When thinking about my final major exhibition, I have always been inspired to create a collection based on Cornwall. This is my home country so I felt that I had that personal connection with it but it also meant that I could gather a substantial amount of primary research. My ideas started off by simply creating a floral collection as I know that that is one of my strengths. However, I wanted to challenge myself more and to also create a slightly more interesting conceptual element to my work. This led me onto looking at landscapes, where I took this inspiration from the previous project where I had also started to look at seascapes. Again to make this more complex, I have further looked at the heritage of Cornwall as I felt that my theme needed to have en extra depth to it. This included looking at tin mines, castles, and lighthouses etc, which have a rich history but also still impacts the culture on locals today. These three areas of research have made up my three families.
For my research, I travelled down to Cornwall to gather photos and also some information on several locations and buildings so that when I was drawing and designing, I would have a better understanding of the concept behind everything and therefore why I was including it. For example, my floral family is based around three key flowers that have a connection to Cornwall, such as being the symbol of various towns. I have also gathered inspiration from journals such as Embroidery and Selvedge, but also other textile designers that produce work with a similar theme or use techniques that I planned on using myself. This research was beneficial in giving me the background knowledge that I could formulate my ideas upon.
As I enjoyed designing for the interior last year where I was concentrating on the living room, I decided to shift my focus to designing for the bedroom to do something a little different. I had also wanted my designs to be fresh and calming which I felt would relate more to a bedroom interior. I got the inspiration for the lampshades from an artist in Cornwall called Melody Ryder, who has created simple but beautiful lampshades but stitching basic designs onto a piece of felt before wrapping around a lampshade.
I have tried to reflect all of the colours from my colour palette within my three families, so that I have the feminine pinks and purples, the blues, yellows and greens for the landscapes, and a hint of the more masculine browns and oranges for the architecture aspects. Whilst I wanted the colours in a majority of my designs to reflect what they were portraying, I was also bearing in mind that I wanted a combination of warmth, freshness and light for the interior of a bedroom, which is usually associated with relaxation.
My collection is aimed at couples aged between 25 and 40 years old as I feel that the style of my designs can appeal to this broad age range from the detailed subtle drawings to the bolder and brighter designs. Whilst I was originally going to narrow down my target market for just people living in Cornwall due to the inspiration behind my work, I think that this can be opened up to people outside of Cornwall as a way of displaying the beautiful scenery to those who do not know it. I decided to design for the middle market, as I wanted my collection to be affordable but also still have a sense beauty and quality within them.
I had envisioned my collection to be quite delicate which reflects my style of drawing. However, I have experimented with different drawing styles from my photos, using a selection of media, including watercolour, gouache paints and pastels. I would have liked to experiment a lot more with collaging these mediums together and to also involve some more mark making. As the project went on, I found that I enjoyed doing the simple fine liner outline drawings as these were also easier to reproduce within Photoshop, but I did quite like experimenting with watercolour.
From some of these drawings, I started to create a couple of samples. I knew from the beginning that I wanted part of my collection to be stitched based, as I like being able to create lots of delicate marks with machine embroidery. To start off with, a lot of my samples were paint and machine stitched with odd bits of organza collage, but I started to find that it was quite difficult for me to put it into Photoshop and to repeat them, and I also found that they were quite visually heavy, which wasn’t quite where I wanted to take my designs to.Therefore following a discussion with the examiner, I decided to develop my samples by experimenting with digital stitch, which gave me a cleaner line. Digital stitch took me out of my comfort zone as I had only previously learnt the basics, but I wanted develop these skills to work for what I wanted in my designs. This meant that my motifs were a lot cleaner and crisper as well as making it easier to ‘cut’ around in Photoshop to repeat.
My designs have a combination of this digital stitch, drawings, free machine embroidery and hand embroidery, which were than scanned into Photoshop and Illustrator to create a variety of design layouts, such as placements, borders, half-drop repeats and tossed repeats. This has created a delicate and defined style for my collection, which portrays the three families of my collection.
I decided that the products that I would make are curtains, wallpaper and a lampshade so that I could create a scene. I did want to do pillows but I didn’t want to overcrowd my space and I felt that it could be displayed as a CAD. After playing around with my exhibition space, I’m really pleased with the final result as I really didn’t want to clutter my space but at the same time I didn’t want to have too much white space. Doing the wallpaper and curtain allowed me to see how my designs worked as a larger scale repeat. I feel that the overall atmosphere of my display, reflects me as a person, as it’s quite subtle, neat and precise.
Overall, I had my struggles with this project, but I’m really happy with the end result and I think that I have more or less answered my brief. It has been a good experience in creating a professional exhibition and I’m looking forward to see how the rest of the exhibition goes. I’ve learnt so many skills throughout my three years here, which I have been able to display together in this last project.
Today was the day where everything was completed. It was such a relief to have my exhibition space all up yesterday, which meant that I could spend today finishing odd bits and bobs in my folders. I’m really happy with how my space looks and I hope that it shows my designs and products off to the best that I can. I found it difficult to know when to stop fussing over the smallest things as I was constantly worrying whether things looked right until it got to the point where I needed to step back and stop. I think I made today more stressful for myself than I needed to leaving bits of annotation a little to the last minute, which usually isn’t like me but I’m glad I got the main stuff done earlier on in the week. I was definitely glad to have Daniella with me today as she helped to do any last minute jobs but was mainly brilliant at calming me down and helping me list in order of priority the things I had left too. She’s been a great help the last two weeks with doing the boring jobs but also being a pair of fresh eyes on my work, giving me opinions on how I could improve the way I was displaying stuff etc. I hope it’s given her inspiration for next year and that she’s learnt lots of stuff that will be useful for her next year.
TUESDAY: Today I finished stitching the headers on my wallpaper samples as Daniella tied the ends and put the stickers on them. I then dedicated the rest of the day doing a couple of updates on my blog and a little annotation. I also sent everything off to the Print Studio to be printed for my Press Packs.
WEDNESDAY: My main aim of today was to get the Artist Statement done that was to go up in our space explaining our exhibition. I also started to put up some of my products in my space now that the second years had finished painting etc. I was slightly worried about my wallpaper as it had been rolled up for a couple of days so it was slightly curling up even though in weighted down the ends with clips. I am going to leave it overnight and see whether it straightens out. I also got everything done in Press Packs-CV, Artist Statement, Postcard, Business Card and burning all this information onto a CD. I’m quite pleased with how my Press Pack looks and I think that it looks professional.
THURSDAY: Today, with the help of Daniella, we put up the rest of my products including my curtain, lampshade and samples. The tutors were going around making alterations to our space to try and improve our display. I was quite worried about what they were going to say as I didn’t want to have to remove rails etc, but then I also wanted to create a better display. The feedback I got was that my curtain would look better if it could be tied back so that it could look more like a curtain. They suggested that it could have been lined, but unfortunately I just don’t have time to do that, which is a little annoying but I’ve got to work with what I’ve got. They also felt that my bedside table was quite low so therefore my lamp was also quite low. I had done this deliberately as I didn’t want my lamp overlapping with my curtain, but they rather have my products ‘interacting’ with one another, so they said to scrap the table and get a taller plinth for my lamp to go on so that it would reach my curtain. Thankfully I managed to find a spare plinth almost straightaway so that I could try out this new layout. I was slightly annoyed that I couldn’t use my table as I had gone to Swansea to pick it up, sanded it down and painted it a couple of times, but I understand the tutor’s reasoning for getting rid of it. Daniella and a couple of other girls helped me to play around with new layouts so that I could show them to the tutors, which I think they approved of. I decided to move my framed CADs from the side wall to the middle to fill in the white space where my curtain was now pulled back. This made my space look more like an actual interior space, which was the main aim, so I was really glad to have got that feedback and help from the tutors as it has improved my space greatly. Afterwards, we set about making all of these alterations, which took the rest of the day which was far longer than I thought it would be. Therefore, I feel a little behind on what I had planned left to do for tomorrow. However, I did manage to quickly see Jayne who was going through all of our Artist Statements helping us make any alterations. I’m glad that I did this, as mine sounds a lot more coherent and professional that what it originally was.
Today was an important day in that I was putting up all my rails and hangers in my space. Having had no experience in DIY or not having a clue in what I was doing, I was really worrying about how I was going to achieve my exhibition space. However it was useful to have my plan with me, and though I had to make some alterations in spacing I am happy with how it looks. I am extremely grateful in having Lucy’s dad help to put everything up, as though I am sure I would have found away around it, I wouldn’t have known what to do. All I need to do now is put in some picture hooks for my framed CADs, as at the time, I wasn’t sure how many I was going to have. I also need to put in my hook for my tieback if I am still going to include that. Initially I wasn’t very happy with the spacing of my arm rails, as I felt that they went too high and too low, but after consideration, I don’t think there was any way around displaying this differently. I am just relieved to have this ‘technical’ side of things almost done and now I’m looking forward to start hanging everything up later this week.
I also designed the print that I am going to have on my CD for the Press Packs. Originally, I was going to do USBs as less and less people use CDs, but I feel that CDs look more visually interesting but are also a lot cheaper to produce. As my Press Pack has a theme of Bluebells with my business card, postcard, CV and Artist Statement, I wanted this to continue with my CD print. I chose a different design so hopefully it will stand out in the folder.
It’s finally the start of buddy week and putting up our exhibition, which has come round very quickly! Having met my buddy, Daniella, a couple of weeks was very useful to get to know her strengths but to also get to know one another before these stressful last two weeks. Having learnt from last year, having a buddy is so important and lightens the work load a little for us thirds years too, which is one less thing to worry about.
MONDAY: Whilst the buddies were sanding down the studio, I got on and did a bit of annotating, which I had rather been neglecting a bit, as I had been concentrating so much on producing all my designs. Every so often, I would check on Daniella to check if she was happy with everything, but she was doing a fab job, so I didn’t need to worry.
TUESDAY: Today, I started Daniella off with the painting of my walls before I started working on my CV and Artist Statement for my Press Packs. I had a meeting with Es George last week to look over my CV as I had felt that it was rather bare and not very coherent, so I was making those adjustments and re-designing it to make it look a little more aesthetically pleasing. I decided to keep it relatively simplistic but to link it to my collection, I have created a border from one of my Bluebell designs, so that it can also link in with my logo. This took me all day, which was longer than I had expected, but it’s one thing to tick off the list.
WEDNESDAY: Once Daniella had finished tucking in all the ends of my overlocking and stuck my headers down, I started on stitching them securely down. Initially I asked Daniella if she would like to do this, but I could see that she was a little wary which was absolutely fine, so I decided not to force her and did them myself. It was quite scary as I had heard people were having problems with their headers, but I took my time and despite the odd wobble, they look very neat. I also made my tieback for my curtain that I am going to display going around my curtain and hanging from a hook. This was very difficult and I feel that the end result doesn’t look as neat as I would have liked it to be, so I am going to see how it looks in my space before deciding whether to include it or not.
THURSDAY: Today I got Daniella tie the ends of my headers and to start putting my logo stickers in the middle of the headers. I decided to get my stickers done at uni as they would be done quicker and also look quite professional. Though it initially took me a while to getting the settings on Illustrator right, I am very pleased with them. I have got a circular logo sticker for the front and then a rectangular sticker on the back displaying some details, including the name of the design, the family it comes from, the fabric, the techniques used, and whether they are co-ordinates or alternative colour ways.
FRIDAY: Today was an exciting but expensive day, as I finally got my wallpaper and samples printed. I am so happy with my wallpaper, and though it was more expensive to get some samples also printed onto wallpaper, it was definitely worth it as they quality of it is really good. I got Daniella to cut out those samples and stick onto headers ready to be stitched down on Tuesday.
This week has been a good productive week. Daniella had been great and very good at reassuring me with my work and calming me down. I hope it has been both inspiring and useful for her to see the kind of things that she’ll need to do next year.
My final samples have turned up and I’m really happy with most them. I’m slightly annoyed that the grey has come out more pink on the Cotton Satin, but I was prepared for some colours not quite matching my colour palette, as I am printing on different samples, so this will happen. I spent today overlocking them all, taking my time with them as I wanted to them to look as neat as possible. I decided to change the colour of the threads so that the overlocking would blend into the design.
I also made my curtain today, which was a lot simpler than I thought. I had to overlock and hem the edges, and then I was originally just going to fold and stitch the top over a rail. However, I didn’t feel that it was going to look enough like a curtain, so I decided to get some pleat curtain tape to stitch on the top and pull the strings to get the pleated look. As when I ordered the fabric I didn’t know that I was going to do this, I didn’t order enough, but I think I can work around this.
I also got a comments book printed at ASDA using one of my designs that I will put out during the exhibition.
I’ve been having a lot of difficulty finding a cheap bedside table that I want to put my lamp and press packs on, as all the ones I had found so far, were either too expensive or too modern. I wanted a table that would look traditional and would be suitable for my collection. Thankfully I found one on eBay for only £7.00 that was in Swansea. The surface of the table was a bit battered, but I had already decided to paint it white so that it could blend into the wall and not take the focus away from my designs.
I found a lamp from Dunelm that I hope should fit in with my collection. I decided to go for a ‘drum’ shape lampshade, as it will be easier when it comes to covering it with my design.