Assignment Five: “The Fabric of Life” Capsule Collection – The Final Samples

The aim of Assignment 5 was to create a capsule collection of at least six fabric samples. As much of my previous work in this module has been on a small scale, I decided to make these samples around 50cm x 50cm and where possible wanted to make textured samples as again much of my earlier work is very two dimensional.

The first textile “Support Network” I created for this collection was a much bigger version of the sample created in this blog post.

For the second textile “Jaundiced Luxuriance” I dyed a piece of cotton fabric using procion dyes in similar colours to the textile above. I used textile transfer medium to transfer photocopies of text taken from a thesaurus which were related to health and disability. I then cut the fabric on the bias so that I could use the shell tuck stitching on the sewing machine to create a grid effect.

It can be seen in the close up photograph below that where the text has been applied, the petal effect created by the stitching is disrupted. This is reminiscent of how other people’s interpretations and expectations can affect the life of a person with a health condition. However, when the bigger picture is taken into account the overall beauty of the fabric (or life represented) can be seen.

The third textile sample “Sweet Dreams” was created as a larger version of the small sample created in this blog post. To create this bigger sample I used a tear away stabiliser instead of Solvy which seemed to work better and avoid the risk of getting the dried flowers wet. I intentionally tried to ensure that all the dried flowers were orientated in random directions to represent the idea of tossing and turning in bed when you cannot sleep.

The close up image below shows that the stitching (as in the original sample) is made up of the word “Amitriptyline” repeated over and over. The idea of drug regimes forming the structure of the life of a person with a health condition is hinted at and the fact that the dried flowers are falling apart in places suggests the broken sleep of someone with chronic pain.

The fourth textile sample “Botanical Liberation” used a combination of experimental textiles from the Experimenting and Taking Risks exercise. I used the same procion dyes as the second textile sample to dye a 100% organic cotton jersey. I then layered it with an undyed white layer and stitched flowers inspired by the feverfew sketch and as I worked my way down the fabric I tried to convey the effect of the petals falling away. The second stage was to cut away the excess white fabric which has been saved for future projects and then I began to bead the sample.

I used the same mixture of seed beads to create the centres of the flowers as in the previous sample. However in this final sample, as the petals fell away I used a bigger variety of sizes of seed beads and more densely stitched them to create a more three dimensional effect. As can be seen in the close up photos below, by the time that all the petals have fallen away the beading has become far more three dimensional and looks more like a collection of pills. The idea I was trying to convey was that of the pharmaceutical industry concentrating the active ingredients from natural sources into medications.

After experimenting with the technique of creating a floral effect from a jersey material in both Developing Textile Concepts and Experimenting and Taking Risks, I decided that the effect is most obvious when at least two colours are used. To create this effect using colours from the colour scheme and yet keeping the “hidden” decisions represented by the mathematical symbols as described in the blog post on developing textile concepts I had to design two separate stencils to create the borders and the symbols in each box (shown below).

I used 100% organic cotton jersey and created a fabric paint from yellow acrylic and a textile medium to stencil a similar mathematical design. As can be seen in the finished textile “Latent Dilemma” below, all these “decisions” are hidden within a textile that appears very structured and yet has a subtle floral element where each individual unit is slightly different, much how every day of living with a condition can vary.

For my final textile “Genetic Stock” I decided to attempt to weave a much larger fabric using the barcode based on my encoded NHS number. The warp of the weave was a commercial acrylic yarn for strength however all the weft threads were hand spun from wool colours that were inspired by the colour scheme of the project. The loom I used was only a very basic loom that allowed me to weave a 20cm wide strip so I chose to weave two separate strips and sew them together. For the second strip I chose to reverse the barcode (ie place colour where there was white and vice versa) to add further interest. I liked that the fact that my spinning and weaving is not entirely even as it suggests the individuality of the patient even though they are represented as a barcode which is often associated with being a commercial commodity. I tried not to compact the weave too much as I liked that the warp thread looked almost like stitch marks similar to those created by hand in the fourth textile sample.

The completed “Fabric of Life” collection samples can be seen in the photograph below

My tutor had recommended looking at the packaging of medications after my last assignment so I used an old pill box as a way of transporting the needle felted pills and a sample of the dyed silk cocoons as I felt that the “yarn” sample made from these would have been too fragile to transport to both my tutor and for the final assessment.

I decided to mimic this packaging as a way of transporting my final collection and experimented by packaging and labelling the samples as below:

I added a label to the outside of the box that had a similar design to many of my medication boxes as shown below:

Admittedly this meant that the samples were not presented on paper or card however I felt that this seemed to emphasise the underlying theme of my collection in a more relevant way.

[All links access on 10/9/19]

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