Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Designing from architecture: the Casa Batlló, Barcelona part one

 Course Work - a valuable resource.

In 2000 - 2001, I studied at Bradford for my HNC in Handwoven Textile Design.  One of the assignments was to explore architecture as a source for inspiration and produce a range of items. The key words were colour and texture.

Having recently visited Barcelona, I was fascinated by the buildings by Gaudi, in particular the Casa Batlló in Barcelona.I chose these buildings for my assignments. 

Robert Hughes in his book 'Barcelona' describes the house thus:

Gaudi ... wanted the Casa Batlló to be read as a symbolic paean to the legend of Saint Anthony, patron saint of Catalunya, in  his victory over the dragon. The building 'represents' the dragon, its lair, its victims and the triumph of St George all in one. The ridged roof, with its interlocking glossy scales, is the monster's back. Below, the curving iron balconies of the intermediate floors, pieced with holes like eye sockets, look like masks and represent the skulls of the victims. Robert Hughes  Barcelona (1992) Pp 513 - 514.

My drawing of the exterior

This beautiful house is a fantastic source of inspiration. The coloured mosaic on the facade is described by Hughes as 'an architectural equivalent to the shifting, luminous crusts of airy and watery colour in Monet's waterlilies.' 

Sample one

This sample is woven in plain weave with 16/2 cotton. The colour inlay areas are randomly placed in the same shed as the plain weave pick, although I tried to refer to the photograph to arrange areas of colours.  The inlay threads are various lengths and are 16/2 cotton in a variety of colours. 
Looking back at this sample I have seen new possibilities for the weave.  A fabric for a jacket might be a future project for me. 

Sample two

This sample is in honeycomb weave.  The background is in 16/2 cotton and the cell outlines are in a thicker cotton - 3/2. I tried to get the sense of colour as well as the three dimensional aspect of the facade. 

This is the sample woven on four shafts. The regular honeycomb shows the colours through the eyelet holes.  

Sample three.

For this sample, I wanted to explore the layered front of the house. 
here is a close up of one of the floors. 
Close up of windows

My sketch of the window and balcony shapes.

I had great fun designing a swatch to reflect this three dimensional facade. This is a honeycomb weave on 8 shafts. 

Front of material showing the lovely distorted cell shapes

This is the weave draft showing the front of the cloth.  I used beige, brown and grey to represent the facade. 

Weave draft showing the front of the material

This is the weave draft showing the reverse of the cloth. There are long weft floats. 

Weave draft showing the reverse of the material.

Sample four.

Park Guell

Colour is a feature of Park Guell.  The lizard on the steps is a symphony of colour. 

The wavy stripe pattern was irresistible. 

I used it for the starting point of designing a swatch using inlay techniques. 

From my sketch book.

This weave structure is dukagang. It was an experiment to see how shapes could be made with inlay.  The background weave is threaded straight draft on four shafts. The weft is the same as the warp threads - 16/2 cotton at 32 epi.   The coloured inlay is four strands of the 16/2 cotton. The weave order is 
13 - weft
123 inlay
24 - weft
123 inlay

Sample five 

I also tried a wavy curved twill draft with coloured stripes. The warp is 16/2 cotton bleached white.  The coloured weft is an assortment of thick coloured silk yarns and a white 16/2 silk for the main weft. 

Here is the draft for the twill pattern.

My file of course samples and work is a valuable resource which I am not sure I have fully utilised in the years since I gained my weaving qualification. Looking through my sketch books and samples has really inspired me for further weaving projects.  I hope that you find something of interest as well. 

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes.   March 2023

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