Personal project, Stage 6 – Planning and making a finished piece

9 July 2016

The idea that I chose to take forward from stage 5 was sample FP23. I envisage it being worked into a large floor to ceiling installation, several metres wide, either against the white wall of a gallery, or perhaps with a floor-ceiling glass wall (for example, the Longside gallery at the Yorkshire sculpture park). I consider it as a conceptual piece of abstract art drawing very much on the work of the impressionist painters, in particular Monet and his oil on canvess painting “View of the lilypond with willow” (c. 1917-19). My aim was to capture the vibrancy of their colour pallete, the suggestion of leaves; curled, rolled surfaces being struck at different angles by light and reflecting it back.

As it is not possible to submit a site-specific installation for my final piece, I decided to make a large sample, similar to one which I would present to a gallery if I were being asked to pitch for a space to display my work. My samples from stage 5 (being only 9″x12″) are not large enough to convincingly “sell” such an idea. I need a large sample to allow me to explore distinct areas of depth, shadow and light, and to investigate how colours could me made to move and transition across a large surface. I decided to use a 30″x42″ a large canvass stretcher frame. 

The frame was natural pine, and considering what colour to paint it was tricky. Ideally, I would want it to ‘blend’ into the background as much as possible, because I don’t envisage it being part of the finished conceptual piece. Assuming that gallery walls are usually white, I painted it a flat matt white.

I started to produce my laminate sheets which I would use to make my ‘cut pieces’. As before I used combinations of different papers (newspaper painted with acrylic, handmade tissue or various colours and weight), commercial yarn, handspun yarn and fibre. The fibre was Southdown and Teesdale tops which I had previously hand-dyed.

I produce different ‘colour families’ of laminated pieces:

I then started to string them onto fishing line and built up patches of colour (this time clear fishing line, to give an even better impression of the pieces being suspended in space). As well as the glossy laminate cut-outs, I used similarly shaped pieces of charcoal-grey felt to give a contrast of texture (the felt being very matt, not reflective and completely opaque).

When I reached the stage shown in the photo below, I felt that I had gone as far as I could with the materials I was using. The piece lacked excitement. It lacked rhythm and tension. It was altogether rather bland. 

Had I not been studying for a textile degree I might have been tempted to bin the idea and give up, but that was not an option. The investment I had made in sketchbook work and sampling led me to believe that this idea could be made to work. 

Firstly, I thought about how I could inject some excitement into the piece. I was pleased with the way that the dark areas were starting to look like leaves in shadow, but there were no attention-grabbing accents.

I thought about using bright turquoise feathers (see below). Although the colour accent worked. I did not feel they were right because they were easily recognisable as feathers, and did not fit with the theme.


My next thought was that the piece might need a more radical contrast of texture and shape. I had purchased some coarse woven tape, which I planned on painting with acrylic paint and cutting into pieces.


SAMPLE FP25: Painted and stitched tape samples

Painting the fabric tape with acrylic paint had the additional desirable effect of stiffening the fabric, making it formable. I introduced some interesting folds and curves. I also stitched along the crease of one of the pieces with fluorescent yellow yarn to give it added impact.



You will see in the photo below how I initially places samples FP25 in the piece to test their effectiveness. I also tried a ball shape made of out scrunched newspaper wrapped with the fluorescent yellow yarn (bottom right).

I definately didn’t like the ball shape. I was less certain about samples FP25. 

My next thought was to look at the bright (fluorescent) yellow commercial yarn that I had used together with other fibres and paper. This time I made a gloss laminate purely consisting of pieces of this yarn (below).

SAMPLE FP26: Gloss laminate of fluorescent yellow commercial yarn


I also thought about how I might use small pieces of this laminate to introduce rhymn, unity and movement. I printed out a photo of my work and marked it up using yellow felt-tip. I felt that I diagonal sweep from bottom right to left might work (see below):


So next I introduced small pieces of fluorescent yellow laminate using my plan.

My inital feeling was that the small yellow pieces added depth, movement, and unity across the piece, which I really liked.


I then thought about contrasts of scale. Using sample FP26 I cut out much larger pieces in similar shapes to the small ones. I tried these in combination with the painted fabric tape and strips of paper, in many different combinations, one of which is shown below (clothes pegs used as a temporary means of attachment):

I felt that the piece was at last starting to work, but I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the strips. I hoped they might be analogous to shafts of light dissecting through the leaf canopy, but in the event they somehow seemed to disrupt the pattern and confuse and interrupt the rythmn. I decided to disgard samples FP25.

I did, however like the contrast between the larger and smaller pieces, so decided to pursue this idea. I found some fluorescent yellow lace in the fabric shop, so decided to laminate this, together with the flourescent yellow yarns using both glossy and matt laminating pouches:


SAMPLE FP27, FP28, FP29: Flourescent yellow laminated samples


Compared with the gloss laminating pouches, the matt ones attenuated the brightness of the yellow, making it appear softer and more gentle on the eye. The same can be said of the laminated lace compared with the laminated yarn. These samples gave me four graduations of brightness of the same colour.

I then also used my painted paper strips with the matt laminating pouches:


SAMPLE FP30: Painted paper strips, matt laminating pouch


I particularly like this sample because the pouch itself provides a degree of opacity which the gloss pouches do not, so they add to the feeling of filtered light and looking through shadow.

You will note from the matt laminated samples, that most bear concertina-type folds due to getting jammed in the laminating machine. I actually quite like this effect, however eventually, repeated use of fabric which melted onto the rollers caused the laminator to become unserviceable and unrepairable. I have since discovered on Facebook OCA forums that other textile students simply use an iron to fuse the pouches, with protection of baking parchment.

Finally, I also made cut large pieces from laminated Southdown hand-dyed fibre and incorporated these.


My final piece: 

Below is the configuration which I finally settled on, photographed indoors against a white wall. I feel that the picure does not do the piece justice because it does not capture the brightness of the flourescent yellow colour, nor it’s depth and three-dimensionality.


Disappointed with this image, I took my piece outdoor and photographed it in different settings in natural light.


1. From indoors looking out against patio glass door


The shapes are very clear, but there is some loss of colour differentiation between the more opaque pieces. Although the backdrop is rather busy, I actually quite like it. There is intrigue about looking at a view which is partially obscured.

2. With a white bathroom towel behind, outdoors in sunlight

The shadows are lovely but the white background does not show off the flourescent yellow to best advantage.


3. Outdoors, I n bright sunlight against a brick wall

I really like this setting because the shadows are lovely (although the brickwork is rather ugly). They colours and shapes show up very well against this background.


4. Outdoors, against a backdrop of red flowers

I like this setting. I feel that the flowers somewhat confuse the piece. There is a lot of intrigue and depth and the red colour of the busy lizzies adds an interesting new dimension.


5. Outdoor, against a backdrop of foliage and a black fence

This final configuration is my favourite. It shows depth, empathy with it’s surroundings, and the colours are well represented photographically. Although there are no shadows, I feel that the influence of the background on the overall visual success is stronger.


The matt laminate paper pieces look like shards of stained glass and the yellow and blue appear vibrant and lively against the black background. The flourescent yellow is neither over dominant nor too harsh. There is an interesting interplay between negative space and the shapes, some of which are transparent or semi transparent. It almost looks like a shattered pain of coloured glass.

From garden design I know that painting a fence black helps to make it feel as though it is receding into the background, making the garden space seem bigger. Had I known that my piece woud look best in this setting I would may have chosen to paint the my wooden frame a different colour. 

By cropping the photo with editing software it is possible to get an impression of what the work might look like without a frame (see below)

However, the act of cropping actually frames the image too! In the event I quite like the fact that the image is framed because it reminds me of a window pane. It is worth noting that a frame or cropped image will exert an influence on the viewers expectations of ‘composition’.



1. Initially, I thought that this piece would work well scaled up as a floor to ceiling installation against a white gallery wall. The process of my making and photographing the piece has made my think of it differently. 

2. My piece really comes to life when viewed outdoors, adjacent to foliage, in natural light and with a dark backdrop.

3. The piece would make excellent a temporary outdoor site specific installation (it may need some protection from rain).






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