Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

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MMT3 Formative Feedback

Formative Feedback  on Assignment three of Mixed Media for Textiles with my tutor, Rebecca Fairley, was by video on 13th July, 2016.  The following is my summary of our conversation.

I was pleased to hear she thought I had been adventurous, pushed myself and she had a sense I had enjoyed the process.  My workbook was a good balance of samples, drawings, photographs and research.  I had been thorough in all elements, used a wide range of materials and produced some exciting samples.

It was suggested that I include the cushion-like cast when sending items for assessment and the vessels cast in stitched bags should be put together as a series, clearly identified as such for assessment, grouped and photographed now against a white background.

Where it may not be possible to send samples for assessment, my photographs illustrate the work well.

Making bags/vessels and using them to cast from was a strong idea to develop.

We discussed the feelings of excitement when a sample is developing well and the importance of recognising that something visceral is happening and go with it.

It was suggested that I keep pushing and exploring the way I use drawing.  Comment on what I have learnt about the samples from the drawing and add comments to reflect what they tell me about the sample’s surface, materials or any ideas that arise from the intense looking.  Draw in exhibitions and other artists’ work.  A continuous blind line drawing would be a good method of looking at Paolozzi’s work in which case, there’s no need to be sensitive about how the drawing reflects his work, its all about the looking.

Continue to develop my learning log by including more depth in the reflection of my drawings and work of others. Keep my learning log professional, be open about practice but not personal matters.

Provide more analysis of drawings and explanation of action – don’t assume an assessor will know why certain photographs are grouped together or what I may have learnt by arranging them that way.

There is evidence that I’m pushing my analysis and have an understanding of the use of metaphor.  I should continue to develop this area.

Remember to push ideas, keep exploring and developing.

I need not have a sketchbook of drawings, a collection on difference sizes of lining paper would be an alternative.  In response to this I explained that having a tactile ‘book’ combining drawings, research and found images feeds my creativity whereas a rolled up collection may not.

Tutor’s Formative feedback

Student name        Nina O’Connor Student number                     513049
Course/Unit            Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles Assignment number            Three
Type of tutorial Video

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Nina this is a lively exciting body of work.  You have been adventurous and pushed yourself, making brave decisions that have paid off. You have experimented with the materials to produce some dynamic and curious surfaces.  I particularly like the series of “bags” you have made and then used to cast intriguing shapes.  This could be worth exploring at a later date.   


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Your drawings are loose and exploratory; there is sense you are now beginning to understand the value of using drawing to deepen your understanding of the samples.  Keep exploring the way you use drawing to look at your own work and the work of others.


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

From this assignment I can see you are developing your analytical skills and using them to develop your work.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis  

Keep your Learning Log professional.  I suggest you add some reflection about your drawings and make links to your own work and your research material at the same time. Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.


Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment.   Written or video/audio

Well done Nina, I look forward to your next assignment.

Tutor name Rebecca Fairley
Date 13th July 2016
Next assignment due 5th September 2016


Feedback on assignment

I am delighted with the positive feedback.  During the assignment, I felt more confident and thought there had been a consolidation of my learning.  Its such a pleasure to hear my samples referred to as a ‘lively exciting body of work’.  In the early days of my studies with the OCA,  I felt ill-equipped to meet the challenges and now I feel more capable of working towards a degree and excited about my future practice.   I am enjoying the style of this course, which has encouraged me to be more adventurous and increased my confidence.


I feel so much happier drawing and understand the value.  I see it more as a form of recording or note-taking, rather than a test of my ability to produce a detailed and beautifully finished picture of the whole. However, I do appreciate that drawing needs to be more habitual for me and that conscious and regular exploration will develop my skills.


My analytical skills are developing but as with drawing, a conscious effort needs to be maintained to improve my expertise and remember to use metaphor.

Learning Log

I understand the need to keep my Learning log professional and will make a few adjustments, add reflection, make links to my own work and research material.

Thank you to my tutor for the constructive feedback.

I would like video feedback for my next assignment.



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MMT3 Workbook video

Final drawings, words, photos added and blog tweaked, MMT3 posted.

So, here, as promised to Lottie, who shared her sketchbook, is a video of the accompanying workbook.

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MMT Part 3 Molding and Casting REFLECTION

This has been a thoroughly enjoyable assignment. With so much possibility, materials and ideas to explore, it was a little overwhelming at times.  One of my aims for this section was to focus more.  I did and was more productive with my time, but may still have got carried away with amount of materials tested and samples produced.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I was pushed to explore and develop new technical skills and believe I was successful.   I have continued to demonstrate good visual skills in the choice of materials, colours and presentation, but realise I need to work more on thinking visually.  Lifetime habits of note taking and listening with a pen in my hand, writing to help assimilate information need to be exchanged for visual notes.  I have gained confidence in recording information visually but it is not yet a ‘habit’, more of a conscious decision.  Developing visual ‘note taking’ will improve my practice.  The basis for good design is continuing to grow.

Quality of outcome

Good research into the materials and observation of others’ work helped to produced a quality outcome, with a variety of content, good, clear presentation of learning log and workbook.

Demonstration of Creativity

Risk taking has increased with broader experimentation and invention.   The more creative approach to a workbook introduced for the last assignment, which fuses the research into materials and artists with my own sampling is continuing to fuel ideas and develop my skills and personal voice.  Greater creativity in drawing is evident.


Research has continued to be broadminded and there has been reflection, whilst looking at new material in context has been helpful.  A better understanding of metaphor is developing with perhaps less of a focus on critical thinking throughout this assignment.  I do however have a good understanding of the benefits of reflection, research and critical thinking  and am working on achieving a balance between all the assessment criteria.


Referring back to Formative feedback pointers from Assignment 2

  • Feed back from assignment 2 was reflected upon, more drawings were added, as was comment on TED talks.
  • I have taken more risks and been creative (although perhaps not as playful as I could have been)
  • I have drawn more samples but more, even more regularly would be good and aid playful creativity.
  • I have continued to be broadminded in my research investigation.
  • I have developed my understanding of metaphor but the development of language when discussing my own work and the work of others had less of a focus this time.

Overall, this was a successful and productive assignment which has enhanced the development of skills and confidence.

I look forward to video feedback and am excited at the prospect of exploring and developing printing skills in Assignment 4.







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MMT 3 – Molding & Casting – Sorting

Reviewing the samples created during this assignment, the following techniques or samples are considered worthy of further development.

Molding paste to capture or create texture, particularly for collagraph (next assignment)

DSCF5968Soluble paper proved a quick way to capture texture, as long as there is enough time for it to dry.  The way the paper picked up colour from the wood block or leaf created a lovely patina and the methods of Josh Monroe who produces woodblock prints with ink and paper pulp could be explored to develop this further.

Using fine hand made tissue in whole pieces as paper mache produced a lovely translucency, natural colour and good texture.


Whilst some of the samples were quite straight forward, my enthusiasm for the characteristics of hand made paper was fuelled by making and couching hand made paper onto different surfaces.  I am very keen to explore making finer, translucent paper or pulp for couching or casting.

Enormous satisfaction was found capturing the texture of my stitched pots with heat ‘n form block and printing with them.

Researching and experimenting with paper clay was definitely a highlight.  Assembling the textured pieces with staples, creating a wall hanging sample has lots to offer.  The variety of textures, the subtle use of colour and negative space created are all worthy of further development.


I really felt I learned from the molding and casting of liquid materials.  I was taken aback by the detail I could achieve with a few ingredients in my kitchen and was keen to understand and perfect the techniques, I could happily have explored further.  Although, I think that I was driven by the need to master the method and understand the materials more than the actual materials.  Maybe I could be persuaded, I was excited by the potential of alginate and hugely encouraged and satisfied by the results of my sewn vessels as containers and definitely want to explore the versatility of soluble film.

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Visualizing Research: A guide to the research process in art and design

The above book written by Carol Gray and Julian Malins and published by Ashgate was recommended to help me with the use of metaphor when reviewing mine and the work of others.

I borrowed a copy from Farnham UCA library and must confess to giving it my attention rather late in the assignment.

Thinking I had an understanding of metaphor, I was surprised to find how difficult it was to get my head around.  I understand well known metaphors, but however much I looked at my work, I couldn’t quite work out how to apply the principle to describing art.

Eventually, I downloaded the book Metaphors we live by, written by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson which helped me see how frequently metaphor is used in daily conversation.  Looking back through my workbook, I tried to identify appropriate metaphors where possible.  I hope my thinking is along the right lines and will give it more attention in Assignment 4.







a fossil?


another fossil?


a woven stream? – a streambed?


crumpled paper?


Inflated pillow?


plump cushion?


invisible buttons?

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Blind Continuous Line Drawing

Feedback from Assignment 2 recommended more drawing, starting with continuous line drawing in a wide range of media.

The following clip was suggested.

It was very helpful.  I have practiced blind continuous line drawing before, but was surprised at the difference if I blocked my view of the paper with a pad in front of my eyes. I hadn’t realised how much I cheated before trying this method.

It was useful to start each drawing with a quick blind sketch and then to continue drawing using the same principles but with an occasional look.  Most of the drawing in this assignment was with my attention firmly on the object rather than the paper, with satisfying results.

A variety of media were used and the more I did, the more relaxed and quicker I became.  I can see there is still room for many more quick observational sketches but feel by working this way, I have broken the habit of trying to produce a detailed ‘finished’ drawing and am better equipped to use drawing as a tool.



MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Plaster, Concrete, Alginate & Modroc PROJECT 2

(Paper workbook p46-58)

Project 2 Casting the internal space of a vessel

The course notes indicate that the aim of this project is to use flexible vessels to contain the casting material, which should then be manipulated by using wrapping and tying methods and found objects to make impressions in the cast materials.

A bowl shaped piece of free machined stitch originally stitched on soluble film was my start point, laid in a disposable bowl, the stitch was lined with cling film and plaster poured in and the cling film tied.  The plaster wasn’t heavy enough to sink into the stitch through the cling film which was a bit frustrating, so I gathered the edge of the stitched bowl and pulled it up tight.  The imprint was slight.

Three bags were filled with plaster and rested on beads, an alphabet stencil and some buttons in a polystyrene half-dome.  Following the success of the alginate and plaster experiments, the results from this were a little disappointing.  Less detail from the found objects was captured than I expected.

Moving on, aiming for more impact, two sheets of bubble wrap, one large bubbles, the other small were combined with masking tape to make a bag with the ‘bubbles’ on the inside.  The pouch was filled with plaster, sealed with duct tape and gently pressed to encourage the plaster into all the crevices.  When dry, the bubble wrap was removed to reveal lots of captured texture.   The detail in each bubble of the negative cast was very satisfying and although a bit predictable, I hadn’t expected such an efficient cast with sharp circular edges to contrast with the creases in the air bubbles or the smooth almost ‘plasticky’ surface to the plaster.

Close inspection whilst drawing made me realise the casting was less uniform than first appeared where the bubble wrap had crumpled and distorted in the process.

I then had a very frustrating session with some freezer bags and plaster which I had great difficulty tying or wrapping.  Later I realised that my first batch of plaster was good quality and the second, an inferior, cheaper product needed a much higher ratio of powder to water. So, hampered from the start with extremely liquid plaster sealed in a plastic bag, I tried to tie and or wrap various materials around the material with no success.  Finally I resorted to some elasticated beads, a chain threaded on to elastic to make a bracelet and a piece of cotton cord, not really managing to control the wrapping or tying as I’d hoped.

Where the beads were embedded into the plaster, they were impossible to remove and the plaster broke up in the areas with heavily scrunched plastic.  The silver coloured bracelet made some nice marks but I felt challenged to produce something over which I had more control.

I looked at Lindsay Harris’s work Coming of Age, 2007, as depicted in the course manual and read that it was constructed with stitched lycra and old tights.  I could imagine lycra being firmer than a plastic bag, but looked at materials that were immediately available and considered how I might sew vessels.

Having used up my second batch of plaster of paris, these castings were made with Artex finishing plaster, a coarser product that easily mixed to a stiff consistency, very easy to control and manipulate but with a 90 minute plus setting time.

Small drawstring bags were sewn from Tyvek, washed linen scrim and a combination of nylon net bag and cotton.

The Tyvek bag was too small and the drawstring difficult to loosen when the plaster was dry, causing it to crumble as the tyvek was pulled away. The looser gathering in the middle of the bag worked better and the fold and stitching line left a good impression.   As a material, it could work well made into a bag with a ‘sugar bagged’ bottom and a fold over top.

With the net and cotton bag, the aim was to get the texture of the net, but contain the plaster with the cotton, which didn’t quite work as the net became embedded in the plaster.  The cotton pulled away from the plaster quite well.  The traces of orange showing through the plaster and the net extending beyond the plaster adds interest.


The small linen bag was very effective with a drawstring at the top in a machine sewn channel and two single lines of thread hand sewn around the centre of the bag one from each side which allowed a gentle gathering in the middle.

A combination of blind continuous line drawing and continuous line drawing whilst looking helped me to see the gently gathered waist in the plaster and the loose folds of fabric.

I also used a tiny found gauze bag, which seemed too small and had the seams on the inside so the seam allowance was well embedded in the plaster, resulting in some breakage when trying to wrestle the cast from the bag.  However there was some pleasure in the remainder, a delicately detailed cast of the texture and folds of the fine fabric.



Still working on the possibility of capturing the texture of the nylon bag, I decided to sew it to soluble film to see if the moisture released as the plaster dried would dissolve the film, this was partially successful.  The base was a circle of plastic, then the net, soluble film and stitch creating a circular pouch.

The plaster was spooned through a funnel in the pouch and the opening hand stitched with back stitch to seal the bag.  The soluble film made a lovely wrinkly surface which showed promise, and as hoped it began to dissolve. It didn’t dissolve fully, but enough to left an interesting texture, although the nylon net was embedded in the plaster.

Whilst I failed to achieve an impression of the nylon bag, the texture and the bag itself were well captured in the plaster!  More exciting was the prospect of exploring different soluble materials with machine stitch.

Last in the sewing session was the creation of a pouch from a plastic Selvedge Magazine wrapping stitched with free machined circles  designed to create holes in the cast material. This was really quite exciting.  Pouring the plaster through a funnel into the bag created an inflated pillow.  Removing the bag when dry revealed a gorgeous plum cushion, with softly creased petals radiating from neat holes with stitch marked edges.




Whilst drawing the cushion, the delicate edges of the stitched holes caught my attention.


Material: Modroc

  • gauze strip impregnated with plaster dipped in water to use
  • can be layered over wire framework, mould or former
  • Surface can be textured and reworked whilst wet
  • can be used as a support for alginate moulds
  • sets quickly, first layer 3-4 minutes, work fast.
  • one strip at a time, immerse in water without agitating for 3 or 4 seconds, run through fingers to remove excess water, layer and smooth down
  • use fingertips,small soft paint brush, sponge or credit card to press and smooth the bandage
  • When dry, seal before painting.
  • Can paint with diluted inks and watch colours spread.

Safety Considerations

  • Wear gloves to avoid drying the skin or causing irritation
  • Use a former in clay, foil, alginate to avoid applying to skin although the heat caused by exothermic reaction when using Modroc is lower than ‘normal plaster of paris thus avoiding a potential burn situation’.

When using alginate for anything other than small moulds, it needs a jacket, which can be made from modroc.  With the intention of casting the ‘cup’ in my daughter’s cupped hands, alginate was poured into the space and a layer of modroc applied to support it.  This was placed in a container with the the modroc down and the remains of the builder’s plaster poured on top.   Annoyingly there wasn’t quite enough to cover the mould but the result  was fun and effective with the sinister cut off fingers highlighted by the negative space created by the hole in the plaster. Alginate is an amazing product to capture fine detail.