Week 9: Festina Lente

It has been a week since my last post – and I still haven’t finished the piece I talked about starting then. Wrapping the ring, making the tubes and waxing them all took longer than anticipated – and we hae had a busy week anyway. Today I finally sat down to string the whole thing together – and realised that. although on the mock-up the black outline looked too heavy, in reality, the outer ring needs to be black. I was dreading deconstructing the whole thing, but my husband pointed out that I could over-wrap the ring with black yarn, which will be slow and boring [I speak from experience of the first wrapping] but is more doable, especially if we get some decent TV which I can listen to rather than watch.

On the more positive side, as the weather forecast for Sunday was good, I repeated the hourly photography of ‘Mirror’ and got some more interesting photos. I’ve made another slide show, and will post it on the website after I’ve finished writing this.

We also managed to se a couple of exhibitions: the show of Matisse cutouts at the Discovery Centre, and an exhibition of jewellery from recycled materials by Brazilian artists at Walford Mill. The Matisse was joyful – bright colours, lovely shapes – and the Walford Mill show was fascinating to a recycler – although I don’t think I’m going to start melting down wiring or waste rubber any time soon.

There was an associated exhibition of work by textile students from the Arts University  college in Bournemouth, which was also quite inspirational – and made me realise that my own work is not that bad, and not unusual in not using conventional textiles.

All much more satisfying than the Russell-Cotes show last week.


Week 8: mock-ups and models

I’m still more or less on track, but finding it difficult to stick to my intention to make a series of models and sketches before starting on my final pieces – when I produced a sketch that looked good, I wanted to make the piece straight away.  As I want to hang this piece, ‘Compass’, outside, I’ve decided to go ahead, to give it time to mature.


Some of the other experimental pieces look promising as well, but others haven’t live up to my expectations – which is the point of making them, of course.

We took a day out to go down to Bournemouth to the Russell-Cotes Art gallery. There were two exhibitions – work by David Brooke, rather tenuously linked to three pictures by Frederic Leighton, and ceramics by Rosemarie James. The ceramics were pretty but unexciting, and the paintings didn’t say much to me, although I was interested in the small studies of drapery Leighton had done for his larger pieces. The most interesting part  was the video about the Leighton House Museum, which succeeded in making the Russell-Cotes itself look almost mundane.


Clytie, by Frederic Lord Leighton http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=7&id=365

Week 7 – back on track…

sort of.

The time since I last posted has been spent in sampling, making websites and photography.

I tried various techniques of wrapping the basic tube. Although some look ‘quite nice’, on the whole, the results were unexciting – nothing that prompted any bright ideas. However I’ve learned that overwrapping, which seemed like a good idea before I tried it,  isn’t such a good idea after all.

I wanted to work on samples of painted/printed/stained paper for making books – but the conservatory, where I make painty messes, is unheated, and  as we are having the coldest spell of the winter so far, I’ve put it off for now.  Instead I’ve been experimenting with an idea inspired by prayer flags, involving paper tubes [of course] and junk CDs. I’ve made a mock up which  seems promising, but I realise I need lots more junk CDs if I want lots of prayer flag, as envisaged, so  I’ve put out an appeal on Facebook – as you do. If that doesn’t produce enough I shall have to try Freecycle.

I have also managed to ‘finish’ my website – although it will always be a work in progress. I enjoyed the process , although I found WordPress a real challenge after Blogger. Making the website, which is mostly photos, made me realise that many of my images were just not good enough, so I have had to take one or two more. The snow yesterday was an inspiration, and many of my close-ups  now feature snow. Downloading the images nearly came a cropper when the card reading slot on this laptop packed up, but fortunately I have an external card reader.

Before it snowed I had completed my plan of photographing ‘Mirror’ every hour [more or less] from dawn to dusk [more or less]. It was surprisingly demanding, as I couldn’t really settle to anything in the gaps, and as it was a grey day the photos don’t differ very much. I did learn a few things:

  1. choose a sunny day – although I haven’t worked out how to do this before I set the alarm for silly o’clock.
  2. using a tripod steadies the camera but doesn’t guarantee that all images will be taken at exactly the same angle
  3. don’t take lots of photos using lots of different settings – you end up very confused
  4. close ups and distance shots may be more interesting that middle distance shots.

All useful when I do it again on a better day.

I have made a slide show from the images, although it’s not very exciting because the light didn’t change much, and I’ve added a link to it on the website.

Week 6

Why ‘Week 6’?  Because when I was writing my previous post, I checked the paperwork for each module and discovered to my horror that one of the criteria for Module 14 was a plan/timeline of events leading up to completion – in other words some indication that I’d thought about the timing of what I am doing.

So I thought I’d better make one.

I spent a fruitless half hour or so this morning fossicking about in Word, to try to avoid reinventing the wheel, without finding anything suitable that wasn’t going to be even harder to understand than WordPress, and decided that it was easier to make my own. This is why I know that this is week 6, since the start of the year, and that there are only 20 weeks to go to the degree show. Can you hear the panic in my voice?

It was a useful exercise, which I hope  will encourage me to get down to a rather more organised  approach than I have been taking.

I have written in ‘sampling’ for the first 8 weeks – because that is mainly what I have been doing – but of course I had already ignored my retrospective planning, as the result of an insomniac night last Wednesday. When I was working on contextualisation for a previous module, I came across the beautiful work of Joakim Kaminsky and Maria Poll.  Inspired by their work, I tracked down some mirror fabric – but wasn’t sure what to do with it when it came.

My insomniac idea was to make my usual tubes, and twine them together with some dayglo string I’d bought earlier that day. I wanted to make a piece which was completely artificial and non-biodegradable. I think of it as a crisp packet piece – bright, glittery and indestructible – compared with some of my other pieces which, as they are largely paper, are slowly deteriorating, as a result of exposure to the weather.

I started the piece on Thursday, but encountered some problems in getting the tubes to stay stuck. I had a second, more successful attempt on Saturday, but then decided I did not want to put the piece outside permanently, because I  thought that what I’d made was a pretty effective bird scarer.

I took inspiration from Kaminsky and Poll again, and decided to put the piece outside for only one day, photographing it at hourly intervals from dawn to dusk. This would allow me to explore my theme of the passage of time without chasing all the birds out of my garden.

This led to three more decisions:

  1. get a tripod  for my camera
  2. take the photos as soon as possible, before ‘dawn to dusk’ began to start too early.
  3. present the results in the form of a book – so the finished work will probably be a book rather than the mirror piece itself.

This is the only piece I have made during the entire course which is entirely made from  non-recycled materials, which I rather regret – I just hope the photographs justify my decision.

Perhaps I should explain…

To finish my degree course I have to complete four more modules:

  • Module 13 is Professional Practice – as part of which I had to set up the website which spawned this blog.
  • Module 14 is Visual Research – contextualisation, sketches, etc.
  • Module 15 is Fabric/Stitch Trials – fabric and stitch being very broadly defined, or I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing!
  • Module 16 is the final body of work.

Modules 14 and15 follow on from previous, similar work – but people keep using this word ‘focussed’.

From the start of the course I’ve kept a private blog as a diary, and made a transcription of it to hand in as evidence of planning and time-management [big emphasis on that throughout the course.]

But when I set up the website I decided to come out into the open and write my diary in public. After all, I thought, if I give the tutors  the link to the website as evidence for Module 13, [can’t help feeling that number may be more significant than we thought, given the frustration we’ve all experienced with WordPress], I could also give them the link to this blog and not have to print it out and hand in. [Better mind my language.]

So why another blog?

I have started Paper, Plastic String as an addition to my website, Celia Darbyshire. I will use it to record progress towards my degree show in July 2012.

The website will show the completed pieces:  the behind the scenes trials and tribulations, tears and tantrums, will be here.

If you are interested in the how and why as well as the what, watch this space!

Why ‘Plastic, Paper, String’? Because those are the materials I work with – preferably recycled.