Monday, February 7, 2011

Working Through the Final Assignment for Textiles 1

Apologies for not posting up for a while, due to pressure of work. Many OCA students submit work for the Spring assessment in mid Feb, which usually means a bit of a rush to get couses completed and that last tutor report back on time. Lots of you have worked so hard to produce exciting work, which makes me very proud of you all! With this in mind, I'm showing you a piece of work submitted by Linda Beadle who has just completed Textiles 1 and has decided to go for assessment. I'm showing her work because it illustrates some of the decisions required in working through this last assignment so well. Its also a lovely piece of work which I hope many of you will enjoy seeing. I have asked other completing students for photos where they illustrate something particularly well, so please don't feel put out because its not yours up yet, I'm still waiting for some of the other photos to be submitted!
This is part of Linda's Moodboard - her work for this final project was based on the Theme Book she made based on her own garden, which is clearly a place she loves, and is a bit of a work of art in itself. Her work has grown in strength throughout  the year, despite some health issues and difficult times. Linda has a unique drawing style, which I pointed out to her early on, is very light and delicate and gives her work its own character. I was just waiting for the moment when she would have the confidence to work a project from one of her own drawing, using the photos as back up material, rather than the other way around! I would say to all students - play to your strengths. No point in wishing you can produce work like someone else, rather, develop what is uniquely yours. Some of us are naturally drawn to working big and bold with coarse, heavy materials, some like the delicate and smooth and so on. Experiment by all means - this is what the experimenting in Textiles 1 is all about - finding that unique voice, or at least the start of it.

After Linda had decided initially what to make, she emailed me with a dilemma - and this is one that we all usually face at some point. She had decided to make a child's dress, but should it be a functional one, for a child to actually wear or an art piece to evoke comment and carry ideas? My reply asked her think about why she was making this piece; did she want it to say something or be a wearable garment. The design process for these two pathways are quite different in many ways. An art piece can be made of almost any materials, plastics, fraying fabrics, non washable paints, etc. By contrast a wearable piece, especially that made for a child, needs to be washable, fairly strong at the seams, have enough ease built in for movement, have the trims securely fastened down, probably be fire proofed in certain instances too. In the end Linda decided she wanted to say something about her garden in this piece.

Here you can see the front of the completed dress (which is still child scale) next to the Moodboard. Notice how all the ideas are brought together in one place for the Moodboard - fabric samples, drawings, supporting photos, even a few samples ahead of time to get the feel of how the work is to proceed. And notice how that Moodboard really captures a strong feeling of the ephemeral in the garden, almost a whistful feeling.
 I apologise here for the photo quality (down to me) as I rushed to get these photos taken before going out of the door to the post office to return the assignment! They really don't do Linda's work justice at all. Look at the way those leaves at the bottom of the Moodboard relate to the actual final 3D leaves on the dress bottom. The ideas from the Moodboard are just a beginning, giving a feel of the work and some initial ideas. Further drawing and then making of samples resulted in the leaves becoming larger and more refined at the same time.

This closer detail shows more of the fabric painting (developed from her original watercolour and pen and ink drawing) which forms the main part of the design for this, the front of the dress. The trellis on the bodice is also painted on - the fabric painting is further enhanced with stitching, both hand and machine. I particularly like those strong vertical stitches on the righthand side and the leaves, which contrast with the ephemeral feel of the other elements. The fabric itself is quite a strong and firm cotton, which again adds a note of contrast to that ephemaral feeling, suggesting in itself the actual strength which lies in a garden, nature keeps on going, despite the changes, the life and death of every individual leaf as it happens.
Here is the back of the dress, with some quotes on gadens from Gertrude Jekyll the famous garden designer. There was much experimenting with different types of printing on fabric, using specialist computer fabrics and papers as well as inks before a good solution was found. The criss-cross trellis lines on the bodice are words on the back, which echo the trellis form on the front.

 Another close-up, this time of the back. Notice how the embroidered grass motif on the left echos (on a different scale) the grass motifs elsewhere in the design. The larger quotes are set within forms which are suggestive of pathing stones in the garden (the technical term for this is a catouche).
I'm sure you'll join with me in admiring Linda's work here and wishing here every success in her assessment - as we all do for everyone of you going through that process too. Any positive feedback comments please can be added to the comments box here, which I'm sure Linda will welcome. It was a positive step in her confidence to allow me to show her work, which I thank her for emmensely.


  1. wow! Thank you (and Linda) for showing this - Some beautiful ideas and work!

  2. Thank you Linda for allowing Trisha to share your work with us and good luck with your assessment. I love to see other students work, even though we are all using the same written material I'm always amazed how differently we interpret it.

    Trisha - so agree about finding our own voice. I try new things but at the end of the day I know what my strengths are.