Overall this has been a fascinating project to work on which produced some results I did not expect in particular with the three-dimensional sample.
The course material asks some questions and I will list these and answer them directly.
- How does working with fabric in this way compare with working directly with stitch? I really really enjoyed this – my background is both dressmaking and embroidery with quilting in the last few years so to combine the fabric and the stitch in the applique sample was of great interest. That particular sample was very reminiscent of crazy quilting (which I love doing) but I also enjoyed the freedom of being able to have some edges raw edge and some satin stitched. I also enjoyed experiment with many more types of fabrics than I would normally use and now feel I have a basic knowledge of what many of them can potentially do.
- Are you pleased with the shapes and movements that you have created in both applique and fabric manipulation? What would you do differently? on the whole the answer is yes to both the applique and fabric manipulation – I liked the shapes created and the secondary patterns that were produced particularly in the applique. Although I have used tucks in the past and my knowledge of American smocking comes from trying it once before (as the border for a quilt) it was interesting and very pleasing to combine several different types in one three-dimensional sample. The thing I would do differently goes back to my selection of drawing – there are two I would not choose again although one I feel I could have chosen a better area to work from and that is something I will go back to and see how it develops. I think with the applique sample I would possibly choose different fabrics if I had the spare financial resources (I had to work with what I had already purchased 2 or 3 months ago) and would try more contrasting fabrics such as silk and hessian plus some other softer tweeds and in a different colour palette (thinking greens and browns which closer match the original image or going the opposite way of bright vibrant colours).
- How did the pieces work in relation to your drawings? Were the final results very different from the drawings? Did the fabric manipulation technique take over and dictate the final result? I will answer the last question first as it is a resounding yes – that was so much fun to do and so interesting to see it evolve. The flat design did not allow or show how the fabric would fold up or gather and I know if this was done in a softer cotton it would have a very different look again – the cotton would allow for more pebbles with smaller stitches for instance. Yes again to the final result being very different to the original drawings with the fabric manipulation sample for the reasons just stated – the design on paper does not allow for how the fabric reacts. However the applique sample was much more similar to the drawings and this I was happy with – the only thing I had not noted was what additional stitches I would add because I wanted to see how it looked after initial stitching. I felt the applique sample worked well in relation to its design and if anything I am far more pleased with it than I expected to be – it created the harmonising relations I wanted with the different proportions of fabric and the contrasts in colours and shapes and textures. The fabric manipulation sample again I felt worked well in relation to the drawing although it is very different – the piece looks very different but I can see how it formed and now understand that what I envisaged is not so different to how it turned out although I currently do not have the skills to put that vision on to paper other than the draftsman style I did (this is a skill I need to develop and learn I feel now).
- Was it helpful to work from the drawings in the applique exercise? Would you have preferred to play directly with cut shapes and materials? I found it very useful to have the drawings and the straight answer is no to the second question. I preferred to have the design to work from as it created a clear vision and clear directions to how the finished piece would turn out. The only thing I would change would be to add notes to my design of possible stitches to use when it is appropriate so that I have a clear directive – a copy of the design could be done with sketches of the stitches on to work from.
- How do you feel about working with stitch in general? Is it an area you would like to pursue more in depth? Do you find it limiting in any way? Again to answer the last question first – how can something be limiting with infinite possibilities? I find working with stitch is very freeing emotionally as I concentrate on enjoying the process and it becomes almost meditative whether working on a sample or on a specific design and yes without question I would like to pursue it much much further and in more depth.
To reflect fully on this project I have am coming to realise my weaknesses are still a lack of confidence in experimenting with different fabrics – I am feeling slightly held back by a more traditional background in quilting and so to experiment with fabrics in different ways and using techniques I know from quilting is very new to me and I am still very much finding my feet.
However a strength is my love of colour and shapes and textures – I am thoroughly enjoying really mixing these up and trying not to be bound too much by the colour wheel. Textures are really important to me due to partial deafness as I seem to be quite sensitive towards them – as I am with colour too.
I am making notes of the design techniques in the coming days – short hand style notes to keep near my desk to remind me when looking at compositions and how to develop them as another weakness is still forgetting these and having to constantly refer back to course notes. I know this will become second nature in time but for now it is something I have to continue to work on.
Fortunately for this project I have the knowledge of techniques through my quilting and stitching background and this I think I demonstrate through my blogs on this project and hopefully through some of my samples. Most of the techniques I had done before and that was a bonus for me for this project but trying them in different fabrics was really enjoyable and very enlightening too.
I am doing ever more reading about different techniques and am looking to really try and work more on improving my sketchbook work further. As I have indicated in my blog posts this past couple of months have been set back due to ill health and as a consequence my sketchbook for this section is not as I would like – I like the loose pages in Part 2 but it is easier to work in a ready made sketchbook with added pages but I need to work on how to make these books my own and may yet go back to loose pages again.
Due to that ill health I also have not been able to do the sketchbook work I would ideally have liked to do but this is now improving and becoming a regular part of my daily routine again happily.
A slight weakness is being unable to do some of the hand stitching I would like (I am awaiting x-rays on my wrists currently) and consequently am having to use more machine stitching than I would like – I am relatively ok if I use a hoop and stand but without can cause an issue but my fiance and I are working on ways to see if there is a solution to overcome this.
However despite the difficulties and having to use my sewing machine more than I would like I am relatively happy with the samples I have done overall and feel they demonstrate a variety of techniques in different fabrics. I enjoyed trying to use my soldering iron to create different textures on the fabrics as an extra exercise and this is something I will want to explore much more.
One last thing I do need to do more of is artist based research and this is something I will be correcting – I am aware of through my theme book that there are locally based artists I want to look at further for inspiration and I am gradually getting to be aware of various art fairs within my locality that will provide more direct contact.
ASSESSMENT AGAINST CRITERIA
- Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – yes I feel I have done this relatively successfully in terms of materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness and design and compositional skills. The last point on composition is something I am still working on and need to really check my design lessons to take further. Observational and visual awareness is something that is developing as I am noticing different things that I had not previously and consequentially I feel this is showing in my work now. Techniques and materials I am happiest with as the techniques and materials were familiar to me.
- Quality of Outcome – I think my content is satisfactory and so is my application of knowledge to the samples and the exercises. I feel I am presenting my work in a coherent manner now and am learning presentation skills to show my work in the best light although this is something I still feel I need some guidance on. Discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas – all these I feel are improving and I am certainly learning to being able to communicate my thoughts and ideas much better and am becoming more discerning in my work overall and know these skills will again develop.
- Demonstration of Creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention and development of personal voice – yes I feel I am able to demonstrate these increasingly well through each exercise and each sample. A lot of this is coming down to confidence in my abilities which I freely admit to lacking somewhat on occasions but this is being worked on and this is improving.
- Context – reflection, research, critical thinking – again I feel this is improving and I am able to demonstrate much more confidently. I am enjoying the research and critical thinking side of this course and am trying to word my blogs in such a way that I convey this much more clearly,