Assignment 3 feedback (by Tutor Elizabeth Smith)

Project 6 Manipulating fabric: Creating shapes and 3D forms

Stage 2: Developing design ideas

You made a good selection of contrasting imagery with the water, landscape and tree bark providing you with the chance to explore proportion, shape and texture. This gave you the scope to try out different approaches and techniques. Although you worked directly from photographs, you managed to capture some of the surface qualities very well indeed. You could consider in future, annotating your images further to make the connections between the starting point and outcome clearer.

Stage 3: Appliqued fabric techniques

You have developed a pleasing ability to select appropriate techniques for the effects you are trying to convey. The transparent voile over the pale blue was very effective in creating the illusion of moving water. You could have tried using an additional layer to give a greater tonal range. (This image made me think of Hockney’s earlier Splash paintings) Alternatively, you could consider trapping threads to emphasis the linear qualities in the original image. With the landscape sample, I felt that the trapped cotton/wool/organza water soluble sample was a much more sensitive use of materials than the flat solid red shapes. The former captured the delicate feel of the poppies very well indeed.

Similarly, the layering and burning of fabric gave a surface appearance which was very similar to the peeling bark in the photo. Both of these samples serve to reinforce the point you make in your learning log that you are much more comfortable abstracting qualities from images rather than trying to reproduce and exact copy. This is something worth bearing in mind for future experimentation.

With the peacock feather sample, I thought that the most successful areas were those where the featheriness came across more strongly. These were the experiments with water soluble fabric. I think that the solid green background was largely superfluous. It seemed far too heavy against the fine fabric and threads.

I loved the experiments with the idea of a journey. You achieved some great contrasts of surface where you appliqued solid fabrics onto textured net. I think this choice of imagery suited your particular way of working very well indeed.

Stage 4: Raised structures

I think you had a lot of fun with some of these samples! I really liked the way you managed to control the differences in height in the boiled samples. Are there ways in which you might highlight this further? What about working the areas in between i.e. the dips, with fine stitching to create further texture? I think you also got very excited by the experimental smocking on a recycled jersey. So did I. You might try using a contrasting thread to hold the ribs together or what about inserting coloured threads in the dips between the ribs? This would further emphasis the distortion. I was reminded here of Elizabethan costume, with its slashing and inserts. Might this be a further source of research and inspiration?

The ruffles and shearing had many more interesting possibilities. How about working with two layers of fabric and then inserting wadding (trapunto technique) as you did with an earlier quilted sample?

Your final sample for this stage was a well-crafted piece. I was interested to read that you returned to it and re worked as you were not happy with it. This was well worth the effort as you have achieved some beautiful contrasts between flat, smooth areas and highly textured surfaces. I think that the choice of this silk fabric was ideal. I am unsure you could have produced such subtle effects with fine cotton. The silk has a lustre which enhances the surface considerably.

Project 7: The pineapple bowl

The working through of your ideas for this piece was systematic and I was intrigued by the references to Fermat and Fibonacci’s spirals. Room for more research here! I also liked the way that you made various structural connections between unfolding ferns, flowers, succulents etc. I think you might really like to look at some of Karl Blossfeldt’s photos.

The basic idea was a good one as you were working with a basic repeating shape. The final execution of the idea was less straightforward. You mentioned that your original idea was to use a fabric print to transfer the central shape onto each segment. Another approach might have been to bondaweb or applique the whole shape rather than to use line. I can understand from reading your log, the reasons behind the decision to use a seperate colour for each spiral. I’m not sure about the outcome in this respect. Maybe a more controlled use of colour would have worked better for the design as a whole. The grading of size was certainly an issue and I can imagine how long it took you to resolve this. Nevertheless, this was an interesting experiment from which I think you have learned great deal.

Theme book

I have read your thoughts on this and sense that you are still uncertain as to how to proceed. My advice would be to keep it relatively simple and narrow down your choices to make it more manageable. You talked about the underside of flowers. Could this lead to the idea of exploring inside/outside? Or what about re visiting spirals in nature? You are well able to abstract imagery as well as having the confidence to select appropriate techniques and processes. If you want to discuss this further, I’m happy to help.

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