Imagery of Glasgow
Alison Baxter, Textiles
I began by collecting imagery around Glasgow City, capturing skewed views out of windows. Framing the city’s architecture in this way evoked for me similarities with the 1914 art movement, ‘Vorticism’. Works by Vorticists, Wyndham Lewis and Edward Wadsworth, became a key influence to my creative process. From here I created black and white collage drawings focusing on textures, to reimagine details of the city as if they were works of Vorticism art.
Through a material and technical investigation, I focused on directly translating the proportions and compositions of the textures within my drawings. Working with different weights, fibres, and qualities of yarn gave me the ability to utilize their individual properties to achieve the desired contrasts and combination of textures. By using a range of un-dyed, textured yarns, throughout individual samples I created varying heights and depths of textures that give the impression of dimension, a fundamental feature of Vorticism. From there I enhanced my woven fabrics applying an in depth analysis of the dyeing process of the different fibres. The final collection of interior soft furnishing fabrics shows a relation between texture, tone, and surface proportions, and how each of these elements can be used to emphasise a relief effect, a specific texture or 3-dimensional pattern.
The most inspiring and innovative choices I made were brought about by my desire to integrate a resourceful and considerate design practice. This was encouraged by the value I place in my resources and respect for the multiple processes and hands that have created the materials I work with. In view of this I have developed techniques to minimise my own wastage while also using responsibly sourced materials to prevent the material wastage of local companies.
I reached out to a local weaving mill, Bute Fabrics, to source the yarns I needed to create my final collection of handwoven fabrics. These were yarns that would have been discarded due to insufficient storage space at their mill. My handwoven fabrics have been produced using these yarns, with the exception of the ground yarns that I needed in a larger quantity and could not rely on Bute Fabrics to provide. I hand picked a variety of yarns during a visit to the mill, which included boucle, brushed, boiled and felted wools, as well as looped mohair, cottons and wool mix slub yarns. From these I adapted my designs to plan for the exact amounts that I had available and made compromises in terms of the scale and the yarn compositions in each sample in order to use only what I needed. Therefore, I developed innovative conservation techniques that meant I could efficiently minimise wastage.
Also as part of my project, I approached John McKerchar of Turnberry Rug Works to use their hand tufting gun, as this machinery is not offered at the art school. This was to explore the more diverse heights and abstract patterning’s achievable by this technique. From a discussion with John, I was able to offer a design solution to repurposing the remnants yarns that would typically lay idle or go to waste entirely. The expressive qualities of graffiti became the inspiration which spearheaded my rug design. I experimented with graffiti styles to compose its unique juxtaposition of shape, and colour. That resulted in a resourceful and sustainable design that identifies with the variances in colour from using remnant yarns. The design exemplifies the bespoke nature of a hand tufted rug to provide a unique selling point and responsibly produced commercial design. In turn, I gained successful sponsorship from Turnberry Rug Works and my collection of hand tufted rug designs were also made from remnant yarns and suitably explored my project’s concept and designs.
Working in this way I gained confidence in my own understanding and integration of a resourceful design practice, and showed an independent means of working, that also influenced the methods used by fellow weavers. I found solutions that would save on time, resources and material consumption, ultimately lowering the cost of production and established a standard of responsible production of bespoke handwoven fabrics.
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