Thursday, 18 August 2011

Today is my birthday.

Last night, inbetween cooking dinner, I made a birthday cake to take to class today.  It was just a victoria sandwich but was at least home-made and quite a decent cake.  (Made in the same loaf tin I used for Ian James birthday). 

I went to class today, laden down like a little donkey.  As it is my favourite class (Pattern & Meaning) I had all my printing kit - screen, spare fabric, 12 samples made up this week, visual diary, apron - and my notebook, sketchbook, pencil box and my repeat pattern trials. Plus my birthday cake.  The cake went down a bomb with the class- fortunately there were only 9 of us including the tutor, so at least the slices were not miniscule!  The class sang happy birthday to me too!  And Jim had the leftovers when I got home.  (He also met me at the bus stop and carried all my gear home - rucksack and two carrier bags - while I walked exhaustedly beside him.  My hero!).

Last week I was working with translucent and opaque binder and black and white pigment.  This week we were using dyes and alginate.  I had never understood why people might use alginate with dye.  And the simple answer is that binder and pigment alters the handle of the cloth, stiffening it more or less depending on whether opaque or translucent binder is used.  Alginate and dye prints the cloth, then is heat fixed, and the alginate then washes out of the fabric, so the handle is not altered.  We only did a little printing with the alginate.

We were advised to do experimental samples, and combine several different techniques together.  So I already had silk velvet that had been devoured (eaten away), and green fabric that had been discharged (bleached) in my eucalyptus pattern, so today I was adding into these fabrics with different binders.

I've been told how to mount my samples.  I just don't work small.  So everyone else seems to produce A4 samples, but mine seem to come up about A3 size.  I've bought a Bindermate display book - A3 plastic sleeves, ready bound into a book.  Presentation is quite important here, so I'm having to improve my naturally scruffy working methods. 

The workload remains high.  Several people from Herts, and other exchange students from other countries have commented the workload is higher than we are used to, but the taught style means you cover more ground, in more detail and you learn a lot more.  All of us are partly horrified at how little we are taught in the UK, and partly very pleased we have travelled and expanded our education, and are benefitting from a different style of education.  Several of us have commented that we were achieving marks in the high 60s at home, but with what we now know, we could have been getting over 70%, had we known then, what we know now! 

I am pleased I have handed in my Private Lives Public Issues article analysis early, and will be giving my presentation for Historical Issues in Art & Design tomorrow (also early).  We have a mid semester assessment in week 8 for Pattern & Meaning and also Visual Inquiry, Reconsidering Traditions.  I had thought this was after tuition free week, but unfortunately this assessment is before!  I'm doing enough on P&M but I am really behind in Visual Inquiry.  I missed the first class (had been put in the wrong module) then misunderstood the first homework, and have struggled to keep up since.  The tutor wants all homework on large sheets for display and feedback in class.  So I have nothing in my visual diary for this class.  Then last week, she said I should have been doing tests and trials for the homework in my visual diary, and working up the main version on large paper.  So now I need to do 5 classes worth of work in my visual diary to catch up!  And get all 8 weeks documented before the Week 8 mid semester assessment! I am so thankful I chose to get ahead in the other 2 classes.  At least I can spend my weekends playing catch-up in only 1 subject.  Being organised and motivated to work early is one of the advantages of being a mature student.  A disadvantage of being mature is that I can't work creatively once I am tired.  So I don't rely on being able to work in the evening.  By then I am tired.  Good work is done during daytime.

In today's class, my ideas for my Pattern and Meaning design of eucalyptus came a stage closer.  We have been working on allover patterns, without getting an obvious repeat showing.  I have decided to work in just black and white with only one plant, eucalyptus.  My previous tryouts have had several different plants and you can always see the repeat.  And we need to get it worked up to the stage where we can block print large repeats.  So I'm moving from the 6" repeat to maybe A4 or even A3 repeats.
Largest print screen viewed from operating position

Largest print screen in position for first print, ready to go right along 8m table

But these are ideas for the next few days.  Right now I'm tired, and need to cook dinner.  I'll just restrain myself to thinking about my ideas tonight, and maybe a little knitting. 

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