After spending a couple of weeks designing and printing I have completed my final samples, I have created a range of samples for blankets for the homeless as well as a range for interiors to convey my concept.
Traditionally, newspaper is used on the streets to keep the homeless warm at night, I wanted this to be a theme within the fabrics that I was creating, these pieces are more conceptual than practical, I have screen printed newspaper sheets which I have layered up and trapped inside netting in the hope to make them move like a blanket would, this didn't work as well as I wanted, it does seem to move more like a foil sheet that would be used to keep athletes warm. I guess this works with the ideas behind the piece.
From this I moved on to consider encapsulating litter along with the newspaper sheets, to keep the subtle idea of these people on the streets being forgotten and left aside, just like the rubbish and litter that surrounds them. I found it really difficult to work with the netting and encapsulating these pieces together as the fabric kept puckering. Unfortunately I don't think that this piece was very successful and won't make my final samples. I don’t think that it’s worth experimenting further with this idea because I don’t like the texture of the netting either.
After speaking to a homeless man in Piccadilly Gardens about the qualities that would make a good blanket I started to think about combining the conceptual ideas with a more practical blanket sample, including layers such as ice wool and fleece to give warmth. I have experimented with sticky-back plastics and clear foils, even water resistant sprays that will cause the rain water to roll straight off the blanket. This was something different than anything that I have experimented with before, I am not proud of my screen printed designs, I feel as though I could have put more thought into them, this has been an issue for me as with limited time in the print room and having to book a slot in advance, there isn't much room for experimentation and everything must be very carefully thought out, unfortunately with the print room, it's all about experimentation and reaching a good outcome through trial and error, without much scheduled time in the print room I think that my work has suffered.
I have spent some time in the print room trying to create a traditional camouflage pattern using greys, blues and blacks to suggest the silhouettes of pieces of litter, then outlines of litter to make this clearer, I didn't want to lose the illustrative element that I enjoy so much.
At the same time as experimenting with stitch and print, I created some digital designs using Photoshop, these designs are quite heavily focused on layers of litter, as if the homeless could camouflage themselves beneath it and be ignored. I decided to introduce a different texture to this print by stitching some plastic bags, receipts and various other pieces of litter, it is quite subtle and it takes a second glance to see it against the printed layers of litter which I quite like.
These are my favourite designs and I really like the way that they still move like fabric despite the treatments that I have given them to create warmth and water resistance. Before moving to Manchester I had never created digital prints and I had always enjoyed screen-printing as a technique and I don't want to lose that skill. I was always worried that digital print would look to flat and be less interesting but I am amazed by this technique and I think that it looks a lot more professional, and it’s a lot faster, easier to create the designs that you envisage. Without being able to digitally print during this project I wouldn't have been able to produce these photographic prints to replicate the photorealistic army style camouflage.
I am really happy overall with my samples that I have created as a conceptual and now almost practical solution to the blankets for the homeless. I think that if I had more time that I would have spent longer considering my screen-prints and making something that I was really proud of. After exploring these ideas I have moved onto focusing on the ideas for interiors which I will eventually be entering into Bradford Textiles Competition. I want to decide on four pieces to submit and show visualisations of the repeat in order to meet the requirements. However, these prints that I have recently completed are more of a continuation of the self-initiated brief that I set myself, creating fabrics for interiors in the hope that if they were put into production a percentage of the money would go to charity that could actually make the difference, this idea was inspired by the live brief I entered in January, Feathr.
All I wanted to do to change my designs to make them suitable for an interiors context was to change the hue and saturation on Photoshop to create some really unusual colour ways and something that would stand out for a consumer interested in current events and conceptual art. I am actually surprised by how much I like them in such bright colours. I have printed a couple of designs onto canvas for the idea of an upholstery fabric and a few on satin silk, which look very luxurious.
Whilst I still had a bit of time booked in the print room I took advantage of this and began to add foils to a couple of my digital prints using the screens that I had made up for printing the blankets. I really like this idea as it adds something that looks a little bit precious, something special, which I think is an important reminder that these people on the streets are no different to us, they're just people in real crisis, the message I set out to convey.
Some of these colours are quite garish but I think that’s what makes them work so well, I love the way that by over exposing the imagery on Photoshop and in the process of accentuating these brilliant colours it has created a pixelated effect which looks good on the silk satin viscose as the colours bleed slightly and look a lot smoother than my initial prints on cotton.
I am over the moon with these prints, I think I like them more than the blankets that I set out to complete in the first place. I want to create a board explaining how the campaign could work for these interior fabrics. I think it would be an interesting idea to give the project another twist and look at making up cushions and quilts for the homeless with these fabrics and heat sealing them in clear plastic to make them water proof and 'street' proof, something conceptual again, almost creating a bedroom for the homeless in a door way or somewhere more socially unacceptable to make more of a point, cause more of a scene.
It's a good job I can't figure out how to heat seal my ideas in plastic bags otherwise we might have a bit of a problem..