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Setting out on textiles journey: Foundations textiles

I like making things with fabric, that’s why I decided to take Foundations Textiles course at OCA. Before, however, my process was just following tutorials which led to specific outcomes. Now, through developing material samples in Part Three in the course, I have grown a very different sense. I did not know what the outcomes would be like. So I explored. Then something unknown to myself took its shape. It was myself who created it! It was surprising and exiting to find such a possibility in me. Here I share the conceptual development and physical exploration by introducing one of my samples.

Introduction of the sample

The aim of this part of the course was to explore material properties as sample ideas, taking inspiration from secondary imagery and with reference to contemporary practitioners. The sample I introduce here (Fig.1,2 and 3) is in a series of “fragile & transparent”.

Fig.1 One of the samples in a series of “fragile & transparent”
Fig.2 The sample under direct sunlight
Fig.3 Viewers can take off the sample and feel the texture.

Material and technique: It is made of thin, half transparent paper, which is a little sturdier than toilet paper. I marked numerous holes by burning spots with incense sticks. After making marks, I crushed it in my hand and then opened it. 

Visual quality: The burned edge of each hole is slightly brownish, so as a whole it does not look pure white. It has tiny holes and wrinkles all over, which creates subtle contrast of light and shade on the surface.

Physical quality: It does not feel like paper but like soft fabric such as cotton gauze used and washed several times. It feels airy and light. 

Scale: 16×20cm. The original material was 20×24 cm which shrank after being crushed.

Feeling: It reminds me of multiple things, something natural and shimmering, such as stars, splash and water surface. The process of mark making with incense stick was like meditating. I was in a flow, calmly concentrated, when I was making numerous tiny marks.

*All other samples can be found in my learning blog. 

Conceptual development and physical exploration

There was cross over of artist research as well as materiality discovered in everyday objects, which allowed me to develop my own creative voice.

On one hand, I tried to develop samples in a theme of “stacked & layered”, inspired by works of a fashion designer Tomo Koizumi. Researching his works led to a crossover with everyday objects such as religious ornaments on the roadside (Fig.4). On the other hand, I happened to find a method to burn the material with incense sticks, when I was developing another theme “concertina-ed and ridged”. The marks with incense sticks reminded me of Sandra Cinto’s exhibition and workshop that I had visited. Eventually I decided to develop “fragile & transparent” samples based on the imagery of her works by making marks with incense sticks. Besides, using incense stick led me to a further experiment such as roasting fabric in a pan (Fig.5), which could develop into another project in the future. Furthermore, the perception of time experienced in the slow and calm process with incense sticks led me to join an online workshop led by Richard McVetis.

Fig.4 Religious ornaments on the roadside
Fig.5 Material test: roasted fabric

*More details of the process can be found in my learning blog. 


Considering presentation showed me a new way to see my own work. While I was looking for good lighting to take photos, I found a great effect of direct sunlight. The sample overlapped with its own shadow projected on the background (Fig.2). Besides, it swung when there came subtle wind, as it was simply hung from metal bars, which were originally parts of a document file, so that viewers could take them off to feel the texture in their hands (Fig.3). 

The small sample was in fact for me a great step. What I learned here was not a specific technique but the process to research, not only in media but also in daily life, and to experiment material manipulation, then to combine these to create something conceptual, visible and tangible. Besides, some findings in the process led me to unrestricted exploration out of the course guide. I feel I have set out on my textiles journey. I do not know where it leads, and that’s why I take it!

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Posted by author: Junko Asakura
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13 thoughts on “Setting out on textiles journey: Foundations textiles

  • Really like this, love to hear how you’ve felt yourself developing through this process. I’m just at the start of the foundation course and know what you mean about tutorials, hoping I get to the same point as you 🙂

    • Hi Louise,
      At the beginning, I felt as if lost, as the course guide was always like ” it’s up to you” . I feel the same now, whenever I start a new part. Probably I’ll feel the same for ever, as long as I try to create something.

      • Yes, it’s quite daunting isn’t it, the responsibility of coming up with an idea and making it work, hoping you’ll be pleased with it… I agree, I think I’ll always feel like that too, we just have to keep diving in…!

  • Beautiful work. I hope we will see more of you at the textiles pathway. You seem to have made a fabulous start of it. Thank you for sharing your work./ Inger

    • I hope to join you at the degree course in a while, Inger. I have come to the last part of the Foundations. I can’t wait for that, but to be honest, I’m also a bit worried. Even Foundation level has given me a lot of challenge…

  • Lovely work and it’s really good to hear a fellow student’s thoughts on processes and learning. I love that moment, that you describe in your intro, when you are surprised by something you made, even though you made it yourself!

    • Probably you also have experienced such a surprise, July? To be honest, in the process I found a lot of disappointment,as much as , or more than, the surprise…

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