Critical Making-Part 1

I’ve been working on my Critical Making Project for a few weeks with Tracy Smith from Interior and Environmental Design. We decided to work in a pair for this project and it has been going very well.

I spent some time  considering how I could  improve my daily life using new technologies in some way.  I decided to concentrate how I could improve feelings of stress, anxiety and problems sleeping. To do this I wanted to look at how aromatherapy could help in some way. I was also interested in re-evaluating the traditional craft of knitting and wanted to incorporate it into the idea.  I knew Tracy from the group project and when I approached her about this she was happy for us to work together.

I researched aromatherapy and ways in which the beneficial essential oils could be utilised. People have been using natural plant oils for thousands of years for healing, cleansing, preservative and mood enhancing qualities. Pure essential oil is the vital element in aromatherapy. their small molecular structure enablers them to penetrate the skin easily. they are also inhaled via the sensitive cells in the nose and these send messages to the brain and affect our emotions by working on our Limbic System. Essential oils can enhance both our physical and psychological wellbeing.

Each oil has a different chemical make up giving each one its own beneficial quality.

“Aromatherapy is a technique that uses the body’s sense of smell to help boost your mood, relieve stress, energize and encourage better health.”

I started to research how aromas were used historically and found a range of interested designs for “Nose Gays” and “Tussie Mussies”.  The Nosegay was the name for flowers worn in a lapel to keep unpleasant odors at bay! the Tussie Mussie was a key accessory for men and women – a small bunch of flowers and herbs each one carrying a meaning.

Silver Tussie Mussie

More modern designs for scent:

Perfume Necklace

Perfume Diffuser

Scented beads

Moh Doh chromatic dough infused with essential oils.

I discovered some lovely scented embroidery threads from DMC

and some scented wool which was lovely to work with however I’m not sure how long the scent would  last for and apart from smelling nice I wondered if there would be any actual essential oils provided therapeutic benefits?

All this research got me thinking how I could incorporate knitting into  a design idea so I began to experiment with materials and technologies.

First of all I tried out the Sublimation printing onto knitwear. I used a piece of felted Angora and a piece of untreated Angora.  To use the sublimation printing process I prepared the knitwear by spraying with Digi Coat and baking in the oven! This primes the surface enabling “the ink to be printed onto the knitwear using the heat press to give a clear image.

I tried out knitting a QR code –

It looks good but unfortunately it doesn’t scan!

Tracy and I tried out laser cutting lots of knitting samples, some working better than others. The smell left on the samples after laser cutting was particularly unpleasant so we quickly moved on from that. I began to knit more with wire and combine wire and yarn using different patterns and techniques. I found that using a knitting dolly to create a narrow tube worked well and started to imagine how this could be used to incorporate aroma in some way in a jewellery design.

Meanwhile Tracy and I had also been considering how we could bring interiors into our project. We had thinking about using aroma in the home but the question was how we could combine the wearable, the home together and technology. We began to research home infuser and how these operated and through this and also by meeting with our tutor we decided to design a container or “docking station” for the jewellery. So when the aroma jewellery was removed it would be placed in the container where the scent would continue to emitted into the home.

We had lots to work to do: how would the container work? what would it be made from? what would the jewellery look like? But by continuing to discuss our ideas, try them out and research other existing designs and materials, things started to take shape.

We started to work in the ceramics workshop. We felt that a ceramic container would be something that could hold jewellery and look good. We had a lot to learn! Using the clay or White Earthenware as I know it was not as easy as it first seemed. The ceramic technician, Shaun was and is particulary helpful and with his guidance Tracy and I have made a range of ceramic pieces using various methods.

Through working in the ceramic workshop I started to play around with the clay and make some beads. These are now to become part of the aroma jewellery design but there is still lots of work to be done before this is completed.

I’ll keep you posted of more developments of this project very soon.

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