Friday, May 1, 2009

Water Tapestry Banners

I have begun the first of the water tapestry banners for the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.
Below: wire frame built upon a black foam core support.

The pattern is modified off of a Japanese kimono print and it reminded me of water undulating.
Each banner will be around 7ft x 3ft x 5" deep. Here is the first one started. I hope I don't run out of wire. This stuff is expensive now and I double it up by twisting it with a drill. I will be covering some areas with colored mesh donated by Walker Bag of San Francisco. Most of the detail elements of the diatoms will be created and added by visitors to the Sub Zero Festival. I will be creating some larger elements that light up and one will remove as a hat for the butoh dancer.

Mesh in process of being added. Note the blue painter's tape outline I am using. The tape enables me to transfer the design to the grid on the foam core for each particular banner. I then take the tape off and reapply the tape to create the next banner's mesh pattern. This way I can use the same foam core for all banners.

Below: Banner removed from black foam core and temporarily attached to T stand. The color is not as vibrant off of the foam core, but I am hoping when it is suspended in front of the tinted windows of the museum the mesh will appear as vibrant as it did on the foam core. I am hoping we can hang them a few inches away from the glass to highlight the airy nature of the grid. I also hope people don't mess with it! This is the first time I have created exterior public art and I just hope no one is tempted to test how flexible the wire is. I kind of wish these could hang above arm reach and then I wouldn't worry.

I am approaching this as both a design challenge (keep the and labor and material costs down as much as possible) and as a learning ground on how to outreach for a public art project in a very short period of time. I have started contacting four schools soliciting donations of colored grocery bags and I will provided them with info regarding the water exhibit at the museum, the Sub Zero Festival and the "impaired" status of our Coyote Creek and Guadalupe River. The cost of this project is really is in the labor of the banners and the materials prep. I am doing this project really for the experience of an outdoor public art display. I have only created interior public art before and this will be a good test for me.

Detail of prelim sketch on black foam core:

Below: Mesh donated by Walker Bag of San Francisco. I have been fortunate enough to have benefited from the generosity of several businesses in the past and have stored up on some pretty special materials that I have be able to use for public art.

of this mesh was used at De Anza College for the construction fence around the site of the new Visual and Performing Arts Center.

Above: Diatom test for visitor participatory component of banners. Visitors will decorate these cut off bottoms of plastic bottles with permanent markers. They will decorate them to look like diatoms. I have a large collection of these plastic bottles collected from a Guadalupe River clean up last weekend and from a Walk-a-Thon from Stevens Creek Elementary School in Cupertino. I have contacted a high school in Cupertino through its art department and they have agreed to collect plastic bags. I have also contacted an elementary school in Alum Rock and will be soon contacting a high school in Alum Rock regarding this project.


  1. Hi Corinne. Very interesting. I like the idea of water/recycled material and a Japanese design sensibilities. When will it be completed?

  2. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your kind words. Well, I am hoping to have these all completed by the end of May. The Sub Zero Festival is June 5th. This comes down to one completed banner a week, pretty crazy considering I am also starting teaching an animation workshops series and have two digital graphic consulting projects starting up this month, too. I'll be drinking lots of coffee!
    Thanks for posting.