Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas baking so far!!

So every holiday I go back and think, what else is there to do in the middle of nowhere, but bake things for family and friends! I go a bit crazy otherwise.. :D
(I'm so proud of the cupcakes, they look so professional, hehe!)

Friday, 3 December 2010

A tactile, magnetic ear piece, that you might not necessarily want to touch...

This is my final piece so far for my research project, a lot of thought was put into how it would fit onto the ear..
The piece is still in progress, but the concept is basically a tactile piece which you may not want to touch (the sphere shapes are made from latex, rather squishy and odd) and I decided to put it in an unexpected or 'hidden' place on the body. I chose behind the ear because that is a habit of my own, to rub behind my ears, I don't notice I'm doing it. If i forgot I was wearing this, I'd get a fright feeling some sort of weird rubbery texture there!
Anyway, I have set magnets in the copper and into the latex so it fits anywhere around the ear (very strong magnets!) and can be moved around. I have not yet flocked the inside of the spheres (added texture) or added chains and more spheres to hang off the piece. It will also be silver plated.

Some wee porcelain samples for your viewing pleasure

A couple of weeks ago Georgia kindly arranged a porcelain workshop for us in the general workshop which was fun and a nice break from other stresses in our owm workshop and design studies! Here's a few wee glazed samples:

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Have calmed down a little bit...

After verging on....a week and a half to two weeks, I have been fairly stressed about my dissertation subject. Basically, what I began with was 'The relationship between Europe and Japan, why we are influenced by Eastern Culture.' Now this needs narrowing down a lot, so I began reading more into it..and thought about basing it around cities, perhaps urbanisation...then i came across craft. A friend suggested to me: How East Asian craft has affect that of the UK, using Japan as a case study. Still needs some fair narrowing...however I have begun delving into the world of craft, and the arts and crafts movement which clearly links with Japanese craft. (Mengei theory)

.......why am I so adamant on basing my dissertation on Japan? I am interested in Eastern Culture, particularly Japan because it seems like such an 'alien' country to me, I have been exposed to Japanese artwork, print and paintings since I was fairly young, it's been around my house, have come across works amongst artists I'm fond of...
From what I learnt last year it has a very low crime rate, an organised transport system (bullet train) a polite society, I just loved learning all these facts and some figures about a completely different culture from my own. So in turn thought I'd investigate into why Europe, or even just the UK, is inspired by an Eastern culture, and vice versa. Globalisation could factor into this a lot, but from what I've learnt so far it's the need we have to learn about another way of living, a cross cultural knowledge is sought after.
So...really I think I'll just have to keep reading to narrow it down :S I'm not sure if I'd like to write about craft just yet...transport is another option, could make it a service design type discussion..who knows just yet. The first proposal is coming up and I think I'm just going to have to do with what knowledge i have a the moment. I would be so much less stressed if i definitely knew what I was doing, but there you go! I hear a lot of other folks are in the same position but pretty much everyone I've spoken to seems to know what they're doing...
On the upside of things, the research project is going really well! Yay! A blog to follow that coming up :)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ooooh boy....I'm going to have fun with this project..

Sooooo, this morning we got a new brief, Sandra took us through it explaining the Research Project. We have to research into a jeweller/designer which has been picked out for us according to our own styles/interests, which lead up to a 10 minute presentation of the designer's work. We also have to design and make a piece which uses either a technique, material, inspiration or concept etc that they use. The line between using their work as inspiration and plagiarising their work shouldn't be crossed.
I had a feeling I would maybe get a designer who uses plastics, is inspired by organic forms, pattern, or texture..I was almost right, and I do like her work!
Zoe Robertson, is a contemporary jeweller who is interested in unusual materials, plastics, rubber and currently flocking are used to create her designs.
Bold, colourful, tactile and industrial yet sensual are all keywords to describing her work...however..
I did quite a lot of research this afternoon and found 2 videos of her giving a lecture about her work at Birmingham Institute of art and design, where she teaches as a lecturer on the jewellery and silversmith course.
Her earlier work as she describes, was inspired by a mixture of her love of creating, and her social life.. The market she aimed to sell her jewellery at before she started teaching was to the Rubber and PVC Fetish market! This was a big part of her life when she was younger, and having researched into fetish clothing companies and knowing that particular area of style, she noticed that nobody was doing jewellery in this line of fashion! So this is where her career took off....

Her work is quirky, very tactile looking, and a lot of fun.

Well, I'd never have guessed it from more recent designs...

Oh and I will post some of my final samples for the colour project up here but I haven't shipped them back to my flat yet.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Spore Prints!

I've been looking at mushrooms quite a lot for my colour project..I love the organic forms, the colours, the textures of them (although I don't like eating them) Have done some spore prints of some mushrooms I gathered at the weekend, and quite a few of them turned out really well and are very detailed! I'm going to try and replicate a print on the laser cutter tomorrow. Not exactely very colourful but I can incorporate colour into them some other way. Not too sure of designs yet but I'll have to come up with some pretty soon...such a short project compared to our first one which was 5 weeks! Time is running away pretty quickly.

Some A.R.T. Society fun..

For the past couple of weeks I've gone along to the A.R.T. Society events, with encouragement from my friend Jen who happens to be the president of the society (ooooo!) and it's been a lot of fun!
At the beginning of the term I was a fundraiser for the D.A.R.E. Society...although this provided much involvement in a team, was enjoyable/for a VERY good cause, it also provided a lot of stress, which got to me because really (I suppose!) I should be putting my course first. I decided to stand down as a fundraiser which I did and do feel quite guilty/sad about, I really enjoyed doing it. However this doesn't mean I'm leaving D.A.R.E. entirely. I still attend events, go to meetings and want to help out when I can. I just don't want to be relied upon when I can't be completely reliable due to my course or whatever else appears in between.
Anyway, having said all this the A.R.T. Society has given me some stress relieving activities to enjoy once in a while, it's good to go to an event where I can just carve a vegetable (a pumpkin just to clarify) or decorate piles of cakes in amongst all the work I'm doing! Here are a few picturess..

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Colour Project..

Some wee sketches in my sketchbook!

Yesterday we took a trip to the botanic gardens, mostly staying in the glasshouses because of the weather to draw plants using colour for our project. I went and took a few pictures myself today just around Dundee. We have to incorporate resin/acrylic into our samples that we make after our workshops.
I'm really looking forward to the workshops! I really like using alternative materials to metal, or alongside it, and I have been wanting to know more about the possibilities with plastics!
We have a resin workshop to look forward to tomorrow I think, also vacumming, heating and moulding, carving and finishing on other days. This could help me a LOT with how to use the materials I love and another step towards knowing what I want to do for 4th year :)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Narrative project final piece..

Very nearly forgot! Here is my final piece for the narrative project, I have never made a piece of jewellery which has such a deep meaning or story behind it so it was a challenge, but Im pleased with the outcome :)

Based on Pre-Raphaelite paintings and William Morris patterns, my 'compact mirror' is beautiful on the outside, but broken on the inside...

Made with Brass, contains resin in the centre and shards of broken mirror set inside.

Colourful, resin jewellery

I think our new project which is 'Colour' based on architecture and using resin/acrlyic and embelishing with metal where ever we see fit....will be awesome. I'll probably get stressed out anyway on choosing a final design as usual but I lOVE using a mixture of materials in addition to metal and without.

I was also thinking that I really enjoyed using ceramics in college, maybe I could use it in this project? I'm unsure as to if it specifically has to be plastics though, we'll find out tomorrow.

Here are some looovely images I've found, using colour in jewellery:

Cristina Aucone

Tracy Page Smith

Nicole Collins

Thoughts on a not-far-off dissertation..

Having not blogged as much as I probably should be, I feel like I should keep up with it because I do really do do work! I just don't post it up hasn't become an automatic reflex yet. Plus I really want to pimpmyblog :( I can be pretty bad with computers (just ask those who've seen me use photoshop, illustrator, you name it) but I'd like to show my work more and get it out there.

Anyway, I've started a mind map on subjects I think I'd really enjoy writing about/care about/am interested in, if it's not going to be interesting, and I don't enjoy writing it, it's not going to be a good read!
In second year I really enjoyed writing about Eastern Design, it was a sort of 'Western vs East' in way about cultural differences, and how Japanese technology is so advanced, how borrowing from different cultures can benefit our own. I think I would like to take this further but at the moment it's somewhat vague.
I'm also worrying that Primary Research is very important, and as I've never been to Asia or the far East before I'd be worried I'd end up writing about a country/continent I don't entirely understand? However there are other ways such as interviewing someone from Japan etc, but I'm not sure if that would be enough?

However I did get a wealth of knowledge and a great perspective on life in China from the assignment in second year, analysing photos. I spoke to a girl from Graphics who is from China, we talked for over two hours and could not have had a more different home life from each other. It was fascinating to find out more about a culture which i've never experienced straight from a person from there rather than looking through a book, watching a film, which may not be entirely accurate.

This also leads me on to the lecture 'Made in China' which we had before the reading week. I was so excited about this lecture. I thought yes, this is exactly what I want to know more about, this could help me so much to decide what I want to write about.

I knew China had a massive historical background, I'm still very unaware of the details. But because we were told this was literally skimming the surface of it's history, it made me wonder if I could research into Chinese Design without getting too bogged down in all the details. I tend to go off on a tangent when I do research and need to go back and think you need to focus on the most important points, but what's interesting about it without the details?
I thought this lecture as a whole had a huge effect on me. I had heard of Tiananmen was a place in China. That is it. I didn't know of the politics, the protests, the open fire on their own people. The way of life there as a mostly Capitalist country also worries me. The huge difference between the rich and the poor ways of life. Then we come to the factories...I know look at my ipod, with disgust, a lot of the time, and then think why did i not go for another mp3 player...which would also have probably said on the back, made in china. So why should i worry? It's a vicious cycle...the products are made there because it's cheaper, if we stop buying the products it puts people out of what can you do?? Can design help? I was seriously overwhelmed and a little bit depressed after this lecture because it seemed all doom and gloom..I did wonder what the Chinese people in our year thought of the lecture? Considering that China no longer talk of the Tiananmen Square protests too. I found a lot of the things I saw strange (such as the fake English town) or to do with the overworked underpaid factory workers.
What good comes out of China/is in China? What makes people happy there, and is a normal day just going off to the empty, fake English village to get a post-marriage photoshoot done?

I want to go! I want to experience China for myself, the cities, the countryside and take in the culture.

However that lecture made me slightly scared and that I might feel like 'the idiot abroad'..

Look, the great wall doesn't seem that big..:|

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Design studies group, 2nd meeting

So, our group decided to pass up Air bar for the grass on the campus green. We met up to see how was everyone was getting along with their research and how writing the Wiki was coming along, I think everyone agreed that there were few problems along the way but each of our subjects were so broad in information that you could carry on and on researching about them! For example Culture, there are 164 different definitions of (according to Claire's book, which I need to get the name of) and so she was having to cut it down a lot and focus on a certain area she wished to write about. Anyway, we enjoyed the chat and hopefully we're all getting on fine with our topics!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Design Studies :Assignment 1.

For this assignment I thought carefully about the topic I wanted to choose before we met up with our study groups. Crime and Design instantly jumped out at me from the list of Wiki topics but I had written about that for my level 2 essays so much last year I thought it's time to move on.
I googled and researched topics if I weren't too sure what they were, for example I had no idea what 'Green Wash' was before I looked it up, I had no idea that companies did this! Was pretty shocked and thought people are just so crafty! Of course saying 'this is a green product' is going to sell much more than those who aren't but faking it is awful...
Ecoliteracy is the topic I chose, luckily no one else in my group wanted to write about this, however we did find some common ground discussing it! Ecoliteracy is teaching sustainability and 'How to be green' in schools, which I think is an amazing subject, very important for future generations and has so much potential for design ideas!
Peter from our group suggested I visit the Student plot up at the Botanic Gardens, he does a lot of work up there and was telling me about some possible designs.
We were also discussing 'natural graffiti' which is using moss, as it grows really well up walls and buildings, mixing it with glue in a blender and 'graffiti-ing' public places! Technically you can't really get into any major trouble with this, it might not be as colourful or as personal as using spray paint, but its natural, and very green as it will continue to grow :)
We did go slightly off subjects at times but I think it was altogether a very useful meeting, getting to know each other and swapping ideas!

Saturday, 11 September 2010


I've been thinking about the reasons for liking the particular themes that appear in my work. With third year approaching I'd like to look more into subjects and understand the materials I love to use much better. Obvious loves of mine are the sea, sea creatures, fish, Japanese and Eastern culture, but a tutor asked me during the stone setting project what particular element do I like about these themes? Had I ever thought about looking further into it. I told him that I loved looking at transparent objects, multiples, stones that contain many colours such as Opals, I use layering in a lot of my pieces and sketchbooks.
I'd love to continue looking further into these ideas. However I'd never dismiss anything new that I come across..
During college in Glasgow when I was doing a portfolio course, I got really into looking at cells, bacteria, animals, the way nature works behind all the leaves and trees. If I look into a particular subject like an animal I think is just really interesting (usually reptiles, sea animals..) I HAVE to know everything about it and the way it works. Sort of like if I watch a film in a way, I have to know the workings behind it.
Some of the images I came up with for the Mixed Media project in that course weren't pretty, but they were full of detail, intricacy, and just lots of information!

A few hits of transparency into Google gave me some images that I really like..

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Stone Setting..

Very late posting this since the year is officially over and it's onward to third year (!) but here is my little glass vial creation from the stone setting project. It's a bit wonky if I'm honest but I'll get better at the making, and designing! :)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A thought. about medical labels..

I was having a look about bbc iplayer earlier, and since i've watched the latest Doctor Who and Nevermind the Buzzcocks at this point, thought i'd find a documentary to watch or something similar. I've only seen two Louis Theroux documentaries before, one of which was 'The City addicted to Crystal Meth' which was just...really bizzare and the other was about Fundamental Christian's in America being as strange as they can be I suppose. This one is 'America's medicated kids' not something I'd choose to watch because I'd feel it's...over-exposing? Maybe quite biased? Not that the other one's aren't but when it's something medical I get put off for some reason, same with any hospital progammes.
Anyway, I noticed something which I can kind of relate to, and which also tied in with this term's design studies, our assignments when we were interviewing the public.
So in certain parts of the programme Theroux sits in on doctors/psychiatrists talking to very young children aged from about 6 to 12 or so who are on medication for whatever reason. From ADHD, to Bi-Polar disorder (I had no idea children so young could be diagnosed with that and given pills for it...:s) and to other conditions I've never heard of. I paid particular attention to the questions they were being asked in their checks ups with the doctor. 'Do you feel times when you just feel like you have so much energy you're going to burst?' Do you feel very very angry sometimes?' and the replies were usually if not always a yes... The way they asked the questions seemed very directed to me. The child could be going along with what the doctor wants to hear, parents want to hear, or lying to perhaps feel special. (one child did infact admit that he liked the fact that he was labeled Bi-polar, that he takes numerous pills, and he feels special because of this).
It just struck me that these doctors and parents obviously want to make their children better, but could this just be an easy way out to calm them down with pills? Should children this young be on that amount of medication if at all? Are the questions they're asking their children really that well thought out enough to give an honest answer? Could they perhaps ask instead: So how did you feel on this day? What do you normally do at break time in school? Do you go and play with friends after school? If so why not?
I don't obviously understand the full force of it, as I have never come across a child who is just too much to handle everyday of the week like these parents. Maybe these questions are asked and this programme is just making it out that these particular people are more narrow-minded than they really are, but if they want to help these children I think they should ask more and listen more rather than giving a 6 year old medication for three different 'conditions' that they very well may, or may not have.
The only way I could relate to this documentary otherwise which I thought of, was that I have a friend who was told years ago by a doctor that said person had OCD, once they were told this, the OCD became 'worse', it seemed because they had been told this they automatically thought, right, I have this, I'm going to think about it more...and proceeded to be more worrysome, sort things into orders, etc. They had been labeled. I'm not saying that it wasn't there before at all, as there were tendencies, but once given the label it was like they were now acting on it more.
If a teen could become like this by being told they have OCD, a child would probably get into it even more-so and carry it with them throughout their life.
It was strange how one minute I was watching this and then the next minute thinking, they shouldn't be doing this, questions worded in a different way would give them much better answers from these kids..the interview techniques have sort of stuck with me a bit. It's made me think different about all sorts of things now that I've noticed. Design is coming into everyyyything...

Saturday, 10 April 2010


My research on sustainable jewellery has taken me towards sculpture at the moment, raking through the internet I've discovered artists with great ideas and designs. I came across a Community artist called Karen Whiterod who uses nylon and other plastics such as bottle and fishing wire, to create forms which are entirely manmade yet represent natural forms. I love these scupltures because of their transluecency, they way they also reflect light as well as let light through. A lot of her work is also suspended which is another aspect I've been looking into as I got further into the 'ring a day' project on Flickr, some very interesting and sciencey- ideas! Once I've looked further into the idea of suspending pieces of work I'll post it up here..for now here are some of Whiterod's pieces.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A Ring a Day..

Over Easter 2nd year (argh, nearly 3rd!) Jewellery have been asked to research for the Sustainability project, aiming to make Sustainable jewellery/sculpture in 3rd year. For the end of term we've to finalise our ideas with design boards.
My research is quite sketchy at the moment, I have..too many ideas and want to use too many materials, so I guess I'll just keep looking/sketchbooking till an idea sparks.
I found this sweeet idea on called the Ring a Day project, it's mostly about experimenting and having fun with different materials to create different ideas everyday. Idea by Colleen Baran but pictures of rings posted in by all makers can be found on Flickr, interesting to see all the different ideas that people come up with!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Rhino 3D

After a week full of learning tutorials, some frustration and then thinking *this is so much better than photoshop*...I finished my first ring design using Rhino 3D (presented using photoshop) which I'm pretty pleased with. Based on the project brief 'Hidden' I chose to create silver drops attached to a chain falling off a ring, with a pearl just visible inside one of the drops. The inside of the ring has indented letters which read 'escape' which only the wearer would be aware of.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Assignment 5 part A

In semester one I researched into Subway design and train stations; the cultural, environmental issues, general security and atmosphere placed around these public transports. The sources for my research were primarily surveys and journals which observed railway stations and links to crime.

How the general public found using stations everyday was my main concern, however after finding results of this I also started to question this service in other cultures, mainly Japan as their country is run by the Subway system. Gaining a greater knowledge of how to improve general public transport is important as everyone uses it and so everyone should be provided with a safe public service to use.

From my secondary research in semester one, I found a relevant Journal of information: ‘The International Journal of Transport Management 1 (2003) 121-132: Managing Crime and Fear of Crime at Railway Stations - a case study of South Wales.’ Which brings forward evidence that the general publics perception of personal crime in the station and in the vicinity of railway stations are much higher than statistics show, discouraging them from using trains. In this journal there is a specific type of research method used in finding this evidence: a Virtual Reality Interaction Programme (CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). This provided a walk-through panoramic view of a particular station, with a constructed questionnaire then completed candidates (three males, three females); results were then used in finding needs for improvisations of the railway stations.
Using this method to find out how the public viewed these stations (a total of six in six different locations) gathered some interesting results. Mainly that the stations should have better lighting, followed by increased staff and cleaning to improve customer safety. The interesting part is that all of these screen shots of stations were taking during the day, yet people noticed that more lighting was needed at night. This tells me that by using CPTED people were really paying attention because of the visual aspect of the survey; this may not have been noticed just through a series of questions.

‘Learning from the Japanese City; West Meets East in Urban Design’ Shelton B.1999; gave me an overview of Japanese Culture; why cities look the way they do, and a comparison to the Western world. In relation to my subject this source informed an idea of ‘content’ in Japan rather than ‘context‘(in the West). The locations of rail stations (according to source 1) are usually in deprived areas in Britain. Why? This made me consider how cities are laid out. I questioned the influence of other cultures on our society and how we could learn from Eastern countries to look at Design from a different point of view to perhaps improve on our public transport.
If I were to investigate this topic further with Primary research I would choose to interview the public and also use visual aids such as photographs. I believe that asking the general public is important, as you would gain a good knowledge of who uses the train, how often, what do they think of the service, any bad experiences using the train? My target group to ask would be adults younger and older who pass through the station at rush hour, travelling in and out to work every day. I’m likely to get informed answers from more frequent users. Five main questions would be enough to ask initially then I could ask more from their responses, it would be sensible to keep it under 10 minutes long, as I would hopefully get more than yes/no answers.

Interviewing combines observation; as you interview you tend to analyse their reactions especially from your own questions, so I would use the skills I have learned from my previous assignment ‘Design Safari’.

Even though I would be combining this with an interview and would mainly be observing the person I’m talking to, I could take note of the ‘type’ of person they are; businessman, traveller, etc. Paying attention to whether the interviewee seems calm or stressed when asking them about the trains with the kind of questions I ask. Current issues are important so I would ask about past experiences but mainly stick to up to date questions which would give me fresh answers.

Showing candidates three photos of three different stations and asking them to analyse the image, would help me gather a lot more information rather than just relying on my own observations, they may notice things I don’t with their interpretations.
Problems caused conducting these interviews would be the environment in which I’m interviewing; people who are rushing about for trains may either give me very short answers or not want to partake at all. However I would then ask people in cafes or sitting waiting on trains as they are more likely to be relaxed. There is a possibility of contradiction, I would have to structure my questions carefully so as not to gain an answer that the person might think I’d want to expect or hear. In-direct questions are key essentials. Some of the public may find the interviews invasive, which would then make the situation daunting for myself, questioning more people may prove difficult. The interview participation sheets would clearly state that they may stop being interviewed at any time if they feel uncomfortable and no personal information (name, age etc) will be used in the research or posted on the internet unless consent is given. I have to take into account that the answers given will be opinions, not facts, so when using the interviews for further research I must also look at other sources by other researchers.
My personal safety would be at risk as I would be asking strangers questions so during the day and at rush hours would be my target times. There may also be the risk of station staff questioning my interviewing on the premises, so I would explain my research with the use of a participation sheet. If still unacceptable I would ask in the centre of a city, as most of the public would use this public transport to get to work.

To conclude, I would make use of interviews to research further into the need to improve railway stations and subway design, including using images of different stations and asking people to analyse them. I think this will give me accurate up to date information of the general public’s opinion on the needs and improvements of stations. Also whether they feel safe, the atmosphere and everyday issues of using the train. I will do this by interviewing candidates in stations in a quieter area such as a cafĂ©, and around five main questions with sub-questions thereafter. Each candidate will be given a participation sheet and consent form to read and sign. Gaining non-bias information from the public will improve my research further and help towards looking at other sources to back-up my findings.


Cozens.P, Neale.R, Whitakers.J (2003) ‘International Journal of Transport Management 1’ Wales: Elsevier LTD

Shelton.B (1999) ‘Learning From the Japanese City: West Meets East in Urban Design.’ London: New York. Taylor and Routledge.

Assignment 5 part B

Our most recent project for jewellery was setting; to make a piece in metal which incorporates settings of other materials. This did not just involve the skills we had learnt in the workshop, our design was to be inspired by religious/ spiritual symbolism, which gave us a chance to create something with a deeper meaning, have a story attached to our designs which we might not normal choose to do. I found this brief particularly interesting because it makes you question superstition; why is luck attached to jewellery? How would you recognise a religious piece of jewellery? Why does a stone make something spiritual, protected, it made me question jewellery being associated with memories and the history of stones.
If I were to do this assignment again I would do some secondary research on spiritual symbols and religion. The main source for my research when doing this project was a book called’ Secrets of Aromatic Jewellery’ by Annette Green and Linda Dyett; Flammarion, illustrated edition (15 February 1999). A fantastic source of the history of religious and spiritual meanings of jewellery, also containing many detailed images of perfume bottles, pomanders and containers. This is a design I have become gradually more interested in as I love compartments, the ability to make something which will contain, hold or hide something precious. “Together, scent and container were considered a protection against violations of the spirit, the soul, the psyche.” (pg5) To take my research further I would use library journals and look further into jewellery used as religious objects, such as pomanders and rosary beads. Thinking about the personal identity created by both the scent and container at the same time. I would also mind map my thoughts and ideas for my design, which I did do in my sketchbook but would then brainstorm these ideas to enhance them. Amulets and pomanders were used to protect, to cleanse etc; do they have any other functions? The internet is especially useful to look up meanings and uses of precious and semi-precious stones which I would look further into.
To enhance my research further, asking the public to analyse images and interviewing would be my main body of primary research. I would ask males and females of all ages, to gather the most information and opinions I possibly can, and divide the findings by age, sex and occupation accordingly. Perhaps starting off in a shopping centre where people are likely to walk past a Jewellers that day and have maybe had a look at or bought an item that day. My thought is that most of the general public have at least a couple of items of jewellery they are attached to which have significance to them. I would not make the questions too invasive and keep them quite open to interpretation; as I am looking for how closely people are attached to their jewellery and how much they realise that symbolism plays a big part in this and for them to tell me themselves how much they know.
If I asked “Do you have any religious jewellery?” I think that people may be reluctant to answer. A better question may be “What was the last piece of significant jewellery you were given?” Hopefully if it related to symbolic connotations I could ask further questions. If asked “Do you own any jewellery that contains precious stones?” I could then ask if they knew what kind of stone it is, do they know what meaning there is attached to it if any? For creating a piece of contemporary jewellery with stone settings the results could be useful, I would perhaps find out a currently popular stone, why that is, for example is turquoise a trend in stone set jewellery at the moment because it is set to bring good fortune? Or is it because of the colour? Perhaps where it is from?
“Would you recognise a religious piece of jewellery?” Even getting a description would be useful of the kinds of images people would think of associated with that. Asking “Do you believe there is luck attached to jewellery?” Could give me varied answers but possibly some negative ones, or a short ‘no’. So I would perhaps say: “Is there a particular piece of jewellery you tend to wear all the time or frequently?
This would tell me whether it was because the piece was a gift from somebody important in their lives, to mark a special occasion, or if they wear it because it brings them luck, kind of like a modern-day talisman.
The other technique I would use to gain further information is to present to people images of jewellery, symbols, religious and spiritual. By analysing a photo of for example a pomander, which is a scent container used to cleanse sacred areas and for church ceremonies, I could find out whether people know of them, their function, the history, do they like the aesthetics of them? Also providing images of different varieties of religious and spiritual jewellery such as talisman, amulets, rings, necklaces, scent bottles, then ask people what they like about them in terms of materials, texture, colour, decoration would give me further informative ideas of how to create my design accordingly.
Now that I have done this project and have reconsidered how I would approach it using these different techniques I can see how much it could benefit my designs. Mind mapping and interviewing seems to me to make the design process more logical than just doing research, developing some ideas I like and think could work then creating a final piece. Now it feels more like I’m designing in the real world as a jeweller. I do forget that I am a design student and must pass to get to the next level of study but ultimately; my aim is to design for the people, by their information but through my research and thought process with my skills. I could apply these techniques to so many aspects of my life; I aim to carry on this process in third year to make more sense of how I’m going to carry out my work, and to carry on questioning. I will definitely be putting people, adverts, and global issues under more observation than I realise from now on, hopefully I will learn to use these observations for future designs and further thinking. Primary research is not only a key element to design but very enjoyable, by going out and asking the public questions I am interacting with potential clients, not just the ‘general public’. It has made me realise that talking to people to create contemporary designs is crucial as well as your own ideas.


Dyett.L, Green.A, (1999) ‘Secrets of Aromatic Jewellery’ Flammarion, Illustrated version.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Assignment 4, the interviews

To begin with for assignment 4 I decided to choose the topic I covered last semester which was the Design of train and subway stations. I began with a mind map and asked the question ‘Do you think the design of train stations could/need to be improved?’ in the middle of my map, then branched off with different areas. Such as culture, public service, environment and safety. Questions started to appear as I added more information, and I used the ones I thought would give me the most knowledge and interesting answers for interviewing people. Re-wording questions so as not to give directed or yes/no answers proved difficult but I think I thought about it enough to give me some good results.

I interviewed some acquaintances, friends of friends, and all gave me varied answers for most questions. This may be because three were female, one was male; the male comes from London and uses the subway at least 3 times a week, one female comes from Orkney and only uses the train in Dundee very occasionally, one female is on the train a lot and usually travels alone, and the other female is from Edinburgh but has only ever used the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow with friends/family.

My main aim was to find out how comfortable the interviewees were in train stations, how easy it is to use the service, perhaps how safe they felt on their own. Their opinion on improvement of rail service, does it need improving?

I asked ‘How useful do you find time tables in a train station?’ Generally the feedback was fairly useful and straight forward, can be confusing when in a hurry. The leaflets are easier to read than the sheets on billboards in train stations (which I also agree with) but the boards above the trains which are usually lit up are direct. One female suggested a touch screen board which you could key in information to let you see your own time table for a particular train which is an idea, however maybe not so good if you’re in a rush to get somewhere. Another female also said that the departures and arrivals boards were confusing when in a hurry, perhaps this could be of some improvement?

I did ask about congestion but the main answer was that trains themselves were occasionally packed with too many people, longer trains perhaps? But no issues with general queuing.

‘How energy efficient do you believe trains are? Should there be more information on this?’ “Guessing they would be pretty efficient because you can get more people on a train, and they’re direct. Could have a comparison of using public transport and cars to say why it’s more efficient, why it’s better for you.” All others interviewed said there was little or no information about the efficiency of trains, that there could be more.

Every single person immediately said ‘WH Smith’ when I asked ‘Which shops do they regularly see/notice in stations?’ There are also coffee shops, perhaps a pub and some fast food places. However nobody said they required anything else, a station is a passing place to get from A to B, you don’t need more than a book and a drink to pass some time whilst waiting for your train.

All interviewed said the general atmosphere is that of busy, rushed; female from Orkney also mentioned that it’s smelly, dirty and full of pigeons…not that there is anything so strange about a busy atmosphere, the hustle and bustle of a working day passes through these stations, most said this can be stressful but that it’s also just a normal occurrence, none seemed too bothered about this.

Only the male from London said that he had seen graffiti in stations, he uses the London underground regularly, and said that the images that this creates is one of vandalism.

Young teens with not a lot to do graffiti-ing tags and pictures that don’t mean much. However he mentions graffiti artwork (which I hoped someone would) and said that if it was a piece of wall art he would admire it, that he quite liked it. I asked if say street artists did this more and rid the ‘vandal’ look would the train/subway stations feel a bit safer, perhaps just more interesting? He agreed with this, if somebody like say Banksy or professional street artists were commissioned to landscape our stations then that would be good.

The question I was hoping to get a lot of interesting information from was ‘How do you feel when waiting for a train with friends compared to when you’re by yourself at a platform?’ Nobody gave me an answer that I expected, perhaps if I’d said, at night on an open platform outside, then I would have got some ‘I’d be slightly nervous’ or something similar. Also I did expect the male to say ‘makes no difference at all’ which he did. The general consensus for the three females was they’d be concerned whether they were at the right platform for the train, got the right time, but if they were with friends then they wouldn’t care. Also that it is better to have company, someone to sit with etc.

I had focused on safety and looked at surveys to do with how safe the public felt when in a train station at night last semester so I have to say I was expecting those kinds of answers, perhaps my question was too vague rather than undirected?

I asked if any of the four new of any other countries with ‘good’ subway systems? One female said she had heard that German and Scandinavian countries tended to have good railways, that we could learn from German rail as they are punctual and environmentally friendly. The male interviewee said that England tended to have better rail travel than Scotland, that France, Canada and Moscow had very good rail service. Not one mentioned Japan…which surprised me a little (again, maybe because I wrote about it last semester) but maybe due to it’s famous for its regimental shoving at rush hour? Looking back on it maybe I should have had a question to ask whether they had heard about this…

As a last question I asked what they might think tourists would think of our railway stations. All but one said that it didn’t really matter, that it was our problem to worry about and not their’s if they’re not up to our standard…but surely, if people visit this country even if we don’t care about how good we look exactly, we want them to have a pleasant experience whilst they’re here? One female said “I do believe it’s important, it all comes down to how they see our country. Tourists do use our public transport; there is always a tourist information point.” Which I thought was a good observation, why would there be info points if Tourists didn’t use our transport? I wasn’t so sure myself if many tourists would use train stations, maybe Subways more, but they probably do. Something to look up for me now would possibly be the tourist industry, how often do they use public transport?

I can see that from doing interviews I have gathered a lot of different information from only asking a few question from just four people. All with varied backgrounds and train station experience but I feel like I’ve gained some valid points which I could use as genuine research. If I asked more people would I begin to see patterns and similar answers? Or perhaps if I made my questions more detailed would have I gained more answers that I expected to get the first time round, would I make them more directed? I think if I did it again I would have asked more in-depth questions back from their answers. I can see how using interviews can be useful in gaining research of public opinion; it can be tricky however I think could be made very successful with a lot more practice!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Design Safari

For assignment 3, I to walked into town with a few flatmates and wandered about looking for a spot to observe the public. My thoughts were a place I hadn't been to in a while but loved to go to, like a coffee shop or even just a shopping centre (these involve money unfortunately and temptation to buy!). However we all immediately marched towards a shiny new sign saying 'The McManus gallery', had no clue it was the re-opening of it last Sunday.
Which is when I came to my first observations; I knew as a general rule that museums and art galleries admissions are free, neither of my flatmates new this, and there were no signs telling us otherwise. I assured them it should be free and there would be a box for donations somewhere if you wished to do so. (I didn't see one myself) Plus on the way in in the very busy fast moving queue we were given leaflets (including a map) of the gallery. We still did not know that it was the opening day but soon figured this out as it was extremely busy inside, especially for a Sunday in a museum I guess.
Since this was the opening day as a general I'm guessing that I may not have found the same sort of people as I would have done on a 'normal' day. There were families, couples of all ages, students, art students (I recognized quite a few) just...all of the public were in the gallery!
I think my challenge then for observing was to see how these different 'groups' of people acted.
I noticed that when looking at paintings, an adult would perhaps walk past and stop double backing a bit if it catches their eye, read the blurb beside the painting, and then stand back a bit to look at it again, perhaps to take in what they are seeing in more detail. I couldn't quite figure out if the art students were doing this too, but I noticed that when someone was looking at an abstract painting in the contemporary section, they took one quick look at what it was and then immediately read the information to find out what it was/what it meant etc to understand what they were looking at, as I do the same. Either that or I try to figure out what I think of it first, or how I interpret it, and then see if I'm right. Most people seemed to read the info after a quick glance first of all and then have a look at it though, like an automatic action.
Parents tend to explain to their children what they are looking at, either because of unlogical questions they ask, or ones that adults may never have thought to question... I saw a boy of about 5 or 6 run up to a drypoint sketch of a tree, onto a glass frame, and announced that 'the tree is on the glass on this side, and then there is another tree on the paper!' and then ran off into the next room to look at the next piece of work. I hadn't even noticed that the light in the room was creating a shadow from the tree onto the green paper behind it to produce another tree until that little boy had said...
From my observations so far it looked like families got a quick run round the gallery as children's attention spans are short or are elsewhere completely so parents just have to keep up with them, and on occasion children spot other things some adults wouldn't.
I could quite clearly recognize some art students when I saw some with their SLRs gathered round some paintings or sculptures and taking pictures, one also made me spot a sculpture right up in the rafters when she was pointing her camera towards the ceiling, of a gargoyle. I think the piece was called 'the king is dead' other than that i don't know much about it..
In general everyone was tending to circulate the rooms in an order, if they realised they had missed a room they would double back.
Children were most interested in the rooms with interactive screens, and running around the free-standing wall spaces.
Most with young children are lead to something that catches their eye in the room first (such as the interactive screens) then the parent slook around the room in a circular order. Everyone else does circulate as normal.
I might have listened in a little bit to a family who were all gathered round a painting by Pompeo Batoni. They were discussing the story of the painting, then refered to the information beside it, and associated it with a tv programme. As people tend to do they refered to what they could link it to in their daily lives maybe.
I think my favourite part of observing (and maybe listening in a bit although they were standing right next to me when I was taking photos of an exhibit piece) was when a father and his two girls were looking at a large Mayan headdress. One of the girls said 'that looks stupid' and the dad said 'well it may have look silly to you but it was important in their culture because the headdress showed that the woman who wore it was very wealthy..' (which i think definitely realtes back to the Taste lectures!) '...which is why it was covered in precious jewels, and also men would want to marry them'. Haaaang on a minute there, I had just read the information on the headdress and it had said that this was actually a wedding piece and that the newly-wed woman would wear this for most of her married life (god knows how as it looked extremely heavy and impractical as it was pretty big). So...he did tell his children some truth in it but has also told them his own interpretation without really knowing himself...I'm not sure if he would be too bothered to know that he got it half right or wrong, but I wasn;t too sure what to make of that myself.
It made me tell kids the truth...(which in this case wasn't really an extreme truth to tell) or to keep them happy with what we know? Children soak up information ... I'm not sure if this was the 'right' thing to tell two very young girls. It could have also been a father who was exhausted from the questions and didn't quite realise the explanation he was giving was maybe a little behind the times? I'm not keen on judging too much but it was an interesting observation for this assignment anyway!
I did enjoy doing the Design Safari, could have maybe spent a little longer in the gallery and maybe explored the rules and regulations of the way the gallery shop works or the cafe, but I felt the gallery itself was a more interesting topic for me. Also not sure if I went into too much detail or perhaps snooped more than I should have into passing conversations but I felt like that's what I was there to do!
I have to say I didn't feel too uncomfortable doing this assignment because the place I chose was a public art gallery, i would not have listened into people's conversations in a coffee shop but merely observed, as more private/personal issues would have been main topics in such places which i wouldn't have posted. I feel like thoughts and ideas in a gallery are shared with other people looking at a piece/painting anyway, sort of public opinions coming to light as i spoke to other's standing beside me about some paintings, so i decided focus on that for this task and got some interesting results.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Assignment 2, Undestanding the Rhetoric of the image...

I couldn't quite believe that these were the first three random images that came up on the randomiser on, because every project I have done so far that I've done in second year involves fish somewhere along the way or the sea..but there you go!

Polsemy - 'Having multiple meanings; the existence of several meanings for a single word or phrase'. (or image, symbols, etc)

From first read of the essay by Roland Barthes, I understood that images had different meanings, and different symbols to work out what was going on in an image, but some are picked up and some are missed depending on the individual. That advertising will also have use of text, perhaps just even one word, which the viewer will be drawn to as word comes before image..well, in history the written text came before illustrations, so even one word can trigger understanding the meaning of an image. I suppose again depending on the individual. There are three different messages we can translate from an image - the linguistic: communication by word, language, A Coded Iconic message: which having the knowledge and information to be able to read the image, and a Non-iconic message: which is the raw object.
From my three random images I got some very interesting results. I asked seven people in total to look at these images and interpret them in any which way they wanted, including a computing student, a dentistry student, a medic, an acting student, two dancers, and an ex-army cadet. All very different people from different backgrounds, however all around the same age, 18-20.
I found that in a relaxed atmosphere, for example, talking to one of my flatmates (20, male, computing student) I got a short and sweet, playful story.
Not going into too much detail, but a basic story linking the three images.
When I asked my dentistry and medic friends I was in Tower building and we talking after a DARE society meeting. I felt like they thought much more about how they were going to answer my question. Perhaps because their work involves so much in-depth reading and interaction this was the result? However I thought maybe because there were no linguistic messages on the images as of yet, I got two very different stories, and if there had been some text I may have got much the same from both of them...

"Once upon a time in Tayside and Fife, there was a beautiful family of shiny shiny fish, they found themselves on an adventure one calm Monday afternoon. The sun was setting that Monday afternoon and a beautiful sky it was, the sky was red, the water was black, the fish soldiered on. For they were on a mission; to pass the pier and find out what was on the other side.
What they found there was no normal thing. It was an underwater fruit and vegetable market, run by a corporation of entrepreneurial mermaids." 19, male dentistry student.

This story doesn't make too much sense, but it's imaginative with plenty of detail which is great, as I got a very realistic story from my medic friend:

"You take a boat trip to an island, a romantic early morning boat trip, go to a market where you get some fresh fish, and vegetables. At night you head back to the boat and sit out as someone cooks for you." 20 female, medicine student.

I actually found that the courses and hobbies my story tellers did such as acting, dancing, were so much more emotional than the medics and dentists, a more in-depth story with a tragedy planted somewhere within their story too! I guess I did expect this a little, but I didn't expect to get such creative stories just from 3 images I found on the internet. One in particular (a very long story) had characters and plot lines!

For the second part of this experiment of adding another image, I chose the Dentistry students story mainly because he added another element to the story which I thought people would be drawn to; mermaids. I guess it was perhaps a bit more interesting than say adding a boat, however probably would have got similar stories. Some stories were far too long and I thought if I used them I'd never get a similar story from someone else.I 'm not sure of my logic behind it but in my head I thought people might think sea, fish, market, mermaids....ah! Underwater market! As most of the things I read are quite fictional but probably should have gone with something a bit more realistic as not everyone thinks like me! ....Anyway, here's the image I added:
The results I got from this were quite similar, but with some variations. One began quite realistic, very similar to the medic's story and then ended with 'and you saw some strange things'. So the person did take into account that the mermaid was fantasy but only mentioned briefly so as not to make the story 'fictional'.
I then added some text to see if I could take this story further, I knew now I wasn't going to get exact stories but I wondered how much more detail I could get by adding 'Underwater'.

Here is one of the most interesting I think :

"One day at the beach the small sardine-like fish were bored with their average everyday fishy lives swimming in the sea. They decided they were going to evolve, a very strange decision to make on a whim. They managed to do it in about half an hour, which they were really chuffed with and they kind of looked like mermaids. They achieved their evolution and it turned out they had evolved into humans. So they went to market, 'cause they always thought it looked fun." 18, female, sales assistant/musical person.

I'm not too sure if adding the text Underwater changed too much in this or not, but I like the way this story is mixed with the real and surreal..

I think I would maybe do this experiment again choosing a more realistic story to use as my main aim, as everyone has their own thought process and imaginations, but a more 'normal' everyday story would give better results.

From this I have learned that the image creates very individual ideas, continual adding more information gradually brings together a similar interpretation of the image. I know that from advertising text sets the image, which Barthes talks about and I believe to be true from own experience. One word can explain a whole image/scene.

I found this experiment very interesting as it gave me an idea of what kind of answers I would get in which setting (relaxed/formal) and the correct predictions I got from whom I was asking, such as the more emotive stories from the dancing and acting students, the more realistic (well, occasionally) and detailed from the science students. However I'm sure there are exceptions out there somewhere!