Hawaiian Symbols and Tattoos

I am researching the origins and symbolism of Hawiian tattoos as part of pattern design development for men’s swim and sportswear.

As always the history of any pattern is fascinating – just follow the creative trail of human endeavour!

Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first came to Hawaii about  1,500 years ago and 500 years later Tahitians arrived bringing there taboos and customs that included the art of tattooing.

Tattooing was unknown in the western world before to Captain Cook’s first voyage through Polynesia in 1778

The word tattoo is one of only a few words used internationally that have a Polynesian origin coming from the word ‘tatau’ used in Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. In Hawai‘i the word became ‘kakau’

http://www.coffeetimes.com/tattoos.htm

 

As the name suggests, the origin of tattoos goes back to indigenous tribes in the Bronze Age, which was about 5000 years ago. In fact the word “tattoo” derives from the word “tatau” in Polynesian. All of the people living on Marquesan island in Polynesia were tattooed. They regarded the tattooed symbols as a form of language. In this particular culture the images were usually inspired by animals. For example, shark teeth represented protection, and shells meant wealth. Other common symbols included turtles, fish hooks, and lizards. Due to the early origins of this style of tattooing, no one is really sure exactly how it was first developed. Some theorize that it was likely an accident that led to the first tribal tattoo.

Tribal tattooing was not just a physical adornment. It was also part of a tribes spirituality. There were three major factors that took the practice of tribal tattooing from being purely art to being a spiritual symbol as well: Pain, Permanence and Loss of the Life Source (blood). This mystical trio elevated the tattoo from mere art and transformed it into an opportunity to draw people into a relationship with God.

Because body and soul were generally thought to be identical to one another, your tattoos then existed on both the physical and spiritual planes.

While meanings vary from culture to culture and time period to time period, there are many similarities across these cultures and times.

Polynesian Culture

  • Protection
  • Wealth
  • Courage

Maori Culture

  • Social Status
  • Rank
  • Job
  • Achievements
  • Inner Strength

European Culture

  • Membership

Modern Cultures

  • Membership of Fraternal Order, Military, or gang
  • Marriage
  • Rights of Passage
  • Totem Animal Guardianship
  • Magical Reasons

http://www.tattooswithmeaning.com/tribal-tattoo-meaning/

Mood board for design development

I used a great little iPad app “Moodboard lite’ to create this board.

This is a great site for information about Polynesian tattooing and its history and symbolism and cultural significance:

Initial pattern sketches

 

 

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Make it in Design Summer School

I have joined the Make it in design Summer School 2017. The course is a fun series of briefs focused on experimenting with new patterns ideas and techniques for surface patterns designers.

Week 1 Brief

Your brief is to design a mystical, tribal inspired
pattern using the following prompts:
  • Be inspired by the supernatural, geometry, astronomy, magic, nature, minerals and the cosmic to create your pattern
  • Think about dark symbols, landspaces, the cosmos, flower mandalas, fractals, geometric shapes, symmetry and symbols

Key words that attract me:

Mandalas

  •  Circular designs symbolizing the belief that life is never-ending. A Mandala represents wholeness, and is an apparent shape in life, the earth, moon and sun

Symbols

  • Representations of life, fecundity, ritual, war, protection, communication
  • Viking Runes
  • Textile patterns – carpets and cultural clothing

Fractals

A fractal is a never-ending pattern. They are created by repeating a simple process or pattern over and over.

  • Shell, flowers, ferns, crystals

Geometric design

  • Islamic patterns
  • Precision and repetition

Repetition, movement and symbolism are key points for the design development that I will start today! More later next week – deadline 9th August so I’m gathering my pens, pencils and geometry kit and heading to my studio!

References:

Islamic Geometric Patterns 12 May 2008 by by Eric Broug

Viking Language 1 Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas: Volume 1 (Viking Language Series) by Jesse L. Byock

Hali Magazine

www.mandalas.com

 

 

To my dyeing day No. 1!

Actually two dyeing days as I spent the first day experimenting with dye colours and techniques on small samples of white cotton fabric that had been pre-soaked in a solution of soda ash for 3 hours.

I am very lucky to have a great assistant for a few days – Carmen is a fashion photography student who is doing 20 hours work experience with me and her work is included in the following sample images.

Techniques:

  • Lino printing – with a thickened procion dye paste
  • Brush painting with both liquid procion dye and paste
  • Combining the two techniques

 

Dye samples covered with clingfilm to prevent drying and left to cure over night – 18 hours

 

The results are interesting as I have never used dyes like this before and, although the samples are rather rough and ready, there is potential. The lino print is not as good as I hoped – some lines are indistinct as it is difficult to apply the dye paste evenly. I find using a brush is the best method as it gives me better control over the dye placement than with a roller.

So tomorrow I will jump in to this wonderful world of colour and dye 6 meters of beautiful Ottoman Rib Viscose/cotton fabric to make three colourful fabrics for jackets:

  1. Plain colour – a strong pink mixing a little scarlet not magenta dye powder
  2. Shibori tie dye with indigo procion dye
  3. Brush designs in three – four colours with Ikat patterns in mind.

References

Shibori

Dye painting

Ikat

Fabric printing project – preparation

I have been making Lino prints ready to experiment printing on fabric with procion dyes with inspiration from Ikat woven fabric and Ottoman textile design

I have used fabric paints in the past however as these are pigment based the prints are stiff and change the nature and drape of the fabric. Dyes are permanent and do not affect the hand.

Chemical ingredients

  • Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) – to fix the dye
  • Water
  • Urea –  increases the brightness and intensity of dyes
  • Sodium Alginate – to thicken the dye mixture to a print consistency
  • Procion dyes – I will start with 4 colours – magenta, royal blue and lemon yellow and black. With this selection I should be able to mix many different colours and tones.
  • Synthrasol – to remove any trace of dye in the final wash

Equipment

  • Safety: face mask, rubber gloves and heavy apron
  • Table – lined with cardboard and topped with a plastic cover
  • Large plastic jug
  • Large bucket
  • Plastic spoons
  • Wooden spoons
  • Glass jars to store the thickened dye
  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Lino prints
  • Prepared sticker for the fabric pieces
  • Log book
  • Camera
  1. Pre soak the fabric – I have bought fabric that is already prepared for dyeing and will soak this in a Soda Ash solution over night
  • Mix 3/4 cup Soda ash with 7 Litres water in a large bucket and stir until the soda has dissolved. Then add half the fabric and leave to soak.
  • Wring out the fabric and then spin in the washing machine to remove excess water. The fabric must remain wet for dyeing.

2. Mix the dye base for 1.5 metres fabric:

Put on the face mask, gloves and apron

Mix together in a large plastic jug:

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup urea
  • 1 tbsp sodium alginate

Mix well with a whisk as the mixture blends and thickens. Divided the paste base into 4 glass jars.

3. Prepare the fabric

As I am experimenting at this stage I will cut the pre-soaked fabric and unsoaked fabric into 20cm squares and lay them across the prepared table.

4. Mixing the dyes

  • Face mask, gloves and apron on
  • Add 4 teaspoon of soda ash to the paste base and mix in well
  • Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of dye powder into a glass jar and add 1-2 teaspoons of water and mix to a paste – it is important not to add too much water and to mix the dye very well so that it has all been dissolved. Unmixed particles of dye will cause streaking on the fabric.

Repeat this process with the other 3 dye colours.

N.b. Once the dye has been mixed with the soda ash in the dye mixture the dye will have short shelf life – maximum 4 hours so my experiment will have to be completed in that time

Experiments

Use a soak and unsoaked piece of fabric for each experiment. First label the fabric with:

  • S – soaked
  • US – unsoaked
  • Technique
  • Start time
  • Completion time
  • Comments in log book

Techniques

  • a. Lino print
  • b. Brush strokes – wide and fine
  • c. Water colour – spraying extra water on the fabric to see how the paste behaves
  • d. Stencilling
  • e. Printing with a range of shapes – leaves, pasta etc

Finishing

  1. Leave 1/3 fabric pieces on the table for 90 minutes before washing.
  2. Leave 1/3 fabric pieces on the table covered lightly with cling film for 4 hours before washing.
  3. Leave 1/3 fabric pieces on the table covered lightly with cling film over night for about 16 hours+ before washing.

Finally rinse out the fabric in cold water until the water runs clear and then wash with Synthrapol to remove any last traces of dye.

Questions

  • Does pre soaking the fabric make a difference to the final colour and design and colourfastness?
  • Which printing method is most effective?
  • Which colours look best with a white background?
  • Which colour combinations work?
  • Which techniques work well together?

References:

Books

How to dye your own fabric
Margo Price, Andrew Moore

 

 

Fabric dyeing project

I have never used procion dyes before and have decided to dye and print my fabric for a range of jackets with an Asian ottoman theme.

Researching I have found some good tips for using dyes thickened with sodium alginate to paint or print onto fabric by Alyson Provax

Alyson Provax – printmaker and experimental dyer in Portland, Oregon. Her prints are available through Uprise Art, and her work will be shown in Variable States: Prints Now at Upfor Gallery in Portland this spring. Find her at alysonprovax.com

Pattern design – thoughts

  • Lino cut printing
  • Free hand painting
  • Flowers – tulips, roses, hyacinths, carnations pomegranates
  • Blues and turquoise, maroon, purple and gold, orange and serene greens

 

  • Free machine embroidery
  • Simple jacket design – no darts or extra seams
  • Loose fitting, comfortable, elegant, individual, colourful, excellent

Materials and equipment

  • Procion dyes
  • Urea
  • Soda ash
  • Sodium alginate
  • Mask and gloves
  • Buckets and plastic jugs, spoons and cups, wooden spoon, lots of towels and cardboard to work on
  • Lino cuts, paint brushes
  • Fabrics: Cotton/viscose Ottoman rib Siberia natural, Barkweave cotton, Linen/cotton Manetti (Whaleys of Bradford)

Everything is ordered and will be ready to go by next week – watch this space…..

 

 

Molly Williams – My new blog site

So here is my new blog site independent of my website www.mollywilliams.co.uk

Why a separate site to blog and chat? – well for exactly that reason! I wanted a place to put my work in progress, research notes, links and other things that I hope will be interesting to read!

This week I have finished a new design that as an A2 print will bring life, colour and energy to any space. The design is inspired by Turkish ceramic jugs and plates – so I though I would show you how I set about drawing and designing this piece.

I began with lines on paper – curves that intersect and create movement on the page. Plates in a variety of sizes make the perfect templates.

I use marker pens and especially love Promarkers. Choosing a colour palette is important – orange, blue, green (dark and mint) and cinnamon make great visual music!

With lines in place and overlaid with black marker and colours chosen I was ready to start doodling. I had a general plan in mind however usually the patterns tend to flow as the design grows

The finished design ready to be scanned and sent for Giclee printing!

This print is for sale at my Etsy shop – please click on the logo if you would like to be directed to the site: