Part 5, Stage 5 – Sorting

In this stage I am to return to my samples made at stage 3 and make decisions about which techniques and materials to take forward into making my final prototype/maquette.

The course notes state that ‘This sorting stage is for you to make some final decisions about your preferred works or samples from the latest sample-making stage. You are looking for a sample or samples that, with a small amount of development you could make into your final prototype.’

For stage 6 the brief is to make a final piece or group so whilst writing this post I will be trying to narrow things down to come to a final decision on where to go with the project.

Skeleton leaf samples:

Although I really enjoyed making the bowls and I will no doubt return to them at some point; I am not sure that they are what I am looking for as a final piece. I really want to try and make something unique rather than basing it too closely on the work of others. These samples did however lead my to try other structures made using the same materials and techniques which produced far more interesting forms, I am particularly interested in the ‘framework’ produced by the veins of the leaves, the interplay between them and he sheerness of the rest of the leaf:

I love this little structure it is very appealing as a piece. The viewers eye is drawn to examine it in detail. The fact that there is another structure within adds to the fascination.Stitching simply with plain thread and running stitch combined with the natural colour of the piece concentrates all the attention on the delicate intricate structure made up by the pattern of leaf veins I also like the fact that these leaves are uncoloured, they add a simplicity and purity to the piece. I am not sure that using other colours would  work as it may detract from this:

The small vessel made using the same method and materials as the ball is also very effective. Without the structure within and the closed form it s not anywhere near as intriguing but does have a use. However for this project I don’t necessarily wish to find a use for the pieces in fact I would rather try to steer clear of my normal urge to make things that have a use.

The most interesting sample by far from this set of samples was the ‘seed pod’. Again I feel it is the inclusion of other objects within the structure that makes it so interesting to look at. Again it is the structure and simplicity that intrigues me. Using the darker seeds in the middle draws the eye past the external structure. Keeping the leaves uncoloured enables the eye to see what is within. I can only imagine what this would look like on a huge scale! I do wonder what several of these pods together would look like as a group. Would the structures become more enigmatic or less? Would it work as a group of identical samples or would it detract from the original singular piece?

Bark and leaf structure samples

Again I may well return to this idea at a future time. I really enjoyed using the materials that I had gathered whilst our walking and groups of wrapped bark vessels would be visually appealing. The texture and colours work well together and a well crafted piece could easily be developed from the samples. However, I have to restrict myself to developing a sample / samples into one final piece / group. This just isn’t my favourite technique so it is for that reason alone that I am leaving this for now.

This little sculpture is a favourite of mine and it sits so nicely amongst the other samples that I feel it needs noting for possible further development. I can see a series of structures being able to be developed from this simple first idea. It could be enlarged using larger twigs to create a large sculpture and joined with others to create more 3D structures. It is one I really want to return to and take into a woodland setting perhaps creating hanging installations that live in the woodland.

I really loved sampling with the grasses however I am not choosing to carry on at this point. This is mainly due to the time of year. The time for harvesting good quality grasses for this technique has unfortunately passed for this year. All the grasses are beginning to die back and are not flexible enough to use. More research and practice into preserving the grasses would also need to be carried out before I would feel confident creating a well crafted piece. This I do not have enough time for at this point in the course.

Whilst I have been going through the process of writing this post it has become clear to me that I have really enjoyed this section of the course very much and I am really having a lot of trouble deciding which samples to carry on further. I think this is due to the project being materials rather than design led and entirely of my own choice.  All these samples were first sketches of ideas and would be interesting to develop into finished pieces as far as I am concerned but I cannot choose everything at this time. The brief is to create a single piece or multiple not a whole exhibition!

I have decided that I really want to develop the ‘seed pods’ above all else. They intrigue me as an idea and I really would like to concentrate on trying to create a group of them, and making them really well. I have never made multiples of anything and  I do wonder what several of these pods together would look like as a group. I also want to explore keeping things simple. I tend to overcomplicate everything (my own non degree work is generally very intricate machine stitching with lots of colour and layers) so switching to this ‘slower’ simple hand stitched approach is something I really want to try.

There are also lots of questions regarding this sample in my head: Could adding another ‘skeleton’ such as the fine twigs or woven grasses make them more interesting still? Would the structures become more enigmatic or less? Would it work as a group of identical samples or would it detract from the original singular piece? I will need to spend some time investigating how a group would be best displayed and fine tune the making of the pods – which stitches to use to construct them, what colour thread and what size to make them. I have a range of sizes of leaves and some other colours of leaves as well. Much as my first instinct is to stick with the light uncoloured leaves others may work as well.

My next step is to try out some of these ideas and make some more ‘part’ samples to trial the adjustments before making the final pieces. I am also going to do some more research to look for examples of ways small groups of objects can be displayed in art to try to decide the best way for me to hang or display them as I feel that this will be intrinsic in the success of the piece.

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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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