Assignment 2 – The Final Cards

 

The image is of a pig’s bladder on a stick, used by the morris fool. Morris dancers will be very familiar as to what this is.

 

Beer drinking is a favourite pastime of morris dancers. A ‘caper’ is a morris dance step.

 

It is well known that morris dancers wear bells – usually tied around their shins.

 

‘Shave the Donkey’ is a well-known morris dance, hence if a morris dancer is ill, the rest of the side can’t ‘shave the donkey’ without them.

An Ale is a party hosted by one morris side, to which other sides are invited to dance and socialise. This card combines the ideas of the flowers on a morris dancer’s hat with giving flowers to say ‘thank you’.

 

 

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Assignment 2 – Making the Cards

My intention for the finished cards was to have text printed directly on the front of the card and for the image to be a hand-made paper collage.

I investigated using an on-line printing service to print the cards but it was not possible to find a company who would print a very small print run of greetings cards for my different designs. I decided, instead, to print the cards myself on my home printer.

I bought some 6 inch square white card blanks (with envelopes) which were ‘pre-creased’ for folding.

I created a document in Adobe Illustrator which was the same size as the open card (12 in x 6 in), placed my text on the document and saved it as a PDF (using the ‘High Quality Print’ PDF option).

I then had to print a few test cards to ensure that the text was centered on the front of the card. The centre of the front of the card on my Illustrator file did not correspond to the centre of the printed card and I could not work out why. I think my printer might be adding a margin when it prints? I ended up finding the ‘centre’ of the printed card through trial and error.

I then printed out my cards with just their text.

I added the images to each card by hand. The images were paper collages created by cutting shapes out of some old sales brochures that I had.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 2 – Critique

Review of Thumbnail Designs

I reviewed the thumbnail designs for the card sentiments with one of the morris dancers that I had access to. I wanted to see which of the designs he thought really worked as a card for morris dancers.

Get Well Soon

My reviewer particularly liked the ‘hipster style’ bearded donkey and the morris hat with flowers. He also liked the hobby horse but noted that I should use the term ‘dancer’ rather than ‘morris man’. He did not feel that the hobby horse with crutches worked. He also liked the ‘fit as a fiddle’ design but felt it was more specific to musicians than to morris dancers.

Welcome to the Side

My reviewer quite liked the Darth Vader design but felt the drawing was a bit weak. He felt the ‘light sabre’ morris stick idea did not work. He felt that the ‘Keep Calm’ design has been overdone and it did not appeal to him. He liked the ‘It’s a Morris Thing’ design as the felt the drawing (a pig’s bladder on a stick) really would be something that only morris dancers would understand.

Let’s Celebrate

My reviewer liked both of the designs for the ‘Let’s Celebrate’ card and thought that they both worked.

Love

My reviewer liked the design for ‘love’ sentiment and was able to ‘get’ the reference on the card.

Thank you for the Ale

My reviewer liked the thank you card and liked the concept of ‘giving flowers’ in the form of a morris dancer’s hat.

Critique of Card Styles.

I also showed the two mockups for each of my styles of card to my morris dancer. He liked both style of card but felt that the hand-crafted card using recycled paper was more interesting and impactful. I decided to create my cards in this style.

 

Assignment 2 – Mood Boards

I developed two mood boards for the morris dancing greetings cards. I wanted my final cards to all be of a similar style, so the mood boards each explored a different style for the cards:

Modern, ‘Minimalist’, ‘Hipster’.

My aim here was to suggest that morris dancing can be cool, by following the current ‘hipster’ style trend.

Folk Art Style

People who enjoy morris dancing are often into folk music and crafts. Morris dancing itself is typically very colourful and exuberant. My aim here was to give the cards a colourful  ‘folk art’ feel and to play on a ‘hand made’ craft theme using recycled papers.

 

 

Assignment 2 – Detailed Analysis for the Selected Range of Cards

Initial analysis of my idea of developing a range of cards specifically for morris dancers, suggested that there was a lot of scope in this area. I also know some morris dancers, which meant I had a good opportunity to ask them directly about their morris dancing experiences and would be able to test out my card designs on them.

I personally have very little knowledge or experience of morris dancing or the morris dancing community, so I also thought this area would be an interesting challenge to see if I could find out enough to develop greetings cards that would be relevant and meaningful to this group.

Summary of Research

What is Morris Dancing

Morris dancing is a traditional form of English folk dancing. The origins of morris dancing are unknown but one of the first references dates from 1458. Originally it was used as a form of entertainment in court masques and from there it is believed to have spread to popular entertainment performed at village celebrations and seasonal festivities.

A morris dance is performed by a ‘side’, a group of usually six but sometimes eight dancers (traditionally male) who dance in formation, executing a series of choreographed steps. Dances can also include ‘jigs’ performed by one or two people.

Music is provided by musicians playing the ‘pipe and tabor’ (whistle and drum), fiddle, melodian, concertina and / or drums.

Each side has its own set of dances that they perform. Some more traditional dances, such as ‘Constant Billy’, are performed by many sides although tunes and steps may vary between sides.

There are four genuinely old morris sides in existence – Bampton, Headington Quarry, Abingdon and Chipping Campden with many more newer sides around England and Wales.

Morris Roles

A morris side will typically have  a series of six or eight dancers. Historically dancers were male and some sides still hold with that tradition although many more now welcome women as well. A side will also have a squire who leads the side and often leads or calls the dances, a foreman who teaches and trains the dancers, and is responsible for the style and standard of the side’s dancing. A bagman who looks after the side’s funds and equipment and often acts as secretary, and occasionally a ragman who manages and co-ordinates the side’s kit or costume.

Sides also traditionally have a fool – a dancer who is more extravagantly dressed than the other dancers and who fools around during the dance and interacts with the audience. They may also have a beast – someone dressed as a mythical animal, known as a Hobby (e.g. a hobby horse)

Typical Morris Dancing Kit

Different sides wear different costumes with typical items of dress being shirts and trousers, bell straps (ribbons with bells on that are tied around the shins), braces or baldricks (a form of sash), neckerchiefs, waistcoats, tatter jackets (jackets covered in coloured strips of fabric).

Most sides wear hats, often extravagantly decorated with flowers, ribbons and or rosettes.

Costume will typically feature the side’s own colours.

Some Northern sides also wear clogs.

Sides also perform dances with handkerchiefs, sticks or swords.

Styles of Morris Dancing

As defined by Wikipedia:

  • Cotswold Morris: dances from an area mostly in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, typically  danced with handkerchiefs or sticks
  • North West Morris: more military in style and often processional, that developed out of the mills in the North-West of England in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Border Morris from the English-Welsh border: a simpler, looser, more vigorous style, traditionally danced with blackened faces.
  • Longsword dancing from Yorkshire and south Durham, danced with long, rigid metal or wooden swords for, usually, 6 or 8 dancers.
  • Rapper from Northumberland and Co. Durham, danced with short flexible sprung steel swords, usually for five dancers.
  • Molly Dancing from Cambridgeshire. Traditionally danced on Plough Monday, they were Feast dances that were danced to collect money during harsh winters. One of the dancers would be dressed as a woman, hence the name.
  • Ploughstots from the East and North ridings of Yorkshire, also danced on Plough Monday. The dancers often held “flags”, used similarly to handkerchiefs in Cotswold and Border dances to emphasise hand movements, or rattling bones, rather than wearing bells but for the same purpose.

Typical Morris Tunes and Dances

Well known morris tunes and dances that most morris dancers will be familiar with, include:

  • Shave the Donkey
  • Shepherd’s Hey
  • The Nutting Girl
  • Speed the Plough
  • Brighton Camp
  • Constant Billy
  • The Old Woman Tossed Up
  • Lumps of Plum Pudding
  • Princess Royal
  • Balance the Straw
  • The Morris On (short dance performed to enter the ‘stage’)
  • The Morris Off  (short dance performed to leave the ‘stage’)
  • Hunt the Squirrel

Morris Dancing Steps

Typical morris dancing steps include:

  • Back swagger
  • Caper
  • Upright caper
  • Half caper
  • Squashbeetle caper
  • Shufflebacks
  • Skirmish (dance with sticks)

Traditional vs Evolving Morris

Some morris sides are passionate about upholding tradition and will keep with traditional tunes and dances. Some sides also prefer to maintain the tradition of being exclusively male. The Morris Ring – a well known association of Morris Dancing, uphold the tradition of Morris dancing being only for men.

Many other sides follow tradition more ‘loosely’ and will adapt tunes and dances. Many sides now also include women.

Morris dancing has a general reputation for being quite old-fashioned and a bit ridiculous. Morris dancers tend to be older people and there is a chronic shortage of new and younger recruits. Morris sides find it very difficult to attract  new recruits.

Newer variants of morris dancing are emerging which aim to make morris dancing more modern and relevant to today’s audiences. Morris sides such as Wolfshead and Vixen Morris and Hunters Moon Morris  are associated with Neopaganism and are much more ‘gothic’ in style.

‘Dark Morris’ is a fictional form of morris dancing that appears in books by Terry Pratchett and which is being copied in reality by some sides such as Witchmen Morris who say they have taken the traditional style of morris dancing and “have mutated that style to create dances which are exciting, entertaining and relevant to 21st century audiences”. They describe their style as “pagan ritual dance meets street entertainment”.

There now also exist exclusively female morris sides who dance with poms poms, a style known as ‘fluffy morris’.

 

Profile of a Morris Dancer

Not all morris dancers are the same! Some are more traditional than others, with some passionate about maintaining traditions where others are open to, or actively pushing, modernisation.

Newer sides such as those associated with neopaganism and dark morris, are quite gothic in style, often also associated with the tattoo sub-culture.

The more traditional morris sides are made up of older men and women (generally aged 40 and older) who are typically also into the folk scene. They like folk music and folk festivals. They take an interest in local traditions and customs and are interested in local crafts and supporting local businesses. The morris dancers I have met are intellectual, altruistic, generous, kind and quite community-spirited. They are also often quite spiritual people. They are not materialistic, nor ostentatious. Morris dancing and beer also seem to go hand-in-hand, with many morris dancers also being passionate about craft beers and supporting local breweries.

My greetings cards will be targeted at this more traditional group of morris dancers.

Events or Sentiments that Morris Dancers May Send Cards For

I asked the morris dancers that I had access to, if there were specific events that they might consider sending each other cards for. Their suggestions were:

Thank you for the Ale

An ‘Ale’ is a private gathering organised by a morris side to which other sides are invited to dance, eat drink and socialise. It was suggested that it would be nice to send a thank you card after the event to the hosting side.

Welcome to the side

Morris sides often struggle to recruit new members and are always grateful to receive, and very welcoming to, any new members. It was suggested that a card could be given to welcome the new side member.

Get well soon

Morris dancing can be quite vigourous and as members are often a little older, injuries are common. A ‘Morris’ get well soon card was suggested that would let people know they were missed from the side.

Information Sources

Websites:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/hells-bells-the-joy-of-morris-dancing-1790627.html

http://duramecho.com/Dance/CotswoldNotes/CotswoldDetailedNotesSingleFile.html#Toc-2.2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_dance

http://www.morrisfed.org.uk/

http://themorrisring.org/

http://witchmen.com/

Wolf’s Head & Vixen

Books:

Mallinson, Dave (1988) Mally’s Cotswold Morris Book Volume 1. West Yorkshire: Dave Mallinson Music.

Mallinson, Dave (1988) Mally’s Cotswold Morris Book Volume 2. West Yorkshire: Dave Mallinson Music.

Bacon, Lionel (1974) A Handbook of Morris Dances (second edition). Lionel Bacon.

Shuel, Brian (1985) The National Trust Guide to Traditional Customs of Britian. Exeter: Webb & Bower.

Assignment 2 – Research and Develop Ideas

I started my analysis by attempting to identify a range of cards that was not already catered for. My analysis is below:

In summary, my ideas for cards were:

Cards that women can give to their women friends to celebrate something, that for women is significant, but that their male partners would not necessarily appreciate. And vice versa for men too.

This idea came from my husband completely failing to notice I had changed my hairstyle, when my girlfriends all noticed immediately. This was my first idea.

Cards for niche groups such as Morris Dancers or Folk Musicians.

I am related to a folk musician and morris dancer. I know very little about either pastime but I feel that there is a real sense of community within these groups and that there might be an opportunity to develop cards with some ‘in jokes’ or to celebrate events that were specific to these groups.

Cards for Cat Lovers

Another niche group but I felt this had already been done before.

Empathy cards for unpleasant or unfortunate situations

This was inspired by the cards available for people diagnosed with cancer, available on the Not Another Bunch of Flowers website. I felt this idea could be expanded to other conditions such as the menopause or alopcia. I did find a very limited number of cards on-line already catering for the menopause.

Cards that empathise for specific medical conditions or illnesses.

Get well soon cards are widespread but I considered the possibility of creating cards for specific, common conditions, such as heart problems, e.g. ‘Sorry to hear about your dicky ticker’.

Empathy cards for when someone has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

What on earth do you say to someone who has been told they have a terminal disease? – You can hardly give them a ‘get well soon’ card. It is very difficult to know what to say to people in these situations. I thought there was an opportunity to create cards that would help people to articulate their empathy and support for people in this situation. Interestingly, I did not find many cards online that already catered for this.

‘Anti’ Cards – Cards in support of people who choose  not to follow societies conventions.

Perusing cards in my local Post Office, I noticed a number of cards that I would never receive, even though society probably thinks I should, for example, I didn’t get engaged before I got married, I decided not to have children, I don’t celebrate my wedding anniversary. I considered creating ‘anti-cards’ which could be sent in support of these alternative life choices.

Cards for feminists

I considered developing a series of cards that feminists could send to their feminist friends to poke gentle fun at society’s sexism. However, I felt there was already quite a lot of cards like this available.

Cards for Nothing in Particular

I considered developing a range of cards for trivial, almost ‘non-events’ that would just allow people to connect with each other, for example a card inviting a friend ‘Let’s go Shopping’.

Developing the Ideas Further

For each of the ideas, I explored a bit further to establish which ideas had the most potential, thinking about what kind of cards I could create and to what extent the group or sentiment had already been catered for.

I quite quickly rejected the ‘cards for nothing in particular’, ‘cards for feminists’ and ‘cards for cat lovers’ as research of on-line card websites suggested that these areas were already catered for.

I also rejected the ‘anti-cards’ as they felt a little mean-spirited. I wasn’t convinced that there would be a meaningful audience for these cards. Plenty of people choose not to follow society’s conventions but I’m not sure how many need to have their choices recognised or affirmed by people sending cards. If someone sent me a card saying ‘congratulations for defying convention and choosing not having children’, I couldn’t be sure that they weren’t being sarcastic. I decided this area would be too problematic and it would be best to steer clear.

For the cards that women can give to their women friends to celebrate something that for women is significant but that their male partners would not necessarily appreciate, I started to do some more detailed analysis but quickly ground to a halt. I was struggling to expand this idea beyond my initial concept so rejected it in favour of an idea which I thought had greater potential.

For the ideas around empathy cards for unfortunate conditions, specific illnesses and terminal diagnoses, I thought the cards for people with a terminal illness had the most potential as I could find very little on line that already catered for this. I have also had recent personal experience of a friend having been diagnosed with terminal cancer – I felt I wanted to make the gesture of sending a card but it is incredibly difficult to know what to write in it, so there would be scope to develop cards that could help with this.

I researched on-line, reading advice websites or blogs written by people with terminal illnesses who provided insight to their own experiences, in order to understand what you should (and shouldn’t) say to people with a terminal illness.

The most useful websites I found are below:

http://www.prevention.com/health/supporting-someone-terminal-illness

http://lisabadams.com/2013/04/05/some-thoughts-on-how-to-be-a-friend-to-someone-with-a-serious-illness/

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/say-to-someone-who-is-dying-148641.htm

I felt that there was definitely scope to develop a range of cards here.

Regarding cards for niche groups such as Morris Dancers or Folk Musicians, I started researching the area of morris dancers. The ‘mind map’ I developed is below. I decided that the option of developing a range of cards for morris dancers had a lot of potential and would be the range that I would focus on for this assignment. My detailed analysis for this is covered in the next post.

 

 

Assignment 2 – Analyse the Brief

The Brief

Create a range of cards for sentiments or events that are worthy of a greetings card, but are not currently catered for by card manufacturers.

The brief for this assignment was quite broad and my initial analysis of the brief is shown below:

From my initial analysis of the brief, I felt that the initial tasks would be:

  • To identify a range of cards that were not typically catered for by card manufacturers. Retail outlets tend to sell cards for the most common events and sentiments but there are also a number of websites that sell greetings cards, some of which specialise in ‘quirky’ or unusual cards, such as The Curious Pancake.  making it harder to find an area that has not been been catered for already.

 

  • To establish who or what my cards would be for.

 

  • To understand enough about the target audience to create cards that were meaningful to them. What style of card would appeal to them? What ‘jokes’ would they get?