After speaking to Duncan as a team about materials in terms of sustainability and what would be suitable for our designs, I realised that plastic was such a big thing in the 90’s. Everything was made of bright, cheap, thin plastic: toys, hair accessories etc and so I would quite like to make reference to this in my artwork in the frames. Years ago I saw something online about melting down carrier bags with an iron and baking sheets to make plastic fabric, and so today I had another look and thought I’d give it a go.
First I tried it by layering up just a standard, thin Tesco’s carrier bag. I was surprised at how quickly it shrunk and melted. This one came out very thick, I think I used a few too many layers. Its is hard and stiff and would therefore be too hard to sew into or to manipulate it in anyway. It would however look quite effective in a frame, just on its own.
I then tried the same again but this time with thicker ‘bag for life’ type bags and managed to find some nice brightly coloured ones. I also paid more attention to the layers being even and this produced a much better thickness. I had a go at stitching into them and it was a lot easier that I was expecting, you just need to take it slow.
I had a go using this technique with food packaging, but it came out very thick and bubbly. This again wouldn’t be very easy to work with but would look good on its own.
This one was a much thicker type of plastic and produced a really nice, consistent sheet with a nice thickness. It was easier to sew on because it was less shiny and slippery.
Here I used the same technique but instead of layering sheets of plastic carrier bag, I cut it into strips and layed them on top of each other. It did create quite a nice effect but looks quite childish.
Here I attached a few different plastics together using a simple straight stitch. I like the idea of having the geometric shapes attached to each other – post modern.
So far I had only used the straight foot to stitch into the plastics, so I had a try using the free embroidery. It did come out better than I was expecting but you do have to go really slow, because the needle leaves holes, which are much bigger and more obvious if turning corners or creating curves.
So far we’ve collected loads of sweet and food wrappers as a group so I started to think about what we could do with these. Some of them we could melt down by baking them or ironing them, but I also wanted to try to stitch some together.
I’m really happy with this effect and really like the use of transparent wrappers over the top of really brightly coloured ones. I like the business of all of the typography and bold colours. This to me is very similar to what our room itself is going to look like.
It might look better with a straight stitch instead of zigzag.
I also had a go with a crisp packet. With this one I cut it into strips and then stitched these together in the wrong order. I like how it turned out but it was extremely difficult to work with because it is so slippery on the sewing machine.
Following my research into artists using packaging as a subject, I then found illustrator May van Millingen. I really like her line drawings of food and the cross hatch effect she uses. I think I am going to look at producing a series of quick sketches like this, much less detailed than hers, to use as reference for the stitched versions.
This is one I did quickly and I’m really happy with it.
I’ve been looking more into what I could put into the frames, and how I can get more of my discipline into the room.
I’m concerned that otherwise I will have all of my time taken up creating the furniture and learning skills I’ve never used before, but would like to contribute something that I am actually good at and that I can be proud of!
While doing some more research into the 1990’s and our childhood, I was mostly drawn to food and drink. After writing down a list of these things that were particularly relevant, I had a look around to see if any textile artists look at packaging. I was pleasantly surprised and am feeling really inspired after finding the following:
This artist makes these huge installations in the shape of packages of food. She also has a few really nice illustrations which I was particularly interested in.
I love her use of water colour to depict the movement and texture of the packaging.
I really like these 3D stitched representations of familiar products and how accurately she has replicated the colours and graphics on the packaging.
I also think the ‘tatty’ kind of free embroidered style is very successful and is possibly something that I could try out, in order to get a more stylised effect rather than just trying to replicate the packaging.
This is another artist who uses that ‘scratchy’ kind of rough look to her work. I am thinking that this is definitely more suited to my current style.
Lucy Sparrow – Corner Shop
I was really excited to find this artist and her project ‘corner shop’.
“For the entire month of August, Lucy took over a run-down corner shop in Bethnal Green, East London, and filled it with more than 4000 hand-stitched felt replicas of everyday items that you’d normally find in a local shop. Tins of tomato soup jostled for shelf-space alongside felt cat litter and a freezer-full of felt iced-lollies. The show was an incredible success with visitors from all over the world.”
I wish I had known about this installation when it was on and been to see it, it sounds fascinating.
This whole idea of using food and drink packaging as a subject for pieces of art is something that was very common in pop art.
Today I have made some benches and cushions to go in to the model of our room. Although they are pretty amateur, I am proud of how they turned out. Hannah helped me cut the wood because I am not inducted on the machine, but I sanded and put them together myself. This was a nice example to me of how we can come together across disciplines to create work together.
I also made some small cushions just to give the idea of the size and how many they would seat.
We’ve made a scale model of the room from cardboard and although this is useful in playing around with the different components and sizing etc, it doesn’t look as professional as we would like it to so will probably laser cut one in the next couple of weeks.
Today we were asked to write a list of what everyone in the group is responsible in terms of the components in the room. We were also joined by another group member so this should help.
Table: Elle and Hannah Lo
Wall Decoration: Everyone
Soft Furnishings: Me and Hannah Le
Lighting: Hannah Le and Hannah Lo
Extras: Bin, TV etc
We were also given the opportunity to go into our room and measure up. The room was a lot smaller than I expected it to be, and I was surprised to see that there was kind of two ceilings: the normal one and then a temporary, smaller, lower one.
In the afternoon today we had a group crit with another team. I much prefer this set up than speaking in front of everyone because I am less nervous and feel more comfortable to speak freely. This will also mean I am more likely to share my opinion in that sort of environment.
Following our research last week, today we started talking as a team (there are still only four of us) about the individual design proposals of the components of the room.
We’ve decided to set up the space as a meeting room rather than a dining room. This will mean that table wear and cutlery etc is unnecessary.
On one of the walls we are hoping to create a structure made from frames, attached together at different angles, made of a variety of materials and hopefully brightly coloured. Within these frames will be an array of different art works from each member of the team. We feel that this, because we are made up of fine artists and textile artists, will help to get our personal touches into the room.
For my frames, I have been looking at some artists who I wish to take inspiration from. I would quite like to play on the idea of embroidering over the top of images of idols from our childhoods, and people that we looked up to and were role models to us as children. For example for me personally, it was people like the members of Steps and the Spice Girls, and people from TV programs such as Buffy the vampire slayer and Sabrina the teenage witch…
I really like the idea of using techniques such as free machine and hand embroidery, appliqué and collage to achieve something a little bit like this. I’m thinking of taking quite a plain looking, possibly even black and white photo of these people and adding some ‘post modern’ geometric shapes and some slogans over the top. I have previously done some machine stitching onto paper for my last field project last year and it did work, as long as there isn’t too much heavy stitching, because this will rip the paper.
I think these pieces have a very ‘pop arty’ feel and I could play on this in my own samples.
On the lower, smaller ceiling in the room, we have been looking at creating a layer/surface of ‘chatterboxes’. These are something that were a big memory for all four members of our team. They are a small, fortune telling bit of folded paper that was used in the classroom and playground to determine what game to play or who had a crush on you… very accurate.
I think that this idea has the potential to look really quite stunning, but there also is a fine line between this and it looking tacky, which we will need to be wary of.
Having some of the geometric structures hanging slightly is also an idea we had, in order to bring them more into the room as a whole, rather than having all of these separate elements.
In terms of the lighting on the ceiling, we were toying with the idea of having the chatterboxes that fall over the lights made from tracing paper, to create some indirect light coming through.
For other lighting in the room, we were thinking about having some LED bulbs fixed into some of the frames.
The table is something that we’ve had a lot of ideas on. We started out simple, then went a little bit crazy with colours and shapes, and have now seemed to tone it down a little bit again.
We know that we would like a rounded table, and that an oval shape would be better than a circle in order to fit the required 8-10 chairs around it.
These are some of my team mate’s drawings of some different ideas for the table. We’re struggling with the cost of having one big clear table top but this is something that keeps popping up in all of our ideas.