ATV Part 4 Yarn and Linear exploration Exercise 4.4 Deconstructing colour as yarn

Ex 4.4 Deconstructing colour as yarn

Brief: “You will develop ideas from your stripe designs towards material selection and then apply methods of deconstruction and reduction to capture the lightness, colour, energy and particular qualities of your watercolor painted stripes in a small series of yarn designs and concepts.”

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Original watercolour stripe paintings

I really tried to think outside the box on this part. I knew I wanted to use plastic as the base material to create yarns due to its transparent nature. I used heat as my deconstruction method on a range of plastics.Project20

I started with Shrinky-Dink plastic. I have not used this since I was a kid. I couldn’t get the colour as exact as I would have liked as I had to use sharpie pens as normal felt tips wouldn’t stay on the plastic. I did have pastel sharpies but the colour was still darker than I would have liked. I rubbed some of the colour off with a bit of kitchen towel on some of the pieces, before heating, to see if that would make it paler but it didn’t. After heating the ones I had not rubbed had a stripey lines from the pen nib which I liked as it fits well with the stripey theme. I cut the coloured pieces into rectangles and hole punched each end so I could thread them together. I heated them with a heat gun. This is where you have to trust the process as to start with the plastic will curl up on itself and you think you have ruined it! You need to keep going and it will straighten back out. I joined some with stretch elastic so they overlapped and you got the colours blending together but then you could pull apart and see the colours separately. Others I joined with silver jump rings to create a chain and a third sample i joined with thinly cut green plastic from a water bottle.  I really like how these samples turned out. They are thick and the pen has gone translucent when heated. The nib marks are visible on some pieces adding to the stripey theme. I would have liked it if I was able to match the colour better. I think alcohol inks may work but I don’t have any to try. (photos below) I photographed these on a light box to capture the translucency of them.

Expansion ideas-

Different widths of shrinky-dink, alcohol inks, invisible thread for joining


I asked my Dad to make me a bottle stripper (Instructions on pinterest) so I could make long lengths of plastic yarn. It worked ok for my Dad but I didn’t seem to have the strength to pull the bottle through so mine came out quite uneven- still totally useable though! Plastic bottles worked fine but the blue and purple plastic cups I had bought were too flimsy to go through it so I had to cut those by hand. The deconstruction was in the cutting apart and some of the pieces were heated. Project17

I used the heat gun to twist strips of plastic, they looked like icicles which although pretty, the shape was not really relevant to the watercolour stripes. I plaited green, blue and purple strips together. I like the layering of this as each piece subtly  changes colour when viewed through another piece, just like the glass bottles. I punched holes through a wider piece of green plastic and threaded purple and blue plastic through the holes. Again the colours seem to merge and wavy lines were created, like the refraction on the glass bottles when I painted them. I then added clear plastic straws into the mix. I liked how the colours change/muted/blended together when layered up so I cut some straws into smaller pieces and threaded green plastic strips through, knotting between each straw so it stayed in place. I also added a twisted piece of clear plastic. If you view through the pieces of straw you get a sort of muted distorted look. Expansion ideas could include sourcing colours truer to the original watercolours, melting more or creating thinner strips to adjust the colour. (Photos below)Project16

I really liked the curve of the plastic as even though these pieces are based on the watercolour stripes, the bottles I used for those stripes had some nice curves. The curves of the bottle add a different tone to the colour so I wanted to experiment a bit more. I threaded blue, purple and green plastic strips through 3 opaque wide plastic straws. The plastic yarn curves in the straw, distorting, and layers the colours together. The opaqueness of the straw mutes the colour. This was my favorite sample of the plastics. It looks different from different angles and the subtle curves and waves are reminiscent of the bottles. The colour is not spot on again but it’s very difficult to find different coloured plastic bottles- especially if you are asking friends and family to keep them for you as you want to recycle whats available rather than contribute to more plastic waste. (Photos below).Project18

Finally I wanted to try organza ribbon and plastic straws together. I don’t think these samples turned out very well but I wanted to put them on my blog. I threaded ribbon through the straws and knotted it and then I threaded it through and tried heating and twisting with the heat gun. I think a lot more experimentation could be done on this idea such as wrapping and knotting the ribbon around the straw or melting more to fuse the materials together better.Project19

I then had a play with fantasy film. The colours again were not right, although a lot of them looked ok until heated, when they changed colour! Heating the fantasy film creates bubbles which wasn’t a texture or look I was aiming for. I did like the iridescent quality of the colours though.

I moved onto organza ribbon. Instead of twisting it or knotting it I decided to keep with the plastic type theme. I cut the ribbon up into pieces and distressed the edges to fray them. I then opened a laminator pouch and sprinkled the ribbon pieces all over. I then closed the pouch and put it through the laminator. This created a sheet of organza ribbon. I decided to cut it into strips, deconstructing it more and then I wove the pieces back together. The effect looks quite organic, the light shines through it and it has created a nice pattern of layering.Project22

The last thing I wanted to try was really just for fun. When I was looking at the colours in my watercolour stripe patterns they reminded me of sea glass. I thought, sea glass has already been deconstructed by the sea, giving it that smooth opaque look. I live on a Island so I have a large collection of sea glass. I found some pieces that best matched my colours and joined them together with invisible thread. I like the little sample even though it was just a fun, fleeting thought. The colours are perfect and the texture is glass! (Photo below).

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Expansion ideas- I drew some ideas in my sketchbook that I didn’t get time to make. Organza and or cheesecloth fabric, sprayed with inks, cut into strips and frayed, knotted, sewn.

Reflection: I enjoyed this exercise the most because I had lots of ideas for using different plastics and striping them down and heating them to deconstruct them. I had drawn out some ideas in my sketchbook about using fraying and distressing to deconstruct but after consideration I wanted to go a different way and concentrate on plastics. I hope I have still incorporated the brief, even though it may not be in an obvious way- cutting, twisting, melting, re-constructing and layering.  I aimed to create an translucence in the samples but still taking on board form. The stripes were fine but I wanted to try and incorporate the curve of the glass bottles, the way the colours changed when viewing one bottle in front of another and the refraction of light creating darker or lighter or muted tones on the lines of the bottles.