Once the fabric was digitally printed we each took away a piece to work on in which ever way we felt inspired.
Helen was inspired by ideas of patchwork & collage and the way images are put together. She was interested in the way that our drawings had lost their original paper texture through being digitally printed. Helen created some striking pieces of digital collage, working with digital images of printed fabric. The fabric seemed less precious as digital images and she was able to be intuitive creating juxtapositions with geometric shapes reminiscent of patchwork quilts.
Mandy worked directly from some of the drawings she did of the ‘Hair Still Life’. She had a clear idea of what she wanted to do and this idea about the drawing was something of a revelation. She wanted to bring together the screen-printing and embroidery she uses in her work in a new way. This was a joyful instance of something turning out completely as envisioned. Mandy tends to use very dense areas of embroidery in her work which makes selling work restrictive. This way of using stitch as outline & detail & the screen print as the infill & background will allow Mandy to develop a boarder pricing range in her work. She felt this freed up her thinking & the mini brief of working with the Hair fabric was motivating. The dolls faces broke up the lines which were created by the photo shopped design.
Gemma was inspired by the idea of the fabric as a headpiece. She worked on the idea of pattern & texture echoing that of hair, in particular a style of setting the hair called ‘finger waves’. Gemma couched threads onto the fabric in waves, trying a few different methods of fixing, some of the threads left loose. She used hair grips and composed the threads so they added to the design of the fabric. With more time and opportunity there were other ideas thrown up like scattering the thread like fallen locks of hair on the carpet. Also the technical challenge of hand sewing with silk threads added to the nature of the piece.
Kiran was interested in the ideas of creating a collage, but with the design already using this technique she found it difficult to plan a response, pinning the piece of fabric to the wall of the office to better contemplate it. At the last minute Kiran decided to try something out that she had wanted to for a while. She collaged together a mixture of doilies so the pattern framed the piece of fabric and printed a textile print paste called Devore over the collaged stencil. Devore is an acidic paste that burns through cellulose fibres; it is commonly used on a variety of fabrics made up of a cellulose thread & another fibre such as silk or polyester. These fibres are left intact in the more usual use of devore ensuring the fabric has a proper integrity. The McrC digital print is printed on cotton poplin so the devore paste would burn straight through leaving a network of holes. Kiran wanted to try this as in her research on the process it was suggested the print paste was first developed to produce fake lace- i.e. burn holes.
Bringing the fabrics back together was really exciting & sparked much discussion about what our next steps might be. It was decided that we would make up a toile of a tunic dress inspired by Gemma’s Mum’s dress in the photo. We would then decide where our individual embellishments might be best used on the dress and work towards some kind of recreation of the photograph either by photo collage or an actual installation.
A Collection of wigs & other hairy belongings!
After a few hours drawing a still life made up of wigs, a fox stole and the odd doll we talked about what incarnations our drawings could take on. Laying them out suggested that we could start by scanning these drawings in and using photoshop to compose a few design options.
This could lead to some digitally printed fabric which could be embellished by each of the collaborators and at some stage perhaps turned into a garment.
We talked about several different ideas including creating garments in the vein of leopard print, and some tangental ideas about hair as mementos- lockets trinket boxes & victoriana, totemic animals or dolls or humanoid animals sculptures.
Gemma took us through a series of drawing workshops which were greatly enjoyed by all concerned. She said she enjoyed bossing the rest of us around though we felt she missed out by not doing the drawing. We all found this exercise beneficial and inspiring. Now the aim is to integrate more drawing in our own practices.
Group exercises to warm up out drawing muscles.
We started with some quick exercises to get us looking and responding to what we see rather than what we think we see. This included copying a portrait upside down.
Drawing upside down we had to copy marks and lines rather than making assumptions about how the image was drawn.
The original drawing is in the centre.
We did a variety of other unusual tasks such as drawing shadows, capturing movement by leaving footprints on paper on the floor and drawing objects in a bag illustrating what we could feel. Similarly we described an object in a bag for the others to draw simply from our descriptions.
We moved on to a Still Life, set up by Gemma, we did a tonal drawing, a ‘map’ of the negative space and some continuous line drawings.
Bottom left is our Still Life, top left is Gemma holding a pose while we do a timed life drawing, top right Helen uses a viewfinder to concentrate on a section of the still life, bottom right the group hard at work.
In another session we did Life Drawing with Gemma holding 3-10 minute poses dressed in a variety of garments to give us the opportunity of drawing fabrics, patterns and textures.
Figure Drawing, exploring different media, charcoal, pastel and others.
Figure Drawing.The image on the left was drawn with 4 different implements or mediums, Gemma called out numbers to direct us to change what we were drawing with,
Whilst we were pattern cutting Mandy showed each of us how to use her multi head embroidery machine. This amazing machine has six needles and can stitch out very complex images as directed by a computer program. She demonstrated how to use a photo or a drawing as a starting point and generate a motif made up of stitches. The computer program then controls the sewing machine while it stitches out the design.
The software plans the type of stitch, the colour, the order it will all be stiched in and drives the sewing machine.
This six threaded machine follows the instructions from the computer program.
Gemma translated a drawing into a series of stitch instructions, this was then stitched out by the machine. The frame keeps the fabric taught whilst it is stitched out.
The beetle you can see on the computer screen as stitched out on some green fabric, using metalic thread.
Creating a paper pattern for a garment, breaking an existing item of clothing down into pieces, both actually and using our imagination.
For the next few sessions we met at Mandy’s studio in Chorlton. Helen showed us how to deconstruct a garment in order to make a paper pattern and we also created a paper pattern from a dress with out taking it to pieces.
The dress on the left is the original and the one on the right our copy.
Original on the left, copy on the right.
Overall a resounding success exceeding expectations left, right and centre.
The following six photos take us around the room left to right.
Boxes just beyond the piano.
General feedback was very positive and we would like to thank all those who visited us and encourage all those who did not to come along to our next event.
The event was an informal and interactive experience for us the hosts and our guests. The rituals of making tea and offering biscuits punctuated the guided tours of the exhibition.
The domestic environment was fitting for the aesthetic of the work and indicative of the individual practices which had generated this body of work.
Boxes Window Installation
Guests responded to having the process of the project divulged by us, the artists and this seemed to be a major aspect of people’s enjoyment of the exhibition.
Bunny Ears in the foreground.
Bunny Ears and Bridges
It was interesting to have the exhibition populated, ideas and methods discussed, as important if not more important to us than the works themselves.