Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning about Cut-back in tapestry

As I mentioned in my previous post, I saw the technique of using slits in the weaving to enhance the design. 
I have also just learnt about a similar technique, cut-back, in my historic piece, where you pull hard on the weft where the hatching meets, causing a small hole to appear.  I have not got this technique to work all that well yet as I have only used it near an edge and I was nervous about pulling too tightly and causing the side to pull in.  But this technique also gives a design element by making a space in the weaving.
As you can see, it is a subtle technique.  I have not done much here and will try to post a clearer picture when I have tried the technique again later in the work. (This is the same piece of weaving, taken with different settings on my camera, hence the different colours.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weft & Warp Exhibition

Today my friend and I went to the Weft  & Warp exhibition of carpets woven in Afghanistan.  It was put on by Alexandra and Leigh Copeland, at the Glen Eira City Art Gallery.  The information from the brochure says:
The Copelands have set up symbiotic organisations called Weft and Warp to help Afghan women weavers.  Employment brings financial security for widows and their children, and importantly,  gives incentive and social networks, and boosts morale.
Alexandra designs carpets and markets them at a nominal profit - this is WEFT.
Afghan women weave Alexandra's designs in their homes in Afghanistan.  This is WARP - Women of Afghanistan Rug Project.
We couldn't get over how cheap the rugs and carpets were, especially considering the amount of work that goes into them.
There were many beautiful rugs of both traditional and modern design, using different techniques and yarns.  Several of the rugs were woven using the soumak technique and it looked very much like knitting but with a different texture.  There were also reversible rugs and we had to look very hard to see where the ends were.  Very impressive weaving.

One aspect that interested me was that of using slits in the weaving to add to the design.  In the weaving I have been learning, we sew these slits together but today I learnt that they can provide an extra element to the design. I asked for permission to take a photo of the technique, here below.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

dusk at Darebin Parkland

This evening we went to Darebin Parklands for a walk.  There was a smoke haze as there is burning off in nearby areas in preparation for next summer.  Yes, it does seem early to be getting ready for next summer but there is not a lot of opportunity to burn off the undergrowth once winter comes.
I took my camera and got some shots of the sunset and the hazy view of the city.

We walked around for about an hour and by then the sun was down and the moon was up.  The only annoying thing was the mosquitos.  It was pleasantly warm, fruit bats were flying overhead and it was very peaceful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Working on a Community Tapestry

Today I had the privilege of working on a tapestry that is being woven for the Dorothy Impey Aged Care Home in Brunswick. (That's the founder, Dorothy Impey at the bottom right hand, woven by Joy Smith, my teacher last year.)  It has been designed by past and present students in the tapestry area of the Textiles and Design course at RMIT.  There are four separate pieces to be woven.  Each piece relates to a different historical use of the site.  It has been a munitions factory, a migrant hostel, the Melbourne College of Textiles and is now the aged care facility. The link between the Melbourne College of Textiles and the current Brunswick campus of RMIT has contributed to the development of the tapestry.

So far, the first two pieces are well on the way.  Students are encouraged to participate and can actually claim part of the work as one of their tapestry assignments.

It is a bit nerve-wracking to be working on someone else's design. Fortunately Cresside, our teacher, was present and able to give advice and some teaching of those techniques you touch on in first year but forget when you have to use them again.  It looks like being a valuable learning time for me.
It was also good to meet another student of tapestry who is in a different class and whom I would otherwise not have met.  It is often a gathering place of like-minded people putting in some extra time between classes.  A good chance to catch up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tapestry grows slowly

I worked for about four hours on my tapestry today but it is not very obvious that I have done much.  Very slow.  I try to work in the daylight hours as it is harder to see at night.  It is still warm here, so I am noticing that the warps are getting a little grubby from my sweating hands.  I try to move away every hour and make sure to wash my hands but it is still hard to be pristine.

Here is a picture of progress so far.  The colours are not quite what I was expecting but they are ok.  I need to take pictures or walk away and view from afar to get an overall view of the piece.  It is easy to become focussed on the small parts and not see the overall effect.
Hopefully, I will not get headaches tomorrow.  I have been suffering lately and suspect the tapestry weaving but have made an attempt to improve my posture and to take more frequent breaks, as well as doing the few exercises the physiotherapist has given me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Penny helps with tapestry

One of our assignments for tapestry is to copy part of an old tapestry and look closely at techniques used.  I have chosen a small part of one of the Devonshire Hunt tapestries.  We only have to do a small portion and mine is based on a dog (bear?) from the scene.  I am finding it quite tricky to see how some of the weaving was achieved.  It is has a lot of hatching but it is not altogether linear and I am having a hard time deciding whether it is age that has caused some of the irregularities or deliberate weaving.  
I was working on it today and Penny decided to have a look and give me her opinion.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Laser Cutting

In our computer class we have been using Adobe Illustrator to come up with designs suitable for etching and cutting, using the new laser cutting machine that has been bought for RMIT.  I had quite a bit of trouble at first as I could not think of anything that I particularly wanted to make using the laser cutter.  There were quite a few suggestions put forward but nothing that I could see that I would ever use.  However, my sister collects and makes miniatures, for dolls houses, and I eventually came up with the idea of making a screen for one of her rooms.
Here are my initial bits - there are supposed to be three parts to the screen but one of the designs didn't work properly and will have to be cut next week.  

I also made three very plain panels as she is also into decoupage and I have suggested that she put a design on them.  She has already made a very pretty screen using decoupage in the past.

I find it hard to work on ideas that I can see no use for.  Some of the other students have fabulous ideas and come up with wonderful pieces but I don't want to make those things, it is very frustrating to be so focused on making practical pieces that I might use.  I probably need to loosen up a bit but I also don't want to be adding to the clutter I have already accumulated.

I am feeling relatively pleased after this - I have something that I can see a use for, I learnt how to use Illustrator a bit more and there is a tangible item made.  

Friday, March 5, 2010

Repeat patterns

Oops, I nearly didn't manage to follow my resolution of posting at least once a week. Fortunately, our teacher pointed out an interesting website for us today.
We are learning to use repeat patterns in our Integrated Design class. We are developing designs to use in our Screen Print, Knit and Weave classes (slightly different criteria for whichever is our focus). Today we were shown a free download program that produces repeat patterns. It wasn't designed for this purpose but gives endless play with the concept. It is called Escher Web Sketch and was developed for students studying chrystallography.

I have just downloaded it and quickly produced these patterns. I will have to have a better look at the program and see if I can come up with some pleasing designs.