WAFTA Challenge “Altered States”

Artwork In-Progress, Exhibition

WAFTA have issued a challenge to its members. To buy a bag full of “bits”, make an artwork from said “bits” and the resulting artwork will be shown in an exhibition at the Perth Town Hall from 16-25 September 2017

The contents of my bag was a very mixed lot – sort of cocktail dress meets rustic. Maybe a “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” theme would work!

We have to use some of everything in the bag (including the bag itself if we wish). The finished item may be 2D or 3D and it must fit within the confines of 30 x 30 x 30 cm. We cannot swap ingredients, nor can we leave anything out. We are allowed to add an armature and we are allowed to add thread so long as it doesn’t visually overpower the items in the bag. We can alter the items in the bag in any way – we can paint, dye, bleach, distress, weave, knit, crochet, felt, darn, unpick, unravel, slash, burn, screenprint, knot, net, glue and more.

Initial conservative thoughts are a vessel or bag. Second thoughts are for a burgundy, yellow-beaked, triple-humped camel-like animal wearing snow shoes and dressed to party…..

Another disaster – felting this time

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

Needle Felting the Bowl

I spent several hours creating two bowl shapes by randomly weaving over a plastic bowl with Courtelle machine knitting yarn. I planned to embroider different designs on the inside and the outside of both of them and then dry-felt with hand-held felting needles to integrate the wool stitching. This was easy to do but took quite a bit of time and I was quite pleased with the overall look.

Bowl randomly woven over a plastic bowl with Courtelle yarn. After embroidering over the weaving I used needle felting to finish - this weakened the structure.

Bowl randomly woven over a plastic bowl with Courtelle yarn. Embroidered with tapestry wool on the inside and outside and dry-felted. In places where there was no wool the needles weakened the courtelle to the point where it could be torn easily by hand.

Then I noticed there were some weak areas between some of the circles on the outside. When I pushed (hard) with my finger I was able to push through and pull the fabric apart at those points. I wasn’t able to pull it apart where there was wool on both the inside and the outside (ie the courtelle sandwiched between the 2 layers). I cannot tear the other unembroidered bowl so clearly it was the needle-felting that has broken down, or cut perhaps, the fibres of the Courtelle. I was unimpressed – it had taken me several hours to dry felt (leave alone the time taken to make the bowl shape in the first place) and in so doing I had destroyed something I quite liked the look of.

Lessons Learned

I have learned a lesson – I will only dry-felt with felting needles on wool. This was my first foray into dry-felting with needles and now I am wondering how strong some of the embroideries I have seen made with the embellishing machines are when they have used synthetic fabrics/yarns. I am going to put these in the bin – I don’t want to incorporate something I am not happy with into any other artworks. I am going to embroider the other bowl base as I am quite happy with the strength of that structure – but I will not be using felting needles on it because of the Courtelle base layer.

Creating Pod-like Forms

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized
The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

I have been busy with paper mache again recently. I had ideas for our MELD exhibition last year and actually started some works but because I always apply a minimum of 10 layers, alternating used office copy paper and brown paper so that it is really strong, my paper mache forms need a long time to dry and harden.

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

So I abandoned them in favour of other work for the 2015 MELD exhibition. Now of course (a whole year later!) they are thoroughly hard and can be painted/finished off. I’m thinking I could make more for our next MELD exhibition (or some other exhibition of course) if I start now.

I enjoy making 3D forms because of their tactile qualities. I like trying to produce sensuous curves and making pieces that generate that urge to caress, stroke or touch the work. I like trying to make the work reproduce that feeling I get when I pick up a really smooth river stone or piece of sea glass – it’s impossible to resist playing with the stone – turning it over and over in my hands.

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

Maybe I’m a bit perverse – creating works that give out that vibe to touch or caress and then putting them in an exhibition situation which more often than not has signs everywhere saying “please don’t touch the artwork”.

And pods in nature often rattle because of the seeds inside don’t they? So I’ve added the “rattle factor” to some of them too. But how would the viewer know that unless they pick it up and shake it? Definitely perverse. Grin.

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

This bamboo armature is the start of the 3rd pod this week. The 3 triangular frames that are tied in place will be removed once the hot glue has set. They were only there to keep the 3 bent “ribs” evenly (roughly!) spaced and the ends together while I figured out how to fix the ends permanently. I tried weaving around the ends but of course as I tightened the weaving it worked it’s way down the tapered shape and off the ends. So hot glue was the solution this time around. I started 2 others as well which have a very different underlying structure.

One of the things that appeals to me about paper mache is that it uses discarded material. It does take a long time because each layer is so thin – but then most things worth doing do don’t they?

Back on Track

Uncategorized
The finished cone-shaped rice mould. The sticky tape holds all the creases of the plastic bag together to give a reasonably smooth shape. The next stage is to make the “arty” cone over this mould.

The finished cone-shaped rice mould. The sticky tape holds all the creases of the plastic bag together to give a reasonably smooth shape. The next stage is to make the “arty” cone over this mould.

The Hidden Revealed Transformed exhibition was a great success. We had over 100 people at the opening and over 200 people attend the exhibition during the following 2 weeks. We sold quite a few works. We broke even on the colour catalogue. Now I’m starting to think about new work. The Ceremonial Bowls from the exhibition which had been photographed with a tea light inside had prompted me to think about creating lanterns.

Since reading about creating 3D works over a rice mould I thought that might be the way to go for creating lanterns. You have to have an opening big enough to remove a mould. The bowls were created over a solid mould (another bowl) so the opening is very large. With a rice mould you can puncture the mould to let the rice out and then gently pull the plastic out – so the opening doesn’t have to be very large. That’s the theory – I’m about to put it to the test. I created a cone shape from old x-ray plastic (so that I can make several the same shape if it works) and covered it with a plastic bag and lots of sticky tape.

Rice Mould construction. Plastic bag over x-ray plastic cone, taped to form a shaped bag for the rice.

Rice Mould construction. Plastic bag over x-ray plastic cone, taped to form a shaped bag for the rice.

I removed the x-ray plastic and filled the bag with rice sealing the base with more sticky tape. I kept tapping and patting it into shape as I went so that it became quite solid. The next stage is to wind yarn around it, or layer paper/fabric over it, or a combination – I’m not quite sure which.