Material explorations, making as research

Updated: Jan 17

Developing ideas from previous blog post.


Weaving with different materials


Initial material ideas for weaving: leather, grass, straw, hair, clay, wire, plastic bags, straws, paper, strawberry laces, string


STRING

Exploring weaving, I've not worked with this technique before so wanted to play around with a straight weave in different materials. The first I tired was a natural string - I liked this texture and it reminded me of the wheat used to make the corn dolly.

To begin I did a very loose weave. I really like how the string had a curve to it and created its own pattern within the weave. The ends also intrigue me - like water flowing off or snakes slithering away from the central pattern.



Decided to tighten the weave to see how this would affect its pattern. Interestingly, the string still held its curve (from being wrapped around in a ball) which created a beautiful flowing movement through it. The ends of the string also looked quite striking and almost alive in the wriggling movement.

This was the only one that was stable enough to hold up without it falling apart, so explored creating shadow patterns. Used my sketchbook to create an even background so can see the pattern easier. Really like the effect it had, multiple patterns created with the different levels of light and depending on how close I held the material to the surface.




STRAWBERRY LACES

Wanted to try 'modern' and unconventional materials in weaving. Strawberry laces created an interesting pattern as they wouldn't stay where I put them and kept bending out of shape. They were extremely difficult to work with and it was impossible to create a tight weave. I wanted to see if this would change at all if I froze them, but all that happened was they were slightly more rigid for about 10 seconds and then had completely defrosted.



THICK WIRE

Weaving with a more rigid material. I thought the wire would work well as it would stay in place as I weaved other pieces through, however I was wrong. This was the most difficult material to weave as the different pieces 'pinged' out of place whenever I was moving the structure. It also looks very flat and two-dimensional, rather than having interesting high and low points as I thought it would.



THIN COPPER WIRE

Trying a thinner wire to see if I would have a similar issue. Again, the strands didn't stay together and kept spinning out of place. Although this was easier to use than the thicker wire, it still didn't create a very interesting pattern or effect. Looks like strands just laying on top of each other rather than being weaved.



Reflection: Liked the curves and how the material fought against being tightly woven (string and strawberry laces). I liked the ends - messy/untamed vs tightly woven pattern in the centre. The two wires didn't work well in showcasing the technique, a thicker material works best. Shadows created by the weaved objects - exploring negative space? Weave other materials through the fabric panel? Creating patterns within the weaving = happy accident from the materials moving.



Getting into the workshops:


WOOD TURNING


Different tools:

Right image shows tools to remove lots of the material (making black cylindrical).

Left image shows tools to shape the wood.


Whilst turning:


Post turning:

Pine, difficult to turn with but shows mistakes so learn more from it.


Finished sample:



Reflection:

I really enjoyed this process, but need to walk before I can run. Very challenging technique for the type of thing I want to make (likely to chip), unrealistic to develop the skill to a good level in the 2 week time frame. Can revisit this again in future. Can look at using the bandsaw to cut the shapes from wood?


CERAMIC WEAVING


Continuing from my experimentations with weaving in different materials, wanted to try it in something that would be more permanent. Influenced by Malene Hartmann Rasmussen (see image from her instagram below), wanted to try weaving a sheet of ceramic. Scored and slipped each strand to the others it touches to ensure it stays together during the firing.


Beginning building:


Finished ceramic sheet:


Slumping sheet over bowl:


Reflection: Initially planned to leave as a sheet, but wanted to experiment with slumping over a form. I know this makes it much more likely to crack, but excited to see the results. Dried it very slowly under plastic to minimise the breakages as the clay is under a lot of stress being so thin and stretched over the bowl. Were a couple of minor breaks before it went in to be biscuit fired, but just the edges so don't mind - adds to the organic feel of the piece. Could look at reattaching them after the first firing.



CERAMICS WITH HOLES FOR WEAVING


Further development of my first 'woven' ceramic vessel.

Form was based on Mayan baskets after research into Mayan weaving. Incorporating knowledge into weaving as a method of preservation. Also inspired by the Loewe 'weaves' exhibition that used chestnut roasters (see image below).


Wanted to look at combining these two elements into a piece, developing my initial weaved vase further. I can use other materials in the holes of the vessel and weave them through the piece.



Before I cleaned up the holes, the texture created inside from pushing the tool through was similar to that of the chestnut roasters in the Loewe exhibition, which I really liked. I decided to remove it and clean them up so that its not sharp when I weave through them, but could be something to explore in a different object.


Reflection: Very happy with how this object has come out so far, excited by the traditional looking form but its modernisation through process and material. But, I don't want to appropriate Mayan culture, but appreciate and take inspiration - how can I look at relating it back to myself? Want to reflect on my own ancestry and heritage.


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