Posts from the ‘COP3’ Category

Working with Nature: Investigation into Hemp as a sustainable alternative and its position within society

To view my full research project click the link below.

Investigation into Hemp as a sustainable alternative and its position within society

Additional links

Additional links used for research through the project not cited within my essay due to credibility/lack of author or publishing date but provided interesting and relevant info.

http://www.hempfarm.org/BillionDollarCrop.html

http://washington-drug-defense.com/REEFER_MADNESS

http://www.flavorpaper.com/wallpaper/brooklyn-toile

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028589/

http://hempfarm.org/FordHempmobile.html

https://www.gov.uk/hemp-growing-licence

http://www.jennaburger.com/2013/02/how-to-upcycle-successful-tips-for-changing-old-items-into-creative-home-decor/

 

The Final Product

I had hoped to get in the studio to take some pictures of my pieces though i was unable to.
It was then my intention to use a friends house as a setting for my pieces and someone from the photography course to photograph it, though that also fell through as they had other commitments. So unfortunately i was limited to space and locations for photographing my final product. I was able to make a small set up in my flat and as i have my own DSLR i decided to give it a go myself. Due to the limitations of size i wasn’t able to get too many different types of shots, though i think considering what i had to work with these turned out quite well.

i ensured i got an image of all 3 examples, the cushion, wallpaper and chair. And got a close up so that you could see the texture and quality of the print.

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Final Tutorial, Project progress.

Chapter One

Background study into hemp and its environmental potential

When many people hear the term “Hemp” the first thing that usually springs to mind is Marijuana. It’s easy to associate the two together as they are both members of the plant genus, Cannabis. Marijuana however receives lots of negative publicity as it is a narcotic. Though they aren’t as similar as you may believe, all Marijuana varieties are Cannabis plants, but not all Cannabis plants are Marijuana. The close relationship that Marijuana has with hemp has resulted in Hemp fading somewhat from society however it’s been present within society as far back as 8,000+ BCE, making it one of the oldest and first known agricultural crops.

Unlike Marijuana Hemp cannot be used like a drug as it has no psychoactive properties. Hemp is genetically dissimilar and is distinguished by its uses and chemical makeup.  Industrial Hemp contains only about 0.3-1.5% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component found in Marijuana that makes you “high”), whereas in Marijuana the content is 5%-10% or even more depending on how it’s cultivated.

However historically the relationship these different varieties share held no negative association. Cannabis has been recognised as a valued healing plant in every region where it will grow. Throughout history it has been prescribed to cure a variety of ills such as; malaria, diarrhoea, toothache, asthma, epilepsy, glaucoma, anorexia, pain relief, muscle spasm in multiple sclerosis, menstrual cramps, earache, depression, insomnia, alcoholism and sedation. The first documented use of hemp as a medicine appears about 2000 years Before the Common Era.
It is documented that even in Britain, Queen Victoria herself was prescribed it in 1890 for menstrual cramps.  However In 1928 cannabis was banned for non-medical purposes in the UK.

During the Second World War, hemp made a brief re-emergence, particularly in America and Germany when imported fibre had dwindled in supply.

Farming permits were issued allowing people to cultivate and produce hemp. Though when the war ended these permits were cancelled and hemp was being forgotten once more and cotton imports returned.  As well as this, advances were made with synthetic fibres.

The first prohibitions on the cultivation of Hemp were announced in the United States within the framework of Marijuana prohibition. A few other countries such as Canada and Australia then follow suit.

Since 1970 the cultivation of low THC varieties of cannabis in the EU has been regulated by strict guidelines. But by 1971 in the UK Cannabis had been made a schedule one drug making possession and medicinal use prohibited without a special license, reserved only for restricted clinical research.

The United Kingdom in the early 1990s saw new agricultural initiatives, as the outcome of a Home Office lobby by several UK farmers, the first licenses for growing hemp with a low THC content were granted in 1992/1993.

In order to obtain a license to grow hemp now, you must register with the home office and provide your contact details. As well as, field location numbers, names or grid references, hectarage details, farm map with a marked growing area, seed type, THC content and confirmation of whether this is a European Union approved seed. You must also pay a fee with your application. Currently new licences usually cost £580, with licence renewals costing £326. You must also undergo a Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check to be eligible for a licence.

To date Hemp is still the strongest and most durable natural fiber we have come across and it’s completely sustainable.
Hemp is a very low maintenance crop, however in particular environments it can provide one of the longest and most versatile cellulose fibres of any plant.  In comparison with other fibre crops hemp requires little fertiliser and needs little or no treatment with pesticides; which contaminate water sources or herbicides; which is toxic and used to kill unwanted vegetation.

The growing of hemp doesn’t harm the environment around it; in fact the opposite occurs it depollutes the soil, doesn’t deplete the soil of its nutrients and its deep root system can help to prevent erosion.
In terms of disposal Hemp is easily biodegradable, its disposal presents no problems of waste management. If we utilised hemp as an alternative we could see our landscapes flourish and yet currently much of the groundwater tested in agricultural regions across the world has been contaminated by runoff from pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers.

As well as this, Hemp has many applications; its stalks can be stripped down to fiber and used to make fabric. “One of the oldest and most versatile plants known to man.”, Bocsa. Karus. Pg 3. 1998.

Prior to the industrial revolution, hemp was a major European crop for textile production. With the invention of machines however, they were able to make machinery capable of extracting and processing fibre from cotton which saw a rapid expansion of cotton. It was not until the late 1930s that machines that could extract hemp fibre economically were built. Before cheap fibres like cotton and chemical fibres became available, hemp fibre was commonly used to produce technical items such as rope, sail fabric, twine and tarpaulin. Designer Ralph Lauren recently revealed that he has been secretly using hemp fibre in his clothing lines since 1984.

Hemp fibres are among the lengthiest and most durable of natural cellulose fibres. Because of this they make excellent quality paper that can be used for books, magazines, and stationary. The shorter fibres on the other hand can be used to make newsprint, tissue paper and packaging materials. Hemp also has a low lignin content so it requires less aggressive chemical bleaching. And unlike in wood-derived paper the paper produced is resist to age related yellowing. There are benefits to using hemp-based composites instead of trees such as better resistance to fire, fungus, rodents, termites and other pests. In addition to the preservation of forests and agricultural sustainability.

The annual world paper requirement has ascended from, 14 million tons in 1913 to 250 million tons in the 1990s. Many argue that this cannot be sustained, even with a substantial increase in paper recycling and that alternative fibres must be sourced. “Hemps biggest contribution to the worlds economy and ecology could well be as part of a return to plant based papers”(Robinson. Pg 10. 1995)

With paper prices climbing and shortages abounding now it is imperative we look at alternative sources of paper pulp to take woods place. Such as the 1.5 billion tons of agricultural waste that is produced annually, that of which could be turned into paper with the addition of a long fibre like hemp. Though currently most hemp fibre pulp is used for cigarette papers, filter papers, tea bags, art papers and paper money.

Hemp has been used as a foodstuff for animals and man for centuries. Most commercial bird seed mixes contain hemp seeds

Hemp seeds can be used to make oil (both mechanical and edible) the Oil has been extracted and used for cooking by many cultures in history. Though more recently it has been unveiled that hemp seed oil has high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These include omega 3(alpha linolenic acid), omega 6(linoleic acid), and gamma linoleic acid. These polyunsaturated fatty acids if consumed in place of saturated facts may help in the prevention of coronary heart disease. The seeds are also high in trace elements*, amino acids and vitamin A. The relatively recent anti-drug ban on hemp cultivation in many countries has prevented food scientists from investigating its nutritional value in more depth, and discovering the wide range of potential uses for this seed.

After the oil has been removed from the seeds they can be ground to flour and used to make bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits. When combining the seeds with other ingredients you can make foods such as soup, sweets, non-dairy cheese butter and ice cream.
Oil extracted from hemp seeds makes an excellent emollient for skin and hair and so has been used for personal care products such as shampoo, lip balm, salves, soaps and massage oil.

Until the late 1930s hemp along with linseed were the foundation for the majority of all resins, paints and varnishes.

Hemp hurds can be processed to give cellophane packaging material. They can also be blended with recycled plastics to provide a compound for injection mouldings. The seed oil may also be converted in plastic resin.

Hemp can also be used as a fuel, Henry Ford, the founder of Ford automotive famously built a Hemp car, powered by hemp oil. Although the Most simple form of using Hemp as a fuel is to burn the hemp matter as a substitute for wood.

Though Hemp seeds contain combustible oil, which traditionally was used as a lantern fuel.

By taking the entire hemp plant you’d be able to make ethanol, which can be used as a biofuel to power motor vehicles. The whole hemp plant might even be commercially viable for a source of biomass.

Photosynthesis is a chemical process used by plants in which they convert water and carbondioxide (co2) into carbohydrates and oxygen. Since co2 is produced by burning fuel and is the primary cause of global warming, biomass production could essentially recycle this gas back into a fuel source, thereby cleansing the atmosphere.

As the availability and quality of fossil fuels contuse to deteriorate the price of energy will rise. More and more of the energy industry is realising that biomass is not just an option, it’s the future.

However hemp also has other applications such as animal bedding, insulation, carpeting and even building materials.

The need for a sustainable alternative

In recent years a new movement has been sweeping across the globe. With our climate changing and species of plants and animals depleting, it is the realisation that we are coming up to the limits of our current resources and we need to find a sustainable alternative for these.

“Arithmetic shows that the western goal of urbanised, industrialised life and the promise of limitless wealth for everyone cannot be realised. It would require the resources of at least 3 earths to raise everyone in the world to the material standard of the present day average Brit) or less than average American).” (Tudge. Pg 367, 2006)

No doubt it’s going to take a number of different things to help us find a balance with nature. No single resource alone will provide the answer for us and the cure to fixing the world from the damages that we have inflicted upon our only planet, as not only do we need to replenish what we’ve already destroyed in order to compensate for our own overshoot of consumption but we need to ensure that we don’t keep overshooting. Our land is finite, we inherited a vast reserve of natural resources that had built up over millennia. This reserve only produces so much a year, if we withdraw too much of the resources without putting anything back in we are unable to restore the reserve. If this continues one day we will find our planet dry of resources altogether. Our reserves reduce daily and so the need for sustainable agriculture grows and grows.

More recently this realisation of the impact we are having on our planet has begun a trend of people asking why we don’t use hemp when it could answer so many of our problems and why Hemp isn’t legal everywhere? Canada, the majority of Asia, Europe and now many states in America have decriminalised/legalised marijuana, this shows clear evidence of an attitude change and even possibly that the need for this resource is now being recognized and with the rest of the world acknowledging their acceptance, more countries are under pressure to follow suit and embrace this natural miracle plant because its benefits can no longer be ignored and we can no longer be blinded by bad propaganda of it.

 

The Hemp Revolution is approaching, regardless of the campaigns that politicians and law enforcement agencies have developed for prevention, because now we are a world awakening to the truths of this little green wonder.

Currently there is a need for more sustainable alternatives due to the crisis that we are facing, we need to push desperately for these alternatives and we must now begin to make ecological limits central to our decision making, and using human integrity to find innovative ways to live within our earths bounds as it’s not just humans at risk, numbers of many species across the spectrum of earthly existence have more than halved.

One of the biggest concerns is the rate in which our earth’s forests are shrinking. Between 1970 and 2002 they had shrunk by 12%, which may not seem like a lot in terms of figures, but when you consider the mass of the earth and how little is actually covered by land, it’s quite a significant amount of vegetation we’ve wiped out along with all the wildlife once that inhabited it.
Trees have only been used to make paper since the mid-1800s and yet today half of all trees cut down are used to make paper, something that need not happen when we have a resource like hemp available. As well as increasing the greenhouse effect. It is estimated that 27,000 species of life go extinct every year. Mostly due to the 296 million acres of forest we have demolished in the past twenty years. The replanting attempts of logging companies are a pitiful substitute for our natural forests because biodiversity is destroyed.

Not only has this occurred, but 97% of the mature forests in North America have already been destroyed, not showing much hope for the forests of the rest of the world. These forests are vital to us, they provide much of the world’s oxygen, and they are home to most of the world’s terrestrial species and are key to preventing loss of topsoil and preventing pollution of the water ways. Deforestation is an unsettling environmental crisis and potentially the most severe to the long term health of the planet.

“Many species around the world are now threatened by climate change, and some are becoming extinct – in part because of the climate crisis and in part because of encroachment into the places where they once thrived” – al gore

But it’s not just our forests that are of concern, today humanity requires the equivalent of 1.5 earths to provide the resources we use meaning that it takes the earth a whole year and six months to regenerate what we use in just a year. UN Scenarios have suggested that if the current population and trends of consumption continue, then by the end of 2030s we will require the equivalent of at least 2 earths to support us all, and its estimated that within 100 years (most likely during our children’s life time) our fossil fuels will have depleted. The results of this however would be devastating; we’d face collapsing fisheries, diminishing forests over depletion of fresh water systems, and possibly most concerning is the build-up of carbon dioxide emissions which creates problems like global climate change. In Al Gores book, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ he states that “We are witnessing an unprecedented and massive collision between our civilisation and the earth” (Gore, page 215, 2006) essentially, we’re going to have to work with nature, or face colliding with it.

The fact is we are currently at a point where we can act, where we need to act, and we need to act quickly. Though we have already done much damage to our earth, it’s not something that can’t be repaired and compensated for; it’s not too late for us to make changes in aspects of our lives and within society to work towards a better future, a more sustainable future that our children can enjoy. Rather than leaving them with a big mess that in truth by then they probably wouldn’t be able to clear up.
when you consider how much poverty there is in the world, and then how much hidden wealth there is, how privileged the westernised lands are and compare the two it truly begins to put things in perspective, you really can begin to see that we are a country fuelled by consumption and materialism, and yet there are people in the world who survive with next to nothing, it’s almost shameful because there are people with no roof over their head, just happy to be living and yet here we are complaining about the most unnecessary and insignificant things in our life, such as not having the latest brand of iPhone.

We’ve lost all sense of what true wealth and value is, the value of this world and life isn’t in what we can dig up from the ground and transform into the next evanescent product it’s in the world all around us in all the beauty we destroy to create these ephemeral items. And yet there’s no reason why we couldn’t have both, if we just let hemp integrate with society.

“this division between nature and us is a product of our minds, and it is no coincidence that every damage we inflict upon the heavenly body we inhabit is reflected within ourselves. Clearcuts tear into our forest, and strange new cancers ravage our bodies. Species go extinct, and human sperm counts plummet. Dioxins was down our waterways and into our bloodstreams. The pesticides on our cotton fields may wash away- but where is away?” Robinson. Pg 44, 1995.

The way we currently live is only counting down to a death sentence for the future of ourselves and our planet, the longer we overshoot and consume more resources than the sustainable level, the more the long-term “sustainable level” actually declines meaning that if we don’t do something soon then the task of returning back to a sustainable level will only become more gargantuan. It may even come to a point where Hemp is our only option, if we continue to use up our resources at the rate we are it’s a very worrying but likely possibility. If that day comes everyone will be asking why we didn’t make the most of this resource sooner, when it could have helped save so much of our natural world and our finite resources.

Chapter two
Creative responses concerning hemp

Hemp has been used throughout history as a canvas for many artworks, though currently it’s not so common to find any artwork involving hemp as a material or an issue. However, there are artists such as Wonder Knack, an American based designer and photographer who uses his creativity and skills in an attempt to “cut away the stigma that has been placed on hemp for many years”.

Knack has produced a series of pieces that address environmental concerns such as the increasing toxicity in our environment, and the need for hemp as an available resource. Two projects in particular, “Hemp: Realize It” and “Industrial Hemp $”. Knack has made these specific pieces widely and freely available to download and encourages people to do so, as well as print and share them, in a hope that it will raise awareness and educate people to this incredibly useful, naturally forming, and sustainable resource.

He also invites us to look at the role industrial hemp has played throughout history and how it has helped with the development of mankind so that we can see how much it has to offer. He requests that the audience educates themselves with the facts of the situation, to start a dialog and ask questions in an effort to help society to learn about this valuable renewable resource especially how it can be utilized in a sustainable future.

hemp_history_future_thm hemp_earth_medicine_thm hemp_seeds_thm

“Hemp: Realize it”

hemp$_BLU_thmhemp$_GRN_thm

(Industrial Hemp$)

His approach to this issue is clearly evidence that he too sees this as a resource that we need to recognize. He is not doing this for his own benefit but to raise awareness for this resource and break it away from its negative connotations, to allow it to take back its own identity in the hope that it will be recognized so that it may benefit others and eventually all of us. He states with his work that “Hemp has carried humans through the ages and deserves an identity and future based on reality. Farmers in America and worldwide deserve to continue this symbiotic relationship that is as old as agriculture itself.” (Wonder Knack, 2012) His choice of language conveys a belief, that of which I agree with, that Hemp has been unfairly represented in modern society and we need to acknowledge it for what it could be: a beneficial resource to agriculture that we deserve to have available to us.

These pieces are particularly effective as they visually highlight the link and importance of Hemp to our natural world. The series “Hemp, realize it” states many of the uses for Hemp, informing the audience of things they may not be aware of. Whereas “Industrial Hemp$” visually implies the economic benefits of embracing industrial Hemp in a way that mimics propaganda posters.

reefer-madness-affiche-film-205x300 marijuana-propaganda-assasin-youth marihell

Unfortunately in the 20th century there was an influx of anti-Cannabis propaganda that may have influenced society’s opinions regarding hemp due to its close relation with psychoactive Cannabis. These campaigns arose at around the same time that Jazz music became popular throughout Britain and the rest of the world, a genre which was and still is predominantly dominated by black males, at this point in history many people were racist and there were many reservations about black men integrating with white women. With the rise of jazz music there had the “hippy” era there had been an increase in the smoking of cannabis to get high, so it’s clear to see how people made a link between the two, rightly or wrongly. And it is true that marijuana held a prominent role in the music scene of this era, Ray Charles himself wrote a song called “Let’s go get stoned”, which no doubt would not have helped with the association between the rising black community and Cannabis.

It also shows evidence that opinions of different races at this time influenced their opinions and what they believed about Cannabis. Society at this time held more Christian/catholic beliefs than it does now and there was much controversy about interacting with black people, they believed if you were fraternising with black people, you were committing a sinful act and that god wouldn’t approve.

Despite the fact that cannabis and hemp have been used throughout history in a number of religious circles, it is clear that a link was made between how they perceived black people in this era, and how they perceived cannabis as in many of these posters the smoking of cannabis is described as a sinful act, a product of the devil spawned from hell itself. Which seems like an amusing concept now we know so much more about the genus cannabis, but at this point in time with the reservations people had and the traditional beliefs of society it seemed like a very plausible idea that many believed and passed on to their children.

Another factor was that corporations wanted to protect their businesses and profits. If Hemp had been used for paper instead of trees, then that would have been a number of timber and logging companies that would be out of business. If we had allowed ford to continue using hemp fuel in their cars, no doubt other car manufacturers would have followed suit, and put petroleum fuel business out of pocket also, because they simply wouldn’t be able to compete with the yield and availability of this resource. If we had continued using hemp as a fabric then many cotton farms and producers would have also struggled to be successful. Though it may seem as though that could have had a negative impact on the economy, hemp would have been able to restore that with how much and how quickly it can be produced. Some of these alternative resources that we chose to use instead of hemp have become the most damaging to our environment, but at the time they were portrayed as innovating and prosperous.
By portraying cannabis in such a negative light they were able to deter people away from using Hemp as an alternative; and if people disobeyed they could face drug charges and end up with a prison sentence.

Casagrande and Rintala are two Finnish designers that have used Hemp within their work. In japan they installed “Bird Hangar” a sculptural cone with a steel frame wrapped in hemp rope, sending birds made of balsa, a light weight timber, attached to meteorological balloons that contain five seeds of basic Japanese vegetables and a note asking whoever finds the birds to contact the artists and plant the seeds.
Though there are many more possible uses for hemp other than just rope this is a good example of how hemp can be utilised in design, with little impact on the environment. It is also a good example of how hemp can be reintroduced and eased into modern society as if you saw this sculpture you would not assume it was made from the same plant that so many countries have reservations over. Little by little if we each started to use hemp more, and use the conventional alternatives less, we could see that people would be more accepting of this resource and tear down the current misconceptions and allow better understanding of this miracle plant to form. If more people followed in the footsteps of these designers and physically showed the potential uses of hemp and how good it is as a material then people would begin to acknowledge it as an option leading to an increase in demand for this resource to be utilised in more aspects of society and industry.

Hemp cone Casagrande & Rintala@Yokohama Triennial 2001 Bird Cage_Casagrande & Rintala_Yokohama Triennial_2001 Marco Casagrande@Yokohama Triennial_photo Nathalie Pozzi

This piece is particularly effective as its clearly promoting an environmental cause and using hemp within this piece highlights the environmentally friendly aspects of Hemp itself, such as its sustainability and biodegradability. It provides a clear link between growth and the environment and the part that hemp plays within that.
Chapter 3:

My main objective through my creative response is to promote hemp to the general public, to educate them of its harm free uses. I have chosen to specifically target a domestic audience as I believe most of the hesitation around hemp and its misunderstood relationship to psychoactive cannabis as stated in chapter one, is created from the home environment, generations that were exposed to the 20th century anti-cannabis propaganda, periods of racism and the association portrayed between the black community and psychoactive cannabis (also studied in chapter two), have passed what they were taught on to their descendants.

Though with the younger generations more exposed and with better access than ever to the truths that lie out there in the world, simply available at the click of a button via the world wide web. We are becoming more aware of the options that are out there for us and the devastating possibilities of our potential future if we carry on as we are. As well being able to educate ourselves about the facts of matters, having been so exposed to so many different incidents in which higher powers have lied to us we have become unable to take anyone source at its word, rather than taking in whatever government or cooperate funded news and propaganda we are presented with.

However much of the older generations, still prefer to read what’s printed in the paper and reported in the news and so haven’t been able to take in many different facts, viewpoints and perspectives, some that may disprove what they have been taught to believe.

From looking at the work of designer’s Casagrande and Rintala and how their use of hemp within their sculptural piece explored in chapter two demonstrated how hemp can be integrated into modern day society, potentially with the audience being unaware that it is serving that purpose whether it be intentional or not. Taking that into account I felt as though the best way to convey my message would be to make something that aesthetically isn’t shocking, something that’s pleasant and tasteful but at a closer look will reveal the unexpected. I want my message to be able to comfortably sit within the home environment and not feel out of place as I feel this is the best and most appropriate exhibition space for connecting with my audience and that’s the position in which I believe hemp should be in, it should be welcome in our homes and able to sit around and within them without issue, perhaps even unknowingly to those around it.

As I will be specifically trying to address a domestic audience I have chosen to convey my message in a more modern take of the traditional Toile de Jouy style pattern print akin to the style the Beastie Boys used for their Brooklyn wallpaper.  (See Image 1) As this traditional style is something that has been seen throughout homes in history, and you would not expect it to convey a message that holds such controversial opinions. As well as making the link between how hemp has itself has previously been accepted, used and cultivated throughout history and is not a new revolution, it is dated, much like the appearance of the Toile de Jouy style patterns. I have additionally chosen to print my pattern on to fabric so that I am able to transform it into items that can be found in the home environment such as furnishings, cushions, curtains and table cloths.

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 effective 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 of 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.

Evaluation of “Hempire”

Overall I am happy with the outcome of this project. That being said the feel of the fabric was not quite what I had aspired it to be, though I was limited to a certain array of fabrics given the printing process. I had hoped for a slightly thicker, softer fabric. Yet the cotton palin has proven durable and easy to work with.  Though I hadn’t intended to use a fabric like this its crisper feel gives it a more refined finished appearance.

I also feel I have achieved my aim of conveying hemp culture and its uses in a tasteful modern Toile De Jouy inspired pattern, and producing tasteful items that would not be out of place within a home environment.

Though I had never up-cycled a chair before it was a very easy process, but none the less I feel for a first attempt it was a great success. I have found through making the chair and cushion that my technical competence using a sewing machine and upholstering has developed, and I now feel very confident within these areas. I feel the finish of the chair appears very clean and to a high standard.

Generally I enjoyed the process of making my furnishings. The drawing process itself was the most time consuming, but once they had been complete the process of editing the drawings together and forming a repeat pattern tile using a combination of Photoshop and InDesign was somewhat quicker, though I found myself having to go back to the drawing board a few times to make extra additions so that my pattern would have a better flow to it. I had chosen to reflect my tile so that it would use the bold shapes to its advantage and create an illusion of depth, yet by doing this the text within my drawings was mirrors, I needed it to remain symmetrical for it to work so didn’t change this as it’s not all that noticeable, until you look closer. This wasn’t ideal, and I’m not happy with that aspect though I don’t feel it matters much to the pattern. It’s almost symbolic of the reflection in its potential uses of today, and the uses its had in history.

However once I had decided upon my final design for a repeat pattern and produced my repeatable tile It was a very easy printing process. The software used in the digital print resource allowed me to just repeat my tile over and over, to any desired length. It took under an hour to print 2 metres of my pattern at its standard speed, I had attempted to print it on a faster speed though this made the pattern blurry and unaligned. After printing the fabric was steamed and washed, once more this proved to be very easy and simple. The printing process itself I found to be very efficient and appearance wise was exactly what I was hoping for. Though through the steaming some orange tones did appear, however they are faint and almost unnoticeable and overall I am happy with the print itself.

The process of constructing my items was somewhat challenging, I ran into a few technical hiccups with my sewing machine. Though aside from that it was a very simple and straight forward process overall. The most challenging part I felt was sewing in the zip for my cushion cover. I had struggled with how to sew it in while the cushion cover being reversed, and the metal on the zip made it difficult to get a tight stitch between the fabric and the zip by using the sewing machine.

After showing my fabric print, and finished pieces to a number of people I was able to gauge how successful I had been in achieving my aims of actually enlightening people of its uses and taking away some of the negative stigma attached to it.
Though I was aware that many of the older generation are simply unaware of the differences and uses of hemp, and this is why I had produced these items to change that, I was still surprised at how little some of my audience knew. Generally speaking none of them really understood what cannabis was, their assumption was that it was the same as the narcotic cannabis. Though after presenting Hempire to them most of them quickly understood the visual connections I had made from seed, to a full crop, to uses. As for the aesthetics they all seemed to like the pattern and how it looked and some expressed that it would be something they would consider having in the home.

Some couldn’t make all the connections between images, the most common being the fuel pump as they were very unaware it could be converted into fuel.

Overall it was clear that I had educated these people, they had not known much at all about hemp and so I feel I have succeeded in that goal. I am unsure as to whether I have changed their perceptions at all, though it seemed clear they now didn’t think so negatively of the cannabis genus as a whole, and were now seemingly pro hemp, there was still much unsurety toward it as a result of its psychoactive varieties. Much scepticism as a result of the legalities involved.

I don’t believe that anyone will be making any drastic changes in their life to include hemp within it, though they seemed encouraged to research into it some more themselves and potentially try some hemp based products. Everyone seemed genuinely interested by this topic which I feel was the biggest success, they wanted to know more about hemp than what I had visually conveyed, such as additional facts I’d learned through my study.

 

 

 

Upcycling

I purchased an old tatty chair from a YMCA store, where people donate unwanted furniture and its sold off and the proceeds go back into the charity.

This chair was only £5, and had lots of scuffs, scratches, chips and the seat fabric was stained.

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I firstly sanded down the chair to create a smooth base and applied a base coat before applying 2 coats of brilliant white gloss paint.

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For the seat pad i cut a square of my fabric. to determine the right size i laid out the seat, face down on my fabric and ensured there was enough fabric to stretch around the back and be fixed into place.

This is where the angles in my print came to my advantage. i was able to easily ensure that the print was straight when i fixed it into place.

I fixed my fabric into place by doing the sides first and pulling those tight and fixing them by carefully hammering in metal tacs. I then did the same with the top and bottom.

i used a bit of tape to get the fabric to sit flat on the back surface of the seat, also allowing me to ensure not loose threads would find their way through.

i used an off cut from some spare fabric i had to cover the loose ends, i folded the ends of the scrap fabric inwards so that these also wouldn’t be visible and tacked these down.

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the final product…

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I really enjoyed the process, found it to be very rewarding and easy.

Overall i was very happy with the outcome, it looked professional and could easily see it as a feature item within a modern home.

Cushion Cover

Using the fabric i printed i also made a cushion cover.

I got hold of a cushion insert and measured out two squares on my fabric that were a single cm smaller than the insert so that it would have a fuller feel when complete.

To save time, and stitches i chose to position my squares next to each other and not cut the line that joins them so that i wouldn’t have to stitch that side as i felt this would also make it have a more professional finished look. This left me with only two sides i needed to fully stitch and one side where i would need to stitch in the zip.

I folded the edges of the zip side inwards and aligned it with the sides of the zip so that when stitched the zip would run along the edge where the seem would normally sit. After pinning and tacking this together i used a sewing machine to sew the zip in, and the small stretches of fabric either side that weren’t attached to the zip. Leaving only a small amount of fabric either side of the zip to neatly hand sew its ends inwards.

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Once it was finished i turned outside in so and put in my insert to make sure it was the right fit. Thankfully it was.

I feel the crisper feel of the fabric in this case benefited me as it gave it a much more defined edging, giving an overall professional finish.

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Printing my Fabric

I used the colleges digital print resource to print my fabric.
I was able to take my repeat tile and repeat it over and over to any desired length.

it only took about an hour to print 2 meters of the fabric, following that i steamed and washed the fabric to fix my print.

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i was really happy with how my fabric turned out. I lost no detail in printing. Though the fabrics that were available to me weren’t what i had hoped to use, it was a lot more crisp than id wanted, I’d have preferred a softer fabric but was limited by stock and what the printers would accept.

Yet the cotton palin has proven durable and easy to work with.  Though I hadn’t intended to use a fabric like this its crisper feel gives it an overall more refined finished appearance.