Category Archives: UCA

Navigate Project – Final Outcome

My final outcome for this project is essentially a training exercise for an alien, preparing them for a formal dinner with the Queen.

It consists of a tablecloth, laid out with six place settings, which have been drawn directly onto the tablecloth using a black marker. The idea being that the alien would start the training exercise by sitting in front of the place setting labelled First Course. The cutlery that is required for that course, i.e. the soup spoon and butter knife, are the only items of cutlery not drawn directly on to the cloth, instead I drew them on to a separate piece of fabric and created a dip dyed effect on the handles using water colour, so that it stands out from the rest.

First Course Place Setting

First Course Place Setting

Likewise the liquid in the glasses which are in use for that course, namely water and champagne for the initial toast, are represented by additional pieces of fabric sewn on top of the tablecloth. I found that painting directly on to the fabric using watercolours created a washed out pastel palette which I felt was reminiscent of the way Deborah Bowness has used colour in her wallpaper. So once the alien has identified the cutlery and glassware used for that course, he can move position to the next course and so on around the table for all six courses.

For the crockery I experimented with a variety of different printing techniques, some more successfully than others. Initially I tried transferring images of a Vera Wang Wedgewood crockery pattern to fabric using pva glue painted on to the image, left to dry and then washed away. However the images were probably too pale in tone to transfer effectively, and the results were dreadful. Feeding fabric through the printer and printing the image directly on to it, was far more successful, but the photographic style outcome jarred with the hand drawn nature of the rest of the piece. So in the end I replicated the style of the crockery, by using a preset stitch on my sewing machine, and sewing in a circular pattern.

Navigate Final Outcome

Navigate Final Outcome

The imagery I have used within this project has played on the Royal associations with tradition, formality and grandeur. So I have created packaging for it which acknowledges the fact that it is designed for an alien. I envisage the tablecloth being packaged in a transparent plastic wrapper with a thick card insert wrapping around the front and back.

For this insert I have played on fonts and imagery one would associate with the film Alien, and computer game Space Invaders.

Packaging Front Cover

Packaging Front Cover

Reverse of packaging, outlining instructions for use.

Reverse of packaging, outlining instructions for use.

In a similar style I have also created a letter to accompany the pack, addressed to the alien, and written from the Alien Assimilation Team responsible for trying to prepare the Alien for life on earth.

Reviewing this project, I think some aspects worked better than others. I still like the idea of incorporating the guide with the tablecloth, but I think this did make it very difficult to photograph the final outcome, and the photos don’t really do it justice.

It was pretty time consuming drawing all the cutlery on to the tablecloth, but reasonably effective, and I think the cutlery which was dip dyed and then sewn on worked pretty well, as did the colours representing the liquids in the glasses.

I think the plates were much less successful, possibly creating them with more layers to control the spreading out of the watercolour would have worked better.

I found it frustrating minimising the imagery put on to the tablecloth, I would have liked to have added drawings depicting random objects that one might leave on a table, like a mobile phone, or crumpled up napkin. I think this would have given a playful feel to the finished piece, but it would also have confused the point of it being a educative tool, so I refrained.

The packaging was a fairly last minute addition, and could probably be improved with a little bit more time, but does at least put the guide into context with its intended audience.

Navigate Project – Research and Inspiration

For the project Navigate, my idea is to create something to help an alien understand the correct cutlery and glassware to use when attending a formal Royal dinner. To avoid any issues with language barriers I want the outcome to be predominantly visual and image based as opposed to one reliant upon text. Having looked at various examples of informative style graphics, I want to aim for a clean, uncomplicated design that presents the message clearly and simply, as illustrated below in an image I found on the website

How long do animals live?

How long do animals live?

After thinking about how to present my outcome, I have decided that it would be an interesting idea to present it on a tablecloth. A tablecloth, would tie in with the concept, but is also essentially a large white canvas. A number of years ago I came across the work of Charlotte Mann, who is a London-based artist known for her wall drawings and drawn room installations. Her work consists of 1:1 scale drawings on walls made with thick black marker pen on a white background, representing everyday domestic items and pieces of furniture. Although simple in concept, I think the level of detail in the drawings and the realistic true to life scale, make them particularly effective and quirky.

Peter Jensen Catwalk Backdrop - Charlotte Mann 2006

Peter Jensen Catwalk Backdrop – Charlotte Mann 2006

School of Life - Charlotte Mann 2008

School of Life – Charlotte Mann 2008

I think this ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique could work for my project, but instead of using white walls as a backdrop, I intend to draw directly on to a large white tablecloth, using each place setting around the table to represent the flow of information regarding correct etiquette.

Charlotte Mann aside, the term trompe l’oeil conjures up images to me that are quite dated and old fashioned, so I researched other practitioners that had incorporated this style, but in a contemporary way.  My research led me to Deborah Bowness, a surface designer, specialising in ‘trompe l’oeil’ wallpaper which ‘tricks the eye’. Her designs include images of domestic objects – comfortable chairs, tables, picture frames, shelves of books, even elegant dresses – which are slashed with lines to break them up and create an unexpected feel.

Deborah Bowness Wallpaper

Deborah Bowness Wallpaper

I really like the simplicity of her designs, grouping similar items together against a minimal background, and then manipulating the colour to give a palette of washed out pastels. I think there is an air of faded grandeur, about many of her wall coverings, which I’d like to carry through to my final outcome, as well as her use of colour.

Navigate Project – An Alien’s Guide to Dining with Royalty

The final project in Stage 2 is called Navigate.  Unlike the previous projects, the final outcome can be anything pretty much you want it to be, as long as it effectively informs the intended audience about the given subject.

As a parent of young children, I’ve certainly spent a lot of time explaining stuff, answering questions and generally guiding them through their childhood, so hopefully that’ll come in handy.  I guess the main difference is that, that has pretty much been verbal in outcome, whereas this project requires something a little more tangible.

Brief: Research, develop and make an outcome that informs/ describes/ explains and navigates someone through your chosen subject. Imagine you are communicating to one of the following: an alien, 6 year old child, Aristotle, 25 year old poet from the year 3014.

So I have decided to go with the title –  An Alien’s Guide to Dining with Royalty

The BFG dines with the Queen, taken from the book The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG dines with the Queen, taken from the book The BFG by Roald Dahl

As part of the Queen’s remit is to entertain other heads of state, I think it’s plausible to conclude that if an alien were to visit earth, an invitation to dine at Buckingham Palace could be on the cards. Obviously this is much more likely if the alien is of the peace loving kind, so the guide will be aimed at aliens of an ilk such as the Na’vi from Avatar, the Coneheads or ET. 

As Royal protocol demands that issues such as etiquette are taken very seriously, I think this scenario will hopefully provide plenty of material and scope for the project.

Event Project – Final Outcome

As outlined in my previous post, my plan for this project involved creating a stack of boxes to represent the chest of drawers ‘You can’t lay down your memories’ by Tejo Remy. I wanted the stack of boxes to be joined together but also to be reconfigurable, so that they could be changed to represent a more traditional set of drawers. It took a little while working out how to achieve this, and then actually producing it, but got there in the end, this is the final outcome, in its form representing the Remy chest.

Top Drawers Exhibition promotional box

Top Drawers Exhibition promotional box

The central drawer can be removed and opened out to reveal an invitation to a private viewing.

Private viewing invitation

Private viewing invitation

Once this central box containing the invitation has been removed, it is possible to slide the boxes, until they align above one another. Then if you remove the top drawer, a flap flips down to show how the model now represents a more conventional chest, as illustrated below.

Tejo Remy inspired chest reverts to a more traditional take on a chest of drawers.

Tejo Remy inspired chest reverts to a more traditional take on a chest of drawers.

I created the images for both the pink and black drawers by experimenting with lino printing. Given more time I would have liked to have experimented further and produced something more complex, as I really enjoyed this technique. The actual process of creating the lino block was quite therapeutic, and I felt that the prints were more consistent than those achieved using mono printing.

Tejo Remy’s chest was entitled ‘You can’t lay down your memories’ I interpreted that to mean that although the salvaged drawers all had a past life, when you open them in their new repurposed setting, there were no clues as to what that might have been, no hints as to what their previous contents were. So although a physical object can invoke many memories, there isn’t a way of storing those memories or laying them down for others to be able to see.      

So I decided to create my own histories for each of the drawers, using my own memories and the drawer fronts as inspiration. For example the black drawer reminded me of one from a lovely 1950’s metal industrial desk I used to have when I worked in an office in Shad Thames. So for the image of the contents of this drawer, I found one which represented office stationery and accessories. 

Images revealing the contents of the drawers and cupboards.

Images revealing the contents of the drawers and cupboards.

In the same way that the private invitation could be unfolded, the drawer and cupboard inserts can also be unfolded to provide more information including, more information on the exhibition itself, practical information including directions, information on the history of a chest of drawers and also about the significance of memories and details about the two chest of drawers which inspired the final outcome.

Drawer and cupboard inserts opened to reveal further information.

Drawer and cupboard inserts opened to reveal further information.

I guess I’m relatively happy with the final outcome, as an exercise in playing around with nets for various size boxes, understanding different closing mechanisms and so on, it was successful. And I think the origami style boxes were a good addition, encouraging the recipient to interact with the model to gain more information about the exhibition. I think the origami boxes folded on the diagonal work particularly well, with quite a sculptural feel to them when unfolded.

On an aesthetic level, I think it could be made to look neater and a lot more robust. The frames for each of the drawers probably would have looked better having a thickness to them, and printed in some way, rather than left blank. One of the other Access students commented it looks quite feminine, and I think thats due to the images used on the various drawer fronts. As the audience for the exhibition would not be predominantly female, it would be probably be better to change the images so that they were more neutral.

From a practical and commercial viewpoint, the outcome is obviously pretty flawed. It would be too time consuming to create for multiple recipients and too delicate to send through the post. Even if someone did receive it, further work would be required to ensure it was more obvious that they realised what it was meant to be promoting, and also to ensure that they intuitively understood how they should open it.

So if I was to develop it further as something that could be sent out on a mass scale through the post, I would look at just using the central removable box and developing that idea.

Feedback during one of the Access crit sessions raised the possibility that that the outcome could be created in a very limited run just for ‘extra special’ guests attending the private viewing, or as a kind of press pack.

If this was the case then the model would still need to be developed to be more robust and more intuitive to open. One possibility could be to make a housing for the model out of a thin transparent plastic, moulded to completely encase the model. The packaging strap on Remy’s chest could be represented by a tear strip running the whole way round this plastic packaging. This strip could provide information and instructions for the recipient, thereby ensuring it was clear from the offset what the model was representing and how one should open it.  

Top Drawers

So my event is called Top Drawers and the box I am creating is one which publicises this event and possibly incorporates an invitation to a private viewing on the opening night.

Top Drawers is an exhibition celebrating the humble chest of drawers, a retrospective look at the changing form that they have taken from the present day, right back to the 17th Century when they evolved from what was known as a mule chest, basically a blanket box with a bottom drawer.

To publicise this event, my plan is to create a series of boxes and drawers, that link together  to represent Tejo Remy’s chest of drawers, You can’t lay down your memories.

The various boxes and drawers will be created, using different locking mechanisms including the crash lock, click lock and tongue lock tabs. Whilst the central drawer in the configuration will be constructed based upon an origami Masu box format. I intend to have this drawer sticking out, slightly proud of the rest, encouraging the recipient to open it first. Then this drawer, once removed and opened, will reveal details of the forthcoming exhibition.

However its removal from the sculptural arrangement of boxes, causes some of the drawers, which had been balancing upon it, to shift position. The remaining drawers can also be moved, until they become aligned above one another, and resemble a more conventional set of drawers, thus illustrating the retrospective nature of the event.

It sounded pretty straight forward in my head, but now having written it down, it does seems rather complicated. I guess it will be an exercise in working out how to create nets for variously shaped boxes if nothing else!

Research for the project Event

At the beginning of this project, I decided that I wanted to use it as an opportunity to revisit the work of the paper engineer, Paul Jackson. I incorporated his template for a glide reflection into my final outcome during the fine art rotation, and I had enjoyed the challenge of trying to get the paper to fold in the desired manner.

Paper Dress with a skirt made using the principles of glide reflection

Paper Dress with a skirt made using the principles of glide reflection

However when I went to take out his book, Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form from the library again, it wasn’t there, but luckily another of his books was, Structural Packaging, Design your own boxes and 3D forms.

I found the section in the book about the different types of closing mechanisms for boxes particularly interesting, and wanted to incorporate some of these mechanisms into my final outcome. As I was still unsure as to what form this would take, I decided to also research how one would make a box using origami techniques. The most common origami method was, I discovered, a box called a Masu, named after a square wooden box used to measure rice in Japan during the feudal period.

Masu - an origami box

Masu – an origami box

The intention is that you would create two Masu boxes, one slightly larger than the other and put them together to create a box. An individual Masu box is basically a drawer shape, and this led me to start thinking about how one could perceive drawers to be a series of boxes.  With this in mind I was reminded of a chest of drawers that I had seen recently at the V&A, created in 1991 by Dutch artist Tejo Remy and entitled You can’t lay down your memories.

You can't lay down your memories. Tejo Remy, 1991

You can’t lay down your memories. Tejo Remy, 1991

I really like the configuration of drawers balancing on top of one another, the precarious angles give a humorous edge to the sculptural feel of the piece. Each of the drawers has been salvaged from an existing piece of furniture, and has been re-housed in a solid maple frame. Still functional despite their sculptural appearance, the drawers honour the ‘make do and mend aesthetic’ and are typical of Dutch design of the period. Two years after it was designed the chest of drawers was included in the first collection by Droog Design, the group that did most to popularise Dutch conceptual design ideas outside the Netherlands.

Having spent a fair amount of time researching various forms of packaging, paper engineering, origami, drawers, Dutch designers, I think its probably about time I decided upon an event.

Too Many Possibilities

As outlined in my previous post, I embarked on the project Event, with high hopes, but have now, frustrated with my outcome to date, decided to start again from scratch.

I’ve brainstormed lots of possible events, in fact if anything, I feel like I’ve just got too many ideas, how on earth do I decide which one to choose?

Children's Explorer Pack from little

Children’s Explorer Pack from little

I think the project really lends itself to a theme revolving around children, like the explorer pack above, there would be plenty of scope for creating components that could go inside a box. However, although this feels like the most sensible option, it just feels a bit too obvious, and I can’t help feeling more excited about the making of some unusual kind of box as opposed to the contents to go in it.

Caravan  from George Clarke's Amazing Spaces series

Caravan from George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces series

I’ve been tempted to make a caravan shaped box, one that is aimed at someone contemplating the purchase of a caravan. The caravan shaped lid lifts up to reveal the interior of the caravan, with its array of space saving components. Playing on the aspect of multi purpose furniture, each separate component lifts up, or slides across or can be removed completely to reveal another aspect to be considered when buying.

Plan your own funeral service - in a box

Plan your own funeral service – in a box

In a similar vein I was tempted to create a box which resembled an old fashioned clock or pocket watch, inside when you lifted the lid, a series of cogs would be revealed stacked intricately on top of each other to resemble the internal mechanism. Each cog could be removed and turned over to reveal information, and when all laid out together like a jigsaw, would provide the definitive guide to planning one’s own funeral. The box would be distributed through local funeral parlours, helping future customers plan every aspect of their last farewell, the clock imagery playing on the fact that time is ticking away.

However in the end I’ve plumped for a different idea, one which is probably way more daft.

Event Project – The Brief

The second of our Visual Communications projects in Stage 2 is entitled EVENT, so the challenge is to present or publicise an event in a box or package.

Initially I loved the sound of this project, the prospect of working in 3D with paper and card as a starting point really appealed. I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand upon the paper engineering route I had taken in my fine art rotation project.

Fine Art - 3D Warm Up Exercise

Fine Art – 3D Warm Up Exercise

As one of the warm up tasks in the fine art rotation I had made a a quick paper flower, and I thought it would be interesting concept to make multiple flowers and incorporate boxes hidden within them. I liked the concept, that at first the flowers would appear more sculptural than functional, only on closer inspection would you realise that the central section of the flower detached and could be opened up.

Mini Eco Paper Diamonds

Mini Eco Paper Diamonds

I thought a diamond shaped box would be an ideal shape, with the tapering point blending into the stem and its faceted sides surrounded by petals. Depending upon the event, the box could contain something small, or could open out to release a scent, or reveal printed information on the reverse side. The combination of diamonds and flowers, led me to think it might suit an event such as the launch of a new bridal floristry service, but it all just felt a bit contrived and twee. Possibly in hindsight it would have been better to think of the event first, rather than the packaging! So after messing around creating various diamond shaped boxes, I decided to concentrate on tailoring the flowers to a new event; the launch of a perfume.  

Lyndie Dourthe - paper flowers from her Botanica series

Lyndie Dourthe - Paper Flowers & Corsages, Botanica

Lyndie Dourthe – Paper Flowers & Corsages, Botanica

Inspired partly by french artist Lyndie Dourthe’s Botanica series and partly by some floral patterned silk in the V&A archives, I created a series of paper flowers, using twigs and tissue paper that I’d painted with watercolours. The results weren’t what I was after at all, they looked too realistic if anything, like silk flowers you’d buy in a shop, not exactly the look I was going for.

So back to the drawing board.

My finished zine – The Secret Knitter

Cover for my zine - The Secret Knitter

Cover for my zine – The Secret Knitter

I called the zine The Secret Knitter as a reference to the fact that I’ve never actually seen my mum knit. I associate her with sewing as opposed to knitting, and so I used sewing in the form of freehand machine embroidery to create an image of her secret identity for the front cover, whilst the knitting is hidden, just poking out at the side of the zine.

zine 1      zine 4

The first page is a mono print of some pink wafers and bourbons, as I wanted to highlight the fact that the knitting group wasn’t just about knitting. I also felt it would set the tone for the zine from the outset as being playful and not too serious. The next double spread is more about the knitting, with a mono print of balls of wool and a contents page, which is inspired by an image of a knitting needle guide that I came across.

zine 6      zine 7

I then introduce the reader to my mum, and the topic of the zine. I’ve added doodles and a variety of fonts to create a random, quirky feel. This follows through over the next two pages, which concentrate on my mum’s knitting group, The Knitwits. I’ve tried to keep the use of colour fairly minimal; to prevent the pages appearing too busy, as there is already a lot going on with so many different fonts and illustrations. I have introduced colour in the form of knitting, as I wanted the knitting to stand out, as it is the focus of the zine, by having all the Knitwits knitting the same piece, I wanted to unify them and clearly show that they were a group.

zine 8      zine 9

The next couple of pages provide information about other groups of knitters that knit in a covert fashion, particularly those that yarn bomb. Yarn bombing being a form of graffiti or street art where inanimate objects are covered in wool. I took much of the information about these groups from newspaper articles, and so I carried that link through by presenting the text in columns of justified text. The final pages of text are a light hearted look at what one might want to consider if setting up their own knitting group. However the fourth most important tip is obscured by a piece of yarn bombing carried out by the secret knitter.

zine 11

The zine concludes with a repeat of the two mono printings featured earlier.

I’ve enjoyed researching the zine, practising new techniques such as mono printing, free hand machine embroidery and even brushing up on my doodling skills. However I think the final outcome could be improved enormously, the finished layout has a very busy feel, with too many competing fonts and too much information. Given more time I would have liked to pair down the use of fonts considerably, and either cut out some of the information or spread it over more pages. I don’t think the exercise book background works on pages where there is a lot of text. It would have worked better perhaps, if it had been used as a border only or dispensed with all together. A border of the mono printed biscuits or wool just running across the top and bottom of the page might have worked better. Still at least it’s been a productive learning exercise, and just made me more determined that one day I will eventually get round to trying to master the art of knitting!

Inspiration and Research for my Zine

Cover for my zine - The Secret Knitter

Cover for my zine – The Secret Knitter

Whilst researching my zine, about my mum and her knitting group, I realised that I didn’t have any memories of my mum ever knitting whilst I was growing up. I have plenty of memories of her sewing, just not knitting. I’ve seen the results, so I know she’s not pretending she can knit; but it’s as if she only knits in secret. I carried this issue of secret identity through my research, particularly focusing on groups of people who knit in a secretive manner.

As my subject was knitting, I wanted the zine to stylistically reflect the handmade aspect of the subject matter. So to this end, I researched hand drawn fonts, finding those I thought fitted the quirky look I was hoping to achieve, and some which had a link to knitting in some way. I also experimented with freehand machine embroidery, mono printing and adding handwritten text, doodles and annotations, to give a hand crafted and younger feel; as I also wanted to ensure that the zine didn’t play to a stereotypical, old-fashioned image of knitting, but would engage a newer, younger audience.

Incorporating a considerable amount of information into my zine, from my primary and secondary research was, I felt, quite important, but at the same time I wanted to ensure that the zine was easy to pick up and read and not feel too intimidating, due to text overload. In order to achieve this I tried to make the writing style playful and humorous, and also broke the text up into smaller blocks, so that it didn’t feel like a lot to read all at once.

Folded Paper Wedding Stationery

Folded Paper Wedding Stationery

I researched different practitioner’s work to try and find inspiration for the kind of style I was hoping to achieve. The website for Folded Paper Wedding Stationery, which showcases the talents of the illustrator Jenni Desmond, had the feel I was hoping to achieve; a clean, simple layout with fairly minimal use of colour, and hand drawn fonts and doodles working together to provide a quirky feel.