Throughout the duration of Part 3 of this course I was aware of a lack of confidence or perhaps feeling that this was the part of the course I had struggled with and hence my tutor’s suggestion of re-working my theme boards and also adding a few additional samples came as no surprise.
Regarding my theme boards I had used paint chips for the colour palette and this needed correcting but in addition the boards each did not have a clear or specific theme and this clearly needed rectifying.
The above theme board is based on beauty from decay – my garden had been neglected in the past and I had only looked after it on a very basic level until the spring of 2016 when my fiance and I decided to start to really try and bring it back to life. We do not have an RHS style budget and I love recycling containers to use as tubs and hence there is a mixture of old fat ball tubs, some old work boots from my younger son and also this year the addition of some tyres all of which create perfect containers and contrast against what I call my ‘posh tubs’. I wanted the theme board to reflect the decay and recycled nature of the garden as it contrasts with the beauty that has developed and grown from it – the garden has felt like a metaphor for my identity as I start to bury dark times and transform them into something of beauty. The old boots almost feel like they are reflecting the passage of time or the journey I have taken whilst the tyres reflect the full circle which I have come …. my father is a retired mechanic and I spent much of my childhood sat in our garage watching him work on our cars and in doing this degree I have rediscovered so much of myself as I go back to my childhood loves of stitch in all genres.
The colour palette I decided to run with is based on ‘old’ colours – a deep red, muted purple, ochre yellow, pale soft pink and finally a grey with the fabrics ranging from tweeds to plaid and cottons with the addition of some brown hessian (the brown or fawn would be the optional sixth colour). I am particularly intrigued in this theme board by not just the contrast between the old and the new or the neglected and the beauty but also the sculptural shapes of the buts and boots which contrast with the variety of shapes of the petals and the flowers …. I like the softness against the hard lines or the colours of the flowers against those of the recycled or decayed tubs. I feel I want to play with those textures and those contrasts in different techniques with varying media or materials. I am aware I love old ruined buildings and am fascinated by the decay of trees so this could develop into an ongoing theme of my work.
The second theme I found more difficult to work out a cohesive theme despite a variety of suggestions batted around with my tutor. I could not help feeling that I was leaning towards a romantic theme because this garden has both been a labour of love and also is a reflection of the love and support of my fiance – the majority of the flowers are also soft white, pinks and purples with just a smattering of orange and yellows from the nasturtiums and dahlias which as I type are just coming into bloom. This theme is about softness, romance and simple beauty but it somehow feels predictable and safe – it feels cheesy in truth but I cannot help being drawn to it because this is the other side of my personality i.e. one that loves the femininity of being a woman and all things that are this encompasses including soft fabrics and yarns and lace which I need to add to the board. I wanted this theme to reflect the romantic nature of what has become a cottage garden despite me having no definitive plans of how it would actually turn out!
With regards to the new samples the new themes really made me think …. initially I wanted to try and capture the petal or leaf shapes or just simply the intertwining of the plants against the trellis. These first two samples are small but significant and use primarily yarns with a small amount of plastic bag strips.
I do like the possibilities of the lower sample reflecting a petal with the colours of the leaf shapes as the outline …. I question whether this could be developed into different shapes with a variety of different textures but on the other hand it also feels predictable and safe so a part of me just wants to frog it!
The second sample was an idea I had late in the evening … can I combine crochet and weaving? working with the leaf/petal shape above I used crochet to develop a semi-circular style petal before using a large darning needle to attach the warp threads to the sides. Finally the weft was woven around and through the crocheted centre. Does this work? mmmm yes and no …. yes it works on an experimental level and there is a definitive possibility of development and the fact I think I can use this in the future but no I am not happy with the sample with regards to either theme (this was made using the colours of the Beauty from Decay palette as were the first two samples).
Following on from this I used the same yarns to try to create a ‘kind of’ flower with bowl shaped base.
I developed this sample using a free-hand technique which enabled me to work with the qualities of the yarns to let the flower or shape develop almost naturally. I tried to use the crochet to add detail as I worked through working not just in the rows but working back down the petal shape to add further texture as if the flower was starting to twist and turn and decay and now feel that this could be more distinct with a fawn or further use of the ochre yarn.
At this point the softer more feminine bag of yarns was calling me and I could resist no longer! I wasn’t sure entirely where to go initially but having played with the yarn qualities of the previous samples I wondered what would develop if I used a pale green paper yarn as the base rows and much to my delight it naturally twisted and turned particularly as I added further rows of varying height stitches in a woollen yarn and soft acrylic yarn with each row increasing the size. This sample is delightfully mobile in that it can be twisted into varying shapes and creates a piece that could be developed much further – I am thinking of something that could be hung from something or twisted into flowers or entwined around an object whether fabric, yarn or something man-made.
I followed on from this flexible sample with a circular version which went back to the former palette of colours – this is successful as the sample is one I have sat and played with for far more time than I should! The sample has a flexibility and almost chameleon quality which is not shown in the photograph – this has developed naturally from the qualities of the yarn as they fight and play against each other. The yarns range from wool to garden string to acrylic and plastic string and also strips of fabric – this type of sample or idea could provide a series of different pieces worked from different yarns in different quantities to create a abundance of flora or colour with hints of the blooms that were the inspiration. As I look at this sample now I also see a Mexican hat …. could this be a future idea?
Finally I decided to try a tub …. it looks much easier on videos to crochet a bowl but the sample worked up into a a bowl shape using the soft yarns of the romantic theme. On a larger version this sample could be combined with other samples or techniques and form the base of other ideas …. I am thinking the twisty romantic sample above twisting around the outside or the ‘mexican hat’ being attached to a larger version (thinking the mexican hat in different sizes and colours).
As can be seen with all the samples I did a series of loose sketches as required by the course work. I still want to work with detailed sketches with a realistic approach but am finding a looser style which is more descriptive and emotional seems to be working much better for me currently – I feel I can get ideas or impressions down on paper if I concentrate on either the colours, the shapes or the textures rather than all 3 at once … not forgetting the all important linear qualities too. My favoured of the sketches is the one done for the romantic twisty sample – I used soft pastels to try to depict the soft texture of the piece whilst also attempting to demonstrate the form which developed naturally through the use of the different yarns. I do feel more confident with my sketches as a whole with these samples – I was considerably more relaxed and was prepared to be more experimental or, as said above, much looser in style.
Overall re-working these theme boards and adding the additional samples has given me work with which to move forward into assignment 4 and in fact maybe beyond with work featuring images or ideas of decay.