Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Plants/Process Map

During the past few years within my teaching practice, I have struggled with guiding students in their application of analytical skills and documentation of design process. In order to illustrate the complexity of the required inputs for progression to take place, I formulated this map based on the analogous relationship between a seed growing and an idea taking shape.
I have been using this map as a method for working through the development of my own ideas in my folio (see previous post!)

Back to the blog and it's use

I'm getting back to the blog after a hiatus - I've been making, thinking, reflecting and working on a way of observing what I'm doing.  A developmental folio is working well as it has an immediacy where reflection can keep pace with the processes of making and thinking.  The synthesis of ideas and process occurs through cognitive drawing and speculative writing.

Chronologically, blogging comes next as a tool for the reporting of findings.  I also hope for an expansion of reflection and objectiveness through the more detached observation that blogging offers, alongside the observation of others.  This will be my blogging aim from this point onwards.
(above: page from folio 12/03/10)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reflection on leather patchwork

With the intention of avoiding the recreation of a textile, one of the first techniques which I discounted was patchwork.  I do want to know what I'm not doing, so I'm visiting it briefly.

This is a piece of patchwork I did about 8 years ago when I was working at L&D and wanting to do something with the leather scraps.  It's a log cabin design with an orange leather in the centre and the leather side on one diagonal 1/2 and the suede/back of the leather on the other 1/2.  I never did anything else with it - it has it's obvious limitations.

The bags which I definitely don't want to do anything like is those that have the pieces pieced together with a zig-zag machine.
pic found at: www.thestellarboutique.com

However, when doing some searching I found some examples of leather patchwork that used the material in a clever way and were actually quite beautiful - not at all as daggy as I thought all leather patchwork would be!

Here's some lovely examples of bags that are patchworked:

This Chanel bag uses patchwork effectively in the representation of their logo, breaking up the symbol with the constrasting black and white. pic found at: www.chaneltalk.com 

This Fendi bag is sucessful because of the mix of types of leather and the clean/glossy finish. pic found at: www.cooldesignerhandbags.com

This vintage bag uses the zig-zag joining method, however the crispness of the lines and the geometric design makes it look much more considered than the crazy patchwork in the first bag. pic found at: www.stylehive.com

This Marc Jacobs bag is another example of clean/crisp seams, and strong geometric pattern in the leather panels.  This time there is no colour contrast, so the strength is in the quilted/3d effect of the seams. pic found at: www.hotbrandclub.com 

I like this "Cheeky" bag as the laced seam technique is something common in 70's leather craft and this is a contempory application of that. pic found at: www.madebycheeky.com.au 

This Louis Vuitton bag has various leathers inserted behind cut-outs in the croc skin, using the grid pattern of the leather.  This is a bit like molar technique - I'm not sure how they cut out the pieces, or how much this would be automated.  Could it all be hand punched? pic found at: www.purseblog.com 
This is a crazy Louis Vuitton bag made up of pieces of the last seasons bags.  I wonder if they were made out of rejects or 2nds?! pic found at: www.purseblog.com 
The full article is at:http://www.purseblog.com/louis-vuitton/press-exclusive-status-its-in-the-bag.html

Some other items:

D&G patchworked skirt. pic found at: www.harpersbazaar.com

Patchworked Nike kicks - effective because of the overlay of recognisable design elements. pic found at: www.kicksonfire.com

These cushions by Geoffrey Parker homewares are very beautiful with the use of different textures/types of leather.
There are other lovely examples on the website where this image was found, where cut out leather shapes have been used with other textiles.

Seeing some visually lovely examples of "patchworked" leather has changed my opinion of it somewhat. 
What is important is the skill in how the material is used.  Successful examples are clean, crisp, and demonstrate considered choice of material as well as how it is used.  Most of these outcomes probably aren't made from waste material alone, and some not even at all.  However, it's interesting to see how smaller pieces of leather can be used effectively.

I was a cow, I helped make jocks, now I'm ???

After a discussion with Denise and Ross, I discovered that my mindset for what I would do with leather scraps is to recreate a textile and then do something with the textile.
I realise that this is how my design brain works as I always start with a textile, patternmaking and cut from the textile.  Even when I knit, I'm knitting a piece in a shape that I can assemble to create the garment.

My initital response is to try to join together the scrap from the jockstraps, not to try to make a textile, but just as an experiment to see what happens when I join them in a random way with no predetermination.  I was going to sew them together, then I thought about rivetting, then saw a stapler and thought that would be a great way to get the pieces to together quickly and also free myself even more from preconception.

I started joining the pieces in what ever way they came into my hands.  Most of the scraps have straight edges, so I just would put the straight edges togther and staple.  I used the corners of pieces where ever they would fall to create 3d areas.
Once I had stapled together most of the scraps in this manner, I put it on the stand and used a couple of the stringy bits of leather cut away from the waistband to tie around the neck.  This was done in a completely random way.  All of the stringy bits hanging off are from the waistband cuttings which were stapled on in part, but have free pieces hanging off.
I finished joining together all the pieces and put it back on the stand.  I had a couple of pieces of elastic from the jockstraps left, so I stapled those onto the leather piece around the body.  This is an experiment with bringing in some suggestion of what the scraps were left over from.  Maybe this is too literal?

What I learnt....

When working with the leather in this way, I felt more connection with the material than what I normally do when making.  It made me reflect on what the material is and where it came from - hence the title of this post...I was a cow etc.

I also was surprised by how big the stapled piece became.  It is a demonstration of just how much waste came from the jocks.  That was 10 jocks that I made, and I would estimate from the size of the piece, that I could cut another 3 jocks from the area of waste.  I'm used to seeing the waste as just a pile or stuffed in a bag, so it gave me a different perspective of it.

I also got some sense of creating a sculptural quality with the material that has a different starting point other than traditional cloth and patternmaking.

I also have to remember that the relationship with the body in this example was an afterthought and actually quite incidental - It helped give the piece form, but didn't help to shape the piece.  This is something to reflect on further, particularly in further investigation of my design approach i.e. my beggining is always in reference to shapes I know/3d forms which I understand.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making jocks & consequent waste

This is a side of leather, in other words, half a cow. It's pretty ordinary stuff - "velvet cow" from Korea. It's garment weight, with some refinishing, probably b or c grade - I'm not sure I didn't buy it. I get sent the materials to make for Lucrezia & DeSade. I need to go over a hide first in good light to check for imperfections - marks/holes/scars. Sometimes when marking/cutting these can be missed because of the angle of the light.
A hide of leather is irregular and every one is different - you have to plan the marking/cutting for each hide seperately. Cutting small pieces like for these jockstaps is quite easy as you plan as you go and can cut around the imperfections.This also makes for less w
aste as you can fit the pieces around each other, and the stretchy belly sections of the hide can be utilised for the waistband lining sections of these jocks.
Another note, each jock needs to be cut from the same area of the hide as the quality and grain of the leather can differ across the hide.

The next images show the jigsaw puzzle that cutting leather becomes. I try to fit the pieces together as efficiently as possible to reduce the area of the gaps between the pieces and utilise as much of the usable leather as possible. Cutting displaces the waste and the third image shows the waste alone.

As I go neatly cut pieces build alongside the piles of waste.

When making, more waste is produced.
Small triangles of leather are cut from corners to enable turning through (above, cut from where the leg elastic joins to the leg straps), and long strips are cut away from the waistband lining (below).

The end product is a pile of jockstraps (10 in total), shown here alongside the consequent waste from cutting and making them. There's a few off-cuts of elastic also, and the last picture shows the everything left over put in a box - the scraps as well as the order forms and the packaging that was used to send the trims/labels for the production.