SUBSTANCE

Well, exhibition no.2!

We were lucky enough to get enough of us together to hold another exhibition at The Abacus again. This time it consisted of all students from Cardiff School of Art and Design, however it was mainly Fine Artists, so I was therefore the only illustrator contributing! But I didn’t let that scare me away. This exhibition is called ‘Substance’.

Sub·stance
n.
1.
a. That which has mass and occupies space; matter.
b. A material of a particular kind or constitution.

I was really looking forward to this exhibition, as I knew instantly that it would be the complete opposite of ‘Are You Lost Yet?’, so it would be nice to get a feel of how different exhibitions go. I did a lot of hard-working during the hanging of AYLY, so I felt confident enough when it came to hanging a second exhibition, and this was taken into consideration when people asked me to help hang their work. Their was such a variety of different art pieces within the exhibition, from taxidermy, prints, installations, videos and so on, a feast for the eyes.

I knew almost instantly what I wanted to create for this exhibition, working in a style that I only tried once before the previous year when illustrating a personal piece of a dinosaur skull.

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I really enjoyed working in this style and knew that I wanted to develop my skills further in this technique, so I began thinking of how I could bring this into Substance. Another subject that I have always wanted to illustrate and have shown some interest in is anatomy, so I began to combine the two. I wanted to focus on the head, and everything on the inner and also the outer layer, go right into the depths of the face, the eye and the ear to show the extent of how magnificent our bodies are and highlight all those little features that we don’t usually see.

This exhibition took up a lot of my time, it was very hard work and I began to fall back on my university work (baring in mind I had already done one exhibition which had also taken up a lot of my time). One drawing took over a week to complete, then two more on top of that. Then came hanging the exhibition. I began to grow very anxious and conscious of how much time this was taking out of my uni year but I tried not to let it worry me too much, as at the same time I can make sure I redeem the time I have lost and also enjoy the opportunity I have been given. All that aside, the exhibition went swimmingly, with live music from Howl and Grey Mondeo- we celebrated like we were celebrities. So, here are my 3 pieces for Substance:

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Here is a photo of them hanging in the exhibition, and below are links to PDF scans for you to see a more detailed view of my work.

ear      Mouth      eye

I am extremely happy with how my work turned out and I am confident in this way of working and would like to take it into future pieces. I worked at an A4 scale using fineliner to dot my image. I then used www.printed.com  to get 5 prints per illustration printed in order to sell at the event and afterwards also. I had them printed on 2mm thick card and signed them also.

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So there you have it, here are my prints. I still have some available so if anyone is interested in purchasing any pleased don’t hesitate to get in touch. £20 each!

Have lovely day!


My Field (2) Experience

I knew right from the beginning of this module that it was going to be a good one. When meeting Keireine at the stalls when she told us briefly about the Morocco trip, she seemed a delight to work with and very passionate about what she had to offer, and she didn’t let us down! I have learnt from previous experiences of travelling that it suits me and I am able to take a lot away with from the trip, and I was in dire need of getting out of a block I had got myself in and being inspired all over again. It was almost like being reborn into a whole new world of illustration. But it is important not to forget that this module wasn’t just a week in Morocco, it was so much more. Prior to travelling, I learnt some very valuable skills that I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the feedback points I had recently received in a tutorial with my Illustration tutor is that I am working too much into my sketchbook and not enough out of it, and that I need to learn some new processes that can get me out. I received this feedback towards the end of my Morocco module, but this installed a new confidence within me as for this module I have been working with processes that I haven’t previously used, such as heat transfer, drawing with wax, and also stitching and dyeing my own wool. I have found this module so stimulating and something Keireine said to me one day is that I will get and inspiration from this trip that can stay with me for a lifetime, and she’s not wrong. I am sad that this was only a 5 week-long course as I finding so much enjoyment from it, but I can take this with me and hopefully channel it into other projects.

There has been great support throughout the module and frequent tutorials is not something I am used too, but I think it benefit me quite a lot. It pushed me to show my development for each time I met with someone to explain where I am at with my project. When creating work I was ever so focussed and making sure that my experience from the trip shone through what I produced. I learnt a lot from the trip and I feel like I learnt a lot about myself also. It was amazing to be able to see a completely different culture and way of life, and to be thrown into that and live that life for a week makes me feel very lucky. From that I have a new confidence that I hope is showing through the work I have made. There’s a huge part of me that is keen to keep working with what I am creating for this module in order to have a bigger and thicker portfolio for it come June. I am keen for my work to become a cushion toward the end, something you can hold, squeeze, smell and rest up. Something that you can directly interact with yourself, from my experience in Marrakesh. One of the main aspects of the trip that I have taken back with me is that language and cultural barriers. For example, my moment with the lady who sold me the wool made my project a whole lot more personal for me than I imagined. Sitting down with her and not being able to speak a word of English/Arabic meant we could only connect and communicate through her teaching me how she crochet’s her hats that she sells to make a living. I treasured this moment because something that is very strong in today’s society is how western women are looked down upon by certain religions. Now this is a generalisation and doesn’t go for everyone, but here is a lovely example of two different cultures simply getting along and connecting over a creative process that we both enjoy to practise. This then made my project a whole lot more hearty and wholesome, which I hope is something you can all recognise.

Overall I feel like this module has pushed me in many new and right directions. It was very well structured and organised and the support was wonderful. I have learnt a lot within the course and have been opened up to new resources within the university that I was not previously aware of, and for that I am grateful. I feel like there’s a lot of future projects for me within what I have taken away from it all, and I think it has even helped me to get my dissertation under-way.

Until next time!


Stitch + Knit: The Knitty Gritty

I’ve been doing 2 parts of this project in conjunction with each other since we have got back from Marrakesh, one being dyeing my wool and the other being the free-hand stitch. you’ve heard all about my wool so now it is time to fill you in on how my stitching is going. Like I mentioned before Maggie seemed a little hesitant to leave me alone in the stitch room, which is highly understandable as to be frank, I hadn’t a clue what to do! Obviously I began to get familiar with the machine, but god forbid were something to happen I wouldn’t know how to treat the situation. So whilst I was in one of her workshops one day getting on with stitching, she booked me onto a Wednesday Stitch room workshop in order to show me about the studio, teach me the do’s and don’t’s of stitch so that I would be fully trusted within the stitch room. So 10am I arrived after a lovely cycle through the woods ready to learn all I needed to know about the stitch room. I sat down at a machine and picked out a lovely light blue coloured thread (Due to the sunny day outside) and listened closely. First off we were taught of how to handle to stitch room and what to do if something were to go wrong. We were then put on to the machines and taught how to wind the bobbin, thread the needle and get what foot is right for which stitch. Then we got to stitching. After learning how to change the settings on the machine, it was up to us to explore the different stitch settings, and off we went.

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It felt so much better to have a little more confidence within the stitch room, and to know that Maggie felt comfortable enough to leave me be in there too. Afterwards we dispersed to continue with our day-to-day practices. I stayed a little while to do a little more free-hand stitch, then got more of the dissolvable material for me to take home and draw up the rest of my illustration in order for me to finish stitching it the following day. And that’s exactly what I did. That day when I returned home was my third day of dyeing my wool, so that is how the rest of my day was spent, managing to get my drawing re-drawn before I went to bed. (It was a tiring day!)

The next day was normal Thursday workshops in the stitch room, so heading there at 10am with a ready mind I got on with stitching the rest of my illustration on to my needle-punched fabric. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I managed to get my illustration done, it was all very exciting. After lunch I waited for Maggie to return back before I began to get rid of the cling film. When she got back we filled a bucket of water half full of water and I placed my material in there for one hour to soak and dissolve.

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There is my piece before I soaked off the material. When illustrating my image I wanted to keep it as close to my drawing as possible. The way that I illustrated my image is in my own way of drawing, and I wanted to transfer this on to fabric as well as I could do, without having to alter it in order to make it easier to stitch. I illustrated it in a way to capture the wonkyness of the city, the business of it and how unique Marrakesh is overall. I am happy with the composition of my illustration upon the fabric and I just hope that when the material dissolves I will be left with something similar.

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Here is the final product after soaking for an hour then being hung out to dry. I am happy with the placement of the felt behind the stitch. When punching in the felt, I wanted to do it in a way that captures the essence of the city- the whispyness of the felt resembles the mix of smells, the way they creep in and out of your nose and surprise you with every breath intake. I also wanted to resemble the different cultures coming together and on occasions, colliding. I chose the colours in representation to the city also, very earthy and soft and very natural, which is also what I went for when dyeing my wool. I am not too sure how I am feeling about the finished stitch piece though. The bobbin thread has come up from behind in places and it is much thinner than I had hoped and imagined. This may be due to how thin the material is that I worked upon, and how quickly I was using the machine, but I am not sure. I am happy with my illustration, as I think for a first attempt at free-hand stitch on the sewing machine it did not turn out too bad, it resembles my interpretation of the buildings there in Marrakesh in the way that I had hoped and I am happy with how it works with the background.

What I would like to do next with all of my work is to bring it to how I imagine it to be finished. I just wish that this module was more than 5 weeks long as there is a great fire within my belly that I am not yet ready to go out, I’m having so much fun. I would like to line this material with another, maybe to make it a little thicker and to attempt to enhance the thread illustration slightly and to see if it can stand out some more. I may even continue working upon it, working more with my idea of layering as mentioned before, and consider bringing in the Arabic text also, as this was another lovely aspect of Morocco that stayed with me. I am going to keep working on this until it comes to a close in June. I would then like to put it together with the knitted back, of the wool that I naturally dyed, and stuff it with something thick and soft so that I am left with something that fills your hands. This is what I remember from Marrakesh. I want something you can hold in your hands that you can squeeze, that you can smell, then you can get lost within and find some comfort too, because for me, that was my time spent in Marrakesh, and there’s nothing more I want than to share it.

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Here’s a photo of my two sides of work together, yet to become one, but in the near future. I took this photo to show the colours and how they work together. I’m very excited to get this done and to be able to share it with those that have both travelled to Morocco and for those who haven’t.


The Results of my Natural Dyes!

So, dyeing your own wool is long and smelly, but boy is it rewarding!

I really enjoyed dyeing my own wool, and it was something I was passionate about doing the moment I bought the wool in Morocco, so I’m feeling like I have achieved something I hoped for within my project. The colours came out wonderfully, and it was a lovely experience to watch the vegetables, fruits and flowers boil and for the colours to grow and change over the hour which they simmered. It’s also ever so interesting to see which colour comes with which vegetable. For instance, red cabbage came out such a strong and magical blue. Turmeric came out a rich golden-yellow and Avocado skin and stone came out different shades of pink and orange. It was all so wonderful. After I had dyed each wool I used a ribbon tied to some nails in my kitchen to create a washing line, where I pegged each batch of wool. It looked like I had my own Moroccan dyers market right there in my kitchen.

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I am so happy with the results and with the colours, and as I went along I began to come away from some of the guidelines I was following on the internet as I began to get a feel for what was working for me personally. On my second day of dyeing I learnt that simmering the wool in the blueberry dye for one hour resulted in a quite dark grey colour, and from this I was hoping to achieve a much lighter blue, so I took this note into my 3rd day of dyeing and simmered the wool for only 30 minutes this time. It was notes and experimentations like this that I managed to learn more about the process and be able to understand better how the wool reacts with the dyeing. I think different types of wool dye different shades, with mine being from the depths of Morocco I think this had an effect on the shades in which it dyed, due to it maybe being a little dirtier and musty compared to some of the cleaner wools which you could purchase back here in the UK. Not for a second am I complaining, for me this only makes the whole thing a whole lot better. Throughout the process I’ve been so conscious of how natural and earthy my processes have been, and this is something that I wanted to gain throughout this project. I’ve managed to combine the natural wool from Morocco and reproduce the early and rich colours and tones that inhabit the city with earthly materials from back home, and this is something I find very important within my process. I am very keen to continue this process in the future and I am happy with the amount of wool I have been able to dye within the remaining time frame. All that’s left now is to knit something beautiful to be able to make a cushion that embodies my experience within Marrakesh.


Natural Dyeing: 3 days of Good Smells

After a lot of extensive research, jotting down notes into my sketchbook, I think I’ve finally got all the information I need in order to start dyeing my own wool. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

To make dye Solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place into pot. Double to amount of water to plan material. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. Strain. Now you can your fabric to be dyed. For a darker shade, allow material to be soaked for longer in the pot, even over night if you want.

Colour Fixatives:

1) Salt fixatives (for berry dyes) 1/2 a cup of salt to 8 cups of cold water.

2) Plant fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar.

Add fabric to your fixative and simmer for one hour. Rinse and squeeze out the excess water. Rinse under cool water until it runs clear. Place the wet fabric in the dye bath, then simmer together until your desired colour is obtained. The colour of the fabric will be much lighter once it has dried (Remember this!)

There are so many different colours you can create from boiling a mixture of different vegetables, fruits and flowers. I’m so ready to experiment and see what happens! When speaking with Keireine in a one-to-one tutorial we bounced off each other tremendously! Out of nowhere I mentioned the idea of turning what I have been doing on the free-hand stitch machine into a cushion, and by doing so stuffing the inside with something lovely and soft, and then using the wool that I dye to knit the back of the cushion. She loved that idea and we both began to get excited, but she mentioned to me that I shouldn’t just knit willy-nilly for the sake of knitting, I should knit taking inspiration from something. It was there that I showed her the disposable photo’s I had been taking during my time in Morocco, and then she went on to say how I should use one of my photo’s that sticks out to me the most- thinking about colours and shapes and textures, and so on. Here’s the photo that I have chosen to work with.

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There’s some lovely colours in here and the same goes for the shapes, so we decided it was a lovely starting point for a colour palette.

So now it’s time to get dyeing!

DAY ONE:

So I chose to use salt as my mordant, simmering my wool with water for one hour. My chosen vegetables and fruits for today’s dyeing is Red onions, Spinach, Blackberries and Blueberries.

Red onions in to simmer: 4pm -5pm. Strain. Wool into red onion dye 5pm – 6pm (est. 9 inches)

Spinach in to simmer: 4:15pm – 5:15pm. Strain. Wool into Spinach dye 5pm – 6pm (est. 9 inches)

(Second batch of wool simmering: 4:55pm – 5:55pm)

Blackberries in to simmer: 5pm – 6pm. Strain. Wool into Blackberry dye 6:10pm – 7:10pm (est. 9 inches)

Blueberries in to simmer: 6pm – 7pm. Strain. Wool into Blueberry dye 7pm – 8pm (est. 14 inches)

DAY TWO:

Two batches of wool in to simmer with salt mordant: 3:25pm – 4:25pm

Blueberries in to simmer: 3:25pm – 4:25pm. Strain. Wool into Blueberry dye: 4:10 – 4:40pm (est. 10 inches)

Avocado skin in to simmer: 3:35pm – 4:05pm. Strain. Wool into skin dye: 4:05pm – 5:05pm (est. 14 inches- DIP-DYED WITH AVOCADO NUT)

Avocado nut, crushed, in to simmer: 3:40pm – 4:10pm. Wool into nut dye: 4:05 – 5:05pm (est. 14 inches – DIP-DYED WITH AVOCADO SKIN)

(Wool batch two in to simmer with salt mordant 4:25pm – 5:25pm)

Turmeric in to simmer: 4:40pm – 5:40pm. Strain. Wool into Tumeric dye: 5:40pm – 6:40pm (est. 13 inches)

Rose petals in to simmer: 4:55pm – 5:55pm. Strain. Wool into petal dye: 6pm – 7pm (est. 11 inches)

DAY THREE:

Wool into salt mordant to simmer for one hour: 4:50pm – 5:50pm.

Red cabbage in to simmer: 4:50pm – 5:50pm. Strain. Wool into cabbage dye (dip-dye side 1) 6pm – 7pm. (dip-dye side 2) 5:30pm – 5:45pm. (est. 14 inches)

Oregano in to simmer: 4:50pm – 5:50pm. Strain. Wool into Oregano dye 6pm – 7pm. (est 9 inches)

After all are done simmering I squeezed out excess fluids and hung the wool out to dry. Throughout the dyeing process I used a little length of wool to use as a dip-dye to document the colours I was producing in order to get that into my sketchbook and to see what colour the wool was turning.

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Here are some websites that helped me along with the process:

http://pioneerthinking.com/crafts/natural-dyes

http://knitwhatyouexpected.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/blueberries

http://knitwhatyouexpected.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/vegetable-dyes-mordanted-with-alum.html

http://knitwhatyouexpected.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/fruit-dyes-mordanted-with-alum.html

http://www.saniapell.com/athomeblog/homemade/the-colour-of-food-homemade-fabric-dyes/

http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Homemade-Natural-Dyes-31861660


Pack your bags, we’re going to Morocco!

You heard me!

So we’ve started our second field option, lasting 5 weeks long. I was lucky enough to get my first choice and get onto the Morocco field, where for one week we’re whisked away to Marrakech to soak up a whole new world of culture, flavours, colours and smells! (some nicer than others).

Before heading out there we were asked to get some preparations done for the coming week away, including research and an itinerary. Me and my lovely house-mate Emily are both heading out there so we made our Itinerary together, consisting of the following:

Saturday 24 Jan 2015 12amDepart Cardiff Metropolitan University4:40pmFlight departureEasyJetRef: ENDBCFX8pm arrive in Marrakeshabdtravel toRiadMoulay,Marrakechwww.riadmoulay.com 
25.01.15 8am -Breakfast MeetingGuided Day Tour to;Bahia Palace,SaadianTombs, Dar Si Said Museum, a caravan serial, YSL Garden and Museum,Koutoubiaminaret and gardens, Souks,JamaaElFnaSquare6/8pm – local dinner 

11pm – home

 

26.01.15 8am – Breakfast Meeting9-10am – have a wander around the Medina to get to grips with our surroundings, absorb the culture and take photos and videos.2pm – go to the RuinsSunset /5/6pm – grab some dinner and head to DjenaaEl-fnato watch some snake charmers, eatmoroccanfood, and soak up the local atmosphere

 

11pm – home

 

2701.15   8am – Breakfast Meeting10:30am – revisitBahaiPalace, admission dh10, close 4:30pmonsite sketching and photography documentation.12/1pm – Grab some nearby lunch. 

2pm – revisitsaadiantombs, admission dh20, close 4:45pm

onsite sketching and photography documentation.

 

6/8 – Grab some nearby Dinner.

 

9pm – head to the CaféArabefor drinks (free entry)

 

​11pm – home

 

28.01.15  8pm Breakfast Meeting9am – head to the Atlas mountains via bus (dh35, 2 hours)When arrived, admire scenery and visitberbervillages.onsite sketching and photography documentation.12/1pm – Grab some nearby lunch.

 

2pm – Head toImiM~ifri,via taxi 35dh,stay there to watch the sunset with dinner (tbc) / visit cascadesd’ouzoundtoexperiencethe waterfalls (routetbc)

 

8/9 – return to Marrakesh via bus (dh35, 2 hours)

 

11pm – home

 

29.01.15  8pm – Breakfast Meeting10-10:30am - head to theMenaraGardens (free admission)on site sketching and photography documentation12/1pm – Grab some lunch in the picnic section, admission dh20. 

2pm – head to thejardinmajorelle, admission dh50, museum admission dh25, close 5:30pm

on site sketching and photography documentation

 

6pm – Grab some dinner

 

8pm – head to theRiadYimafor Arabian nights and some belly dancing!

 

11pm home

 

30.01.15 8am – breakfast meeting10am – local camel ride (tbc)12/1pm – get lunch nearby2pm – head around the surrounding marina and do some shopping/ visithammams(darel-bacha, admission dh10, close 9pm) / visit swimming pools (beldicountry club, admission dh370)local camel ride (tbc)

 

6/8 – nearby dinner

 

11pm – home

 

31.01.15 8am – breakfast meeting10am – revisit favourite places/ have a wander and shop, soaking up the last of Marrakeshon site sketching and photography documentation12/1pm – local lunch 

2pm -revisit favourite places/ have a wander and shop, soaking up the last of Marrakesh

on site sketching and photography documentation

 

5/6pm – return to hotel,Preparations for departure

 

6:15pm – Coach departs fromRiadMoulaySaid.

Return Marrakech to Bristol to Cardiff:EasyJetref no. U2 6022 ENDBCFX

 

8:45pm – Flight departEasyJetref no. U2 6022 ENDBCFX

 

1am– home!


Stop – Think – Act

I’ve managed to take a lot home with me from this trip, and taking into consideration how much time we have left until the deadline it is now time to narrow down my thought processes and initial ideas. I previously mentioned that in a tutorial with Keiriene, I spoke highly of how much the wonkyness of the city has captured my attention. When visiting the Berber villages on the Friday, it amplified my inspiration for how the buildings sit within the city, and how they merge with the mountains and the busy life that surrounds them. So what can I take from all this? Knowing that I wanted to work 3D rather than just stick to my drawings in my sketchbook, I wanted to take them a little step further and give them more depth. On the Tuesday of being back we had more tutorials, and here I spoke of my ideas so far. Before heading to Morocco, I spoke with Maggie about the possibility of using the method of digital stitch when I return. Things were hopeful until I came back to here she can’t help me with digital stitch, so this was something to highlight in my tutorials.
I found my tutorial ever so helpful, I explained everything thus far and the other people in my group were ever so wonderful. I mentioned that I was keen to work on fabric, and after sitting and thinking a little more about my overall trip Morocco, I wanted to highlight the ‘wonkyness’ of the city, and also work with layers. There were many inspirational colours in the city so I can use this to my advantage when it comes to working with the layers, but my next question was how? It was at this point that some of the textiles girls began mentioning some techniques that they think would come in handy for me, including heat transfer (what we have already done), dissolving material leaving only the thread behind, and finally needle punch. Feeling confident, I left the tutorials with some great ideas and emailed Maggie asking for her thoughts, then heading to the workshop on the Thursday to attempt some.

When arriving in the stitch room to chat to Maggie about the techniques I had emailed about, she seemed hesitant to let me explore at first, but after spending a little more time with her she finally got me on to the needle-punch machines and handed me a box full of materials for me to play with. I immediately reached for the felt as to me, it just screamed Moroccan colours! At first I just had a play around so that I could get used to the machine.

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After I felt comfortable enough with the process, I began to work on a background that I would like to free hand on top of. From my test piece, I decided that I had too many colours in there and decided to narrow it down in order to not overload my work and to keep it focussed to a certain colour scheme. Once I was happy with what I had worked with Maggie then showed me how to free-hand stitch on the other machines. At first I found it very daunting but after a while I got used to the process and wasn’t so scared after all. Again, I did a test piece, drawing up a simple house onto fabric. when stitching, I wanted to keep it similar to the way I draw, quite wobbly and wonky but detailed all the same. When I felt comfortable Maggie showed me the cling-film like material you use to trace your drawings. Using a pen that doesn’t smudge, I redrew my drawing onto the material and placed it together with my felt background I had previously needle-punched into an embroidery ring. I then began to stitch my drawing onto fabric.

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I’m feeling very happy with the way things are going with this project, and after speaking with Keireine in another tutorial she is also happy with where things are, which is a great relief! My plan now is to keep working on this piece, afterwards weigh up how much time I have left before presentations and see if I can keep working with my idea of layering and maybe bring in some more fabrics, colours and maybe some of the Arabic text and writing.

 


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