Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Dissertation Summaries

For my dissertation I have decided to look into crystals and gemstones, the powers they posess and how they may be used in alternative practises such as crystal healing. I want to learn about the history of lucky charms and amulets and how they were used in ancient cultures for protective, luck and healing purposes. I am interested in the relationship society today has with charm jewellery and if people carry a 'lucky charm' even if they claim not to be superstitious. I also want to look into the scientific side of the argument that there is no evidential proof these alternative therapies actually work. And if they don't work then why are they becoming increasingly popular?

One book of particular interest to my research is Bodyguards: Protective amulets and charms written by Desmond Morris. The main theme of this book concentrates on different types of protective amulets - from the ancient myths associated with minerals and healing properties of crystals to religious crosses and symbols. He addresses various points and questions including the ways in which each particular charm has been used over thousands of centuries and the powers associated with them. Morris then continues to explain their importance in today’s society. He reinforces his points with anecdotes and legendary or biblical stories. He was particularly interested in making films and recording human behaviours and many of the amulets presented in this book he accumulated whilst travelling the world, learning about the history of different cultures and superstitions. He also uses secondary resources to back up various mythical stories about these bodyguards. Many of his sources date as far back as 1867 which was valuable in discovering the importance of and ways in which these sacred charms were used back then. He also argues that ancient jewellery was always worn for spiritual or protective purposes and as craftsmen have become more experienced, jewellery has evolved into beautiful ‘works of art’. Jewellery then became ‘symbols of high status.‘ worn only by those who were considered important. However, Morris has concluded that the ‘New Age Movement’ has recently rediscovered crystals. He states "The younger generation is once again wearing crystals and gems for non decorative, non status reasons. A new era of mineral magic has dawned." Charm jewellery has become increasingly popular in society today, we are going back to our roots to apply these crystals and minerals in the long forgotten ways. The key concepts presented in this book are that even though people may say they do not believe in superstition, many still carry a small object or piece of jewellery with them ‘just for luck’. Morris presents the question: With technology advancing at a alarming rate will we still follow these superstitions in the years to come? With superstition being part of peoples lives since the beginning, I think that we will still be superstitious to some extent, wether we realise it or not. Morris argues that if someone believes that a charm can protect them, they will therefore feel at ease, meaning a healthier mind set and boosted immune system. The ‘powers’ these bodyguards posess have more of an effect on the mind, and if a person feels less anxious or stressed they will be less prone to disease. The author presents his point of view that he feels belief in the powers of amulets and charms may be lost due to scientific discoveries. I think he likes the idea of believing in some kind of ‘magic’ and feels if science is going to steal these ancient beliefs from us it should be giving us, in return, something new to believe in.

The second article I have found to be relevant to my area of research is called Alternative Medicine: Wheres the evidence? written by Barry Beyerstein. This journal challenges the beliefs of those interested in alternative medicine ad provides the scientific side of the argument. Beyersteins main purpose is to persuade the reader that alternative therapies are a load of nonsense. He reinforces his arguments by stating that there is no scientific evidence to prove these therapies actually work. The key question he addresses in this article is Where is the evidence to prove alternative therapies suceed in curing people’s medical conditions?’ He answers this by stating that we should catagorise disciplines into ‘research fields’ and ‘belief fields’ - a suggestion from physicist and philosopher Mario Bunge. The ‘research fields’ can provide evidence to prove an idea or theory whilst practises catagorised into the ‘belief fields’ cannot. He cites a variety of secondary resources including Brunge, studies by Redelmeier and Tversky and an article written by Wallace Sampson titled ‘Reviews of Anomalous & Alternative medicine‘. Beyerstein brands these alternative therapies ‘bogus treatments’ and crystal healing a ‘patently absurd practise’ as belief relies solely on personal experiences rather then carefully controlled experiments and trials. The author states ’’The willingness of many to accept the claims of dubious health providers, must be blamed on the low level of scientific literacy in the public at large.’’ In other words, he is implying that people do not know enough about science to realise these therapies are a load of rubbish. Beyerstein blames the media for increasing interest of alternative therapies arguing that they are ‘worsening the problem’. If the public were to take Beyersteins line of reasoning seriously I think there would be a significantly higher strain on medical scientists to provide answers and solutions which alternative therapies may ease. If we were all to suddenly stop putting our well being in the hands of alternative healers I think we would be a much more miserable community. Wether or not these herbal remedies work they give people something almost ’magical’ to believe in, resulting in a happier, more balanced society. However, Beyerstein is of the opinion that if there is no scientific evidence to support a theory or alternative practise it must be ’bogus’. He also argues that alternative therapists take advantage of that fact that many illnesses have ’ups and downs’ so the patient is probable to visit the healer when they are feeling at their worst. This means that the healer will likely ‘receive credit for an upturn that would have happened anyway.’ I think this is a valid point and there is the possibility of people psychologically believing they only feel better as they went to see a crystal therapist.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mind maps

Last week we had a group meeting to decide what we could research for our dissertations. I think I might research into Interactive jewellery. I first thought about sustainability and renewable energy and that reminded me of a second year project in which I designed a solar powered pendant.
Group meeting - look at us all hard at work!
The idea was the pendant was made up of a solar panel which would generate and store enough energy to charge a mobile phone or Ipod. How many times have you been out and your phone or Ipod has died... its always that time where you need to make that important phone call or have to walk home alone - musicless. It was only a short project so I never actually went about making the pendant but researched ways in which it could be done. It has got me thinking about other types of interactive jewellery, possibly video or camera based or jewellery for medical purposes. I would need to reasearch further into the topic to see what kinds of interactive jewellery have already been designed and made and see if I can produce something new or develop an existing idea. I felt this would relate to my fourth year studio work as it was something I was interested in carrying on in the future. We had a lecture on Interactive Jewellery last year from Hazel White, I want to look further into her work as I find the things she has achieved are inspiring.

Interactive Jewellery mind map - I think this could be developed further

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Design and Climate Change

Climate Change and Design

"Our climate is changing - that is now indisputable." A report by World Bank (2009) concludes that studies have shown that human activities such as burning fossil fuels have contributed massively to the economic and environmental problems we are now facing. This is putting huge pressure on designers to come up with solutions to combat this everyday universal crisis. Campaigns to recycle daily household waste and to walk or cycle to work have swept the nation. A report by Appliance Design (2009) states that "more then 8/10 consumers say that energy efficiency is the most important feature for them." Major companies have recognised this and have started producing eco friendly packaging and products - promoting this as a selling point. A considerable amount of time and money have been invested in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro electric power. Designers are also looking at the built environment and constructing ‘Green’ buildings.

Over millions of years of the world’s existence the climate has changed dramatically. In 1986 Arrhenius discovered that emissions released into the Earth’s atmosphere from burning fossil fuels would lead to global warming whilst cutting CO2 emissions by half could potentially lead to an ice age. A few years earlier Jean-Baptiste Fourier proposed that the Earth’s atmosphere kept the planet warm thus introducing the greenhouse effect. The first real warning that climate change could potentially be disastrous came in 1967 when computers estimated that the world’s temperature could rise by more then 4 degrees Fahrenheit and consequently, the ice caps would melt and sea levels rise. Governments around the world met to discuss how they could prevent warming and set themselves targets for reducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
"Is climate change a natural occurrence over which we have no control? Or does human activity - fuels from vehicles, buildings, power plants, industry etc contribute or even cause climate change? How serious a threat is it to humanity? The environment? The world economy?"

These are just some of the questions R Cassidy addresses in his report on Green Buildings and Climate change. His studies have shown
That our actions are the main cause of global warming. Due to the greenhouse effect, Earth’s temperature is escalating at an alarming rate which may prove catastrophic to our planets existence today. A report by World Bank suggests that the rise in natural disasters such as floods, droughts, heat waves and forest fires is connected with the increase in temperature. Experts have estimated that climate change may also wipe out ¼ of all known species proving catastrophic to the economy and food chain. It proposes a theory that if we can observe and control the amount of harmful substances being released into the atmosphere, we can restrict the increase in natural disasters and allow the environment to adjust naturally. They foresee that if we do not take action now, the temperature by 2100 will rise by 2.5-7 degrees Celsius worldwide.

Renewable energy sources are being presented as a solution to the worlds shortage of coal, natural gas and oil - otherwise known as fossil fuels. The emissions of these fuels have impacted on the environment contributing towards global warming. R.E.H. Sims argues that increasing the use of renewable energy within industry will be tricky especially as resources such as coal and oil are still obtainable and inexpensive. Huge multinational companies such as BP have put in massive amounts of money towards these projects and will not be prepared to lose it. Renewable energy such as wind power has been used for centuries. Website
www.darvill.clara.net states that wind power has been used as far back as "4,000 years ago when the Babylonians and Chinese used the wind to pump water for irrigating crops." Most recently wind power has been used to generate electricity with several turbines being built together creating ‘wind farms.’ These farms are usually situated around the coastline and are designed to provide an alternative electricity supply. Another renewable energy source is the sun. The recent invention of solar panels for generating heating and electricity are eco friendly and make the most of the worlds natural resources. Solar panels are made up of solar cells which convert light into electricity and are generally more effective in sunny countries. However as technology progresses an increasing amount of solar panels are being used in the UK. Larry Elliot journalist for the guardian newspaper recently revealed "10,000 Birmingham council homes were to get solar panels". Solar panels can provide homes with around 90% of their energy supply and are often built into the roof of the house in order to absorb the majority of sunlight.

Image: http://www.sonic.net/~lilith/EnviraFuels/images/renewable-energy.gif

Design of ‘Green’ buildings are becoming increasingly important as designers have to consider energy efficiency and the effect of CO2 emissions which contribute towards global warming. A book in collaboration with Professor Peter Droege, Partridge and Veale state:

"Developing a strategy to achieve a low carbon urban form requires addressing all aspects of carbon emissions in the urban environment. This includes not only building energy consumption but also transport, waste generation, recycling and material use."

When designing a green building, designers must take into consideration ways to reduce energy use and limit the long term impact of fuels from heating and electricity systems, safe disposal of waste and the impact of the building materials on the environment. Designers must think about ventilation, location, shape and size of the building in order to make it energy efficient. For example in a temperate climate, low rise buildings may be much more energy efficient then high rise buildings. Due to ventilation and shading from other taller buildings or vegetation it will be cheaper to cool thus saving energy.

Another way in which designers are attempting to control carbon emissions are with eco friendly cars. These hybrid cars provide consumers with a better mileage whilst reducing CO2 emissions. The majority run on a gasoline-electric system, combining the speed of petrol run cars with the eco friendly properties of an electric vehicle. Pollution is a huge problem, especially in large cities. Designers are looking at ways in which to decrease air pollution and are encouraging the residents and visitors to take public transport in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Many major cities - most recently Edinburgh are reinstalling tram lines in order to reduce pollution from the amount of buses and cars in the city centre. These trams will run electrically appealing to the public and benefiting the environment.

A considerable amount of money has been invested into campaigns for cycling and walking in order to be more eco friendly. Graphic designers have concentrated on promoting this via posters, mottos and logos. One example is the company Go Smart based in Dumfries and Galloway, which encourages people to walk and cycle in order to be greener. They aspire "to encourage both residents and visitors of Dumfries to reduce their car use in favour of more sustainable modes of travel." Decreasing car journeys by a minimum of 5% by promoting cycling as an everyday method of transport. The campaign has been so successful that they are now promoting it in cities and towns throughout Scotland.

Many multinational companies are consciously making their products and packaging more eco friendly. A report by Appliance design states that "The American society of heating refrigerating and air conditioning engineers have committed to using and developing natural refrigerants" in their kitchen appliances. This means there is less carbon being released into the atmosphere during the manufacturing process as they only use ‘natural refrigerants’ in their products. They are aware that it is a high priority of consumers to purchase more eco friendly products and so to market their refrigerators as being environmentally friendly is a major selling point. Again the design behind the campaigns and the design of the products play a major part in aiding in awareness of global warming as well as the future of the planet.

Another company seen to be going green is Kenco Coffee. Their recent humorous advertisements have been designed to target and encourage customers to be more eco friendly. Sustainability is a very important issue for them, working alongside The Rainforest Alliance to ensure their coffee beans are obtained from certified farms. They generate 85% of their energy used in manufacturing and have even started to produce recyclable paper cups. The design of their ‘97% less packaging’ promotion appeals to consumers and benefit’s the environment by reducing the amount of household waste.

In conclusion, designers must look at everything that affects climate change so they can then develop a realistic plan that results in carbon emissions and pollution which contribute to global warming being lowered in everyday life. They are consistently working hard on a variety of campaigns, products and new inventions, brainstorming new ideas and ways in which to reduce climate change, so we can preserve precious ecosystems and life on earth for future generations.


Appliance Design (2009) vol57, Climate Change Resolutions

Cassidy, R. Green Buildings and Climate Change: sixth in series of annual reports on the Green Building Movement, Building Design and Construction

Droege, P. (2010) Climate Design: Design and Planning for the age of Climate Change, ORO Editions

Elliot, L. (2010) 10,000 Birmingham council homes to get solar panels. guardian.co.uk
Sims, R.E.H. (2004) Renewable Energy: A Response to Climate Change
World Bank, (2009) World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, World Bank

Useful Websites:





Group Meeting and Mind Maps

Having a great time with our mind maps!

This semester we have all been allocated study groups. My group met up a couple of weeks ago to discuss which topics we were going to research for our Wiki articles. We then met up a second time to discuss each others mind maps and add any more ideas we may have about each others topics.

The topic I have chosen to research is climate change and design because I am particuarly interested in sustainability and renewable energy sources. One of my studio projects last year were based on renewable energy and solar panels. So far I have really enjoyed researching climate change and the solutions designers are coming up with to combat global warming. From wind farms and solar panels to recyclable packaging and new products. Campaigns and 'Green' building construction to installing tram lines in cities. Doing this research has really motivated me to really think about the materials I use in my studio work and wether or not I could do anything to make it more environmentally friendly.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Essay! Part A&B

Design Studies Essay


Last semester I researched into electronic computer games, the physical and mental health problems associated with them and also what is being done to solve this. I became particularly interested in how playing such games may cause mental issues, violence and obesity problems and the solutions designers had invented to combat them. I also looked into the many health benefits of game playing and games for learning, from simulators used to prepare the army for war to till programmes used to train retail staff.

In my secondary research I found there to be two very different opposing arguments for and against computer games, each backing up their points. Marc Prensky author of the book ‘Don’t bother me Mom, I’m learning!‘ was of the strong opinion that computer games are infact beneficial to children’s learning, His claims were reinforced by a study by neuroscientists C Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier. They discovered that in circumstances where lots of things are happening simultaneously, children learn to recognise and focus on the most vital part. Prensky argues that parents and teachers are infact hindering their child’s learning by forcing them to switch off these games when they should be encouraging them. He points out that schools have turned learning into something boring that the majority of youngsters hate. Prensky also argues that children who spend 1-3 hours a day playing games tend to be more successful in their careers. The book ‘Got Game : How The Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever’. Shows that many computer gamers have gone on to achieve more in their jobs. Prensky also reinforces his point by referring to Laparoscopic surgeon Dr James Rosser. Who encourages his surgeons to ‘warm up’ prior to operating by playing video games for half an hour as he discovered that doctors who regularly played video games throughout their childhood made 40% fewer errors during surgery. On the other end of the argument Craig Anderson and Karen Dill, conducted two experiments to distinguish the possible links between aggressive behaviour and game playing in the short and long term. They conducted their first experiment on around 200 students, getting them to fill out a questionnaire whilst also referring to official scales and models including the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire, The Capara Irritability Scale, The Delinquency Scale and the GAAM Model. Their results concluded that playing games of a violent nature may add to a persons antisocial behaviour and aggressive personality - this was supported by the GAAM model. The second experiment looked into the short term effects and in this again they took around 200 participants and two computer games - one non violent and one very violent. They discovered that the students with greater trait irritability scores would also score higher on the State Hostility Scale. Students who played the violent game would send extended sound blasts and it also amplified their aggression on receiving them. Overall the participants who regularly play these video games throughout their lives were generally associated with more violent conduct.

I have become interested in the links between game playing and behaviour. Do violent games make people aggressive? How much are kids learning from their games? How do parents feel about their child playing such games? In order to follow up these arguments I could conduct interviews to find out how parents feel about their child playing violent games and whether they believe these games have had an impact on their behaviour and social interaction. I would ask questions such as ’Do you let your child play video games? If no, then why not? What kind of games? Do they play them regularly?’ From this I would be given a deeper understanding of how members of the public feel towards computer games and if their opinions may have been influenced by the bad press many games have gotten from the media. However, people may be reluctant to talk about their children so I could start with adults I know to see what kind of results I am getting before deciding to take it further and interview people on the street. I found from my previous experience that many are unwilling to stop and talk. I could also interview a number of children who enjoy their games and ask them what their favourite games are and why. What do they think they learn from their games? Possibly, the results of this would support Prensky’s argument that children are the ’Digital Natives’ and are learning far more life skills then they do in school. I could also interview a number of people who don’t play video games as well as those who have played video games from a young age to see what impact they have had on their lives. I may ask them questions about their favourite games swell as questions about what they do for a living and how they got on in school. From their answers I would be able to tell if playing these games has made a significant difference to the way they interact, by comparing and contrasting their answers with the people who have not played many games. This would enable me to see if there has been any long term effects. Again, I may find it difficult to get people to stop and talk to me and people may also be uncomfortable answering such personal questions. Alternatively I could arrange to meet them somewhere when they are not busy and have more time to talk to me swell as making them aware that they have the right not to answer any of my questions for whatever reason.

Another research method which could be particularly useful is observing people. I could watch people playing games, violent and non violent and record their reactions to see if the game they are playing affects their mood and emotions. I may do this in an arcade or at home on a game console observing my friends. Similarly I could also show people pictures of violence and war games in contrast to peaceful scenes from a non violent game and observe their behaviour and reactions toward the pictures. I may also ask them questions about how they feel towards the images to see if these pictures have triggered aggressive thoughts.

I feel an experiment would also be useful in helping my research. I could gather two groups of people and send one group to play a violent game and the other a non violent game. Afterwards I would show them random pictures of non violent objects and ask them to make up a story connecting the images to see if there are any links between the group that played the violent game having more aggressive stories. This would show if playing violent games has an impact on a persons aggressive personality in the short term.

In conclusion these primary research methods would be extremely useful in aiding me further with my work. I feel the experiments and observations may be more useful as the data I would gather would be more about observing peoples body language and reactions. Where as with the interviews they may be saying what they think I want to hear or what they think they should be saying. The observation and experiments would let me analyse them without them being conscious of it. The interviews would also be helpful to me in finding out the public opinion on video games and their effects on youngsters as well as their own personal experience.


My favourite studio project this year has been stone setting. The brief was firstly to research the different types of gemstones, their religious or spiritual meaning and what powers they may possess. Then to create a piece of jewellery incorporating a stone setting linking to religion or spirituality. I decided to base my design on crystal therapy as it is an area that has always interested me. I looked into the different kinds of crystals used for healing and their properties. We also had a series of workshops on stone setting for cut gems and found objects.

In my initial research I looked at various books including Gemstones For Everyman and The Crystal Bible. I used my secondary research techniques to gather information using cross search in the library. Much of the information I collected came from The Crystal Bible as it went into detail about each crystal, where it comes from, what it looks like, what healing powers it possesses and how to use it’s power to your full advantage. The internet also became a valuable source of information. I used a variety of websites to research crystal lattices and structures and it enabled me to print off images for my sketchbook work. In addition my flatmate was very helpful as she is fascinated with crystal therapy. She explained to me a great deal about crystal properties and healing the chakras and gave me a better overall understanding. I found that talking to someone with first hand experience about my chosen topic really helped me and it is a technique I could employ in any future work I do. Specific crystals are better suited to different areas of the body and I became particularly interested in the rose quartz. Rose quartz heals the heart physically and emotionally and is the stone of unconditional love. It is a calming stone which attracts love whilst restoring trust in existing relationships and releases heartache. It also helps the circulatory system and soothes burns and is best worn over the heart. Finding out about these stones helped build my knowledge as a jeweller. As part of my research I used the internet to look into the physical heart and circulatory system, veins, arteries and capillaries.

I could use the primary research techniques to investigate this topic further by interviewing people to find out their views on crystal healing. Whether they believe it works and is beneficial to their being and state of mind. I need to discover if members of the public would buy this kind of jewellery as I should know about my target audience in order to be successful. I could also ask them questions about what kind of jewellery they like and what stones appeal to them. This would also help in giving me a better understanding of my target market. I could show people images of different gemstones to see what they connect to it. For example if I showed someone a picture of a diamond ring, would they connect it to engagement and marriage? Or coal? Or even wealth? From this I would be able to tell what the majority felt towards that particular stone, whether it would be effective to use in my work and what connections people would make with the piece of jewellery. Many people will associate a piece of jewellery with a memory or some kind of sentimental value. It would also be important for me to find out more about this as I hope to become self employed and produce work for clients. Again to do this I would use interviews asking questions such as where people have gotten their jewellery from and if there are any stories behind it. I hope to make one off pieces that are special to each individual person. If I was making a commission for a client in order to find out more about them I could use the photo analysing technique and ask them to bring in pictures of themselves for me to look at. I found it amazing how much I could tell about a person from a picture and feel this research method would be beneficial to making the perfect piece for a client. Of course some people may feel uncomfortable doing this and instead I would observe them whilst having a conversation. Looking at their tastes and body language would aid me in discovering more about their personality.

I could also try out some crystal therapy for myself to see if it helps my physical and mental state. Experiencing this would have aided in my design process as I would have had a better understanding of crystal healing and the powers of the stones.

I hope to continue improving my research techniques in level three as well as my skills as a jeweller. I have found these primary research methods to be extremely useful in assisting me in my work both in the studio and out and will continue to use them to support my work in third year. We have recently been given a sustainability project and I am intrigued to find out the general publics feelings towards recycling and saving the planet. I feel with this upcoming project, employing my new primary research skills will greatly assist me in designing in a way that is beneficial to our planet.


ANDERSON, B.W. 1976 Gemstones for Everyman. London, Faber

ANDERSON, C. DILL, K.E. 2000. Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the laboratory and in life. Journal of personality and social psychology. Vol 78, No 4, 772-790

BECK, J.C. WADE, M. 2004. Got Game: How the gamer generation is reshaping business forever. United States of America. Harvard Business Press

BUSS, A. H. PERRY, M. P. 1992. The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459.

HALL, J. 2003 The Crystal Bible. Godsfield Press Ltd

PRENSKY, M. 2006. ‘Don’t bother me Mom - I’m learning!’ How computer games are preparing your kids for 21st century success - and how you can help! Paragon House.

Monday, 22 March 2010


For assignment 4 I conducted a series of interviews on how students dress sense has changed since they left home. In order to find some answers I asked questions on their background as well as friends and family to see how this may influence their personal style.

One of the first questions I asked was if their friends back at home were similar to their friends at uni, two answered yes and two no. I found that the two who said yes liked to go shopping with their friends for an opinion and reguarly shopped on the highstreet. This may indicate that their friends thoughts, opinions and similar style was important to them. I then went on to ask them to describe their style and found one of the answers to be quite interesting. The girl I asked said she felt she did have a unique style and wouldnt wear something someone else had as she didn't like looking the same as others. However, she then went on to say that she shops on the highstreet and would follow a trend if she liked it. This I thought was quite contradictory as the highstreet sells mass produced stuff and if she shopped there there would be millions of other girls out there with the same top/jeans/shoes as her. She also said that she wouldnt let her friends influence what she wore but at the same time she likes to go shopping with them or her sisters for an opinion. I found this to be very interesting as it indicates to me that she is influenced by them without being conscious of it.

Another question I asked was where they liked to shop and if they had always shopped there. 3 out of the 4 said they now reguarly shop in Primark or charity shops whereas before they would have shopped in Debenhams or Topshop. This indicated to me that as the majority of students are skint they are having to spend less on their clothes and shopping in these shops will have an impact on their style. All 4 of them said they cared less now about how they looked as they are more confident and have realised there are more important things then looking good. This indicated to me that their dress sense may have changed in a way that they would just chuck anything on and wear comfy clothes rather then dressing to impress every day. The typical student style is quite laid back and comfy and my answers to this question backed up that point.

I found that the men preferred to shop on their own whilst the girls liked shopping with their friends or family. Guys were also more likey to criticise their friends clothes,they never asked their friends opinions on clothes and to buy something they knew someone else had - whereas the girls liked to think of themselves as having more of a individual style and usually asked their friends what they thought of an outfit.

Overall I found the interviews to be very successful on gaining data on how students dress sense has changed. In conclusion the majority shopped in cheaper shops and cared less about how they looked. I also found there to be distinct differences in the way the two genders felt and thought about their style. All the students I spoke to have had a notable change in their dress sense since leaving home wether this is a concious decision for them or otherwise.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


For our third assignment we were asked to observe people in a public space. I chose to go to the bingo with my flatmate and her friends from graphics.

We rushed to get there as we thought we wouldn't be able to get in if we were late. We got there around 7 and had to register which took about 5 minutes but we still managed to get in. The lady at the desk just didn't charge us for the first game and we were told we could join in with the silver and gold cards.

When we first went into the hall I was surprised at how big it was, it wasn't very busy but mostly older people either on their own or with a friend. Some were couples and we could tell who the pro bingo players were as they had little electronic machines.

We sat down at a table near the door next to the rest of the group. During the game the hall was very quiet as everyone was concentrating and at breaks some people got up and went for a fag, to the bar or toilet, others stayed and played another game. People seemed quite ignorant as they just sat there playing with their hand and money in the air waiting to get change, the assistants who came around rarely got thanked. The atmosphere was quite intense and competitive, it was clear everyone was there to win and not just for fun. The rules weren't explained and I was getting a bit flustered because I didn't know how to play! Shaun went and asked an old man sitting beside us how to play and his answers were very mumbled and unclear. He seemed nervous and unwilling to help. One of the girls in the group eventually explained the rules to us.We had a silver and a gold card, each card contained 6 games with 6 grids. When the numbers were called we scored them off and there was prize money for the first line, the first 2 lines and the first house. If you had one of them you had to shout 'House' and an assistant would come and check your card. At first I was getting quite flustered and found it difficult to keep up with the man shouting out numbers. He spoke quite fast and the numbers weren't repeated which ment I missed a few in the first few games. I could have won something!

By the end I had got quite into it and started to enjoy myself. When we all got up to leave there was a few dedicated gamblers who stayed for the late night session. There was a small part of me that really thought I'd win even though I knew I probably wouldn't. Each time someone shouted 'House' there was a sigh and tutting that echoed round the room which made me realise that everyone was just there to win, they took it so seriously. When one of the girls in our group won we all kind of clapped and cheered... we got a few funny looks but most people laughed! I think our group brought a bit of fun to the experience and we got a voucher for a free game to go back again!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Photo story

I showed my photos to 10 different people aged between 17 and 52 and they came up with a range of stories. There were some similarities in them such as the horse actually wearing the socks and being able to speak, the horse being ridden by a girl and the story being set at the north pole. My target story is that a girl has been given a horse for her birthday and she rides him along next to the icy water wearing her stripey socks to keep her feet warm. In order to reach this story I added in a picture of a young girl and the word Birthday.

However I found the experiment to be quite unsuccessful as I got another range of stories varying from the girl realising her feet were too big for her horses stirrups on her 5th birthday, it being the actual horses birthday and the girl being taken on holiday to Antartica for her birthday. The closest story I got to my target one was about a young girl and her horse and the girl was very upset that she lost her cosy socks, her parents bought her another pair for her birthday so that she could ride her horse along the water again.

I found this experiment to be really interesting and some of the stories were hilarious! I found that students had more of an imagination then the others and their stories were the most diverse. I even got one poem which was the basis for my target story.

my final image

Thursday, 18 February 2010


These are the three photos that I have selected for the second assignment. So far I have had lots of weird and wonderful stories from everything from wars and global warming to horse beaters and karma. I have asked lots of people from aged about 52 to 17 students and full time workers to make up stories connecting my three images and have yet to find a fourth in order to make everyone come up with the same story. The experiment continues....

Catwalk Project

So I have finally finished my piece! Today I dragged my flatmate down to Magdalen Green to take photos of my piece as I wanted to photograph it outside next to nature. She had a belly piercing which was ideal and I was able to attach my design to her ring. The poor girl must have been freezing as I made her stand outside topless in the cold! My piece can be attached to various different body piercings and be worn in a variety of ways. The pics turned out great though. Our exhibition opens tomorrow at 5 in the jewellery corridor... all welcome to come along :)
having problems uploading pics, will try again soon :)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Fashion Project

paper mock up of original design
two seperate wire structures - just doing the top one now!

This week I have been working on my final design which seems to have changed about 20 million times!! I was originally going to do one big body piece and then changed to do two smaller pieces as the wire didnt have enough support. Now I've changed it again and am only doing one of the two pieces due to the timescale we have. I've decided to make it wearable on various parts of the body including the belly, nipple and face. It is a simple wire structure, a moon shape and I am going to add lots of beading and wire detail. The piece can be attacted to various body piercings making it wearable in loads of different ways. The beading is driving me a bit mad but I hope it will all be worth it in the end!
some sketchbook stuff

some samples - beading, flocking, dying, felting, gold leaf

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Catwalk Project

Well our first project of the year was a FASHION PROJECT and I have LOVED it! Lots of people in the class have seemed to be a bit uncertain about it but I have had a great time researching and making my sketchbook!

We were to look at a particular culture or period in history and I chose to study China. I went on to look at Chinese textiles, writing, patterns and architecture. I became particuarly interesed in Chinese Buddhism and the beautiful temples and shrines. I then went on to research the Phuket Vegetarian Festival which is a celebration led by Chinese Buddhists. During the festival they invite the Gods to descend down on them and enter the bodies of a selected group who are known as th Ma Song. The Ma Song perform self torture tasks such as extreme body piercing, walking up bladed ladders and over hot coals in order to cleanse thier spirit and bring good luck to their community. During the festival they wear all white and are only permitted to eat vegetarian food. The Ma Song pierce themselves with anything from swords to bicycles to arrows usually through the cheeks and face. They seem to be in a trance and feel no pain whilst performing these rituals as they believe the Gods have entered their bodies thus preventing this.


For my final piece I wanted to make some form of piercing. I looked into body piercing and the unusual places people can be pierced. Some of the pics I found gave me the heebie jeebies! They were the kind of pictures you didn't want to look at but you just had to! I took inspiration from the Chinese patterns and shapes of the temples and made a few sketches of pieces made for piercings such as belly buttons, eyebrows and noses. I then went on to look at connecting different piercings together and came up with some almost full body outfits all connected by piercings. The design I went for at first was connected through the face, nipple and belly button, I wanted to make the structure out of wire and possibly fabric with a pattern flocked on to it. (We did flocking in one of our workshops and it was sooo much fun!) I then thought about a wire pattern with bits flocked to bring in the vibrant colours of the Chinese culture. However when I started making my design I realised the wire I had was not thick enough to hold the structure up and altered my design slightly to make two seperate body pieces. I also had to change the way it fastened as it was not strong enough to hold. In the end I ended up with quite a different final design to when I started out but I find this is the way I work... changing constantly as I go along. I never start out to make something and it ends up exactly as it was on my page to begin with!

just a few piercing pics

I wanted to introduce something other then metal to my piece so have decided to do alot of beading. I did some over the summer and some of the things I made reminded me of the intricate Chinese patterns plus with the beads I can bring in the bright colours widely used in traditional Chinese textiles and architecture.

Seems I have alot of work to do if it's to be finished by Friday! More pics of sketchbook work, samples and designs to come.

Photo Swap

For our first assignment we were asked to take in pictures of ourselves growing up and swap them with someone we didn't know very well. We were then asked to analyse our partners photographs and report back to them on what we discovered. I swapped with textiles student Judith who gave me 5 photos of her and her friends. I looked at each picture in turn and wrote down my thoughts about her influences, tastes and situations.
The first was a picture of her sitting on a step with ice cream all over her face aged about 1. She looked happy and was smiling so it seemed to me she had a very happy childhood. She looking away from the camera and I thought this may have been an indication that she was a bit shy but when I met up with her she told me she was actually a bit of a poser! She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt so I thought this could have been taken in the summertime and later came up with the idea she might have been on holiday as her top said 'Florida' on it. She was also busy playing with a Minnie Mouse purse and didn't seem very aware of the camera so I thought this might mean she was focused and not easily distracted.

Awwww aint she cute?!

The second photo was a picture of her with a girl who I thought could have been her friend or sister in a backgarden. (Judith later told me it was her neighbour in her backgarden.) She looked like she was all dressed up for a party in a pretty dress and had obviously been told she wasn't allowed to play in the sandpit! The other girl was sitting in shorts and t-shirt in the sandpit having a great time and Judith was outside pointing and looking upset. I think she thought it was unfair and I think she would have remembered that feeling and has grown up with a good sense of fairness and likes to treat everyone equally.

The next photo was of her outside with some friends. I thought it could have been taken in a school or nursary playground at some kind of event. It reminded me of my sports day at nursary where we all got an apple and our parents came along. Although I could tell this wasn't sports day as the girls were dressed in dresses. Her and one of the other girls had a packet of golden wonder crisps and seemed to be standing in a line which was what made me think it was an event and not just break time. Again she was smiling and surrounded by friends which made me think she was a happy and sociable person but she was hiding behind one of her friends and that indicated to me that she could be quite shy. But then again maybe she was just standing in a line! When I met up with her she said she was never really shy but infact chatty and could be quite bossy - so I got that all wrong! She said it was taken at nursary at an event or fundraiser but she couldn't remember what for!

The forth photo was of her and 2 friends at some kind of music festival - possibly T in the Park? They were on the campsite so had obviously stayed for the weekend. This made me think that Judith wasn't too into her looks, that she was confident and fun loving. She had her hair back and probably hadn't showered for days! And she was still having a great time. She was really into her music and had a similar dress sense to her friends which made me think she was close to them and they were quite heavily influenced by each other.

The last picture I thought was taken in school and shows Judith with a group of friends. I assumed these were her best friends from school and recognised another girl Paula who also does textiles. They had obviously known each other a long time and were friends before coming to uni. I assumed it was St Andrews day as they were all wearing tartan and it was taken in school as the wall behind looked as if it had a history timeline on it. Her and her friends all had a very similar dress sense which made me think they were all very alike and influenced by one another.

Sorry the pictures are a bit fuzzy but I'm useless with technology and couldnt figure out how to work the scanner! ha

When I met up with Judith to hear her analysis of me she was spot on with what she said. She mentioned that she thought I was a girly girl who had gone through a tomboy phase as I had short hair and was wearing trackie bottoms! She also thought I was an animal lover which I am - and I'm a vegetarian. She thought I had quite a large family with lots of cousins but I don't think it's particuarly big - I have 5 cousins altogether. She also managed to recognise my best friend Mel from a picture when we were wee and a picture taken just last year. I don't think there was any big revelation about myself but I realised its quite amazing how much someone can tell about your life from a few snapshots.