Stage 7 Reflection


Reflection on the course

Reflection on the course overall, has been a journey of discovery. I am happy with the end product, although I need to refine the work that I do. I have learnt a lot of new techniques and become aware of artists that otherwise I wouldn’t have looked at. I have more understanding of how artists work and the reasons behind, leading to more successful outcomes in my own work and progression from my first naïve attempts. I have become more experimental and learning to listen to the advice rather than being blind to new avenues.

Initially I wanted to create a fabric book, but was advised to not get caught up in the end project, but to be guided by the techniques learnt. I feel this was good advice and led me to the sculptures for my end piece. This has been a challenging part of the course, as the guidance before showed techniques, this last part has allowed me to start to produce something from experimentation.

I had thought to make a printed box (plaster) but found that the print didn’t take on the outside of the sculptures, due to the porous nature of the material. Although attempted it wasn’t successful. I think that there should have been some exploration of sealing the plaster possibly with PVA or something similar. I would have liked to use resin but had an allergic reaction to it, but was inspired by Mayme Kratz

There were a number of techniques that I found inspirational, but with each one, there were things that didn’t work, generally this was due to materials used. But also because of my own limitations. I have become more focused, but the quality of my work has let me down on times. I need to address the presentation of my work and something to focus on in the future.

Many of the techniques have left me with unanswered questions and unexplored ideas. Which has in turn allowed my creative flow. The exploration of mixing techniques has been an interesting one, and found that although ideas sounded good in principle, in practice they were successful.

I found that the work in my sketchbook has been invaluable and by listening to the tutor, has improved vastly. But feel there is more improvement needed. I feel that some of the samples need too be displayed differently and not put in the sketchbook. I also need to use better quality sketchbooks and to be more experimental within them.

Having little guidance in this part of the course has allowed me to take more risks, whether good or bad. Although I felt lost at times and a little unsure of the direction I should take. I think in future assignments, it would be advantageous to have a phone conversation with my tutor or Skype, as I feel words sometimes get out of context and can be interpreted differently. I found myself questioning my work constantly and push ideas into different directions, which is evident in the initial idea from fabric to plaster. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and my love of embroidery and the more decorative work I have done, to a simpler way of working. It has broadened my outlook, that just because its simple doesn’t mean it is any less interesting.

I felt this was the strongest piece of work so far, as I experimented more and let the process guide me, rather than try to force the ideas. Also by drawing on personal experience, the work has become part of me.

The final piece was better than I could have imagined. It fitted the theme well, integrating the feelings of solitude and pain. However it has a soft overtone with the embedded wool, giving a sense of hope.

The colour was quite soft, and possibly could have been more defined. It is quite fragile, as the plaster is thin in places.

The end product surpassed how I had expected it to come out and wouldn’t change the appearance, but possibly the scale. I feel it was too small to project the enormity of the emotions felt.

After my feedback, the tutor indicated that the blog wasn’t structured well and feel I agree when looking at it again. So in view of that altered the work so it is easier to understand.



Stage 1 – REVIEW reflective commentary a piece of my own

Developing ideas for an end product has been the most challenging part of the course and difficult to choose inspiration from my sketchbooks.
The aim is to explore feelings of an isolated, sad childhood and the despair of being an only child. I wanted to convey the extreme loneliness and fear and give people an understanding, something someone who has a sibling wouldn’t understand. It is generally thought that children who have no siblings have everything, but there is no interaction and no pecking order, so leads to social isolation. This has been a huge barrier to me and feel it is difficult to describe in words alone.

Inspired by my poem, I wanted to translate the literal words to create a sculpture that would encapsulate the feelings I have.

Words were used to describe the feelings (envy, pain, disassociation etc) and also colours (red, black, purple, green etc) associated with these emotions. Various colours were experimented with, but as advised by my tutor to limit my palette chose red and black, allowing more focus on the making process rather than being distracted by an array of colours.

Artists researched showed life experiences are often integrated into their work and is a useful learning tool making me aware of what I would like to achieve in my own work.

During the sorting process I was inspired by the printing and plaster experiments for further development. Initially wanting to create a printed book, was advised by my tutor not to narrow myself down by getting too engrossed in the final piece but rather to experiment and find my voice.

I chose a previous experiment using marks made using a serrated knife run across paper. The marks were sharp and felt uncomfortable and fitted well into the theme of pain. The change of direction altered not only the composition but the mood and felt these marks could be incorporated into a final design.


Printing showed potential as it was messy and uncontrolled and wanted to use this confusion in my end piece. Plaster was also considered but not sure how this would work on plaster.

















Material -Plaster was chosen as the base material as the unpredictability fitted with the theme of how life is.

Finishing plaster was not of the best quality and was rough, not giving the finish I would have liked. However, adding nail varnish it worked well giving the surface an added element.

If I were to alter this, I would use plaster of Paris or concrete and have an idea for a garden project, but would need to consider fabric when used outside and how durable it would be. However on consideration plaster of Paris would be too clean in application and not give the desired effect. Printing onto the plaster was a problem due to the porous exterior and would need to be sealed to be allow the surface to be decorated with print.

Embedding plaster is also a consideration. This could be small items such as beads placed randomly or material with sections revealed.


Being a keen embroiderer would be something that appeals to me, and changes the boundaries of how a textile piece is seen.

Scale – Size would be a consideration, but was dependent on the space and materials available. Having limited space, it was decided this would have to be on small scale, which would be advantageous as would cure quickly. Using readily available boxes such as a toothpaste box or discarded packaging was useful, but had limitations as the boxes were difficult to add anything into and would have been better on a larger scale. However, this would be difficult to send for assessment, due to the weight.                      

Casting from prepackaged cartons (previous experiment) showed how surface design can be achieved and want to use the sharp designs from the markmaking. However, i am wondering if the surface design and printing could work, as it might be too busy. Possibly large indented marks, with print within might work.


Supplementary work after feedback

I was asked had I used the sorting phase. Initially I had thought to use printing in my final piece, but changed my mind as I felt that although printing was one of my strongest pieces of work, that it was not strong enough for the theme chosen. It needed to be 3 dimensional and I needed the contrast of hard and soft to convey the message chosen and was only determined part way through the exploration. I had thought to use the printing in conjunction with the plaster, but found it was unsuccessful due to the porous surface. Cardboard boxes were used to cast my boxes, but after researching found that I had narrowed my potential for using other found objects. Everyday bowls or packaging could have been utilised. But one thing that I hadn’t considered, was the paper folding techniques that I had explored. But I had to consider that paper is porous so would need to be made watertight. The paper would have to be strong, so maybe card would be better. I found a tutorial with David Huffman Tower which was inspiring


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Stage 6 Prototype/maquettemaking (final piece 2)


































Experiments with paper, card and polystyrene were useful to show how cut out shapes could be achieved, before committing to plaster. I wondered how I could combine the printing and plaster. Initially, I started to make tiles, with surface texture (printed) using bubble wrap.

Originally the idea was to make a panelled box, but when making the tiles found they were too flimsy and cracked, and would work better with thicker panels, so was abandoned. The surface was designed with the point of a knife and serrated edge and this was successful and could be used for detailing. I felt this wasn’t the way I wanted to go and decided on a solid box. More experimentation is needed on this.















Further experiments were cast with pieces of cauliflower, but felt it wasn’t successful for detail on the outside of a box as it looked liked warts. Although the experiment to produce indented surface was successful.  Adding beads was slightly more successful creating a dotty effect.






Bubble wrap gave interesting surface design but the mix of nail varnish felt uncomfortable, due possibly to the visual look, which looked like blood and explored the feeling of pain, but is too literal.

Adding square beads had a similar effect. If it had been solid then would have retained the structure. It showed fragmentation, which is something that could be integrated into the end piece. A previous exercise using balloon showed that by using broken pieces can produce a new way of thinking and was successful. This gives me an idea of making tiles, disassembling and reassembling.






Adding lace wrapped around the plaster wasn’t successful in application, but visually it showed a sense of decay.


I attempted to cast with a paper envelope balanced in a jug to get the point, however it wasn’t rigid enough and the casting didn’t work and look very immature. However. it showed by using different shapes could give a different perspective. I liked the idea of using the boxes as there is a readily available source of material and changed the way an idea is formed.

Further Experiments
I decided that I needed to adapt my work and look for another way to achieve the results I wanted. Further prints were made and analysed to see what they reveal. Marks were random and sporadic and using this decided to use dripped paint or something similar.

Experiments with plastic containers were not successful, due to the fact they stuck to the surface and didn’t come out cleanly.

I wondered how I could use a toothpaste box, and studied it for a while, before researching artists that use plaster or concrete. (This proved to be the start of a series of sculptures that were far better than I could imagine).

Black and red nail varnish were dripped down the sides of the box and plaster was poured into the box and allowed to cure. However, not enough time was given and the paper stuck to the plaster. This proved to be better than samples allowed to dry, as when the cardboard was removed it muted the nail varnish and merged with the pinkish plaster. Instead of the shine of the varnish it became matt, despite this it was a success.

Using a toilet roll tube successfully showed the spiral of card around the rounded exterior But felt this was too ‘soft’ for the theme chosen.

Adding beads to plaster failed as the plaster was too dense and only revealed some of the beads, also it could have been there wasn’t enough of them ratio to ratio, which was disappointing.

Relief was added inside the box, but was limited due to space available for my hands. Sharp pointed shapes were cut and attached to the inside of the box randomly and poured nail varnish down the sides. Plaster was then added,dried and removed from the box.

I felt this was by far the best result and by using the cut out shapes, experimented with in paper and card.  The photo doesn’t really do it justice. The relief was sharp as I had imagined and worked extremely well.

After feedback I changed the lighting and was an interesting relevation as it completely changed the effect visually and felt more successful  than the first photograph.

This was attempted a second time.

The shapes created some interesting sharp indentations. The pinkish finishing plaster lacked colour and decided to print the outside. This was unsuccessful, due to the surface being too porous. Maybe sealing the surface would enable a print to be made.

I decided to adapt this but didn’t know how, closed my eyes and felt the plaster and painted with black and red. It resulted in a sculpture that now resembles burnt red wood and very pleased with it.
It was difficult to photograph and the result is better in actuality.


Using photoshop changed the photo into a more dimensional picture, which could be explored further, with dimension, colour and tone. i like the last picture and is almost cartoon like. I feel this has potential and wonder how I could achieve it without using photoshop. Maybe 3 dimensional painting onto the sculpture!

Adding wool inside the plaster was an unknown quantity, however the results surpassed expectations. It showed a sense of confusion, which i relate to in my childhood. The colours were a little softer than expected and should have been harsher and brighter. But still a sense of despair is evident.


The last casting completely changed the appearance of the plaster and feel I achieved what I had set out to do. It encapsulates the feeling of being trapped in my own head, where everything seemed dark and dismal. But the wool at the bottom, gives a glimmer of hope when all felt lost.
By using a box I wanted sharp lines, which worked to a certain extent, but distorted and is leaning. Certain areas where wool and plaster met crumbled. This achieved how I felt about ever having siblings, which never happened.

I don’t think I would change a part of this apart from maybe the scale. It would be interesting to make a standing column as tall as a child and maybe seal the outside with a printed surface.

I experimented with photoshop to alter the picture above and felt these had potential especially the third one, which could possibly sculptured using wire, to show the internal space. The second one could possibly be a bundle of neon fibres trapped in clear resin. The third design could be  clear resin, with poured nail varnish, but this would need a lot of thinking about.



after the feedback from my tutor, the sculptures were rephotographed with surprising results. They appeared stronger and more defined. I liked the contrast between the upper and lower sections, making a more balanced piece of art. Previous photographs were bland and had little definition. on the bottom picture there is a sharp shadow adding to the mood. This is an area that needs improvement along with presentation.

Stage 5 Prototype/maquette making (Final Piece 1)


The wrapped samples were experimentations in sculptural forms and worked well in itself, but felt for the emotional impact the structure was too soft, to create the emotion of pain. I had thought to create a fabric box, but using the plaster took me out of my comfort zone and instead of forcing the idea, allowed the material to  determine the outcome.

I tried a fabric container before creating a box, but felt that it needed to be more rigid. And although it created an interesting vessel, was not right for the theme chosen.

A sculpture was made using balloons placed inside a box before adding plaster. It wasn’t easy to extract once the plaster was set. Holes were created internally and was a good exploration of spacial awareness. The unpredictable placement and extraction explored the idea of emptiness.

Further exploration with the addition of wool, gave a different feel visually. It became softer, and more tactile. It was rephotographed with a different background, which totally transformed it making it more interesting visually.  The lighting probably could have been brighter, but overall looks better. This is something that I need to explore more to enable the viewer to see what I see.

Exploration of casting wax into crumpled foil, showed interesting surface texture, that again was difficult to photograph and was almost like cut glass, which was quite surprising.

Stage 3 Design ideas – Photoshop

Experimenting with Photoshop showed that the possibilities are endless. I liked the vibrancy of the colours even with a fairly limited palette. It was a very different feel from the pictures drawn and painted. There are sharper lines and was easier to to manipulate. Whilst this wouldn’t be ideal for a box idea, these designs could be used to produce a scarf.











Some of the designs, were similar to grafitti and maybe something I could incorporate into a sculpture. Maybe cut out writing within a sculpture or possibly embedded wire is a consideration.                                             










Stage 3 – Fabric Experiments

Fabric samples were made using different techniques drawing inspiration from previous exercises. By creating holes in different fabrics, yielded different results, some more successful than others. An upholstery fabric has some of the threads pulled revealing the base of the design. I burnt the surface which turned red to brown, giving a rough surface instead of the soft fabric.

The woollen fabric and felt wasn’t easy to distress as it was extremely hard wearing.








Lace was one of the most successful outcomes. It was distressed with a heat gun and found it melted quickly creating holes and turned hard and rough instead of the normal softness. The lace was placed randomly and organised and varying degrees of heat added. Some were lightly scorched but others were almost obliterated.



























Experimenting with fabric was considered for creating a fabric box, but felt that this was too soft for the theme of pain. but the distress caused to the fabric has allowed me to think about deconstruction and spacial values that could be created with a sculpture. A cube could be made, smashed and reconstructed, creating an explosion within the cube. Allowing the viewer to recognise the basic structure


Although it could possibly be integrated with the plaster, to give contrast between hard and soft. By melting fabric beyond its capacity could create a hard sculpture similar to this sculpture using melted manga figurines.

another possibility would be to melt the fabric and then layer into a cube.
i could also incorporate layering within a sculpture, sandwiched between cement or plaster.