The House of Tatterdemalion

Unfashionable, unskilled, inexpensive--but still sewing.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Interesting Post. . .

That last post was a practical joke on myself. It drives me nuts when people write blog entries like that, so of course I had to do it at least once myself. When I see other people doing it (one of my uncles does it all of the time), I want to say, "Hey, get back here and explain yourself!! Why was it interesting? What is it about? What does it make you think about? Why were you there? What will you do differently? I want some answers, people!"

So here is the interesting post, to follow the interesting link. In every art field, there is "modern" off-shoot. You know, your "modern" painters, your "modern" sculptors, etc., etc. Well, the short story is that this is a link to a modern pattern drafter (though I guess in the UK they call it a pattern cutter?).

As with most "modern" art, either you like it or you don't. And if you like one form of modern art, you will probably like most forms of modern art. So if you like modern art, you will probably like modern pattern drafting. It has much in similar in that it likes to defy traditional conventions or appearances. To some, it merely looks random, without thought or meaning. It likes to be shocking, or look messy or sloppy to those who aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

I, of course, am utterly un-sophisticated.

(Saw that comin', didn't you?)

So why do I say that it is interesting? Because it is technically very interesting. Hmm. That makes it sound as though it is interesting, but turns me off in some other way. Which I guess is partly true, but I think what I meant to say was: Because it is, technically, very interesting. Or perhaps: Because it is very interesting, technically.

Or maybe I should just use more words and explain a little better what I mean. I don't care for most of the end results displayed on the site. They appear, to me, to be messy and random, with little thought, and rather ugly and hard on the eyes. Artsy, and unappealing. However, I find the means used to achieve those ends to be quite fascinating, and intriguing.

The site itself is also interesting, in that I found it very easy to navigate--but it was totally different than most page designs. Also, most of the pages were hand written with hand illustrations. The instructions were well written, in that I could follow them pretty well, though I won't truly grasp it completely till I try it myself. I also appreciated the fact that, while Julian (I'm assuming, probably wrongly, that the kind of ghoul-ish looking guy--no offense, but he does look it-- at the bottom of the page wrote everything) obviously enjoyed the whole "freedom" and "lack of rules" look, he wasn't too heavy handed. Since I didn't have sort through a bunch of words about "breaking out of boundaries", I could much more easily grasp the technical methods he was explaining.

Now, me being more of a boundaries type person (read, "control freak"), my immediate thought is, how can I take this and control it? This is obviously an out-working of one of the things he says in page eight of the basics, namely "Whoever implements them, automatically adds something of their own style to them."

Let's take, for example (since it is both the technique I most easily and quickly grasped, as well as the one I'm most interested in trying out), the technique of cutting out a shape, and then filling the hole with a different shape with the same size perimeter. He starts out by explaining it with basic shapes, the easiest for the mind to grasp, but quickly shifts to random shapes, as all modern art does. But my mind is still stuck on the more reasonable shapes (tee-hee!).

If you look through the "RCA students" gallery, you can get a few good examples of how people import their style. Emily Parson, for example, is being very, terribly, unendingly clever by cutting out the shapes "P" and "e" (wonder what they stand for?), and inserting a triangle into the "P" and a rectangle into the "e". So, yes, on paper her design seems to be thought-out and with reason. But, the finished product? Nothing is recognizable. It is clever for cleverness' sake alone, because once it is completed, no one can see how clever she is. Only she (and anyone she shows her sketch to) knows her cleverness. So then she is clever, but so clever that no one knows how clever she is, which makes her even more clever, because she has made herself so clever than no one can figure out how clever she is.

In the next entry, Emma Palmer shows what a less clever person can do with it. (Which must mean that I am not only un-sophisticated, but un-clever, too, because it is a lot more like what I'd like to do with it.) The shape of the original cut is still obvious to the viewer--in fact, more so, because the contrasting insert stands off of the skirt. By using a softer, sub-ordinate fabric to be inserted into the stiffer, dominate fabric, it makes the original cut-out to be twice as striking. (Outstanding, even, if one were to get clever with words.) Very deliberate, very effective.

Yujin Jung is also thinking more along my lines. As soon as I read about cutting a hole that connected to the hem, and then using an insert whose perimeter was greater than the hole and using the access as extra fullness in the hem, I immediately thought that it could make a really cool godet. This skirt, while having a very striking godet, still looks slightly awkward to me. If it were me, I would bring it under the iron fist of control, you can be sure of that! (Oops. I just realized that Yujin Jung has quite a few garments displayed. I was referring to the black skirt with the gold and white random-godet on it.)

These last two showed what some of the most "obvious" "controlled" things one might do with this technique. Emma made a very strong design line, making a sweeping curve across her skirt, and Yujin made a very dramatic godet. But my mind is springing off. . .

Supposing you made a "bustle back" skirt using this method? Using a subordinate fabric to fill in several horizontal cuts down the back would probably achieve this style, though with a much different effect. A cross between ruching and ruffles.

It could be used instead of a decorative collar, slicing into the bodice around the neck, perhaps even a much larger hole at the center back, giving the illusion of a hood pulled off the head and left to hang down.

It could be used as a repeating motif along the circumference of a hem, or at sleeves hems, or running down sleeves.

One could use it to make a 3-D pattern all over a fabric, and then cutting the decorated fabric and made into clothing.

How about a row of un-tucks down the front?

How small could you make the cuts and still have an effective design?

Which works better, "random" filling shapes, or structured filling shapes? (e.g. a "scribbled" shape, or a triangle?)

There are other techniques that seem to have potential to my minds eye, but are harder for me to grasp. For instance, the displacement technique looks interesting, but I can't wrap my mind around it well enough to figure out how to control the variables. I'm sure if I practiced it, it would make much more sense. The tube technique is the least appealing to me, because it's affects appear to be much more limited and uncontrollable. It will always involve large amounts of fabric and lots of draping and build-up. Nonetheless, this too looks like it would be an interesting technique to play with. (The first thing that comes to mind is to weight all the drape to the back, so the front appears smooth but the back is full; again, playing off of the bustle back design.) What one could do when combining techniques (either those presented here, or other more "traditional" techniques), is truly mind boggling.

In fact, one of the most frustrating things for me about the designs on the site is their randomness. I keep looking to see ideas brought out, explored, built upon, progressing from here to there with interesting side trails. Instead, they appear to be totally random, coming from nowhere, and going nowhere, and rather hard to grasp upon and build off of yourself. What they see as playful and inventive, I see as confused and incomplete, a technique that has yet to be mastered and executed with the end result in mind. They want to be led by their creation, and I want to lead my creation.

At any rate, I am grateful that they were willing to share their knowledge and experience willingly (and also freely!). It is unique and innovative, and has sparked several ideas in my mind. I am sure that my style will not be their style, even as much as their style is not my style. But it has opened me up to a new way to think about manipulating fabric, and I hope I don't forget it.

Oh, and one last note. On page seven he says, "Being an amateur is always an advantage." This always brings a huge grin to my face, but not because I think he's off his rocker. Much to the contrary, it makes me grin so big precisely because I think I do know exactly what he means. I think perhaps I could write a whole post about it. But not tonight.


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