I bought some cotton bags from Hobbycraft for £1 each so that I could try printing on them at home with my Plymouth Pilgrims linocut which I made at my NatSatClub. I washed the bags and they shrunk quite a bit, and I couldn’t get them completely flat with the iron but I like the slightly crumbly texture they have. The other equipment I used was:
Blue Essdee Block-printing ink which I bought from Cass Art (Bristol)
A stainless steel serving spoon to use as a baren
A thick slab of glass to roll the ink on
The four inch roller from the Essdee Cutting and Printing kit bought from the The Art Side (Plymouth)
Attempt #1 – I used cardboard inside the bag in case the ink bled through and the usual amount of ink I would use for printing on paper. The print is visible but looks pale or faded. There was no ink on the inside of the bag. I thought that I needed to apply more ink next time and wondered if the cardboard had cushioned the fabric so that the pressure from the spoon wasn’t enough to transfer the print.
Attempt #2 – I removed the cardboard so there was nothing inside the bag and used a thicker layer of ink. The ink did bleed slightly on the inside of the bag but it was quite a patchy print. I decided I needed a thin protective layer inside the bag and to apply more pressure to the spoon.
Attempt #3 – I used a thin piece of paper inside the bag to protect it from ink bleeding and a thick layer of ink. I put greater pressure on the spoon in all areas. The paper took any ink that bled through but the print was still a little patchy. The print wasn’t aligned properly on this bag but it was my best attempt so far.
Attempt #4 – A thick layer of ink, a lot of pressure with the spoon, and a layer of paper inside the bag. I aligned the bag carefully and went over the print area thoroughly and with a lot of effort with the back of my spoon. This print looked really good although I did lose definition in some areas because of how thick the ink layer was on the lino.
I enjoyed this experiment and I’m going to make some more block-printed bags soon. I need to find a better way to apply more consistent pressure with the equipment I have at home because the spoon works well with paper and card but doesn’t work as well with the fabric. I really like my design and I’m glad it looks good on bags. I don’t know if the ink will stay on the bags in wet weather or if it will wash so I’m going to test one of these bags after they’ve had time to dry properly and look at different types of ink.
On the weekend of 30th September to 2nd October KitiJenGames (the games development team consisting of me and my brother) participated in the Games for Better 48 hour game jam. The game jam was organized by Jack from SoGoodStudios and Oli from Sizeable Games because they believe that games can be a good tool for educating people about issues in the world. The game jam theme was Antibiotic Resistance.
On the Friday evening before the jam we went to Plymouth University’s Babbage Building to listen to talks from experts. The first speaker was Dr Victoria Hurth (Twitter) who is an Associate Professor in Marketing and an expert in sustainability. She talked about sustainable consumption and explained how animals are being bred (for food) in poor environments and they are given antibiotics to keep them healthy. Because of this more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics leading to the creation of ‘superbugs’. The second speaker was Dr Mathew Upton who is an Associate Professor in Medical Microbiology and he said that “Resistance Is Inevitable” when we use antibiotics and explained about bacterial conjugation. The third speaker was Dr Richard Ayres (Twitter) who is the Lead of Population Health at Peninsula Medical School and a practicing GP. He explained that sometimes doctors don’t get a lot of time to assess their patients and this can lead to prescription of antibiotics when they are unnecessary. The talks were really interesting and I didn’t know a lot about antibiotic resistance before them so I learned a lot.
As soon as the talks finished the game jam started. It was late on a Friday night so me and my brother J went home and talked about game ideas. We decided to make a game where you play as an antibiotic and you have to defend the white blood cells from bacteria. As you play, some bacteria would become resistant and you would have to power up with extra different coloured antibiotics, causing the bacteria to then become even stronger! The game would be impossible to win and the goal would be to get the highest score possible. We worked as a team to make a plan on paper and we decided that J would be in charge of doing the coding using Unity and I would be in charge of all the art. J didn’t know much about using Unity yet but he thought this would be a good chance to learn more. I decided to go with a cute pixel art look and that I would use Manga Studio 5 to make my files.
On Saturday morning J went to his Code Club (Twitter) and I went to my Art Club so we couldn’t get started on our game until the afternoon. The list of things I needed to design was the bacteria, the power-up, the white blood cells, the antibiotic, the background and the border. I began working on the main character designs, sketching on paper. My antibiotic character was a blue pill with a smiley face that would have a little rocking animation. My first attempt at a bacteria character looked too much like a little sun (very jolly!) so I redesigned to make it a bit more evil, and came up with a ball with angular spikes and a mean face, which would wiggle as it moved. My white blood cell characters were dopey-looking spheres,and in our game they wouldn’t defend themselves but would just hang around until they were killed by bacteria.
J asked if I could provide my designs as a sprite sheet. I learnt how to make one from a tutorial and then drew the different sprites for their animations using my Wacom Bamboo tablet and Manga Studio. After I sent a sprite sheet of the antibiotic over we needed a background. We used a basic plain one at first but it was difficult to tell if the character was moving around, so I made another background with rectangles of different sizes and similar colours, and for the border I used the same pattern but with darker colours. It was a simple design (supposed to represent the inside of a body) but I really like how it turned out. I created the sprite sheets for the other characters and sent them over to J’s computer for him to add in to the game, and I designed some ‘cover art’ to put on our itch.io page (and at the top of this post).
We had to haul our computers to the Babbage building on campus on Saturday night because J was struggling with making the animation work, and Jack helped us out with that and him and Oli gave us some tips. We arrived just in time to share the free pizza which we ate while listening to video game music and chatting. My mum had to start helping J with his side of the gamemaking and they spent a lot of time searching online for tutorials and help, but I think he learned a lot about Unity during this project. We had to give up the idea of power ups and new levels because we ran out of time, and there are a few bugs with the scores, but overall I think our game is fun and cute.
Jupiter Hadley played all the Games for Better games (including ours) for her YouTube channel Jupi Plays (support Jupiter on Patreon) and the judges sent us some feedback to help us improve our gamemaking in the future. J has signed up to a Unity course to learn more for our next project. I have signed up to a course on Pixel Art so that I can improve my skills and make more detailed sprites. Our courses are both on Udemy and if you look around online you can find big discounts on them. I am also researching game cover art because I would like to improve my cover art illustrations.
I really enjoyed this game jam and I’m looking forward to the next one, and though 48 hour game jams are really hard work they are well worth it because you have to push yourself and so you can learn and improve your skills a lot in a short amount of time. Follow the link for my post about our first game jam.
This morning I went to my second week of NA&DSC and we went on a trip to see the exhibitions at the Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University.
First we visited the Masters 2016 room and it was full of intriguing work. The highlights for me as a young artist interested in illustration were Chrissy Vale’s colourful comic characters which have a clean and simple style and Ashley Turner’s Onnen Design prints of animals and plants in pen, pencil, watercolour and gouache. I also liked Tim Gundry’s drone photography photos, which give an unusual view on ordinary buildings so that they look like they came out of a videogame.
Before we went to Plymouth University, we stopped by PCA’s This Is Now exhibition which had retro TVs showing videos from the 1980’s. Some of them were catchymusicvideos which I really enjoyed.
Our group then headed to the University’s Peninsula Gallery which had an exhibit called Searching for Genius by Douglas Gordon. Most of the art was quite creepy, especially the photographs of people with the eyes and mouths burnt away. Upstairs there was another exhibit called Edge of Collapse which featured art by Clare Thornton, Victoria Walters (her page was unfortunately offline when I checked) and Jamie House, who was my film tutor for my art group last year. Victoria was there when we visited so she talked to us about the different pieces and explained how her sculpture was inspired by ground swells in the ocean. Clare’s work only used only a few different colours in clay and leather but they looked beautiful. My favourite piece of hers was made using jelly moulds! Jamie’s piece was made using an electrical drawing machine, and the result was a unique pattern scorched into paper.
We went back to the pre-degree centre where I met up with my mum and the two of us headed straight back out to more Weekender events, which I will cover in my next post as I have seen so much today I can’t fit it all in here!
From 2015-2016 I was a member of the Saturday Young Arts Club at the Plymouth College of Art. The course was 25 weeks long, split into five chunks with a different subject each time. My student ambassador was metalsmith Luke Axworthy who has a studio at Flameworks.
The first section was Fashion with Sharon Morgan, fashion tutor and milliner (twitter). The students made patterned fabric using screen printing ink freehand on cotton, and I chose to do a zig zag design. I used a sewing machine to create a pencil case and a phone case with my colourful fabric.
Sharon also asked us to come up with fashion label ideas. I used KitBIT because at the time it was my username for videogames. I took it further by actually designing items for the label in my sketchbook.
The designs I created were videogame influenced because I enjoy gaming but I can rarely find clothing and accessories to express that.
The next section was Animation with Jamie House. We watched the shorts Dots by Norman McLaren and Black Dotsby Luana Veloso. We used DSLR cameras on tripods to take photos of our own drawings as we added to them. Our next project was to draw shapes and objects then cut them out and make an animation by rearranging them on a background. I chose to use coloured dots and I made them interact and glide around. Then we moved on to working in teams, and I worked with a few of the other students who I had made friends with. We made an animation using the same technique as our last project, but instead of on a paper background we were allowed to animate with blue tack on a wall. In our animation we had Homer Simpson open his mouth and eat doughnuts flying towards him. He then closed his mouth again and because he ate so many he blew up! Part of our project was to use a person, so we talked about which one of our group would wipe the doughnut remains off the wall, pull a disgusted face and walk away (I was nominated..) After we finished animating we used iMovie to add music.
Finally, for our last project all of my team starred in the animation. It was about a girl who travelled through time using a ‘Chairlorean’ (Flux Capacitor included) and had to run away from freaky future people. She manages to get back to the Chairlorean and ended up getting stuck in the past. For the futuristic people we just wore our clothes oddly and to show the time travelling girl was in the past I drew an old newspaper as a prop. Again, we edited on titles and music after. I’m not sure where my films from this part of the course are unfortunately but if I find them I will try and upload them.
The third section of the course was Experimental Drawing, Printmaking and Sculpture with Janine Rook. This section was very interesting because I tried out some new techniques for the first time and really enjoyed them. We drew on pieces of different kinds of paper and stuck them onto a large sheet of thick paper in a collage, made sculptures by twisting long wires, and created odd and slightly creepy sculptures by taking three plaster moulds of parts of our hands then sticking them together with more plaster, using glue and paper to decorate them.
I was a member of Plymouth College of Art Young Arts Club 2015-16. One project we did was to design a t-shirt for a competition run by the National Aquarium. The workshop was led by graphic designer Terry Maughan (early 2015).
Seahorse in seagrass design
The fourth section of the course was Graphic Design with Terry Maughan. We entered a competition to come up with t-shirt designs for The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. The winning designs would be printed and put on sale to raise money for the Community Seagrass Initiative (CSI) which helps preserve seagrass which is the seahorses habitat. We were advised to research surf fashion and tattoos because they have a popular and contemporary style. I did that and I also researched seahorses and seagrass.
Finally, for the last section of the Saturday Arts Club course, we did fashion again with Sharon Morgan and this time we made hats. We started by soaking bamboo millinery net in water then moulding it into the shape we wanted on a hatblock. We had to pin the corners down, and I used glue to bond three layers of net together for strength, then left it to set. Next I trimmed the sides to create a semi-spherical shape then stitched on a piece of elastic to hold the hat on a head. I cut out pieces of fabric and layered them to make a flower and sewed them to the hat with beads in the centre. I arranged a piece of floral lace around the hat edge and glued it on and added a feather. I used black net and chose different patterned fabrics in shades that matched with the feather.
Our hats were displayed at the Graduate Show at the College in the Young Arts Club room. It was the first time I had my work displayed at an exhibition and it felt amazing. I visited the room twice on different days and I was impressed by all the other young people’s work. There were some great mural designs on large sheets of paper and I also really liked a section of printed tote bags. We were all given a Certificate for having attended for the year.
Over the summer I thought a lot about the course and I wanted to join in again this year 2016-2017. I found out about a scheme called the National Art and Design Saturday Club with only twenty places locally for 14-16 year olds who “demonstrate commitment and passion for art and design”. I applied and I had to have a reference and fill in a personal statement, which I had never done before and so I was very nervous about it.
I am really pleased to say that I got a place in NA&DSC and I had my first session last week! First we looked around the new Pre-degree center of the Plymouth College of Art, then we met our tutor and drew self-portraits from pictures and mirrors. I used a mirror because I felt it was more challenging for me. I have tried to draw realistic self-portraits in the past but didn’t really like doing it, but this time it was more enjoyable because I had more support and I was working in a room with other artists. I am really looking forward to next week’s session!