Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Chapter 2: Paper Relief Investigations

Time to turn away from hedgerows, wildflowers and weather.  Time instead to turn towards more abstract things and samples created from paper.

                                            1) Tissue     2) Thin Plastic     3) Japanese Paper
                                             4) Newsprint     5) Kitchen Roll     6) Glassine  
                   7) Brown Paper Bubble pack     8) Plastic Bubble pack     9) Cartridge Paper

Rip and Fold:


Manipulated Tissue Paper:


                       1) Torn and Rolled   2) Torn and Looped   3) Pleated Long Trapezium
4) Pleats both Ways  5) Pinked Strips Hole Punched  6)   Scrumpled and Holes Punched and Sprinkled  
                          7) Square Pleated   8)Torn and Stabbed   9)  Rolled and Knotted


1) Irregularly Torn and Loose Rolled  2)  Circles Part-scored with Bradawl 3)Torn and Pleated
4)  Torn Strips and Holes  5)  Pleated Triangles  6)  Scrumpled, Torn, Finger Pushed from back

Though some of these samples are the same as the examples given, I can see in many of the others how my trips to the field have been influential.  The examples that spring to mind are 3 and 5 on Sample Sheet 2:4.  These to me have a look of the beech and nettle leaves I've observed gradually unpleating themselves.  Samples 2 and 6 on the same sheet are a nod to the rough ground.  Many on both sheets have a sense of growth about them.

I like the torn edges very much more than those which are scissor or pinking sheers cut, though tearing is much more difficult to control.  I would have liked in 2 on Sample 2:3 to have torn the rolled strips more finely, but when I tried they tore off. 

I have a range of white tissue and I did notice that the finer stuff is easier to work with, and has more translucency.  You may well notice a double sided type of tissue (one side smooth, the other matte) in 2 and 7 on Sample Sheet 2:3, and 2 on Sample Sheet 2:4.  It is also a softer shade of white.

Although I like the effects tearing paper can give, I only reached that conclusion by experimenting with the tools I had to hand.  Scissors and pinking sheers came easily to hand,  and a scalpel too.  My imagination took me to the kitchen, thinking, hoping I would get some nice edges with a pizza wheel or a pastry cutter, only to discover both only scored the tissue paper.  It wasn't a matter of pressure, the tools wouldn't cut.  Back to my workroom finding a rotary cutter there which would not only cut paper but could give a degree of unpredictability producing a nice sinuous line, as in 2:12 below.



Another useful tool for scoring and with the ability to pierce paper and cut it in a ragged and unpredictable way was a bradawl.  Hole punches though are another matter.  Both it and my paper drill didn't respond very well to tissue paper and with yet another hole punch used for office work, I needed to fold the tissue a number of times for it to cut.  This approach was successful in one regard: I never knew where the holes would appear!

Manipulated Tissue Paper:

I remember so well years ago making smocked dresses for my daughter using Vogue Patter 1824.  I'd iron on the pale blue dots, rows and rows of them, then stitch across picking up each tiny dot.  The final stage was pulling up the threads tightly to create tiny pleats on which the embroidery would sit.  Whilst mostly self-taught I did go along to a class to add some refinement.  I also remember sending a fabric sample to a firm making silk thread and love the thick and lustrous stuff I bought probably from  Mulberry Silks .

No Princess Pleater then, and none now.  Do I need one?  I think I need to have a discussion about this.

Below are my tissue manipulations using long stitch machining and hand gathering.


  First of all narrow strips of tissue with a central line of machine gathering set on 5.  When I pulled these up they twisted and looped.  They seem almost like bands of seaweed.     

I've machined two bands of gathering on 2:8 and it behaves more even playfully, spiralling round.  The dense band of compressed fabric in the middle make a subtle contrast with the bands either side. I've used this idea flattened out to soften the V-neck of a dress.



Again two rows of of gathering on a much wider band, again set on 5.  When pulled up, already there's more control: the central band has a suggestion of pleats and either side the two edges ripple and flair out.  The sample is also flatter.

And below three rows, showing how the tissue becomes flatter still, but that's also because I've pulled the gathers up less.


This time in 2:11 two pieces of tissue have been overlapped and gathered along the overlapping edges.  Before drawing the tissue up a further a band of tissue was threaded through the middle to make the white more dense.  After drawing up, the tiny edge on the top was separated  to make a raised frill.



In 2:12 a strip of tissue was cut using a rotary cutter to create a sinuous edge, wider in some places than others.  This is gathered on stitch length 4 along one edge.  Pulling up creates a curl which is completed by cutting the two ends at an angle.


This time in 2:13 nests are created by running a line of gathering up the centre.  Pulling up brings each shape into a ring, though I did hold one of them in place with a pin for the photograph.


Finally, a strip of tissue torn irregularly on both edges is gathered along the centre.  This time pulling up creates a twisted and ragged sculptural form.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Other Things and My Field

 I've been juggling a number of things; as well as visiting my field -- more of that later .  The opportunity to do an online workshop with Alice Fox came up.  The focus of this was making cordage and this seemed to connect with my current preoccupations.  I've made machine cords and enjoyed the way a mixture of threads come together mingling colour and texture.  The focus here was much more pared back.  Narrow strips of fabric, in this case calico, were paired and through a twisting technique were made to hold each other in place producing an organic looking cordage.


The two hour workshop also included a discussion about other possibilities for making cordage and as we had some rhubarb in the fridge I later on tested out that idea.  Rhubarb's fibre strips are short (15--20cm) and as joining the pieces is the trickiest part of the technique it was slow to achieve even a metre.  It was worth it though, the cord is fine and its colour beautiful.  Of course there are many other possibilities and on my list are fibres from my field such as nettles.

I've also made a pencil roll with room for pens and pencils and my little observation book.  This was made entirely from stock: two sided green (of course!) thick felt with a toning all wool Oliver Twists' dimply felt for the pockets and the strengthening band which also gives a little extra weight.


Below is the front cover.  I wanted to make the panel decorative and at the same time try to convey the nature of oil seed rape.  I used double feather stitch for the stems, then daisy stitch for the grass and flowers.  I've used a lovely range of yellows and greens conveying spring.  With my critical eye, however, I feel there is a mismatch in the proportion of stem to flower and once I'd started doubting its success I then became critical about the size of flowers . . .  The pencil roll is a lovely thing and practical too, but what I wanted to achieve in addition to a celebration of spring is something representative too, and in this regard it may only be partially successful.


Seventh Visit:

Ruminating on all this made me decide to look more closely at the structure of the rape seed plants.  This I did on my next visit, and drew the top half of the plant realising this is where the off-shoots are. These shoots gradually develop within the curved base of a leaf and go on to develop clusters of four petaled flower heads.


What I also found interesting about this scrutiny was how I could also see how this plant shape translated into the plant skeletons I'd observed in my first visit: a sort of time forwards, time backwards sensibility.

This visit was a strange one: it was cold, fingerless-gloves-and-hat cold with thundering lorries and cars speeding along the A road, just five metres away -- an unhappy return to normal.  No bird song, except as I left, one hare, one bee, one fly and countless midges. And beneath my feet the soil remained dry, compacted, still stony.  My joyous field of ten days ago felt like a deceit.

Eighth Visit:

Twelve days since my last visit; I wanted so much to see the effect of the rain, which has been fairly persistent over the last week.  It's been cold too.  My poor car has a broken spring and isn't MOT worthy, so I've been even more tied to home.  The vagaries of weather have such a profound effect on plant growth that I've really wanted to come and see what changes the cold and so much rain have made.  A wonderfully sunny morning with temperatures average for the time of year, even the wind seems balmy -- yet more change afoot.  It's not all idyll: there's still a rush of noise and traffic.


But what a burst of growth: thick mats of grass, copious dandelion clocks and other wild flowers. Queen Anne's lace and  groundsel are leggily reaching towards the light, pulled by the sun, pushed at an angle by the wind.  The docks stretch upwards and the forget-me not too is taller.  My legs feel the nettles and thistles.



Groundsel and Queen Anne's Lace

What is so interesting is how this growth of wild flowers diminishes the dominance of the oil seed rape.  It has become like a haze of yellow above the green growth.  As I drive home I notice this is less the case in rape fields where there are less competitors.


There's wildlife here: a stag beetle, cabbage white butterfly, bees aplenty.  The noise of birds seems to be in all the trees today, celebrating the spring's new warmth.  A single hare races in fright from the middle of the field and as it does I hear a cry of alarm.  Could there be leverets here?  My presence hasn't been quiet enough.  I've been pacing the field again troubled by my drawing of its shape which seems at odds with the old map -- yet more satisfying research.  Time to turn home and to check it out.