Monday, February 28, 2011

and the ship sails on, ballpoint pen drawings for animation.

and the ship sails on, drawing for animation, dragon stage two.
This is the next stage in the development of my ceramic installation with projected animation titled and the ship sails on. Follow the link to see the development of the concept (the idea) and the design directive to inform the animation (click on the title and or label at the end of this post entry). The forms and shapes for the modeling and the moulding of the ceramics sculptures are now completed. Now the modeling begins – transforming the 2-dimensional images into 3-dimensional objects for moulding (making the plaster of Paris moulds). 

Every stage will be documented here on this blog over the next few weeks. At the same time I will meet with the staff of the multimedia department to discuss and develop the animation that will be projected onto the ceramic installation. The ceramic decoration and or surface development, as in the previous installations, will be the animation projected from a projector attached to the ceiling above the ceramic installation. The ceramics will therefore be undecorated high-fired vitrified slip cast products. I am in the process of purchasing the Parian Casting Slip from Valentine Clays in England.
and the ship sails on, drawing for animation, dragon stage three.
The drawings posted here, are the next stage in the development of the animation. It involves a dragon that appears out of the water, and as mentioned before, is a five-clawed Heavenly dragon, the significance and meaning of which featured in a previous blog post (follow link). These drawings are a follow-on of the paper prototype constructions done in October of 2010. (follow link)
The dragon to be animated is taken from a masterfully painted rare blue and white Dragon Moon-flask (seal mark and period of Qianlong), cited in a Sotheby's auction catalogue. The moon-flask was auctioned in 2007 and fetched $ 2.8 million.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Neck piece from concept to manufacture. Hon; Jewellex 2000.

Neck piece Jewellex 2000. Form and Function in Africa.
Finalist Professional Designer category. 
This blog entry focuses on the design of my first Jewellery piece, from concept, right through the design development phase, including visual documentation of the final neck piece. The design was entered into the Jewellex competition in 2000, organized by the Jewellery council of South Africa. I was judged a finalist (one of 12); based on my entry of presentation drawings.
With the recent closure of the Ceramic Design Programme at the University of Johannesburg, I have taken up an academic lecturing position in the Jewellery Department, where I am responsible for the induction program; teaching drawing and design (2-dimensional & 3-dimensional studies) to the first years, as well as design to second and third years. This blog entry showcases the concept, design and development, including the presentation drawings of the piece.
Designing the neck piece.
Neck piece detail.
Design Process
I spent a long time refining the concept as well as the design and development of the actual piece. As the competition entries were judged on your submission of presentation drawings, it makes for a detailed and systematic record of the entire design process. What is recorded here is therefore an explication of the neck piece, the reference material, including the design idea and the concept. 
Neck piece seen from above.
The explication is divided into three stages and or phases.  Stage one is the conceptual development phase (reference material and ideas), then follows stage two - the design and development phase (to determine forms and shapes and more importantly the construction techniques and methods) and finally stage three - the presentation drawings (the final ballpoint pen drawings submitted to meet the requirements for the competition. I have always admired African artifacts, especially the styling and fine craftsmanship of the artists that constructed the pieces. I therefore made a series of drawings of various artifacts that could inform the form and shape of the individual motifs, the individual pieces that make up the neck piece - see reference material below.
Conceptual drawings
The work was selected from a few thousand entries, one of 12, to be manufactured for the final adjudication of the winner. As the prejudging was selected on the strength of the design as visualized in the presentation drawings and not the final jewellery pieces, you're drawing skills were of paramount importance. Computer software programs such as CAD and Rhino has changed all of this dramatically. Drawing however remains a tool to facilitate the development of the idea, to visualize the concept and design development of an idea into reality. I hope and trust that the entry will be of assistance to those who are in searching of a design and development methodology to realize their ideas on paper.
Design development drawings
Conceptual Development.
Coming up with a concept is the first stage of any design idea. I new I wanted to make a neck piece and that my inspiration had to be firmly rooted in our very own indigenous culture. Indigenous knowledge had to add to the meaning and significance of the pieces.
Neck piece side view.
Reference Material.
A Zulu meat platter and Zulu earplugs formed the inspiration and reference material for the development of the concept. The meat platter’s form and shape gave rise to the individual components that are literally chained together to form the neck piece. The earplugs were referenced as decorative possibilities; the patterns inserted into the bowls of the meat platters (see image below).

Zulu Meat Platter. 'Meat platters of various sizes, some of them big enough to hold large quantities of meat for communal distribution and consumption on special occasions, are still used throughout the area of present day KwaZulu-Natal. Reserved for the roasted meat of ritually slaughtered goats or oxen, their widespread use underlines the continuing importance rural Zulu-speakers ascribe to their ancestors in securing the well-being of the living' (Philips T, 1999:224).

Meat Platter (ugqoko), Zulu. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. 
Wood. 80cm  length. Private Collection.
'In my search for appropriate decoration and or surface development options, earplugs featured here made the most significant impact. Development of earplugs is related to the custom of ear piercing, still widely practiced on south-east Africa, especially among Zulu-speaking people. Historically, it was an important ceremony performed on every Zulu child before puberty. It incorporated some of the features of the circumcision and initiation ceremonies which are still practiced by many southern Nguni but which fell into disuse among the Zulu during the early 19th century' (Philips T, 1999: 219)

Pairs of earplugs (left). Zulu. South Africa. 20the century.6cm. Jonathan Lowen Collection. (cited in Africa the Art of a continent: 219)
Design development drawings
Presentation drawing of joined components.
Design development phase.
Then follows the design development phase. This is the refining of the design idea considering the manufacturing options. This also includes the final styling as well as the presentation drawings seen below. The drawings has to convince the judges and provide the manufacturer of the piece with the necessary detail to be able to realize the idea in terms of jewellery techniques and methods. The final piece should resemble the piece in the drawing as close as possible – do justice to the design in every way possible. However there are times when adjustments are made during the manufacturing phase to take the piece to a new level. However these changes should always be communicated to the designer to ensure the final piece is a reflection of the concept and in keeping with his intent.
Presentation drawing of neck piece,
seen from above.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nature by Design.

Grapes study 5 February 2011
We live in a world where green is considered the new gold. Climate change is high on the research agenda. The recent catastrophic oil spill disasters and rhino horn poaching (locally), has renewed our interests in all things natural. Preserving our cultural heritage and planet is of paramount importance. Just this evening (Wed 9 Feb 2011) I was watching Aljazeera news and my attention was brought to Latvia's Pulp Fiction - Illegal logging in Latvia and export of forest products to the UK. Follow link to read more about it.
Drawing inspiration from nature has been the design criteria for numerous design competitions, and more importantly, has often been the first learning activity for drawing at art schools all over the world. What follows is a series of drawings, and believe it or not, Photostats onto transparencies, of my ballpoint pen drawings of a pea-pod. This was necessary before the days of computers, Photoshop etc. to reverse designs in the development of patterns. The peapod was to form the inspiration for a boarder tile for my kitchen during the late eighties. Hence the quality of images, especially those showing pattern design and development.
Pea-pod patterns one
Pea-pod patterns two
Chosen design.
Slip cast border tile
The Insect World

I have been collecting old engraving books on nature, the illustrations being the most inspirational you can ever hope to find (image above). Every detail is recorded and the quality has fascinated me for years. However recently published books such as Nature Design has brought the entire history, science and design and development into far greater perspective. Contemporary designers go far beyond the obvious (styling etc.), to embrace every aspect of nature in their design development thinking.

Beetle - Insect World (see book above)
John Ruskin, Stones of Venice cited in Nature Design.
Nature has been a constant source of inspiration in the design of the human environment, but one cannot help notice that the relationship between nature and the various design disciplines has in recent years intensified. The ‘model of nature,’ with its forms and structures, and organizing principals, does not only inspire the widest range of concepts and design processes, but also can be expressed in a broad spectrum of forms and functions. Nature Design refers to this phenomenon and presents an international selection of objects and projects from the fields of design, architecture, landscape architecture, art, photography, and scientific research, works that simply do not depict or imitate nature but use it as a starting point and reservoir of inspiration for eclectic and innovative responses to the relationship between man and his environment’. (Introduction to the book entitled Nature Design. Angeli Sachs)
Mushroom study Hon. May 1995.
Discovering Nature
'Research expeditions - such as those to the Americas - served as the foundation for the discovery of nature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The knowledge gained through empirical research was integrated into cataloguing and systematization of nature, or was expressed in models such as Charles Darwin’s evolutionary tree of life' (Angeli Sachs: 2010).
Blue butterflies; Polyommatus see quote below.
Not the same species identified by Nabakov.
follow link to the story. 

Drawing is a tool, it encourages careful observation to render naturalistically and realistically, but eventually it incorporates styling and conceptual and creative thinking as an artist, craftsperson and or designer. One of the faithful followers of this blog, Jim Gottuso, had this to say about drawing as an observation tool.
I've been gradually coming to the conclusion that the value of drawing as it relates to mental development, understanding of the world around us and even its ability to alter our brains in respect to actually seeing, really seeing, is vastly overlooked in our modern cultures. It's clear to me that it is an indispensable activity in how you come to truly understand something, by observation, and I admire you for it. Recently, there was a scientific article published that, using DNA and all the modern scientific tools at the studier's disposal, confirmed a theory put forth by Vladimir Nabakov nearly a century earlier. Apparently, Nabakov, an avid butterfly studier (his true passion) spent years looking at butterflies under a microscope (the genitalia specifically) and theorized in publications that they had migrated in 5 great waves intercontinentally. Anyway, the upshot was that the new study using DNA and whatnot confirmed that he had it 100% correct and his was based entirely on observation. It begs the question, what can he see (and drawers and painters) that most of us cannot? (see full comment below)