Janet Haigh : Her Work

Textiles: ideas, drawing, design, stitching….

Plan B for the Daphne Tree.

6 Comments

Daphne drawing by laser etched vellum

I have been too busy to blog – or rather too tired after working a succession of 12 hour days to get to the deadline, today, for putting this work on the wall of  the Pairings exhibition. I have been making the Daphne Tree  with Rachel Kelly, designer of Interactive Wallpaper,  and Daphne is a truly metamorphic development. She morphs from a laser etched drawing in animal skin – (I suspect reindeer as this is a gift from the manufacturers in Finland,who produce and sell these large sheets of vellum or parchment for  making into drum skins) through paper hand made petal infused and shoji screen papers which are vegetable eventually becoming cotton damask with a man made surface skin of printed decals…..But to start we have burnt a drawing of a figure using modern technology onto of the oldest drawing materials known to mankind – and the result is very very beautiful.

laser etched leaf drawing on vellum

The quality of the skin changes over the surface of the animal, thin and white on the sides nearest to the spine – which is dark; then translucent on the edges where it has been stretched and where, I presume, the skin is thinner. The results of the lasered marks are startlingly different, in places hardly discernible in others a beautiful burnt golden brown.

lasered image with strips of masking still in position

The appearance of the drawing fluctuated over the entire surface of the body – sadly it needed to be drawn into to make it look stronger and bring out the intricate patterning of Rachel’s original leafy drawing. and the hair had to be coloured as well as it turns to leaves

paining dye into the hair/leaves

So far – so good, all going to plan…then we hit a series of snags, first the fabric chosen for  printing the flowers of the canopy was not is stock and then Easter holidays meant that the staff in charge of the printing machine were away and suddenly everything looked to be very tight for getting it organised in time….

Plan B. I decided to ask Rachel to send me her designs on print transfer papers that can be ironed into position – I had seen this done before at Heart Space Studios by Teresa Searle and I knew it was a possibility to get things printed fast …so I bought some T shirt printing transfer papers from the local high street, and taking my courage on both hands started sampling.

my sampled transfer bird with the new packages of prints from Rachel.

Meanwhile I stared to dye the shoji screen papers for the leaves which transitions the animal to the vegetable.

dip dyed shoji papers

Then I started to cut and apply the leaves onto the paper and the fabric..a beautiful vintage damask I had dyed in tea to blend in with the petal paper…

dyed papers cut and applied to petal paper for fingers to leaf transition.

first transfers in pressed position

new flowers placed in position

By this stage the transfer designs had arrived from Rachel – and they were really something else -brighter colours on new flowers…daffodils, tulips and big bouquets in brilliant colours – I loved them BUT they didn’t go with my first row of lovingly pressed transfers….I had to think on my feet – but hey I am a designer and this is what designers’ do…isn’t it? I definitely needed more leaves and many more flower transfers..the space looked massive that I had to fill up – about 1 x 1 1/2 metres wide….but eventually Rachel and I got there.

most of the flowers in position

OK I hear the more attentive of you say, ” you missed a bit – the body is now attached to the head which is attached to the arms…HOW did that happen”?  Well it was all stitched together.

drilling the holes through the vellum for stitching

To be more precise it was drilled and stitched together, the vellum and petal papers being too tough for me to get a decent spaced stitched line – here I am hard at work

me drilling the stitching holes to attach the head to the arms.

But eventually Rachel arrived yesterday to complete the flowery appliques..

Rachel filling the last pieces of the canopy

All we have to do now is starch and press it, get it fixed to a cardboard tube as if it is a roll of fabric and take it to the exhibition…..you can get the latest update and the other side of the process by visiting our Pairings blog, which is by way of a conversation between us Rachel and myself.

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6 thoughts on “Plan B for the Daphne Tree.

  1. WOW this work is so beautiful. Can’t wait to see the exhibition. Good Luck xxx Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa,
      hope to see you at PV tonight? The exhibition is really fascinating seeing so many approaches to different sets of people working together…the Daphne Tree is by no means the largest piece of work – but it is the most colourful!

      Jan x

  2. What a busy lady you are Janet! Good luck with the exhibition.I hope to get to see it.Best regards Carole (Watson)-old ex student!!

    • Hi Carole,
      thanks for the message – the PV went really well, very busy and buzzy, the Pairings exhibition is really interesting and well worth a visit – it is on for a month.
      I am back to working at Heart Space Studios today and to tidy the remains of Daphne away. Making this work with Rachel was a great experience, a bit of a roller coaster ride at times but it is ages since I made such a large scale work and I could become addicted to drawing on vellum.

  3. Hi Janet,
    Did you consider selling this story to Hollywood? You should – what a suspense, turns of the plot and grande finale 🙂 Fantastic! Love the finished piece but the process was something else. Thanks for sharing and congrats to both of you for the final result!

    • well thank you so much for this comment – it made me smile this morning and I am only giving you the edited highlights…..

      Rachel and I are still recovering from the effort of getting it there uncreased and in one piece. But I must admit that Daphne sort of looks out of place in this exhibition, mainly because she is so …. well….. flowery and colourful. She is surrounded by lots of black and grey and very muted colour – as Rachel put it in our other WordPress blog (haighandkellypairings2012) we turned up at the party in our party clothes and everyone else had dressed down – hey ho!
      I will probably talk about this in my next posts.

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