Part Two: Joining and Wrapping Research

This part of the coursework explores methods of joining two or more pieces together. The second element is to consider joining objects with the additional method of wrapping. This project will encourage and provoke different ideas and methods to develop these two concepts into a shape or object. 
The two projects in this section help the student to both acquire new skills, as well as re-visit old skills  & techniques learned in previous modules. In my earlier module – A Creative Approach to Textiles, fabric manipulation introduced me to the idea of taking a flat object, like a piece of organza and rendering it into 2 & 3 D formats.  In the example below I wrapped strips of organza and wound and then stitched them into a vessel shape.
Diane Lawton: 3D Devotional vessel
Diane Lawton: 3D Devotional vessel
This Joining & Wrapping module, will also deepen our knowledge base about the  creation of three dimensional structures as well as develop our research about artists, designers & makers who use either of these skills in their work.
I will continue to research other artists &  their processes, create samples of my own with a personal edge, sort my work with a more skilled eye, develop my skills  with colourways & technique as well as record & reflect on my outcomes.
I also feel that visiting art exhibitions and meeting other artists is a crucial part of the learning process. During September in the UK, just prior to beginning this module I viewed the work of an undergraduate Fine Art Degree program and talked to the students and interviewed them for this blog post.
I also visited working artists in their studios and learned about their processes and inspiration. It was such a valuable resource, that I have created a short study of the undergraduates and the working artists, with images of their work in a separate post under ‘Exhibitions’, which can be viewed at the top of the blog home page.
I need a linguistic starting point for the word  ‘join’ because it is so wide and universal. Everything I look at is joined in some way to another idea or object, and the more I look at the world around me, the more I see joins and connections between disparate objects and things everywhere.
A dictionary definition:To join; a verb

  • to bring in contact, connect, or bring or put together: to join hands; to join pages with …. a staple, stitches etc
  • to come into contact or union with: The brook joins the river.
  • to bring together in a particular relation or for a specific purpose, action, etc.; unite: to join forces
  • to become a member of (an organization, party, etc.): to join a club.
  • to enlist in (one of the armed forces): to join the Navy
  • to come into the company of; meet or accompany: “I’ll join you later”
  • to participate with (someone) in some act or activity: ie My wife joins me in thanking you for the gift.
  • Join: verb (used without object)
    1.  to come into or be in contact or connection:
    2.  to become united, associated, or combined; associate or ally oneself; participate (usually followed by ‘with’): Please join with us in our campaign. 
    3. to take part with others (often followed by the words ‘in’): Let’s all join in
    4. to be contiguous or close; lie or come together; form a junction : Our farms join along the river
    5. to enlist in one of the armed forces (often followed by the word ‘up’): He joined up to fight for his country
    6. to meet in battle or conflict.
    Origin of join
    1250-1300; Middle English joinen < Old French joign- (stem of joindre to join) < Latin jungere to yoke1, join
    With those helpful words provoking my response to this exercise, I am reminded that Part Two, Project 1 (joining)  is to create a number of samples and then assess them for their aesthetic potential and structural capabilities.
    For this project, I am required to:
    • join straight flushed edged surfaces of objects
    • join straight edged surfaces with a gap
    • joining curved edges
    • join overlapping edges
    • create joins that form corners and angles
    The format for approaching the work is the same as in Part One. That is:
    Research: (artists, designers and makers)
    Sample Making: ( how the practical investigative process informs my personal work)
    Recording Outcomes: (thinking about placement, colour, structure, comparing and contrasting, my conclusions)
    Sorting: looking at samples that stand out, don’t work, have my personal voice, offer potential for further work or development, reflection
    Artists I have studied:
    Gwen Hedley
    I met Gwen Hedley(*2) at a workshop at Art Van Go in Knebworth, Hertfordshire for an embroidery class called Contemporary Kente. She used the broad idea of African wax cloth, (historically woven strips of fabric created on portable looms & then the separate pieces joined together to create new lengths of fabric). Her piece below epitomizes her artful approach to embroidery and particularly joining. This reminds me of some ancient burial goods from an archaeological dig.
    Gwen Hedley: Relics Series
    It was the first time I had met contemporary embroiderers and the experience moved my ideas of working with threads exponentially. Gwen provoked us to use a number of mediums to join one piece of cloth to another such as using sticks, cubes of plastic, straws, or wrapped objects, using our broad base of 3 different colours of fabric. She didn’t realise it, but her class woke me from the dread of stitching school samplers on embroidery hoops. The work we experimented with at that workshop was mostly joining disparate pieces of fabric & objects together using a variety of techniques & materials. That earlier work will undoubtedly inform this project.
    I bought her book DRAWN TO STITCH: which helps students uncover their process for drawing as a basis for their creative work.  Many students are hesitant of putting pencil to paper. This book gently leads the reader into building their confidence with a range of mark making, using a number of tools & materials, before making the leap into making & stitching their own pieces. I also bought her earlier book, SURFACES FOR STITCH which explores the basic materials for exploring any surface for the experimental embroiderer.
    I adore her piece above using found objects, complimentary rust colours and dramatic shapes. She has used a number of wrapping and joining techniques. There is something of an ancient icon about this piece with all its miniature wrappings, that resonates in my ‘search for the sacred’. I searched in my husbands dustbin in his workshop for rusty screws and odd bits of wood and metal.
    At her workshop, having brought brightly coloured fabric ( she had requested participants to bring three different colours). I had chosen black, red & white, influenced by the carnival culture in Spain. I noted with an initial feeling of inadequacy that many students had brought muted blues, beige’s, whites & ivories. I called my sample ‘Spanish Mafia Wedding’ & after the class, she told me to continue to be daring with colour.I have come along way since that class.
    Diane Lawton: Spanish Mafia Wedding
    Diane Lawton: Spanish Mafia Wedding
     Gwen Hedley is a member of The Textiles Study Group. (TSG) based in the UK. It has evolved  into an international group of  textile artists and tutors. They practice innovative approaches to art practice and contemporary teaching, with workshops, publications and exhibitions. Gwen  has been exhibiting her work in the UK since 1994. Her methods of networking and finding outlets for exhibiting have encouraged me to be more proactive in becoming part of the art community and to be open to invitations to exhibit my work.
    Barbara Cotterell 1*
    Mixed Media artist, Barbara has a BA Hons in Art in the Community as well as a Diploma in Stitched Textiles. She regularly exhibits as part of the group known as Material Space. Barbara is also one of the 50 artists featured in the book 3D Mixed Media Textile Art. I love her innovated work and the interaction she sometimes creates with the viewing public.

    Babara works mostly with salvaged materials & uses subtle changes of repeat images to make cloth-like work. She likes to raise awareness of our collective responsibility and impact upon the environment.  She  has a preference for working with found materials, especially from the scrap yard and does her best ‘….not to buy anything new….’

    “Being around familiar objects always gets me thinking about what I can do with them. Manipulating materials, finding out how they behave individually, how they perform as a group, what kind of fastening works. Everything is about repetition, the similar but slightly changing unit. Like my mother’s sewing it is overall very neat but on inspection wonderfully untidy.”
    Babara Cottrell  – Lens
    Her work rests on three principles which I rather admire;
    1. reusing and recycling
    2. producing work with a cloth-like quality
    3. repetition of patterns

    Susan Lenz

    Susan Lenz: Keys
    Susan Lenz: Keys

    One of the reasons I admire this artist, (an American from German descendants),  is that her work uses simplicity, like needle and thread, recycled materials, vintage fabrics and the discarded. She also uses Free Motion Embroidery to express some of her work.  I like her references to time and memory. And maybe because she has an interest in the ancient with her BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I am drawn to her philosophy.

    My spiral, susan lenz
    Susan Lenz- spirals

    Damian Ortega (3 & 4*)

    I chose to study Damian’s work because he provokes me to ‘think outside the box’, he is an artist outside of the Textile field, and  can offer a different perspective. Mexican artist Ortega is considered one of Artsys 10 most popular living sculptures, he uses every day objects like bricks, volcanic stones or old tools and provokes his audience to look at them in a different way. In one case he dismantled a Volkswagen Beetle (Cosmic Thing) &  the resulting parts were suspended in the air, only joined by fine wires. The order of the dismantled parts almost look like a technical drawing ….. Iconic and boyish. He offers  fascinating glimpses into his structures, some with the ability to walk through and touch the work. His ideas provoked me to consider deconstructing a simple structure like and old watch or a non functioning fuse box and then re-join the parts together with fisherman’s wire.
    Ortega started life as a political cartoonist and his wit and  commentary on our consumer culture continues to motivate his work with his installations, sculptures, performance and videos. I particularly liked the way that in Nine types of Terrain (2007) he took house bricks and stood them upright in a circle, at the touch of a hand they were all knocked over with a domino effect and subsequently joined to each other in the process. He repeated this idea in a number of formations. His work has made me question my own motivations towards a personal approach to my work. I am beginning to see that environmental concerns and the use of waste materials will inform my own working methods.
    Damian Ortega: White Cube
    Damian Ortega: Nine Types of Terrain (2007)
    In Lanzarote I met up with Swiss born, environmental artist Tobias Heeb of who uses waste materials joined together, from beach clean-ups of our small Atlantic washed island. He was subsequently invited to display one of his many works ‘Whale Tales’ that uses plastic waste, washed up out of the ocean, at an exhibition I was helping to curate. His work is reminiscent of Romuald Hazoumè who’s work I saw in an exhibition in Llandudno in 2011, who uses the diatrius of African culture to create art and give it back to the west.
    Tobias Heeb, environmental artist

    During my work for the wrapping experiments, it has been an exciting time in Lanzarote where I live. Jason de Caires Taylor (*6), sculptor and award winning photographer, has been on the island for some months creating figures wrapped in marine-safe cement bandages. Some of my art friends have been ‘wrapped’ along with wrappings of local plant life, as well as the typical children’s boats (bolataroes) made from old tin drums. With two straws put up your nose during the wrapping, I desisted. Otherwise I would love to have been a model and wrapped with my image in perpetuity at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

    All his wrapped figures have been on view in the Museum of Contemporary International Art (MIAC) in the old castle in Arrecife. Some of the images below are my own, the others are used with permission from the artist. All the wrappings are soon to be placed in the ocean  off the coast of Playa Blanca (March 2016). This will help create a coral marine-scape and anyone is free to dive and visit the marine sculptures. Taylor’s first marine scape  was created in 2006 and is located in Grenada in the West Indies. It is described by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World.


    Photographs used with permission of Jason deCaires Taylor

    Textile artist Ali Ferguson’s work has come to my attention from reading the book 3D Mixed Media Textile Art (1*). I contacted her to get permission to use some of her images and now I see her work in progress and images on Facebook. Her work is very distinctive and I like the way each of her pieces has its own unique narrative and identity. Some of her canvases are joined by drilling many holes and stitching them together in an intriguing display with other added found objects that enhance the whole piece. Her materials can be printed fabrics, old letters, recipes or vintage odds and ends. In building her work in many layers… ” it reflects how lives are a series of layers with everything that has gone before affecting everything that happens after”.

    ali ferguson
    with permission of Ali Ferguson


    Refs :
    1* 3D Mixed Media Textile Art
    2* Gwen Hedley: My workshop with her and her website
    3*The Twenty First Century Art Book, PhaidBon Press, 2014. ISBN978 O7148 6739 7

    6* Underwater sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor