How did your research into the work of artists and designers inspire and inform your practical work?
Whilst doing the research, some seemed irrelevant to the outlines of the project, but once I started making samples the relevance of some of the research became clearer. For example, the work of Mathis Bengson; I couldn’t see how his work would apply to any of the projects, Mainly because I was focussing on the materials he used, I think. But when I was cutting and tearing holes and layering them up, I could see the resemblance and relevance to his work. My own research inspired quite a bit of my sampling, for example, sewing leaves was inspired by Hillary Fayle and Susanna Bauer; sewing over plastic shapes inspired by Liz Sofields work of sewing over folded paper patterns. Sewing around and across holes inspired by Leisa Rich and Nava Lubelski. Looking at the shadows through my samples of the circles with burnt holes reminded me of Meredith Woolnough work- in the sense of the shadows her embroidered pieces make due to the way she mounts her work. The pinprick samples that I did were inspired by the sensory drawings of Gillian Adair.
The work of Jules Waibel really inspired me but in reality, I found the folding project the most difficult. Such precision and skill are needed to work out the folds and is something that I really didn’t have the logic or patience for.
Researching these many different artists gave me lots of inspiration to play around with different materials and methods.
Which techniques did you particularly enjoy, and why? If you found a technique frustrating or unsatisfying, did you try to overcome that feeling by changing how you approached it?
I really enjoyed the puncturing project. I found the piercing of the paper very satisfying and meditative. I liked working out a design and using different tools to create different sized holes. The work on the thicker mixed media paper came out the best, crisp, clean and aesthetically pleasing to look at and to the touch. The simple act of piercing holes created quite a striking image which I could see being framed over LED lights to enhance the pattern of the holes. The pieces were very tactile, and I enjoyed being able to run my fingers over the holes to follow the design. Although I experiment with puncturing holes in other materials, the paper was the most effective.
I found the folding and pleating very frustrating. Jules Waibel’s work inspired me the most, but actually folding accurate pleats and shapes was extremely difficult and frustrating. I went to visit a local artist who uses folding and pleating in her work, as she had an open studio, to maybe overcome this frustration and see a demonstration. The artist, Hannah George, was very inspiring and introduced me to proto-paper which she felt might make the process easier for me. I ordered some but I found that it didn’t. I still couldn’t get good consistent folds and repeating patterns. I did however manage to make some really odd shaped samples which were fun to try and draw. This was very disappointing to me as I would have liked to have created some geometrical, sculptural samples using this method.
Lots of the materials used in this section could be considered quite mundane and commonplace. How did your use of the techniques transform them or invest them with more value or beauty?
The cellophane I used was transformed quite significantly by crumpling it and placing fairy lights behind it. It looked almost crystalline in structure and the fairy lights made it glow so it looked like some sort of living, pulsating organism. I would have loved to have been able to fold the cellophane like Jules Waibel does for her lamps to create a jewellike structure, but that level of folding was a bit beyond my capabilities!
Placing the cut-out layers of copy paper onto a lightbox really enhanced the look of them. It introduced different shades of the paper and highlighted the overlapping cuts creating real depth to the piece. Without the light source these layers of cut-out paper looked insignificant. Again, placing coloured cellophane on the lightbox really brought it to life. Quite mundane seen on its own but with a light source behind it, it becomes quite special. The colours really pop and also the cellophane casts rainbow coloured shadows on surfaces when the light is shone through it.
Crumpling plain white copy paper until it became as soft as fabric also enhanced the beauty of an otherwise flat sheet of non-descript paper. It became mouldable, textured, flexible and soft, totally changing its original qualities
Did your use of your sketchbook help you develop new ideas for samples? How could your use of the sketchbook be improved?
My method of working can be a little bit haphazard as I have fibromyalgia, CFS and some other mental health issues. This can mean my brain can jump from one idea to the next sometimes with no logical obvious pattern. I try to allow my ideas just to flow as I’m creating and then analyse them afterward. When I’m in the flow of creating and one idea is sparking another I don’t always want to stop and document or reason why as I find that stops my creative flow.
I do use my sketchbook to record work I have done and ideas for further development, things I would like to make if time were permissible. I do understand my way of working may not seem like a continuous stream of thought so I do try and annotate my sketches, so it gives them some clarity. Because things pop into my head out of order, I do a lot of sketching on separate pieces of paper so that they can be added into the sketchbook in the right place. I do this to try and create some sort of order to my sketchbook, as I don’t want to draw on the actual pages of the sketchbook in random order as that would be confusing to tutors and assessors. These add-ins are not afterthoughts, they are an integral part of my process. My sketchbook could be improved further by trying to keep everything in a linear order but unfortunately given the nature of my illnesses I find this quite difficult.
How effectively did you use drawing to explore the visual qualities of your samples?
I used different mediums to translate my samples into drawings, being sensitive to colour, line, shade, shape and texture. Some were completed with pencil so they could be shaded or softened to fully explore the quality of the piece; some with black liner pen to show hardness or angles; Prisma colouring pencils to blend tones and shade; brush markers for bolder, brighter colours and blending like on the cellophane pieces; white pencil on black paper to try and convey the delicacy of crumpled copy paper; rubbings using graphite to translate the feel of embossed marks, and black-and-white inks with different sharp ended tools to capture the lines and marks of the scratched materials.
How effectively did you use or manipulate colour within your samples?
I used colours with some of the samples as I felt that colour was an integral part of the design for those, for example with the cellophane. Obviously, these wouldn’t have worked without colour. With the flap pieces, having colour behind the flaps enhances the design element. For some of the other samples I felt the materials more important than colour, so concentrated on that, using whatever coloured materials I had, after all they are samples and not finish pieces. Once technique is learnt and how a material responds to that technique, then colour can always be introduced later. Unfortunately, with time constraints I wasn’t able to focus on colour as much as I would have liked.
In conclusion, there were elements of this module that I enjoyed and elements that I didn’t. I had experimented with a few of these techniques in ATV- Burning holes, folding and pleating, layering, so I felt like I was going over the same things. I also did a lot of sampling of burning, melting and fusing materials in ATV so I didn’t include that section at all in this module. I enjoyed doing my own research of artists I found online to inspire my sample making and I think this gave me a really basis of design and material ideas to implement.