Exploring Ideas – Project 1 – Interpreting Cultural Sources – Stage 4, Selecting designs for a specified outcome

For stage 4 I have selected two design ideas from my portfolio of sample ideas that I had completed in stage 3 to develop further.

My first design idea was based on a bold patterned piece of Tapa that I had found for sale on eBay. It contained all the elements that had attracted me to pacific island textiles at the beginning of this project. The earthy colours, bold symbols and traditional style fit exactly with traditional Tapa designs although it is not itself a particularly old piece. Just looking at the piece itself led me to think of a bag!

I had used this source for a number of samples in stage 3 trialing various felted and printed techniques. I particularly liked the felted samples using the symbols taken from this source but felt a felted background was not really working. This led me to try needlefelting the woolen motif onto a canvas background. This gave the stabiity needed for a large bag and worked better as an interesting textural combination too.

Samples from stage 3:

2014-11-10 09.50.192014-11-09 21.29.18

Design board for bag including examples of similar items available:

photo 1

Needlefelt on printed canvas background resolved sample:

photo 2

My second idea was for more of a conceptual or expressive piece. Drawn from the work of artist Filani Macassey and a page of the Fijian Times that was printed on barkcloth along with some of my own development work and samples from stages 2 & 3, the ‘welcome hanging’ is based on the idea of Tapa being traditionally given as a gift to visitors. The words ‘ni sa bula vinaka’ and just ‘bula!’ which are a traditional greeting in Fijian are almost scattered within the piece. The decline of traditions and their fragmented / delicate survival is almost symbolised within the layers of fabrics and the words themselves.

Final design for a welcome hanging:

photo 5

The storyboard:

photo 4

A short review of my work for assignment 1

Overall I am very pleased with my portfolio of samples developed during this project. I feel they reflect the initial research that I undertook for this assignment and a clear line of progression is evident from source material to preliminary ideas and finished samples and are a good outcome from what has been a fascinating subject to research.

I feel that I made the right choices and decisions when selecting and developing my ideas. I would like eventually to make both the items up into finished pieces and would like to return to this subject in the future.

The choice of materials I used were quite important in determining the qualities I achieved. I was drawn to the use of felt partly because of the original method of making tapa. It is a very similar method to wet felting which led me to think about equivilent modern materials and methods that could be used to create a final piece. There are a lot of alternative materials that I could have used but I feel I achieved the qualities I wanted with the materials I chose.

I limited my colour palette to the traditional natural colours used by the Islanders for their designs which I feel was the right decision. It held the body of work together and maintained a link that ran throughout the work.


About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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