Stage Two – Sample Making
P.15 suggests attempting only 10 of the 20 available exercises in the first part of this course. I read through the exercises but wasn’t immediately certain which I would take forward to sampling. I decided to make one quick sample from each of the exercises to get a feel for what these exercises could lead to and if I had any immediate ideas.
From this sampling I found that I struggled with the rotational accordion pleats, I couldn’t seem to make them emerge from the same central point, and that I wasn’t too crazy about crumpling.
When deciding on the ten exercises to try I felt that I should try at least one exercise from each of the five sections listed.
Below are the exercises I chose and a selection of the samples produced.
Project One – Folding and Crumpling
Project One, Exercise Four – Incremental and twisted pleats
Incremental pleats are where the spacing between the folds progressively increases or decreases. Twisted pleats are when a pleat is folded in to the paper and the top of the pleat turns to the left, the base of the pleat turns to the right – or vice versa – giving a twist in the pleat.
I didn’t treat these as two separate sets of samples but eventually ended up with twisted pleats with uneven spaces between each pleat.
I tried these out in several different papers, each gave twisted pleats but the paper did not always sit flat once the pleats had been folded. A4 paper folded along the long length sat flat once pleated but anything less than A5 in size curls up once pleats are added.
These pleats are more interesting than straight pleats or folds. The shadows cast by each twist give more movement to each pleat than being just a straight line.
Project One, Exercise Six – Linear crumpling technique
Initially I did this wrong and squashed the paper cylinder on to the table from the top, downwards, rather than squeezing the paper, hand over hand to form long creases. This gave an interesting pattern on the paper in a series of waves. It was difficult to get this pattern all of the way down the paper as the cylinder bent after initially being hit.
I found that shadows cast on the paper interesting so tried to highlight these a little more by scanning the paper into my computer and running a few filters in Photoshop Elements over the scanned image.
The resulting images have highlighted the edges of the crumpled areas. Below are the samples produced using the ‘wrong’ method and some of the computer images.
I then had another go at forming the cylinder and then crushing the paper, as in the course notes. This gave a sheet of tissue paper with very concentrated, long creases across its surface. This gave the sheet more stretch and was easy to pull and form over items, holding its shape surprisingly well.
Project Two – Tearing and Cutting
Project Two, Exercise Two – Cutting edges
Cutting from edges looked really simple but this exercise gave the highest number of samples for any of the exercises I tried.
I cut one piece of copy paper along one edge then twisted and curled the paper, photographing each form as it was made. This was a good way to record each sample made as this meant I didn’t have to store huge numbers of samples.
The book Supersurfaces (Vyzoviti S., 2006, Supersurfaces: Folding as a method of generating forms for architecture, products and fashion, Amsterdam, BIS Publishers) was very useful with this exercise, there were several examples of cut edge forms in the book, I used these as a starting point for my samples and these initial samples but then these led to more ideas. This is where, in the past, I would not have used any of the examples in the book as it would have been ‘cheating’. After reviewing Steal Like an Artist (Blog post here) again I am now suitably assured that this is ok.
Project Two, Exercise Five – Creating flaps
Easily my favourite exercise. I enjoyed cutting in to the paper directly with a craft knife, especially forming the freehand ‘feather’ shaped flaps as these were cut with very smooth movements of the knife.
In my research I came across ‘Hoxton Cladding’ from Giles Miller and this used a series of cut-outs pushed up or down on a metal sheet to either reflect light toward the viewer, when the flap was pushed up, or form a shadow when the flap was pushed away. I was able to achieve this with my paper cut flaps to a certain degree, not as much shadow was formed as with the metal sheet.
While these pieces are effective as single sheets they gain immensely from being layered up. I stuck a few to the window with masking tape and the light passed through the slits where the knife had cut the paper adding highlights to the top paper layer.
Project Two, Exercise Six – Tearing
This was probably the least inspiring exercise for me. I tore copy paper along the long length of the sheet. This was with the grain of the paper so straight, neat edges were made. Tearing along the short length of the copy paper was against the grain so while the torn edges were straight they were not always perpendicular to the edges of the paper, often giving torn pieces with a more triangular shape.
One interesting sample was tearing along the width of a piece of crepe paper. The paper doesn’t tear in a straight line this way, giving a strip with one end wider than the other. The paper can then be pulled along this torn edge and the paper stretches. It then forms in to a curled strip as one edge is stretched while the other remains straight. Below is this crepe paper sample.
I tore a couple more materials, lining paper and cellophane, and then laid the torn strips on top of each other. I didn’t feel these samples were too inspiring; perhaps they will be useful in future projects, but this is another technique to consider for future work.
I think that these torn pieces could translate well in to fabric samples, possibly being used for backgrounds to stitched samples.
Project Three – Heating and Fusing
Project Three, Exercise Two – Using a heat gun
Heating and fusing is not something I tend to use. I have attended workshops on this in the past I felt it was something I should try to like but it does not appeal to me much. I don’t have a delicate hand so often these samples end up going a little too far and ending up as lumps of holey, melted plastic, rather than the delicately rippled samples seen in others work. I suppose this is down to selection of materials to apply heat to as much as technique. Some will melt, some will resist the heat completely, this is just a matter of experimentation.
So, with renewed vigour, I set about collecting up some things to melt. I used a large frying pan under an extractor fan on the cooker top to hold the materials while applying heat. I also filled the sink with water in case anything got out of hand (thankfully it didn’t).
Some of these samples were quite successful. I had a sheet of plasticised paper, from the protective pages in a photograph album that worked well. As it was bonded together it was really three layers so when the heat was applied the plastic outside layers melted but the paper inside did not. This gave a series of bubbles on the surface that were very interesting. I let this cool down before picking it up as the air in the bubbles might have been quite hot and may have been a problem if it had escaped on to my hand.
I also set about melting purely plastic items. Carrier bags are few and far between now that we aren’t dished them out at the shops so I gave those a miss. Bubble wrap however seems to be everywhere. When the heat was applied the bubbles increased in size before popping with a small hiss, no big bangs. This left the central supporting plastic with tiny shadows of the circles formed by the bubbles but no real warping of the plastic.
I didn’t expect the cellophane to melt but it did and remained very shiny even after some sections had been evaporated completely. I thought that this would either melt away to nothing or lose the shiny surface but it stood up remarkably well to the heat.
I stitched in to one cellophane sample before heating it. Cotton thread was used as this wouldn’t melt as easily as polyester, but care was still to be taken as it would burn rather than melt. Straight stitches became more wavy on the cellophane that was heated. This is due to the same length of thread being available but the cellophane holding the stitches becoming smaller, leaving the thread to form wavy stitches. Chain stitches were also sewn in to the sample. Again the cellophane holding these stitches was shrunk when heated so the chain stitches no longer sat flat on the surface but formed more circular structures.
This technique of stitching then melting would give some unusual results perhaps but there is the dilemma of putting in all the effort to sew the sample and then heating it and it bursting in to flames or the wrong thread being used and it all melting it to a pool of coloured threads and plastic drips.
I selected a few more plastic materials to try but they all must have been similar if not identical types of plastic as they all gave similar results.
There were two materials that didn’t go so well for me. The white plastic wrapping that comes around electronic equipment. This shrivelled up before my eyes as the heat was applied. It is quite hard now so that might be useful, perhaps it can be formed over other shapes?
Also I tried to heat some funky foam and this just ended up making the surface brittle with some very small bubbles on it. Had I held the heat over the foam sheet for a little longer I think it would just have scorched the surface and then melted a big hole in it. Not that useful, other than for adding a little bit of texture.
Project Four – Scratching and Embossing
Project Four, Exercise One – Embossing
I thought that I had done more of these samples but I only produced three or four. I used an embossing tool on the back of some lining paper. If the paper was on a hard table or cutting mat the tool did not work its way too far in to the paper. Trying the same technique again while putting carpet under the paper, the tool went through the paper as there was not enough resistance underneath. The best surface to emboss paper on, I found, was an old piece of lino. This had a slight spring to it which meant that the paper could yield to the embossing tool while leaving a neat score in to the surface but not tear.
Project Four, Exercise Two – Scratching
I have many photos of the bark of birch trees. They are from all over the place, I even walk past two on my way in to work, so I was really pleased with my scratched samples as they immediately reminded of those bark pictures.
The first was scratched with a sewing needle on to lining paper. It is the top surface that is most interesting as the paper is heavy enough to allow the needles to form a line but also tear up a small amount of the paper at each incision giving a score in to the paper that is not uniform in width.
I then tried scratching in to some heavy cartridge paper with a metal ruler. This surface was a little less forgiving so folded a little more than the lining paper but still allowed these torn edges to be formed. The back of this sample is also interesting as the shadows formed make it look like there are more shapes drawn in to the paper.
I am very pleased with these samples and could see them being used in future work as backgrounds, maybe even adding in some colour by scratching in to painted surfaces.
Project Five – Puncturing and Stitching
Project Five, Exercise One – Puncturing
I began this exercise by testing the kinds of holes that could be made in paper by different instruments. By forcing the tools through the paper surface more tearing of the surface was visible giving less uniform ‘holes’. Also by not pushing a tool through the paper completely raised areas could be formed. By putting carpet under the paper the paper folded slightly when a tool was being pushed in to the surface. This has left fold marks on the surface of the paper that could be used as lines or folded to give a more raised, sculptural shape.
I used the stretchiness of crepe paper again for this exercise. I have a paper punch so punched in some holes in to the crepe paper. I then stretched out the paper, this turned the holes in the paper in to ovals once the paper had been pulled out.
Crepe paper was also used and holes punched in to the surface with a cross head screw driver. Due to the elasticity in the paper the screwdriver would not pass cleanly through the surface, this again has left raised section in the reverse of the paper that have held their shape.
Working quickly with these samples has given me some of the best impressions in to the paper surfaces. By not passing the tools used through the paper, tears and uneven sections have developed. Also using more pressured strokes has given firm impressions of the tools surface in to the paper.
I did punch out some small pieces of paper when using an unrolled coat hanger. This tool punched out small circles of paper with a small torn piece of paper attached to it. The coat hanger had been forced into the paper so a circular ring was visible in the section removed. I have saved these small pieces as I think they could be interesting, combining a visible shape and a smaller more random section of paper.
Project Five, Exercise Two – Stitching
I began this section of work by folding an A3 piece of heavy cartridge in to six columns and four rows. This gave me squares of about 5cm by 5cm to stitch in to. I then pushed a bradawl through the whole sheet to give 36 holes in each square, arranged 6 by 6 across the square.
I took one single colour of thread and started stitching patterns in to the surface of the paper. By pushing the holes through the paper, stitches were easily formed. This regular arrangement of holes could be filled in like canvas work but it also gives a framework in which to try out patterns made by the thread. I have tried to fill each row with similar styles of stitch, top row is straight stitch, second row French knots, third row zig-zag and fourth row cross stitch. I think this shows some progression in my approach to these patterns, working left to right and building on the patterns in the squares before.
These are quite regulated, however some of the other samples made used regulated stitches but the materials used to stitch them have added width to the stitches. Raffia and parcel ribbon gave twisted and wide stitches.
Holes were punched in to card and thread pushed through. One sample has three stitches into each punched hole. This has given a very geometrical result. Another card has holes punched in to it but rather than sewing through the holes, one after another, the needle has been brought up through the hole and wrapped around the edge of the card before moving on to the next hole. This gives an area of uncovered card in the centre of the sample.
Folding lining paper repeatedly gives a fabric like surface. I also repeated this using copy paper. Thread was then stitched through the copy paper to give a more sculptural surface. Wire was passed through the lining paper to form a series of ‘stitches’. This could then be formed to give peaks and valleys that held their shape.
Rows of stitches on crepe paper could be pulled up to give ruched samples, these were also free-standing.
I then tried to combine several papers. Firstly by laying paper squares on top of each other. One row of stitches was put in first, and repeated until there were four rows on the sample. Each row of stitches was recorded by photograph. This allowed me to review the sample as the stitches were building up rather than produce four samples of essentially the same thing.
I produced a few samples in ATV by using chenilled fabric. I wondered if this was possible in paper so laid several types of paper over each, stitched in some straight rows and cut between the rows of stitches. The paper was quite difficult to cut through, there is some kitchen roll in there and it kept bunching up under the scissor blades. Also the crepe paper kept catching, but once cut, it could be pulled up to support the other paper layers above it.