Drape Experiment; Wrapping
Indian Wrap Dressing, Process & Textural Analysis
Through research I discovered that dependant on which area one heralds from in India there is a specific style of wrap cloth around the body. I decided to incorporate these styles into my design drawings after having noticed that for my denim drapes around my structures I intuitively used wrapping. Now I can carry on with intention and more of a deliberate focus through research. I intend to incorporate this into my outcome, I believe that the most visually striking drapes I have attempted involved a wrapping technique.
Wellcome Collection, 'Traditional Indian Wrap Dressing' (1960's).
Denim's Dark History: The Native Indian Wars, Cowboys Wearing Denim While Killing Native Americans
Native America; Historical Analysis
Given the dark history of denim specifically with regards to the Native Indian Wars in North America in the early 18th century, and cowboys wearing denim while doing the killings, I considered exploring this for my project before deciding to pursue Indian history as I found this modern Khadi denim which was made in India and I was compelled to use it given its tactile qualities and elasticity which is unusual for a denim which is made from 100% cotton.
Wellcome Collection, 'Native America' (1876-88).
Spinning Wheel; Process Analysis
I like the movement that the wheel could add to my design process. I find a lot of the work I am seeing in foundation is very static, movement excites me especially with regards to using fabric to produce the illusion of movement even if the body is still. I was considering building a wheel that spins on the body, this idea fell through once I realised that making the wheel could take up to two days, I was running out of time for this project and so I decided to pursue the wrapping and try to resolve this.
Leadbeater, Eliza 'Spinning and spinning wheels' Princes Risborough : Shire, (1979).
Margaret Bourke-White 'Mahatma Ghandi Spinning Cotton on a Charkha Wheel' (1964).
Drape Experiments using Frame
Wellcome Collection, 'Charkha Wheel Spinning' (1960's).
Denim: Conceptual & Historical Analysis
The first blue jeans date back to May 20, 1873, when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted patent #139,121 to Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis for the process of placing rivets on men’s denim work pants for strength.
"Between 1875–1900—a period that included the worst famines in Indian history—annual grain exports increased from 3 to 10 million tons", equivalent to the annual nutrition of 25m people. "Indeed, by the turn of the century, India was supplying nearly a fifth of Britain’s wheat consumption at the cost of its own food security."
As an example of the effects of both this and of the restructuring of the local economy to suit imperial needs (in Victorian Berar, the acreage of cotton doubled 1875–1900), Davis notes that "During the famine of 1899–1900, when 143,000 Beraris died directly from starvation, the province exported not only thousands of bales of cotton but an incredible 747,000 bushels of grain
Famine had been a recurrent feature of life the Indian sub-continental countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, most notoriously during British rule. Famines in India resulted in more than 60 million deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.
The 1883 Indian Famine Codes, transportation improvements and changes following independence have been identified as furthering famine relief. In India, traditionally, agricultural labourers and rural artisans have been the primary victims of famines.
Colonial policies implicated include rack-renting, levies for war, free trade policies, the expansion of export agriculture, and neglect of agricultural investment. Indian exports of opium, rice, wheat, indigo, jute, and cotton were a key component of the economy of the British empire, generating vital foreign currency, primarily from China, and stabilising low prices in the British grain market
For example, two of the worst famine-afflicted areas in the Madras Presidency, the districts of Ganjam and Vizagapatam, continued to export grains throughout the famine. These famines were typically followed by various infectious diseases such as bubonic plague and influenza, which attacked and killed a population already weakened by starvation.
My project is about the social and political context during the year 1873, the year denim was invented - I ask, what was going on during this time? What was life like?
The genocide of indigenous peoples is the mass destruction of entire communities of indigenous peoples.[Note 1] Indigenous peoples are understood to be people whose historical and current territory has become occupied by colonial expansion, or the formation of a state by a dominant group such as a colonial power.
Hand Fraying Denim For Several Hours
Experimenting with Macrame Technique on Denim
At The Cloth House
At The Cloth House
Drape Experiment; Wrapping
'Bubonic Plague' Drape Experiment Analysis
These drapes failed unfortunately. The macrame denim which I overdyed in turmeric ended up being far too bulky to use for any sort of garment, they also stank so I had to think of a better solution. I was trying to recreate my 'bubonic plague' sculpture but in a beautiful way, this was difficult to actualise given that my sculpture was made combining two natural dyes from turmeric and bay leaves and then finally drenching the knotted fabrics in liquid latex. The result was a visceral, scary object which was exactly my aim given that I was trying to communicate the bubonic plague. However on scaling this operation up and trying to recreate this it was very challenging to get the knotted pieces to stay in position as they were so thick. My idea was to paint the latex onto the knotted pieces on the mannequin so that they would assume the mood or shape of the body. Instead I now begin to explore using flatter latex and I make samples pleating the latex in response to the research imagery. I think this was more considered, and through draping I was able to respond to the image of the flea in a more sophisticated way rather than the result becoming a flea on the body I am now analysing the shapes of the flea and using gathers to translate this into a 3D form.
Wellcome Collection, 'Flea Carries the Bubonic Plague' (1873).
Wellcome Collection, 'Smallpox' (1870's).
Research Trip to Cloth House, Soho; Sourcing Denim
I went to cloth house in soho spoke to the men working in the store talked about their denims ranging from italian rigid heavy weights, japanese selvedge to Indian hand-woven khadi.
I had never noticed the beauty of khadi, the minor imperfections in the cloth, the rich history behind the movement that was propoagated by Mahatma Gandhi. This was all information I gathered through speaking to the men, I am very happy that I went and asked questions as it brings this project already some much needed depth as opposed to getting stuck on denim as a cloth it brings to the fore the sociopolitical elements that have surrounded it.
Ghandi propagated the khadi philosophy which ospised the principles of self-reliance, freedom fron foreign goods,
Not just as a fabric but a way of life - an antidote
Crucial element in india's economy