Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The SS Great Big Blue

Phew, I've finally managed to get my act together and take those photos I've been meaning to. So here you go, an expanded version of the book project (otherwise known as the "narrative and sequence" module).

Book-ship? Ship-book? How does that work? Well, right at the start of the module our tutor, who is a bookmaker by trade, brought us lots of artists books to look at. A lot of them didn't look like 'books' in the traditional sense. The concept of 'book' that we were asked to explore was a collection of' 'spaces' (pages; in my case the sails), within a 'context' (the cover; in my case the ship). So you see now how my book-ship-book works ...

I was going to do something based on wood and bark, but that didn't really come together. Then, hugely influenced by Ann Wood's ships, I decided to go down that road. I took her basic premise, and made it my own.

Some details - this is what the ship looks like 'naked':

I used hooks-loops to make the sails easily attachable, detachable and swappable.

I made up three sets of sails, each giving a very different feeling to the book. Each set of sails also had its own main flag (very proud of my paper mache crow's nest!) ...

... and own set of little bunting flags on a string. I wrapped the string round the top hooks to keep all the masts and the ship under tension.

The first set of sails is based on the a children's nursery rhyme to help them learn to count.

The lyrics are done by machine embroidery and read:
When I was one, I had just begun, the day I went to sea
I climbed aboard a pirate ship, and the captain said to me
We're going this way, that way, forwards, backwards,
Over the deep blue sea
A bottle of rum to warm my tum
thats the life for me!

The flags on this set of sails had numbers on as the verses then repeat with "When I was two" etc, with the child doing something rhyming with that number.

Next was a set of sails of an Irish sea shanty called "Haul Away Joe" (for which I must thank this man for bringing it to my attention!). Colours and fabrics obviously a bit more adult.

The lyrics (of which there are many verses) are quite funny - but I had to select a few choice ones to include on my sails. The original idea had been to stick on some fabric laser cut letters, but that plan failed badly, and so I ended up with plan B of the lyrics printed onto sticky-backed acetate. I'm not entirely happy with how this looks so if any of you have any ideas, give me a shout ... I'm still up for tweaking this.

Last but not least, SS Midnight Blue, which is based on the shipping forecast, that those of you who stay up late at night and listen to BBC radio 4 will instantly recognise.

It was Sunshine's brilliant idea actually, and the tutors loved it ... can you not just hear the sweet tunes of 'Sailing By' in the background? I had to do some funky CAD-based machine embroidery with this one.

The flags were of the shipping region names.

And the sails all had some of those really strange forecasts in their strange formats.

So there you have it... Lots more photos including work-in-progress ones, are in the flickr set for it.

At the presentation I had the SS Midnight Blue rigged up. Once I'd explained my book concept I asked for some audience participation - would they prefer the nursery rhyme, or the sea shanty? Unanimous vote for the sea shanty. So while I changed the sails, I taught everyone the chorus of "We'll haul away, we'll haul away Joe". Then I read my book to them (ie sang the verses) while the whole class (tutors included) sang the choruses ... it was WONDERFUL! Just after I finished, the fire alarm went off, and as we all walked down the stairs and out of the building, I could still here a bunch of my class mates singing away ;)


Lindsay said...

It's wonderful to see all your details and engineering. The sails are expecially clever. Sounds like you had fun at your crit!!! Great project and a wonderful book.

Dilkey said...

This is incredible Myth.If the last post of the boat is a river,this one is the seven seas!!I'm so so proud of you!!!

Claudine said...

Wow, what a lot of work; and expertly crafted I might add. Great job. You asked for brainstorms about your second set of sails, and I wanted to ask; are you printing on paper or fabric?

Carole said...

Fabulous work here, Mithi!

littlemithi said...

Thank you all ... Claudine, its all made of fabric (hence the embroidery on the other two). I can think of all sorts to do with paper - its fabric that I'm not too familiar with. You can see in the photos how shiny the acetate stickers look - doesn't go with the fabric at all; hence wanting to try some other thing.

Syar said...

These are incredibly beautiful. And I love that they're literary too! I love the look of the last one (all those dark blues, how can one not think of the sea) but I also love the children's rhymes.

Great work!

Unknown said...

Brilliant idea, like the overall form of it as well, nice shapes. Looks like you study Illustration at Bristol, I start there in September, can't wait.

Emma said...

This is amazing! There is so much work in it. Sounds like you had fun showing it to your fellow students.

Captain Skulduggery Dug said...

That's stupendous! I'm really loving it. You are one very talented lady!

suzanne cabrera said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much your work inspires me Mithi. The time and dedication you devote to your craft is certainly not lost on me. You must be a machine!

no way said...

Not only is your ship so cool-the nursery rhyme is one we sing in the music class I take my kids to! Only I never knew the part about rum....I guess we must sing the sanitized version!

The amount of work you must have put into this is incredible. Such great detail and thought! I love a well-crafted class project...way to go!

Alison said...

Fantastic work - great idea to have changes in sails - so many story possibilities there. I've just done a short book arts workshop - see on my blog - and thank you for your comments on my pot studies.

MD said...

Absolutely FANTASTIC! Your ship is beautiful and I would so love to see it in Real Life.
How did you make the hull? I am so impressed.