Evaluation of “Hempire”



Initially when beginning my creative response I had been set upon producing my own natural paints and dyes to print my message as I wanted my piece to feel organic and I felt that by doing so it would further show my awareness of the environment around me.

I experimented with an array or organic matter such as Beetroot, Carrots, Onion skins, Spinach and Turmeric and explored two separate processes of producing the paint and dyes. For the dyes it was a simple process of extracting the colour from the matter by boiling it for a few hours, the liquid extracted can be used as a dye, but mixed with flour I was able to make paints. Though I didn’t want to waste the matter that I had used to create the dyes, and felt that the colour extracted may be too weak for an effective paint palette. Which led me to a second process, of blending the remaining matter and creating “puree paints”.

Though I enjoyed this process, and the dyes were very affective, I found that the paint was too untameable. The colour absorbed into the fabric rather than creating a clear image as a result I deemed this unsuitable for my creative response. However I still wanted to have some organic element to my work and this led me to want to print onto hemp fabric itself. I found myself trying to obtain hemp fabric in the UK but I found it impossible to source any locally, and there was a limited amount online. As a result I began to feel as though using hemp within my piece might be more of a hindrance has I could be set by back waiting for its delivery, and there was no guarantee that the print resource would be able to print onto the fabric due to its different density.

At this point in the process I had been exploring ideas for the visual element based upon facts I had learnt about hemp through my research into its uses and history. Though I felt that these facts were insightful and interesting, I found myself realising that if I wasn’t to use hemp or organic paints to produce my piece then the message itself would have to show a clear connection to my concerns with the environment and how hemp relates to those.

Taking that and the fact I want to inform my audience about the benefits of hemp into consideration, I produced some biro illustrations depicting the uses and growth of hemp. With the intention to assemble these together to form a pattern, printed onto a natural fabric and transformed into soft furnishings for the home.
I felt as though this was an affective way of communicating my message to my audience as it allows me to tell the story of seed to plant, to product. It also allows me to inform them the cannabis genus does not solely produce drugs in an aesthetically pleasing manner, which I feel are the two most important messages I want to communicate in my piece.

I had been inspired by the Toile de Jouy style of pattern, as to me they also tell stories, and involve a lot of foliage, which I felt related well to my work. Though I didn’t want my pattern to follow the style completely as I want my own style to also be reflected in the piece.

While producing my illustrations I was able to get some feedback form peers, tutors and friends. The initial feedback I received was very positive, they liked the drawings but it became clear that something was lacking.

Toile de Jouy styles of pattern often have a lot of surrounding loose foliage around their illustrations yet at this stage I only had single branches of hemp growing out from my drawings. Nonetheless I assembled my illustrations together to see how they would fit together as a pattern and explore different possible arrangements.

It was during this stage I began to realise my drawings seemed somewhat rigid and angular. I received feedback from a group tutorial, which confirmed my concerns, but by adding in more small illustrations of hemp branches and leaves, appearing in a more natural organic way curving around and away from my illustrations I was able to take some attention away from these angles.
However I still felt as though they were still very prominent, so continued to play about with arrangements to try and find a way of balancing these rigid, bold shapes out.

I had hoped to create an offset repeat tile for printing, as I felt this may also help take away from the bold shapes, or even make them seem more at home amongst the pattern. But through the process off making my tile I realised it would not be possible to make my images into an offset tile as they follow no geometric routine and there’s no continuous shapes.
After realising this I instead began flipping my images, to hope that the one angle would counteract the other by reflection. I felt it worked very well, it had maintained a toile de joy element to it but the reflective nature of the pattern made it feel much more natural and the symmetry added to the aesthetics.


I had printed some of my previous possible designs onto paper so that I could visualise my patterns scale in person and decide whether the sizes I had been working to were appropriate and effective. I was very happy with the way these prints came out and it allowed me to really see the difference between each design and became easier to see the faults or things it was lacking.

I showed a few peers including the one that had been present in my group tutorial, my previous and proposed final design and they confirmed to me that the reflective print was more appealing, the shapes now complimented each other and it felt like the whole image seemed to flow a lot more rather than the drawings seeming somewhat separate from one another.

I was also able to confirm that my message within the pattern had been understood. They could identify the relationship between each illustration and also identify what message I was trying to convey.