There are a lot of samples to be made in this investigation on joining. There are a total of 5 exercises related to joining various surfaces together. For this reason this post deals with the first two, exercises 1 and 2. That is, the samples and commentary about joining straight flush edges together and also joining straight edges with a gap.
I felt a real sense of excitement about this project, I am very much enjoying new lines of artistic inquiry. Sometimes I feel out of my comfort zone but I am learning so many new processes, using different materials and following a whole galaxy of exciting ideas and artists.
At the time of creating some of these samples I was on holiday for a month, in the UK, away from my art studio and tools. I used unsophisticated materials like paper and felt that were easy to access. I also took advantage of British Libraries and spent a lot of time on research as well as visiting artists studios and a September art trail in North Wales. I can never quite leave the itch to investigate art related events, attend workshops, exhibitions or meet other artists. Apart from socialising and family time, other interests have faded into insignificance. I rarely watch television, read newspapers or main-stream women’s magazines. I have far too much to read in the world of art and archaeology. Perhaps third in line is science literature or listening to TED lectures and talks.
Materials for these samples were found easily by visiting a rural ironmongers, stationary shops, the haberdashery and the use of recycled and found materials.
I gathered together rivets, crushed bottle tops, ring pulls, cartons, (cleaned opened out & cut to shape), an A3 sketchbook, acrylic paint, torn fabric strips, glue, masking tape, tomato puree tubes, pipe cleaners, assorted metal shapes, fishing wire, paper yarn, raffia, safety pins, staples, sellotape, crochet thread, plastic coated wire, fine cotton thread, plant fibers, different gauges of wire.
I had been looking at the work of Jennifer Davies (1*) who works in various media, but I particularly liked her handmade paper subjects, especially the scrolls, which are all joined together with stitch and glue. It looks seemingly haphazard, but the whole gives a very pleasing, yet fragile effect.
Exercise 1: Straight Edges joined to Straight Edges
I revisited the work I did at Gwen Hedley`s workshop (Contemporary Kente) whilst participating in an earlier level one course, A Creative Approach To Textiles with the Open College of Arts. I reminded myself of the various process I had used using fabric & stitch as well as using wrapping techniques. I called my piece Spanish Mafia Wedding, the colourways were very different than any of the other participants on the course, with their muted blues, browns and ivories. This course had also been my first introduction to contemporary embroidery and it changed the way I though and worked with embroidery for ever. I deleted from my mind tidy rows of perfect stitches on anti-macassars on my mother’s chair and sofa backs.
Sample 2.1.1a : I clipped tiny holes with a punch using two pieces of strong handmade paper. Next I used button hole stitch along the two edges to be joined to give it extra strength, & then I joined the two resulting edges with a contrasting coloured thread using ladder stitch. The result was a sturdy and malleable surface and could be further embellished, or other surfaces attached to it if I chose to do so.
Sample 2.1.1b: I reinforced a smaller piece of the same handmade paper using interfacing to make it stronger and joined it to the first sample with safety pins.
Sample 2.1.2a: I took a vintage printed fabric and cut straight through the printed pattern in three places. I then joined the two edges together with ladder stitch using a thick thread without reinforcing the fabric or strengthening the edges with anything other than paper underneath, so in effect the surface is likely to fray. Later I thought I could add an iron-on fabric stabliser to the reverse to make it stronger. I liked the sample because it had added an interesting texture to the surface.
Sample 2.1.3a: Two pale brown felt pieces were cut straight across at the edges, I stitched them back together with a variety of cross stitches in different weight threads and outlined the area with small black straight stitches in an effort to show that the join was almost invisible. I did not like the sample, except for the simplicity of the join. I added more joined edges embellishments to make it look more interesting.
Sample 2.1.3b: I took the sample 2.1.3a above and added a dark felt piece using a pair of hook & eyes meant for skirt waistbands, joining them using large French knots in an attempt to make it look decorative rather than ugly stitching. I wanted to expose the hooks rather than use them in the more traditional way of hiding them. The two techniques were simple, but I didn’t like the sample. I wanted to create something on a much bigger scale and use the idea on a different medium. I had no desire to keep adding embellishments to make any more of the work. What I have learned is that even a ‘poor’ sample can be a jumping board for another idea. The second sample should really be in the category below under ‘joining edges with a gap’ and also ‘joining overlapping edges’ using studs.
Sample 2.1.3c. Using the same felt sample I joined two straight edges using metal studs.
Sample 2.1.3d – I used Kantha stitch to join two edges.
Sample 2.1.4: A piece of brown organza was joined with an iron-on webbing to a piece of scrim between two sheets of baking parchment. The invisible webbing partly melted in the centre, where perhaps I had held the iron too long. I feel this sample has potential for more work, despite the fragility of the materials and the melting effect. I like the concept of Wabi Sabi and the idea of mending old or worn sufaces, making them beautiful in the process. This fragile piece may be the perfect opportunity at a later date.
Sample 2.1.5a & 2.1.5b: For these samples I painted paper in my sketchbook in acrylic paints, then tore it into four pieces lengthwise and rejoined with stitches using household string, some areas were reinforced by masking tape. I liked the contrasting different size holes and large stitches. I thought more about presentation as I worked on these samples, and these can be sent in the post to my tutor or for assessment in a flat format. I am also planning to join wood samples on my return to Spain with this method.
2.1.6 a This is the front cover of my sketchbook, which I tore in half then joined it back together with a large zipper. The top and bottom part of the zipper remained exposed with a small gap and I used bold red stitches to draw attention to this. The reverse was rather unstable and capable of being destroyed by too much use. I glued a strip of fine scrim on the surface, this was a mistake and the glue was exposed and looked ugly. I used a thick strip of tape (2.1.6b) instead to make the surface strong and also to have a bold contrast to the prosaic looking brown sketchbook cover.
2.1.7a I took a paper insert from a discarded CD and tore it in half, then stapled it back together. The fragility of this idea was obvious and there was a lot of movement in the paper, that could potentially destroy the piece if there was much handling. I was attracted to the novelty of using staples and I liked the texture. I used two different size staplers. I was feeling a sense of excitement with these shiny metal staples in different sizes and wanted to experiment more with this material.
Sample 2.1.7b: I added a different torn paper CD insert to the edges of the sample 2.1.7a. I used masking tape on the reverse to create a more solid structure. I also liked how the two disparate pieces worked well together. The top and bottom pieces were images of skiers on a ski slope, yet they looked like Ermine on a royal cloak. I liked the extra strength created by the masking tape so much I explored more with this idea.
Sample 2.1. 7c: I carried on being playful with the staples, and I cut many level slices into sturdy paper from a shiny brochure, the paper was stronger than the CD inserts. On the reverse I used masking tape to put the slices back together. I used a stapler to heavily staple all the slices. I really liked the texture this was creating as well as the sheen of the metal in the staples and decided I wanted to explore this idea further with printable fabric. I have opened up a new direction with the use of staples and I have yet to exploit its full potential. These samples are also flat pieces of work that can be presented in my sketchbook. I had also investigated and researched artists who used staples in their work.
French Sculptor Baptiste Debombourg (2*) creates detailed art on white board that needs to be viewed up close to appreciate that he is uses staples as an art material. From a distance his work looks like fine sketches in pencil. Debombourg took 75 hours and used 35,000 staples to create two pieces of art, Air Force One and Air Force Two. Debombourg wanted to play with the ideas using the guise of engraving and to make a comment about contemporary aggression. He uses Italian Mannerism as his inspiration.
Ex 2: Straight Edges joined to Straight Edges leaving a gap
Sample 2.2.1: Dyed felt pieces were stitched together leaving a gap, using a variety of embroidery stitches in different weights. I overlaid stitches on top of each other, some stitches employed sequins, in effect the gap in some cases is barely noticeable. This gap idea with stitches could be exploited on other materials and I wish that I had more time to play with hand made papers, slices of ply wood with holes drilled into it, or plastic piping.
My husband has felled a tree in our garden and there is a large part of the trunk remaining. I asked him tentatively how difficult it would be to cut it into quarters, vertically. (He said he would need to borrow a chainsaw, but was not put off by my query! I asked him to lift it and place it vertically in the ground to examine it more thoroughly). I could foresee a large sculpture ‘stitched’ together with plastic washing line, but that would be a massive amount of collaborative work and perhaps only photographed for my coursework, with no hope of my tutor or an assessor viewing all the hard work. There would only be myself, husband and visitors to the garden to enjoy it. But I like thinking big. And the ideas have sprung from creating these small samples. When I have more spare time I will create the sculpture, collaboratively with my husband, just for pleasure.
Sample 2.2.2: Using a piece of yellow damask and pale blue felt, I joined the felt with bold red paperclips and joined the pieces together with a matching red running stitch. I very much liked the colour drama, crude running stitches and shiny paperclips on matt foundations. I would love to rework this on a number of colour variations and on a larger scale
There are far more ideas I would like to explore…. but with a time limit to work through the coursework, I am taking this sample-making too far. The way my mind works, and the wonderful ideas springing from the samples, I would need a year to complete this section!
2.2.3: Hessian painted & marked with symbols from prehistoric rock art joined with plant fibers, sharpened match sticks, knotted string and household string cross stitches. I added the petroglyph imagery onto eco-dyed cloth using Free Machine Embroidery that I had made last year. There is a need in me work to reach some conclusions, to finish things and these two disparate pieces seem to have all the right ingredients. All this sampling that I am doing is driving me to marry current and previous work. I cannot resist the urge. Its like cutting of my air supply if I don’t follow it.
2.2.4 I used plastic samples that I had fused in an earlier module of this course and joined them together with slices of balsa wood joined with metal studs.