Experimental ceramic figures

I have been developing a way of creating sculptures with a clay and textile mix on a wire frame.

The figures (usually felted) are changing in response to the theme of ‘Fragility’ for the Prism Textiles Exhibition at Hoxton Arches gallery, London next month.

 

There is nothing the least fragile about my felt sculptures that go through a very vigorous, wet felt process. By creating a ceramic sculpture I have introduced an element of fragility to the form – or that is my intention!

 

 

The process thus far:

The figures have a twisted wire skeleton – 2mm and 2.5mm to reinforce the standing leg.

I made a paper clay slip with stoneware clay, paper and water and used this to soak ribbons of cut knitted woollen fabric to bind around the wires – then left to dry.

I repeated this process with the same material to shape the arms and the hips and legs. The torso was formed with solid clay to add a textural contrast.

Once dry I polished the torso clay to bring it up to a smooth shine – but only possible in places so not very sucessful!

Firing the figures

I have placed the figures in a foil ‘saggar’ with a range of colouring materials.

Materials:

  • Seaweed powder (spirulaena)
  • wire wool rusted
  • copper wire
  • banana skins
  • salt

I wrapped fine wire wool and banana skins around the figure securing them with copper wire. Spirulaena and salt was sprinkled on last and wrapped the whole in layers of foil.

Figure wrapped in foil

 

Then out to the yard and my steel bin!

I put a good 30cm of sawdust in the bottom of the bin and lined the sides with wood. I then placed two foil parcels of figures onto the sawdust base. Long ribbons of fabric soaked in white spirit were tucked into the this layer and then filled the rest of the bin with smallish pieces of wood. Finally I pushed more spirit-soaked fabric through the four vent holes, into the layer of sawdust, at the bottom of the bin.

I lit the kiln from the base of the bin – lighting the four fabric ribbons.

Once the fire was really going – about 8-10 minutes – I closed the vents with fire proof fabric kept in place with bricks.

Finally, once I was sure the fire was hot and fierce, I put the lid over the flames and there it stayed for 18 hours (over night).

Link to Raku firing

The materials have added plenty of colour to the figure and happily there are no cracks in the clay!

My final task is to find a suitable base in which to set the figures!

Question – do I add a wire head dress? Gold leaf to highlight? Lacquer? Hmmmm……

 

 

 

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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…..

 

 

Ottoman garment fabrics and patterns 1.

Gomlek

The under shirt (chemise)

17thC image British Museum archive depicting a white gomlek under a hirka or short entari

Fabrics

Finest, translucent woven cotton or silk fabric was used to make the under garments. There are examples of men’s winter gomleks made of fine wool. This garment was very wide and loose and often reached to the ankles, with generously wide, long sleeves.

Gomlek pattern

Entari

The entari was a decorative indoor coat cut in several designs:

16thC Ottoman ladies

Long to the floor:

  • sleeveless
  • short sleeved
  • long sleeved – tight fitted at the top widening below the elbow

Short to below the hips:

  • sleeveless
  • short sleeved
  • long tight sleeved

Fabrics

The most popular fabrics were heavy silks such as brocaded silk, velvet, brocaded silk with metallic threads in lampas structure, and clothe of gold and silver. Colours – rich reds and yellows, some blue but green was rare until the 18th century

Entari pattern

 

 

Ottoman 15th C -17th C woman’s costume

Women’s everyday wear did not change greatly during this time and comprised of:

Underclothes

Salvar (trousers) that were very baggy at the waist tapering to the ankles. The salvar were often coloured though did not usually match the rest of the outfit.

Gomlek (a chemise) that was mid-calf length and made from a transparent diaphanous fabric usually depicted in white.

The Hirka or fitted jacket was worn over the gomlek and might be  sleeveless or have long tight sleeves or wide short sleeves. I suggest this was dependent on the weather! The jacket was buttoned to the waist. A sash or belt was tied at to just below the waist or on the hips.

The entari was worn over the hirka as a more formal dress. This garment was of a similar cut to the hirka but longer to the floor. Both the hirka and the entari were buttoned to the waist leaving the skirts to flare out. The top buttons were often left open to the underside of the bust allowing the entari to gape open. A sash or belt was worn about the hips.

Ferace – indoor clothing was highly coloured and very eye-catching however when a woman went outside she would cover herself modestly with a ferace. This was a simple overcoat in a dark sombre colour, buttoned to the throat. She would also cover her face with a yashmak.

 

There is mention of another garment – the yelek – a jacket worn over the entari, often lined with fur.

 

 

19th century Ottoman entari

This beautiful Ottoman entari is in the archives of the Clothworkers Centre, London and I had the chance to examine it closely and to make notes about its size and construction.

The main fabric appears to be of cotton with stripes of soft yellow motifs and darker black floral motifs woven into the fabric on a cream background, further embellished with hand embroidered chain stitch flower and leaf motifs in several shades of green, blue, soft brown and pink/red.

 

The lining is a deep blue fabric with a woven floral pattern

Scalloped edges are embellished with a gold coloured braiding

Garment measurements:

The sleeves are over long and shaped beautifully towards the cuff

Neck line detail – a scalloped edge and no buttons or evidence of closure

Finishing – to finish the edges of the entari I could see that the top striped fabric was hemmed at the edges – turned in together with the blue lining and hand stitched. The braiding was then stitched along the edges of the top fabric. I could not see any facings or interlinings.

 

Braiding is attached to the top striped fabric along the scalloped edge:

The Clothworkers Centre, London

 

 

Ottoman kaftan construction – linings

The Clothworkers Centre in London have several Ottoman kaftans in its archive and I have visited the centre to examine some of their examples. I was interested to see how the kaftans were cut and details of the stitching.

The archive kaftan pieces are typical of work made in the Ottoman court workshops during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fabric weave were a Lampas  (4:1 satin and 1/3 twill). Fabrics were sumptuously made with silk warps and wefts and included metallic yarn as a brocaded weft. They were woven on looms producing a width of between 66cm and 68.5cm and, because of this width restriction, only the smallest of kaftans could be cut completely within the width – larger body sizes required fabric inserts.

 

Star design child’s kaftan

The main colours were white/cream and red with some blues and  yellow. Green was seldom used as there were no natural green dyes and the colour had to be made by over dying yellow with blue. The metallic yarns were made by loosely wrapping yellow and white yarns with silver strips – the white yarn enhancing the silver and the yellow coming through the silver creating a gold colour.

This “star” design kaftan illustrates how a small kaftan could be cut from one width of fabric with a separate gore added on the right side to complete the shape. Pattern pieces were cut to fit the fabric with as little wastage as possible.

Linings and stitching

This image shows the back/lining details of the Star kaftan. Bias cut facings (12cm wide) of red/orange silk are stitched around the openings – sleeves, neck,front, and hems. Facings are found in blue, red, orange and rose colours and sometimes match the main colour of the kaftan. The facings are attached to the kaftan by  single seam.

Floral design kaftan

The lining, if any, was inserted under the facing and the free edge of the facing was turned under once and stitched into place:

 

 

These kaftan had a long narrow pocket on the right hand side, between 6-9.5cm wide and 25-32cm long, and were attached to an opening on the side seam. Pockets were made from the same loosely woven fabric as the linings.