Posts Tagged ‘Making Marks’

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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Exercise 1 & 2- Marking marks with pencils and creating tone

I found this exercise very difficult if I am honest…I found it frustrating and ended up just scribbling everywhere basically.  After chiding myself – I had another go … I realise that every exercise is important and it reflects badly on me that I had difficulty applying myself.  It did serve as a good warm up however.

I would normally describe myself as a careful ‘drawer?’ – but I found the most consolation in the hard fast scribbles with a soft 3B. This is unlike me – but I found it hard to fill the 8cm box with careful repetitive marks…

I enjoyed the tonal exercise much more – there being a kind of satisfaction in creating depth.

Exercise 3 – Alternative methods and materials for making marks

I love using scrap materials so I pulled out all the paper from the recycling and kindling basket by the fire.  I also found  my old typewriter to see what marks could be achieved with that…(not many as ribbon needs replaced it turns out).  Using twigs, slate, shell and stones that I found on the shore i persevered – the only issue with these was that they do not hold the paint like a brush- therefore you need to keep applying more and more as the lines fade out quickly.

Materials: Newsprint, tissue paper, black and white card, graph paper, parchment and tracing paper. Marks made with biro, pencils, graphite, pastels, tea, typewriter and flame.

With great reluctance (fear) I introduced some colour..using paintbrushes, slate, matchsticks, cork and shells to varying degrees of success.

I scribbled over an old postcard with the matchstick which was fun – I love the idea of recycling old images to make new less lifelike work.  I also used a pinecone on this page.

Exercise 4

Wax Crayons…..I hate wax crayons… so much that I couldn’t bring myself to buy any at the local Spar (I put them back prior to payment), and instead resorted to stealing a plastic pot of decaying fat crayons from my neices.  I have a new  technique for working with materials or on subject matter that does not appeal to me: – I keep doing it until it does… I find that with perserverence that one can learn to love any material or find some good qualities within it.  In the case of the wax crayons – I dislike getting really dirty or using very basic primary colours (fear of producing little more than a childish scribble?) .  However…after a bit of layering and quite a lot of pressure from my upper body to get the crayon to release its colour – I started to notice attractive qualities.  Although the inks painted on top (wax resist) did not really seem to work – I thought the layers of colour and the scratchy tones were impressive.  I would apply the same theory to the whole theme of ‘Making marks’ – at first it seemed just a warm exercise to loosen one up…but now after pondering it and researching it – I realise that it is an art movement in itself.  Although all categories of drawing and painting could technically be referred to as ‘mark making’ – the technique of creating work based’ around marks’, e.g. Cy Twombly, (rather than accurate reproduction of reality ‘using marks’ e.g. the English Romantic painter John Constable) is what the terminology actually means to me now.

I guess I also felt some hesitation in making rubbings… I remember going around the Edinburgh botanical gardens as a child and furiously rubbing away at the bark on the trees – and proudly presenting a crumbled, half torn piece of paper back to my teacher.  For this exercise I chose a red watercolour pencil which has a slightly softer tip than a regular colouring pencil.  I restricted myself to the house and 10metres around it so as not to get carried away.  Unsurprisingly, after approaching wood, rock and stone – I found myself inorexibly drawn to leaves.. there is a reason children are taught to take rubbings of leaves – they display a wonderful skeleton.

Rubbings with watercolour crayon, indoors and outdoors

Wax resist

Rubbing away and blanking out. Graphite, biro, eraser & tippex.

Acrylic paint applied with sponge, cotton bud, cork and paintbrush.

The last suggestion in exercise 4 is to make a collage using scraps of paper.  I was totally at a loss of what to do…short of copying the exercises by Gwen Hedley in ‘Drawn to Stitch’.  One thing I am attempting to do with these exercises – is to not buy anything new..(very hard) – so I just keep returning to the waste paper basket for materials.  This ‘collage’ (if it could be called that ?) took 5 minutes using an old envelope and a box of matches at the last minute to create the burns.  I think the burning could be my favourite discovery in making marks…

Cut up envelope and matches..

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