Monday, 29 June 2015

Module 3 Chapter 9 Resolved sample

I've made heavy weather of this chapter, indeed I've found this whole module a struggle - I was never happy with my spiral drawings in the early part of module and it's just gone on from there!

I've just been reading Judith Aylett's blog about learning from your mistakes, and it's true - I have learnt a lot about processes while doing this chapter. I've always found it difficult to translate a design into stitch. I can happily make samples until the cows come home, but set me a "resolved sample" or a "assessment piece" to do, and I lose all my confidence and I struggle.

One of the things Judith says in her blog, is that if you are unsure about a piece, prop it up in a place where you will keep seeing it from the corner of your eye. I think it is important to let a piece speak to you about what to do next.

That's what I did at the end of my last post, and it didn't take me long to realise that neither of the two lower spirals that I printed on using a thermofax screen were working - despite the fact that I had liked it initially, the black one was way too dark, and had lost its delicacy, and the magenta one needed definition.

So, I printed a couple of spirals onto calico, cut them out and applied them over the top of the printed ones using straight stitches to echo the printed marks. I used perle 5 threads, 2 magenta, a gungy green and black. Using the green, I stitched over the central green spiral to moderate its colour. Finally I stitched the top spiral on with small stab stitches.

And I think that's it! It certainly has the feel of the original paper pieces without slavishly copying them.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Module 3 Chapter 9 continued....

Sian, as always, offers helpful and thought provoking comments - the most thought provoking of which was to cut the piece up, as I had done on some of my sketchbook pages at the beginning of the Chapter.

Cutting up your sample piece without a clear idea of what you are going to do is a bit daunting, so I decided to make some photocopies and cut them up first! I made 4 versions.

Version 1 : I freely cut a photocopy into strips, mounted them onto a piece of A3 paper, and added some more spirals using a torn paper stencil, a sharpie, an oil pastel, and a graphite stick.


Version 2 : This time I cut the photocopy using a rotary cutter and the Fibonacci sequence, added more spirals as above, but this time let them escape from the confines of the patterned area.


Version 3 : Same again, only this time I reduced the spaces between the top few strips as I felt they were beginning to get isolated from the rest of the strips. 


Version 4 : Same methods and a sort of distillation of things! I still think the spaces at the top are too big.


So, reasonably happy with where I was going with this, I cut the sample into strips, free machined spirals onto a piece of calico, and applied the strips to the background using stab stitches around the edges. I reduced the spaces between the top strips, and I'm happier with that.

Deciding how to add the spirals took quite a bit of thought. I particularly liked the marks I had made adding the spirals which I thought worked really well with the monoprint marks underneath. I decided to have some Thermofax screens made, so I made two sizes of spiral using the same torn stencil I had used for the paper versions. 

Printing on to the fabric was another "make or break" moment, so I decided I'd better capture where I had got to before I took the plunge!


The Thermofax screens were made by Thermofax Screens ( It's a simple process - you do the artwork, email them a scan, and two days later the screens arrive - brilliant!

I tried them out on paper......


....and then went for it!


Definitely not the disaster it could have been. 

So what's left to do?
  • I'm pleased with the dark spiral ( I used Paynes Grey acrylic paint), but the other three spirals need a bit of definition. I've printed a spiral onto one of the discarded fabric pieces to use as a sample.
  • Although it doesn't stand out quite so much on the photograph, I am increasingly unhappy with the colour of the green central spiral, and need to find a way to amend that.
  • I need to decide what else if anything needs to be added. I have pinned a spiral at the top. I was trying to echo the cream spiral in the middle, so I free-machined a piece of calico using whip stitch, and then removed the thread on the top, so as I was just left with the loops.
 I just need to look at things for a few days to decide what to do!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Module 3 Chapter 10

Designing an accessory.

Initial thoughts
My initial thoughts on reading this module were that I would make some sort of boned corset or boned shaped belt, but I think I would get bogged down in the "dressmaking" aspects to the detriment of the creative aspects.

At the British Museum I saw these metal arm pieces.


I love the idea of making an arm piece that starts with a spiral on the hand, wraps around the forearm and ends with another spiral that sits below the elbow on the top of the arm. I would want it to be one continuous piece, with the two spirals fixed and the spiral wrapped round the arm - not as a cuff, but something you wrap and unwrap each time you take it on or off.

So I would need to experiment with making cords as they would need to be self supporting and keep their shape.

  • Try making a number of simple cords and then make a much thicker cord using the simple cords.
  • Try adding in or wrapping them with wires.
  • Try making a cord that gradually gets thicker so that when it wraps around the arm, it gets more chunky as it reaches the elbow - or maybe the other way round, so that it is chunky at the wrist and gradually tails off as it winds up the arm. 
And then I remembered some Bronze Age jewellery and artifacts I had seen at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest last summer. Don't speak Hungarian (!) so it was impossible to be certain what we were looking at - just all stunning!










So I think this opens up all sorts of possibilities beyond the original idea, and gives me a lot of food for thought!  It strikes me that whilst all these objects were made to be worn, they look lovely on display, and whilst clearly whatever I make will be a wearable accessory, I think it is important that it looks good on display like a piece of sculpture.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Chapter 9 part 2

It's good to be working on this again, but I need some feedback!





I think this is all fairly self explanatory, but one or two additional points:
  • I think the shape of the large left hand spiral needs refining which I would do as I couch the cord down. I think it would benefit from the internal spaces being bigger.
  • The lower picture shows the addition of a extra spiral to the right. At present it is the tracing paper shape I used to make the green spiral. Maybe one or two other "shadow" spirals? I quite like the shadowy quality it has.
  • In the photo the green spiral looks as if it has just been plonked on top. Maybe I need to think about some straight stitching on the other spiral(s) to echo the wire wrapping on the green spiral. Maybe they are simply shadows entirely defined by the straight stitches.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Module 3 Chapter 9

A resolved sample

It's such a long time since I have done any work on this chapter, that to get started, I have decided to write up everything I have done so far, see what still needs to be done, and then set myself a target for completing it.

This module calls for a resolved sample based on spirals,  using at least two techniques from this module as well as techniques from the previous modules.

I've actually found spirals quite difficult, it took me a long time to come up with drawings and monoprints I was happy with - my old problem of being too literal, and not being spontaneous and free in the marks I was making.

So I revisited Chapter 2, and so as to get the relevant bits here in front of me, here are  a couple of the best drawings and monoprints from Chapter 2.




Just about at the same time as I was starting to think about this Chapter, Sian introduced the Summer drawing series of lessons, and I made this drawing using a torn spiral, both the positive and negative, as a mask.


I was really pleased with how free it was, and how interesting the overlapping marks were, so I continued to work in my sketchbook using some of the summer drawing lessons as inspiration. I tore up photocopies of some of my monoprints, added spiral scribbles, and printed direct to my sketchbook using a foam printing block I had made in an earlier chapter.

I printed on top of some of my "failed" monoprints from Chapter 2 and tore them up and tried to develop them with additional lines and scribbles, and generally enjoyed myself!







Some of these are more successful than others, but I was sufficiently pleased with the results to decide to try the same process in textile. I deliberately didn't set out to copy what I had done, but to try and replicate the processes.

Because of the way I had layered everything up, using reverse applique from Module 1 seemed a good place to start.

I made three pieces working very quickly to try and keep the spontaneity going. I used monoprinted fabric from earlier in the module, machine embroidered fabric from earlier in the module. I tried to work freely between the three pieces, adding bits I'd cut from one piece into another.




I was looking at them all sitting beside each other on my work surface, and I wondered about putting the three pieces together and trying to integrate them, so I pinned them together, and started to lay on a few cut pieces to start the integration process. 

That's how it went to Summer School, and my tutorial with Sian. We agreed that I should concentrate on one piece and we agreed 3.9.11.

And that's the last thing I did. Excuses I know, but despite my best intentions, I have been so busy with other things that I simply haven't been able to get any work done on this at all.

So what next? I've made photocopies of all three pieces and I'm going to try various options - maybe doing some more printing and doing more reverse applique; maybe making some wrapped pieces to apply; maybe making some spirals out of cords and applying them. I'm hoping that as I start to work, other ideas with present themselves. Having written all this, I am feeling quite inspired! 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Some old samplers

My groups have just held a stitch and chat day with a display of the work they have done over the last year. We had a few visitors including one lady who had brought 3 samplers to show us, and when she unwrapped them, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  She very kindly let me photograph them.

Unfortunately none of them are dated, so here's my best guesses.

I guess this charming little piece is mid to late Victorian - beautifully stitched in  tiny cross stitches across one thread on fine white linen.

I really can't guess a date for this one - maybe late eigtheenth century, early nineteenth century. This one has a name - Ann Beckett - at the bottom. This one was difficult to read, so there may be a date somewhere. The bottom two thirds is the Lord's prayer, worked in tine eyelets on unbleached linen.

This one's a real enigma - it looks like a seventeenth century band sampler (surely not!), but looking at it, it appears to have some later additions - the blue flowers and possibly the white flowers in the second and fourth bands. The "original" bits are exquisitely stitched with tiny stitches on a piece of very fine unbleached linen. There is also evidence of metallic threads in the top band. The "additions" are fairly crudely stitched .

If anyone can add anything, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 23 June 2014

National Quilt Championships, Sandown Park

First time I have ever entered a judged quilt show, needless to say, I didn't win anything. There were some wonderful quilts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and am already thinking about next year!

Here's me with both quilts.

The quilt on the right is called Circles 1. It's hand pieced and quilted.
The quilt on the left is called Circles 2. I used fabrics left from the first quilt, but added to it to lighten and brighten the mix. The inspiration for the quilt is a technique by American quilt artist Jane LaFazio called Recycled circles. Each block is made by freely cutting quadrants and then bonding them to the background. Each block is heavily embroidered, machined together and hand quilted with seeding stitches.

Some details: