Work done for City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery with Distant Stitch.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Certificate Module 2 Chapter 12 (ongoing) - some more printed fabrics

I thought I needed some more fabrics for a large object like a kimono.  I also wanted to make some of the patterns reflect something about Nanki-Poo in The Mikado.  So I revisited some earlier chapters of the module, doing some drawings of birds, feathers and wings and using them to make some print blocks and some monoprints.  By chance, I attended a weekend drawing workshop led by the brilliant Jane Milloy (worth checking her beautiful website and did a detailed drawing of feathers along with some other drawings of birds and animals.  These drawings made me really look at the subject, which helped me when I then tried to abstract some patterns from them.

2.12.drawing 1 - detailed feather drawing

2.12.drawing 2 - duck swimming - tonal exercise

2.12.drawing 3 - quick sketch of 3 ducks

2.12.drawing 4 - wildcat - using marks to indicate texture

2.12.print 1 - a selection of prints from print blocks I made based on drawings

2.12. print 2 - monoprints

In all the prints, both using print blocks and monoprints, I used acrylic paint mixed with a little retard gel to keep it from drying up too soon and some fabric painting medium since I wanted it to make a garment which would be washable.  I had deliberately kept my shibori fabrics from chapter 6 for my 3D functional object.  Although I had used a black dye and mixed it twice as strong as the instructions said, the result was an indigo colour rather than black.  I rather liked this colour and Sian said I could just make the indigo my black.  Accordingly, for the printed samples, I mixed monestial blue (phthalocyanine) acrylic paint with a little mars black to give an indigo colour.  The blocks I used were mostly funky foam cut out to a shape and textured with a ballpoint pen before being glued to a sturdy backing.  I also used one lino print.  To use the lino block, I applied paint with a brush before pressing it onto the fabric with hand pressure alone.  However, in a couple of weeks, I will have the use of a printing press through a local artists' society and would like to try to see what results I get with it.

I am quite pleased with the results I have had so far.  From here, I would like to use some plain indigo fabric to stitch some sashiko designs, by both hand and machine, to interpret some of the shapes and textures of my drawings.  Then I should have enough fabric to start creating some pieced blocks, using the techniques I explored in the samples, before trying out various placements of the blocks on the kimono.

My main recent problem has been lack of time, with various family duties pressing heavily on me.  However, I am feeling optimistic that, during a few exceptionally busy weeks, I have still managed to do some work which I have enjoyed and with which I am reasonably satisfied.  I am now becoming excited as the finished kimono is beginning to seem (for the first time) real and achievable.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Certificate Module 2 Chapter 12 First Thoughts

First I had fun making some 3D shapes out of felt, stuffed with toy stuffing.  (My niece is about to have a baby - 4 days overdue and counting - and I thought these could make nice toys later.)

For my functional 3D object, I would like to make a kimono.  All the time I was working on the pieced samples, I found myself humming the tune of " A wandering minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches ..." from Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado.  Since some of the techniques we used were Japanese and since some of my samples had a distinctly Japanese theme, it seemed an appropriate choice. 

The kimono will be a stage costume for Nanki-Poo in the operetta.  It has been interesting to do some research into traditional Japanese men's clothing.  In traditional Japanese dress, the patterns, fabrics and placements of designs on clothing could convey subtle messages about the status and character of the wearer.  Although it would take a lifetime's study to understand these messages, I thought it would be interesting to try to convey something of Nanki-Poo's status and character through the surface design of the kimono. 

Although the son of the Mikado and thus a person of very high status, he is disguised as a poor travelling minstrel.  As well as the song "A wandering minstrel I ..." another song he sings is about a bird, a "little tom tit".  In this song, he tries to gain the sympathies of his lady love by singing to her of a bird that died for love.  This also pokes fun at the culture of over-sentimentality which was prevalent in Victorian Britain at the time.

Being a rather large object, the kimono will require more fabric than I have left, so I intend to dye and print more fabrics.  The samples I have done so far in this module have made me realise that the range of my design source is rather limited.  Accordingly, I have begun to gather more research by drawing birds and feathers to tie in with Nanki-Poo's second song.  These will bring some fresh patterns to my dyeing and printing.

I have recorded my thoughts so far in three design sheets.  The first contains the inspiration for my kimono.

The second contains details of the construction of the kimono and a diagram of the pattern I'll use.  This is from an excellent book Creative Dressing by Kaori O'Connor (Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, 1980).

The third contains some thoughts on placement of the patterns.  I played around with various ways of showing the designs as well as exploring a few different pattern placements.  This stage could have gone on for some time, but I limited myself, since the new fabrics I'll prepare will, to a certain extent, dictate the patterns and their placement.  Once I have prepared some more fabrics, I'll try this exercise again.

Finally, although I've only just started, here is a composite picture of some drawings I did of birds I had photographed in my garden and a feather I picked up.