PART 2 – SUMMARY

The second half of this project has been just as busy and full on as I was expecting it to be, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it and will take a lot of new skills away with me as a result.

In terms of the 8 love heart cushions, in the first week, we were told that screen printing wasn’t possible because the pressure hose was out of order. This put us into a slight panic but after re arranging the action plan so that other unrelated jobs were done first, this wasn’t too much of an issue. However, we then learnt that screen printing probably wasn’t going to be possible for the whole of the 5 weeks that we had. Hannah and I were planning on exposing a screen with a heart on it and using this to get a perfect outline which we could ensure was going to be the same on all 8 cushions. Once we knew that this was not going to be possible we set about planning and thinking about alternative techniques. Using the heat press was an option but this would mean that the fabric used for the front of the cushions would have to be synthetic, which was the opposite of what we wanted. We also toyed with the idea of embroidering it digitally, but the machine didn’t go wide enough. With the help of Maggie, we eventually settled on machine stitching it by hand, with a wide satin stitch. This took longer than the screen printing would have and was harder to get accurate, but is a new skill which I am happy to have learnt. It took a while to perfect the line and to get the right width and length, but I am very happy with the outcome and the 3 dimensional effect it gives.

The fabric for the front and backs of the cushions were sourced at the university and I’m extremely pleased with what we chose. For the front, we used a white mole skin, which has a slightly furry feel to it. I think this does well at replicating the dusty, chalky surface of a love heart sweet. The backs are made from a thick, white cotton, which will be more hard wearing and will not be seen. The words on the love hearts are digitally embroidered, half pink and half lilac, which matches the colour of the zips. I enjoyed lining these up and measuring everything to ensure that it was centred, to give a professional finish. This is something that I haven’t been very successful at in the past.

The 6 framed pieces worked out better than I expected and I am very happy with them. Each one portrays a food which we remember eating as children but not so much now, for example ‘Fab’ ice lollies, iced gems and party rings. These are paired with song lyrics which were released in the 1990’s by artists such as the Spice Girls and Bewitched. I felt that it was important to get a reference to the music of the period into the room because for me, this defines the nostalgia that I have from my childhood, and they are also something that hopefully the users and viewers of the room will be able to relate to. The frames surrounding the pieces were sourced from charity shops and spray painted using an enamel paint. This gave quite a shiny, plastic look to them, perfect for the theme of the room. They were originally sprayed orange, however we decided that a hot pink would be better suited for the room and also to coordinate with the colours used in the frames, so they were re painted.

In terms of working as a team in the second half of this project, I think we have been mostly successful. As a result of our individual jobs, Hannah (Lewis) and I have worked together a lot, and so have Elle and Jimmy. Kendra, who joined our group as an Erasmus student and replacement for Ilona, has been very good at going off and completing tasks with little help or reassurance.

Overall, I have learnt a lot of new skills during the making process, for example: putting in an exposed zip quickly and efficiently; digitally embroidered text and the possibilities within this; framing fabric pieces to a high, professional standard and have also learnt my way around the workshops and different rooms which I had never used before. As a result of this I also now have more knowledge of what equipment is available for me to use in the future.

Installation and End

On Wednesday evening, our room was finally completed and installed. Overall it went very well, but went a lot faster than expected!
Elle had installed the ceiling a couple of days earlier because it was going to take too long to just do in the one night, because she had taken responsibility for the whole thing herself. This meant that she had time to complete other tasks on Wednesday evening such as spraying the table legs, which she hadn’t been able to do yet. This meant that we didn’t really get to see much of her all evening.
Jimmy also spend most of the time away from the room finishing pieces elsewhere so for the majority, it was myself, Hannah Lewis, Hannah Lowery and Kendra. Apart from one of Kendra’s pieces to come out of the kiln, everything was completed and in the room by 23:00, and I am really proud of the team to have achieved this. What seemed like such a huge, impossible task all came together in the end.
We came across some issues when hanging the pink frames on the wall, because the industrial Velcro pads which we had purchased wouldn’t stick, due to the dustiness of the concrete. We did attempt to solve this by sponge cleaning the wall with water, but this didn’t really help. Instead we ended up using some heavy duty double sided foam tape. One of the frames fell a couple of times but is now firmly attached to the wall. I’m really relieved that we managed to get a solution to this problem. We also decided to change the way that the frames were displayed on the wall. They were originally intended to be touching at a few corners to make it look like they were actually all attached to each other, however we decided on the evening that this was too small and looked silly for them to just be in the centre of such a large, empty wall. We therefore agreed to have them much more spaced out, at the same original angles, but just wider.
The cushions worked very well and I am very happy with how they look on the chairs.
We were also told this week that it was required that we had a book for user feedback in the room, so I bought a sketchbook and made a cover for it, with a digitally stitched message inside a love heart, intended to match the cushions. I was very proud of how quickly I managed to make this and also because I have never constructed a book cover before, and did it with no help.
The VHS television stand was incredibly difficult to transport up to the room but Hannah and I managed it eventually and I am so happy with how it looks. We finished off the top once it was up there and also added a few more tapes up the sides of the television. It is held in place by 3 large brackets. We hid three bubblegum scented air fresheners behind the stand, because we felt that this was a particular smell which was nostalgic of our childhood. I did some research in the first five weeks of this project about how your sense of smell can be powerful in making you recall memories therefore I thought it was very important to include this somehow in the room. We have since had a lot of positive comments about the smell in the room so I am pleased that we did decide to do this.

Although I am relieved to have a break due to the intensity of this project, I am sad that it has come to an end. Personally I think I have taken a lot from it, especially from the last 10 weeks. I am much more keen to come into uni 5 days a week and stay later, rather than just leaving as soon as I was frustrated with something. I have also explored the building more, venturing into all of the workshops that I was too nervous about previously. Digital embroidery is also something that I have become a lot more confident and competent with, by developing and learning new skills, I feel I have grown in myself and will be completing work to a much higher and more professional standard than before.

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