Exercise 4.5: Preliminary Sampling

I was a little confused looking at the OCA notes on this section, as to how much sampling should be done within this section and how much should be left for the next project; Project 3 in Assignment 5.

I emailed the OCA and received this in reply:

‘Hello Ailish,

Thank you for your email,
My understanding is that the collating of materials here is probably more important than any samples produced. If you’re in the mind-set of making you may see things and wonder what they would be like if they were put together etc in which case go for it and play and experiment. I shouldn’t worry about producing lots here as I mentioned the important thing is to gather enough materials to develop later.’
Thus I now feel a bit clearer.
In response to the various artists and research I have made during the course and most importantly my own archive which I have created, I began to make some initial samples.
1. From my personal history research, as you will see through my physical work, I began to look at my fathers tartan and its connotations.  Then I began to look at my mothers side and her love of Liberty Print fabric.
My father is not fond of his history, as much was to do with bad memories.  Consequently I looked at how to “fade” this, by playing with dyeing and decolouring the tartan lines.
The biggest image below illustrates my exploratory test into merging my mothers Liberty Print memories (the sheer voile with the hand embroidered single flower motif represents this LP).  Underneath is the hand dyed fabric (the colours of my dads Henderson tartan) married with the sheer on top so that both could show through at once.

Above:  Captured parts of my other tartan inspired technique / preliminary samples, showcasing:

– Italian Corded Quilting
– Manipulation
– Decolourant
– Layering
– Cut away Applique
– Running Stitch
How do I feel about this initial body of samples?
Yes it has potential, yet I feel that I may be simply repeating what has been done before.  I remember Alexander McQueen collections in the past, combining florals with heritage tartan.
Supermarket chain clothing has also taken on similar themes.
So although my materials may be new, is the initial concept something ground breaking?  No.
It could so easily become a reminiscent piece; based upon sentiment rather than an exciting idea with much depth.
Really I do think I could produce interesting results, but I don’t think they would showcase enough variety.
  2.  The next set of preliminary samples were to do with another concept which I felt had potential; based around my grandmother and her macular degeneration, along with memories mixed between her and I.
I used red as the only pop of colour, to represent the ties between my grandmother and I being strongly associated with her retelling me the story of Red Riding Hood vocally rather than being able to read the book.
Within the preliminary sampling, I explored ways of representing a lack of sight.  These included:
– Blind Stitching (stitching with a thick bottom spool on my machine, drawing with my machine yet it was happening under the cloth, thus I could not see what was happening)
– Cut through areas, contemporary takes on cut away applique and child like cut outs.
– Covering threads over, hiding what they once were.
– Dry Point print onto fabric with voile layers, gradually overlaying so that the print cannot be seen as well in certain parts.
Note here that I am not trying to completely demonstrate “blindness”, rather partial vision; thus the above techniques.
How do I feel about these tentative samples?
I feel that this concept has strong potential, in line with all the collated background information surrounding my grandmother and I.  I feel that I can merge imagery from both our lives as we are connected.  I am unsure as to if I have found the “method” I want to peruse further; yet I do like the initial core concept; it has much to draw upon which is important.
Further ways of developing this?
I thought of several initial ways; yet of course this is just play at present:
1 – Fabric book – made in some way to depict the core themes and memories above.  This could portray our lives, maybe my growth and her gradual loss of being able to see myself.  Almost an old fashioned “flick book”; where imagery changes over a period of time – maybe losing or fading.
2- Wall hanging depicting above.
3 – Cape?  May sound random but I am thinking Red Riding Hood merged with my own history, which could be documented on a cape shape?
The above are simply initial thoughts; with no grounding as yet.  However I can hone and play with them as I progress.
3.  The lost scarf and my own personal history in travel with the scarf (this also contains themes with my grandmother, see sketchbooks and archive material)
I used imagery from Paris trips with the scarf I eventually lost as inspiration.  Many self portraits.  The wolf you see below is a depiction of one earring from a set, the other one is Red Riding hood.  They were bought on a Paris trip, thus the travel connection.  They were also a spark of a reminder about my grandmother and our dual narrative.  Thus the lost scarf worn on the trip, the earrings and memories of the trip are all tied into one.
Above:  Preliminary samples, cotton and silk voile examples, where I have printed my own painting memories; scanned them into the PC and printed them onto the afore mentioned fabric.
I played with scale, printing out one piece at two different sizes; this could of course be furthered.
Jane McKeating influenced me as to artistic technique at this stage.  The concept of printing paintings onto fabric and there being a journey or story which influenced it.
The voile silk exploratory work also ties in well with thoughts towards my grandmothers partial vision, as there is a fading quality conveyed through these outcomes.  Thus a variety of influences form a marriage here.
Intuitive embroidery stitches were added in some places, to discover if the printed fabric worked with this tactile medium.
What do I think of these samples? 
The concepts and basis which I worked upon are strong.  I do not feel that I have explored this in depth enough to give a definite opinion.  Yet it has potential.  The fabrics, especially the silk voile have potential for further use.
The trick will be creating an outcome, which is not too obvious, yet contains meaning.  It will help if the actual fabric or technique means something, not just what is on the fabric, as it were.  For example; a cut away applique technique or silk voile could both represent partial vision, just with their actual use.
The above represents a sample of my samples.  All created can be found within my physical body of work, all with clear labelling and the odd question – reminder to myself.
I will create a separate blog post to finally surmise my concepts and sample explorations which I feel are strong enough to pursue in the subsequent projects. 
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