Assignment 5 (Option 1): Project 4: Messages and Meanings project: ‘Our Binary Narrative’: Producing final samples:

To make myself clear, I feel that I am now working with a more design led approach.

Having been inspired by my archive and poetry, the pattern I have produced retells this in a tactile vocal form.  It represents a path, which is continuous, yet has “knots” along the way.  This emulates my own path and that of my grandmothers, how we tend to journey the same ways, through life, get we accept there are problems and “life knots” we must cross along the way.

I will name this body of work ‘Binary Narratives’, this title becomes my own message and the meaning behind my subsequent work.  To further explain this, my grandmother and I our life patterns are similar and have often ran in tandem; thus this is about us and as previously said, the ties which bind us. 

Using this pattern, I have chosen to reformat it in a variety of ways.  My strongest results have come from my Screen Printed Decolourant work and my use of the Solarfast medium, along with odd Cyanotype trials.

From the above results I have chosen to amplify a selected few, by editing them on Adobe Photoshop, as you will discover on reading my blog and sketchbook.

What I have produced, are patterns for future use, which could be printed within the boundaries of a professional fabric printing company.  From this fabric, I could make up clothing or furnishings.  At times I feel frustrated not be able to create many collections of made clothing, all with my printed fabric etc.  However through this course I wanted to focus on the design stages, adding varieties of techniques to my own textile vocabulary.  Thus there has to be balance between running ahead with sample making in a large scale and actually making a solid body of smaller samples which can at any time in the future be printed and executed so as to produce larger samples in the future, such as the aforementioned clothing.

In line with this above projection, I have thought about the ways the actual fabric I have created, especially the Decolourant work, could be used in a fashion genre. So within my final results here, you will observe a variety of visual ideas and “mock ups”.  Designs and ideas can be found within my sketchbook work too, as visualisation to conception links are key.

All of the above, has given me a portfolio of samples and ideas, to use as a spring board for future design work.

Within this post I will document and critique a few of my resolved concepts.

When looking towards a final collection of samples, I began by looking at my screen printed decolourant work.  Without editing or scanning parts of them into my PC, what could I do with them in their “raw” state?

The Scarf

Above:  Large open linen fabric, with large decolourant screen print overlaid on this hand dyed surface.  Styled as a scarf due to it’s drape.

The wrap

Image result for red and white african batik fabric

One of my longer prints; one A4 sized stencil used to decolour the hand dyed fabric.  This was repeat printed up the fabric.  As seen used as a small wrap or scarf.  In this context it reminded me of traditional African Batik patterns.  The one I have included above, is a Gambian piece, found through Batik research for this course.  This is not a link I wish to explore at this stage, as Batik is a method of “resist” or in outcome terms “decolourisation” which I have already perused and unpicked within my sketchbook work and previous blog posts.  However it is key to make visual connections to other methods as I go, so that I keep myself aware of similarities.

The Belt

Used as a tie around a garment, this could become part of a garment itself, to add pattern.  It could also be seen as a separate adornment, which is used as a belt or in effect a “corset” type implement, a form of shaping.

Head adornment (variations)

I used a model at this stage, so that I as an onlooker could quantify and assess the results.  Here we see a variety of adornment options.

Why do I use the word adornment?  Does it have a greater meaning to myself?

Within my self confessed inspirational poetry, these lines held weight:

She crafted words,
That have become such strong memories,
That even in this foreign place
I am at peace.

I now carry them,
In a visual form,
On those black hooks,
That adorn my ears.

It was that word adornment, which inspired my earlier collar work samples from Project 3.  That connection of cloth and memory and wanting to be close to that memory, even wear it.  At this stage I was not thinking of creating earring samples, like I am alluding to in my poem.  However I let the word adornment resonate with myself, what could it mean?

Thus the above demonstration of wearables.

What could I do with my pattern if edited on my PC, would this help me to produce more samples?  

Using the original decolourant screen printed pattern, I began to play with the editing software….

Above:  Attempts at repeats and mirrored designs.  The repeat was difficult to create, as the design had a lot of mottled textures, which made for a difficult job to join the seams.  In the future I would like to learn more about digital editing and do a specific course on it, so that I could achieve a better result.  The mirror designs work well.  This could be printed onto a large piece of fabric and easily become a scarf.

I experimented with ideas and projections through my sketchbook, alluding to what the fabric (if digitally printed onto a large piece) could be used for….

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Above:  The projection of planning a jacket, as a form of wearable “adornment”.  The pattern could be printed either as a pocket sample or form a jacket itself.

I like this idea, however I don’t want to quickly rush to make something within this course and not explore enough options.  I did not want to cut this thought too quickly, so I decided to pay for a small fabric sample to be printed, as I feel visualisation is a key point within this course.

Using a printers called BeFabBeCreative


Reflecting over material choices (seen in fabric form within my sketchbook) I chose linen, due to its thickness and durable quality.  In the future if I like the print, a larger piece could be bought to make up any home or clothing items….in my sketchbook and within previous blog posts, I have discussed scale.  I aimed to be ambitious with this, thus taking it away from its original state:


The above is a sample piece which has just arrived from the printers.  I love the texture and feel that this material would be the correct choice for the print.  The print quality and stood up to its enlarged size.  My only concern is the colour.  I now look at it and wonder if a neutral palette would be more long lasting.  Grayscale even.  This could emulate my grandmothers loss of sight, which takes in colour, thus it ties in well and gives substance to my primary resources and theme material.  This could be considered before any more samples printed professionally.

Through my research and poetry too, this concept of a narrative line is often touched upon.  How could this itself be visually depicted?  My idea would be in embellishment.  Could my prints be embellished in a simplistic way, to mimic a line?  This could picture the line of life that my grandmother and I follow, as my pattern can be looked at as a path, with “knots” along the way, as I have previously mentioned….

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Above:  Scanned image from sketchbook, which introduced this idea.  I thought about contrasting the thread colours to stand out…


Image (90) Grayscale trial to the left, with white vintage thick thread embroidered through.  The contrast makes the white stand out.



Grayscale with the white pattern to emulate fading.  Red thread to remind the viewer that it is about “red ties” the links between stories, my grandmother and I.  Red to depict Red Riding Hood.


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Above:  Variety of stitches tried to see which one fitted the design.  Not sure if I like any on this colour.  I find myself drawn to the middle sample, number two, where the red thread stands out beautifully in opposition to the grey, decolourised fabric pattern.  If I was to choose one to develop any further in the future, it would be this one.

You will find all of these samples within my physical body of work.  They are proving to become the basis of a portfolio of ideas and concepts; which can be stored until execution at a later date.

Within this course I have felt at times I have rushed to a conclusion, rather than use my time to widen out my ideas and possibilities.  Thus for this self directed part of the course, I have chosen to spend more time experimenting and less creating “finished” pieces.  I know that I can make up any finished pieces at a later date, as long as I can visually plan them and store the ideas.  What I cant always do, is explore techniques, which this course opens me up to doing.  Thus I chose more of my outcomes to play with in a digital format:

I turned back to one of my Cyanotype prints and one of my Solarfast prints, which I have scanned into my PC and contains the same design as the decolourant samples above:

Above:  Left Solarfast and right Cyanotype.

This was previously discussed in my post dealing with these methods specifically, however within this post, I will document a sample of my digital editing.  I chose to use the Cyanotype print for this exploration, as it is less detailed, which gives it a fresh feel.

Below:  The processes involved.  I chose to take the colour out of this print, again this alludes to my grandmothers loss of eyesight.

123 This screenshot documents the difficulty to create a half drop repeat, due to the linear aspects.  I overcame this, my creating different types of designs, such as an elongated pattern which could be printed as a scarf, or the mirror design you see below too.


The above pattern designs could be sent to a printers and become fabric which I could use for any clothing or homeware.

Can I visually illustrate this?

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Yes, I can to some extent convey this with sketches.  But not within a full colour / fabric form.  Thus I have researched and found an online design platform, I am able to plan and make projections for a collection:

Using the above design as a basis to work from, (based on the original Cyanotype print), I have concocted plans for scarves and a kimono wrap.  I chose these items, as I felt they best fitted my overall perception of the word adornment.  These items adorn the body, in a somewhat intimate form.  Screen shots below, depict how this particular online design format, allows the user to upload their design and then alter position, option of a variety of repeats, sizing etc.

This was my favoured outcome:


Above:  Kimono seen from both sides.  Doesn’t it take on a contemporary feel, when visualised as an item rather than just a flat pattern?

Using the same program, I looked at how the pattern would fit on a variety of scarf sizes:

Simulating possible uses and variations, not only allows me to visualise a collection, but also see my pattern in new ways.  For example, some of the patterns above, crop the pattern, zoom in or narrow it, which isolates areas of consideration which I may not have noticed.

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Using this same format, I have planned how some of my other designs could be used:

Above:  Preliminary sketch of myself, wearing the lost knotted hem scarf.  Then the subsequent sample collection in planned form.  Black and white plus original cyanotype colour used as options…all from this original print based on that knotted hem scarf:

Image (94) Isn’t it amazing to be able to reflect back on original design points and see how far you have moved away from the original imagery used?

Below:  The lost scarf image and then right, creating a acetate plate using a digital computer programme, in order to create the Cyanotype print above.

All of this is expanded upon within my sketchbook work too.

This digital programme has allowed me to picture how my ideas and samples fit in  contemporary design and in a sense fashion.

Using tools like this, I can project and simulate sample collections.

I may also be able to make some up in physical form using these methods in the future.

As a last design idea, having printed out a few of my designs onto fabric and after feeling them on both cotton and silk, I wondered if I could overlay any, so that two patterns could come through?

I desired to merge my new cyanotype driven patterns, based on the knotted hem design, with my cyanotype print of the original photograph.  What would happen?  I printed the first on a thicker cotton and the photo image on a light silk, calculating that the silk would act as a see through layer in contrast with the cotton:

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Wow, this has opened up a new design concept all together as it really has been successful as an experiment.  The two tie in beautifully together, the silk voile print acting as an almost shadow of the original print.  Now at this stage I am questioning myself how I can alter / develop / play…..

For example, upping the contrast on Photoshop emboldens the pattern:

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and the main thought being:  What would be other patterns look like with this overlaid?….

Below are a few primary examples of that thought executed:


Above left to right: Cyanotype version of my decolourant screen print, cyanotype blueprint, original scarf knotted hem (fuller version) and original decolourant screen print.

All of the above have potential in digital design.  You will find this section printed as samples.

The question is as a student, how far to push an idea?  This is a hard decision to quantify.  What I do understand though, is the need to store the strongest ideas, so that they do get used or developed in the future.  Thus you will see this in action throughout my sketchbook work.

The above designs, along with the rest of my fabric samples can be observed physically.

They now prove to become a centre or booklet of possibilities, foundations on which I can create possible clothing or even fashion collections from in the future.

How to display my resolved samples?

Much time and consideration has gone into my final display methods.  I feel that this was important as the way something is first seen and observed, can have massive impact.  I took inspiration from a wide range of resources; including my own notes and diagrams from study visits, along with study visits in themselves:

I wanted simplicity, with flair.  A way to convey that I had meditated and pondered over it, rather than haphazardly leaving it to chance.

Visiting Ikea, I found these:

I took the actual clips off (they were designed to hold curtains) and added them to large binding rings:Then I drilled two holes in a pole and affixed a ring at either end.  This provided me with a hanging mechanism, which could work as a wall display or staged flat, as a sketchbook in fabric form.

It has the twist of a “contemporary” carpet book.

I am really happy with this form of display.  It marks out the resolved samples from the rest of my inner sketchbook work and gives my work an air of clarity.

I had a few paper based options to print onto fabric in the future; these have been mounted in a separate display book, in order to again show the difference between the resolved samples and the work leading up to my results.

Above:  These card based resolved samples are now mounted for display.

What have I achieved?

So far through this project, I have narrowed down my choices, but at the same time widened my textile technique toolbox.  This has allowed me to create more resolved samples, through using my printed pieces of pattern in their “raw” original state, as well as extending my learning through digital media tools.

I have produced a range of sample choices and because I have had a sample printed through a professional printers, I am fully able to visualise how designs turn out, when printed with more specialist equipment that I have available in my home studio.

You will see that this has all been documented within my sketchbook, with also houses many of my resolved samples.

These are all available for me to now use in fabric design, which I see being a route I would like to develop further in the future.  The samples I have, could now be sent to a printers and made into large pieces of fabric, with which I could use to create home items or clothing in the future.

This could be something which I study deeper as I move into Level three of this course.

One question I ask myself, is why I have chosen to look at digitally printing my textiles, rather than creating large sheets from physically screen printing a large piece of fabric or another print technique which I have explored? 

This is worth answering, as it may be something which is raised when viewing my work.

The simple answer is, that it all depends on the technique.  Some, such as decolourant and screen printing could be done on a large scale.  However quality may be lost when printing over a large area, for example one printed part could be of less quality than another, making the overall result disappointing. 

In another case, the technique just wouldn’t work.  Cyanotype and its process involves a design sheet or plate being put in one area to develop, but if a large piece of fabric was to be used, it would all develop and have no print on the rest of the fabric, only where the plate was.

Thus I am using a one size fits approach, so that all my samples are given the same attention.  The small printed areas, generally near A4 in size, allow me to scan them into my PC and work on them in a digital format.  They are then stored forever, without worry of fabric damage.

Through this final sampling stage, I feel that I have gathered a wealth of ideas, which are now stored and as previously discussed, can be printed and used in the future.

Any negatives or stumbling blocks?

The one I wish to mention, is that if I decide to develop more digitally printed textiles, I would like some higher tuition on this.  Courses are available, at such locations as The Fashion and Textiles Museum in London.  I see this as an investment for my future learning and possible work at Level 3, if the chance comes available.  However through this project especially, I have worked around these issues and it has not become a block which affected the quality of my outcomes.


For example, a course like the above, would have helped me emulate my designs into fashion designs in an even more technical form.  Also given the chance to enrol, this museum also holds courses on Illustrator, thus I could again further my own learning in this personal way.

Coming back to this course, I feel that the above would help inject certain qualities to my practice, yet I don’t feel that I have lacked through not having had the opportunity for this field of learning as yet, as really this course has been more about exploration and experimentation within the raw state of my practice; with a poignant view to pushing my methods and ideas of what is satisfactory further.

I will extend my critique and comments on the above within my final reflections, viewable within a separate post.



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