from craft to digital and back again

7 November, 2011 |  by
This post was done as a commission for the UK Crafts Council 40:40 exhibition
I was asked to respond to 3 objects from their collection
the final objects chosen can be viewed on their 40:40 website

http://onviewonline.craftscouncil.org.uk/4040/responder/1

What I find interesting about craft is learning from the different techniques and ways of using materials. The process of finding successful techniques and then refining and developing those processes is similar to how i approach my illustration work.
Through three craft objects i will try to explain 3 different aspects of my approach to work. Craft processes, Digital processes and from From digital back to craft

 

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Craft Processes
Nora Fok’s knitted nylon ‘Bubble Bath’ makes use of a simple and delicate knitting technique. With an unusual material and a simple starting point she repeats and layers of bubbles to build up an exquisitely beautiful object. 
 
'Bubble bath' Nora Fok 2001

‘Bubble bath’ Nora Fok 2001

 
I will try to explain how i developed my way of creating images as i think it may have similarities to Nora’s craft process. I created many screen prints for the fair trade company People Tree. These prints need to be extremely simple graphic shapes, with one or two flat colours as the printing process is quite simple. I was drawing plants and floral imagery but needed to keep it very simple and graphic so that it could be easily translated to the screens. As I enjoyed the freedom of reducing imagery to basic shapes I began to play with these in my digital work. They became more and more abstract and and stylised as I worked on them. I built up layers of these images to create more and more complex images. In the end the image has become quite complex, but it is still derived from simple abstracted screen printed shapes. I think the process has similarities to Fok’s work in that the beauty comes from the layers of these simple handmade shapes as they build on top of each other.
 
'People Tree calendar' Chris Haughton 2007

‘People Tree calendar’ Chris Haughton 2007

 

People Tree repeat pattern print. Chris Haughton 2008

People Tree repeat pattern print. Chris Haughton 2008

 

People Tree repeat pattern print. Chris Haughton 2008

Burton pattern print Chris Haughton 2011

 

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Digital Processes

 

I work almost entirely digitally now and am very grateful to the computer as a tool. When i began illustrating i was creating images by hand and they were often either compromised by limitations of the materials and tools, or ruined by mistakes. Digital images on the other hand are almost endlessly malleable and so allow a lot of experiments with colour and layout. 
I am very interested in the possibilities of digital tools. Drummond Masterton’s piece makes use of the crisp lines and vectors of the CNC, subverting the intended uses of the hardware. When myself and my friends in college started using digital tools to edit drawings rather than photos twelve years ago it also felt like we were also subverting the intended use of the software. Its exciting to think that when the technology is so new, its makers cant foresee exactly how it will be used. 
 
Star Tesselation Dish ST 14 Drummond Masterton 2007

Star Tesselation Dish ST 14 Drummond Masterton 2007

 
 
When i saw Drummond’s work I was reminded of this film by the artist duo Semiconductor, they have taken 20hz radio waves and interpreted it as audio. What we are hearing is solar wind. I find it incredible to think of the possibilities with digital media. In this case it allowing us to see and hear things outside the limits of our perception.
Semiconductor 2011
 
 
For my own work, digital media allows me to print and work with colours and saturation levels outside of what is possible to produce by hand. It also allows me to produce images with much more creative flexibility than i could do otherwise.
 
Image from the book A Bit Lost in production Chris Haughton 2009

Image from the book A Bit Lost in production Chris Haughton 2009

 
 
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From Digital back to Craft

 

 

Having started off from an interest in craft I have come full circle with my digital work. My latest projects are re-interpreting the digital images i have created as craft. I had been looking to work again with textures and natural colours and create something ‘physical’ because much of my recent work was entirely screen based. I was also keen to apply my design work to something that benefitted others. In 2010 I took eight months off to live and work in Nepal and India creating craft objects with fair trade craftspeople.
 
Wedgewoodn't Tureen Michael Eden 2010

Wedgewoodn’t Tureen Michael Eden 2010

 

 
I was fascinated by Michael Eden’s piece. He has created a rapid-manufactured object in the shape of a traditional tureen. In process this is the mirror opposite of my own recent work. Whereas he has made a traditional design using a digital process i have been making digital designs using traditional processes. My rugs are graphed so that each pixel is converted to a carpet knot. I hope to experiment more with the processes between digital media and craft as i see it as a rich area at the moment with current technology.
 

Creating the graph: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011

Creating the graph: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011


Woven in wool on the loom: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011

Woven in wool on the loom: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011


Cutting and finishing: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011

Cutting and finishing: Rug in production Chris Haughton 2011


Owl rug Chris Haughton 2010

Owl rug Chris Haughton 2010