I titled my Final Major Project, studying at West Cheshire College ‘Heirlooms and Colour’. For this project I was able to create entirely my own brief, which was very exciting as it was the first time I could finally explore areas of my own interests, as opposed to looking at, say, mechanical forms or modular structures.
I wanted to look at antiques and how they can be rennovated. This was the year people stopped mocking my ‘granny bags’ and joined the Cath Kidston hype. People refer to Cath Kidston as a vintage range of products, bags, clothes etc – which is understandable, but when you look at them a little closer and do some research the contemporary twist in her designs become far more obvious. The main thing I observed was the use of bright, bubblegum pastel colours – something that would not have been used all those years ago. I personally love the use of vibrant colours and pattern and am very rarely drawn to anything plain. This gave me the rough idea of wanting a final outcome of something old looking, with unexpected splashes of colour.
I ended up looking at bird cages – purely because I’ve always liked them, just aesthetically as an object. Obviously, a lot of sketches and research and samples went into this before I eventually came up with a bird cage design. I wanted my final piece to have a function rather than being simply something to look at, which resulted in me modifying the bird cage and changing the design to a light shade. I didn’t want it to look like a birdcage with a light bulb placed inside as I felt this would look out of place and a little unusual, but I feel the bird cage influence is apparent in my final design.
I constructed my final design with three different types of wire; cable wire, silver wire and this really tiny thin red wire that I had left over from a project I completed in my first year of college. I quite literally made shapes out of the cable wire and joined them together with the silver, and it eventually built up to the shape I wanted it. Of course this was ridiculously time consuming and I’ll admit health and safety wasn’t hugely prioritised – I was lucky to have skin on my hands by the end of it. Fortunately I got used to the sting of wire cuts and powered through, made flowers out of aluminium, bashed them and making the edges..wobbly? which made them look delicate and less sheet-like. I then drilled holes in them, attached them to the cable wire frame and spray painted the final piece an antique white.
I am furious with myself for not getting more proper photos to add to my portfolio, but as it was not required for the project and time management is always an issue with me I have only photos of development to show. My final piece was damaged during the time I moved house so other than the deformed remains of my wire creation, these photos are all I have to show for my work. I painted the flowers two different shades of blue, although I’ll admit I hesitated before doing this as I quite liked its simplicity white, but it would have completely missed the point of my project to do so. When functioning as a light it projected a swirly detail shadow which was a lovely effect.
For this project I won the Randolph Caldecott Society Award and Design Student of the Year award at West Cheshire College.