…or “I don’t like slide shows so I hope your scrollin’ hand isn’t tired.”
I’ve had a bit of a difficult time with this new module. It’s based around the concept of identity – personal identity, cultural identity, our identities as designers within our specialisms. This is a lot to think about!
I struggled to think of things relating to my identity that I could actually draw. I mind-mapped things like my family relationships and my personality traits, but those things aren’t exactly drawable. Now, I love me some traditional crafts – knitting, crochet, origami, sewing, bookbinding (not something I do a lot, but I took a 6 week class at the DCA once – very recommended!). I find these things quite therapeutic – the repetition and the thought of following steps to reach a desired outcome is very reassuring to me, somehow. So I decided to focus on that.
Also, in relation to my cultural identity, I’m Dundonian through and through, so I looked initially at maps of Dundee and the surrounding area, our railway bridge history (oh hay William McGonagall), and our textile heritage (jute everywhere!). I’d also like to bring more aspects of “Scottishness” into my sketchbook, although I have found myself falling into the trap of Scotland being all tartan all the time.
It’s mixed media week! This means that I’m mostly concentrating on fabric and embellishment. Our brief is based on repetition, and I’ve mostly been looking at stripes after choosing a couple of sketchbook pages (here and here) where I used a lot of simple lines in my drawings. The whole point of this week is to keep things as simple as possible, and there’s not much simpler than lines!
The most exciting new thing I’ve tried is embossing fabric using a heat press. It’s pretty cool. I raided the college shop for anything that might make a nice line, and came away with some paper straws, matchsticks, and corrugated card, and I also liberated some paper yarns from the yarn store.
I laid out my fabric (in this case some rather expensive blanket wool – £22 per metre!) and placed my corrugated card shapes and a couple of matchsticks on top to form some stripes.
I set the heat press to sit at 180 degrees for 30 seconds. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent picture of the embossed fabric – it’s surprisingly difficult to photograph because the texture can be very subtle. Hopefully once the week is over I can photograph my finished samples and show them off.
Rather than waste my flattened-by-the-heat-press paper straws, I decided to use them in a sample, and I really liked the effect that I got from stitching them to felt.
Today, I embarked on a bit of a dyeing adventure. I wanted to dye some of my blanket wool orange, because of the sketchbook page I mentioned earlier, so I mixed up a bath of acid dye using a mixture of “Golden Yellow” and “Bright Blood Red”. On a bit of a whim I decided to throw in a couple of scraps of cotton, and a small piece of viscose felt tied up with fishing line in a vague attempt at shibori. I knew the cottons and felt wouldn’t take the dye well because acid dye is the wrong type for those fibres, but I kind of just wanted to see what would happen. I’m glad I threw them in, because now I understand better how acid dye works on a selection of fibres (not well at all unless it’s wool or silk).
I felt much more comfortable mixing dye today than I did on Monday. There was the initial mind blank when faced with having to calculate percentages and things, but I think I got all my numbers correct. Well, my dye started out looking very wishy-washy, so I measured out more of each dye colour and threw it in, and my blanket wool turned out almost exactly the shade I wanted, which sounds close enough to success for me!
And the week isn’t even over yet!
I can tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.
This week us 2nd year Craft and Design students are being inducted into the world of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I’d used Photoshop a bit before, as part of my Textiles HND at Dundee College, and also at home, but it’s good to pick up some new tips and tricks for image editing and manipulation. It can be difficult to keep up when trying to follow the instructions of someone who really knows what they’re doing, though.
Yesterday I scanned several sketchbook pages, which is quite a feat if you think about the size of an A2 sketchbook compared to the size of an A4 scanner! I spent a while both yesterday and today clicking about, playing with layers and filters and all sorts of technical wizardry, and eventually came up with a couple of pages that I didn’t think were completely awful. I tried to stay away from making too much repeated pattern, as I feel that my sketchbooks are full of that kind of thing, and I wanted to produce something a bit different, and a bit more abstract.
I know I’m probably going to be lynched for saying this, but after two days of working on a Mac, I kind of can’t wait to go home to my trusty Windows machine.
The D’Arcy Thompson zoology museum is my new favourite place. It’s small and somewhat hidden away, but it’s spectacular and well worth finding! It has loads of drawers to open, which are full of interesting things, and there’s a very-slightly-sinister cupboard full of things-in-jars. Unfortunately the museum isn’t open to the public, but it does open occasionally for special events.
This POSCA paint pen is my new favourite thing. I’d heard about them before (Johanna Basford is a paint pen fan, and I’m a Johanna Basford fan) and decided to try one out, as I was on the lookout for something to give me solid, opaque, quick-drying, non-smudgy lines. I’m so glad I bought it! Not bad for £1.78 – thanks, DJCAD art shop!