my time with OCA is finishing today, though I will continue to study via short classes and personal research. other websites of mine related to my textiles study are listed below. hopefully I can re-enrol with OCA again later, once I practice more mark making, drawing and sketchbook work plus save up money again for the classes.
textiles reading list ::: links to textiles related articles & readings I come across — textiles, fibre, fabric manipulation, art, printing, painting, drawing, art books, projects, communities and artists
for assignment 3 they suggest we try working with tyvek. I tried one experiment a couple of weeks ago, based on a tutorial I saw on December 2014’s workshop on the web issue. it said to iron the tyvek then paint it with acrylics afterwards. well, I tried it and didn’t like how the painted version turned out. at all. I really liked the plain, white ironed tyvek – the shapes are amazing. very organic. like pebbles in a stream, or cells in the body. I like the ridges on the reverse side also. but I must have painted too thickly with the acrylic paint so I think I ruined them. then last night Hanna posted her watercolour painted versions on the textiles facebook page and they looked amazing. she’d made them look so fluid. she said she painted with really watery watercolour, then used a heat gun to shape the tyvek. so I tried again last night using watercolour, ink, charcoal, brusho, coloured pencils, pastels – this time painting them first, then ironing to get the shapes. much better! I like these attempts much better than the initial ones. Barbara mentioned you can use silk dyes too (setasilk) and stitch them before heating too. that makes more sense as the tyvek I have is soft like paper originally but once heated becomes like hard plastic, so I’m not sure how stitching it afterwards would work. Hannah mentioned there are also different types of tyvek. I’d just ordered a sampler kit so I’m not sure what gauge mine is, but it sounds thicker than what she’s using.
making some geometric fabric folds on cotton since my copy of “Shadowfolds” book by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K Palmer arrived. this one is called “Fujimoto’s twists” — it’s a mixture of stitched squares, triangles and lines, and is a bit like smocking. I need to iron the front side flatter, but happy with how it turned out. I’d drawn the pattern shapes freehand instead of tracing the pattern as the book suggested, so the shapes are slightly uneven compared to the examples in the book, but I’m OK with that. makes it a bit more organic.
they don’t take too long to make either — I made this sample over a couple of hours whilst watching tv.
back side: (actually I like this also as a front side — might do another)
I’m trying techniques for the fabric manipulation part of assignment 3 and came across this note called gorgeous fabric manipulation (velvet) so I tried it. I only used very small fabric samples to make initial tests, and I should have used a heavier weight fusing/interfacing as the velvet is heavier fabric than the light fusing I tried. apparently this works well for silk too
Use a cooling rack that has both horizontal and vertical grids. place velvet upside down and with a pencil push little bunches of fabric through. Take a fusible interfacing and then place on top of tufted velvet (wrong side) and iron. The grid should have little feet on sides so that the velvet is not crushed.
at first I couldn’t understand what she meant by using the pencil — I thought she meant to put holes in the velvet, so I only tried this on a very small piece, in case it didn’t work out. which it didn’t. but I did like the grid indentations in the velvet, so the experiment wasn’t all lost. I was going to try a metal collander also but the holes were too small for the velvet — perhaps silk would be better for this as it’s lighter fabric, though it would also be a hard surface to iron.
I didn’t have a metal rack with squares/vertical and horizontal grids, only horizontal rows, so I had to hold two racks together to form the squares. next time I might try buy another rack. or use small pegs/bulldog clips to hold the velvet through the holes, as it was hard to get it to stay in them. I had to iron it first to try hold the velvet into shape, and then iron the fusing over it to seal / hold it permanently.
I also tried a small metal egg cup, though it was harder to iron due to the irregular (non-flat) shape
as part of the work on my “bee” theme, and as part of the closing assignment for “Year of the Fairy Tale” illustration class I’ve been taking this year, to learn more painting techniques, I’m doing an illustration for a Fairy Land zine on magic animals. of course I chose the bee. but as “bee” was already taken, I decided to be more specific and chose the “Australian sugarbag bee” aka Tetragonula Carbonaria bee, which is one of the native bees of Australia. this is a stingless bee, though it can give you a bite instead.
collating info here about the sugarbag bee as part of my research. another Australian bee I like is the blue-banded bee. there are a number of coloured bees native to Australia, which are different to the introduced yellow coloured honey bee that everyone is used to seeing.
for the illustrated page, I need to write a line about why this is a magic sugarbag bee, and draw a matching picture.
Stingless bee rescue (ABC) http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2003/05/08/2045526.htm
“Unlike a hive of honey bees, which can produce 75 kilograms of honey a year, a hive of stingless bees produces less than one kilogram. Stingless bee honey also has a distinctive bush taste – a mix of sweet and sour with a hint of lemon. The taste comes from plant resins – which the bees use to build their hives and honey pots – and varies depending on the flowers and trees visited.” (note, European honeybees don’t use resin in their hives, but the Australian native bees do. some call this resin the sugarbag, others call the whole hive – bees, honey, brood and resin the sugarbag)
Stingless bees have been shown to be valuable pollinators of crops such as macadamias, mangos, watermelons and lychees. They may also benefit strawberries, citrus, avocados and many others.
The Meaning of Sugarbag
Sugarbag is honey made by Australian native stingless bees; sugarbag has its own special flavour and is a highly prized food of the Jawoyn people who hunted it from wild nests; it’s real bush tucker! It has formed an important part of the Jawoyn diet and was the sweetest and one of the most favored bush foods. The Jawoyn term for honey is Wam. Ancient artwork centuries old can be found on Jawoyn land depicting the types of animals, fish and food available in the surrounding area including the site “Sugarbag Dreaming”.
‘Sugarbag’ is an indigenous term, incorporating everything related to honey, including stingless bees.
Of the 1,600 species of wild bees native to Australia, about 14 are stingless. All are small (3 – 5 mm) and black in colour, with hairy extended hind legs for carrying nectar and pollen; because of the latter, they are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees.
The Yolngu world is divided into two separate moieties (or broad kinship groups): Dhuwa and Yirritja. Two types of stingless bee that are particularly significant to the Yolngu of Northeast Arnhem Land are the Yirritja birrkuda and the Dhuwa yarrpany.
Both sugarbag complexes have their own set of songs, dances, power names and sacred objects as they are derived from the essences of different ancestral beings.
Lucy Ward http://henryfskerritt.com/tag/sugarbags
“This sense of connectivity can be seen even more clearly in Lucy Ward’s signature image of ngara (the sugarbag). Ngara refers to the honey made by the stingless native bees. There are two types of bees native to the north-west Kimberley, the tree-dwelling bee (Waningga) and those that build their hives in rocks (Namri). Ngara is an important totem for Lucy Ward – not only was she born in Ngarangarri (the land of the Honey Dream), but according to Ward, she was also born under the shade of a sugarbag tree. Along with the image of the Wandjina, the sugarbag has been one of Ward’s defining motifs. However, whilst Ward’s depictions of Wandjina have remained relatively unchanging – undoubtedly due to the sacred nature of the image – the sugarbag has provided her with a motif of incredible flexibility. Over her diverse artistic career, it has been an endlessly malleable aesthetic form, in which she has found a seemingly boundless array of conceptual and aesthetic variations. Ward’s gallery representative, Dr Diane Mossenson, notes with amazement Ward’s “capacity for artistic re-invention. Unlike many Aboriginal artists who paint a limited number of images, Lucy has remained strong to her stories, but she continually recreates the imagery, finding new ways to express her stories.””
“Like the cave paintings of sugarbags, Ward’s earliest depictions show the sugarbag motif as distinct, individual objects. Each honey pod is depicted as an irregular square or circle filled with coloured dots. Sometimes these squares or circles are sub-divided, while in other cases they are not. In late 2005, however, a major development began to occur in Ward’s portrayal of sugarbags. The sugarbag became an increasingly open signifier, whose individual unity slowly disappeared. In her most recent works, such as the monumental diptych Ngara (Sugarbag) Story 2008, exhibited at the Arthur Guy Memorial Art Prize, any sense of this indivisible unity has been shattered in favour of an all-over dotting that covers the canvas in a pulsating invocation of the aerial landscape.”
“Despite these external prompts, however, Ward’s development has shown a clear and uniquely personal epistemic trajectory. In the paintings of Lucy Ward, each mark upon the canvas is like a fingerprint, betraying the trace of its creator’s movement. In painting her ancestral homelands, her marks revel her ownership of the country, like footprints in a landscape that she has traversed by foot, understood instinctively and known intimately. But just like a footprint, they exist as the memory of presence, a nostalgic echo of past travels.”
“In the wake of colonial incursion, elders like Ward cannot live on their traditional lands, but return only occasionally to tend to the country of which they are the sacred custodians. Returning to her sacred sites, Ward sings out to the spirits, warning them of her arrival. Her song echoes through the stony ridges and it is as though she is a young woman again. It is this memory of the landscape that reveals itself in Ward’s paintings. Each mark connects Ward to her landscape, making her one with the Dreams, songs and topography of her land of honey.”
“In this context, the sugarbag is a profound tripartite symbol for the personal (as Ward’s totem), the physical (the bush honey pod) and the spatial (Ngarangarri country: the land of the sugarbag dream). In shattering the individual unity of the sugarbag – literally opening it up – Ward fuses these three categories. Rather than fingerprints, the dots meld into a pointillist landscape that shimmers into being with a cosmological unity.”
“These seemingly abstract shapes thus become a complex metaphor for the inter-relationship of identity, culture and country. They are part of a sacred and personal geography that Marcia Langton has termed ‘placedness.’ For Ward, the past is not, as L.P. Hartley has famously suggested, ‘a foreign country’, but rather a familiar country that situates and unites all moments in time. Ward’s paintings become what Langton has described as “site markers of the remembering process and of identity itself.” They inhabit a temporality that is neither past, present nor future, but part of the sacred link that connects Lucy Ward to the timeless Ngarrangarni.”
Geographic Cosmology: The Art of Lucy Ward http://henryfskerritt.com/tag/sugarbags
(this page is an extended text of the article, “Geographic Cosmology: The Art of Lucy Ward” published in Craft Arts International, no.78, 2010, pp.34-39)
“According to [Lucy] Ward, in the Ngarrangarni, this Wandjina broke with traditional law, and took another man’s promised wife. This angered the man’s family, who pursued him across the country, seeking to punish him for this indiscretion. They finally caught him in Ngarangarri country, where he was beaten, speared and killed. From his prostrate body rose the sugarbag trees, making Ngarangarri country the land of honey. It is a powerful story of the connection of all things. In death there is creation; in punishment there is redemption; in the bitterness of tears, the sweetness of honey.”
DH[david hudson]: In my grandmother’s country, when folks heard the sugar bag, little native bees humming inside a log, they thought it was someone playing the didjeridu. But it was the sugarbag busily working making honey inside the tree. So the sugarbag led people to the didjeridu. http://www.didjeridu.com/wickedsticks/voices/hudson.htm
Kumbaingiri Billy’s Story from Oscar and Lucinda http://www.victorianweb.org/neovictorian/carey/oscar/billy.html
We thought they were dead men. They climbed hills and chopped down trees. They did not cut down the trees for sugar bag. There was no sugar bag in the trees they chopped. They left the trees Iying on the ground. They cut these trees so they could make a map. They were surveying with chains and theodolites, but we did not understand what they were doing. We saw the dead trees. Soon other white men came and ring-barked the trees. At that time we made a song:
Where are the bees which grew on these plains?
The spirits have removed them.
They are angry with us.
They leave us without firewood when they are angry.
They’ll never grow again.
We pine for the top of our woods,
but the dark spirit won’t send them back.
The spirit is angry with us.
There are over 1,500 species of “true blue” Australian native bees.
Commercial honey bees (Apis mellifera) are not native to Australia. They were introduced from Europe in about 1822.
Australian native bees can be black, yellow, red, metallic green or even black with blue polka dots! They can be fat and furry, or sleek and shiny.
Australia’s smallest native bee is Cape York’s minute Quasihesma bee. It is less than 2 mm long.
Australia’s largest native bee is the Great Carpenter Bee of the tropical north and northern NSW. It is up to 24 mm long.
Most Australian bees are solitary bees which raise their young in burrows in the ground or in tiny hollows in timber.
Australia also has 10 species of social native bees (genera Trigona and Austroplebeia) which do not sting!
Stingless bee honey is a delicious bush food and stingless bees can be good crop pollinators. So stingless beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular.
Native bees are also important pollinators of Australia’s unique wildflowers and are a vital part of our Australian bushland.
I’ve been trying out my new artgraf water soluable graphite tonight with another drawing of a bee for my theme. I think it’s sometimes called watercolour graphite. I put water in the lid and found my paintbrush and tried it out. I haven’t got the bee shapes right yet but I love the variations in lightness and darkness of the graphite. there’s even a slight shimmer and sparkle to it in this dim light. will see if it’s still there in the morning daylight.
I shouldn’t have tried the background wash though.. 🙁 don’t like it atm
another in (hotel room) biro practicing hatching (with wonky bee shape still)
I’ve been making dragonscale (reverse smocking) using Michele Carragher’s instructions (she is the game of thrones’ embroiderer). I finally got it to work, after unpicking the first few attempts (& realising I’ve done it on wrong side of the fabric – right side for regular smocking). I’m using this as part of the fabric manipulation topic in assignment 3 work. I’ll use this page to add more details and summarise it (with other samples) on the assignment page later.
notes for the pattern:
first attempt – I had only drawn the dots, not the triangles and became a bit lost, so these two didn’t work out. I unpicked them and started again.
next time, I drew the triangles as a template onto the fabric also. this helped a lot, and I managed to make it correctly this time
the right side of the fabric – this shows the smocking pattern, but the “dragonscale” uses the other side, so I actually made the whole piece on the wrong side of the fabric. oh well. know for next time.
the wrong side of the fabric – showing the dragonscale. I need to iron/press it to flatten it, though I like the puffy pattern also.
today I went on an etching / print workshop at the ownership project gallery / print room in melbourne. learnt a lot. i made some prints to try different techniques, levels of colour depth, plate cleanup, colours, timings. used one of my bee drawings so I can add them to my theme work. falling in love with printing. you can get some very detailed marks with etching (with practice!)
i’ll add more pics / steps later when on the computer
I tried making a bee from washi tape, but it turned out a bit wonky. I should have drawn the outline first instead of taping from memory. it was a good exercise in blending colours and creating texture and patterns and shapes though.
testing some woven eyes for my bees. these have a matte black circular warp threaded into cut fabric (calico in the first test), and shiny black stranded thread for the circular weft, travelling across and around the eye. I used the shiny thread to simulate the shinyness of a bee’s eyes, and woven circles to remind of the multiple cells / lenses of the bees’ eyes.
I learnt this technique from jude hill on her wonderful “considering weave” class / project
the first one didn’t work out as i’d threaded both ways instead of one way only.
but the next sample worked out as I had hoped (seen in my mind) so i was happy about this.
explorations in textiles, mark making, drawing, sketchbooks, art school & uni art work