Tuesday, 14 May 2013

'Cochineal' Textiles piece

Once the basic skeletal structure of my textiles piece was complete and the fabric was dyed with Cochineal and Logwood - I was then able to begin to insert the plastic into the ruched 'sleeves'.

However I found the ruched sleeves really took the structural shape away, and it made the piece look bland and not what I had in mind for it at all.

So I then began to place the ruched sleeves on the structure in other ways to keep elements of the plastic without completely covering them, but I didn't like the aesthetic of this either - I toyed with the idea of creating a 'bustle' style skirt in the above photo also, but I found it didn't really go with the theme of my project.

I reverted back to my original paper models on the mannequin, and the above design was the one that really stuck in my mind but proved difficult to make out of plastic strips, so I developed the idea slightly.

I wrapped the ruched sleeve onto a strip that I then joined to make a complete circle, which I then bent in a particular way so that it was able to hold the shape! The above image is the result of this and I can happily say I thought it worked.

It may not be the strong, rigorous design I had in mind in the first place, however the structure is there it is just covered with a contrasting material. I also like how if people were to ask 'what inspired this piece' it isn't blatantly obvious what it was inspired by, as I didn't intend for it to look like a skyscraper, a bridge or scaffold - that is just what inspires me!



I began to experiment with different compositions on the front and back of the piece, however I had to take into account how the piece would be joined. So some of the compositions that were pinned to the mannequin were not functional but could perhaps be developed into a piece in the future?

Final piece

I am extremely happy with the outcome of my textiles piece, I discovered along the way that natural dyes aren't as dull and life-less as my earlier preconceptions and can be infact quite vibrant and bold - however are quite hard to control and despite following recipes and guidelines, it is hard to create the same colour exactly the same.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Lotus collection

Following on from my scarf ring design, keeping the geometric architectural theme in mind I began experimenting with forming smaller pieces by using the same process of filing and folding metal after making numerous amounts of paper models.

I used one component taken from my research to create many different jewellery pieces in order to give my collection a varied range, once I had constructed some shapes I then developed them into nets, as I was planning to create these pieces in sterling silver, I wanted to have minimum waste, so I thought the best way was to use circles, scoring and filing them to bend in order to create one solid form.

I then began to make a mock up of the form within copper before starting in sterling silver (as excited as I was, I wanted to be patient so not to make any expensive mistakes!)

I had to alter my design slightly, as the sections that are rounded in the above photo were originally supposed to be scored to create a line also, but this was proving very difficult to achieve and so I developed the design slightly. But I think the small elements of curves complement the rest of the rigorous, linear design.

First experience using sterling silver

Once the basics of the shape were formed I began to heat and solder silver for the first time (very scary experience as I didn't want to melt it!)

However I found it wasn't too indifferent from working in Copper, it was, of course a lot nicer to work with and I found I seemed to take more care with my piece. I also found when soldering the silver, the beautiful blue colours caused by the flux were amazing so I took a few snaps to capture these wonderful colours.

I removed a section of the 5 pieced structure in order to be able to bend and form the shape the way I wanted to, as with the piece being one full shape I found it difficult to shape as the piece wasn't very malleable.

I found silver to be very wonderful to work in, however the pressure was on when soldering jump rings etc not to rush it and end up reticulating the piece! (But I'd like to experiment with a silver sample to see how it would look)

White baking

White baking is a technique I was taught in order to remove 'fire stain' or 'fire scale', a process which is used in the FINAL stages of finishing. Fire stain is when silver appears dull and sections of white fine silver spots appear on the surface, but the 'dullness' within the silver is the copper oxides.

It isn't a difficult procedure, but quite a lengthy one. The above image shows small spots of white - this is the fine silver, ideally I'd like this white colourant to appear all over the piece. The fire stain isn't too noticable but it needs to be removed in order for the piece to be finished to it's full potential! I have managed to get this image by placing the silver on a piece of white paper and bending the paper over the top of the piece.

This procedure of 'white baking' is used by gently heating the piece (avoiding heating up solder lines and jump rings too much) until small spots of the metal oxidise. Once the oxides have appeared, leave the metal to cool slightly then put in the pickle solution, and then repeat this process 4-6 times until the piece seems to brighten up and there are no spots appearing.

I am very pleased with the final outcomes, as this was my first attempt with making silver jewellery. I attached some small silver jump rings to the back of the pieces so they were able to be worn as pendants! More pieces to be added to the collection soon.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ashton - textiles piece

This textiles piece has been quite a rollercoaster of a design process, things have not gone to plan more than expected, but I am happy to say that I'm pleased with the final outcome.

I constructed the 'skeleton' of the piece with strips of plastic, to give the piece rigor and structure in order to hold a solid shape. The plan was then to cover the plastic strips with naturally dyed silk:
1) to contrast with the linear form of the plastic
2) to make the textiles piece completely eco-friendly as it is made with natural fabrics and recycled plastic strips (that were originally used for wrapping packages)

I thought the eco-friendly aspect would give it a slight concept twist and also enable me to experiment with a brand new process of dyeing that I haven't used before.

Once the structure and composition was decided on, I could then begin to experiment with the dyeing process.

Natural dyeing process:
I bought a great second hand book by Eva Lambert & Tracy Kendall that is incredibly user-friendly and helpful. I had no idea how to do natural dyeing, but over the course of the past few months this book was my bible.

I began the natural dyeing by using Weld (left) and Logwood (right), both of these dyes are wood chips soaked overnight and strained to use the coloured water for dye. This is the basic process for most of the ingredients used.

The next process of dyeing was using your basic, everyday onion skins. I got a lot of strange looks in the workshop when I marched in with a bag full of crispy brown onion skins and started weighing them out, but it was all worth it when it worked!

These dyes were used on light habotai silk and Paj silk. The Weld produced pale yellows, the Logwood navy, blues and purples and the onion skin dyed the fabric a rich yellow, that almost looked gold.

My favourite of the dyes was the Cochineal (that also made people's faces skew when they discovered it was dried bugs bodies ground up - it makes the pretty colours seem quite morbid!)

I hadn't collected any visual colour research as I wanted to experiment with the natural dyeing process to discover what colours were available to me, which I could then develop and experiment with.

In my final project in my second year of university I experimented with tie-dye techniques, which influenced my project this year, as the shapes and patterns I managed to create really excited me, so I began to toy with re-dyeing the fabric, using resist dye techniques and gradients.

I found that my eye was most drawn towards the pinks and purples, so I decided to create this on a much larger scale to begin my final piece!

I was extremely thrilled with the outcome, the colours were so vibrant and rich, which until now I thought was only possible with Acid dyes.

However, other people in the university seemed to find my fabric quite attractive and as luck would have it, part-way through making my final piece - my fabric was stolen from my cupboard in the workshop, leaving my piece a quarter made and the rest of the piece missing. I was deeply devastated that someone would do something like that and a few of my lovely classmates raided every room looking for it, but there was no sign of it.
So this then set me back quite a bit and I had to buy some more silk and try and get this aesthetic once again, which was frustrating as it was not possible as I found natural dyes were extremely hard to control.

Scarf ring

I formed the copper base by scoring and bending three sections of copper and soldering them together to create one fluid shape.

Taking inspiration from organic forms to contrast with the structure of the scarf ring, I began taking photographs of different textures found within nature that could be etched onto my piece.

The etching solution was relatively strong and as my metal was 0.6mm thick it didn't take long before it began to eat through the copper, creating holes. However, I thought it worked well as it created a really organic aesthetic on the surface of the piece and complemented the geometric pattern of the scarf ring.

Once etched and polished I sent my piece to Essex to get silver plated!

I am very pleased with the final outcome, I believe the elements of organic and geometric complement eachother well and I am currently creating a naturally silk scarf in textiles to combine my specialist areas (textiles and metal) together.