Archive for July, 2012

Do you feel happy with the work?

In short, yes I do.  Although I imagine the work I will do in the future will be centred around different subjects and ideas, but this stage has been a good place to start.  I struggled at times but enjoyed the process of the initial observation of textures – to the attempts at translation.

Do you prefer working with stitch to drawing ?  Can you begin to see the relationship between the two ?

I like both.  I love drawing…….although I would say I have slightly rushed the drawing aspect as I was over eager to begin the process of stitching.  I have a very linear connection in my mind of the relationship between the two in that I would like to be an artist who draws with thread.

Having worked through Stage 2, were you then able to choose stitches which expressed the marks and lines of your drawings ?

I did not really achieve this.  I hope to be able to do this in the future…… I have done classical drawing in the past at school so it is a new thing to create marks which would come to represent stitches.  The closest I have come to this is ‘scribbling’ with the sewing machine.  This gave me immense pleasure.  Again, I did not give enough attention to the drawing part of this exercise, not really understanding it.  Again this is something I will come back to I think and learn with time.

Do you feel that you chose the right source materials to work from ?

On my first 2 samples in stage 6 (bark and paintwork) – I feel happy with what I chose (from a beginner’s perspective).  My third sample did not really work…well it did and it didn’t.  I think the muslin was a good choice with the delicacy but I was unable to achieve the colours that I desired…so more thought needed on that one.

Do you think your sample works well irrespective of the drawing ? Or do you think your sample is just a good interpretation of your drawing and nothing more ?

I would say that my samples work well irrespective of the drawings and have something on their own – I would also say that as they bear little resemblance to the drawings.  I think that drawing serves well to familiarise yourself with the texture you are trying to catch the essence of, it also helps you to really look and extract detail.  The sample can come out entirely different and that is okay too as surely the aim is not to reproduce 3 identical images.

Which of the activities did you prefer – working with stitch to create textures or working with yarns to make textures ?  Which worked best for you and why ?

I think I preferred working with stitch to create textures…although the yarns themselves obviously play a part of that.  My work came out relatively flat and I guess that is a result of putting more time into the stitches themselves rather than varying depths and collages of yarn.  I like the speed and organised chaos you can create with machine stitching….I wish I could layer more without getting in such a tangle though.  I am also fairly limited with my knowledge of which threads can be used as an upper thread in the machine so I have been limited to fairly standard basic colours.  I do enjoy handstitching also – I would ideally like to use both in future work as they both have their own qualities.

Make some comments on individual techniques and sample pieces.  Did you experiment enough ?  Did you feel inhibited in any way ?

As I said in my last post – I had highs and lows with these sample pieces.  I can only speak from my own perspective – but I found it easier the less I practiced (perhaps less expectation of good results?).  My first sample (tree bark) was the first work I did on this project as my practice stitching was going nowhere – I just had simple fun with hand embroidery using various yarns stitched into hessian.  Hessian is good as it has a large weave so there are no issues with bulkiness of thread etc.  I did quite a lot of experimentation – I went to my mental limit (frustration wise) with sample 3 (fountain water), and got nowhere really.  I did learn what not to do…which is helpful I suppose – although not very satisfying.  I did not feel inhibited.  I felt frustrated that I do not possess the experience to create the effects I want…  If anything I feel a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities and only trying a few in the time I have – certainly not ‘inhibited’.

How do you prefer to work ?  From drawing or by playing with materials and yarns to create effects ?  Which  method produced the most interesting work ?

Both, I like to draw to prepare myself and to get to know the aesthetic I want to assimilate – and playing with materials and yarns is essential to creating effects.  I can’t really answer this question… both ?…they are not separate ?  I’m not sure what to say.

Are there other techniques you would like to try ?  Are there any samples you would like to do in a different way ?

At the risk of repeating myself, my vague answer is ‘there are easily a hundred techniques I would like to try’ – and my priorities would be to practice stitching and working with natural basic fabrics first before slowly diversifying.  I would like to try the peeling paint sample again once I have thought about it some more and have more experience…as yet I don’t know how I will do this.

Is there anything you would like to change in your work ?  If so, try to think out why and make notes for future reference.

I think it is a bit soon for me to answer this question…  I do not feel like I have produced any actual work as such.


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Brief: Using thread and yarns to create textures

I found this stage the most enjoyable of all of the exercises in this project.  In fact, that is why I begun with this stage and finished with the stitch practice.

My first attempt at this was perhaps the most successful in my mind as it was more intuitive and fluid – whereas I seemed to struggle much more as I began to think about it.

Sample #1 : Tree bark (I guess everyone starts with this…).

I am not sure if the colours I reproduced remotely resemble the photographic image.   However when you continue to zoom into the photograph, a whole range of colours start to appear which are initially invisible.

tree bark

Brown paper always seems much more forgiving when doing initial colour sketches…also it is the only way I can process my junk mail.

sketch with watercolour pencils

I used hessian on my first stitched sample as it is a natural fibre which seems sympathetic to the subject.

Handstitching.  Knitting yarns and embroidery threads stitched on to hessian

My second version uses blue grey lining fabric – I think it either a little too fine or I am too aggressive with the sewing machine as the tension starts to show itself in creases of the fabric.

Machine stitching version

Sample #2 : Peeling paintwork on tower door at Torosay.

This was much harder than I thought it would be… I initally started burning fabrics to see if this would re-create the peeling effect on the doors.  It didn’t.  In fact what actually happened – was that I vowed to only use natural and naturally dyed fabrics from that point onwards.  The coloured samples I did have, sizzled as I burned them.  One yellow polyester produced a repulsive brown goo.. and there were also a couple of fabric fires that I had difficulty putting out.  Lesson learnt.

Leaving that experience behind me, I moved on to using the pages of a very old book I had on the shelf.. I did not achieve the peeling paintwork effect but I did have fun with it in other ways.

Peeling paint on door at Torosay. Detail

Using a view finder, I selected a small section of this image focusing around the largest break in the cracks with spider webs.

Scribble sketch in watercolour pencil

I did a couple of samples of this, both machine embroidered and one with a backing fabric.

Book print, machine/hand stitching, inks and nail varnish.

Red linen backing fabric, book print, machine embroidery and inks.

Sample #3 : Fountain.  Photo taken from Reflections, lines and textures post.

This was impossible…in fact I now realise that it is extremely difficult to imitate the delicacy of water.  I wanted to dye fabrics at this point but I just could not achieve quite the right colours..

Fountain at Torosay

My first sample was created by stretching and pulling apart delicate muslin.  I did attempt to add some coloured highlights with ink..but this did not work so well unfortunately.

Stretched and pulled muslin with ink.

My second version includes more stretched muslin with the addition of french knots – although these are hard to see.

Stretch and pulled muslin with embroidered french knots on cardboard.

My conclusion at this stage is that I would like to come back to some of these images and try again – especially the peeling paintwork as I know this could be achieved somehow…. I just don’t know how I personally will do it yet.

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Brief:  Working with stitches and threads to make marks and create texture..

I have never really done any sewing…(this seems odd considering my desire to study textiles)..and for this reason it took me a considerable amount of time to ‘mentally’ warm up.  I did everything the wrong way round…finding it impossible to follow the simple instructions specified by the course literature.  In fact I started on Stage 6 and finished by completing stages 1 & 2.

I have tried to insert a few examples here for the learning log in as logical an order as possible.

Machine Embroidery

I bought my first sewing machine 2 months ago – it is quick and effective.  I confess to having snapped a few needles in the learning process…

I also find that, more often than not, the underside of the cloth with the tangle of bobbin threads is much more appealing.  I like it when there is a big loopy dense mess.  Unfortunately I think this will result in a short lifespan for my new machine.

Machine stitching: Testing and varying the tension of the bobbin and upper threads

I have also experimented with making a few different types of paper – after reading Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley from the reading list.

In this example I layered cotton string and embroidery threads between newsprint and tracing paper – overlaying this with machine stitch in various parts.  The reason I have used this example is because I like the blurred effect that the tracing paper gives – it makes the picture look in and out of focus simultaneously.  The stitches are crisp and vivid and the threads below obscured.  This is something I would like to study more in the future.

Machine stitching on newsprint and tracing paper

Hand Embroidery

After initially feeling frustrated at the time constraints of hand embroidery – I returned again to it in the last week and found something infinitely satisfying in the slow controlled stitching.  I read an article called ‘Beauty Therapy’ in the most recent issue of Selvedge magazine (issue 46 May/June 2012) which discusses the brain’s responses to beauty from the perspective of aesthetic philosphers and psychologists alike.  Whilst it is undoubtedly a personal feeling as to what one likes/dislikes, the article suggests that the human brain likes visuals that make sense – drawing security from predictability.  At the same time however, it is drawn to interest in detail and exploration within that environment.  This is something I find infinitely fascinating and again would like to explore this in the future.  Hand embroidery would seem like a good medium for this.

Stage 1 of Project 2 suggests trying some stitches out.  I enjoyed this…simple but effective.

Straight Stitching

Chevrons (a)

Chevrons (b)

French Knots

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