Saturday, 15 March 2014

Designing assignment 2


First I had to choose which image to go with.
I made some little squares and had a go at various ideas.
The image from the dark hall still appeals a great deal, and my start on weaving it showed me that it has a lot of potential, but needs more work on getting the juxtapositions of colours right, so not for this time.

For the scaffolding variation I wanted something dramatic with strong contrasts, that doesn't lose the strength of the parallels that appealed in the first place. 

I tried various ideas, and the most appealing was the one with the most impact and apparent simplicity. The background has the pattern from my machine-sewn sampler.

Having decided this, I tried it out on rectangular shapes to work out which arrangement (and whether large scale design, repeat pattern or border) would be best from a composition point of view. Most of the variations had the flat quality that I associate with constructivist design. I ended up with a border, but then realised that in order to retain the features that appeal to me I would have to make the repeat larger than was possible on an A3 sized background.

I therefore decided to use the final piece as if it were the corner of a larger piece, to show the border at a good size.

I found a large piece of white cotton and cut it into several A3 pieces.

I drew out what I think of the poles layer first, to get the corner right. I traced one square 'block' and turned it over to give me the reflection at the corner.


Then I drew out the background texture on a piece of A3 tracing paper, keeping some of the same lines to give me something to align myself along. This background texture was based on this piece of embroidery sampler, but extended to cover the whole background of the border.

I used tracing paper as a template for the screen, painting in the negative spaces with the filler liquid (blue). Because of the tracing paper underneath it made a beautiful pattern, a little like the wave patterns on a beach.

I was anticipating that this pattern would have to be washed away before printing, but in fact the tracing paper stuck to it, meaning that the pattern stayed in some places.

An example of serendipity.

Because of my own awareness of the need, and because of the comments of my tutor after assignment 1, I have deliberately done more colour work in my sketchbook than would have come naturally. One of the exercises I set myself was to spot interesting colour combinations in Vogue, and put feelings to them.

Doing this I found two colour combinations that I thought would work well with the image I was using for assignment 2.

This pink-brightred-brownypurple colour scheme was more fun, young and lively, with big contrasts. My notes show that it reminded me of 1960s images.

This skyblue- bluewhite - midbluegrey combination was very cool and like a Northern horizon, with a much narrower range of tone and was responding in a different way to the geometric pattern - more to the mechanical, inhuman aspect than to the hope and freedom aspects of it.

I did what I could to match the colours by mixing acrylic paints, to see approximately the effect of using those colour combinations with the image.

At this point I decided not to choose between them, and see if I could try them both out.

While the course notes suggest we could either make the print, or do a sketch of it, I was excited about the possibility of following the design through to a finished print, so was aiming to do that.


The geometric lines are the most dramatic aspect of the shape. I drew them with blue gel onto the screen, and once dry, covered it in wax according to the instructions. I noticed that the new pot of wax was much thinner than the old one, and seem to need more than one coat to cover the screen properly.

Unfortunately the viscosity of it meant that it stuck to the paper underneath, and that it dried in streaks.

This photo shows the paper stuck to the back of the screen.

I decided to try printing it anyway, to see how it would turn out, and it looked like this, with dark squiggles, presumably where the layers of screen block dried differently from each other. The bars we printed well, but I couldn't use this because of the background.

I cleaned the screen and re-prepared the geometric lines, this time using only one layer of wax. The first test print was good, but subsequent ones barely printed at all. I have kept one of these in my larger sketchbook. I tried washing the paint out but it was already dry. I do not understand why this might be, other than that it was a hot day.

This is the trouble with a correspondence course - that you can only learn from what you have at home, and the CD that came with the screen printing kit, and the instructions in the course work file could not tell me what I had done to speed up the paint drying.

At this point it was obvious that the screen was ruined and it would not be possible to complete all three layers of the print. So I reverted to the idea of a sketch, using the first background texture layer I had already printed as the base of it. That is why my final sketch is on cotton.

For the scaffolding poles I painted them on with acrylic paint and a paintbrush, using the same template as I had used for the screen. This did not give the same blocky quality as screenprinting them, as the edges were more blurred and the pressure less intense and equal throughout.

For the final layer, I cut a stencil out of sticky vinyl, and sponged the paint on through it.

My final sampler for assignment 2

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