Structures is an aspect of textiles that I have been keen to explore ever since I began to make clothes for my dolls as a child. The challenge is making a new form from threads, fabrics or other materials that has an identity of it’s own. At the beginning of this section we were also asked to work on analysing visual sources, colour matching and gauging proportion to develop ideas for design. This was a very useful exercise and I produced three yarn wound cards for development.
Stage 1 required me to make a complete rationalisation of my yarn stash as I couldn’t see what I had until all the balls, cones, hanks and strips were constrained into colour boxes. This was very helpful when it came to producing the yarn windings and woven samples, and I found I had quite a lot more in the way of unusual fibres than I had expected. The Yarn Book – how to understand, design and use yarn by Penny Walsh was very helpful for identifying the more unusual types of yarns and fibres I had accumulated. I also included my experiments with yarn made out of strips of plastic crisp packets folded in half and machine stitched along the length.
Stage 2 – making woven structures using paper and card was an interesting exercise and I can see that this type of development could lead to all sorts of other textile work, combining weaving fabric and other materials with appliqué, felting, knitting, cord-making, netting – the list is endless. Almost an overwhelming amount of inspiration! Also, when I began making the ropes, plaits and cords I did not feel that any of the samples I produced were particularly inspiring, until I began to experiment with paper and wire and then I started to see the possibilities. I also found the book Three-dimensional Textiles with coils, loops, knots and nets by Ruth Lee full of ideas for producing more combinations and shapes. The two further exercises involving frames in this stage were great fun and I ended up with two samples using some interesting materials, including maize leaves and kebab sticks. I also discovered that if you are using a triangle form you need to work on a larger scale than you might think.
I had made some simple woven structures in my previous textile studies, along with felting, knitting, knotting and wrapping but I have not attempted tapestry weaving in particular before. This is probably because the floor looms that were available to us at my old college allowed for making woven patterns so it was easy to get absorbed in that technique rather than keeping things simple and experimenting. I have been keen to investigate weaving further for my research into traditional Greek textiles and I now understand how the Ghiordes knot technique probably forms the basis for Flokati rugs and cannot wait to try out some more experiments on a larger scale but I will need to source a bigger loom than the one I was using for the samples in this section. I am pleased that my “toy” loom worked very well to help me produce my woven samples with a bit less stress than there might have been if I had been let loose with a hammer and nails. Again, I experimented with using materials other than woollen and cotton yarns, making use of plastic biscuit wrappers, fabric strips and fruit nets.
The final sample exercise was very useful. Starting with an image as a start point, developing this with a yarn wrap and scaling this up from a coloured sketch on graph paper is all good practice for future design development work. I need to try not to be too apprehensive when confronted with suggestions of using words or moods as inspiration for design development. I am working on this whilst I research my theme project as I have the word “entrance” as a starting point.