This is more me, the peace and tranquility of the open countryside. Returning to the subject of my journey in Exercise 1.2, I have chosen Hindhead Commons and The Devils Punch Bowl for this exercise. ‘Its magic, its essence, its specialness’ envelop me in peace in all weathers and captivates me with its beauty.
Over the last few weeks, I have collected objects, colours, photographs, made drawings, taken rubbings and immersed myself in the location in sunshine and rain, early morning and dusk, getting to know the essence of the place.
The purpose of the exercise is “to take risks with working techniques whilst exploring a familiar landscape or location as source material”. We are encouraged to “try new ways of working” with three different techniques.
The colours and texture have been the most striking during recent visits, together with tranquility, so these are the qualities I’m hoping to convey. For the first sample, I chose to wet felt a bowl. I imagined being able to convey the texture, colours and peace of the location in a tactile way with wool fibres. I touched briefly on needle felting in MMT and have had a brief introduction to wet felting a small square so this is unfamiliar ground. Following an online tutorial by Rosiepink, I embarked on my first adventure. I enjoyed mixing the fibres and combining the colours to create an overall impression of the colours of the landscape and was looking forward with anticipation to the outcome.
There are various opportunities for improving the technique and design, but overall I am pleased with the result and would definitely explore 3D felting of vessels further.
Had I grasped that the first layer of felting would be the interior of the bowl and that my opening would become larger than anticipated I would have combined the greens and browns to form the inner visible layer, rather than put them on the base of the pot as above. The greys are attractive but not a feature of the landscape. The outer colours of the pot are reasonable and would have been more than acceptable had the inner been green. It is a little disappointing that the greens on the base of the pot are not evident when it is being displayed. I image an experienced felter would comment on the thinness of the layers and the roughness of the felt, but there is something appealing about the fragility of the rim and the slight unevenness of the pot. For a first attempt, I am pleased and very much feel I have discovered a new technique which I would like to explore further. I am keen to develop colour mixing, adding texture with cotton scrim and or stitch and different shapes. As with books, I am drawn to hand-held, tactile objects which can be held and enjoyed.
Following on from the third paper weaving sample in exercise 1.5 Action, I was inspired to weave. I have some experience from my first OCA Course, A Creative Approach. Natural fibres in hand dyed colours help convey the texture and colours of the landscape, whilst the addition of paper strips and joining two small weaves with the weft added to the risk factor encouraging me to work with a traditional technique in an unfamiliar way. With more time and planning, there is room for many variations on this theme, but overall, I am pleased with the combination of materials and the occasional links between the two warps. Own hand dyed silk tussah was used as a warp, some pre-felt and slivers of two watercolour sketches, sisal string and some commercial hand dyed wool from añañuca, Chile made up the weft.
The third sample is definitely the least refined. Considering texture, I had a go at making silk paper from both carded cocoon strippings and carrier rods for the first time, laminated a photo of pine to muslin and used silk and flax fibres with matt acrylic gel to create paper. These lovely surfaces and graphite rubbings in muted colours and gentle textures seemed to reflect the landscape and complement each other. I have made books before so to introduce an element of risk, I considered making a scroll. The risk was increased by lack of time. I had promised myself that the Assignment would be posted this week so I just dived in and hastily put together a scroll. Here too I feel I have discovered something I would like to develop. I have admired aspects of Cas Holmes’ books and collages and Mandy Pattullo’s fabric collage but wanted to explore my own version.
There are a number of things I would do to improve the piece eg. prepare the linen edge better in advance, give more consideration to composition, find a way of stitching the tree without having to use tracing paper to stop catching the fibres of the silk & flax paper, test the strength of the home made papers, make different papers incorporating fragments of the location, fix a tie to the scroll, use drawings as well as rubbings. That said, I am excited by the textures, soft palette, leaf rubbings on lightweight paper, the potential for creating grounds with fibres, exploring nuno felting and more.
Taking inspiration from a location has been a fruitful experience and suits me. I have become more confident drawing and painting in the landscape. Hindhead Common and the Devil’s Punchbowl offer a multitude of possibilities in the interpretation of texture and developing colour mixing providing a rich source of inspiration.
Holmes C (2015) Stitch Stories Batsford London
Pattullo M (2016) Textile Collage Batsford London