Tag Archives: paper

Artists profile: Joell Baxter

An unexpected find while searching for something completely unrelated, is the weaving artist Joell Baxter. Her practice combines screen printing, weaving and colour theory in an exploration of visual perception and physical response. The placement of her multi-coloured, paper weaving sculptures evokes minimalist sculpture and interior design staples like carpets and pillows (and occasionally chairs too). Although her work is quite fine art-y (especially in the way she is inspired by the interplay of colours) but it is also very familiar and evocative of textile work. This cross-disciplinary approach inspired me as it is fascinating to see weaving linked so closely with painting and fine art instead of any formal links to contemporary basketry. Particularly while I am still searching for my own ‘label’.

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In her words she describes: “I have always made work that sits between disciplines and actively engages the viewer in different modes of looking. All of my work strongly references minimalism, in terms of its approach to space and to creating a one-on-one relationship between the viewer and the work. I use very basic processes and forms that are reminiscent of grade school arts and crafts projects like weaving potholders. I want to evoke an immediate sense of familiarity, almost a muscle memory of how the work was made. But after that initial response, I hope that what at first seemed familiar becomes strange and more complex.”

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“In planning my work, everything is extremely orderly and can be diagrammed as a set of instructions. I typically use colors in the order of the visible spectrum, so red follows orange follows yellow, and so on. But by weaving these colors together, they start to interact and become harder to name and distinguish. This is due to the inherent nature of weaving, where color relationships are constantly alternating through the pattern of over and under. So there is a kind of glitch introduced into the plans, forcing me to let go of absolute control over the results.”

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Great stuff!

More making with maps

Following on from the map patchwork I did the other day, I was wondering what to do in response. I began playing with the leftover maps which had all of the hexagons – my meaningful places – cut out. There was something sad, sorrowful about the remnants. The leftover places which were devoided of all meaning through my act of cutting.

I decided then to take this idea and repeat it with another map, purposefully looking at the negative spaces as opposed to the ‘meaningful spaces’. This was the result:

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I like the depth, the sense of overlapping stories being layered upon each other – hidden and partial histories revealed. Something gained in absence which is obscured in completeness.

Rolls, folds and scrolls (part 2)

So from 2d to 3d. That was the overall theme of the day using the papers we made yesterday. The tutor showed us some ideas and basic structural techniques to make different book forms – based on folding, rolling and scrolling. It was really interesting how everyone took very different approaches to putting their books together. Some worked with a “traditional” idea of a book – cover, content, pages etc. And others were keener to use the idea of a book as object.

I tried to make a range of samples, using each of the techniques the tutoe demonstrated and expanded on them with my own knowledge. I carried on with my theme of mapping and ended up with a loose series on “which way is up?”.

First one was reinforced paper with some scrolls. This would be great for old fashioned book covers as well as more sculptural stuff.

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Next were some samples using concertina folds, my favourite was this one with little pockets.

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We also got the sewing kits out and did some basic bookbinding, I did a sample based on a set of clock prints. This came out a bit fan-like but is a neat technique. There are a range of different stitches that would work well here.

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The next set of samples were rolls, one I did with some weaving (I really like this one) and another based on navigational ideas.

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My favourite piece was my final one – which I am calling a 3d poem!

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Rolls, folds and scrolls (part 1)

August has arrived and with it my annual pilgrimage to the Festival of Quilts. As this is the first year I have not needed to take time off work, I am making the best of it and attending my first 2-day masterclass before the show starts.

The masterclass is focussed around paper, led by Cherylin Martin – mark making / surface design techniques first, then book forms and sculptures using folding and scrolling. I thought this would be a fun thing to do, but I will also see how I can use my overall MA topic as a backdrop to just ‘being creative’. Today we got stuck into mark making, using a vast range of collected papers we brought with us. Of course I had a collection of old maps to play with too! It was a bit of a roller coaster of techniques, most of which I had done before, but were still fun. I ended up having a bit of an indigo day colour wise, I wanted to keep all of the work themed rather than just have lots of bits of brightly coloured paper I can’t do anything with…

Today’s work so far….tomorrow we go onto structures!

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Inspirational photos of the day

I’ve been exploring how to take forward my current calligraphy work onto the next level today. Got some interesting experiments on the go (we will see how they turn out tomorrow!); my focus is on the material properties. I have written down what I like in my calligraphy drawings – in my notebook and sketchbook – and want to find other materials which embody these ideas.

I have a few good ideas so far! First of these good ideas is continuing to work with that most ordinary material, paper. This encapsulates my project philosophy of seeing the extraordinary though the ordinary. What can I do with paper to make it express an extraordinary moment?

Some inspirational photos to start me off.

Raija Jokinen (Finland)

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Donna Sakamoto Crispin (USA)

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Dorothy McGuiness (USA)

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Naomi Kobayashi (Japan)

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First experiments: stitching without thread

After an accidental day off yesterday due to being totally exhausted, week 5 began in earnest today. We had our last induction this morning – to the metalwork resources. My only experience of anything remotely resembling metalwork was in my second year undergrad electronics classes – the worst possible compulsory module a theoretical physicist could be forced to do. I still recall (with mild terror) being given a pile of resistors and a soldering iron and being expected to know what to do with them.  Urg!

This morning’s session was much more exciting and I think there are many things I will come back to look at. Metal is such an interesting material – malleable, flexible yet strong and unyielding.  People think it is unnatural, but many metals are pure elements, and as such are just as organic as trees growing in a forest. From a certain perspective tree to plywood board has a similar transformation as that of ore to metal rod.  And the plasma cutter!  Very cool.

After that, I thought it was time – 5 weeks in – to get making and begin experimenting on my newly clarified proposal area. My starting point, that of a mini-project around ghost candles is focussed around seeing what happens when a point light source is filtered through different materials. I had the pleasure of starting one of my new sketchbooks (bought with the gift vouchers given to me on leaving my railway job).  Two artists have offered initial inspiration: first, Laura Kemshall, quilt artist extraordinaire.  I was at her talk at Festival of Quilts 2014 on “digital quilts” over the summer and she had mentioned accidentally running out of thread on a quilt and not noticing. Due to the thick gold paint she was using on the fabric, the holes were permanent – but added an incredible and unexpected feature.  Take a look at the quilt on her blog here. The other artist in my current spotlight is the work of Jane Blease who pierces and stitches wood veneer panels to make lamp shades and a range of other stuff. Love this effect.

So where to start then?

I am starting to work with paper first, using a variety of paper types and thicknesses, having had an expedition on the weekend to the fine paper store. The first out of the roll was the tracing paper.  I found a heavyweight tracing paper at 110gsm in my local art store, and put this to test in my Bernina with no thread (neither top thread nor bobbin). Pattern wise, I decided to start with two simple geometric symbols which mean a lot to me and my proposal: the circle, in its form as ensō; and the line, as the unending horizon.

As a quick aside, the ensō is a symbol used in Zen Calligraphy (on which I had a beginners course in 2010).  The ensō is a circle hand-drawn in one stroke to express the fleeting moment when the mind is free to let the body create. Wikipedia offers that “The ensō symbolises absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). Once the ensō is drawn, one does not change it. It evidences the character of its creator and the context of its creation in a brief, contiguous period of time.”

This was the result of my first samples for each pattern (held up to a ceiling light), and combining both patterns into a shade for a tea light.

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Initial thoughts:

  • I like the effect of the clean holes through the material, and I really very much like working with the heavyweight paper.  It will be interesting to see how the other papers I have change the effect.
  • Balance of action and emptiness is very interesting in creating the pattern sample
  • The filtering of the light is subtle, although a tea light isn’t the brightest of light sources.  My set of fairy lights were so dim as to not to demonstrate much at all, so will get a brighter set. Considering I have already spotted Christmas stuff in the supermarket, this shouldn’t be too hard.
  • I like the simple, clean geometry
  • What about colour?
  • You can’t see from the angle I took the photo, but the cylinder is made from two curves of paper stitched together with an unbleached cotton thread – I think putting the thread where it wouldn’t normally be and not where you would expect it to be is good, and something to continue on with.
  • One of the most interesting features is the line of light and shadow which you see just above the top of the tea light. What is this from?  Nice effect – must investigate.
  • Finally, next time move the cup of tea and water jug before taking blog photos. (oops)

Good start! Tomorrow we start our getting making workshops with the lovely Bridget – very much looking forward to seeing what she has in store for us.  Will share more tomorrow!

Happy stitching all

ANT xx