Technical Experiments

My challenge to create a fully sized Tepee started by looking online at instructions as to how to adapt the current pattern I had to scale up the structure. Through searching I realised that it would be better to produce my own pattern to fit the height of the adult tepee as using the pattern I currently have would be too complex. I decided to make a simple Tepee design which consists of three normal panels and one panel with an opening. This canvas will then be attached to four beams of wood, tied at the seams to allow for strength and shelter. These beams are treated pine which will not rot if the structure is placed outside, and are 9 foot in length to allow for the diagonals. The space must give room for standing, but the audience will be encouraged to sit so as to allow for multiple people to enter at the same time.

This is the website that I based the pattern design on

The Tepee canvas will be constructed from a natural calico fabric as it is sturdy and similar in characteristic to traditional tepees. This fabric is off white in colour allowing for my applique illustrations to stand out from a neutral background. It is important on both a personal and conceptual level to reuse materials as much as possible, but to also to produce everything from scratch. Therefore, my making process started by experimenting with the wooden frame of the tepee so as to measure the size of the triangular panels. We measured the height of the tepee by standing within the space and allowing room for an average sized man, and also by sitting within the parameters. From this we took measurements along the base of the triangle, up the sides, from the central point and across the top (as the shape cannot be a complete triangle to allow for the wooden beams to meet at the top). As we just created a rough plan of the beams, each of the panel measurements would be slightly different so we took the average and shall then eventually let the beams move to meet the final panels. The final measurements were a base of 150cm, a top of 12cm and the height 230cm. The seam allowances on the sides will be 5cm to allow for eyelets to be added, and then a 1.5cm addition to the top and bottom measurements. The panel with an opening will be split up into a further three pieces, with the top section being 6cm in height.

To cut the calico material I marked the pattern straight onto the surface and then used this as a template for the rest of the panels. To give a perfectly straight edge I folded the material in half and measured out from this point as I knew it was accurate. The process was rather simplistic but took time to cut and pin the lines neatly as the fabric stretched when working along the bias.



Conceptual discussions + Studio Orta

Today’s tutorial was a discussion surrounding final pieces and the technicalities of visualising my concept. I originally planned to create a child sized Tepee which would then feature my decorative embroidery onto the fabric panels. The aesthetic would be heavily inspired by both digital folklore (snapchat stories) and traditional folklore (North American artefacts). However, the purchased fabric pattern is for a Tepee of adult shoulder height, and my tutor believes that this could become a clichéd replication of the products seen in the mainstream market. Therefore, my plan has been altered to create an adult sized Tepee which can be either produced from the small fabric pattern, or from a different shape. Furthermore, if I am creating a structure with a focus on internal space, I am intending to place my embroidered designs onto the inside of the fabric so as to be discovered on entering. This will fit with the Plains mythology of the inside of the communal Tepee as being a scared place.

Lucy and Jorge Orta are sculptural artists who investigate the boundaries between the body and architecture. They explore common social factors, communication and identity through a series of works, the most influential being Refuge Wear 1992-1998. Refuge Wear is a series of temporary shelters which can be transformed into clothing to offer protection from harsh conditions and emergencies. The work is a response from crisis’s in warzones and the increasing homelessness on the streets of Paris which leave people desperate. The garments are described as portable habitats that convert into backpacks or rain coats to aid personal comforted mobility. This transformation is a metaphor for freedom of movement, free will or choice and cultural changes. The forms are extremely ergonomic and take into consideration minimal body space in reaction to Claustrophobia and overall body comfort. The sculptural work is relevant to my visual practice as it is crucial for me to consider the impact of my structure and how this can fit into my personal passion for raising awareness of subject matters. As a result, I want to consider the usefulness of my structure as my work is never intended to be solely fine art. Aspects such as homelessness and keeping the old warm, or the juxtaposition of having a fabric based structure within the city are aspects to consider more closely through the developments of my project.



World Mythologies

World Mythology; in Bite-Sized Chunks, by Mark Daniels 2016, is a guide to the stories behind the tradition of legends around the world. This book follows my research into the Northern American Plains, as there is a chapter dedicated to the myths of the culture.


Daniels explains that the Plains were inhabited from at least 10000 BC, and the people spread themselves across North and South America, within civilizations flourishing at different times. American Indian Mythology is based on a deep spiritual balance with nature and the land. Animals are a major influence within the traditions, with the belief that all living things have individual spirits belonging to the collective spirit of the earth. Animals belong to the land, and therefore hunters thanked the spirits when killing life for food.

The myths of the Plains held important lessons for the American Indians. One of the most popular was ‘The White Buffalo Woman’ who was also named Pteskawin, and acts as the bringer of virtues to the tribe. Daniels describes the story beginning at a time where there was little food within the land. There were two young hunters who left the tribe at dawn to hunt for food to bring back to their people. The hunters had no success, and as they were climbing a hilltop saw a bright light come toward them from the horizon. This was Pteskawin, a beautiful woman in a white hide. The first of the hunters was naïve and approached Pteskawin, entranced by her beauty. The other was more intelligent asking the first hunter to respect her spirituality. It was too late for the hunter as Pteskawin and a white cloud embraced and enveloped the man, turning him into bones on the ground. Pteskawin instructed the remaining hunter to return to the tribe and tell them of her imminent arrival. The tribe were waiting in a Tepee when Pteskawin entered and started to walk around the circumference following the direction of the sun. She stood before the chief and gave him a sacred Chanunpa (smoking pipe) carved with symbols of the earth, buffalo, forest and the birds. It acted as a tool for important rituals within the tribe, with the smoke bringing members closer to the spiritual world. Pteskawin was known to leave the tribe by turning into a buffalo, bowing to the four directions of the earth and disappear back into the horizon. Many of the symbols seen within the story are still of importance to the culture today, including the use of the pipe, communal lodges, following the direction of the sun and the buffalo as a resource.

The Wily Coyote is another myth central to American Indian Culture. The Coyote was wondering across the Plains with his friend Iktome (the spider spirit) when they came across a huge rock. Coyote recognised that there was life within the rock and saw that this was the spirit Iya. Coyote took off the blanket he was wearing and placed it over the rock to keep it warm, then carried on their travels. The weather become rainy and cold and Coyote regretted his earlier morality wishing back the blanket. Coyote reconsidered the usefulness of a blanket to a rock, and ordered the spider to retrieve it. The spider was unsuccessful and so Coyote yanked the blanket from the rock’s back himself. The two friends carried on their journey contently, but then heard a rumble from the ground. From the horizon they could see the great rock Iya rolling towards them and the friends fled. The spider was able to get away from danger by rolling himself into a ball and disappearing into a small hole, whilst wily was flattened. This legend also punishes for the disregard of sacred things, and illustrated the spirit which the American Indians saw within all objects of the land. Iya was seen as the storm god, and gives an explanation for natural disasters as a punishment for the sins of Coyote. The story also teaches genuine generosity in which all tribesmen should replicate.

The value of these stories are still prominent in American Indian culture today, and hold a different power to influence than that of Snap Chat stories which are just forgotten after a number of seconds. It would be interesting to combine the strong visual imagery seen within both myths, with messages from digital folklores and provide a response to each.This research is also in line with the possible creation of a Tepee with my embroidered works forming the side panels.

Here is a link to how to make a Tepee (children sized)

Research Trip to The British Museum

Although my fabric collages have been successful, I felt that I could develop my research to understand how textile materials were used to visually describe morals among different communities. Today’s research trip was therefore an opportunity to study artefacts from a range of different countries, but also to gain inspiration from colour pallets and pattern within each section.

I started by visiting the Ancient Egyptian gallery as this has been of interest through the initial stages of this project. The collection is extensive, holding a range of different artefacts from sculpture to mummies. My study was mainly focused on the hieroglyphics and the decorations which were crafted onto mummy masks and tombs. The gallery doesn’t hold any form of textiles, yet the patterns of the language and wall paintings were of great interest. Within the life after death section, the audience gained a real sense of the strong spiritual beliefs of the culture through funeral rituals. Texts were important in bringing about transitions from death to gain new life, these included prayers and hymns to the Gods in order to protect the dead. These are now messages which have become lost within translation, and are now limited to visual admiration.

This research was useful to look at the power of visual languages and portraying messages through illustrative means. Yet, this section did not offer any developments to my understanding of textiles as a medium, and therefore I felt that other sections of the museum could be stronger influences to my design work.

A series of North American collections caught my attention as there was a large display of decorated and embroidered clothing. At the time of first European contact, the native people living on the American Plains formed two cultural groups. Village dwelling farmers inhabited the river valleys, and normative people ranged over the plains. The arrival of the horse introduced by the Europeans 300 years ago improved hunting and allowed the communities to become more civilised. The people of the Plains decorated most of their possessions. Men drew figurative designs on clothing and whole hides (translated as winter coats). They also carved in stone and wood to create sculptural works. Women were seen to decorate clothing in a geometric design, typically in quill or beadwork. Furthermore, on display was a rib boned shirt which was a garment worn on important occasions and a tunic embellished with a floral pattern. This pattern was typical to the people of the Northern plains, and other decorations such as bear claws were used as decoration to convey the close relationship between the people and the wildlife.

This discovery is both visually stimulating and conceptually sound as the creators of Snapchat also originate from America, and therefore these two types of American folklore and image making can be combined to show evolution within the country. The objects and clothing found within the gallery were elaborate in colour and style, with vivid patterns and beading which I now wish to include within my experiments. Before the arrival of the Europeans, most of the beading materials included bones, teeth, shells or stones. These were items that could readily be found, but symbolic meaning and beauty could be bestowed on them. These are objects could easily be incorporated within my experimentations and alongside the imagery I am abstracting from Snapchat stories.


Tutorial Discussions

This week’s tutorial was rather positive as the outcome was to continue developing my embroidery and textiles experiments towards an end piece. My original thoughts were to create a patchwork quilt as this is a traditional form of folklore and were often created from old scraps of fabric, similar to my concept to revive old and misplaced Snapchat messages. Through my tutorial is is clear that I need to continue researching artists such as Grayson Perry and his tapestry works. Furthermore, I shall take a research trip to The British Museum to study both the styles of drawing and understand the process of tapestry making.


The discussion moved from quilting to other more ambitious ideas such as installing parachutes or tepees with my embroidered designs onto the surface of the structures. The plan was to look to create fabric collages with only colourful materials (i.e. no blacks or whites) so as I could further improve my eye for colour and textures. This was a successful experiment as I was able to pick out the distinctive shapes of each original ink drawing, and then imagine the forms with colour and pattern. I grouped the old fabrics together in categories of colour so as it was easier to match each section. It was clear to see that my technical skills have advanced from my previous colour experiments, as there was very little puckering or machine mistakes made. After these experiments, I feel that I am now in a better position to start to look at parachute patterns, especially focusing on how I can add my collage onto the surface. There are silk parachuting fabrics which will allow for the structure to float, however when adding stitching and other materials this will bring a heaviness and may affect the flight of the piece. Another alternative may be to create a ceiling hanging which could combine all the individual textiles together as one. Displaying my illustrations from a height is also linked to the idea that there is a mysterious space within the world where these deleted photographs exist. This is based on visualising ‘ICloud’ and that I personally imagine these photographs are sent up into the sky or higher place.

Within the tutorial we also discussed sending a secret message to an audience. This could be through each abstraction being a representative of a letter in the alphabet and therefore giving a ‘hieroglyphic’ sense to my outcome. This may also be something to look at within the British museum so as I can fully understand the language system that the ancient Egyptians used.


Adobe Photoshop Edits

As a further development of both my textiles experiments and bleached paintings, I have placed the photographed files in Adobe Photoshop. I then inverted each image and changed the hue and saturation. This has allowed me to make a series of work changing the coloured sections from the orange bleached areas and the different fabric shapes. I then overlaid a series of original images together, testing the different effects and colour pallets. The most successful overlays are with the second layer being a copy of the first, either flipped or rotated to create a difference between the layers.


Textile Developments

The next stage in my visual experiment was to add colour to my textile designs, to further develop the process that I learnt previously. My main intension was to add colour into my work in a simplistic manner in which each individual shape would have an element of colour present. I also placed colours and shapes together which broke down stereotypical expectation of the objects, so as to abstract the story even further from the original snapchat. For example, I chose two variations of purple to be present within the lightbulb image as this is opposite on the colour wheel to yellow (the obvious choice of colour for the ordinary bulb). Furthermore, I also layered translucent layers of oranges and pinks within the cloud imagery so as another shade could be created through the mixture of the main fabrics. This is something I wish to continue experimenting with as I could then expand my pallet of colours just through layering objects.

This way of working was inspired by the illustrator Andre Azevedo who combines both illustration, painting and embroidery stitching within one visual. Azevedo focuses on the human figure within his illustration by using continuous line stitching to create striking likenesses. This element of continuous line is something which I have developed through my initial experiments as it creates a flow and direction for the viewer to follow, but also loosens up the linear style. Azevedo also composes his work as a college of textiles and painting mediums so as the final outcome looks both fragmented and surrealist. The different drawings overlap in certain places so as to create relationships between the medium and the altered subject content. Other key features such as scale, colour choice and focus are also introduced to narratives.

Artist Inspirations

I have been browsing through ‘Fifty Years of Illustration’ by Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts and ‘Illustration Now!’ by Ed Julis Wiedemann so as to gain inspiration on drawing style, colour pallet and composition to enhance the key features of my visual language. Below are some of the practitioners who have encouraged the development of my project;

Andrew Rae is one of Peepshow Collective’s founder members, but has discovered an individual style away from the collaboration. Rae’s illustration style is comic-book in approach, but is highly commercial due to his evident love of drawing and character building. Rae’s process and drawing style is significantly different to mine, however the composition that the artist has developed is visually intriguing. Rae places individual elements in collections to create a highly detailed image. It is obvious that each illustration has been drawn on a larger scale, and then decreased in size to sit alongside others within a frame. This is something which I find difficult as I am always conscious of having more than one focus point within an image. However, Rae uses grid formations to allow for organisation and structure to be present within each final outcome. Gridding seems a natural path to follow as it is a system that I use regularly to analyse my sketchbook work and understand which path to follow. It would then be interesting to bring this into the experiment itself and understand how my individual illustrations could sit together on one page. This also links into my research on hieroglyphics and how each symbol is placed to create a message. Hieroglyphics were formed differently than our modern alphabet and were divided into two groups, phonograms which were representative of sounds and ideograms which were representative of objects or ideas. These glyphs were then combined to create language of pictures and drawings. This idea is something which could potentially be recreated through my work as each individual illustration is representative of an idea or message sent through Snapchat.

Saul Steinberg was classically trained as an architect win Milan 1941 but developed a later illustrative career in which witty humour was combined with line and mark making to create a recognisable visual style. These illustrations were political and social commentaries which were displayed in magazines and exhibitions internationally. My interest in Steinberg lies within the doodle-like drawings which seem almost musical within a composition. The visuals are imaginative and present both ordinary and extraordinary objects to create a surrealist environment. Steinberg is a great inspiration to my mark making as there is an element of spontaneity to create shapes which are organic and loose. Composition is also a key feature within the success of Steinberg’s work as the characters communicate with one another within the drawing so as the viewer is observing from an outside perspective. Artists and War 1969, also reminds me of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as all the elements are drawn with a side profile and resemble conflict between different classes within society.

Jacqui Morgan has a distinct psychedelic style which has been applied to a clothing range, animation work, packaging projects and children’s book illustrations. My interest in Morgan’s work is not necessarily within her image making, but with her ease of storytelling within the illustrations. This is further reflected within her choice of colour palette to remind the viewer of the visuals which accompany traditional fairy tales. Morgan also consistently uses a neutral background to contrast with the colourful vibrant focuses. These colours are interesting due to the fact that they are earthy and rich without being stark, not distracting from the romantics of the narrative. These tones and combinations are something which I intend to bring forward through my development as this project cannot be purely black and white like my previous work. Both traditional folklore and digital folklore is based on colour and the difference in the choices of the designer. These differences could be the basis of my project and how to juxtapose these to portray a message of change.

Roderick Mills has a distinctive linear style which is composed alongside other elements of silhouetting and layering. Mills is both an illustrator and filmmaker, which allows for elements of narrative and flow to be strongly portrayed through his visual language. Mills has a simplistic style of drawing, but builds a collage of illustrations in which some elements are instantly recognisable, and others are hidden. There is a strong relationship between human discovery and places which reminisce past experiences. One aspect of Mill’s working style which is particularly inspiring is the use of spray paint and silhouettes which allow for block colours to be present alongside more detailed studies. The blocked sections are either small shapes within the visuals, or create a viewfinder for linear drawings to be contained within. This could be a successful way of incorporating colour into my work, but also to balance my use of negative space so as to create a central focus.


Experimenting With Textiles and Sewing

During my feedback in the studio session on Tuesday, there was a comment as to the lack of depth in my work, mostly due to the medium I have chosen to sketch with. Therefore, today I have experimented with textiles and sewing my visual content into the material. This also links my subject of Digital Folklore with my working process so as to create a stronger concept. When considering the features of Snapchat as a communication system, one of the most unique aspects is the way that the imagery disappears after a maximum of ten seconds. It seems almost bizarre that these images just vanish from the world, and almost sad that they cannot be re-admired and observed more intently by the receiver. By using sewing I am creating a more permanent image which is woven into the fabric and cannot be easily removed. My project is therefore considering the idea of reconstructing the now non-existent visuals which have been lost through Snapchat. Sewing, knitting and weaving is a traditional storytelling method to accompany oral folklore and acts as a reminder of the messages portrayed. A personal reflection is that we take for granted the information that we receive through the digital environment and therefore are also content with throwing this information after immediate use. Through my project I intend to bring to life the lost visuals which are also abstracted through the limitation of time that they can be interpreted within.

Using a sewing machine as a pencil is not a process which I have used before, and so a lot of technical testing was carried out before beginning to experiment with style and texture. The main aim for today’s session was to become familiar with the process so as I could then add colour and other fabrics to the illustrations. I started with two layers of white fabric, and began to use the different stitches to build tone and form. My initial intension was to draw free hand within the machine, similar to the way that I work with ink, however this created a messy outcome as I had no guidelines to follow. I quickly realised that the visual was easier to control if I added basic structural lines on the fabric in pencils, I could then add other details when the basic composition was completed. Furthermore, within my first experiments there was a large amount of puckering occurring due to the curves I was creating when moving the needle around the surface. This was because the fabric was flexible, and therefore I added tissue paper as a third layer to stiffen the material and make it easier to manage. Also to improve the final quality, I began to work from the inside shapes outwards so as the fabric could then spread away from the stitched areas rather than bubble in the middle.

To add tone and definition to certain elements I changed the style of my stitching, and also stitched over areas to create a heavier colour. It is clear that these initial experiment need more working into as there is currently a lack of dynamics, but this can be added by more stitching work and other additional fabrics. By adding sections of coloured fabrics I am instantly creating another ground and illuminating negative space to give a more successful structure. This will also allow for the opportunity of colour schemes and wider range of textures. These are more creative tests which I can now add to the basic skills which I mastered today. These illustrations could then be placed together in once space and become a patchwork quilt, a textiles storybook, or poster so as to display all the single visuals within one collaboration. img_5558img_5560img_5564