Tuesday 25th April
I can't believe it's all finished.
Monday 24th April
It's the last day before hand-in, and today I have just been finishing up stuff in order to get everything ready. I have said this before, and I will probably say it until the end of time, but everything always takes so much longer than I expect, especially the little things. There were some images I had referenced but not included the url for so I completed these and also referenced the images I used in my sketchbook, which is obviously very important so as not to make out that they are my images and therefore plagiarising them. For future projects I will definitely amen sure that I reference as I go along as this would make it so much easier at the end of the project!
The key thing I have been doing today is finishing my project evaluation. I wrote one last night but reading it again today I think that it is too negative and makes it sound like I have struggled with this project whereas I am quite proud of what I have achieved in it. I think that this was probably because I wrote it late at night when I was quite tired, and perhaps you are more likely to look on the negative side when you are tired? I think that for the future if I have to write a piece late at night, to look over it again in the morning, when I am in a different mindset, so that I can edit it if there need to be any changes.
By editing it I think that it now flows better, and I also attended a study tutorial on it to show it to someone else and I got some good feedback on it, apart from that it was a bit too long. I spent some time streamlining it and cutting it down and now I feel that it is much better than the first version.
Apart from adding in a few things into my sketchbook, the other main thing i have been doing today is doing the final page of my portfolio, one with just design developments. I have been very unsure as to whether I should photocopy designs from my sketchbook or redraw ones. In the end I decided to use the ones I had already done as these were designs that I used to pick and design my final pieces, so I think that it will show the narrative of my project more clearly than if I back-designed new ones, which probably wouldn't be as good as I wouldn't be in the flow of the project. They came out quite well when photocopied, so I think hope that they will be fine when presented in the portfolio. I have now just been printing out documents for tomorrow, such as labels, and my adapted project proposal.
It is so scary to think that effectively our foundation finishes tomorrow, when it doesn't seem too long ago that we started the course! I feel like I have grown a lot throughout the course, and really improved my work, making it more experimental and really focusing on the development of my designs into something more mature. I am so glad that I decided to do a foundation as I feel far more prepared to start my BA in September, and I think that without it I wouldn't have been able to gain the university places that I have this year. I feel like my tutors have been very supportive and have been excellent at giving advice to grow and further my ideas, and I have benefitted from their different approaches. Particularly in this last project I have also made a close network of friends and we support each other and critique each other's work, making for a great working environment where we can give advice and get opinions from others. Overall I am very thankful to have been given this opportunity and I look forward to seeing everybody's work in the exhibition!
Monday 24th April
Did you have an audience in mind when you were researching and making it? Has that changed?
The audience I had in mind was a woman who wanted to feel powerful and different in her own skin, and I think that I have kept this idea for the duration of the project, researching examples of women in power and how they dress, and elements that I could bring into to alter the suit and transform it into a symbol of empowerment. It hasn't changed as this was a key element of my concept, and I think I have conveyed this through my final piece.
Did you fulfil your original aims? How do you know?
I believe I have fulfilled my original aims, as by looking back through my project proposal and first reflections I was aiming to create one look embodying a sense of confidence and to use a variety of experimental textile techniques to input into my work, and to evaluate my progress as I went. I think I have achieved this as I can see this looking back through my work.
What were the biggest or most important decisions you had to make in the project- how did you make them?
The most important decisions in the project were absolutely the original idea and my final design. I spent quite a long time really finalising my ideas for the proposal, which I think was worth it as it meant that I have really worked through my concept. I developed it by reading articles as well as looking at imagery, which I think helped to solidify my concept. I also found discussing my ideas with other people to be particularly helpful as it enabled me to identify what exactly it was about my researched that interested me, and helped to pinpoint my concept, which is something to remember for future projects.
Have you learnt any skills?
In this project I have learnt some more textile techniques, such as needle felting fabric and smocking in order to enrich my textile explorations. We also did a series of workshops in class, and I found the gathering one to be particularly helpful as it enabled me to play around with the technique, such as creating protrusions in the fabric through moving the gathers around in the fabric.
How have you solved theoretical problems?
The problem I was looking at in my work was the way in which women in particular are expected to fit into a box not designed for them, and intended to exclude them, through dress codes especially. In response to this, I have been looking at how I could subvert the original garment, the suit, which embodies this issue, and transform it into something that promotes self-assurance, power, and difference. To investigate this conceptually I have researched subcultures and groups that have done this historically, and also designers that have deconstructed the suit into order to see how I could input this issue into my work.
Which research has been the most useful and how could you improve?
Although it does take longer to find excellent resources in books as you can't just type in a search term, I think that there were a couple of books that formed the cornerstone of my research, and continually inspired me throughout the project. These included a book featuring 45 artists who interpolated body paint in a modern way, and sparked off the idea for my samples inspired by body paint by looking at the texture, and a book of illustrations looking at 19th century clothing, which enabled me to input a different kind of structure into my suit. I think that having a mix of books and online resources is very important, as there are images in books that aren't available on the internet, although I did particularly find written online resources to be particularly useful. It is more difficult to find key and useful passages of text in a book as there is more to look through, whereas I think the article format was more suited to the issue I was looking at, and by reading many articles alongside books this helped me to have a solid foundation to my concept.
How has your reflection influenced your work?
I think that the process of reflection has been a key component of my project as it has allowed me to reflect on my progress and establish where I am in the project. I think self-evaluation is key as it meant that I could identify where I could improve, such as better organisational skills, and also in ensuring that i was spending time on the right things, rather than spending a lot of time on things that didn't really need to be done. In terms of documenting feedback I feel that reflection has influenced my work, as it has given me a space to respond to it and really digest what my tutors and other are saying, and therefore make changes, such as ensuring that my research fully reflects my concept and explored the notion of the suit.
How have you edited and selected your work for the exhibition?
I have been editing my work through creating a portfolio, and through this I have been identifying my strongest pieces throughout the development process and grouping them together in order to create a narrative of my project. Although I sometime find it hard to decide which piece is best, it is definitely useful in looking at my strengths. I decided to submit principally my garment for the exhibition, as I believe that it is the strongest piece and I am very proud of the work that went into it. However I also submitted some photo shoot pictures as I think that my piece works well when on the body, and I was pleased with the pictures both from the studio and my shoot, and I think they convey the mood I wanted my piece to create. Finally I also gave the tutors the option of selecting my sketchbook, as I explored a variety of ideas, and my final piece only used a few, and I wanted to give the tutors as many options as possible in terms of what would work for the exhibition. Although the curation of the exhibition is up to the tutors, if I were to think about hanging the work myself, I would also suspend the garment, as this would mean that all sides would be visible, and it could be at eye height. I think then I would place either two large pictures or one large and two small pictures on the wall behind it, to keep the layout clean and to keep the focus on the work itself.
Sunday 23rd April
Today I have mainly just been figuring out what I have left to do on my project and what I need to get done for it to be finished by Tuesday. I began by finally sorting out my extended bibliography, which is something I should really have done as I went, and therefore prevented it from becoming a huge task. It was concerning me that I hadn’t done it yet as it is a key component of the assessment documents, so now that this is done I feel much better and can turn my attention to my practical work. There was a little bit of confusion surrounding to what extent I should reference from my workflow page on my bibliography, as some people hadn’t heard that we had to do that, and others weren’t sure whether we had to reference all the images or just the important ones. As most of my images are from separate sources rather than a block from one, to have referenced all of them would I have have taken me all week and wouldn’t have been a good use of my remaining time. As they are all referenced on workflow anyway I decided to take the most important ones and the artists’ works and reference those. I hope that this is what the tutors want, but if I have any more time tomorrow I will add in some of the others to my bibliography.
This took a surprisingly long time, but I also really needed to get my illustrations done as this is another key part of my portfolio in finishing off the project well. I decided to do two small ‘practice’ ones to put in my sketchbook, and then pick the best one and draw it out bigger to put in my portfolio. I am very glad I did this, also doing a couple of warm-pup sketches beforehand, as it meant that by the time I did my final one I had more of an idea of what looked good and felt more confident in my drawing, so this is something to remember for future projects. I decided to do a close up for the final illustration, as although the complete garment isn’t visible, this is clear in my photographs and instead I wanted to use my illustration more to convey a mood and to have a stylistic version of the photograph. By using the close up I think it has more power, and conveys more of the confidence I was looking for. Additionally, by painting a bold pink background and then having the actual figure in a simple line drawing using different media, I think I was able to create boldness without it being overwhelming. I still was able to communicate the colours of the final piece, as the background was the same colour as the piece, and I also put actual beading on the drawing to illustrate the embroidery on the piece. I didn’t have time to actually embroider it on, as due to the size of the illustration it would have taken as long as it did for the final piece! Instead I have used a glue gun, which isn’t ideal, but I have tried to do it subtly so it doesn’t look awful.
I have also been doing my portfolio sheets, measuring them straight and sticking the images down. I am slightly worried as to whether I am doing the portfolio correctly, as some tutors seem to be saying that you shouldn’t photocopy in your sketchbook, but only use original new work for the portfolio, but Danielle said that all the work is there in the sketchbook so doing more isn’t necessary. I have tried to tell a narrative of my project through my pages, and done it in the manner that I did for UP, doing an edit of my work, so hopefully this will be okay. Tomorrow I just need to finish everything off!
Saturday 22nd April
This morning I spent ages writing annotations for the rest of the pictures on my workflow that I hadn’t annotated. I think it would have been far better if I had done this as I went as it wouldn’t have taken up such a big chunk of my time, though it is hard to fit in with everything else I needed to do. I am very glad that I have got it out of the way now and ordered my research page as it was something that was concerning me because it didn’t look at all done. However now it looks much clearer and easier for the viewer to navigate, and I think that the annotations allow the reader to understand what it is about the pictures that I think is important and what is drawing me to them.
I am a little bit concerned at the moment because I want to make sure that I have a big enough range of research, I think that perhaps tomorrow I will go through it and if necessary add in some more relevant images in order to make sure that my research appears well-rounded.
This afternoon I have also started my portfolio, and this took surprisingly less time than I feared. So far I have just been doing the pages made up of collaged photocopied material from my sketchbook, and I plan on doing some illustrations and a line up tomorrow. It is difficult to know whether I am doing the portfolio correctly, as I am a bit unsure as to what exactly the tutors are looking for, whether they want a portfolio in the same style as the one that we made for UP, or whether they want one containing work that isn’t already in our sketchbook. I think that I am going to do a mix of this, have an illustration, large picture, and line up that aren’t in my sketchbook, but them do an edit of existing work for the other pages as I don’t know what else I would do now that the final phase of the project is completed. I did ask my tutors, and they said similar things, though as I think they didn't ask for this last year it isn't completely set in stone what they want, and each tutor seems to be aiming for slightly different things. So I think I will just go with what I think is right and go from there.
I am quite pleased with my layouts so far, at the moment the pictures are only stuck down with blu-tack so that I can see what the portfolio looks like as a cohesive whole before I still them down permanently. I am aiming at the moment to get my portfolio finished tomorrow as I only need to do a couple of extra pages and get everything stuck down. After that I just need to do my final evaluation, add into my bibliography and annotate the references onto my sketchbook! Although most of these things are quite little, I keep remembering more and more things I have to do, which increases my stress, but as long as I stick to the plan I have made I think that should be fine.
Evaluative self assessment
Friday 21st April
Today I finally got my lookbook sorted, which in total took way longer than it really needed to, due to all the resizing I had to do. To sort out the colour discrepancy once printed vs the original pictures, I made the colours colder, though for some reason the pictures kept shifting about, even when I don’t think I moved them! Due to this I had to do lots of versions before it was as right as I could get it, but I am glad that I have done it as I think that it is a clean and professional method of presenting my work. I also decided to just use the paper already in the printers, as it is a very good quality and thick paper, and though I also printed the covers I may decide later to print the cover out on thicker card to have a contrast.
I have also got around to properly annotating my sketchbook, which I should probably have done a while ago, but in a way by doing it all together I can create more of a flowing narrative between the pages. I had done small annotations before, but I think that they were difficult to see so instead I have written them larger on thin strips of masking tape. Hopefully this way it will draw more attention to them by highlighting their difference from the background page. I have also tried to make comments on what worked and what didn’t in my sketchbook, instead on just stating what I did, although I could make sure of this by asking one of my classmates to read some of them through and give me their opinion on it. I still need to reference the pictures in my sketchbook, but I think I will leave this for another as the annotations have taken all day and if I do the same type of task for too long then I lose interest and it takes me longer than it should.
Final action plan
-two development sheets
-print off lookbook
-annotate workflow and finish it
-blibiography and action plan
-finish off any workflow
-put in samples into book, final 3 development pages
**Update** As annotating my book took longer than I anticipated, I didn't do two of my portfolio sheets on Thursday, however I have been able to set out 6 of them on the Friday instead, so this won't be necessary on Monday. However, broadly I think I have been able to stick to the plan and have been able to complete what I set out to do
Thursday 20th April
Today was the hand in of our exhibition pieces and it feel really good to have finally completed one aspect of unit 7! I feel extremely exhausted after only 3 hours sleep but I am glad that I spent the time making sure that my garment suspends well from the hanger as hopefully this will mean that if the tutors choose to place it in the exhibition it should appear as I originally intended it to. Last night I left it hanging to see if the nylon thread would hold, and luckily it has, although I think that for future reference when hanging pieces by nylon thread it is best to double it up to make sure that it doesn’t stretch.
The process of handing in was extremely long, understandably as there are so many people to go through, and it didn’t help that I had to go back after printing out all the pictures I was intending to submit in A4. I think that perhaps I should always make sure I read the instructions carefully to make sure that I have everything that I need already and don’t have to fluster myself rushing around for things at the last minute.
In accordance with my plan, I intended to spend today mainly printing out images and focusing on the images of my final piece. I have decided to use the printers upstairs in CSM itself rather than the external printers as it meant that I could assess the quality of the images and also make sure that I was choosing the right ones in the right format before seeing them in the exhibition. I had no idea that there was even a digital printing shop in CSM so I think that on reflection it probably would have been better to do some more research about exactly what facilities are available to us in order to use them most effectively and so that I don’t waste time doing things that could be done more efficiently! Though what I hadn’t counted on was the process of resizing the images, though after I was shown how it was simple and means that I now know this for future reference, plus the importance of actually shooting my images in high resolution to begin with. This is very important as it meant that I decided to print the images from my own shoot in A3 to make sure that the images were good quality rather than a bigger size where they might have been more pixelated, and had I shot it on different settings this might not have been a problem.
At the moment the days seem very long as I am working all the time without much of a break, but I am quite pleased with what I have achieved today. After printing out y exhibition images, and one for my portfolio and dropping them off I did pages in my sketchbook on the studio and location shoots. Although previous pages in my sketchbook are a bit busier than these ones I have decided to keep them clean and simple so that the eye is drawn to the photo and actual garment, and as I am not in the developing stage I don’t think that many other things on the page are necessary. Though I think that using different sized images is effective as it keeps the page interesting, so I used both computer printed and disposable camera pictures to have a variety in style and a contrast in size on the page.
I have also been finalising my lookbook, and I think that now it is ready to print, I just need to get it done tomorrow! Following a discussion with my classmates I have decided on the version with just my name on the cover, and a slight rejig of the pictures as I think that this looks clean and a picture on the front is distracting. In the end I have decided against getting it printed at a printing shop as I only want a couple of copies and at most places it is extremely expensive for such a small run, and as I need a very quick turnaround I think it will be less stressful for me to do it myself. I have enjoyed working in the library as part of a group as I think that not only does this mean that I am less likely to stare into space or take breaks as I am surrounding by other people who are working, but also as we give each other good feedback and help to improve our work collectively. I think that this helps break up a day spent at a desk and is something I should remember for when I am struggling to work on my own.
Wednesday 19th April
Today I have been mainly finishing off things, which makes me feel as if I haven’t got as much done as I wanted, as the small parts combined often take longer to do properly than the main component of the piece. Originally I was intending to completely finish my first sketchbook today and hand it in tomorrow, but I think now that this is unrealistic as I still have to finish off a couple of edges on my garment and I think that I would end up rushing everything when I don’t need to. Instead I have photocopied a few of the pages to hand in to give the tutors an idea of what is in the sketchbook. Throughout the day I have been adding in design developments alongside the print and textiles samples I did earlier in the project to demonstrate that I am thinking of my prints and textiles alongside my structural development. Although obviously it is better to do it at the time, I was still thinking about it in my head, I just hadn’t expressed it on the page, which I think is important for assessment.
I think that the most important thing I did today was to finish off my garment, neatening some edges and finalising the embroidery. This is the one thing where I can’t extend the deadline as I definitely want to hand this in for the exhibition, so this was the priority for today. It was only doing small things but I feel better knowing that it is as neat as I could make it in the time as I think that as I think that the sewing element is one of my strengths it is good to show this. Hanging the garment was a different matter, and took much longer than I thought it would. As all the elements except for the organza undertop isn’t connected to the shoulders I had to suspend them all from the hanger. I used nylon thread so that it wouldn’t be too obvious, although the safety pins I also used are a teeny bit visible. This took so long as I had to use many different points to make sure that the enormous weight of the padded pieces was evenly distributed and it would hold up. I think that I will leave it to hang up overnight to test if the thread will hold it, so that way I can change the method of hanging it before I hand it in tomorrow. I think that it is worth considering for the future making a specific hanger for a garment that is difficult to put on a traditional one, although I didn’t have enough time in this case.
Finally, I have started work on a lookbook to showcase the pictures I took on my location shoot. I want to keep it very clean so that the focus is on the pictures, so I am just going to do one picture per page, with one larger and one smaller on a double page spread. I have done a couple of different versions, one with a picture on the cover and one without so that tomorrow I can get some feedback from my classmates and make the decision on which one to finish off and print. I think that having the input from others is a good thing as it helps me to see a side of something that wasn’t obvious to me before, but clearly at the end of the day it is my gut instinct and my decision I have to stick with, as I have to be happy with what I do.
Tuesday 18th April
This afternoon I had the studio shoot, and I think that I am happy with the outcome as I have two pictures that I really like, which is what I wanted as I already have quite a few pictures from yesterday. If I hadn’t done my own shoot I think I might be more concerned as naturally each person had a very small amount of time to do it in and there wasn’t time to direct the shoot and do lots of different types of shots. I was right at the end of the day and by blind luck I was the last one to be shot as everyone after me was told their slots would be moved to tomorrow as the slots had gone over a bit and the model was exhausted. I am very glad that I have been able to shoot the images today so that I can draw a line under it and so the waiting today wasn’t for nothing and get on with my other work tomorrow.
I think that the pictures today were successful because it is good to have a complete contrast with my previous pictures, my model yesterday was black whereas my model today had very pale white skin, so it gave a completely different look to the garment. As the model was also very small for the garment, although I had taken it in it was still a bit big, so it slipped down a bit, but I actually quite like this as it underlines the ‘undressed’ element and fits more with the mode’s silhouette. I think that I will get a full length and a close up picture from today printed to submit for the hand in and also put them in my sketchbook.
I am also pleased because I got some good feedback from the tutors that were conducting the shoot about my garment, who said they thought it was a strong piece. This gives me confidence going into the final stages of unit 7 and I personally am happy with my final piece so it is always gratifying to hear when things have gone right as well as considering what could be improved and what I would do better next time.
Prior to the shoot I spent the morning finishing off the embroidery, making sure that it was really visible, effective and meaningful on the garment. I also added some tacking stitch elements as I had really liked these on the samples I did right at the beginning, and give a very subtle nod to the jacket and the deconstruction element. Now I just need to focus on finishing off what I need to do for the exhibition hand in on Thursday as now it is all mainly about presenting my work and making sure that it is ready for the final assessment. As long as I make a plan I hope I should get everything done on time.
Today the 1 granary article came out featuring my work, which was very exciting as it is the first time that my work has been featured in a publication. The fact that someone considered it good enough to feature is also gratifying and gives me confidence going into the final stages of my project. I have also heard rumours that at the end of the project they will also be re-featuring some of our work and perhaps doing their own shoot, which would be incredible if I were also to be featured in that, and it is such a great opportunity.
Monday 17th April
Today I did my own photoshoot on location with my model and I am really happy with it! I decided to take the pictures around the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England as well as the modern setting of the Lloyd’s building, as it embodies the sense of establishment that I was reacting against, as well as being the natural habitat of suits. Before the shoot I finished off a couple of details, such as attaching the undertop and padded piece so they wouldn’t slip down with tacking stitches and also some safety pins for extra security. For the makeup for the shoot, although I had thought before that it might be eye-catching and interesting to use the holi powder on the face, as my piece is very bright I decided in the end to just do a simple base look with silver liquid eyeshadow to bring out a little bit of a futuristic edge.
I am so glad I did my own shoot as I think that I have a good variety of images that I don’t think I will be able to get in the 5 minute shoot tomorrow due to time restraints. Although we looked a little strange to passing tourists, by doing it on a bank holiday there were barely any people around, which was ideal and I think demonstrates that by planning ahead and considering the different factors such as what date the shoot falls on it can have a positive impact on the result.
My model was very good, and as we are friends anyway it was a fun day walking around the city and mystifying passing people with why she looked so bizarre in the city setting, which I suppose was the point of the entire project! I also shot both using my digital camera and a disposable, so that I should get a mix of styles and with the disposable more of a blurry and discoloured quality that I found with lots of the 1960’s-1970’s images of businessmen I was looking at in my research.
Although I was a bit nervous about it as I am not by any stretch a particularly amazing photographer, but I think that they came out well and I am thinking of making a lookbook with these pictures to show them best to the viewer if they aren’t able to be used in the exhibition as pictures on the wall. Though I did have doubts about using models of two different sizes I think it has turned out for the best as I think that my model really made the pictures today, and tonight I have taken in the piece, which was much easier than I expected. I think that my model gave my piece a real attitude of empowerment and made a big impact in the pictures. I also like the images where she is looking into the camera as it feels like she is making a connection with or almost having a stand off with the viewer, and makes the pictures seem much more intense. So I think the key is not to worry too much about these things and just to see how they turn out!
Sunday 16th April
Today I just about finished my garment! I am so relieved as it has literally taken over my life and I hadn’t quite anticipated exactly what I was setting myself to do! I think that for the future I should plan out exactly all the different steps that would go into making a garment before deciding on a design to see if it is feasible in the time, as my piece is effectively four different garments, composed of over 50 pieces. Thankfully today I was mainly working on the surface, sewing on the buttons and the embroidery, as the structure was essentially finished. I have done four functioning buttons and buttonholes on the inner top as I think that this is a good feature and will also be good for fitting it on different models and getting it on and off the body. However, due to the bulky nature of the padded piece I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and put that underneath my buttonhole foot so instead I have just sewn on the buttons through both layers of fabric and left it loose at the top with the buttons on the button side. I don’t think that this matters as the eye assumes that the buttonholes will be there, and I think that the white buttons look very effective with the purple and complement the white pinstripes and striped detailing, making the design appear more cohesive.
I have also been embroidering the organza elements and adding on the lycra stripes, which I think create an appealing contrast between sheer and opaque and make the stripes really stand out. The embroidery takes a very long time, but I think it is important to include elements of a ‘woman’s craft’, and it also adds another element to the flour details, making it seem more 3D and adding other layers of colour and texture. I think that this surface is integral to my project as it has run all the way through it, so I think it is important that my final piece reflects this. I have also tried to use different types of embroidery, using normal sewing thread, embroidery thread and beads to have a contrast of lines and textures to also try and keep the embroidery current. I am looking forward to shooting my garment tomorrow and seeing how the final garment looks in the images!
Saturday 15th April
This morning I got my model to try the pieces on, and I am so thankful that they fit! I am very relieved as I was particularly concerned that the overarm pieces would be too small, but they fit fine so now I can get on with the finishings of the piece and getting it finished for Monday! I am very happy with my colour choice as I think that it looks great on my model, the bright pink contrasting with her dark skin tone, and the exaggerated hip pieces communicating the sense of assertive femininity I was looking for.
I had to go out and buy a couple of things, some more thread and buttons, though I had a minor debacle where I thought I had lost my buttonhole foot and then couldn’t find any in the shops I visited, only to find it again on my return home! I think I have learnt from this that it is important to keep track of vital pieces of equipment like that and also to make sure I have everything I need in advance so that if necessary I can order supplies online.
For the buttons I decided to choose reasonably small ones as I found that when I placed the larger ones on the piece it came off as looking a bit like a clown outfit, which wasn’t really the look I was going for. By using slightly smaller buttons I think that this draws the lines more clearly to shirts and jackets, and by using white buttons not only with this contrast well with the pink, but is also commonly used in these types of garments.
For the rest of the day I finished off the padded piece, cutting the waistband for the hem and adding on the lapels. Handling such a bulky bit of fabric is always challenging and was difficult to handle, but I got there in the end. My fabric had a bit of a stretch in it, so it was very difficult trying to get the pieces to line up, but I found that this didn’t matter so much as I could trim the excess, and try and counteract it by easing in the opposite direction as I was sewing. I am very glad that I have got the padded piece done as this was on my mind, being a key element of the piece. Really I think that I should have tried to get this done first as it is the most visible part, and by delaying it I only made myself more stressed, so this is something to remember for future projects.
Friday 14th April
Today I have completed the construction of the organza top, so now in terms of the structure I only have the quilted pieces to do before I do the finishings and surface! I found that to prevent the seams from fraying really badly I had to put fray check on all of them, which was very fiddly trying to keep it as subtle as possible and each part also took time to dry. It is amazing how much time can be taken up by things that at first seem inconsequential.
In the end I had to take apart the sleeves I had sewn yesterday as I had sewn the piece too small, and had also not taken into account the effect of me enlarging the shoulder hole side that it would side better on the shoulder. However I kept the flare pieces and it didn’t take too long to alter, this should ensure that it will fit the arm and won’t be too tight, which would detract from the effect of the garment. I have decided not to do French seams for this garment, as although they would enclose the raw edges, I did this for a similar top and it took such a long time to do, and I don’t think it is really necessary considering the time it takes at foundation. I think the ideas are more important than the finishings so I should focus on getting the broad thing done rather than the details!
I plan on closing it at the back with poppers, though I am going to wait until I have tried it on my model tomorrow so I know if I need to adjust it first. I was originally going to attach it to the underskirt and close both of those with poppers then a zip, but to make sure that I can adjust the waist length depending on my model I have decided to keep them separate. This way I can make sure that my underskirt will be the right length in accordance with the padded piece without affecting the under top.
Thursday 13th April
Today I found the annotations activity helpful as it reminded me that my concept isn’t very clear from my sketchbook at the moment and this is something that I need to make sure that I look over again before the assessment. The tutors suggested that we could do them in an impermanent form, so that we could always remove them before the general public exhibition. This could be in post-it notes or writing on masking tape, and I think that this would also be good in terms of highlight the annotations’ existence, as opposed to just writing them in pencil as I have at the moment as I think that this is too subtle. Annotations are vital because they communicate all the thought that went into each design decision, and help to tell the narrative of the project and to help the viewer follow it through the various stages. I think that also before the assessment I will get one of my classmates to look at mine again and to give any further comments to improve them.
I have also now finished the underskirt, although not before I had a bit of a disaster where the zip I had gone to John Lewis especially for broke. I had a back-up one which I think looks fine, and with the complete outfit it won’t be visible anyway. I have added on the organza flare, and whilst I think that it looks a little odd at the moment, when it is placed alongside the organza top I think that it all comes together and looks like a cohesive look.
I have started the organza top to get the ball rolling on all four of the elements of my pieces by cutting out and sewing together the sleeves. I have found that to cut out organza it is far easier to do so with a rotary cutter than with scissors, as this means that it doesn’t distort as you lift it up to cut the fabric, and you can press it flat on the cutting mat.
Wednesday 12th April
Today I made the bulk of the quilted piece by cutting out the panels and quilting the layered together so I now have my pattern pieces ready to sew together. This entire process took far, far longer than I anticipated, as I also had to measure out the lines to make sure they were even and straight as this would be a very visible part of the garment. The quilting process with such large panels was a bit of a nightmare, and took the best part of all afternoon and all evening and night. It was made more difficult by the slight stretch in the fabric, so in a couple of areas one piece is bigger than the other, and the lining isn’t as neat as I would like it to be. Due to the stretching on top the bottom layer has folded over in some areas and has bulked up a bit, though this won’t be seen from the outside. If I were to do this again I think I may investigate getting pre-quilted fabric as it took so long, or using fabric with no stretch at all to make it easier. Despite this I am pleased with the effect of the quilting, especially with the white stitching as it makes it look much more like pinstripes and highlights the effect in a contemporary way.
As well as this I made a start on the underskirt by cutting out and sewing the main piece together without the zip or organza flare, but this was quicker to do and I think very effective underneath the padded piece as the the draped flares add relief to the stiffness of the quilting. Tomorrow I have to go into uni, but I also aim to get the rest of the skirt done.
Tuesday 11th April
This morning I finally found my fabric! After all that time trying to make a decision I feel very happy that I have found something that I think is very close to the colour I imagined. It isn’t in the fabric that in an ideal world I would like, a cotton drill, as this is very crisp and is also associated with shirting and worked well in one of the samples I did. After failing to find the right colour in the cottons I turned to look around the whole shop and found a satin that was exactly the right colour, and when I turned the silky side to the back it looked much more matte and more like a crepe fabric. I decided that this was the best option and bought some interfacing in case I needed to thicken it. I am very glad that I made this decision as without the interfacing in the small sample I made the fabric couldn’t take the quilting, but with the interfacing it looks very smooth and clean and hopefully it will work when I make my full garment! Putting on the interfacing means extra work but I think that it is worth it to have the colour I am happy with as it is such a key part of the design. One thing I have learnt today is that when you can’t find the solution you imagined to a problem, it is good to broaden your horizons to perhaps find a better result.
Following buying my fabric I started to make my final piece, which is slightly nerve-wracking but also exciting as this is the part of the process that I enjoy the most. I began with the undertop featuring two lapels that come over the arms, and as I was using interfacing, to achieve a good finish I decided to line the garment. This means that it is a lot of extra work, and I don’t really know if it is necessary or not, but at least this means that it will achieve a clean finish. It is difficult to know if the top will fit my model or not as although I made a toile block bodice, I can’t try it on her, which makes it a bit more uncertain so I will see if I can try some parts of the piece on her later this week. I am also concerned about the overarm lapels as they came out a little shorter than I expected so I hope they aren’t too tight. At the moment I am not finishing the piece and enclosing all the seams so that if some parts don’t fit then I can alter than without undoing much work. I am very pleased at how it is going so far, and I think that the choice to use the white lycra rather than the bright pink I was thinking before was good as it creates a nice contrast and relief from the pink, and also adds a sporty edge. Tomorrow I need to start the padded panel, and I am most concerned about this as it is the main part of my garment so I need to get this element started.
Monday 10th April
It was really nice to see everyone after the Easter holidays, and a bit strange, it felt as I the holidays had been longer than they really were! I didn’t find the talk this morning as helpful as I had already heard it when I went to the unit 7 talk, although it was good to hear some of it re-iterated. I need to make sure that my garment is done or at least photographable by the 18th, so I am thinking of holding my own photoshoot on either that Monday or the Wednesday to allow time before we hand in the garments on the Thursday. At the moment I think that planning is really key in terms of getting everything done on time and keeping track of my progress. This is especially the case with this week as with making a garment it always takes ten times as long as I think it will and I really don’t want to end up spending way too much time on one part and finishing with a not completed garment.
I found my tutorial helpful as it now means that I can go ahead and make my garment without fear of one of my tutors giving feedback when it would either be too late or difficult and time-consuming to make changes. Yesterday I went to try and find the fabric but couldn’t find the right colour in the right material. As nothing was right in the end I just got swatches, and I am glad that I did this as opposed to just biting the bullet and going ahead to get something I wasn’t completely happy with as my tutor said she thought that the colour of the fabric wasn’t quite playful enough anyway. I think I agree with this and I have gone back to looking through my sketchbook to see what colours I am most drawn to.
Although right at the beginning of the project I envisaged making a piece primarily in pale blue, but when designing this garment I immediately thought of it in a pink shade. Though I think that blue would be fine, in my gut it doesn’t feel right, and I think that having a pinky-purple colour with have more impact, as long as it isn’t in the region of bubble gum. I spent ages this afternoon trying to fix on a colour, trying drawing the design out and colouring it in, but I didn’t find this to be as helpful as imagining it in my head as I could see the different fabrics and textures better.
I am unsure as to whether making my garment pink when I have been looking at feminism is too cliché, and the colour in all its different shades is so nuanced that even a slightly different colour can have a different impact. Due to this I think it will be very difficult to find a colour that is exactly right so really I just have to go out to fabric shops and see what is available. My tutor also suggested that the piece doesn’t all have to be one colour, but I think that if I include more than one bright colour alongside bright embroidery, it will become too much, although I think that her point about having everything pink being a bit intense is valid. In my head having the organza also in pink doesn’t feel right to me and I feel worried that my model could end up looking like a quality street wrapper. From discussing this with my classmates I think that doing the organza and also the lycra elements of the piece in white/clear will be effective as it will allow the main pink element to stand out and will also act as a good base on which to have my coloured embroidery. I will see what I think after I have made my elements that I know are going to be purple and then I can see what it looks like with the clear top I already made in the smaller size for the toile.
In response to my decisions about the colour of the fabric I went all the fabric shops on Berwick street and also John Lewis, but I couldn’t find anything even near to what I would like. Although this is irritating as it was very tiring going around all of the shops, I feel better knowing that I have exhausted all the other options so I can go to my local fabric shop tomorrow and just pick what is closest to what I imagine.
Sunday 9th April
Saturday 8th April
This evening I have also spent some time putting more images onto my workflow, following the discussion I had with my classmate yesterday. She had some good suggestions for fine artists that I could put onto it that tie in with my ideas, and I think that this will help redress the fashion-art balance that at the moment is inverted in fashion's favour. I think it is important to have this balance in research generally as it ensures that you are getting ideas from outside of your field, and not just redoing what someone else has already done. Sweats from a breadth of disciplines is also useful because it encourages you to think about how you could put an idea in one context into another, and how you could express it using a different medium. I have also added on a few video files and quotes, as different types of media on the page prevent it from becoming monotonous and also demonstrate that I have read articles and documents in order to inform my concept. I think one reason why until now my research appears very fashion heavy is because my entire concept is based about clothes and what they symbolise and how they make the wearer feel. Due to this I found it difficult for fine artists to spring to mind, but I think that adding in the extra images has helped. I may also ask one of my tutors to look over it so that if necessary I can change things around a bit or add other things in. I do still need to annotate my images so it is important that I make time for that and get my workflow in order as it is a significant part of my overall mark and I think it is important that my research is coherent and understandable in order to enable the viewer to see my concept easily. I think that doing subheadings could also help this in grouping the images.
Sat-put pattern pieces together , 1hr workflow annotations, look for fabric
Sun- toile in progress page, tester bodice, skirt, piece
Mon- Tutorial, try pieces on saina
Tues- find fabric, cut out pieces
Wednes- sheer top and underskirt
Thurs- padded top and over top
Fri-See auntie christine –finish sewig together other pieces
Sun-Easter – finish off
Mon-either do headpiece or start portfolio
Tues- Shoot, scout location
Thurs- print photos, portfolio
Fri, portfolio, sketchbook
Sat, portfolio, sketchbook
**Update** I like to keep my plans quite fluid, so I tend to update them day to day to keep up with how I think things are going and how I think realistically the rest of the plan will turn out, so I ended up making some changes to this plan. I was able to try my toile on Saina earlier than expected, so I was able to finish the pattern pieces on the Sunday, though I changed around the order of making my final piece. As a result of my tussle on what colour to do my piece in, I started with the pieces I knew the colour of, the undertop and padded piece, as these are also the two most important elements. I then did the other pieces last so that I could make design decisions as I went. I decided to change the shoot date to the Monday as it was a Bank Holiday so the city was deserted and made my shoot much easier, and therefore meant I could use the Wednesday to finish off everything for the exhibition hand-in. However broadly I think my plan and the timescales have been correct and have helped me to have a framework to my working.
Friday 7th April
This morning I just finished off a couple of things on my toile, such as adding in a sheer flare and shortening the other two, which I think balances out the sheer details on the bodice and sleeves, and makes the entire design look more cohesive.
In the afternoon I met my classmate for a crit and it was really nice to see someone after spending ages trying to figure things out alone, and provides a bit of a break from just staring at what I have done. She provided me with some really good advice, and I think that we have cracked the lapel problem! By undoing them both slightly, but having the second one buttoned up slightly higher than the padded one it it makes it seem much more like it is coming out of the second one and more like how I envisaged. I was also planning on having a couple of stripes on the padded piece in a contrast colour, however when we put it on it looked a bit too sports-like and a bit adidas, which is definitely not something that I want to recreate, although by using lycra for striped elements I would like to do a nod to sportswear as the pinstriped suit originally came from the pinstripes used on sporting jackets, and subverts the stuffy image we have of pinstripes today. Instead we came up with the idea of putting them on the sheer sleeves, slightly broken up and different thicknesses to prevent it from becoming too sporty, and I think that this is much better. I also think that the contrast between opaque and sheer looks very effective, and will meant that they will be more visible against the other piece than if I used a coloured organza.
We also critiqued each other’s workflow, and tried to go through the criteria to see if we had matched it, and she gave me some good ideas of artists to balance out my workflow as at the moment is is a bit fashion heavy and needs more variety. I am very glad I did this as I feel like my piece has more of a fresh energy and I feel like I am ready now to start cutting my pattern pieces!
Thursday 6th April
Today I don’t feel like I have achieved very much, as I think that as I have done the main structure of my toile and it is just small tweaks that I am doing that I tend to slow down a bit and become less excited by the process. However, what I need to do is power through so that I can get the toile done and start work on the final piece. I also would like to get it done for tomorrow as I have planned a crit with my classmate. I am really looking forward to this as I think that it will be very useful in terms of having a second pair of eyes on what we are doing. Being too involved in your work prevents you from seeing it with perspective so I think it will be good to have a fresh opinion.
I would also like an opinion on the lapels as I think that at the moment it doesn’t look right to me, it just looks like I have two lapels on something for no apparent reason. I have heightened the padded piece so that now they are closer together, which I think has helped as it looks more like they are supposed to be together, but I don’t know whether they are too similar in size? I would like to create the impression that the overarm lapel piece is coming out of the other piece, and that it looks ‘undone’, but I don’t think that it looks like this yet. However I am pleased with the bulk of the design as I think that it expresses what I drew and I also think that it is visibly from a suit whilst at the same time the bold shapes on the body makes it feel empowering, as they are quite strong shapes.
Wednesday 5th April
This morning I made the adjustments I wanted to make from what I made yesterday, I found that by printing off a picture I had taken of the toile yesterday and then drawing on top of this the adjustments then I was able to visualise them more clearly and was also able to think about the proportions of the replacement panels instead of trying to come up with them from thin air. I think that I will do neat versions of these and put these in my sketchbook to try and document the process of altering my design as it follows the making process. I also then tried the pieces I made yesterday with the large sleeves from a top I had made before, however they were far too voluminous and looked ridiculous, so instead I decided to make some that were far more reduced, and in clear organza to add a sheer element to it.
The sheer sleeves worked really well, as the organza also had a sheen to it which adds another texture to it, and I like the contrast between the turtleneck and the off the shoulder lapels. The sleeves are much more subtle, but I think that they help to balance out the silhouettes. Afterwards I made the underskirt and flares coming out as the skirt. I am really pleased with these and I think that they pull the shape together and really complete it, also tying in with the sleeves. I think that I am finally getting excited about my design now that I can see it in the flesh and I think that it is going to work! I think you just have to have faith throughout the toiling process and it is about moving things around and getting what is in your head to be a piece in reality, which isn’t always supposed to be a smooth transition! Tomorrow I just need to finish off a few bits and pieces and then I need to get onto completing my sketchbook work.
Tuesday 4th April
Although today I still have doubts about my final piece, I think that as I am visualising it in real life I am getting more excited by it, as it in fabric that a piece really comes alive, and the silhouettes looks best on a human body. I meshed together a couple of my favourite elements to come up with my final design, focusing on an oversized ‘jacket’ structure with large lapels that come off the shoulder and arc down towards the bust. I was deciding between this style of collar and more of a traditional lapel but oversized and further out towards the shoulder, but I think that this looks too much like a normal coat and more ‘masculine’. The oversized padded piece over the top of this tapers in at the knee, where a series of flares protrude from underneath. I think that by having them underneath conveys the undone, layered effect that I have been trying to create, although I am slightly concerned that the design is quite busy. I am very keen on having large bell sleeves, although I think that this could be too much so I have thought about perhaps making them in a sheer fabric to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming.
Today I have also started to make my first toile, focusing on the off the shoulder lapel and padded pieces, which will be connected and form the main basis for the silhouette of the garment. I came up with the pattern using a mixture of 2D pattern drafting and draping the blocks on the mannequin, both of which I found to be useful and I think good in different ways, although I think that draping on the mannequin is less accurate but quicker.
I have been having a bit of a dilemma about the sizing of my toile, as the model that I want to do the location shoot with is broader than a standard sized model, but I would really like to work with her because I think that she really embodies the sense of female power I have been looking at, and she has been doing work with a women’s rights charity, which I think is very relevant. However as I will be testing the toile on myself I think I have to do it in my size so that I can really see it properly, though that will mean that I will have to redraw all the pattern pieces in a different size, which will mean a lot of extra work. I am concerned in case I don’t have time to do this but I hope that there won’t have to be too much adjustment as the main piece is quite oversized anyway and all the length measurements should remain around the same as she is roughly the same height as me. I think I should just focus on the toile at the moment and worry about this later!
I am quite pleased with this stage of my toile at the moment, though I think the first lapel needs to be much bigger as it looks a bit bitty on the body at the moment, and the second lapel is too wide and looks odd on the body. However I think that the general shape works well, and I am pleased with the way that it tapers down towards the knees. I think that I will work on the adjustments tomorrow and continue with it, in a way the adjustments are the most important stage of making a toile, as it is only by tweaking things that you will get a design that you are truly satisfied with.
-Finish finalising final design, make quick developments of the same design
-Begin toile of final piece
-Make padded piece and undertop, review
-Make sheer top and underskirt
-Finish off toile
-Samples for final fabrics?
-Put toile work into sketchbook
-Start pattern pieces
-Pattern pieces for final piece
**Update** I think that this plan has mainly been realistic, although I decided in the end to focus on the toile rather than making samples of fabrics as I was concentrating on the structure. I also didn't quite get all the sketchbook work done completely, but I was able to finish this later so it wasn't a problem. Although it was very quick to make the main elements of the toile, I think I would have to readjust the timings for the final piece as I didn't have to do any proper finishing for the toile stage.
Monday 3rd April
Today I had a productive morning, where I think I finally got the hang of doing very quick design developments looking at the same kind of design and just doing loads of variations from it. I wasn’t worrying about what the actual drawing looked like, and just did really terrible non-proportional sketches just to get my ideas down so I could look at them properly. I found this to be quite a freeing experience, as I didn’t feel constricted by having to do a perfect drawing, or by being constrained to a human form as generally I tend to draw this first, and I think that this would be a good thing to continue for other projects in the future.
I did around 30 small sketch ideas in a few hours, which I then pinned onto a pin board so I could look at them properly. I found this approach to be useful as instead of trying to rifle through them all I could see them all at the same time and start to observe which features I liked best from each of them and then trying to compile these together into a final design that I could be happy with. However after lunch I found that I started to slow down again, and I wasn’t really convinced by any of them, or excited by them. I think that this was more from apprehension about having to come up with a final product than anything else and trying to pick the ‘best idea’.
I felt like I needed an inkling of an idea to spark some energy into me and to bring everything together, but even though I tried researching I didn’t really know what I was looking for, and after going through my designs I narrowed them down to around 10 stronger ideas that I could go through and take elements from, but I still didn’t have a strong idea of what I wanted to do. In the end I just sat down and forced myself to come up with 8 variations, this time on a proportional human figure and looking more at detail. However even after doing this I still don’t know which one to pick and I just feel frustrated as I don’t feel passionate about it at the moment. I think that the designs I am picking from are some of the stronger designs, but I think I’m not in the right mindset to look at it objectively tonight so I think that tomorrow morning I will relook at them and perhaps a solution will present itself. Even though I know that the final pieces are really for ourselves and our own personal design satisfaction as an ending to the course, it is hard not to put pressure on yourself as it will be something that our friends and family that come to the exhibition will see, and will be the final, defining part of the foundation. However, I don’t think it is very helpful to think like this so I think I will just focus on one step at a time to get through the amount of work I have to do over the next few weeks.
Saturday 1st April
Today I saw the Balenciaga exhibition, ‘Oeuvre au noir’ at the Musee Bourdelle, and I was surprisingly very disappointed. I absolutely adore Balenciaga’s work, and some of the pieces there were some of my favourite garments of his, however I found the presentation of the exhibition baffling in the extreme. The garments were presented in the same room as Bourdelle’s sculptures, making for an odd mix of crowds, those there for the two different types of artworks, so the garments looked odd alongside the sculpture, which only served as a distraction. All the pieces, as the title suggests, were black, which looked monotonous, but this was mainly because they were all presented against black walls or in some cases little curtained black boxes in poor lighting so it was impossible to see them properly. There was also barely any information at the exhibition, and for one ostensibly about the construction of Balenciaga’s creations, there was no real information on this area, and I came away feeling very underwhelmed. I always think that one of the best part of Balenciaga’s work are the photographs of his pieces, as the strong structures come alive on the body and appear striking in the black and white compositions of the master photographer of the mid-20th century, so I think it would have added context and excitement to include these alongside the real pieces. Overall I came away feeling very underwhelmed and completely unexcited, and I hope that the Balenciaga exhibition coming up at the V&A is more impressive. I think today I have learnt about how important exhibition staging is, and how this can have a big impact on the overall appreciation of the piece, which are all points I can take forward when thinking about how my final piece will be presented in the exhibition.
Thursday 30th March
Today has been a very trying day, I am just working on the same set of pages yet nothing ever seems to be getting finished and everything takes much longer than I think or that it really needs to. It also seems to be getting harder and harder to do the design developments- I think that this is because I have done quite a lot now so I am just doing the same thing over and over again and I think that I am at the point now where I just need to identify a final design and to start toiling it. It is no good trying to draw and draw when that is no longer useful to me and I think that this could partly be a cause for why I don’t seem to be accomplishing anything today. I am just going to try and do as much as I can today and focus on looking at which designs I like best and look to the final piece next week.
I have also been reflecting on what I have done so far and what is missing from what I ultimately want to achieve. I think that I need to bring back the protest element a little more by making the designs seem bolder and perhaps more graphic. I have been thinking about stitching tacking stitch style pinstripes in white thread over brightly coloured fabric before I sew the pattern pieces together to highlight the suit original element, and I could always do the panels with stripes in different directions to subvert this slightly. I have been thinking about the nature of stripes, because the pinstriped suit came from a more relaxed and less formal suit used in connection with sports and athletics, such as a cream suit with navy pinstripes. This is slightly ironic as now we think of pinstripes as demonstrating the ultimate formal suit. We also today use stripes in our athletics wear, such as two vertical stripes down the side of tracksuit bottoms, and by widening the stripe you instantly get different connotations and effects. As well as military connotations, stripes were originally thought to be in connection with those on the outside of society, such as prostitutes and convicts, therefore I think that this links in well with my concept, as a protestor often puts themselves in the box of ‘other’, on the outside of society. I think I could play with putting one very wide and big stripe or maybe a couple in a contrasting colour on my piece as a graphic element to juxtapose with my more paintily body paint textures.
Wednesday 29th March
This morning I have been finishing off the sample that I cut out yesterday and did the quilting for but didn’t get to sew together. I think that the contrast between the exaggerated fitted side and the protruding side work well, and the large lapels balance it all out and add a good graphic element. I think that this is a good basis for further development and to combine with some of the other techniques that I have been looking at.
This afternoon one of my friends came round to help me take pictures of my samples to put in my sketchbook by being a model. This was much easier than me trying to take the pictures on myself with a timer and it is always good to have a variety of faces for my sketchbook! However it is still harder to take pictures at home than it is at uni, as there there are many blank backgrounds and good natural light to take pictures in, but I think that they are good enough and the sample is clear in them. In the future I think it would be worth trying to cobble together a good photo background by putting a length of plain white fabric on a roll and figuring out how to have a stand for it, so I can take better pictures no matter where I am.
Following this I printed off my pictures and started to put them in my sketchbook, doing a couple of design developments for each. I think one of the more difficult things is figuring out how to present many of the same type of thing in the sketchbook but in a different way so that the pages still appear new and interesting. If each of the pages are presented in the same way, even if the content is different, it will become monotonous and in the end the viewer won’t concentrate on what is on the page, which is clearly something to be avoided. I think tomorrow I will try and finish off this sketchbook work.
Tuesday 28th March
Today I have made a further toile, although I would have liked to have done two, but I have only succeeded in starting the second. I made a front bodice panel looking at recreating the structure and textures of my draping where I opened up the jacket shoulder and placed it across the bust, but doing a calico version. I started off by sewing a simple bodice pattern, but using princess seams rather than darts, so that the protruding shoulder elements would look more in tune with the bodice pattern. I then sewed on top the extra elements and used a variety of wadding, silk, and calico, fraying each strip, to imitate the padding textures. I think that this works well, although by making it in cream and white it does make it appear a bit chicken-like, but I think this would be solved once it was in a different colour. I think it could also be interesting if I combined this with beadwork and extra stitching.
I have been thinking about how I would be able to do effective and interesting beadwork when I won’t have 10,000 hours to make it, unlike the couture houses, and I think I need to look at larger pieces as this will mean that less have to be sewn to cover a large area. I also think that discs of leather could work well, or discs of sheet metal, as this would have a similar effect, but might appear less pretty and more industrial. I think that around the end of this week I need to have sorted out what I will need for my final piece so that I can order all the pieces and allow for delivery time. I think the key to finishing everything in time is organisation, I have allotted a week to actually make my piece, after toiling, and this ought to be enough as no piece I have ever made has had to take longer than a week, and I think that development work is more important in order to create a good final outcome.
Monday 27th March
Today I have completed another toile, a 3D experiment looking at the structure of my designs. I spent the morning tidying my working space and looking through my work to decide which toiles I want to make over the next few days. As I tend to have lots of different ideas buzzing around my head I decided to focus on making samples of the designs I liked where it was more unpredictable what they would be like in real life, so I could test out the technique and see if it worked. I don’t know whether I am going to use these toiles exactly as they are, but I plan to look at a few of my designs in real life to then do design developments from them and then to look at all of my favourite designs and design my final piece.
I had wanted to do two toiles today, however this one took much longer than I thought so I may try and do the second one tomorrow morning. I decided to look at the design I had with large lapels coming around the bodice going over the arms, and drafted a corset-style bodice, one which I backed with padding to create a quilted and more 3D effect, and one coming slightly higher on the body, as if the quilted bodice was coming away from the main one. I added some volume onto the hip area of the quilted bodice, and although I am not sure about this, this appears a bit like pleating so I think it works reasonably well. I made the mistake of then sewing boning along the hem to try and give it more of a structure, however this looked horrible and didn’t work at all, making it look like a tutu! So I then proceeded to then spend half an hour unpicking it, which left me very frustrated.
However, once I had put on the lapels, quilted them to give them a different texture, and cut a lapel shape into the neckline of the inner bodice, I am pleased with the result. The position of the lapels over the arms can be changed depending on the level of ‘undone’ I want to create, but I think it really captures the ‘power through dress and undress’, as it looks like the garment is coming off the body. I think that there are lots of variations with with I could finish off the design in my design developments, including adding perhaps a sheer bodice with my body paint textures, and have textures underneath the lapels, or having exposed seams to add textures.
I am slightly concerned at the amount of time I have left, as ideally I’d like to complete a few more 3D samples than I think I have time for. I wish I had done more 3D work at the weekend, and perhaps done a timetable at the start of last weekend so that I could perhaps have appreciated that fact, plus I am visiting Paris just for the weekend, during which I will be able to visit galleries and add to my workflow research, however this means I won’t be able to sew any toiles this weekend. I think I just need to prioritise my time well and think about what I really need to do as opposed to what I want to do, as there won’t be time for everything. One other thing I have learnt from today is that I spend way too much time drafting a pattern, when this doesn’t matter for samples, and if a seam allowance is 12mm rather than 10mm it won’t make a bit of different so tomorrow and in the future I will take a more freehand approach in order to more effectively use my time.
Monday 27th – Developing final design
What do I need to develop final design
-consider what I have done so far
-put in toile into sketchbook
-look at most successful designs and what else I need to put in to be happy, look at inside outside, slits
-make 3d toiles
-develop into final designs
morning, look at designs and decide on toiles
afternoon and evening
make two toiles
-put toiles into sketchbook
-make more toiles- 2?
-Put into sketchbook, come up with final designs
-workflow and mellow over final designs
-workflow, annotate research, add to
-add in own work
-workflow and mellow over final designs- review how much time needed to toile
-workflow and mellow over final designs
**Update** In the end I spent more days creating the toiles as these took longer than expected but I found that they really helped my design process so I did these until the Friday. I like to keep my plans flexible and rearrange as I go as otherwise making plans can be more stressful than not making them at all if you beat yourself up when circumstances change! I also aim to spend the following Monday finalising my design to make sure I have something I am happy with before I proceed to the toiling process as I think that this is more important than just jumping in.
Sunday 26th March
Today I have also been adding pictures onto the research section of my workflow, including the additional research I have been doing throughout my sketchbook work, but hadn’t put onto my workflow yet. As always this takes much longer than I anticipated but at least I have put a lot more pictures on- now I just need to find time to annotate them.
Saturday 25th March
Yesterday I had a bit of a rest day after the hectic week making sure that everything was vaguely coherent for the crit on Thursday and to recharge my batteries before doing some more toiling and finalising what I am going to do for my final piece. This weekend I have also decided that I am going to spend a bit of time on my workflow, as I think at the moment this is one of my weaker points, on my feedback from my progress tutorial my tutor mentioned that my research around the suit wasn’t very apparent so I think I need to make this clear.
I have been spending time putting the research I already did but didn’t think was strictly relevant onto my research page, such as my investigation into mods and also the research I did on what people of power wear, including famous female leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Although there are quite a few female leaders outside of Western countries, I thought that it was more relevant to my project as I am looking at the suit, which is traditionally a symbol of power in Western dress, and Eastern styles of dress have completely different symbolism and history.
I am quite pleased with my tutorial feedback, I think that following on from this tutorial I am going to do some work on my workflow to make sure it reflects my project properly and to make sure that it is cohesive. I am also going to move more into doing work on the body, and exploring the techniques I have been doing in a larger way so that I can start to visualise my piece on the body.
Evaluation group crit exercise
Thursday 23rd March
This morning we were working at archway, and I just finished off a couple of things to make my book more presentable and to get everything in order before we went over to Kings Cross for the afternoon. I just about managed to get all my things on the wall in time and then we all walked around everyone’s work while the representative from 1granary looked at our work. At the beginning I felt a little daunted because of the huge body of work that was around us and when faced with what everyone else has been working on it is difficult not to compare yourself to others, but on the other hand it is good to observe other styles and ways of working in order to learn from each other. There was a very wide range of subjects chosen for the project, which shows everyone else’s approaches.
Following this in small groups we talked through our work and got feedback from the others. I found this interesting but less helpful, I had thought that the crit might be a group of around 15 with a tutor as when you are put with people you don’t know very well it is difficult to give constructive criticism and I would have liked one of my tutors to have seen my work before the holidays. Though I did get some positive feedback, which is nice, and the representative from 1granary asked to speak to me which was very exciting! She asked me to talk through my work, and although I know that this doesn’t mean by any stretch that I will be one of those included in the editorial, nor do I expect to me, it is still encouraging for my project. Now I just intend to keep developing toile ideas for the next week and then decide on a final design, which seems slightly scary!
Wednesday 22nd March
This morning I attended a lecture on the exhibition and the closing stages of unit 7, which I found to be helpful as it painted more clearly the picture of the last remaining weeks of our foundation. I hadn’t realised exactly how prescriptive the arrangements for the exhibition would be, down to what kind of bag to put our sketchbooks in, but I guess that with such an enormous amount of students the tutors can’t waste time trying to figure out whose work is whose. It is also disappointing that we can’t choose our models for the in-college shoot, although I understand the reasoning why as I know that some of my classmates could feasibly hire professional models or similar. I really want to photograph my garment on one of my friends as as well as having a very photogenic face she also has a very powerful presence and has done public speaking on women’s rights and is very passionate about that topic. I think instead I will do a location shoot with her and include that in my sketchbook as well as the more linear studio shoot. She has a slightly broader build than most models so I think that I will just make my garment according to her measurements and then pin the garment in onto the model. However one other thing I need to consider is that I was thinking of having sheer panels, and try and find some fabric that appears sheer on most skin tones. My friend has a beautiful black complexion, but the model for the studio may be white or another ethnicity so I need to consider this when choosing my fabrics.
Following the lecture I worked in the library all day, and began by shooting the top I made yesterday on me, so that I could get some pictures of it on the body. I then tried to do a couple of sketchbook pages on it, but it wasn’t really working and I’m not happy with the drawings I have done. I think I will redo this, but for the crit tomorrow I will just show the photos and redo the pages another time. I am trying to think of interesting ways to show drapes in my sketchbook, as I don’t want all my pages to appear the same.
I then worked on half a dozen mini A3 portfolio pages of what I have done so far to display tomorrow alongside my toile in order to illustrate what I have been doing in my project and what has been influencing me. This didn’t actually take as long as I had feared, and should be useful in the future when I do my portfolio on the project as I can see what works together, although the samples won’t be the same proportion on a larger scale. I am not sure if these are necessary or not tomorrow, I think a lot of people were a bit confused about exactly what is expected for the crit but at least I have them now.
Later on I also set out covering some buttons in calico and sewing them down one side of my toile. I think that the buttons work well, however the style of them appears a little militaristic to me, so I think I could remedy this on a future design with a placket or with false buttonholes and using suiting buttons. I think it will be nice tomorrow to finally see what everyone had been working on as so far we haven’t got much of a chance to see everyone’s work!
Tuesday 21st March
Today unfortunately I felt really ill with what I think is a cold that’s going around everyone at the moment and decided that it would be a more effective use of my energy to work at home instead of getting even more tired dragging all my equipment to Archway. However, I have asked my colleagues what the tutors said generally to the class, particularly about what they would like for Thursday, so I hope I haven’t missed too much. I asked Alice to look at my work yesterday so I have had a tutorial this week.
Firstly I finished off filling in the gap I left in my sketchbook for my pages working on padding and deconstruction, by printing off pictures of a deconstruction I had done and then putting them on top of drawn models. I think that this is a good way of quickly showing the drape on the body, particularly when I photographed it on a mannequin rather than a person, although I am aware that I haven’t really done any live drawing for this project so this is something I would like to do for further developments.
After this, one thing that I had wanted to do for Thursday was to have a toile of a part of a garment as a constructed piece rather than the drapes that I have been doing so far to develop my idea. I think that personally I find cutting a pattern according to an idea and still reacting instinctively and testing out new things, but in a more constructed way is something that suits me so from this point forward I think that I will mostly be experimenting in this way. I have written a list of possible toiles to try in the next few days, although I think it is realistic to only aim for one to be finished for Thursday, and I decided to make a bodice with very long oversized sleeves with arcing asymmetric flared panels and an oversized padded lapel collar twisting around the head. I think that this combines two of the things I have been experimenting with, the padded structure and the draped elements whilst still treating it in a structural way. Another toile I would like to do would be one wholly focusing on padding to experiment with this kind of look, but for now I am focusing on this one as an introduction to how padded elements could look in my garment.
I decided to cut a bodice with kimono sleeves already attached to the main bodice piece, and then to have separate panels to continue the sleeves down past the fingertips. I particularly liked this look on some of the drapes I did where the lining of the sleeve was pulled out past the original sleeve to obscure the natural shape of the arms, and I particularly like oversized shapes for this project in order to convey a sense of power and authority. Once I had done this I cut various flares pieces to sew on top of the sleeves, which at the moment were simple bell sleeves, with I did by drawing on layout paper on top of the sleeves how big I would like them, then slashing and spreading the shapes to add flare before cutting them out of calico. I tried to place the flares in an asymmetric way, with varying lengths to create an uneven tiered effect inspired by the layered shapes I found in one of my drapes. I think it could be interesting to develop this idea forward to have a texture on the underside of the flares that could be peeping through, similar to the effect of the layered padding I found in my deconstruction of the suit.
Additionally, once I had done one sleeve, I found that the contrast of the heavily flared sleeve with the bell sleeve was actually quite effective, and made the structural effect of the flares to be even more prominent, and I think the asymmetric quality gives it more of a fresh effect. I therefore just did one flare on the other sleeve to balance it out slightly, and cut the collar so that it balanced the flare heavy sleeve. I really like the effect of the padding, as it creates structure whilst retaining softness, and is something I would like to develop. I am really pleased that despite not feeling that well I was finally able to start constructing toile experiment pieces and I think that the shapes look really effective. Although I don’t know whether this will be part of my final piece, and it could do with considering how to more fully integrate suit elements and sheer or cut out elements, I think it is a good stage in my development and I think it captures the sense of arrogant, assertive femininity that I want to portray.
Monday 20th March
Today I have been continuing the sketchbook work that I was doing yesterday, and integrating the samples. I have also been doing some design developments from these and thinking about taking the design forward. I think I still need to integrate the different strands of my thinking more, and I think that this is particularly something I could do following the crit on Thursday as I will have some other opinions on what is working and look to combining the best elements of the work I have been doing so far.
I also spoke to my tutor Alice about my work, and she gave me some positive feedback saying that she thought that my project was looking strong, which is nice to hear, and also that she didn’t think that I needed to worry too much about annotation and making every part of my concept explicit. This is different to what my other tutors told me last week, so I think I will go somewhere in between and ensure that my annotations are legible, and I think also that having my project proposal at the front of my sketchbook will help as it will set the scene for what the project is about.
My tutor further said that she really liked my samples, but that it would be good to have them bigger so that it is possible to see them on the body. I agree with this, as I think that I have recently been limited by simply making small samples, and I would like to in the next few days make a toile of part of a garment. She suggested that a good way of seeing my prints on the body would be to create them very large for example on pattern paper, and then to manipulate this into a garment shape. This reminds me of something I saw in the documentary ‘Dior and I’, where Sterling Ruby prints for garments were delivered in paper form and then loosely formed into the vague shape of the garments they would create to observe the effect.
This evening I went to buy some beads in different colours as I have been using beading quite a lot in my work and at the moment I only have clear or pale pink beads, which creates quite limited effects and have a tendency to look quite girly. So instead I bought a variety of different shapes in the colours of my colour scheme so that I could expand the texture of the beading I have been doing, and I think that they should generally be useful in the future anyway even if I don’t decide to do beading in my final piece as it is very time consuming and it is necessary to either use very large beads or to attach hundreds of them to create any kind of great effect.
Action plan until the crit
-Finish off bookwork, putting in samples and making sketchbook presentable
-Make toile of design idea in 3D to present on Thursday
-Make small portfolio sheets and if possible document toile in sketchbook
-Morning, finish off sketchbook and presentation sheets ready for the afternoon
**Update** I think that this plan was realistic, and i was able to get everything I wanted to done, apart from the presentation of my toile in my sketchbook as i wasn't happy with it, however this wasn't a problem and wasn't necessary at this stage
Sunday 19th March
This morning I went to a vintage fair, and I always find this very inspiring as you always come across completely unbelievable and amazing garments to input into the ideas in my head. I think that this is much better than just looking at fashion on the catwalks now as you don’t want to copy other people’s work, or to be the same as what is happening as the moment, as this isn’t interpreting the current world in an interesting way.
Following this I did more of my sketchbook pages looking at the padding developments I have been doing. I also have been making a couple of samples looking at padding to have alongside the photographs in my sketchbooks to have something tactile on the page. I experimented with quilting pinstripe fabric with scraps of coloured fabric sandwiched in-between, and then slicing open the pinstripe fabric to reveal the colour underneath. Through this I hope to explore the sense of inside/outside, and I think that this is something I could develop further in my work. Also on the same train of thought I made a quilted sample with sheer fabric with colour fabric underneath, to create a ghostly imprint of colour, and I really like the effect of quilting with sheer fabric so this is something I could also develop further. I could integrate this with some of the body paint textures I have been looking at or the colours.
Saturday 18th March
Today I spent doing sketchbook work, most of it I have been working back into the pages and adding design developments highlighting how the textile samples I have done could fit into the idea of subverting the suit. I hope that this will clarify the pages more for someone looking at my book that hadn’t followed my project all the way through, and I added only small hints of colour as I have found that when I add too much the illustrations tend to look a bit overwhelming. I also coloured the illustrations I did yesterday in the same way, which I plan to put into my pages by photocopying the collage that is existing on the page and then putting the designs over the top, and inserting the photocopied collage as a mini extra page in the middle of the double page to make sure that all aspects are visible on the same page. I think I am learning to do my design developments in a more instinctive way without labouring as much over them, although I am still being very slow in comparison with how I had to be for earlier projects.
I think I need to strike a balance because it is important that I get all of my work done, though I still want to do it well and do things I am proud of, so a mixture of quality and quantity! To further underline the suiting link I had also been adding in little swatches of the textile techniques in the suiting fabric alongside it so that it doesn’t look as disconnected.
I also created another collage in a double page I had taped up to perhaps further explain the link with 19th century clothing, which my tutors found difficult to understand from looking at my pages. I think it is hard to explain something completely just through pictures, so by doing another page on it hopefully it underlines its importance, though I am going to ask my tutor on Monday her opinion of how I should put words on the page so that it still works aesthetically and doesn’t look too obvious whilst ensuring that the project is easy to follow.
I have also been considering what I would like to achieve over the next week before we break for the Easter holidays. It is a little bit annoying that the holidays are when they are and not a week later, as according to the timetable I have set for myself I am still finalising my development in the first week of the holidays, though it would be good to have at least a line up of possible final designs to show to my tutors for Thursday so I can have their feedback before I choose my final one and begin making it in the second week.
What I would like to have done is to have toiled part of a garment for next Thursday, which could be an element that appears in many of my favourite designs. To get there I plan to photocopy the elements I think are working the best and come up with some designs that pull together my preferred parts of each one and then to start to visualise how I would make them in the real world. Although I have done lots of textile samples and some draping I haven’t made any constructed samples, so this is something I would like to do next week and the first week of the holidays.
Friday 17th March
This morning I finished the page on the deconstructed padding, and added in an image showing the area of the suit the padding came from to clarify the reason for putting it in my book! I also embroidered over the top of it, which took a while. I then went back to the pages I had done on the pair of trousers I had converted into a jacket- one thing I also need to do is draw a diagram to illustrate that it comes from a pair of trousers and I must remember to do that. I finally got round to doing the design developments I had been avoiding doing, and I tried to do it in a much more natural way without overthinking it all the time, which I think worked to an extent and I found it to be an easier way of doing things. By setting a time limit of 10 minutes per design, although this is still a long time by some people’s times, is a good length so I can still think about them but not spent an overly long amount of time on them.
So far I haven’t done any series of drawings developing the same design, but perhaps this is something I could do when I have picked my favourite few designs and are compiling them to come up with my final design.
Tomorrow I aim to go back into my first samples and to do design developments for them in order to tie all the different parts of my project together. I also need to do this for the samples I have later on in my sketchbook, but I aim to do this after I have done all of my padding pages and to pick my favourite few silhouettes and to cut out a shape and place the prints underneath them as a simple way of showing the print’s transition onto my garment shapes.
I have also been thinking about how to put across my project’s concept more clearly, and perhaps on the first page before my first double page I could have the title and them make a subtitle so that the reader can see my sketchbook from that point of view from the offset, and also make sure that my annotations are clearer on the page.
Thursday 16th March
Today I had another tutorial, this time with tutors who don’t normally teach me, and didn’t know anything previously about my project. I think that this was useful as it highlighted to me the fact that it isn’t very easy for outsiders to see the links between my research and the thread of my thinking throughout the project. I think that my tutors liked the work I had been doing, and thought that it was interesting, just that they couldn’t see visually the link that I can understand in my head. We also discussed how I think I have lost the suit image visually in my book, and although when I look at the samples I can see how they could fit into the suit idea, someone looking at my book can’t, so I really need to spell this out and to demonstrate where I see them going. They also made a good suggestion about using my deconstructed jacket and twisting it in on the itself, and perhaps having the textural samples I have been doing coming out from the inside, and to illustrate the idea of power through dress and undress.
I felt a little bit winded after the tutorial, as it made me question everything that I have done so far, but I think that it is very important that I know now that I need to go back and show the link more before I go on and do more stuff later on. They also pointed out that dotting around with lots of different ideas without showing the connection is a common mistake, and from listening to what they were saying to my classmates I know that many people are making the same kinds of mistakes, and that we are all in the same boat.
I think that what I need to focus on is perhaps collaging suit images with photocopies of my samples on the pages to really show the link, and perhaps to do another preliminary collage to try and show the link more. The tutors also suggested that I put words on the page that are key to my ideas, although I have got annotations, but I think I will wait before I do this and ask one of my other tutor’s opinions of how I do this as I don’t want to ruin the layout of the page.
This afternoon I have been doing a page on the deconstruction of the padding of the jacket I did, and I have been discussing all of our work with some of my classmates and asking each other’s opinions of what we are doing. I think this is good as it is an opportunity to talk through our ideas, and one of my friends was saying how she does design developments very quickly, drawing without overthinking so she can no only complete work in a short space of time but it is also more natural. I think this is something that I need to work on, and I have been trying to do more of this tonight although it still took me far longer than it took her! This is something to bear in mind as I know that I have a tendency to overthink a lot, and after all the purpose of design developments is to make mistakes and to see what works best.
Wednesday 15th March
I spent most of this morning cutting and sewing a commission I have for a sari top, which I enjoy doing as a way to keep up my construction, fitting and finishing skills as this is something that isn’t really focused on on a foundation course. I am now in the final stages of making it and cut it out of the final fabric. I feel slightly bad as it meant I had to spend most of the day not focused on my project, though it is still developing my sewing skills and it is only the same as if I had a part-time job- only thus is relevant to my chosen field!
Following this I decided to do some further research into padding and quilting techniques. I think it is important to keep up research throughout the project, particularly at this half-way stage when everyone is feeling a little bit jaded and my project could do with looking at some fresh research. I am particularly interested in how you can create something very structural out of something soft, and I could also involve gathering. My tutor agreed with this yesterday and thought it could be an interesting route to go down, such as by making enormous jacket elements that are quilted and wrap around the body. I also find the idea of using padded panels as if they were style lines interesting, to create an alternative structure on the body and to emphasise it whilst at the same time covering it.
I started to deconstruct one of the jackets I bought, and photographed the padding inside. The hidden structure of something is interesting, and I could look at padding coming out from a garment. I found the structure of the padding interesting, because on the one hand the padding can obviously be still some of it featured vertical stitching that appears like pinstripes, and other areas seemed like it was coming apart in delicate, soft fragments.
I did a few drapes on the stand, trying to manipulate shapes, although as I have mentioned previously, I find this method quite difficult, although I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. I did find one shape I made to be quite interesting, with the lapel twisting around to create a protruding bodice, which I think I could develop into an intriguing silhouette.
I think that what I really need to do is once I have explored the padding experiments I have been doing, that I look at the design developments I have been doing and start to make structural constructions out of toile fabric to start to see what it would look like on the body. Tomorrow I have another tutorial so I will see what feedback I get and go from there.
Tuesday 14th March
Today I had my progress tutorial, although I haven’t yet received my feedback form. I think it went quite well, we went through my work and she asked me to point out which things I thought were working, and mostly we agreed so my tutor said that she thought I could identify the strengths in my own work, which is a good thing. I think that she although thought that my design developments were interesting, particularly the most recent gathering samples I have been doing, although I know that I need to bring back the suit into it more.
From doing my samples I haven’t been visually showing the suit next to them, as I think I have been a bit tentative of designing in case it doesn’t look like how I intend, which I know is counterproductive and irrational. I have also been having a bit of a mental block around how to integrate the suit in an interesting way, though my tutor agreed with me that looking into the padding side of it could be a good way of gaining a structure in a soft way whilst looking at the suit in a fresh way.
My tutor also thought that my proposal was ready for submission, which is good as I don’t have to go back and redo it, so I can draw a line under that now and focus on the project itself. When looking at my research she said that she thought it looked a bit disparate, which I guess means that she didn’t think that it flowed very much and looked a bit disconnected. I think that I will ask my other tutor about it on Monday for a second opinion, as when you read the annotations I think you can see the links, but maybe I can move the sections around a bit so that they connect a bit more? I think I also need to find some more art references, so perhaps I can go to the library at some point to make sure that I have a balance between art and fashion references, and also my own work.
Monday 13th March
Today has been a difficult day in terms of getting things done, I think I have spent more time just staring at my work and distracted instead of spending the time usefully. I think that this is because for the whole of this weekend I have just been doing work and nothing else and I have simply been looking at my work for too long. I think that it is important to have breaks where you can get inspiration from going outside such as to exhibitions, as I feel a bit closeted in my work. I also feel a bit burnt out today, so I think that this evening I am going to finish off workflow things and annotate my work and finish off the design developments I mean to do tomorrow. Tomorrow after my progress tutorial if all goes reasonably well I am going to have the evening off to recharge as there is still quite a long way to go on this project and I need to make sure that I sustain energy and motivation. I haven’t ever had to do a project of this length for such a sustained amount of time before, as though I had longer projects during my textiles A-level, this was only a third of my overall workload and it was more of a relief in between French and history essays. Art is such a mentally taxing thing as it requires a deep amount of thought and development so I think what I have learnt today is that, in the development and designing stage at least, when doing a longer project you can’t just work all the time or you will run out of ideas. I don’t have any inspiration for the design developments I need to do to accompany my samples, so instead of forcing them out tonight, as I know they won’t be very good and will just copy what has gone before, I am going to do other things now and leave them until tomorrow.
Apart from my lack of energy today I have done two pages for the sample where I turned a pair of suit trousers into a jacket and I have also done one and almost done the other of the pages for the gathering samples I did. I have almost finished one sketchbook now and I think that I feel reasonably pleased with the work I have done so far and I am looking forward to having some feedback tomorrow on it. Though I do also feel slightly apprehensive as I hope that all the work I have done won’t be for nothing and that I need to nudge the project in a different direction. Now I think that I just need to concentrate on shape development and integrating this with my textiles samples.
Sunday 12th March
This morning I have been colouring the design developments I have done yesterday. I think that in some respects it would probably be better to do the colour alongside doing the design as then you are visualising them both simultaneously. I used the colours from my colour scheme, and intended them to be bright, although they really are very bright and I am slightly concerned that they could be a bit distracting. I think that perhaps a solution to this could be to use a block colour and then only accents of the other colours to round the colour scheme out. I also added touches of machine embroidery to the drawings, which I think works well as this adds texture and interest to the page, and it also draws on the theme of looking at traditional ‘female’ crafts and craftsmanship in my work.
I additionally did a page drawing on the drapings I did on the body of a suiting jacket, choosing those I thought worked best and developing them. I particularly like using oversized shapes and structure, though I think I need to think about how I can portray sheer fabric in my drawings. I also need to think about different ways I can visually show the links to the suit in my designs without appearing too obvious.
I also started to put in the fabric samples I did yesterday, adding in collages onto each page. I also plan to at some point put design developments on the pages, however I would like to do these after the quilted sample that I plan to do, which comes before it in my sketchbook so that more of a link is visible. I am feeling quite exhausted today, and I am looking forward to getting some feedback on Tuesday as to where my work is going so that I can help re-energise my work.
Saturday 11th March
Today I have been making fabric samples using the Holi dye that I ordered, with somewhat mixed results. Rather disappointingly it doesn’t work very well on the sheer fabric, which I suppose shouldn’t really be surprisingly but wasn’t something I had thought about, although it does work well on tightly woven fabric. I could therefore either come up with a different mixture or use the powder on opaque fabric and then put the sheer on top. I also embroidered over the top of them, which I think works well, and the idea of detail and craftsmanship is something I would like to input into my project. However I think that sometimes the beads and sequins look a bit pretty, and I could investigate other types of embroidery, such as embroidering little discs of colour leather or more industrial metals or plastics.
I have also finally started my design developments. I feel better now that I have started them as I think that that can be the hardest part, and in wanting to create interesting designs it becomes difficult to begin at all. I am pleased with the ones I have done, although I still need to colour them to bring them alive. I also think that in some of them the idea of the suit as a starting point isn’t very visual, and I think I need to consider the extent to which I think that this is important. Tomorrow I plan on adding colour to these and also doing a couple more following the jacket draping on the body pages I have done.
Friday 10th March
This morning I have been completing some sketchbook work, doing the second page on the work we did on Monday and then putting in the prints I did yesterday into my sketchbook. I don’t really like the work we did on Monday, and I am not sure how relevant it is, but I think it is good to put it in anyway and its not as if two pages could really put a dampener on the whole project. I am more pleased this morning with my prints, and though they are quite abstract at the moment, I think that they look pleasing and explore the colour scheme and some of the textures I have been looking at in an interesting way.
Following this I went to Kings Cross to do another fitting session for the third year students, which was again very fun to see how much they can do in a short space of time. It is also interesting to note how much time they spend tweaking designs and working on the body, and although I know that by the time you get to the final year the designs are less abstract and are slightly more about the wearability of the pieces as well as the ideas, seeing how a design looks on the body is very important before you make it to allow time to let the design to grow.
I have also finally done my colour scheme page with a collage based on my research from the paint bombs used in protests, and the Holi celebrations, which I am pleased with. I think it shows where I have got my colours from whilst still being an interesting page, and ties in well with the paper prints I have done so far.
Apart from doing some more annotations for my workflow, this evening I also went to a talk at the Women’s Collective in Mayfair around dressing for power, which I thought would be relevant for my project. However, I was very disappointed, as they had some odd panellists, the male owner of a suiting company, a female entrepreneur originally based in men’s accessories and the female executive of Fortnum and Masons, none of whom seemed to have any more of a kind of expertise or insight into the subject than I do. Most of the discussion was based around superficialities not to my knowledge based on reliable research, such as stereotypical differences in behaviour between men and women. Furthermore, the comments were more statements of what is the case in terms of the perception of the way women dress and are viewed in the workplace, rather than an exploration of the subject, discussion of why it is that way and how it could change, or philosophical debate. All in all, it rather more intensely irritated me than anything else, although this in itself could be useful in testing what I really believe and seeing how I could input these ideas into what I am doing. It is slightly annoying as I could have either spent this time doing more useful or enjoyable things, but what is done is done I guess.
-Part of colour scheme page
Thursday 11th March
Today was a mixed day I feel in terms of productiveness and usefulness for the remainder of the project. Whilst I completely understand why the tutors were asking us to use the day to try out techniques and start actually making as I think some people aren’t at that stage yet, for me what I need to focus on before my progress tutorial next week is putting all the samples I have already done into my sketchbook and then to carry on working more sculpturally on the body. Nevertheless, I decided to try lino printing as it’s a technique I haven’t done before. I was initially stuck as to what to do as a print as all of the print-based samples I have done before have been more focused around texture and a paintily way of doing things, instead of the more graphic effect that lino printing produces. I decided to try one with the shapes from a draped piece of fabric to make a 3D structure 2D, and then a small panel with lines in the style of tacking stitches. The stamps actually took quite a long time to cut out, and when I tested them they didn’t work very well, the shapes for the drape I had done looked more like a zebra pattern than anything else and the tacking stitch design looked a bit like road markings. I did another drape pattern, decreasing the size, and this worked much better, and looks more recognisably like a drape, and rounded off the corners of the lines of the tacking stitches stamp, although it still does bear a resemblance to road markings!
After testing a couple of the different colours that were available, I decided that the white worked the best, as it prevented the more graphic design from completely taking over the page and was still very effective on coloured surfaces, similar to that of the flour and water mixture used to make the body paint textiles. I printed these onto some of the prints I did on Tuesday, which worked well. I then collaged them into mini print samples with papers in other colours from my colour palette, and embroidered over the top. I feel that by bringing in the other colours it really brought it to life, and makes it much more eye-catching and attractive, which is good to know as I think at the moment that the colour scheme works reasonably well. I also like the contrast of the paintly surfaces with the block colours, as this provides a good contrast and prevents the colour from being too much. At the moment I am envisaging making a final piece in a single block colour, and then suing my other colours to add paintly flourishes and accents to the design to highlight and embolden it without it becoming too much like a fancy-dress costume.
Today I also learnt the technique of felting fabric, which one of my classmates showed me, and I found that it was really effective on sheer fabric, and appears a lot like the effect created by the flour and water body paint mixture, which I could combine together and develop further.
This afternoon one of my tutors also had a chat with the group and spoke about the need to be motivated and the lack of energy in the room, which I agree with as I think at the moment both myself and some of my peers feel a bit jaded. Whether this is because we are almost at the end of such a hectic year, the applications process, or more self-directed work over a longer project I don’t know, but I think I just need to focus on the enjoyment side of it to encourage me to work hard in a positive way. I feel slightly concerned that maybe I haven’t done enough yet, or that what I have done isn’t very strong, but I think the more important thing is to focus on doing what I feel passionate about, rather than working through fear as I think that the former will produce the best results- everything is much easier when you feel calm!
Overall, I think that today was useful in that I have produced some interesting collages for my sketchbook, and to reference back to in further development, though I don’t think that I am going to include lino printing in further samples. I think the important thing for me now is to get everything in my sketchbook and to get back into working big and on the body, as I think at the moment I am hiding behind doing small samples to avoid having to think about the bigger picture.
Wednesday 8th March
Unfortunately, today I didn’t get very much sketchbook work done, as this morning I visited Westminster again to have another look around the facilities to help me clarify my decision about next year. I find that this is helpful in reminding me of what is available as often when you are looking at universities many have similar things so you start to assume that some things are available for use when they aren’t, and this could impact your decision.
Following this I went to King’s Cross to do another fitting for the third year students, which was again fun, though shorter this time, as I think it is very interesting to see how everyone’s work is progressing and just to glance around and observe the process.
I did do a page on the sculpture and design development on Monday, although I don’t think that it is my strongest work from this project, though I think it is good to include it anyway as otherwise it would have just been a waste of time. I decided to spread it across two pages to retain white space so I need to finish off the second page.
Tuesday 7th March
This morning we had a workshop on pleating and gathering, and I preferred the style of the day today as it was more open to what you personally would find useful instead of more set activities. I already knew how to do pleating and gathering, but I found that as I was just working on the sewing machine and playing around I started to experiment with the techniques more, such as moving around the gathers to create protrusions. I have already been including gathering in my work, so this should fit in well, I just need to put all of the samples I have done into my sketchbook. My tutor also showed me how to create ruff-style pleating, which was very interesting as I don’t know whether I am going to use it for this project but the shapes have always fascinated me so its good to know for the future.
In the afternoon I experimented with mono printing and creating different effects with blending the colours together and using other materials. It was slightly frustrating that there wasn’t any blue ink as I couldn’t make the colours fit completely to my colour palette. I think I will collage them in with papers in other colours from my colour palette to rectify this in my sketchbook in order to present them.
I found that it worked well when foil was used and then partially covered in the ink, as the contrast between the metallic and matte textures was a welcome contrast and added relief, which is something to bear in mind.
This evening I have been making a few more gathering samples, and carrying on experimenting with them, both in opaque and sheer fabric. I have to be wary as when you gathered sheer fabric it looks very girly, which isn’t an effect I want to create, so I think I have to think about the materials I want to use, which is something to think on for my progress tutorial next week. I am pleased with all of the samples I have made so far, although they are all very small just because I wanted to see what was the most interesting technique before using a large amount of fabric, though I think I do need to scale it up soon to really get an idea of how it works on the body, and to draw design developments in my sketchbook alongside them as otherwise this may turn into a textiles sketchbook!
Monday 6th March
Today we did a workshop based around abstracting shapes and putting them on the body. I can see why we did this and it is a good method of quickly getting on the body, which I think is important even in this longer project as our tutors have said that some people leave getting on the body until its too late and aren’t able to develop their designs fully. However, I think that for me personally, because this project is so individual I knew what I needed to complete and focus on in order to progress, and so I don’t feel like I have achieved very much today. The more prescribed activities, whilst good at enabling me to do work faster, meant that I wasn’t looking at my research properly and thus when doing draping I wasn’t producing new or exciting things, but just repeating old ideas because of the time constraints. I did enjoy the drawing activities, and I think that I do really need to practice drawing a lot more than I do in order to improve and advance my ability, however this very set day made me feel a bit like I was back at week one.
I feel that I dealt with working quickly in an instinctual way much better than I did at the start of the course, and I think that I have learnt to be calmer and less reliant on validation from others in order to feel reasonably confident, so I am pleased at the way that I feel like I have progressed as a person. However I think that perhaps it is because today I felt a bit stuck in a rut and just repeating old things, plus the activities brought me back to the very stressful quick projects, but I feel a bit more down this evening and less confident about my project. I feel like at the moment I don’t feel very inspired in terms of silhouette, and I think that this is at least in part because I have just been doing draping, which is something that I think is good for me to do more in order to push me outside of my comfort zone, though I think that for me in order to generate exciting silhouettes I find constructing something off the body and then applying it to be more useful. My tutor agreed with this in my assessment feedback, and I think that this will help me to generate larger, more impactful and playful shapes, which I feel is lacking at the moment and I am getting lost in the detail. I think that going back to this kind of thing and thinking about the work I have done so far in a more structural and simpler way will help me, and I think that I need to get back to the root of what it is that I am trying to do, and get inspired again from my research.
I spoke to my tutor briefly today about my concerns about my silhouette, but she reassured me and said that at the moment we don’t need to know exactly what it is that we are going to do, and that at the progress tutorials next week we can assess where I am and where the project will go from there. Next week I should also have a lot more time to focus on completely self-led activities, so this week I think I should just concentrate on trying to do something interesting within the workshops that we are doing and just look at it step by step instead of trying to imagine what I am going to do at the end. I think that in part my feelings at the moment are because in a normal project today I would be starting to think of what my final piece would be, whereas I still have quite a long time to go before I need to think about that, so I should stop worrying and focusing on the final outcome, and just have fun and play around with some ideas first. I feel a bit like I don’t know what I am going to do for the rest of the project, as if I have forgotten how to do a long project! This week I think I am just going to focus on getting my existing stuff into my sketchbook and doing the workshops and thinking about design developments, and then next week really look at the shape and do some structural samples.
-Draping, self-taken photograph
Sunday 5th March
This morning I rearranged the material I used to make the first drape, and found that it made a very interesting shape with a large stuck out collar, and a draped back, which I arranged in order to make a kind of cape form. I think that this looks effective, however I think that everything just needs to be bigger and less detailed. I find that when I do drapes it is easy to start getting side-tracked, and whilst it is good to have draped elements, soon I would like to do some constructed pieces where I start to look at pattern manipulations.
I did do one more alteration, where I took one of the pairs of trousers and gathered up the legs and undid the centre seam to make a jacket out of them. I think that this worked surprisingly well, however, because of the restriction of limited myself to an existing amount of fabric, whilst the shapes themselves were successful, they still aren’t impactful enough.
This evening I draped an existing jacket on the body to try out different interpretations, which I think were quite successful, particularly looking at the shoulder piece, which can create an interesting protrusion. I have also been putting in some of the work that I have done so far into my sketchbook, and drawing on top of my images, although I think that I will need to finish this next week.
Saturday 4th March
Today I feel very inspired, I have been thinking some more about print ideas for fabric and in order to go with the crunchy, crinkling texture of the flour paint I thought that it needed a chalky, soft texture. From this I thought of the power dye that is used during the Holi celebrations in India, which is used as a form of body paint – and what links it even more to my project is that paint bombs are often used at protests! I looked online and found lots of amazing images of riot police with pink paint stained shields, and well as the beautiful pictures of the Holi celebrations. I have previously been searching around for what to use for my colour scheme, and from looking at these pictures I think I would like to do pale blue, yellow, pink, purple and red, and I found these to be very inspiring colours in the pictures that I was drawn to. As they are all obviously very bright colours, and I do not want my final piece to look like a clown outfit, I have been looking at the way that designers use colour in their collections, and I think that something I would like to do would be to do my piece in a block colour, and then to use Holi paint and the flour painting technique to add accents of other colours and add texture. As after all I am subverting the suit, and a fundamental part of the suit is the navy blue and black materials, I feel that by using a non-traditional bright colour I will show the irreverential attitude I want to have towards it.
I want to order some Holi powder, and then to experiment with applying it to fabric, where by smearing it on top, or throwing the power on top of it to see how well it dyes. Next week I think it would be good to have some textiles samples exploring this, or to do a sample on the body and apply the power to that to see what it looks like next to the human form.
This morning I went to a thrift sale to try and find some suits, however it wasn’t very good, as also I bought a couple of jackets, they were tweed and therefore not real suit jackets, though I did buy one other that was more of a dress jacket. I went to some charity shops near where I live and these were much more bountiful, and I bought two pairs of trousers and and jacket that hopefully I can experiment with and make something of.
Tonight I have been putting the images from the drape I did yesterday into my book, and drawing on top of them in order to add into the designs. I find this to be a useful technique, and it clearly shows additions or improvements in your ideas.
-Holi festival, India
Friday 3rd March
This morning was very interesting as I spent a few hours modelling toiles for final years, and it was amazing to see what they had all created, and the wide variety of designs. The majority of students I was modelling for were knit students, and I was particularly struck by the extremely skilful and textural swatches that were pinned alongside the toiles, and are very inspiring to think about what textures I could create in my piece. Moreover, the way that some of the students used layering and sheer fabrics was also very inspiring. I had never really been into the BA studios before, so it was good to have a look around, I don’t know whether it is the same for all three years but the students had slightly more space than I had imagined, and it was a bit less frantic!
It was also a privilege to be able to listen in on the tutorials from the tutors, and I don’t know if I was expecting something more intimidating, but the way they were giving advice wasn’t too dissimilar from the way that my tutors give me feedback on foundation. I also thought it was good to have the toile stage where a group of people can give you feedback and you can look at the collection as a whole, as on my course we have mainly just been making parts of garments or samples with no time for toiling, and at A level I tested out parts of the garments, but I never made full toiles of all my collection to see at the same time. I think had I done this I may have been able to make it more coherent and improve it, so I think that even though I am only aiming to do one piece, during the various stages of toiling I think it would be good to, if not my tutors, then get a group of my classmates to look at it and critique it before I take it further.
This evening I decided to do an exercise where I traced over some patterns from some 19th century pattern books I took out from the library, and then joined them together to make a ‘super pattern’. I cut this out of fabric and then draped it on the mannequin. I think that this worked out well as I wanted to start to investigate the idea of protrusions and combine with with draping, which I have done. However, I am not sure how much the pattern itself contributed to it, as by pleated the fabric and folding it I could get rid of any restriction anyway. I think that I joined too many pieces together, so if I were to do this again I think I would only conjoin a few pattern pieces. Nevertheless, I think that this is a good base on which I can progress my project.
Thursday 2nd March
Today I have had a very productive discussion with my tutor, who thought that the samples I did yesterday were interesting, and have some suggestions as to how I could go forward. She suggested that in the future I go bigger so that I can start to look at how they look on the body, which I think is important to ensure that they don’t just stay two dimensional.
She also suggested some interesting things such as take pattern pieces as abstract and using them on different parts of the body and painting on top of nude coloured tights to see what it would look like directly against the skin. My tutor particularly liked the broderie anglaise sample I did, and suggested the interesting idea of using these perhaps as eyelets, and I could make my own bigger ‘thread’ out of fabric, which I think could be a good way of linking pieces together in an unusual and more graphic way.
This evening I have been putting the samples I made yesterday into my sketchbook, incorporating collage. Previously at Alevel I would just present the sample by itself on a background along with an annotation, however I think that incorporating it with collage and other elements is a more sophisticated way of presenting things, and melding everything together to create a coherent journey across the project.
I think that this project I feel like I am more confident in collage, and at the moment I am pleased with the way that my sketchbook looks, so I would like to continue the care and look of it throughout my project. This weekend I would like to start working on the body, and perhaps start experimenting with using some existing garments.
Wednesday 1st March
Today have been a productive day, as I have spent it making textiles samples. The flour and water method has actually worked really well, particularly on very sheer fabric as it retains a sense of delicacy. On some of the samples I combined the mixture with paint, which was good at applying the colour, however it altered the mixture and I think that in the future it would be better to use some kind of dye instead.
I have been looking at combining my fabric samples with other manipulation techniques, such as gathering. I gathered a section multiple times vertically, and then sewed cable wire over the top of the stitching, which creates a textured piece that can be manipulated into different shapes thanks to the wire, and is something that I could put into a bigger piece and put on the body. I also experimented with using smocking, by using a wave pattern, which works well and actually creates quite a structural effect, and would be interesting to try very large in a thicker fabric.
I also tried using the flour and water on plastic, however it just flaked off and wasn’t able to dry on the surface, and when I tried to melt the plastic over the top of the fabric for some reason it wouldn’t work. I did bubble up the surface of a piece of plastic to try and mirror the surface of the body paint, and used matches to burn holes in the surface. Once I did this I embroidered round the edges in a broderie anglaise style to try and explore a different way of using a traditional technique, and did a small finger-knitted sample with wire, which was a bit more difficult than I anticipated!
Overall I am pleased with the samples I have made today and I think that I have some things I can take forward in different ways in my project, and I look forward to talking to my tutors tomorrow to see what they think of what I have done so far.
Tuesday 28th February
Today I had a tutorial with my tutor, and she seemed to like my concept, which is reassuring. She suggested that instead of just starting from the jacket, which could turn into something where you can foresee what it would look like at the end, I could work inwards, by looking at what I could add to it or use to subvert it. I think that this is a good idea, and should create something more unexpected. I also think that this will help me when I start to work into the jacket as I should have more ideas. My tutor also suggested that I look at the images I find most interesting, and go from there, and I think that the body paint images are very interesting, and that there are many ways with which I could translate this for my work.
I was particularly drawn to the cracked texture that occurs when it is put on very thickly and I have been thinking as to how I could recreate this in fabric. I have been researching both on the internet, and I have also been looking at some books in the library. One book that I found particularly inspiring was one where they challenged a series of Chilean artists to use body paint and photographed the results. One of the artists had covered the whole body in the beautiful rippling, cracked texture, and this is something that I would really like to replicate.
In order to think about how I could do this, I have come across the technique of using a flour and water mixture to create a resist on fabric that can be using in the dyeing process to create a pattern, but which I could leave on and crack to create a similar kind of effect to the paint. This evening I have been painting out some test samples, as I have read that it takes around overnight to dry properly, so I am excited to see the results tomorrow, and hopefully it works! I am planning on combining the paint test samples with looking at traditionally ‘feminine’ techniques, in order to try and turn this on its head by using them in a traditionally very masculine garment.
- 'Painted Bodies, by forty-five artists'
Monday 27th February
Today was a strange day, which I suppose is to be expected, given that it is our first day back and we are all trying to organize our projects into some semblance of coherence. It was interesting to hear about other's projects, though I think that whilst it is nice to speak to those that aren't in your immediate circle of friends, the patterned session would have been more effective if we could choose our partners. This is because we understand each other's working processes more and i think when you know someone a little better you aren't as afraid of giving advice.
Nevertheless, I have had some good feedback from those who I have spoken to who think it is an interesting idea, and they seem to understand it and be passionate about it, which is exactly what I would like. My tutor and I also had a discussion and it was good to hear that she thought I had made a good start as I was a bit concerned that the idea wasn't very original, but I feel a bit more at ease now. I find my idea interesting, so I think the important thing is just to get on with it and have fun and just focus on what I want to do. So often I worry about everyone else, but I am slowly realising everyone else as just as little a clue of what they are doing as I do! Particularly as it is the last project, and UCAS is done now, I think this project is just to bring together all the skills I have been learning and do a project for me.
I feel a bit bad that tonight hasn't been very productive, although I did read through one of the books I got out from the library, and earlier I did four mini collages from some of my research. I would also like to read the second one I borrowed, however as the last few nights I have had barely any sleep for one reason or another I think I might get up slightly earlier tomorrow morning instead. Although I realise that simply because this project is longer than normal that isn’t a reason to step off the pedal, I think that as long as you don’t let work pile up on you and keep up a steady pace then there is no reason to have less than 6 hours sleep every night for 10 weeks. By looking at things in a less rushed manner I also hope to be able to look at my work more objectively and reflect in order to make it the best that it can be. I am also pleased with the research I have done so far and I am looking forward to working on the body soon.
I am also relatively happy with my project proposal at the moment, I don't think it is completely finished, I think it needs some editing down but I think I have conveyed my ideas- even if in a slightly long winded way! I also need to work on my title, I don't think it's quite there yet, so I think on Wednesday I will spend a bit of time going over that before the hand in on Thursday, and tomorrow I mean to ask my tutor for any feedback she may have.
Sunday 26th February
Today I have been doing some more collages, focusing on using and combining the materials rather than just sticking them on the paper without doing anything to them. I have done two smaller collages and one larger one, which I think work well at explaining my ideas. I would have liked to have done some more and had more time, particularly perhaps through doing a series of iterations with the same images, or by taking shapes from these to do a series of very quick print ideas. However, these are things that I can always do next week, and from taking to my friends I think that they are at a similar stage to me so I don’t need to worry.
It will be good to see everyone again tomorrow after not seeing lots of people for quite a few weeks, and it will be strange to be in a classroom situation again! I think it will be interesting to speak to people about what their ideas for their projects are, as usually everyone has such diverse ideas and different interpretations of the subject.
I hope to also talk to my tutor tomorrow about my concept, as I am a little concerned that it is too unoriginal as it is inspired by the current climate. I hope that she can see a way of my developing the work I have done so far as I think that I am quite far into the research now so though I think I would only have to nudge it in a different direction I think that one you have mentally got yourself in a research direction it is quite difficult to get out again!
Saturday 25th February
This morning I went to the London Fashion Week Festival- after being extremely disappointed that I happened to be away for the entirety of the week! I had hoped to see some inspiring things that might give me some ideas for my project, however I was severely disappointed. It seems to me that more and more the only things on sale are things of dubious quality that are still actually quite expensive, so I didn’t buy anything, and even the more expensive and better quality items weren’t particularly inspirational. I don’t know whether it is because being in a creative environment we are all mutally encouraged to express our individuality through our clothes, but I think now it seems more like a money-making opportunity for those trying to make a profit out of the London Fashion Week affiliation than a genuine experience. Next fashion week I am definitely going to try and get into the shows!
This afternoon I went to see the American art exhibition at the RA, based on art produced in the 1930’s following the Wall Street Crash. I think that this is an interesting period of history, one that I studied last year, so it would good to know the context behind the work. In some respects I often think that work taken out of its context, most often the time period, renders the work useless as it no longer in many cases represents what it did at the time, or appears as it did to fresh eyes, much like the popular view of fashion. Although there is clearly value at looking at historical or past objects, they are not as powerful as they were at the moment they were created to fill, which I think is a shame and I like to try and think about the impact they would have made on the world around them at the time.
I thought that the exhibition was perfectly good, though I didn’t feel particular interested by it, and I think that it would have been good to have had more information about why and exactly when the works were created in order to understand more about them.
-'America After the Fall'- RA
Friday 24th February
Today I have been tidying up the loose ends of what I have been doing so far, finishing off the collages that I started the other day and updating my workflow. I have been annotating and grouping the pictures I have been putting on there. I have found throughout the projects that this makes it easier to look at by clearly organising it, both for when I am looking back at my research for inspiration, and for when my tutor looks at it alongside my sketchbook work. Annotating always takes much longer than I think, which I really shouldn’t find surprising by now, but by getting my head in the zone and just getting them out I find that I am able to complete them slightly quicker.
I have also been looking back at my project proposal, and I am quite happy with the first and last sections that I wrote, and the timetable I have made for myself, so I have started outlining the section where I describe my aims for the project. Now that I am clearer on what I am trying to do I feel more able to do this, and I think it is important to cover both what I am going to explore in terms of ideas, but also the techniques and stages I will use in order to achieve this. Before the end of this week I hope to review what I have written so far and to finalise the title in particular, which I am having trouble coming up with at the moment. I would like to have an interesting title that catches the eye, rather than just simply saying what I am looking at, perhaps using a play on words, but something that is easily understandable whilst still being interesting. I often find that looking at the thesaurus to find alternative language to be useful, so perhaps I can do this at the weekend to try and think of something. Although even if I don’t have a title by the end of the weekend it isn’t the end of the world as I think that the most important part is the rest of it, and I can also ask my friends if they have any ideas.
Thursday 23rd February
I am so impressed with the Burberry exhibition I went to see at Makers House today, I found it incredibly inspiring and surprisingly relevant to my project. I have decided that for the two exhibition write-ups we were required to do that I am going to do one on the Russian art exhibition I saw a couple of weeks ago, and this exhibition as I feel that these are the most inspiring and relevant to my project exhibitions that I have seen recently. Due to this, I am clearly not going to do a full write up here, but in the research section alongside the photographs I took, however I found the array of ideas, materials and shapes astounding. One thing I found quite strange was that in so many of the pieces there were things and ideas that I had been exploring in previous projects (though clearly to a far inferior standard) and many pieces were very structural and very much in keeping with the kind of pieces I like to create.
I found the military references particularly interesting, as this links in with my project, due to uniform’s links with suits and the fact that uniform uses clear symbols of rank and authority that are merely found in cultural references in civilian dress, as well as using the idea of complete ‘sameness’ and uniformity as opposed to freedom of identity. This included use of braids as well as military styles, and the use of materials is one thing that I will take away from today.
One thing that I did find very surprising was that I found the smocked and ruffled pieces very enticing, when usually I abhor frilly designs. However, I felt that they were done with a structure and a purpose, rather than just putting ‘stuff’ on a figure, which I personally find to be a less interesting way of creating garments. I really liked this contrast of the lace with the harsher fabrics, such as wool, and this is along the lines of what I was thinking prior to seeing the exhibition, of contrasting a suit idea with sheer fabrics to create a juxtaposition between soft and hard, and opaque and sheer.
This evening I have been researching and thinking more about my concept, particularly about what my purpose is in creating my garment. I like the idea of taking a modern symbol such as the suit and subverting it, though up until now I have just been making observations, whereas now I have been thinking about what I want to do with that idea. I think the key for me is that the suit represents the ‘box’ that the stereotypical predominantly male establishment requires everyone to fit into, acting as a symbol for things such as anti-family working hours, or a testosterone-charged atmosphere. I find the restrictive, conservative attitudes like this to ‘appropriate dress’ extremely frustrating and makes me feel very passionate about the subject, because when women wear things other than this kind of ‘urban camouflage’, they are judges far more by what they wear than what they are saying. So I think my aim is to recontextualise the suit into something that breaks outside the box of traditional male values into something more individualistic or fun.
I like the idea of looking at the slut walks and the ways that a lack of clothes is used, but equally I wanted to find a contrasting way of dressing to feel empowered as from all the recent examples, to have authority it is apparently the case that one has to dress like a man. I would like to try and create something that goes against this philosophy, or rather combines it with another aspect of dress, as I think that why should women try and play by the establishment’s rules? If you have the choice between a man and a woman only forcing forward ‘masculine’ attributes, you will choose the man, instead women offer something different and should be able to celebrate their differences without it infringing on the value of their talent or words. A period I would like to look at is I think the flip side of the rational dress movement, conventional fashion between 1880-1900 as I have read many articles where women were making a conscious choice to wear corseted fashion as they found that it empowered them and enhanced their sense of femininity. Tomorrow I am going to make a decision on this and do some more research into my workflow.
Wednesday 22nd February
Today I finally began working in my sketchbook, which I always find slightly nerve-wracking as it is the first time that you put your ideas down in a more concrete way in a manner that is ‘yours’. Before starting to collage this morning I spent some time going through my notes and books and photographs of books I had taken in the library to gain inspiration and jot some ideas down for composition of pages. I find that this helps me because then I have more of a plan and don’t have to constantly reference books throughout the process, allowing me to figure out how to adapt a technique on my own instead of directly copying from someone else’s work. I had aimed to get three pages done today, however I have only done two, which aren’t quite finished yet. This is quite frustrating as I know that I spent much longer on them than I should have and that today wasn’t quite as productive as it should be. Nevertheless, I think it ok to spend a bit of time at the start so that I get my footing a bit and feel a bit more confident.
I just don’t know where the time went today, I think tomorrow I might, as well as finishing off the collages, do some quick smaller ones on the page and make sure that I time myself to do 15 minute collages once I have printed out my imagery. I think I also need to draw a bit more and involce markmaking, so I could perhaps at the start do some collages but then do some exercises where I do four small fabric or print samples on a page similar to the exercise that we did previously in the more scripted projects. I think that this could help me, as looking back, I am quite pleased with some of the work I did in those conditions, and I think that might help me to loosen up a bit.
This evening I went to the closing show of the Final Sew by Molly Goddard, where visitors were invited to sit and embroider onto a multitude of different enormous 12-foot tulle dresses in an array of colours. I found this to be very enjoyable, as there was a very relaxed atmosphere, with music playing, and as it was the final evening it was quite busy and buzzing. I really enjoy sitting and hand sewing as I think it is a very communal activity and feels very traditional and comforting. It was also exciting as Mollu Goddard herself was there, and at the end of the evening all the dressed were lowered into enormous cardboard boxes. I really like the idea of doing an interactive art piece, as it was really seeing what everyone else had added to the pieces that injected something else into the works and added layers and depth. It was also an interesting insight into the way that garments can be presented as art pieces as well as fashion items, which are all interesting things to bear in mind for the future.
-'The Final Sew', Molly Goddard
Tuesday 21st February
Today I have been updating my workflow and trying to get everything into some kind of order. I still need to do my annotations, everything is suddenly creeping up on me a bit and I need to make sure that I get everything done! I have also been thinking about materials to research, as I have been treating the library exercise we were given as an ongoing task, which I know wasn’t was it was originally intended for, but I think for me it makes it more meaningful and ill more likely mean that I will include things that will be useful for my project. From researching I came across a very interesting artist called Lynda Benglis, who created amazing melted sculptures, which is an interesting idea of how to manipulate material. I think I need to plan out my time to make sure that I will be able to have everything completed. I also need to start getting my ideas down in paper as I think that this will make them more concrete and will also highlight to me what parts I find most interesting and work together in terms of going forward.
For when we go back, I would like to have a number of collage or print samples done, and my workflow up to date and annotated, with my project proposal completed. I have almost finished it, I just need to put in the bit about my actual project, and come up with a title. One thing I also need to make sure I do is do the exhibition write-ups in my research. I have been to quite a few, and I have taken notes. I just wanted to wait until I was sure of what I was doing so that I could select the most relevant ones to talk about.
Monday 20th February
Today I have been thinking more about what exactly my concept is, and what underpins it. I am interested in using the concept of taking a garment with strong cultural or political connotations, such as the business suit, and taking that into another context, and combining it with other things to morph its meaning into something I identify with that goes against what it traditionally stands for. As the suit has both establishment and feminist angles, I have been trying to narrow down exactly what I am exploring to get it sorted in my mind. I don’t want to base my project entirely on feminism as I think that as it is such a current topic that many other people will be exploring it, as well as the huge amount of influence it has on the catwalk at the moment. I want to involve it and have it influence my project however, as it is something that really matters to me, so I think I am going to take it more in the direction of it being a feminist reaction against the establishment. Although this may seem like a fine line, this definition helps me to organise my research in my mind and clarify my direction.
This evening I have also been reading one of the collage books I have taken out of the library and been writing notes on what I think could be interesting to explore in my collages to explore my research. I think that collaging will help me to sort through my ideas, and after all, as fashion is a visual subject I need to explain and experiment with my thoughts in that manner. Although something like collage seems very simple, I find looking at artists helps as it aides me in approaching it in a fresher way, and focusing on manipulating and altering the images. I think that I will start collaging as soon as I can to start putting down my thoughts on paper properly.
Sunday 19th February
Today I visited the Picasso Museum in Antibes, which was interesting as they not only had works by Picasso, but also artist from the same time period. Although I wouldn’t say that they have Picasso’s best work on display, it was fascinating to stand in the space that had once been his studio for a short time, and to imaging what it would have looked and felt like. It was also intriguing as many of the pieces on display were those that he had created in that very room.
Another artist whose work I admired created very simple pieces, yet ere pleasing to the eye. They were composed of clean dry brushstrokes across a canvas in ink, leaving parts that weren’t fully covered in ink to create an interesting streaky texture, and made something that can appear so everyday very beautiful. From the pieces on display I found their texture more inspiring often than the pieces themselves, though it was nevertheless interesting to look around and learn more about how art interacts with the area. An interesting feature of the town is that at various points they have placards with images of the paintings that were painted in that very spot. It feels very special to stand in practically the exact same spot that Monet did when painting practically that self-same view.
Saturday 18th February
Today I have been looking at the slut walk marches, which is something I came across whilst looking at recent protests. As I am looking at how clothes represent our belief systems, I find it also an interesting notion that having no clothes at all can equally show this, but in a different way. Nudity, especially female nudity, is a charged subject in today’s society, either representing female objectification, or female empowerment, two very contrasting subjects. However, I have no interest in simply using nudity in my work as I find using shock tactics in general when used badly very dull and more of a substitute for genuine, well-thought through pieces than anything else.
However, it would be interesting to experiment with using transparent fabrics, and the use of body paint is also something that I find very interesting, I could for example experiment with using embroidery techniques, painting, or spray painting onto sheer fabric and putting that on the body to contrast with something like a suit to show a brief expanse of skin.
The juxtaposition of using soft, delicate ‘feminine’ fabrics alongside the weightier ‘masculine’ fabrics and cuts could also be interesting, and would give me an opportunity to use and experiment with lots of different techniques suitable for different fabrics.
From my research into sub-cultures I have also been reading about the history of the suit, to see if there is any interesting information that could inform or influence my project and one thing I found is that the modern day suit is at least partially a descendent of military uniforms. I really love looking at uniforms as I find them to be very beautiful but also charged with symbolic meaning, and also links in well of me looking at the suit from the perspective of cultural unity in the form of protest, and making it a kind of uniform for people reacting against what it represents. However, as it is also something that is used a lot at the moment, I need to be careful that I use it in an original way, as I am still concerned that what I am looking at is being explored too much in the current catwalks.
I think I also need to identity what exactly it is that I am reacting against, I think I could do this by looking at what the suit represents, and thinking what it is about that that I disagree with, or makes me angry, and go from there.
Friday 17th Februrary
Today I have been putting in the pictures I have found onto my workflow page. In general, I like to do some research and have an idea of what I am looking at before I put the pictures on workflow as then I have an idea of the different categories I could put the pictures in to make it clear and readable. As I have said many times before, this takes much longer than I anticipate, so perhaps I good way of doing this would be to do it in short bursts, so perhaps spending an hour on workflow every day. This could help ensure that I maintain my concentration and don’t get distracted as is easy when I know that I have hours to stare at my laptop.
I have also been thinking that lots of my references at the moment come from fashion, so I think that firstly I need to find more references from artists to see how people have explored similar ideas in a different medium. I have been trying to search for some artists, but so far I haven’t found any that particularly inspire me, so perhaps I could either ask one of my colleagues if there is any person’s work that springs to mind when they look at my research, or look up previous exhibitions at galleries.
I have noticed also that so far my entire project is based on looking at clothes, which makes sense given my idea of looking at how clothes represent us and a belief system or affiliation to a certain set of ideals, but I don’t know whether this would make my project too limited? I don’t know whether it would be a good idea to find some references outside of clothing, but so far I am not sure what I could look at without it going off on a complete tangent and finding something completely unrelated. One thing that I want to avoid is having too many references crossing over each other so it becomes convoluted and confusing.
Library research questions
- List how you will fulfill your aim and your objectives in this project: (objectives are usually more specific than an aim. Think about the methods the skills and techniques, the processes)
- I aim to fulfill my objects through primarily collaging my research in order to fully explore my ideas before starting experimentation. This may include deconstructing garments such as suits, doing draping and also through creating textile samples. I may also decide to develop my collage ideas into prints, through mono-printing, screen-printing, or digital printing. Finally, prior to constructing the main objective, a final piece, I will create some constructed toiles to look at silhouette in 3D, requiring both pattern cutting and draping skills.
- List and think about your audience. Is there a purpose to what you want to do, or a specific user or group it is for?
- I think that my target audience is definitely women, as the aim of my piece is to create something the empowers them and is in a sense a protest garment against the stuffy and outmoded dress codes that many are forced to abide by, that are generally weighted against them.
- Are there any Theories tied in with your theme? (theory can be ideas or sets of principles)
- I have been looking at theory to do with the way that we represent our identity through our dress, and also the identity of a group that we associate ourselves with, and the power of dress as a symbol
- I have been studying theory thinking about how garments change the way we view ourselves but the extent that they can influence others, and the conflict between individuality and a uniform-like conformity
- I have also been revising feminist attitudes to dress stretching all the way back to first wave feminism and earlier
- Can you see re occurring themes in in your work developing? areas you are interested in or inspired by? For example - If you are interested in something like architecture think why? What aspect? What does it make you think, in what context?
- I can see that I like to take inspiration from structural shapes, as I think that this allows me to create something that is much more than just the body, but to also invent my own frame
- I also frequently explore feminist angles as it is an important part of my outlook on life
- Military motifs also appear throughout my work, as I think they combine a very structural aspect with a sense of theatre and drama used to glorify for whom the soldiers are fighting
- Are you working within any parameters, rules, restrictions enforced by you or external? (for example the Bauhaus movement had specific design rules it followed)
- I don’t think I am necessarily working within rules as such, but I think that I am working within the principle of taking a symbol from modern society with which I disagree, and altering it and using it instead to promote values that I believe should be shared
- What is the context of your project? Would it be a very different project in a different context?
- Absolutely within the context of the current political climate, taking inspiration from protests and resurgence of feminism in popular culture, though taking an angle that I personally find very interesting and not broadly looking only at feminism itself as an inspiration, but rather a feminist reaction to events
- In a different context I think I would have been inspired by something else, or taking a different angle on it as it contains themes that I have noticed that I return to, though undoubtedly if other issues were prevalent in the collective consciousness my project may reflect that.
Wednesday 15th February
This afternoon I have been researching collage artists and collaging techniques in the library, and I have found some really interesting books with lots of ideas of how to use the technique in different ways. I found that I had a lot of problems with collaging in the last project, and just couldn’t get it to be ‘right’, so hopefully looking at these artists might give me some inspiration. I find the books in the library to be very useful, and I love looking in books, but I haven’t yet found a strategy for finding relevant images early on in a project, as opposed to looking up a specific artist or designer. It is annoying because usually at the start of a project I mainly do internet research as you can do more targeted searches, and then later on use books when I have more of an idea of what I am looking for, but I think that using books would help me to find and develop that idea. I need to think on how I can use the library more consistently in an effective way.
I am also feeling quite worried because from looking at the fashion week shows I am concerned that my idea is too current as so many designers are doing protest t shirts or political ideas and I don’t want my project to come across as a copy-cat idea. I genuinely came about my ideas through a different route, and as it is something that is affecting society today, which is part of the brief, and part of our collective consciousness, I suppose it is natural for lots of designers to explore similar things? I just don’t want my project to appear samey or un-imaginative, and I am quite worried about it because politics is something that I am genuinely interested in, but maybe I need to find some other references? The last thing I want is for someone to look at my work and think that I have just copied it off someone else. The use of military references is also quite rife at the moment, which was also something that I was interested in, I suppose because, just as I was thinking, it represents female empowerment.
The use of feminism in fashion is so common at the moment that I am wondering whether I should find a different slant on it? As obviously, due to the fact that I am a woman, feminism is a big part of my life so it is something that I enjoy exploring in my work, and is a common theme I have found in my projects. I am not sure whether the fact that the ideas I am looking at are being look at right now is a good or bad thing, because I suppose in a way it means that I am looking at ideas in the world today, or bad because it looks unoriginal? Although environmental issues are very important, and they are interesting, personally I find political issues more drawing, and as it is so imprisoned on the public consciousness I suppose it is only natural?
Part two assessment feedback
Tuesday 14th February
Today I have been researching subcultures to see if there are specific ones or just one that could directly relate to my chain of thinking. I have been investigating the history of the subculture throughout the 20th century, and also how, before they came to be thought of as ‘subcultures’, un-mainstream dress developed and influenced later subcultures, such as the ‘dandy’ and the rational dress movement.
One culture I find particularly interesting is that of the ‘teddy’ girls in post second world war Britain. It is one of the lesser-known sub-cultures in comparison to the ‘teddy boys’, the male counterpart, however I find the girls more interesting as during the 1950’s extremely feminine fashions were in mainstream fashion so therefore by rejecting these and donning male suits they were truly rejecting social expectations at the time. This also links in well with the suit theme I have been exploring, as they bought second-hand c1900 men’s suits and paired them with contrasting clothing as part of a reaction either for or against the trend that upper-class suit manufacturers were trying to instate, that of a return to the pre first world war gentleman’s suit.
I think that it is interesting that a subculture requires two contrasting cultures, something to react against, so I need to consider what exactly it is in the modern world that I am reacting against in the project. I think it is good to research lots of different avenues, thought I need to eventually narrow it down to what I really want to look into and streamline it. I think part of the problem with the last project was that I had too many chaotic ideas so I need to figure out exactly what part of what I am researching interests me.
The idea of contextualisation interests me, as this is exactly what the subcultures did, taking garments that represent something else and then mashing them up with garments from a completely different time or perspective, so one way I could explore this is through collage, cutting up different garments or objects and placing them alongside each other to try and create something new.
Monday 13th February
This morning I handed in my sketchbooks and portfolio for assessment- I have just realised that I forgot to put in copies of my last assessment feedback but hopefully this shouldn’t impact my grade, though I don’t want to make more work for my tutors by having to go into the computer system and find it. Everyone was clustered together discussing who got into BA and who didn’t, which made for a slightly awkward atmosphere. However, I am really happy that my friends who didn’t get onto their top choice courses seem to be taking it very positively and viewing their options as more of an opportunity to take things at a different angle, and I hope don’t feel too upset by it or allow it to hold them back for the final project. I have also noticed that since the introduction of this project and the proposal of a feature in 1 granary that a lot of people have become a lot cagier about their thoughts and their ideas. I think that this is a shame, and also rather pointless as no one is going to copy anyone else, because who wants to do a project that is similar to someone else’s? I would like to promote a culture where we all help each other and give each other constructive feedback to improve everyone collectively, as everyone has a different style anyway and everyone’s projects will develop differently.
I think that recently I have also begun to get hung up on the feature in the magazine and the final project, as because it is the last one I think I put a little bit of pressure on myself that it is has to be my best one. I think I also compare myself to others too much, whether its look at students’ workflow from last year or thinking about what everyone else may be doing, whereas I need to focus on doing a project that I feel passionate about and not being concerned with the thoughts of other all the time. Only this way will I create my best work, and by being in a happy, motivated and calm state of mind I will be able to complete the project more effectively, and if I am picked to go in the magazine I am, and if I’m not I’m not, and to a certain extent it depends on what kind of message they want to send through the article as to who they choose and that is outside of my control so I shouldn’t focus on it.
I know that some people have already got their assessment feedback, though I haven’t, I think because my surname I farther down the alphabet, and today I have been spending some time in the library. I am having trouble finding imagery at the moment to inspire me, so I think that tomorrow I will continue to try to find inspirational artists and designers and start putting it all onto workflow.
Sunday 12th February
Today I finalised all of my work to hand in for the assessment, I firstly made sure that my workflow was set to public, so that my tutors would be able to access it. Then I had to take apart the massive sketchbook that I had compiled for interviews and put it back into two sketchbooks so that it would fit into my portfolio and so that I could re-insert the pages that I had removed.
This seemed a bit like a surgical operation, removing the cover and splitting apart the pages before rebinding the lace project pages, and making sure that the rest of time lab remained in the first sketchbook. I then re-glued the pages to the sketchbook front and back and made sure that they were all secure. I also put in some of the extra collages I did for lace that was outside of my sketchbook. For this project I was a bit unhappy with the collages I had done, as I don’t think that they are very aesthetically pleasing and appear a bit childish. I think that this is one aspect I would like to focus on at the start of this project and collage in a way that I find interesting and advances the ideas of my project rather than just explaining them. This is an aspect that I feel I am improving more and more across the course of the foundation, that of using the sketchbook as a working tool rather than just some kind of presentation case in which to put in pictures of samples or inspiration, and actually working in it to develop my thoughts and designs.
I think that a good way to develop my method of collaging will be to go back to the pictures I took of books on collaging techniques from the library, and also to go back into the library and look up some artists to inspire me. One thing that I think I need to do is focus on putting together only around 3 different elements in smaller, more insightful collages, and not print off a mass of material and try and mash it together. By using small elements, I think that I can work into them more rather than just sticking secondary imagery into my sketchbook and I think that this will hopefully improve the start of my project.
I was slightly unsure as to whether I should go back to the collages in lace and re-work into them or do more mark-making, but the tutors emphasise that we shouldn’t re-edit our work, and I think that I have other examples of collages across the other projects, so hopefully this will be enough.
After this I also wrote up my reflective notes on the last few days and uploaded them all to workflow. For this project I really will try to write up the full accounts as well as simply doing notes every day, as although I usually never let more than 4 days to a week of diary to creep up on me, even this means that it becomes a task rather than a daily habit.
Moreover, today I have been reading a lot of articles to research my project. One of my tutors suggested that we also look at theoretical writing to research, and this is something that I like to do anyway as I think that I am quite an academically minded person in the way I like to research, and I think that it is useful in terms of getting ideas with which you then research primarily in a visual way. I think it is important not to get bogged down in theoretical concept though, and this is something I will try and prevent myself doing on this project.
I was particularly looking at fashion as a reflection of current events, and its role in the formation and expression of personality. I was further looking at lots of examples of protests, as I think that I need to narrow down my concept and find an example to follow. I really enjoyed reading the articles, and I think that now I have more of an idea for my project. Something that I wanted to do in time for the assessment was to at least partly complete the project proposal so that I could get my tutors’ feedback. This is so that during reading week I can edit it before we come back, and also to see if they think that my concept is a good starting point before I have done lots of research and cemented it in my mind. I have completed the first and last sections, which I found reasonably straight-forward as I like doing that kind of formal style writing and it is also quite similar to the EPQ project proposal I did at A-Level. For the concept section I put my ideas in bullet-point form just to get some feedback on it.
I also wrote in more detail my action plan, to get some feedback on whether it is realistic or not, though I haven’t completed the bibliography section as I haven’t compiled a large enough amount of initial research or ideas of materials to research. I feel a little more relaxed for this assessment than I did for the last one, as most of the material in it was in my portfolio, was seemed to be reasonably good, as it got me the university places that I wanted, so I hope that the assessment will go well!
Saturday 11th February
Today I have been thinking more about my concept, and having been talking through my ideas with other people to start to hear them out loud. I have been trying to pin down exactly what I find interesting, and I really like the concept of revolution, as garments play such a big role in them. Clothes symbolise a person or group’s beliefs and identity, and are visual elements of propaganda. Whilst investigating various different groups a common theme I have come across is that often groups demonstrate their protest by taking garments or a symbol of that against which they are protesting, and then defiling, altering, or changing it in order to turn it into a symbol for their own beliefs. This includes the punk movement, who took shirts and suit trousers from the generation of their parents, and symbols of the middle class, and tore them, ripped them, and added safety pins and chain to mark themselves out and to voice their rage against that previous generation and what it had done to society. Furthermore, the soviet army uniform supposedly originates from uniforms created for the Tsarist army, which were found and altered in order to support the new regime. This is a principle I could extend off, perhaps taking an element that is relevant today and using that as a starting point for development.
Moreover, I have been looking at different protests, and one that caught my eye was the umbrella movement in Hong Kong, where protesters used umbrellas as protection against the pepper spray used by the police. I thin that tomorrow I will continue looking at protests and also will investigate in more details charities I could look at to inspire my project, and I think that Amnesty will be a good one to look at.
This afternoon I also visited the Radical Eye exhibition at the Tate Modern. This was composed of photographs from the collection of Sir Elton John, and I think that this in particular is fascinating to look at objects chosen by such an interesting figure whose work I admire. I have never really looks as much at photography as paintings before, and do not know much about it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition and found it to be very interesting. This is particularly the fact that photography, unlike painting, tends to capture a moment in time, which can often be very spontaneous and can capture a glimmer of an expression that is gone in a moment, or something that cannot be held onto by the naked eye, such as a frozen swimmer diving into a pool. Moreover, the way that photographers, particularly in the early 20th century, used distortion and surrealist techniques in photography is very interesting and strangely beautiful. This included photomontage, and some of these ideas I could keep in mind for doing collages to express my ideas.
This evening I have also spent some time updating and re-designing my CV. This is because I would like to start applying for internships in the summer, and also to see if there is any volunteer work for Fashion Week. I think that industry experience will be vital to further my work, and would also be useful to make contacts so I could perhaps go back at some point during my BA. I have re-designed my CV using the same branding I have used on my workflow, as I think that this looks clean and clear, and have tried to show the information so that it is easy to access and won’t take much time to read. I may ask one of my tutors to see if it would be possible for one of theme to give me a reference, as I think that this would help when applying for experience.
Friday 10th February
Today I have been reflecting on the ideas I have been tossing around in my head so far and I think I am interested in following along the idea of looking at how clothes connect to identity and how they can be used to remove identity as well as express it. I think that this could connect quite well to some of the stories I have been reading on amnesty’s website, which is a charity that supports those fighting against human rights abuses, and those that are incarcerated illegally. I am further interested in looking at uniforms, as it is quite an interesting concept that you have to be dressed a certain way in order to be killed legally or to kill someone else, and also looking at revolutions. From the Russia exhibition I saw on Wednesday I really like the concept of how art and dress was used as propaganda to change a way of thinking, and the contrast between the upper classes’ way of dress and that projected by the soviet proletariat is startling and I find it very inspiring.
At the moment I think I need to marshal my thoughts and try and find the main concept underpinning what I want to explore and research some artists that could inspire me. I am wary of centring my project entirely in fashion as I think that could make it quite limiting, and I also want to be much more aware of current artists or fashion designers in this project. This is because I think that for the last project I got too bogged down in the historical aspect, and began to think in words rather than pictures, and then couldn’t communicate my thoughts visually. I have to remember that I am not researching to write a history essay, but in order to inspire me visually and to keep this in mind. I also think that often my pieces are entirely un-wearable, and although this can be a good thing, I think I would like to start creating pieces that people like from the perspective of wanting to wear it and own it as well as from an art piece perspective, and something that could feasible be seen on a catwalk. I think that this is important for the stage up to BA as I would like to create things that could be seen as desirable from an industry point of view whilst still keeping the aspect of my work that I feel underpins everything I do, that of creating extremely structural things that often appear like something that could only been seen in a show, rather than as ordinary dress.
I think I also need to be calmer for this project, and not expect the concept to come straight away. I have quite a long time to come up with my project proposal, so I think I would like to spend some time on it, and to allow my ideas to come organically rather than panicking and forcing them. Today I have been looking at the workflows of some of the students from last year to gain insight into how they conducted the project, and what they wish they had done differently so I can learn from this. The ones I looked at all modified their ideas at some point, and one of the students took quite a while to find their final concept, so I think I just have to accept that it’s okay to not know exactly what you are doing all the time. They also planned on making more than one garment, though none of them actually did, so I think that I will plan on only making one garment and put all my efforts into it to make the best thing I have done.
Today I have also finished updating my workflow in time for assessment next week, which is a relief as it is something that always takes much longer than I think and can be very draining. It is also important to make sure that I have it completed not at the last minute as we have had warnings from tutors that workflow has been known to crash sometimes directly before an assessment as so many students from across Foundation are all trying to use it at the same time. This would be a disaster as it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to pass the section, so I am relieved that this aspect is finished.
Thursday 9th February
Today we had the briefing where the tutors went into more detail about how to write the project proposal in particular, and showed us examples of charities, student’s work and answered their questions. I feel a little clearer about how to involve the charity side now, as previously I wasn’t sure as to how that fitted in, or whether the inspiration had to be visible in the final product. However, after speaking to my tutor I think it is more about using the charities as inspiration from which to develop a pieces founded on some kind of moral or social issue, and to create a piece that is stimulating and interesting, but not necessarily visually linked to the starting point, but that which adds another dimension once this is discovered.
I also found looking at the student’s work from last year to be very helpful, and I think that I will do more of this, as although they will have had different starting points, it is useful to look at their work, and particularly their reflection diaries as then I can see what worked well and what didn’t in terms of time organisation or what types of concept.
Following the briefing I attended a tutorial on writing the project proposal, which I found to be useful, although similarly to last time I found the worksheet to be more useful than the activities, though at least by doing it I know that I haven’t missed out on any extra help or guidance.
After the briefing we were set a library task, to start our research, however at the moment I don’t feel like I am ready to jump straight into it as I don’t have a solid corridor to follow at the moment. I think that in terms of what I have found is more useful for me is to create a series of mind maps and to read articles on different aspects to map out the different possibilities, and to choose which I find most interesting and go from there. Whilst I don’t want to go against what the tutors have said, as they are much more experienced in these matters than I am, and I can see that this would be a good method of jumpstarting a project, for me personally when I have used the library before without a clear direction I tend to spend a lot of time wafting around and looking in books, which, whilst interesting, don't end up being relevant to my project and I waste a lot of time. Due to the vast size of the library, which is an amazing resource, ironically I find that I tend to get lost in it as there are so many possibilities.
I have instead firstly been creating my action plan for the project, as I find that once I do this I feel more motivated and secure knowing that there is a plan in place. I think that I will firstly spend some time finding more of an idea of what I want to investigate, and then come down to the library perhaps later this weekend to find some interesting imagery in books, and hopefully have more of a targeted approach.
I have decided that I will spend these weeks and reading week doing initial research and starting to explore these ideas through collage or print ideas, and then the four weeks after that, going through our progress tutorials and into the first week of the Easter holidays I will spend this time developing. I think that it is important to spend the most amount of time on this stage as this is the most vital to the successful completion and will provide me with the biggest amount of ideas from which to produce a fully formed final piece idea. Following this I will then spend two weeks creating my final piece, and then in the final week I will create the portfolio to go alongside this for the assessment, although I may do this with the final piece in tandem as I get closer to the time. I like having an overview as now I feel more prepared, and hopefully won’t be in a position where I don’t have much time at the end of the project. I have also been thinking about the themes, and I particularly like the idea of exploring Self, as this links to identity and therefore the relationship between clothing and identity, which is something that interests me. I think that tonight I will make a mind map on this subject and resume investigating it tomorrow.
Wednesday 8th February
This morning I attended the lecture on our final project. It is very strange and exciting to think that we only have one project left, and I can’t quite believe that my time on art foundation is almost over. I think that I have already learnt so much, and that my work has become much more experimental and mature just in these short months and I think that the experience has been invaluable both in terms of developing my work and also enabling me to be able to step up to BA next year. I don’t know how I would have been able to do it had I just gone straight from foundation and I can see why the vast majority of people seeking creative careers do art foundations, as with every passing year I feel that I get better and produce more varied work. It is also strange to think that we have over 10 weeks for a single project, which seem incomprehensible to me now after having normally only a 1 week or 2 week project! This is around the same length of time that I had for my exam project at A-Level, which seemed very short to me then, although it is true that I had to also do 2 other A-Levels alongside this, so it will be good to be able to spend so much time properly developing and carrying through an idea. This will also allow me to develop my pattern cutting and draping skills a little more, and spend more time on this aspect.
I was surprised that we are being given themes to work with as a starting point for this project as when I asked Alice, she said that there wouldn’t be. However in a sense this makes it easier as I will have a starting point from which to base my ideas, and often if you are told that you can choose anything, then you can’t think of anything at all! I think that the ideas I was thinking about could link to the themes, though I don’t think that I will try and force them in, but instead investigate aspects of the given themes and see if they come into play.
I also find it interesting that we are being asked to work towards the social aspect of fashion rather than simply looking at it from a consumerist perspective, and I think that this is a good way to think about your work, and to appreciate the wider impacts on the environment around you. However, with so many people it is often hard to find an idea that will appear original, and with the themes you could theoretically have a concept based directly from that, and produce an interesting outcome, though one that would probably be similar to other peoples’. This is something to think about, particularly after the briefing tomorrow.
This evening I also attended the Russian art exhibition at the RA, as although I haven’t worked through what my concept will be yet, I think that it could tie in and I find it interesting so it is good to look around it anyway. I thought that it was a very well laid-out exhibition, and included contextual details in order to make the art understandable, and I also saw the work of many Russian artists that I had never heard of before. I particularly like the Surprematist style adopted by some of the artists, including Malevich, as I find the stylised shape and form very inspiring. I also really like the idea of how the government used art and clothing to convey a sense of unity or ‘sameness’, through the style of the work as well as the subject. Furthermore, I found the section where there was a film with photographs of artists and those working in the creative industries who were imprisoned, exiled or shot by the government due to their art, and the image of their eyes starting into the camera, unknowing of what would happen next, is very poignant and haunting. These are all ideas to consider for the future and ones that I will bear in mind whilst thinking about the themes.
Tuesday 7th February
Today I found out that I have been offered a place at Westminster, which I am very pleased about as it is one of my top choices. It is also very gratifying to have a signal that someone else believes that your work has potential, and now that I have offers from Westminster and Kingston I am just waiting on CSM and Edinburgh. This is something I should use to add to my confidence going into the final project. The academic requirement from the Foundation is only a pass, so although I will clearly aim to do my very best and get the best grade that I can, there is no outside pressure on me, only that that comes from within myself.
Before the briefing tomorrow, I have been having a think about what I may want to do my project on, as Alice said that the title and subject would be completely up to us. From thinking about my work and what kind of thing I am drawn to I have seen that I tend to look at uniforms quite a lot. The idea of looking at clothes and the roles they perform and how they affect the person is something that interests me, and feminism is also something that is a key part of myself so I may look at something along those lines. However something that really interests me in particular is looking at revolutionary Russia, which is a subject I studied at A-level, and is particularly relevant as this year is its centenary. The extreme comparison between the extravagant opulence of the Romanovs and the strict utilitarian philosophy of the Soviets is striking and is something that I would like to explore.
I have been looking at seeing if there are any interesting or relevant exhibitions in London at the moment, and I have seen that there is a RA exhibition on art during the revolutionary period for which there is a preview on Wednesday, which I am very interested in and plan to go to. In terms of what is on today, I visited a small exhibition at the Gallery of Russian Arts and Design where they had a series of artworks by the Russian artist Irina Korina. In an odd coincidence, when I got to the gallery I recognised one of the artworks from one of my tutors’ Instagram, and realised that he had collaborated on the exhibition with the artist. It was a very unusual exhibition, because it wasn’t traditional in the sense of having artworks on the wall or in a designated space, the viewer was encouraged to walk around it in a maze of iron sheeting and be completely immersed in the work. This was particularly pertinent as the artist appeared to creating her own world, including characters, which are placed in a habitat that appears to be inspired to an extent by Russian fairy tales, including a forest which now appears dead and charred, but subverted to render what at first appears to be a characatured landscape into one that speaks of disappointment. I found the characters to be particularly interesting, as they were essentially large cartoon-like heads with apparently human legs protruding from them, as if there were live people inside them laid down on the floor. Upon closer inspection these were simply stuffed with shoes placed on the feet, but it was nevertheless very effective and also added an element of wry humour. I think that it is important to relate my project to the here and now, and only refer back to the past, in order to ensure that my project will be entirely relevant, and I think that a good way of doing this is to look at modern artists perhaps from a country or group that you are looking at in the past, to compare and see if the issues that were important then hold the same significance in the world today.
I also visited the V&A as I saw that among other objects, they has a selection of Faberge items, some of which were made for the Russian Tsarina. A particularly beautiful piece was a box encrusted with diamonds, and really spoke of the extravagance that dominated their lives that is unimaginable to the ordinary person, would would be an interesting means to use contrast and juxtaposition. Following this I also visited two galleries, viewing the installation by the artist Anya Gallaccio. I first studied her work at A-Level and I found this to be a very interesting piece, as it was created not by the hand of the artist directly, but by a 3D printer printing out clay in order to depict the Devil’s Tower mountain in Wyoming. Although unfortunately I didn’t view the piece at the time that the printer was actually printing, as it is an installation still in progress, and the piece continues to be made each day. I particularly liked the contrast between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ methods of creation, the traditional use of clay with the modern technology that is lauded as revolutionising design, and observing the somewhat chaotic results. The unpredictable nature of clay results in ‘imperfect’ results, where the structure appears to collage in some places and appear ununiform. Moreover, I also saw ‘Art Revolutionaries’ at the Mayoral Gallery. This featured works from some of my favourite 20th Century artists, such as Picasso and Alexander Calder. As well as Calder’s sculptures, it also featured one or two of his paintings, which I had never really seen before and it also helped me to make more sense of his sculptural pieces, It is as if through sculpture he was transferring the ideas he expressed through painting int the 3D, to create something tangible out of something so abstract.
I have had a very enjoyable day walking around London and visiting galleries, walking in the city is something that I particularly enjoy as often I forget to stop and take stock of the world around me, and I think it is important to appreciate the environment particularly when you are living in such as a vibrant city. I think I will wait until I hear the brief tomorrow to start marshalling my ideas and start to come up with the concept I want to take forward into the project.
Monday 6th February
I had a very enjoyable weekend having a short break to recharge before starting to have a think about what I want to explore for my final project. I think that this is important because I have a tendency to get very mentally involved with what I am doing so I need some time out to regain perspective and to ensure that I have a fresh state of mind to start the next project.
Today I have spent some time updating my workflow and catching up on things ready for the assessment next week. I should have made sure that I did it in tandem with my practical work, and this is particularly important for the next project as everything has to be done really at the same time. However, when finishing off my portfolio and doing my interviews I let some of my workflow slide a little, and left gaps in my reflections that I needed to fill. Though this wasn’t too bad, and as it wasn’t developmental work that I was having to remember and try and put down on paper it was fine, I just need to make sure that I make the effort to do it every day otherwise it becomes a big task if a few mount up on me.
I also transferred some of my research images from pinterest and word over to workflow. Often if I am researching whilst making samples or my final piece then I will collate them in a different format so that I can think about them but don’t need to spend the extra time painstakingly trying to put them into workflow.
Tomorrow I am thinking about going to visit some galleries to start to get some ideas for my project before the lecture on Wednesday.