Let’s go back to the very beginning where I have began my journey in Plymouth College of Art. This was the year where I was a fresher as a first year student and learnt lots of new textile processes, whether they are old and new! First year is also about thinking about what you would pursue to do once you have graduated from an art and design related degree and explore who you are as a textile designer or artist.
Before, I officially began the module on the first week of October, I went on a drawing trip to Mount Edgecombe, where we were asked to draw a particular motif or pattern, e.g. pattern from your scarf or an object. We did a group drawing project, creating a 2D sculptural drawing on the grass. There was one lecturer who recommended us to research Andy Goldsworthy, as he works with pebbles, to create large sculptures taken into 3D.
There was another practical module, ‘Interdisciplinary Studies’ which I did a recycled denim jacket project. The concept of stones was influenced by Andy Goldsworthy, (again, of course!) where I have actually gathered both primary and secondary research, utilising that starting point, even if it is a particular artist you admire and using your own images and creating drawings in your own style as a textile designer.
First module we did was the ‘Drawing and Visual Research’, where we learnt how to put drawing into textile both into 2D and 3D. As part of the drawing module, we were given a live brief from a local textiles furnishing company called Futon 24/7, who asked us to create textile designs for their futon products. This was the best live brief project I have ever enjoyed, because I had the chance to transfer my original drawings into repeat patterns, using procion mx dyes for plain colours originally, in use for applique and hand and machine embroidery, with puff binder. One thing I would generally work on is really thinking about how I could create applique and embroidery as if an design was manufactured in an textiles industry, because it is SO important to keep in mind on the customers satisfaction upon a soft furnishing products in an professional finish.
In January 2017, I went to Paris and Amsterdam for the week, where I went to explore not only the cities itself, but also visiting trade shows, exhibitions and museums and get to go sightseeing independently with a group of students. Van Gogh Exhibition in Amsterdam would be my highlight, because I really admire his paintings and his style of working with brush marks so much, which I would like to feed into my design work at some point. Maison et Objet is an international design trade show, where they exhibit their work professionally whether that is interior design, textiles, fashion or craft which is another highlight, because it would not only give me an idea of visual inspiration of their work, but to have an idea of how they present their work professionally in an design world of working as bespoke or small businesses.
I did another external collaboration with the wool company, One Hut Full based in Dartmoor when we were giving a dyed colour palette, using white-faced Dartmoor wool. For our first project of the Material development module, we were asked to research the word,’multiplication’ and decided to go with the cellular multiplication concept, where I explored multiple cells in Biology. As the project evolved, I have decided to develop drawings, by exploring even smaller cells and used felting and embroidery techniques, bringing embroidery to life! This was a three week project where my sketchbook development had improved from looking at visual inspirations from pinterest, communicating my design ideas effectively. One main aspect I was advised at a tutorial was keeping asking myself the same question,’ what if’s’, because I never know until I try as part of my critical reflection both visual and written forms altogether. For example, printing an embroidered image from a driftwood piece onto a fabric.
I also enjoyed making the pencil case, linking to the ‘Digital and Materials processes’ and the ‘Drawing and Visual Research’ module, as I have learnt how to sew a pencil case with a zip. During the ‘Digital and Materials processes’ module, I was so keen and enthusiastic to learn so many textile skills, whether they are old and new, which was simple to remember the methods, in order to achieve a particular technique.
So to speak, my new favourite textile processes were different dyeing processes disperse dyeing and procion mx dyeing, machine knitting, tufting, because I thoroughly adore creating original colours into fabric, (which will become clear further down the page) and enjoyed a how knitting is structured onto a industrial knitting machine and enjoy relief texture from different wools arising from the hessian fabric. Learning how to use different pigments was finally a key element to learn for screen printing, including puff, white opaque and pearl binders, because I needed to get to know different printing applications. My favourite printing binder is white opaque, because it works very well onto any coloured fabric and in fact the visual designs can be seen better than basic opaque, even though the colour may not be achieved as planned, unless you keep going until you get the colour you want.
Additional favourite textile processes and why:
Procion MX dyeing – dyeing cotton and silk fabrics are really straight forward, using step by step methods. Also you would potentially find it easy to achieve a full colour shade, if you multiply the ingredients written on an actual piece of paper. I always dye my own fabrics – no matter what dyeing process and fabric I use, because it is a cheaper option to go for, which there is a chance to create my own colours whether that is a plain background or even tie dye patterns.
Embroidery – was strongly good at drawing with stitch into fabric or any material and can stitch intricately, even with french knots.
To round up this blog to a finish, my piece of advise I would give to potential students who are starting university studying an art and design degree is you make sure you embrace every opportunity that your degree course gives you, even if it is a work placement, an internship opportunity or a year abroad for an student exchange. In this way, you will attract yourself, your CV and online portfolio that you get you into a dream job you desire. Go for it, you fabulous lot!
Love Farrah x