Personal Project in Review

To successful evaluate this project I think I must look back on my own proposal that I wrote for it:

“For my personal project I am eager to explore a long-time interest of mine, Folktales. I would like to research the structure of a folktale, how this can change and evolve from story teller to teller and how this resonates in modern culture. Folktales combine the mundane with magic and intrigue, they tell stories of local people, myths, traditions and the landscape to name but a few themes. I find that their rich history and range of topics serve as fuel for visual stimuli. For my outcomes I would like to create a body of work which explores experimental book illustration and bookmaking, utilising different bookmaking techniques to visually represent the concept of oral storytelling. With the extensive deadline I feel that it presents the opportunity to create some developed lino or lithography prints as part of the book illustration. I would like to challenge myself with overprinting the pre-designed book to add an element of chance much like the telling of a folktale is different each time it is told. To broaden my scope in this project, I would like to include the opportunity of using animations as part of the book with technology such as Aurasma. Overall, I want the project to be an experiment in modern storytelling in creating a book which gives the same excitement and spontaneity as the oral telling of a folktale.”

I have loved this personal project, it has satisfied a creative urge in me that I’ve had for a while. I’ve always wanted to create a children’s book but things just kept getting in the way, for this project how it was the perfect opportunity. I think this project has worked so well because I was focused on my research. I asked family and friends for their opinions on folk tales, testing their memory when I told them folktales. Also, I did a lot of research in the library looking at different stories and the special collection. I looked at scholarly research into modern folklorist (can be seen in back of sketchbook), these kept me up to date with the study of folklore and how it can be mistold. It took me a while to settle on just using Sussex folktales, but I’m glad I did. Through researching Suffolk folktales against Sussex folktales I realised that each place has a different set of symbols in their folktales, this interested me. Also, through reading folktales I realised that they have a strange format structurally they twist and turn and go back on themselves and back round again. Add to this the Chinese Whispers they often go through there are so many variations on folktales. This interests me, how the same story can undergo so many changes and become five different stories.

Through my research I saw how the internet is a new format for folktales through the form of forums, people tell a story and people add and change things to it. I tried my own experiment of this and drew a picture and asked people to respond to it, unfortunately I only got one reply but it made my day that anybody replied. I realised that this was an unreliable way to get my project going.

So, instead I dived head first into drawing and getting my ideas down on paper. I had multiple group tutorials where I would ask for opinions on my developing final piece. I knew that I wanted it to be creative book binding but  I wasn’t sure how. With help from my peers and Helen (in bookbinding) I made some prototypes of the final outcome. I wanted them to appear authentic and aged so used Gum Arabic transfers over drawings of Cuckmere Haven that I made during a week drawing project. I loved how these looked and decided to bind them as a concertina. Jeremy inspired me to stick to the concertina book idea and develop it.

To add in some extra textures and visual warmth  I crocheted a sample and used that in monoprint. The results are everything I wanted and set the tone for a slower pace of life that is incorporated in folktales. Combining these textures and a make your own story format  I played with page design. I also wanted to have an extra feature of stickers which worked well to give the reader full control over the content of the book. The stickers are designed around common symbols in Sussex folktales to put my research directly back into the outcome.

The final book is Gum Arabic transferrred also and I’m so pleased with the outcome. I decided to submit the final book and the ‘Make Your Own’ book kit, to show the possibility. Below is a video of myself making the book.

I think this project has been so important to me because I feel emotionally connected to these stories, you can get lost in them and book making and I hope to pass on this experience in the user of the book. The kit is formed of the pages, thread, stickers, a how to use pamphlet and a case for it all. Its a fully formed outcome which has purpose and function. I’m proud of how my developed work for this project has grown and I think my passion is clear to see.

Personal Project: Stickers

As part of my final outcome it was important to consider the sticker side of the project. I didn’t want them to look like an after thought that I hadn’t really considered as this would have made a disappointing impact. I decided on four categories of Food, Plant Life, Charms and People this I thought would cover all bases of symbols and give the story some intrigue and structure. I really enjoyed drawing the people for this project as it gave the book a strong drawing style throughout which I find quite difficult to achieve normally.

I chose all the symbols by combing through Sussex folktales and finding which symbols repeated themselves. I toyed with the idea of adding descriptions and special mentions to what the symbols are about but some have much better stories than others and I wanted to let the viewer decide for themselves.

Personal Project: Searching for Research

Parker, Agnes M., and Gwasg Gregynog. Wood Engravings: From XXI Welsh Gypsy Folk-Tales. Gwasg Gregynog, Newtown (Powys), 1997.

I decided to look into the Special Collection at the library to find some hidden gems on folktales. This book that I took out is so beautiful, had a pattern slip case which was mirrored on the cover, all the images above are original woodcuts. I really enjoy how they show the whole scene of the folktale in one concise image. Taking scans of these you can see how intricate and detailed they are. I also noticed the use of symbols (animals, objects etc) which the scenes are epitomised of, they all have a central point which evokes an atmosphere of storytelling.

I think when I create my own final outcome I will think about these prompts to let the viewer see that I am telling a story.

Other books that I have been investigating are below, these have been paramount in my research into how the structure of folktales differ to that of say a fairytale


Personal Project: Group Tutorial

As we are nearing the deadline our last group tutorial was to consider how to conclude our personal projects, a prospect that I am really looking forward to. My whole project is waited for its final outcome due to what message I’m trying to portray. My final piece has to show the layered, misconstrued nature of folktales and how they change and develop. Therefore, I want my final outcome to have an interactive aspect for the viewer/reader to consider and also the piece needs to be able to transform.

I brought my mock concertina books (that I had made as an experiment and ended up really enjoying) to the group tutorial, to see how they went down. I was advised to base my final outcome off of the concertina book style and create a “Make your own Book” kit. I really like this idea as it formulates all my aims into one solution – the kit will have the feeling of recreating and retelling a story in your own way as even the pages can be interchangeable while also being fun and interactive. Furthermore, to add to this I wanted to create a sticker book which works in conjunction to the kit therefore, the viewer can not only have control over the order of the story but also the objects and people found in it.

I’m working towards this aim starting with character design of my adventurer, I want this person to appear unisex to present the gender as completely unimportant (as it was in these stories). The character is just a vessel to help tell the story which the reader will create.

Personal Project: Reviewing Experimentation Prototype

I was really pleased with how my concertina book came out, the Gum Arabic Transfer made the paper crinkled and gave it the authenticity I was looking for. I enjoyed how the process relies on chance, it was very in the moment and gave the feel I was looking for. However, I felt that I definitely needed another area of story telling to the piece to actually read the symbols and understand the project the viewer needs more guidance throughout the book.

Also, I think I should mention the happy accidents I have been having with my NEW scanner. Below, are some examples I like how these are slightly distorted and therefore more modern as it contrasts against the traditional drawing really well.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes down during the group tutorial as I am still unsure as to if I like the overall book format.

Personal Project: Experimentation

For my proposal of the personal project I wrote that I wanted to consider using a layering of techniques in my visual communication of a story. To start this process I drew a series of ink drawings in a newsprint sketchpad, I did like these but they didn’t seem to complete the images like I expected they were too stark and contrasted the colours and feel of the other pages.

I wanted something with a bit more character and authenticity.

For myself this meant getting reacquainted with the print room,  I wanted to look into Gum Arabic transfers and monoprinting. Both, techniques I have used before but only to really make a final piece, so it was really fun to let loose a bit more and just print things as the inspiration came to me.

First, I attempted the Gum Arabic transfer technique for this I made a set of symbols which centred around the common folktale of sunken church bells in the Sussex countryside. These stories are really interesting because they are all so similar but have a lot of crossover making it difficult to know what church bells and locations they are talking about. This made it the perfect story to use a layering technique such as Gum Arabic transfer. I printed out some landscape drawings that I had made on my week long drawing project at Cuckmere Haven and decided to print over them. I used a deep blue ink which looked really good against the monochrome and also pale orange of the landscapes. The symbols came out well I was impressed with the quality of line and the composition on many worked out great. I was inspired to make something more out of these pieces so using a bookbinding slot I decided to make them into simple concertina books. Helen helped me make a prototype for the books and we looked into how best  to fold them so they would hold their shape.

(Above are images from the monoprinting session_

Next, I looked at monoprinting for this technique I really wanted to work on textures, I already had many drawn pieces but wanted something that I could layer up. I chose to crochet a knit sample as I was inspired by some images online of monoprinted fabric, I loved the outcome of the printing and made every attempt to get every ghost print and overprint on every different piece of paper I had. I wanted to use a knit fabric because I felt it symbolised a lot of the folk tale culture; it is an authentic method of creating something which is practical, full of skill but still a beautiful object.

Personal Project: Finding Inspiration

As the project has continued I’ve been researching in the library and making a research book, this has been a helpful place to compile all my research. I’ve also done a couple of self created life drawing sessions, this has been really helpful to get back into drawing the human figure. It’s also been an interesting way to discover how to give a human figure character, I’ve been trying to interpret how I imagine these people who live in this time period. I imagine them at one with the landscape, wild hair, flushed cheek, red noses and freckles. Although this is a stereotypical interpretation it helps to consider how these characters will relate to one another.

Personal Project: Folktale Creation

I recently made my first post on Reddit, a very popular website which I’ve never thought to approach maybe this is because it was a little before my time on the internet age or that it is quite American, I’m not sure. I thought due to the fact that I was a new member I wouldn’t get any replies to my strange request of writing a folk tale, but the format of the website isn’t like say Tumblr where you need followers to have any kind of interaction. So, I actually got a response to this image!

Above is the message I wrote and the link to the image of the cat burglar.



Personal Project: Experimenting with memory

I decided to hold a small experiment by telling somebody a well known Suffolk folktale, and then ask them to retell it in the morning. The first voice note is how I tell it from my notes and from memory. The second is how well the person retells the story.

What I think is interesting from this is that no small details were remembered from the story even though I tried to keep them in such as saying “beer bread etc”. This suggests to me that to remember smaller details of a story they must be brought into the forefront.

Furthermore, interestingly the person seemed to remember major chunks of the story but in the wrong order. I think I will draw back on this information as to me it suggests that sectioning a folk tale in some way could help people identify it. Also, possibly it would help them remember it.

Personal Project: Group Tutorial

I felt unprepared for my group tutorial but tried to steer the conversation towards options I could look into for when I get further ahead in my project so to not feel at a lose for ideas closer to assessment. It was suggested to one student to have a few experiments going on at a time so they could be working in the background.

I like this idea and have decided to take it on. I’ve been reading about how folktales are closely linked to how we share stories on the internet and specifically memes. I wanted to incorporate this into my work but I knew that it wouldn’t be at the forefront, as I enjoy the authenticity of folktales too much to let them turn into memes.

However, through discussion I have been persuaded to consider using the internet to help create folktales I’m thinking of ways I could do this:

  1.  Group messages with friends, I give them a starting image they come up with a few sentences I give them another image and so on.
  2. Forums like Reddit (which I have just joined for this purpose). The same rules apply only.
  3. Find forums simply for Folklorist’s and see if I can conduct the same experiment there.

I’m looking forward to these experiments, they may be a success they may not work but we shall see!