This is the stage I nearly scrapped my theme book – I hit a complete block and could not decide where to go with my ideas so put everything down for a few days and then came back to it with a fresh mind and clear head.
I re-read the course material which suggests looking back at Part Two for developing design ideas and looking for shapes and drawings and got out my two black viewing frames (I have two sets of l-shaped black card) and looked over my drawings and samples at different areas in my recent paintings and also previous pieces in my theme book.
The first painting that really appealed was one inspired by the work of Paul Corfield – I liked the combination of shapes and colours and I tried two different areas of the painting with differing media. I initially tried a collage piece which I actually really like surprisingly considering I do not enjoy collage that much but now understand both the process and the technique – studying art history has again played a part here.
I also tried using different colours and marks representing textures to suggest the form whilst also thinking about some of the end-products suggested in the course material. A selection of the sketches can be seen below:
Some of these I consider successful and others just ‘interesting’ …. I like the shapes and the ideas. These sketches have very organic shapes that with shapes within each other and dividing up and I could without question see these ideas having potential as a textile piece but again they were not exciting me enough – I can however see a future quilt as a personal project but not for this final design at this stage.
Another look at my paintings and this one stood out with the bridge particularly when viewed using a viewing frame. I liked the strong lines and colours of the bridge and felt I could really take this forward with design work – the contrast of the hard and the soft edges of the wood against the water and the trees or the colours that are harmonious but complementary (the orange family of the wood complementing the blue of the water) combine to inspire with distinct possibilities.
The first set of sketches focused on a singular area and immediately it was obvious there were strong design possibilities – I tried two different colour combinations with the lower adding in small ovals taken from the Paul Corfield inspired painting.
The top design the colours and strong lines/forms really stood out and I liked the possibilities of playing with perspective – this comes back to the art history studies again as I had studied the development of perspective in the Renaissance and Baroque period and its subsequent use throughout the centuries.
From this point I decided to try combining both the shapes from the Paul Corfield inspired paintings with the strong lines and architectural shapes of the bridge. I did try two different colourways of this design which I really liked – this became one of two I had to choose from for my final end-product.
At this point I re-read the course material again to ensure I was going in the right direction – I was happy to let the ideas flow and see what developed naturally rather than force it. One thing that was becoming obvious was the abstract nature of my designs which I really liked as this is new to me and very exciting too – as I have said previously abstraction does not come naturally but it is something that is clearly developing.
I decided to try the bridge idea but within a window as I have loved the vistas over the summer as I have peered through doorways or tree branches. I wanted to change the colours but still keeping the central colours the greens and blues of Dovedale and Derbyshire. I also wanted to give an impression of the design going beyond the borders and with vanishing viewpoints but also broken up and disjointed in the way that branches or even rickety old bridges appear.
Having pinned this up overnight I realised I had done quite an architectural piece but one that had more meaning than just my art history and sketchbook studies – my paternal grandfather was an engineer (specialism in concrete in the 1950’s – 70’s) and my own son also has an engineering qualification plus I worked for a town planner and architect many years ago along with having a long term interest in historical architecture. This design represents my love of Dovedale but also represents a part of my personality that is very deep rooted.
Before I totally committed to the design I tried again the combination of the organic curved shapes combined with the bridge but with added ovals to add interest and movement but still was not entirely happy – this is the design that I feel could work as a quilt for the future with applique and extensive textural quilting on a much larger size (thinking lap quilt or bed quilt size) and may yet be my entry into a local quilt show in April!
I considered the suggested end-products including a cushion, bag, waistcoat plus also a sewing machine cover or wall-hanging and eventually came back to my initial idea of a carpet bag for use when going out with my art materials – I could not shake the fact that this could really work and inspiration was taken from the book Image to Stitch by Maggie Grey. I really liked the idea of using actual photographs for the appliqued structures – the images are backed with felt and stitched from the wrong side with different stitches to create texture.
I drew the design up into a working design measuring 40.5 cm x 29.5 cm and in the photograph above the corners are folded over as I decided where to cut the corners for the bag design. The photograph to the left shows the actual carpet bag design in my sketchbook with markings for where I would add a recessed zip, the boxed corners and also attaching the handles using fabric tabs and D-rings. I decided on boxed corners as this negates having to do side panels and a bottom panel and I am aware of difficulties I have had in the past when I have made a bag previously and also there is the question of whether the panels are attached with seams externally which would need binding or on the interior which add further bulk. Boxed corners also for me add a softer aspect to the bag and enable the design to naturally go around the sides and base too particularly if the bag is either done in a similar manner to the front or as a plain plaid background which is my preferred option.
The fabric to be used for the border is ice-dyed calico – dyed during late summer when our freezer broke (I used the resulting ice!) and the centre I wanted to do a woven panel as during Part 4 I had loved weaving but had to bear in mind the on-going effects of a whiplash injury so realised I could do this panel on cardboard (card that comes as the ‘wrapping’ for books from Amazon proved the perfect thickness and rigidity). I also worked out any internal details such as a pocket with zip albeit without any specific sizes but would anticipate it being the same size as the woven exterior panel which is 23 cm x 14.5 cm.
The only thing at this stage that I was undecided upon was whether to add any additional hand stitching or machine quilting but I thought I would see how the front of the bag looked before making that final decision – please note due to my whiplash and time constraints I decided only to do the front panel at this stage with a view to making the whole bag up before assessment and after tutor feedback.
Grey, M. 2008. Image to Stitch. London. Batsford