Five weeks and two cancelled meetings later, a pre-arranged Facetime meeting enabled dialogue and decision making. The title for this project was confirmed as Kept, and the number of stories clarified as seven, with P providing a possible addition/alternative, if required, in response to a recently recovered hand forged nail. This project will document responses to questionnaires through text and image and focus on alternative finds to broken pottery. Both P and I are keen to make a third response around the theme of Recovered Recorded, possibly as a pair of books, to catalogue only the hoard of blue and white broken china pieces found in P’s new garden and at my mum’s allotment.
Having previously agreed on the page size, format and three components of content for this book, P has begun to research each of the given postcodes to collect historical facts about each specific location. In conversation it was agreed that these snippets of additional information could be presented within the book as Tip-In’s, possibly echoing the record card presentation style made use of within the Recovered Recorded. I have begun to explore how to make the illustrations within the inside of the tracing paper French-fold format and have started to work on top of self-adhesive labels so that the object can be viewed clearly from one side and becomes only a shape/shadow from the other side. These need to be refined further, and experiments using mono-print, carbon paper and tape are planned. P will send the text pages to be printed onto tracing paper so that the scale and placement of image can be resolved next week.
Our regular Facetime meetings are becoming an invaluable way in which to ensure the projects’ momentum is maintained; this week we both had a focused set of questions that we were able to discuss and subsequently form decisions about. The book’s format, size and substrate were confirmed – we will work with the French-fold format and experiment with the idea of a heavy-weight trace – the translucent nature of this paper could suggest the idea of layers, with glimpses of type and image appearing in different forms then changing as each page is turned. Through further discussion we recognized that there are three elements to the book – a fragment of a story (developed using Letraset type), images (T will work on the idea of contour drawing and map symbols to develop imagery of the found objects listed within the questionnaires) and historical facts and information (this relates to the sites where the objects have been found) – additional research into these sites will be required. In terms of composition, one of these elements will be hidden within the French-fold of the book, T recognized that all respondents had kept their found ‘treasure’, so it was suggested that the image of the object should be the item to be contained (kept) within the fold. Further references within the questionnaires offered the idea of a limited colour palette of blue (and possibly green). Whilst the book will have to be printed digitally (due to restrictions of some of the design processes we have used), we agreed that some form analogue/hand-crafted element was needed to ensure each book was in some way unique.
In response to ideas generated by the book structures P produced, I have begun to re-read written responses within the returned questionnaires. Drawing upon the process of inductive coding, ideas have begun to emerge around colour, pattern arrangement and stories of times past. Several responses record local industry or points of interest which could be included within the hidden inside pages of the book structure P has produced. I have been reminded of working methodologies employed within the original Meeting in the Middle project which referenced social history discovered through on line local history groups.
The majority of questionnaires record that found objects have been kept, with one participant noting that they were ‘too beautiful to throw away’. The idea of giving value comes to mind and the challenge of how to realise this visually. Several answers include references to pattern arrangement which has begun to inform page layout ideas exploring the use of edges, negative shapes and repeating patterns. Postcodes and specific locations are recorded which has led to some investigation around map markings and the idea of using types of lines to trace the outline of each found object. Whilst considering map markings, I came across a contour drawing challenge at The House of Illustration which provided further context about this style of observation which may afford value to each object. I have begun to make line drawings informed by this which I intend to develop using selected map markings.
Predominate colours are noted within the questionnaire as blue and translucent green glass which I will begin to explore as shapes within the line drawings.
Taking on board suggestions by P, and the notion of revealing information, I have begun to consider what if these illustrations were produced on translucent surfaces so that some information and imagery may be glimpsed through from one page to another.
Whilst the Facetime discussion helped to rationalise the development of the project, it’s interesting to note that our independent research and exploration of media and techniques has led to the consideration of making two further books based on the same theme as our edition recovered and recorded; this is an unusual direction for our collaborative practice to take, and perhaps highlights the potential that we have identified within the subject matter plus the opportunity to develop our creative practice in different directions.
In the first instance, and in response to the ‘questionnaire book’ I have worked on producing a set of dummies to send to T that explore and reflect the idea of discovery. Six different formats have been produced and these will form part of the discussion at our next Facetime meeting. Secondly, I have started to take a far more pragmatic approach to the ongoing findings of pottery pieces within the garden by photographing, recording and cataloguing the fragments by date order.
As a side note to T’s last post, and the question as to whether or not we use both collections for the ‘collection book’ – could part of the process be to compare and find potential similarities within each set? Research into the property itself should also be given a priority.
A pre-planned FaceTime discussion last week, offered the opportunity to comment upon each other’s new practical work, share making processes, and exchange design methodology in order to clarify next steps of this project.
P talked through the making of her text pieces in which she had selected phrases from the returned questionnaires. The media made use of has restricted style and scale of text and provided translucent surfaces to make use of. The subsequent layered pieces have the potential to link to the notion of the pottery fragments being found at different layers within the earth in P’s garden.
Having been given a collection of broken pottery pieces found in my mum and dad’s allotment, I made use of this, alongside the text pieces made by P, to inform my first practical work. Interested in developing more refined visual work, I started to catalogue all the different plates in my kitchen by tracing around them in response to one of the returned questionnaires.
As the project has developed alternative ideas are emerging. One idea is to respond to the returned questionnaires. These provide given starting points, snippets of others’ stories and found imagery in a similar way to our previous project in which we documented sewing secrets. There may or may not be connections across one or more questionnaires, but the interest is in documenting individual voices. Having made use of The Small Publisher’s Fair in November 2018 to hand out the questionnaire and gather feedback on the project from visitors and participants, it would be interesting to present their responses next year at the fair. P has already started to explore the potential of these questionnaires by selecting phrases which I could interpret visually, or I could re-examine the questionnaires independently to select visual imagery. During the face time discussion we shared potential ideas for the format of this book which P will develop.
The second idea is to respond to the found collections of pottery in either P’s new garden or a combination of my parents allotment and P’s garden. This could become a second book in which the structure, text and visual imagery is more complex. This may involve further research both to collect stories about either P’s house or my parents allotment or about the china pieces themselves.
Towards the end of the discussion we agreed to respond to the returned questionnaires in the first instance as we have the content for this book. We agreed to develop the book structure and visual imagery independently and meet again via Facetime after four weeks to exchange ideas with a view to working together to construct part or all of the book within the Easter holiday.
In response to experimental text pieces produced by P this week, and my own interest in exploring visual imagery, I began by tracing all the different plates in my kitchen! The slight differences in size created multiple overlapping lines which reminded me of patterns formed when using a spirograph.
Having documented multiple plates, I spent some time reading about dinnerware and plates in particular. I read about earthenware which is ‘prone to chipping’, stoneware which is typically used in ‘everyday place settings’ and porcelain which is used in ‘formal dining settings’. These phrases may be interesting to draw upon as the project develops. I discovered that there are eight traditional types of plate, ranging in diameter from 140mm to 500mm, and noted that the outside edge of the plate is often decorated with a pattern. I am interested in re-examining the found pottery pieces to search out edges – as if in a jigsaw when the outside edges are found in order to assemble the rest of the picture.
In response to this research, I selected different types, and sizes of plates from my collection, and recorded 1 charger, 1 standard plate, 1 dessert plate, 3 side plates and 1 saucer. In consideration of multiple pieces, I traced all remaining pieces from my Grandmother’s tea service: 1 cake plate, 5 cups, 6 saucers and 4 plates. Multiple lines becoming darker in tone were created by tracing round every individual piece of china. Having traced the outside edge of plates, I am now beginning to connect these to the found pottery pieces.
Whilst exploring the shape and scale of plates, I am still keen to make use of colour and pattern in some way and took a series of photographs documenting a second recovered collection of pottery pieces. These were found by my mother and father in their allotment. By documenting them in a similar way to P, I was drawn to the simple geometric patterns on some of the pieces which I may explore further.
In response to the previous post, a half term break has enabled work to begin on experimenting with some typographic techniques that could form part of the next edition of recovered/recorded.
An old collection of Letraset dry transfer lettering became the starting point for this experimental process; working with phrases taken from the limited questionnaires that have been received so far, I selected three initial sheets of type – all Clarendon, but at two different sizes, as the sheets were incomplete I had limited letterforms to play with, so the layout and structure was led by the letters available, (this process echoes some of the work done on my MA several years ago, where work was developed via a system rather than by design); as work progressed and certain letters of the alphabet became depleted, another font had to be introduced.
By accident some of the letters had transferred themselves onto the translucent backing paper, I realised that by working on different layers I could suggest a sense of depth that would reflect the idea of the earth and found pottery pieces. Whilst the first sheets that I used were in good condition, the secondary type started to crack as the letters were rubbed down and in places pulled off part of the ‘good’ letters, rather than being concerned about this, it was felt that the disintegration of the type reflects the fragmentation of the found pieces.
Recovered / Recorded was presented on the Caseroom Press table at Small Publishers Fair, Conway Hall on 9-10 November. This afforded opportunities for P and I to discuss the project face to face alongside conversations with fellow exhibitors and visitors in response to questions around objects discovered in gardens.
P and I exchanged stories of making processes including challenges, successes and technical skills developing. We began to consider the potential of this project, and some consideration was given to C9 which was the one fragment P and I had both selected to be represented. We discussed the idea of making larger prints which combined imagery from these first books and extended each fragment to reveal the imagined whole object it may have been originally part of. These could be linked to more objects and perhaps the original/imagined owners of the china.
As visitors and fellow exhibitors stopped to view books on the table, conversations were entered into with those interested in Recovered/Recorded. Stories of objects being found in gardens were invited to be recounted, shared and documented in response to a pre-prepared series of 10 questions substantiating our areas of interest. Approximately 8 questionnaires were given out on day one in response to stories revealing:
- the burying of barbie doll heads as a child
- the finding of a stone head in a garden which is ‘a bit strange’ and now ‘lives on a shelf in the house’
- the finding of lots of pottery and ‘even whole glass bottles’
- the finding of a grenade
- the storing of found objects within a cabinet of curiosities
Following on from the initial success of sales and conversations at SPF, P and I will now send the questionnaire to friends and family before Christmas in the hope of gathering further stories to make use of within the development of this project in the New Year.
In consideration of the 8 pieces of china selected, I began by arranging these sequentially in response to grid numbers attributed by P within first cataloguing. Interestingly this resulted in each of our 4 fragments being presented alternatively. As I explored the arrangement of these within each page of the book,I began to play with composition rotating each fragment to create a sense of rhythm through the resulting positive and negative shapes discovered.
Two tracings were made of the final page layout, and having sent one to P, I made use of the second to trial linear mark making in order to imply the earth around each fragment of china when it was discovered. I decided to use the process of drypoint etching and began by working on top of the outline of each fragment taking note of the first trial to keep a sense of movement to the mark making. Within the printing process, I explored alternative approaches to inking the plate which resulted in different depths of tone surrounding the fragments. As I made the work, I began to prefer the darker tones which provided a greater contrast to the white shapes.
The prints produced were left to dry over the weekend and I returned on Monday to mark the cutting lines in order to send to P for trimming and folding. At this point I realised the process of drypoint printing had reversed the original composition and these prints would not be the same as the Recorded prints P had already produce! As there was no time to re-make the plate and re-print, I selected my favourite drypoint and used the copier machine to reverse the image onto a medium weight recycled cartridge paper. Unfortunately this lost the quality of the individual print and the thickness of the fabriano paper which I could return to later in the project. Some alterations were required with depth of tone and the placement of the print to avoid a white border around the image, although as this is a process I have used before this was reasonably straightforward and the prints were posted to P in time.
Having received the tracing and layout from T of the china pieces, this week afforded the opportunity to start work on the Recorded book. As most of the decisions have been made via texts, reviewing our message history ensured I was using the correct dimensions. At this point I noticed a small anomaly with the size – to ensure the folding and making of the books are accurate – a quick visual and an email to T enabled a small issue to be resolved.
Whilst the layout has been pre-determined, I have not made a final decision regarding the print process that I intend to use, therefore working with images of the china, each piece had to be manipulated and saved in two different ways (a full colour version, and a grayscale version). Rather than using photographs, I scanned the china, and this enabled the size and scale of each piece to be in proportion to one another. The most difficult part of this process was rotating each piece to replicate T’s layout… by trial and error I finally resorted to placing the tracing over the laptop screen to ensure greater accuracy, although this was not an exact science.
Test prints next week will enable a decision to be made regarding the print process. Paper stock will also be sent from T, to see if a match is possible, otherwise different stock will be used for each book. Other decisions have related to the front cover and use of typewritten adhesive labels, and we will research the idea of archive bags to contain the pair of books.