Wrapping is described in the course notes as a development of the joining exercises completed in project 1. We are asked to experiment with wrapping to conceal or partially conceal, control the shape of an object and make experimental forms. The following exercises are designed to take us through the stages of wrapping and some different approaches.
Exercise 1 – straight wrapping with threads
For the first exercise we were asked to use a basic implement like a wooden spoon and using a thread such as string or wool, wrap the object first in a progressive way, starting at the bottom and then have a go at creating shape by wrapping the thread more densely in particular areas. Once we had made and recorded the sample we were to unwrap the (in my case) spoon and re-wrap with another material. The materials I used were:
- Net fruit bags
- Masking tape
- Embroidery threads
- Blue paper roll
I chose some variegated fluffy ‘sock’ wool that I had left over from a recent project. I had the feeling that the varying colours would create a good effect and the soft fluffy mature of the wool would make a nice contrast to the hard wooden spoon. I started from the bottom as instructed and wound carefully around the spoon trying to cover it entirely. I stopped once it was covered and recorded the progress so far.
Once I had recorded my progress so far I added more windings concentrating on one particular area to build it up. At about halfway I took another photo to record this.
I kept winding until the ‘bulb’ appeared almost the same size as the spoon head. This created a complete disguise for the original spoon. I am hopeful that it has ceased to look like a spoon at first gllance and has taken on its own form.
My next step was to look around for some more unusual materials to wrap the spoon in. I chose some fruit net bags to try. I proceeded to wind as before but this time varied the tension a little. I also left some ends loose for a freer effect. I like the way that the spoon can be seen through the layers and is only partially hidden from view.
For this next sample I cut a pizza delivery leaflet into a long strip and wrapped the spoon with it, securing it with some fruit netting. I actually quite like this sample, it has a wonderfully fun feel about it. I think the bright colours and the unusual textural contrast help to produce this.
I started to think about other materials I could use. I had used some masking tape in the joining exercises and wondered what would happen if I wrapped the spoon in it. This method produced a ‘crunchy’ texture and the lack of colour helped to accentuate this. To remove the tape after I had photographed the sample I cut it down the back of the sample then carefully pulled it away from the spoon. This created a ‘cast’ of the spoon which I shall keep for the future. I have found that some of the left overs from the samples are also interesting.
For this, my next experiment, I took inspiration from Judith Scott. I started by wrapping the spoon in blue paper roll (the kind used for commercial cleaning). This was then wrapped with various embroidery threads of different weights and types. I kept one eye on the colour combinations emerging. It struck me that this would be a more effective way of trying out colour combinations for layers of stitching rather than winding in blocks on card.
I was relatively happy with this sample when I came across a rather scruffy piece of thread. It had become tangled in my thread box. It was wrapped loosely around over the existing threads and really worked well as a contrast in tension. It also casts a great shadow.
I was watching one of the plants experts at work using sphagnum moss to make garden sculptures the other day (I work in a garden centre) which inspired me to try wrapping my spoon in natural materials, continuing my current leaf theme as well. I had hoped that I could use some of the longer pieces if moss to wind around the spoon but soon found that it did not hold together successfully. I chose some garden wire to bind it all together. Although still not easy to do it was effective and it is not too noticeable against the moss
Once I had mastered wrapping the spoon in moss I decided to use some leaves to wrap the spoon as well as the moss. I really like this sample, it would look great hanging as part of a set in a woodland setting. This gave me an idea; I took my wrapped spoon to the woods to try to photograph it in a natural setting and give it a sense of place. I think it blends in rather well. I have never really done this before and it is definitely something I will try to do more in the future.
Overall I am very pleased with this sample and the way these experiments are leading me. I would like to experiment more with this kind of work and feel it is an avenue that holds a lot of possibilities.
Exercise 2 – Wrapping with materials & threads
This exercise is based around the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. We were asked to use materials like paper and fabric to parcel up an object. Again we were asked to create the sample, record it then unwrap and rewrap using different materials to prepare for this execsise I reveiwed my research including the photographic investigation I had undertaken into wrapped and sheeted machinery.
I decided to start with some predictable wrapping, some left over wrapping paper and some slightly less predictable matching rubber bands. I love the colours in this wrapping paper and as the first day of spring is fast approaching I thought it very apt. I usually spend a lot of time when wrapping gifts, especially odd shaped ones. Planning where each fold etc. will be. So I wanted to try and be as spontaneous as possible not spending too much time thinking about placement of wrappings. Elastic bands hold well and are quick allowing for a less designed approach.
For my second sample I went a little more rustic. Freezer paper with the shiny side out contrasted nicely with the matt natural raffia. I love the slightly unkempt look to this piece. A little dishevelled but still shining!
I had a new drum for my laser printer at work delivered this week and it struck me how great this air filled packaging was. I think it may work well for casting later on in the course but for now I thought for my third sample I would package my jug in it complete with string to tie it up. Again the glossy plastic works well with the matt string and the lines of texture created by both are quite exciting. I also like the way that the jug is only partly obscured by the wrapping. You can still clearly see it although it’s shape is disguised.
My forth sample was made using some blue-black silk fabric and some raffia. I lke the contrast of light and dark and also the expensive smooth silk against the rustic raffia. The photograph does not really do it justice as you cannot see the folds in the fabric as well as you should. It may work better for photographing in a lighter coloured fabric.
The detail of the folds came out much better in the photographs of sample five. Again I used the same silk but this time used the elastic bads to secure it. I spent some more time this time adding the bands to highlight the edges of the jug and folding in the fabric quite tightly this time.
For sample six I tried to create a very pretty ‘girly’ wrapping this was achieved using several layers of organza fabric with raffia and artificial flowers. I followed this up quickly with sample seven which provided a complete contrast…….
I swapped the raffia and pretty flowers for very thorny brambles. A bit like a fairytale wedding gone wrong???? One to ponder for the future I feel!
Exercise 3, Uneven wrapping
For this exercise we were asked to use a variety of ways to bind an object. There were no limits to the ways in which we could use our binding materials and we were to focus on responding to the shape of the objects in a way that feels appropriate to us the maker.
We were to use a group of found objects or bric-a-brac no bigger than about 20cm and to opt for objects that had protusions like dolls, teapots and ornaments or to combine objects. We were to think of Judith Scott’s work and use the obect to trigger ideas.
Now I feel that I am completely out of my comfort zone. I am going to try to go with the shape of the object but play around with it. I am starting with a roll of plastic that came with a bag that you fill with garden waste to take to the tip. I have kept hold of it for no apparent reason other than it has a pleasing way of bending!
I started by wrapping the Coil in various fabrics sometimes wrapping only one of the internal ribs, sometimes two. Knotting them together as I went placing each colour where I found pleasing. My next step was to start wrapping the external circle with different coloured threads, concentrating it in some areas more than others. Finally I tied together some of the wrapped areas with more fabric until I was happy with it. I feel this is quite a fun lively sample which I am quite pleased with. It would be fun to do a series of these in a range of sizes perhaps hanging so the sheer nature could be appreciated.
My second sample in this exercise used a single hole punch as a base on which to wrap. I started by punching some holes in freezer paper and wrapping it around the hole punch. This was secured with thin parcel string and then further wrapped with black thread to complete the monotone look. I like the way the you can see the body of the punch through some of the holes (showing as black) and the freezer paper through others (showing as white). I recorded this sample in my sketchbook before moving on:
My next sample started as a twig from the garden. I find it almost looks claw like which was only accentuated by the wrapping. I chose light coloured organza and threads only highlighted by one black and white slub thread to create a wintery feel which I feel I achieved. The piece has a very cold almost eerie look to it it reminds me of something from a cold fairytale wood.
This sample is of course has a rubber duck as it’s foundation. It was wrapped with various weights of wool to disguise it’s shape. I was inspired by Judith Scott’s wrapped dolls to leave part of its face showing as she did. My duck looks particularly scared which is a little unnerving but quite effective. I like the way that although the vast majority of the item is covered and the shape disguised, the character of the item can still be seen just by it’s eye and beak being exposed. I captured thus by drawing it in my sketchbook before moving on to the next sample:
A large comb was the basis of this sample. Again inspired by Judith Scott’s work I left the reels of wire attached to add extra interest. The wool which the item is mostly wrapped in was woven in and out of the teeth as well as wrapped around the body of the comb. Wire was then loosely wrapped around using differing tensions. It is almost like loose hair wrapped up in the comb’s teeth.
Again like the duck I carefully left some of the item’s features exposed. The rest of the item was wrapped in layers of wool of various tension. The entire object was then encased in a knitted wire cage, Knitted on giant needles with a very loose tension. This sample really does appear to be trapped – the dinosaur is almost gnawing ath the netting and cage to get out! I finished by recording this sample by drawing it in my sketchbook:
Reflections on this making experience
- Did you feel comfortable with the exercises? To be perfectly honest no, not to start with at least. When I started project one I was a bit worried, I didn’t want to end up with a lot of boring predictable samples and end up feeling like I did at the end of Part one in this course. It wasn’t until I started to play with the leaves and push myself that I started to enjoy it and start to come up with some more experimental samples. When it came to part two I honestly felt a bit silly wrapping a spoon but I quickly found that it was a great way to explore and experiment in a very free way. I actually began to find it very liberating.
- Were there particular materials and techiques you enjoyed working with? I really enjoyed working with the natural materials; leaves, sticks, moss etc. I also enjoyed playing with the wire in the later samples.
- How did your various materials respond to the two techniques? I found that I had to use slightly different materials for the joining and wrapping sections although some carried through both. Crispy autumn leaves would have just disintegrated if used for wrapping for example. But wire and embroidery thread worked for both.
- Were you able to achieve interesting textures and colours in your samples? Yes I am really pleased with both the colour combinations and textures achieved. Some are more unusual than others but on the whole I feel they work well both to add definition and in someways meaning to the pieces. For example the wrapped toys continued to be playful due to the colours used but both contain darker undertones which I quite like.
- Which outcomes were sucessful? Which less so – and why? I think the most sucessful was the duo of the wrapped jug in organza with flowers and the wrapped jug in organza with the brambles. I think they are visually and texturally exciting and as a concept work well as well. I think a sample which is less succesful is the corner sample using a leaf and card. The leaf was just too dry and the staples split it when they were bent round to make the corner. I need to do more research on ways to preserve leaves that will keep them supple and keep their colour as well.
- What are your thoughts on the artists designers and makers that you’ve researched in part two? I was really struck by the story of Judith Scott an was instantly drawn to her work. I find it intriguing and beguiling and will certainly be looking at more of her work in the future. I feel that all the designers I researched held a lot of inspiration for future development.
- How did the research you carried out inform your own work? Looking at Andy Goldsworthy, Judith Scott and Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s work definitely influenced my work during these projects and I hope it will continue into the next sections of the course. At the moment it has really helped me to be more enthusiastic towards trying new things, hopefully this will continue.