Frustratingly Good Mistakes

This week has been a mixture of good mistakes and successes which will drive through to my final outcome.

With my tutor I explained both the issues of texture and inks. Leigh agreed with the roughness of the fabrics and understood that I am looking to achieve a personal design vision where touch and interaction is crucial. Therefore, a change in material is needed, for both the larger black sections and the base fabric. There was a comment on the natural calico fabric as it has been ‘over used’ with products such as tote bags which means that there is already a cliché and personality attached to the aesthetic. The final fabric must be tactile in texture, flexible to be filled and have a colour which doesn’t announce itself to the viewer. Through discussion we arrived at using the wrong side of denim which is a washed blue in colour but both durable and soft to touch. This also runs alongside my concept of bringing the inside outwards and wrapping the body in a type of ‘clothing’. Denim will also provide an interesting base for strong vibrant colours, however if I am to use inks as a colour source they may need to be layered on top of whites to gain the full strength.

From this discussion I purchased a meter of denim and quartered fabrics of green, red and purple. This was to create a further long and sizable experiment to test inks and fabrics on the new surface. Through a swatch test I experimented with the quality of the line created by both quink and Indian inks. The two liquids didn’t blead into the weave and therefore I chose quink to use because of the softer feel once dry. These painted marks were then combined with appliqued black sections of coating material (similar to felt) and coloured appliqued fabric to recreate the previous experiments. A thicker line was added to the coloured shapes so as to connect to the inked lines. This was produced by sewing a running stitch to attach the fabrics, and then a double stitch for decorative purposes. Throughout this process I became clear of a number of improvements which would need to be resolved in the final outcome;

-The appliqued fabric needs to be felt as the original fabrics frayed at the edges as the shell was handled, ruining the quality of the shape and the longevity of the outcome.

-I need to produce each section of the piece separately and attach to create length. Originally I thought that I could cut a pattern from one piece of fabric, however because of the narrow joins the constructed shell is impossible to turn through. Within this experiment I had to cut the joining sections apart and reconstruct when the shells were stuffed. Fortunately, I have a matching thread which can be used to make the overstitching invisible. Stuffing, seams and matching patterns must also be considered here.

-The felt and denim is too thick when turning through a point. The sharpness of shape cannot be maintained even when the seam allowance is cut away.

-borders of quink ink were added (much like the calico experiment) and will need to be made thicker as the seam allowance lost the consistency of design.

-When the opening to fill the shell is small, the funnel and polystyrene balls become static meaning that they will not fall through the opening. The openings will need to be made bigger, and soft stuffing can be added at the ends of each shape to made the stitching easier.

The experiment did come with success. The black coating areas are tactile and are easy to handle through the sewing machine. The blue fabric and vibrant colours are complementary plus the ink matches the black sections appearing as a continuation.


Through a further tutorial today, questions of form and fluidity have arisen. The issue with the current experiment is that it could become an oversized cushion and take away from the seriousness of the subject. Therefore, I need to choose my colours wisely so as to promote the message rather than distract. A way to overcome this is to choose colours which represent the original image, for example flesh colours and yellows for fat, this will then lead the viewer to truth as my shapes may become too abstract to interpret. Also I need to rediscover the looseness of my brush marks to give a fluidity to the final outcome. This can be done through tracing the exact shapes on paper and transferring to fabrics.

Artist references to consider

Louise Bourgeois


Annette Messager


Eva Hesse


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