Friday, 2 November 2012

Textile Workshop

On Friday, I went through to Dundee to visit Sara for her textile workshop. I was looking forward to the day but, unfortunately, I had the cold all last week and wasn't as enthusiastic for getting immersed into the textile world as I would have hoped to have been! Fortunately, Sara was a lovely host and provided all manners of lunch and multiple cups of tea which are probably apparent in most of the photos! Illness aside, I was looking forward to the day as I have always had an interest in textiles in jewellery and have dipped a tiny toe into the ocean of different techniques before: a tiny bit of flocking, some terrible sewing, knitting when I was about 10 years old etc so I wasn't intimidated, just eager to learn.

Sara's workshop was divided into 2 sections: "Collars" & "Shibori"

Whereas I had tried to cram in a lot of different basic techniques into my day, I felt that the "Collars" part was a small introduction to textile techniques while "Shibori" was a more in depth lesson on one technique.


Drawing & Cutting Out!

First up was drawing our ideas for collars on paper folded in half for evenness; straight edged for a more traditional "man's shirt" style and rounded for contemporary peter-pan like design. Collars are ironically back in fashion at the moment and I actually had a peter pan style jumper on when visiting Sara so I thought it was a good modern idea for us to play around with.

I like that you can draw any shaped collar to allow for any type of adornment you wish. I decided to be quite playful and not think too much about any final pieces etc and just see where the outcomes would lead me. Sara had lots of paper so it was good to not be constrained. 

A few paper collars pinned to the mannequin.

My favourite design.

Pinning the collars onto the mannequin allowed us to see how the collars would work on the body and I was instantly drawn to one of my collar designs as I realised it could be worn sideways and this would allow for some interesting customisation.

Paper collars laid out.

After deciding on designs, we had to pin the paper outline to our chosen materials. Again Sara had a good selection including buckram which is used to create the stiffness in collars which was made similarly to jute, which Dundee is famously known for, at Sara's workplace at a textile company. We used a lot of pleather as it was a nice soft, yet durable, material for me to work with.

We cut round the collar outlines, once pinned, leaving enough room for sewing later on.

Once we had our cut outs, we repeated the process on another material; we decided to make our collars out of 2 different types of materials for variation. Once we had to halves, we started to stitch round the outline with, what I believe was called, a "running stitch". Thinking I'd mastered it, I raced through a scalloped edged collar only to discover I'd effectively invented my own stitch which was completely wrong and was too spread apart to define the scalloped edge! The idea is that once you've stitched the 2 halves together, you leave a small un-stitched section that you can pull the collar through to turn it inside out, neatly sew up the hole, and have the seam hidden.

A decidedly un-scalloped, scalloped edged collar!

I eventually mastered the stitch - which was calming as it was repetitive - and went on to neatly sew the larger collar - only to realise we couldn't find a way to pull it inside out because I'd made an unbroken circle for the design! We decided to leave it at that as we were running out of time for the day and as I'd grasped all I was supposed to from that section and had had a good few learning curves for the day!


Now Shibori was definitely my favourite activity of the day; easy to do - with instant results! Perfect!

Effectively "tie dye" of a sort, Shibori is created by either knotted material or tying string around sections of material then dyeing it to create pattern. For this, Sara had purchased some polystyrene balls for me to wrap in material before tying it with twine. I used the same material for both attempts but on one I just freely tied random sections or knotted the material for more experimental shapes and patterns. Usually Sara would create her own dyes, and did so for some experiments with her final year project with shibori, but we just used some Dylon dye for ease and time contraints. Below is the process:

Polystyrene balls tied up in the material.

Submerging the material in the dye - then allowing it to sit submerged for 30mins.

The material after it has been left submerged and rinsed of excess dye.

Untying the strings.

The finished product.

Repeating the process with the experimental knots.

Interesting shapes emerge.

All in all I enjoyed the textiles workshop and it's amazing how, once you learn a technique, you immediately think of alternative ways of using it. For me, Shibori was just so interesting thinking of potential patterns and how to create them and all the ways to introduce colour to pieces. The collars I can see being an integral part of a final piece or two as they are just so versatile and again, I like that they are something vintage that have been reintroduced as something modern in fashion at the moment. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Re-worked Skill Swap: Dundee

So today Nicola is visiting Dundee and it's my turn to show her a little tricks of my textiley trade. I had hoped, now being a Designer in Residence at DJCAD, that I might take her on a grand old tour of the dye lab, mix up some dyes and make some lovely prints in the studio BUT then I am reminded of the ethos of Re-worked; being spontaneous and reactionary to our materials. So, this considered, I have chosen to host my workshop for Nicola in my home.

Our workspace for the day (my kitchen table) with a range of fabrics etc.

I plan to work with Nicola on a dye technique called Shibori (often regarded as tie-dye but with more to it!) in emulation of some of our natural rusty dyes.

Some Shibori making materials - we will use the polystyrene and string as resist markers.

We will also construct a couple of collars (in a similar vein that is demonstrated by this A Common Thread blog post) mostly by way of hand stitching and perhaps a tad sewing machine as I would like to show Nicola a little pattern cutting and fabric construction. We will design our collar shapes together and pattern cut original shapes a la this. (Thanks Google!)

A vintage collar that Nicola sent me previous is inspiration for this route.

Nicola's workshop was such a wonderfully comprehensive one stop shop of a range of jewellery and metal work techniques that I found my own a rather difficult feat to plan but given the steps we are making towards creating our final pieces, I feel the dye, embellishment and construction techniques I will share with Nicola today are apt in helping us realise Re-worked project. 

Exciting! Can't wait for her to arrive! 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Rusted Collar

This is a sample piece that I began stitching a while ago and has been rusted somewhat naturally (in comparison to our usual speedy vinegar induced samples) by way of lots of outdoor exposure and a thin salt coating. I was hoping to get a softer rusting effect by pulling back the process. I think if the rust hadn't bled so far into the collar we could have had a really interesting and delicate printing method to replicate... Perhaps this can be achieved by controlling the exposure more? Further thought required as to what kind of metal coatings the jump rings have been treated with and what might break it down more slowly and gently. Cogs are a-turning!

 In other news, Nicola's textiley workshop is soon approaching... Details to follow very soon! I am waiting on a couple of things being confirmed in the mean time. Should be a fun and very productive time for Reworked! :)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Jewellery Workshop with Nicola

This week I tried my hand at jewellery making, with Nicola as my teacher and in the spirit of Re-worked, it was quick, intense and all about responding honestly to the methods and materials we were working with in the moment. I very much enjoyed the day; the benefit of being friends and able to chit chat through the tougher tasks certainly took the edge off my nerves and frustrations at not getting something right straight away! Nicola was a very patient teacher and I was excited by the ambitious task she'd set me for the day. I had initially been rather intimidated by her post (previous) detailing the proposed necklace design as I couldn't conceive of making an entire piece in one day. I personally find it quite difficult to work with new and small fiddly things and with this necklace being in Nicola's typical beautiful and delicate style, I was concerned that I'd be clumsy and make mistakes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that (with a lot of help and guidance) I was slowly able to piece together the necklace (below).
Nicola stated in her previous post that she would welcome my input in adapting the design but I must say, the fear of getting it wrong got to me and in the spirit of 'baby steps' I thought it best to follow her instruction; perhaps in the future I can be more adventurous, armed with my new understanding of what's achievable! I definitely got more caught up in understanding the practical skills and the technicalities of the making process and working with metal which I think will prove extremely valuable in the next stage of the process where we will collaborate to design our final pieces. I did however get a bit more involved in the problem solving process - offering (often silly!) solutions in putting the various materials together to build the necklace.

It was really wonderful to make again, as I often don't have the opportunity in my current work and I found that my (rather neglected) crafting skills weren't entirely lost, just a little nervous as I turned my hand to something new and indeed, something that my friend does so very well!

I noted down the various steps in my sketch book (which has been great in allowing me to reflect on the day's achievements) and we also took photographs to document the activity.

Nicola's workbench

She set me loose with a blowtorch soldering the pearl wire into a circle.

We then marked the silver that was to become the backing for the pendant to fit the pearl wire circle before sawing it to shape (below). I found the sawing a particular low point as I found the technique difficult to master and was afraid of making a mistake. Nicola was great though, and rescued me as and when I got into trouble.

The pieces were then soldered together and filed to make the pendant. This was also a rather frustrating episode - I was painfully slow at catching the solder squares and getting them in place onto the silver backing. But we got there. And it was definitely worth it to see the pendant slowly coming together.

More pearl wire was added and soldered to the pendant at this stage to form the loops that would attach it to the necklace chain.

The whole pendant was then put into the pickle to clean up.

Whilst the pendant was in the pickle, Nicola taught me about beading and oxidising - I worked with wire to form the sections of the necklace to be beaded and cut the chain to size, fitted the chain loops etc before painting it with the oxidising solution. This part was pretty magical - I haven't worked with such an accelerant before! I felt a little more at home with this technique as it fits within the ideas I worked with in my degree show project of speeding up the ageing process of a material. 

Brushing up the chain post oxidising:

It's coming together now...

And ta, da! The final article. I love that the little felt circles that I laser cut all those moons ago are still being incorporated into the project now, and indeed in Nicola's own work with her Salvaged Bijoux collection. Very much in the Re-worked spirit.

I found the day to be a great learning curve - the process of making together and sharing skills is a great way to broaden creativity and to channel conversation and learning; indeed, upon reflection, I learned a great deal more that I had been conscious of at the time. The methods and technical making skills that Nicola shared with me were not only specific to her discipline but to her own personal brand of jewellery making, which I very much appreciated - there was a breadth of inspiration to be had and I am extremely excited to, a) plan a workshop/skill swap for Nicola here in Dundee and, b) marry the skills we have shared to create some amazing Re-worked final pieces! 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Necklace Design

I have produced some sketches and come up with a final design for a necklace for Sara to make, while I help & tutor her through the process. I designed a necklace that I felt had a look of Re-worked to it - similar colours and themes - and featured some small challenges for Sara along the way; some beading, soldering, oxidising and some branding. 

Below are some doodles and the final design (last picture). Despite designing it, I would love it if Sara had any input whether before making it, or whilst in the process of doing so, as I think it would be interesting to see if the materials bring out some creativity. I can't wait to see if Sara enjoys the task as jewellery making can require a lot of patience! We hope to arrange for Sara to come through soon to Aberdeen to get started!

Ideas for beading - Amber / Hematite?

Pendant sketches.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Workshop Schedule

I have been busy trying to make a list for a workshop "schedule" for Sara's day with me learning some metal work techniques. My list contained the following...

1. Saw piercing.
2. Soldering.
3. Filing & Cleaning.
4. Work with Findings.
5. Oxidising.
6. Beading.

When it occurred to me that most briefs I have followed have a physical outcome hence I have decided that to make the day more enjoyable, and rather than just follow some random tasks, I decided to set Sara the task of making a necklace. I think trying to make a piece will tie in nicely with the project as I feel Re-worked is based on acting on ideas quickly and seeing the results to then learn from them. I will produce a small rough sketch of a piece that would incorporate the above list and then talk Sara through the process of making it. I would be interested to see if Sara has any ideas to add to the design and would welcome them! I am really excited to see how Sara will find the day, especially as I often find jewellery making extremely frustrating and often lose my patience with it. Will it be as she expects?! I hope to hear her views both before and after! 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Tea Stains

Here are the pictures of the results of the rose tea staining on the the stud clusters. As hoped there is a nice black rust ring round the clusters and also a nice layer of green on the studs themselves; from the coating of the metal I presume. 

Showing the black stains.

Close up of the clusters and the green coating that has appeared.

I am happy that more colours are being introduced into the work and would like to see more staining coming from the green coating - maybe some rubbings etc.

At the moment I am currently working on a plan for a workshop day with Sara, as we are just at the end of the experimenting stage. Re-worked has had to take a bit of a back seat, especially in the last few months as Sara is studying hard for her final Masters assessments, however we hope to get back on track quickly once it's ended. The works there - it's just not getting uploaded!! I hope to post the workshop plan this week with lots of basic workshop techniques!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Missouri Bend Studio

I came across this work on Flickr via an image on Pinterest by Missouri end Studio after starting my experiment with some rose tea staining. "Embroidered Drawing on Teabag no.5": Hand stitching on teabag adhered to Japanese paper. Very inspiring.