Stupidly, when I sent my tutor the note with my reasons for starting this course and what I wanted to achieve, I didn't keep a copy for myself. That was typical of my organisation when I began, well over two years ago, and comparing my early rambling blog entries, I'm relieved that my focus has improved.
I've spent a lot of time trying to establish a good working practise and a format for my work which suits me and can be easily cross referenced for my tutor to follow. I've ended up with all shapes and sizes of partly filled abandoned sketchbooks and I can't give up my notebook, incomprehensible to all but me. There were no OCA guidelines when I first set up my blog either. This was alright when I had a small number of posts, but as the number grew, I couldn't find what I was looking for if I needed to refer back to something, never mind my tutor. Just when I thought I'd updated my blog so that it was all labelled and orderly, my feedback was that I was becoming too reliant on my blog. It had become invaluable for me to organise my thoughts and the scribbles from my notebook but I hadn't appreciated that this was to the detriment of my visual ideas. Hopefully, I've got the balance better for this final assignment.
It's taken me some time to get used to working chronologically in a book. I like to work experimentally on different surfaces and I was ending up with a good deal of loose sheets and samples. My earlier work is stuck into a large book and ordered the best I could manage, so there's no flow of ideas to see and it does resembles a scrap book more than the working sketchbook/journal I now know is needed. Therefore, keeping a theme book has been the start of good habit for me.
Visiting degree shows was also extremely useful, to observe the standard of work and presentation. Though I've generated plenty of ideas, I haven't always made the best choices to develop. As I finish this course, I do feel I have a much better understanding of interpreting a brief and of making good selections.
Though I'm nowhere near finding my personal voice, largely down to study visits and the wide variety of exhibitions I've reflected on, I'm able to understand and explain what I do or don't like about a piece of work now. I can increasingly link my emerging ideas to pieces of work I've seen, or techniques I've tried on workshops. When I think about what my future work will be, I do feel that it will be colourful. Selecting colour combinations feels natural to me and is something I appreciate all the more after researching Kaffe Fassett.
Regarding techniques, printing is what I've thoroughly enjoyed, from letterpress to cyanotypes, screen printing to rust marks. I strongly suspect that my optional Level 1 module will be printmaking. I've also enjoyed working with paper, whether stitching onto it, working in mixed media or making books.
Assignment 4 in particular, improved my understanding of the properties of fibres and I feel more able to predict how a yarn might behave by the look and feel of it. This has been useful since I own a large stash of donated, unlabelled yarns and threads. I also discovered how handling different materials can affect my mood and enthusiasm for the project.
Certainly the most unexpected consequence of this course is how engrossed I became learning about textile history, ethics, sustainability and technological advances in textiles. I'd never studied history before, but the OCA study visit to Cotton: Global Threads really sparked my interest. When I came to appreciate the effects that the textile industry had on my own ancestors, albeit indirect, the subject was brought to life for me.
Another highlight was Assignment 3 Research Point, when I visited the Centre for Textile Excellence in Huddersfield. I was fascinated to realise how unrecognisable the textile industry will be in the very near future. I learnt about fabrics being impregnated with unique DNA for anti-counterfeiting, saw structures created on a 3-D weaving machine that the aerospace and motor industries are very excited about and I learnt about multiple laser surface enhancement. TMLSE uses laser and plasma technology to alter the properties of fabrics, making them technically superior using significantly less resources so will have massive environmental benefits in future textile production.
There have been times where I've been confused about what's expected, frustrated by limited time and workspace, and temporarily deflated by useful honest feedback. However, far more often, I've felt enthusiastic and motivated. I feel that I've taken responsibility for my learning and found opportunities through workshops, groups and exhibitions to complement the course. Though it's taken twice as long as I anticipated, I've learned and experienced far more than I expected and I'm proud of myself for making it to the end.