developing designs

I’ve been in a hiatus for months as far as my OCA Textiles course is concerned – stuck at the beginning of a module I really want to spend time on and enjoy – applied and manipulated fabrics. The exercise starts by asking you to select half a dozen previous drawings and develop them before interpreting them in fabric, and that’s the part I baulk at. I don’t know why I find it so daunting. Anyway, over the last couple of days, I’ve done it – six sets of design developments to inspire the fabric manipulation. I used the computer, and that helped, as did some suggestions my tutor had made about design methods in her feedback on the last assignment. I took ‘drawings’ to include photos and fabric printing as well as paint and pen.

sketchbook mosaic

1 2 3 4 5 6

The numbers link to the images on Flickr.

playing on the computer

I rarely use the computer for textile design work – as I spend all my working hours attached to one, I usually prefer to get up and do something physical – but I’ve been grappling with a creative low and just wanted to get some ideas out quickly and maybe get a kickstart as well. I’m not sure about the latter but it was fun learning a bit more about displacement maps and playing at the same time. I tried them once before but had forgotten what to do; happily Mags (Digital Gran) has a great tutorial that helped me get started. I don’t have Paint Shop Pro so I was using Photoshop and trying to translate, and I found a helpful Photoshop-specific tutorial by Bob Comings  via Dale Glaser’s page of links to displacement tutorials.

I used photos of various samples I’ve made – prints, patchwork, shibori, felt, stitch, sketchbook pages, paint and collage – and a photo of sunset over the sea, and displaced them using these five images:

displacement maps 

These were the results (mosaic thanks to Big Huge Labs). The numbers read across from top left and link to the images on Flickr:

displacements mosaic
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Next I’ll be looking at these along with the rest of the design work I’ve done for OCA Textiles 1 to find some interesting aspects to develop with fabric collage and appliqué techniques.

speaking of colour…

Yesterday’s post on Ragged Cloth Café mentioned a fascinating site – WebExhibits – there are sections on the causes of colour, pigments through the ages, and colour vision and art. Be warned, once you start exploring you just keep finding more to see – for instance Laura Joy Lustig’s very striking Building Views – “abstract, hand coloured photographs of architectural and constructed scenes”.

Physicality and getting started

Yesterday I gatecrashed a meeting at UWIC of the DEPtH – Designing for Physicality project in which Alan is involved. One of the speakers was Cathy Treadaway, who told us about the research she’s doing into the way digital design processes affect artistic practice. I don’t know if I can sum this up accurately, but technologies that are revolutionising the speed and the potential of surface design can also subtly disengage the artist from the process and the resulting art may not be the creative expression that was desired. Cathy is passionate about the potential of the technology and the importance of developing digital tools that enhance and extend the creative process without losing the immediacy and physicality of hand tools and techniques. She’s also researching the collaborative potential of digital technology and has been working with three artists, Alison Bell, Susan Brandeis, and another whose name I didn’t catch, exploring the nature of the collaborations, the bonds that are formed, the sharing of memory. Cathy was in the exhibition Digital Perceptions, which was at the Collins Gallery and is apparently touring in the Scottish Borders soon – and some small images of her work are on the UWIC web site.

I find the whole area fascinating and am sure it will provide insights about the nature of making by hand as well as the cyborg territory of digital creativity. I’m not drawn to designing on the computer at all myself, maybe because my waking life seems currently to be spent in front of the screen and I’m desperate to use actual brushes and pencils and needles and fibres. Maybe later…

Meanwhile, I got over the first hurdle of Textiles 1 – writing my introduction for my tutor. This was probably the hardest part of the whole course for me! It’ll go in the post tomorrow. I got her welcome letter today – she is Elizabeth Smith and used to teach at Manchester Met.

On the Patchwork & Quilting front, I spent yesterday afternoon in the campervan, in the sunny carpark at UWIC, doing design work for the hanging. I’ll put it all together tomorrow and send it to Linda.