Textiles and “The Emboss Machine” created by Tiffany Loy 2012-2015.
One of the areas where industrial design and fashion design often crossover with amazing consequences is in textile design; a medium where sculptural and textural experiments can sometimes take place more creatively in the time before the textiles are assigned to a specific garment or product. As is often the case, the method used to create the textures of textiles can also sometimes be just as innovative as the end result, which is the case in the embossed textiles created by Tiffany Loy.
After taking an interest in the process of embossing textiles in 2012, Loy’s training in industrial design and prototyping have allowed her to create 2-part moulds for experimentation in her own studio without the logistics or expense involved with working at a larger scale or with a large factory. As Loy explains, “I started testing different types of textiles, heat-setting them in a variety of patterns, to understand how each material and weave structure react to the treatment. A big part of the process was mold-design. I had to consider how the pattern is to be repeated, and how that can be done, with registrations, on the molds. I used 2-part molds, so the tolerance between the molds was also very important. As the project progressed, it became quite technical as I had to ensure consistency in the results.
One of the particularly interesting things about the way these textiles have been developed is the way that Loy has created “The Emboss Machine”. The machine appears to be designed to take up a small amount of studio space, yet can process narrow but endless meterage. Stainless steel dowel pins can also be rearranged within a pegboard base to create an array of different patterns, which would be perfect for industrial or fashion designers who need to experiment with small meterage for sample or graduate collections, before moving to larger scale manufacturing as needed for production.
The steel dowel pins also appear to be designed to take into account the need to register the next section of plain fabric after each embossing in order to create a continuous design, which would obviously be perfect for repeat patterns, but could also allow you to shift the dowels around between each section of fabric to create large-scale pixelated motifs.
On Loy’s website, you can also see the beginnings of where these experiments cross over into garment design. Individual details of the garment show how typical finishes do not necessarily need to be used and, in fact, may be difficult to achieve with the embossed fabric. For example, the shaped hem works well with the embossed spots, but also avoids the issue of stitching that stretches and puckers the textured fabric. Another interesting detail is the use of negative space on the back of the “Bubbles Top”, where the garment appears to be created in such a way that the front neckline shape has been cut out and folded back on itself to create a flap of excess fabric at the back neckline.
More images of Tiffany Loy’s heat-setting and embossing techniques, as well as Loy’s work as an industrial designer can be seen at her website: www.tiffanyloy.com»