Progress Update: Textile Sculpture
Good progress continues to be made on my peacock textile sculpture. It’s been a fun project to work on in incremental pieces, making small progress over the course of the semester.
I have made a significant pivot since this last update. I have found that the starch-stiffened triangles don’t hold their shape over time, nor while under any amount of stress. I started sewing the pieces together only to find them collapsing on top of each other and folding almost entirely in half in some cases.
Due to these difficulties, I began brainstorming the next steps with this project. It seemed like I had 3 main options: 1. Find a new stiffening agent to see if the textile pieces could become more sturdy, 2. Create an internal structure to support the textile sculpture, possibly enhancing it in some way, and 3. Reimagine the final structure, perhaps changing to an abstract sculpture that is more 2-dimensional.
I chose to go with option 2 for now and see how it goes. To make this happen, I designed a couple types of support structures using an icosphere shape as a base. The first was a one-piece design with thin connections along the perimeter of each triangle piece. This seems like it would be more sturdy, but had the downside of being difficult to print, requiring multiple prints to get the scale large enough and some kind of gluing method. The second type of support structure that I am experimenting with utilizes a building system called Zaks (1), with a circle cut out of the middle.
Over the next few days I will be trying these variations to see how I can get the sculpture to stand freely and reliably, while still maintaining the aesthetics that I was going for.
Things I’m happy about so far in this project:
- The triangular crochet pattern that I designed for this piece has turned out to be a great design. It works fast like I hoped it would, it holds its shape well and I like the size.
- Overall I’m still happy with the color scheme and feel that it’s very vibrant. I’m happy with how the piece is so far matching the items it is inspired by, especially the gold trim that makes the colors look more rich.
- I’m surprised and happy that the fuzziness of the chenille yarn has held its form through the starching process. I was worried that this fun texture would be muted after applying the sugar water, effectively drying in place and losing its charm. But in reality, while it did dry in place it still looks fuzzy.
Things that could be going better:
- I wish it was going faster! I’m worried about how much I’ll get finished before the project is due.
- I’m still not sure about incorporating a dynamic piece, and if I’ll have time to do that. It is feeling harder to pivot at this stage. But I was curious on a whim to see if I could get any fun ideas from ChatGPT about the dynamic element of this peacock sculpture. I was impressed with these suggestions returned by the AI chat system:
- “Create movement with feathers: Since a peacock is known for its beautiful feathers, consider adding movement by using actual peacock feathers or creating textile feathers that move. You can use wires or other materials to create a more dynamic and fluid shape.
- Add texture: Textured fabrics or materials can add depth and dimension to your sculpture. Consider using materials like lace or tulle to create a more dynamic effect.
- Use light: Lighting can add drama and impact to your sculpture. Consider using colored lights or backlighting to highlight specific elements of your sculpture and create a more dynamic effect.
- Play with scale: You can create a more dynamic effect by playing with the scale of different elements of your sculpture. For example, you could create a larger tail or elongated neck to create a more dramatic effect.
- Create asymmetry: Asymmetry can add visual interest and create a more dynamic effect. Consider creating a sculpture that has an uneven number of elements or that is intentionally off-balance.”
I really enjoyed these answers, so I asked it again for its suggestions on how to make my sculpture more dynamic. This time, the results from ChatGPT were:
- “Use wires or other flexible materials to create a pose that suggests motion, such as a peacock spreading its feathers or taking flight.
- Incorporate movement with wind-powered elements such as fans or windmills. These can create a dynamic effect as the sculpture moves with the breeze.
- Add shimmering or reflective materials such as sequins or metallic fabric to suggest the iridescence of a peacock’s feathers.
- Consider using LED lights to create a glowing effect that changes over time or responds to movement.
- If your sculpture will be placed outdoors, consider using materials that will interact with the environment, such as rusted metal or weathered wood, to suggest the passage of time and the cycles of nature.”
Some of these ideas from ChatGPT are really similar to my earlier brainstorming, which is very validating and also a little creepy. At this stage in the project, I’m just hoping for something that looks good.