The Bodhi Bears are here!

I am interested in the concept of using handmade sculptural objects to spark memories of our traditional ‘Do-It-Yourself’ heritage – advocating its reappearance in our consumer society and emphasising its value in design. As such the dichotomy between handcrafts and mass produced goods is a key area of my practice.

As an Indie Designer, my practice resides in the spaces where art and design intersect. The idea for these characters evolved from my research of designing talisman-like objects. Alongside this, the work reflects my concern with the metaphysical concept of the seven Chakras examined in the writings of psychologist Carl Jung. I explore notions of warmth and whimsicality in this work, and ways to elicit emotion and nostalgia for childhood.

With a priority on the process, these works have undertaken deep experimentation; hand-dying, pattern construction, textile printing and extensive idea development that began with explorations featured in my previous post.

Advertisements

exploring possibilities for an art doll/bear

These creatures/bears are the prototypes for my current project. I have been learning about traditional teddy bear making techniques and patterns, so that I could draft my own. Using whatever I have in my fabric stash initially, they are not at all like the final outcome. But I enjoyed bringing them to life with my intuitive creative processes that I am becoming more familiar with each day I’m engaged with the making of them. It’s been all about trusting the process. Final resolved works are nearly completed, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

my future inspired

In the last project for the year in my Level 5 Degree program, I intend to integrate everything that I have learned into a final piece of work that will be exhibited ‘In House’ for all students, staff, friends and family to view. The key theme of this project is to connect back with the beginning of my year, reflect on learning processes, identify my directions for the future and connect with my world – on a local community scale. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to initiate, conduct and manage my own project.

Other than being given the topic of Sustainability as a parameter, I could create my own brief using any media or methodologies of my choice.  Having spent many years with needles and threads as my drawing materials, I am very comfortable with soft sculptural methods. So, my intentions this time round are to extend my skill set into hard sculptural methods, using found objects to keep in alignment with the sustainable concept and practice.

These images are examples of works by various artists, that have inspired me in the initial stages of this brief. The artists featured here, are but a selection of the browsing I have done. They stand out for me because of the handmade elements that give them all an aesthetic of either Steam Punk or Indie Craft – both being artistic sub cultures that I have a great fascination for and may be inclined towards in the future as an art practitioner.

Throw the Dice

In response to my research and learnings in previous posts and a month of delving into the topic of ‘Pattern Universe’, I designed my outcome on such musings. I was incredibly provoked by the evidence that nature and the entire universe is so deliberately created in pattern. So these images are the 6 sides of my object design. Using two of technologies that I have been taught over the past month (screen print and Adobe Illustrator), I created a 3D object than combines my passion for pattern, textiles and print, with an Indie Craft flavour complimented by an Einstein inspired philosophical twist (see previous post). I was completely in my element creating this, and I look forward to further exploration with an ink and thread pairing.

Using a found foam cube from my son’s bedroom (and yes he gave me permission to use it), I machine sewed these 6 dice sides together and covered the cube to form the dice. I was challenged by a few logistics in the process. Firstly, deciding how to feature the dice dots as a darker fabric, which was resolved when I found scraps of grey blanket in my fabric stash, before then, I was going to use black acrylic felt. Because the other blankets were pastel colours however, I am pleased with the contrasting result that they grey gives. It is a softer, more complimentary contrast than what black would have been. Secondly, if I had more time and resources to fulfill this brief, I would have preferred to have designed 6 differing patterns, all displaying elements and features of nature that we come across. This way, when the dice is thrown, each side would have featured a distinctly different pattern. In this case, the only thing that really changes from side to side is the colour and layering of inks and the spots of grey representing the numbers in nature. Still, it is a result that I am content with. My last and final challenge occurred when I didn’t think that my fabric prints were going to be large enough to cover the surface area of each dice side. I had underestimated the nature of fabric and it’s tendency to shift and warp out of shape. What began as a square did not always remain a square.  I considered having to slice the foam cube down in size with a sharp knife,  but fortunately, the fabric squares warped back into shape after a little encouragement from myself and the sewing machine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My greatest success with this work is the matching up of top and under layers of printed blanket squares, and how when the top layer is cut away, the grey darker print is revealed with the same corresponding detail of the pattern. An alternative option was to applique the grey dots on as a top layer, however the concept of revealing a hidden pattern underneath interested me more so, especially in relation to the project theme that I have discussed prior.

I am proud to have created a piece that is reflective of my values of repurposing and bringing old things back to life in a new form. I have been making crafts in a ‘practical’ sense for many years, and finally I get to label this piece as a work of art as well. I am grateful to all the crafters and artists around the globe for paving the way that has merged the two together, inspiring me to now do the same with confidence.

I also express my gratitude to my research artists Hanna Werning and Kahori Maki, for inspiring me  in this process. Both women are very talented and unique in what they do.

If I were to refine my outcome, I would go back to the stencil making process and make the pattern image an A2 size so that I can be more flexible with the printing stage.  In addition, I would create 6 different patterns representative of more aspects of nature, ensuring that each side had a different outcome in throwing the dice.

Further exploration with pattern in general would follow the concepts of Earth, Fire, Air and Water Elements in nature. Using Illustrator Pen Tool to draw the individual units as I had done in this brief, I am curious to discover the possibilities of patterns to be found, and the various forms that come from combining similar elements in nature with each other.

Self-Portrait – Inspired by Marloes Dukyer

I'm all stitched up (2013) Sewing machine with thread on paperIn response to being inspired by my research on Marloes Dukyer, I drew with my sewing machine for the first time. Being a semi industrial machine, I found it very difficult to turn corners fast and smoothly enough. My Bernina 850 is only familiar with going at top speed! However, I am so excited by my results and how I may be able to create in the future using this media. I find the organic nature of the ‘sketch’ has a definite sense of freedom from constraint, enhanced by potential movement of the hanging threads and the lack of contour lines used. Every thing about this self-portrait is suggestive of me: the texture, expression, combination of colours, and unruly curly auburn hair that decides to go in a different direction from one day to the next. A great accomplishment in my books.

An Artful Life – Marloes Dukyer

Marloes Dukyer is one of my most admired Indie Designers from Netherlands. I first came upon her work last year in Indie Craft’ by Jo Waterhouse and my limited logic regarding drawing was stretched open, as new possibilities came rushing in. I have sat behind a sewing machine since I was 11 years old, and I am definitely in my element here. Never before had I seen sewing as a craft utilised in this way.  The grin on my face enlarged as I realised how I could put my skill sets to a new way of creating art.

Marloes work is an amalgamation of fashion, art and illustration. By sewing freehand she uses the needlepoint in the same way one would use a pencil. She discusses how she enjoys the process of how the illustration is going to turn out, because rather than a controlled scenario, she relies on improvisation, innovation and serendipity to influence the outcome. A spontaneous, stimulating and also beautifully surprising process.

I find it interesting to note that I perceive her work as being both beautifully elegant at the same time as worn and crude, being the result of the distressed materials and harsh textural stitch-work of the machine.

The tactile experience of working with textiles and fibre is gratifying she says, especially in contrast with our modern digital world we find ourselves in. Marloes herself is the brains and body behind her own design agency, Naked Designs, and creates bodies of work for high-profile clients, numerous magazines and books, and also manages to find the time to exhibit her work widely.

She is certainly an inspiring woman in my path to discovering what type of artist I would like to be. I have an incredible sense of gratitude towards her, as now I have the motivation and passion to explore this media myself. Knowing that it will be an organic and experiential process comforts and excites me.

Reference:

Waterhouse, J. (2010). Indie Craft. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

An Artful Life – Aya Kakeda

My first impressions of New York’s Aya Kakeda’s work was the intrigue I felt looking at hybrid creations of paper cutting, embroidery, illustration and lace work. I came across her featured in a ‘Young Guns’ article in The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration, and then she popped up again in one of my recent reads ‘By Hand: the use of craft in contemporary art’.  What inspires me about Aya is her narrative and her use of various media including silkscreen, illustration and embroidery, that best portray her storytelling. Whether plainly obvious or more subtle her stories consist of fairytale worlds that are sometimes super cute and sweet, and also in contrast with very violent and creepy themes – like that of the Indie Craft movement.  Aya Kakeda has a love of making books especially with silly stories and characters serving as the purpose to convey metaphorical and experiential topics. Both her use of mixed media and her tendency towards handcrafted and ‘Indie’ art, inspire me to explore how my own experience with textiles and handcrafts can lead me down a similar path in being a creative practitioner.

Reference:

Hung, S & Magliaro, J. (eds.). (2007). By Hand: the Use of Craft in Contemporary Art .

The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. (n.d). Young Guns: Spotlight No.1. Aya Kakeda. Vol:7. No:2. Issue#20