I am a junior at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Washington, pursuing their Bachelor of Technology in Applied Design (BTAD) degree. Winter Quarter 2016 in Design Theory (HUM 311), students are required to create an Andrew Goldsworthy-inspired design outdoors (Goldsworthy’s primary medium) or indoors. Although any tool may be used (knives, hammers, scissors, etc.), the materials and final product must be 100% natural (no adhesives, wire, string, etc.)
The purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate our knowledge of the principles of design [balance (asymmetrical/symmetrical), contrast (unity-harmony/variety), emphasis, movement, repetition/rhythm]. Additionally, I chose to be conscious of the elements of design [color (hue, saturation, tone, value), form/format, line, space (positive/negative), shape, texture].
For those of you unfamiliar with Andrew Goldsworthy’s amazing works, check out this link to Google images that shows his unique sculptures made out of only natural products (including his spit to hold things together): https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1164&bih=606&q=andrew+goldsworthy&oq=andrew+goldsworthy&gs_l=img.3..0l10.1372.3903.0.4184.108.40.206.0.0.0.430.796.3-1j1.2.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..16.2.795.dr70ioonjEE
As a person who cringes at getting dirt under my nails and just about pukes at the sight of a spider, you would think that I’d have chosen a project created indoors. For days I pondered concepts, pretty much hitting a mental brick wall that resulted in nothing on paper, until an outing to Alki Beach watching my daughter create an ammonite in the sand inspired me to look at circular and spiral designs that I could create outside. Numerous Goldsworthy designs are made of geometric shapes, particularly circles.
Following is my research and process steps to create my Goldsworthy-inspired design outdoors under a grove of trees next to my home.
Step 1: Suitable LocationI considered making a project with water along the Cedar River near my home or on the waves on Alki Beach, but the convenience of such a project was greatly impaired and the natural resources at Alki Beach were limited. Projects in those locations would be best when completed in one day. In the woods near my home, there is a large semi-flat area under a grove of trees and a few rolling areas in the landscape. At this point, my concepts revolved around snake-like sculptures on water or the rolling landscape, but the colors of resources limited my ability to conceive of suitable projects and I felt I was mimicking Goldsworthy too much. I elected to develop my project in the flats under the trees.
Step 2: Available Materials
I walked the nearby and convenient wooded area to identify the raw materials available. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of natural resources. My greatest surprise was the discovery of two eggs, probably duck, that were abandoned (I’d checked the site several times over a week) and these eggs became the focal point of my design. In my area, I uncovered 19 different materials and a large variety of textures, although the colors remained essentially shades of green and brown due to our winter season.
Step 3: Concept Sketches
Since I had ruled out snake-like projects, I focused my ideas on circles and spirals. The available materials helped me narrow my concepts for construction. I realized that some of my sketches resembled a pinwheel. After reviewing dozens of pinwheels in Google images, I chose to create a geometric pinwheel that is proportionally balanced with squares and triangles.
Step 4: Materials to Use
As the final concept became firm in my mind, so did the materials to use. Since the natural underlayment is dark brown due to the damp/wet earth, I chose to use light-brown, dried Christmas tree needles in the large square, overlain with triangles of a variety of prickly textures: pine needles, ferns, holly leaves, and fir needles. The eggs would be the central focus, raised on a bed of prickly moss and baby pine cones. I titled my piece “Waiting on Pins and Needles” just as expectant parents feel awaiting for babies to be born. The composition represents threats that greet the little ones born in the forest.
Step 5: Process Steps
Sketching is not my strongest skill, but writing is, so I defined the process steps I’d go through to create the final design.
Step 6: Purchased Materials
To make it easier for myself, I went to the Dollar Store and purchased five poster boards, clear packing tape, and twine to create a template that would precisely layout the geometric shapes in the design, which would be removed when the raw materials were properly placed.
Step 7: Template Assembly
I cut and taped the poster board template inside. I only needed to make the underlying square and one triangle because I could rotate the template to make the four triangles of the pinwheel.
Step 8: Twine Template
Since I could not build the project on top of the poster board template, I created its outline using twine wrapped around screws pushed into the soft soil. Doing so also allowed me to see the triangles as well as the squares.
Step 9: Materials Placement
The design requires the underlying square to be filled with light-brown Christmas tree needles (no, the Christmas tree was not mine, but multiple were found in the forest). To hold and protect the eggs, the centerpiece was made with two types of moss surrounded with baby pine cones. Each triangle was filled with its textured greenery, some being flat, some being two-tone green. Since the ferns laid so flat, I added dried, spikier ferns, but upon reflection I determined the dried pieces were out of place with the other green triangles.
Step 10: Twine Removed
The twine and screws were carefully removed from the ground, revealing the final design, “Waiting on Pins and Needles”.