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.