned all of these design elements I now need to plan how this can be realised in practice to ensure I can execute each part and that I will have all the right materials.
Focussing on my theme book
My theme book is now beginning to fill up with development work on top of the original source materials and ideas. I made a decision that I wanted to combine several ideas and sources and build towards an end product in the form of the recovered chair. I was particularly keen to develop my ideas around the work I had done on the poppy seed heads and the seed pods. I also liked the printed trellis shapes I had produced on paper. I thought these might work well on fabric and would create an interesting surface. I began to think about the kind of marks I might want to make and revisited the work I had done in part 2 on making marks with both stitch and in part 3 where I was making marks with printing. I have sketched some ideas for what components could be used in the chair and am now starting to think that as well as creating a panel for the chair seat and back I could think about including some text round the edge of the seat. I also have a number of ideas that could form small cushions which could extend the project a little further. Of course putting a small chair in the post for review by my tutor is not really practical but I didn’t want to let the idea go for reasons of practicality. I checked with my tutor that I could send the textile part of the project and plan to send photographs of the finished pieces on the chair if possible.
As well as having decided that I would like to do something with the poppy seed heads and the seed pods idea I didn’t want to lose the response I had to the lotus seed heads, especially the colours which I was very drawn to. I do not however, want to clutter the final project – it’s a very simple design. I think there is a danger that I try to put too many ideas in to the one piece. Making one or two additional cushions might be the way to try out some of these ideas.
This first part of project 10 was about reviewing all my work so far. I sorted through the development work and earlier course projects that I thought were successful and / or where I had enjoyed the techniques or materials. And of course, I reviewed my theme book. I had collected my theme materials together and put them in my theme book leaving space between each section for further development work. I realised that I might need more space for developing some of the ideas and less for others but since I could always add and subtract pages this was not a major problem.
Looking back over my work to date it was hard to decide what I wanted to rule out. I had really enjoyed the stitch, had been very engaged with print making and, surprisingly for me, I had really enjoyed the weaving section. I took the opportunity to go back though my theme book and began to think about how each of the images and sketches I had in the book could be translated or further developed in stitch, or textiles, and how texture and pattern could be developed. I was, above all, interested in the concept that was now forming in my mind of taking something that was seemingly spent and re-imagining it or renewing it in to something new. The dead seed head, the miracle of the seed and the subsequent renewal and flourishing of the new plant began to form ideas for me. Linked to the metaphor and concept I had read in quotes and poetry I was increasingly thinking I wanted to recover or renew an object rather than create a wall hanging. I had liberated an old Ikea chair when my son was moving out of his flat last year when he graduated. He in turn had rescued it previously from a skip at the art college he was studying at. It had seen its fair share of studio life. It was grimy, covered in paint and was tatty. I began to think that this too could be given new life and that it could be regenerated through seeds. I’ve never upholstered anything but it looked like quite a simple shape. I thought it might be worth considering.