Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold

'Documentary journalist and troublemaker Leah Borromeo is making a film about fashion and its real victims. She is on a mission – she wants to make ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry the norm, not the exception, by making the supply chain transparent. And she is on a journey to find out how to make this a reality.

Leah will follow the thread of our clothing from seed to shop - from farmers to brokers and bankers to the factories and manufacturers through to the labels we love to wear. She’ll show the environmental and social impact of the intense use of pesticides, will engage in the debate around genetically modified seed, investigate the concept of fair trade, explore the viability of organic cotton and probe the structures that make the rich rich and the poor poor. She’ll emphasise the need for traceability and accountability in the fashion industry.

The journey ends with us – and what we can do not just to look good, but do good. So, this is a campaigning film, but not one which hits you with a worthy stick. Leah’s a troublemaking Situationist journalist and friend to The Yes Men, Reverend Billy and the Space Hijackers. She never does things by halves and so the film will be quirky, funny and have a subversive twist. Think Newsnight meets the Yes Men.'

What's really sad about this is to learn the truth about what goes on behind-the-scenes... that nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves to escape debt (up to 26 per day!). This is the human price we pay for cheap cotton! These farmers are trapped in a cycle of debt, 'brought about as a result of the industrialisation of their livelihoods. Some kill themselves by drinking the pesticides with which they farm.' It's just too tragic to think about but we have to! Thanks to selfless people like Borromeo who want to share this with the world... to make it transparent.

At the heart of the film will be the human stories of the people who work the fields to form the threads of our moral fibre. We will ask "when you bag a bargain, who pays for it?”

Friday, 26 October 2012

Experiments with clay...

I thought I'd share some more experiments in clay from my ceramics course...

The top image is a platter, wonky as it is, made by rolling out clay, imprinting it, in this case with a felt 'placemat', turning it over onto a mould to get the shape, firing it and then I glazed it with a clear glaze (as I'm using a white clay).

The next two images are sweet little pieces made using moulds... again, the clay is rolled out to the desired thickness then gently worked into the mould to get the shape. I handpainted the coloured underglaze and after they were fired they were coated with a clear glaze. I'm really loving this yellow, I mixed it myself...

The bottom two images are bigger experiments... using moulds again but this time with the slip casting method. An earthenware slip was used... these are pretty much complete failures as the slip was too thick and we left them in there too long so the forms are quite thick... but more so the insides are not smooth. The cylindrical vase got a bit damaged with the air gun, used to coax stubborn forms out of moulds, and so they really are just big experiments and won't really be anything as finished forms... which is why I'm taking the experiment further and cutting in the square one just to muck around some more.

However, the most exciting part was printing on clay. The waratah is my design... it can be found on this eco-friendly greeting card. Here I have screen printed it onto tissue paper with an underglaze printing ink... the words are from a screen my teacher had and look quite nice too.

This is what I have been working towards... finding a method I can use, as someone with limited skill, to build up a stock of shapes that I can print on... with the intent of selling them as part of my product range... this will be a long way off yet... probably not until next year... but it all has to start somewhere... the method has to be found, prototypes have to be made and then production can begin.

If I could form beautiful, consistent shapes on the wheel I would do so but this will take years to master which is why the moulds and slip casting method was chosen. I'm still not 100% sure this is the path I will take... we cast two more this week to see if we get a better result but it is still quite a slow process if I am wanting to use it commercially and keeping in mind that this is just one product line so I can't devote all my time to it. The other option is to purchase greenware / bisqueware in the desired shapes (or have some custom made) so then all I have to do is print, glaze and fire...

It's all a learning curve and quite an enjoyable one at that!