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Canvas making and sewing

Initial Ideas:

For a period of time I have been collecting discarded zip ties - link to the urban aesthetics and my interest in collecting and archiving.

I wanted a way of displaying them that played with the eye - used the flowing shapes as reference to painting - e.g. like a landscape or calligraphy

As such the idea to create a series of canvases was started ....

Canvas making

Learning different methods of making frames.

Using pine wood, ensuring wood is not warped, cutting mitre into it, this creates a sharp edge for front of canvas to produce a sharp taught face of the canvas.

Using square clamps as one method. This does not put any holes into the frame. However, the clamps are heavy and more time consuming to set up, needs to be continuously altered so that each edge is correctly positioned. Although more finicky it does hold the frames more secure and keeps more accurate right angles. This would be the preferred option.

Metal loops and canvas pliers.

This option was a lot faster. I was able to glue 9 frames within a few hours.

However, I made the mistake of attaching the frames flesh to the flat edge rather than the metered edge. This meant that when it came to stretching the canvas the corners were not flush, which caused an uneven surface. I did correct this by removing the canvas, unscrewing the frame and re setting and gluing the frame back together in the square clamps. However, when it came to re-stretching the canvas, there were many creases remaining from when it was previously stretched. I aimed to conceal this by placing the canvas back in as close as the same position as possible. As well, I sprayed the whole canvas with water which loosens the canvas. Then when it dries the canvas shrinks and stretches more taunt and removed any creases or wrinkles.

Testing canvas texture:

In thinking of ways to explore materiality I wanted to disrupt the soft textural surface of the canvas - interrupting it with different materials.

First - tested sand - combination of sprinkling piles on and then rubbing it with a cloth. This was very uneven but with multiple layers did produce a varied texture. However, this felt too flat and the colour was not very pleasing, looking more like a painted wash than a raw material.

Second - tested coal. This was much more interesting. Breaking bits of coal up - sprinkling onto surface. Where the coal first had contact it produced a much darker patch and then became lighter when brushed over. This did not give as much of an even coverage as I would have hoped and became much darker than I anticipated.

Third - tested mortar. This was the most successful. I tested different quantities of mortar and water mix. Found that the more water down version enabled the mix to become like an under-wash which gave an even colouration. Thicker mixes were able to be layered on - pressing at times unmixed particles of mortar aggregate which glued into the canvas. After leaving layers to dry and mixing different quantities I found that squeezing the sponge produced very natural splashes which picked up a variation of texture and tone. As this was a looser material I needed to seal it. For this I mixed a watered down PVA and lightly painted this onto the surface. I found that stippling the brush gave a better result as it did not move around the aggregate to avoid changing the pattern and texture. However, this dulled the final result. It would be interesting to see if there are ways of keeping the wet look of the mortar - possibly through resin .... - definitely explore further.

Testing Sewing.

To attach the zip ties I first began by testing out different compositions on a spare canvas. Comparing the impact of having singular or groups zip ties - if they should be perfectly centred or more randomly places. I settled that having them more randomly placed linked more with the ephemeral, chance encounter of these objects, as if they were recreated from there original place in space.

To attach the ties I made use of the textiles workshop. I tested different thread, originally considering invisible thread, but deciding that a black cotton thread would be best and be hidden next to the black of the zip tie. This was only doable through hand stitching, and only needed a few loops of thread in the main corners to hold the piece down. As this was a proof of concept I moved on to add texture to the canvas. I did this by applying the water and mortar mix and sealing it with PVA. This produced an interesting result. Inspired in part by the Boyle Family wall mounted works which recreate a section of the ground.

However, I felt that this was too much and was combining what felt like 2 separate pieces. The zip tie was more important than the texture and I wanted it to remain minimal and put more focus on the zip tie.

To achieve this effect, I decided to use the Raw canvas and stich each zip tie in different random locations on the surface. This proved much more successful and appeared much more minimal and attracted the viewer to focus more of the shapes of the zip tie. The broken and dirty texture also contrasted nicely to the pristine white cotton.


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