Monthly Archives: May 2014

Module 2 – Record Logs

evaluation of a functional 3D embroidered item

The completed assessment piece for Module Two is a reliquary in the shape of a cone snail based on the design topic of a tonal study of animal markings.

How do you feel about the resulting conclusion?

I am very pleased with the resulting conclusion.  The item works as a reliquary – I envisaged it as a receptacle for my small seashell collection, and it functions very well for this purpose.  The reliquary resembles very closely the full-scale paper model I made in the first part of Chapter 12, which suggests that most aspects of the design were well-resolved before I started making.  One outcome of Module 1 for me was that I have recognised in myself a tendency to ‘jump to conclusions’ so am making a concerted effort to exhaust as many options for sampling as present themselves.  I feel the cone snail is vindication of my attempts to take a more rigorous approach.  There were still tell-tale signs in the first part of Chapter 12 that I have not been wholly successful in this but I’m OK with it being a work in progress if Siân is.  The things I particularly like about the shell are the way the outer surface works as a tonal column, the contrast between the outer surface and the lining, the way the lining works as a reference to the predatory nature of the cone snail, and the way the spire construction has worked out as a wrapped Vilene spiral.  I also like the effects of the trims, and the wave form of the stand.

Is it fit for its purpose? Give reasons.

I do believe it is fit for its purpose.  First, it complies with the design brief in that it is functional, is three-dimensional, and is embroidered.  It works well as a reliquary, and is a suitable size to contain the objects I intend to keep in it.  The fastening (laces and loops) are a functional means of closure as well as a decorative trim, but it does require a considered decision to open the container, which is appropriate, I feel, for a reliquary.  The stand keeps the long axis of the snail horizontal, which prevents objects contained in the reliquary from falling out.

If you were asked to make it again, what changes would you make to the way you designed it and the way you made it?

There are two things I would work through more thoroughly in making design decisions: the choice of fabrics for the trim along the long opening edges of the shell, and the choice of thread for the satin stitch used in assembling the object.  That is not to say I would have made different choices; however, after I constructed the shell, I realised that I probably should have trialled a fringed trim consisting of frayed black fabric enclosing the diagonal grey frayed squares, and sampled a dark grey thread for the satin stitch.  As it turns out, I think the choices I made instinctively worked well, but I should have sampled options before deciding.  The only other change I would have made would have been to use two layers of the S133 heavy pelmet Vilene in the stand rather than the S520 Vilene, as the stand would have been better had the construction been a bit more rigid.

references consulted for module 2

Geddes, E. & McNeill, M. 1976, Blackwork Embroidery, Dover Publications, New York

Hogg, B. 2010, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Blackwork, Search Press, Tunbridge Wells

Holmes, V. 2003, The Encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery, B.T. Batsford, London

Langford, P. 1999, Embroidery Ideas from Blackwork, Kangaroo Press, Sydney

Lucano, S. 2010, Made in France: Blackwork, Murdoch Books, Sydney

Möller, E. 1999, Shibori: The art of fabric tying, folding, pleating and dyeing, Search Press, Tunbridge Wells

Saunders, S. (ed.) 1998, Royal School of Needlework Embroidery Techniques, B.T. Batsford, London

Thomas, M. 1983 (1936), Mary Thomas’s Embroidery Book, Dover Publications, New York

Watts, P. 2003, Beginner’s Guide to Machine Embroidery, Search Press, Tunbridge Wells

Time Log

Here is my time log for Module 2, based upon diary notes and timesheets:

Chapter Dates Time in hours
Intro + Chapter 1 21/5/14 – 28/5/14 16
Chapter 2 31/5/14 – 6/7/14 28
Chapter 3 9/6/14 – 26/7/14 15
Chapter 4 10/7/14 – 2/8/14 10
Chapter 5 6/8/14 – 21/9/14 9
Chapter 6 16/8/14 – 27/9/14 23
Chapter 7 2/11/14 – 26/12/14 30
Chapter 8 19/1/15 – 26/1/15 14
Chapter 9 26/1/15 – 8/2/15 14
Chapter 10 15/2/15 – 17/3/15 21
Chapter 11 18/3/15 – 13/5/15 30
Chapter 12 17/5/15 – 12/9/15 60
Chapter 13 13/9/15 – 20/9/15 8

Of the time recorded against Chapter 12, just under 30 hours (17/5/15 – 9/7/15) were spent on design, and just over 30 hours (24/7/15 – 12/9/15) on making.

Costing of materials

The costing of materials for Module 2 appears in the table below.

 

Date

Item

Supplier

Cost of item
$

Amount used

Cost estimate
$

A3 cartridge pad

Stock (originally Gallery 126)

19.95

1.3 pads

26.35

A4 bond paper

Stock

1.25c/ sheet

100 sheets

1.25

Watercolour paper

Stock (originally Gallery 126)

13.95/ 12 sheets

4 sheets

4.65

Pastel paper

Stock

11.95/ 25 sheets

2 sheets

0.95

Tissue paper

Stock

0.50/ sheet

0.5 sheet

0.25

Tracing paper

Stock

2.00/ sheet

1 sheet

2.00

Squared/ graph paper

Stock

0.50/ sheet

2 sheets

1.00

Various dates

Copying/ printing

Burns Aldis

10c/ sheet

60 copies

6.00

Acrylic ink

Stock

9.90 ea

0.5

4.95

Acrylic paint

Stock

3.95

0.5

2.00

Marker pens

Stock

3.95

0.5

2.00

9/7/14

Procion dye

The Thread Studio

8.40

0.6

5.05

9/7/14

Sun dye

The Thread Studio

7.00

1

7.00

9/7/14

Jacquard textile paint

The Thread Studio

6.60

0.5

3.30

9/7/14

Synthrapol detergent

The Thread Studio

13.60

0.1

1.35

9/7/14

Soda ash

The Thread Studio

6.30

0.1

0.65

White King bleach

Woolworths

0.30

Various dates

Glue sticks

Woolworths

2.10 each

4

8.40

Canvas

Stock (originally Mosman Needlecraft)

73.15/ m2

0.03 m2

2.20

Belfast linen

Stock (originally Mosman Needlecraft)

$99/ m

0.1 m

10.00

31/5/14

Coton à Broder

Mosman Needlecraft

2.10 ea

0.5

1.05

24/5/14

Tapestry wool

Lincraft

0.79 ea

1

0.80

31/5/14

Appleton’s crewel wool

Mosman Needlecraft

2.65 ea

1

2.65

24/5/14

Stranded cotton

Lincraft

0.98 ea

0.3

0.30

Various

Pearl cotton

Lincraft, Spotlight

5.99 ea

3

18.00

Various

Gutermann Machine thread

Lincraft, Spotlight

6.99/ 250 m spool

4

28.00

9/6/14

2/3/15

Cotton homespun

Lincraft

6.99/ m
(=6.24/m2)

5.5 m2

34.30

9/7/14

Fuse and tear

The Thread Studio

7.70/m

0.2 m

1.55

24/8/14

Printed fabrics

Lincraft

9.99/ m

0.3 m

3.00

3/7/14

Printed fabrics

Kimono House

25.00/ m

0.3 m

7.50

Gauze

Stock

4.40/ m

0.1 m

0.45

Chiffon

Stock

10.00/ m

0.05 m

0.50

15/5/15

Felt

Spotlight

0.99 ea

5

5.00

Polyester stuffing

Stock

0.20

22/3/15

Vilene S133

Kraftkolour

21.35/ m

0.05 m

1.10

7/9/13

Vilene S520

Voodoo Rabbit

26.30/ m

0.25 m

6.60

Sea urchin spines

Stock (The Thread Studio)

0.45 ea

2

0.90

Vliesofix

Stock

19.99/ m

0.05 m

1.00

Total

202.55

The total cost of $202.55 equates to £93.79 at today’s exchange rate.

work health and safety

Work health and safety considerations which I have observed which are relevant to this module include:

Painting, dyeing and printing on paper and fabric:
  • If using solvent-based paints or inks, work in a well ventilated area and, if necessary, use a respirator;
  • Ensure that work surfaces and all other surfaces prone to splashes and spillages are covered with an impermeable protective material (I bought a piece of PVC sheet to cover my work surface);
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when making up dyes and other products;
  • Wear protective clothing, including to cover arms, and wear latex or vinyl gloves to protect hands from paints and inks;
  • Ensure that paints and inks are kept out of reach of vulnerable people such as children and use non-toxic products whenever possible;
  • Keep paints, inks and dyes (and other chemicals) in a cool, dark place;
  • Wear a mask when mixing dyes and ancillary ingredients such as soda ash to avoid breathing powder;
  • Keep a set of utensils specifically for dyeing – never use any utensil which has been used for painting or dyeing for food preparation;
  • If using bleach, ensure good ventilation (I worked outside on our outdoor table which I protected with layers of newspaper) and wear a PVC apron and latex or vinyl gloves.  Don’t use natural sponges or brushes to apply bleach as they will disintegrate.  Wash off any bleach splashes immediately – bleach dissolves protein, including one’s own skin.
  • Wash all equipment as soon as practicable after use, preferably not in a sink used for food preparation (I use the laundry tub, then clean it well afterwards);
Cutting paper and fabric
  • Cut paper and card on a proper cutting mat using a sharp knife or rotary cutter (because blunt knives are more likely to slip and cause injury), being conscious to keep fingers out of the way, and cut away from the body whenever possible;
  • Always retract the rotary cutter blade when not in use;
  • Cap and put sharp utensils away immediately after use.  I keep the point of my sharp embroidery scissors driven into a cork to avoid accidents;
  • Take care when holding the steel rule for cutting straight lines;
  • Cut only in good light and on a stable surface to avoid errors or injury.
Using any electrical equipment: irons, sewing machines
  • Ensure cords are tucked away to avoid entanglement or trip hazard;
  • Ensure cords are not frayed and that equipment, including cords and plugs, is not damaged in any way;
  • Only ever use electrical equipment on a circuit protected by a residual current device or safety switch;
  • Always switch equipment off at the power point and remove the cord using the plug.
Hand and machine sewing
  • Ensure the lighting is good, that there is adequate task lighting, and that the set-up of one’s chair and sewing table are ergonomically sound;
  • When embroidering, use a foot at all times (including use of a darning foot if free-motion embroidering) and be conscious of keeping fingers out of the way (and best not to stitch when very tired or in a rush);
  • Take regular rest breaks to re-focus eyes, stretch and walk around;
  • Keep track of pins and needles – if one is lost, look for it immediately;
  • Keep a lidded container to hand as a receptacle for broken pins, damaged needles, blunted stencil knife blades and other unwanted sharp objects;
  • Never go barefoot in the studio (not in mine, anyway, as it is carpeted, thus making it more difficult to see dropped pins and needles).
Using the iron
  • Ensure the temperature is set at the correct level for the fabric used;
  • Protect the iron and ironing board when using vliesofix or other fusibles with silicone-coated baking paper and/or a teflon ironing cloth;
  • Watch fingers, especially holding fiddly bits of fabric when using steam settings.  Better still, when ironing pieced fabrics with closely-spaced narrow seams, avoid the risk of scalding fingers by not using  the steam setting.

storage of completed work, materials and equipment

I have made some progress on this since Module 1, with labelled, stacking boxes for materials now residing in the  built-in wardrobe in my studio:

IMG_0733

At the moment:

  • threads are stored in a drawer with colour families sorted into trays;
  • fabrics are stored loosely folded and hanging from skirt hangers or, where folding does not matter, folded in a labelled box in the wardrobe;
  • paints and inks are stored in labelled plastic boxes in the wardrobe, away from light and heat;
  • electrical equipment (except the iron, which is in use constantly and the sewing machine, which has its own cabinet) is stored in the original boxes with the flex carefully wrapped;
  • paper is stored flat on shelves in the wardrobe.

Work in progress is generally spread out on my work surface – I have the luxury of not having to clear it away, and anything likely to fade is covered.  Fabrics in use are kept in a basket on my work table, and threads in another basket, out of sunlight but readily to hand.  I have been placing completed samples in a sketchbook – multi-layered fabric samples are stuck in with removable mounting tape but I wouldn’t want to do this with a single fabric layer because of the risk of staining.  Three-dimensional samples and models are kept in a sturdy, lidded box.

My cone snail is living in the china cabinet in the dining room for now, away from dust, light and fiddling fingers – we need to find it a permanent home where it is a bit more visible.

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Module 1 Chapter 13

wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), born in Moscow to a middle-class family, initially studied, practised and taught law and economics before enrolling in art school in Munich at the age of 30.   He had been fascinated by colour since childhood, and his decision to study art was influenced by the work of Monet, but also by music and spirituality.

Kandinsky’s early paintings, executed mainly during the first decade of the twentieth century, were figurative, but expressive, brilliantly and experimentally colourful and stylistically avant-garde, showing post-impressionist and fauvist influences.  Image 1 Kandinsky’s style continued to evolve quickly.   From 1911 0nwards, though, he began to explore the potential of abstraction.  His early abstract compositions, from ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ period, contain more or less organic forms which blur and blend into each other (see, for example, image 1, showing Improvisation 27, Garden of Love II, 1912).  Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider), active from 1911 to 1914. was an art movement founded in Munich by Kandinsky and other Russian and German artists, and was intrinsic to the development of expressionism.

1.

File:Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation 27, Garden of Love II, 1912. Exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show.jpg

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wassily_Kandinsky,_Improvisation_27, Garden_of_Love_II,_1912._Exhibited_at_the_1913_Armory_Show.jpg

Many of Kandinsky’s abstract works from the 1920s incorporate crosses (among other geometric shapes), or are cruciform compositions or have cruciform elements – see, for example, image 2 (White, 1923), image 3 (Composition VIII, 1923) and image 4 (Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925).   During the period when these works were painted, Kandinsky was working at the Bauhaus, initially in Weimar and later in Dessau, where he remained until late 1933, when he moved to France.  This last huge painting features a large vertical triangle in yellow, an oblique red cross and a blue circle as its main forms, and the focus in all these works on geometric form and primary colour reflects the influence of his period at the Bauhaus.

2.

File:Kandinsky white.jpg

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kandinsky_white.jpg

3.

Source: http://www.artbyyouandme.tv/art-history/wassily-kandinsky-1866-1944

4.

Source: http://www.ec-lapierre-evry.ac-versailles.fr/article.php3?id_article=536

The work in image 5, Composition-X (1939), was painted in France.  By this point, his work had become freer, and his use of colour more experimental , with surprising combinations applied thinly to create almost luminous effects.  Also characteristic of Kandinsky’s work during this latter period of his life is the incorporation of ‘biomorphic’ shapes resembling cells, microbes and sea creatures, as shown in image 6 (Sky Blue, 1940).

5.

File:Kandinsky 1939 Composition-X.png

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kandinsky_1939_Composition-X.png

6.

Source: http://www.invisiblebooks.com/Kandinsky.htm

The work of Wassily Kandinsky relates to Module 1 in his use of geometric forms and defined areas of colour in his compositions.  Kandinsky used crosses both to structure his compositions and as elements within them.  His analytical use of colour, especially during the Bauhaus period, appears to me to be underpinned by a particularly idiosyncratic development of the colour theory in Chapter 1 of this module.  His views on shape and colour (for example, in relation to the attribution of shapes, temperature, musical pitch and other characteristics to specific colours) are characteristic of synaeasthesia.  I feel Kandinsky’s approach throughout his very productive life is well suited to inform the design of stitched textiles, with his use of flat colour and well-defined geometric shapes particularly during the 1920s having special relevance to appliqué.

References:

Düchting, H. (1991), Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944: A Revolution in Painting, Benedikt Taschen, Köln.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandinsky

http://www.invisiblebooks.com/Kandinsky.htm

herta puls

Born in 1915, Herta Puls qualified as a radiographer in Germany before migrating to England in 1939.  She studied embroidery and textile design part-time at the Newport College of Art and at the West of England College of Art in Bristol, then at the London College of Fashion.

Herta Puls combined her qualities as a textile artist with a parallel talent for ethnography in research for her thesis entitled Appliqué of the Kuna Islands of Panama.  She visited the San Blas islands in 1975, and on several subsequent occasions over a number of years.  Herta Puls was a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists, the then Practical Study Group, and the Quilters Guild and Textile Society.  As  well as her work in documenting and teaching about the molas of the Kuna people, and investigating tribal textiles in other contexts, she was herself a prominent and inventive textile artist, and her work has been exhibited on a number of occasions.

The molas designed and stitched by Kuna women in the San Blas Islands in Panama are featured in two of Herta Puls’s publications (see reference list below).  Molas form part of the traditional dress of Kuna women: two panels are stitched and incorporated as front and back panels of the blouse.  The technique used combines appliqué and cutwork.  The designs may have spiritual significance, and incorporate stylised representations of mythic characters and spiritual beings, ceremonies and events, birds and other animals, plants, huts, text and other symbols.  The designs are reported by some commentators to originate in elaborate body painting, but Herta Puls cautions that this assumption may be unwarranted because no connection has been documented in a way that is historically definitive.  She also notes that the common description of the technique of mola-making as ‘reverse appliqué’ is potentially misleading, since the layering, cutting and stitching is worked progressively from the bottom layer to the top layer of the design as layers are added to the stack of fabrics.

Images 7 to 9, from Herta Puls’s publications,  show molas: the first is an abstract mola depicting devils; the second, a modern geometric design mola; and the third, a mola depicting a village meeting.

7.

Scan0021

(Puls 1978:120)

8.

Scan0022

(Puls 1978:121)

9.

Scan0051

 

(Puls 1988: cover)

Herta Puls’s writing on cutwork and appliqué is at the heart of a lot of the techniques taught in Module 1, and her work documenting the construction of molas is directly relevant to the study of traditional appliqué in Chapter 9: I read her minutely detailed, superbly illustrated instructions for working molas as well as the Chapter 9 study notes before tackling my traditional appliqué sample.  Herta Puls’s work is inspiring for me in the context of this module not only because of her meticulous work in documenting the traditional techniques of Kuna stitchery but also because of the way she extends the insights from her study into her own contemporary practice, as documented in The Art of Cutwork and Appliqué  (images 10 and 11, a drawing and subsequent embroidery based on a study of a shrivelled pear, with technical aspects influenced by the mola technique):

10.

Scan002

(Puls 1978: 208)

11.

Scan001

(Puls 1978:145)

Herta Puls’s own work is a wonderful exemplar of what can be achieved through diligent and creative study of traditional techniques in combination with openness to the potential of design sources in nature, incorporation of analytical  studies to explore form, a rigorous and imaginative process of design development, and technical prowess in making.   These are important lessons for me at the end of my first module.

References:

Puls, H. (1978), The Art of Cutwork and Appliqué: Historic, Modern and Kuna Indian, Batsford, London.

Puls, H. (1988), Textiles of the Kuna Indians of Panama, Shire Ethnography, Princes Risborough.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mola_%28art_form%29

Antoni gaudÍ

Gaudí is best known as an architect, but one of the defining characteristics of his architecture is his incorporation of fantastic ornamentation, including exuberant mosaics.  Several of Gaudi’s mosaics take the overall form of stars, and some also incorporate sections of tiles with Islamic star patterns resembling those of the Alhambra.

Antoni Gaudí i Cornetwas born in 1852 at Reus, in Catalonia, and died in 1926.  His studies in architecture, undertaken at the Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, followed a varied youth during which Gaudí worked as an apprentice in a textile mill, studied teaching, and undertook military service.  His first architectural projects were lampposts designed for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona.

Gaudi was a leading proponent of Modernisme (a Catalan movement in art and literature, not to be confused with international Modernism movement).  The main concepts of the Modernista aesthetic are founded in the search for an authentic Catalan style, drawing upon mediaeval and Arabic sources.  The rise of Modernisme was roughly contemporaneous with Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, the Viennese Secession, and the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain.  Characteristic elements are historically derived, include prolific ornamentation and a preference for curves over rectilinear geometry, and tend to be influenced by natural forms.  As with proponents of parallel design movements in other cultures (William Morris and his colleagues in the Arts and Crafts movement, for example), Modernista designers tended to oppose bourgeois values, and set out to use their art to change society.  As well, Gaudí’s work was strongly influenced by his devout Roman Catholic faith.

Seven of Gaudí’s buildings and landscapes in Barcelona have been granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.  The Sagrada Família basilica is Antoni Gaudí’s best-known work.  Commenced in 1882, this work is still being completed.  Images 12 to 14, below, show mosaics from the Parc Güell.  Images 15 and 16 show, respectively, design elements (chimneys) on the roof of Casa Batlló and a seat at Bellesguard.  I am particularly intrigued by the mosaic in image 14, which incorporates fragments of some of the Islamic strap designs I included among my collection of inspirational images in Chapter 1.

I feel Gaudí’s work relates to this module in two ways: first, simply in that he featured stars and crosses in the decorative aspects of his designs; and second, because I feel that mosaic, as an architectural or decorative technique, actually bears a close relationship to the appliqué methods I have learned in the module.  Both mosaic and appliqué are about applying carefully selected materials to a substrate in a manner guided by rigorous design thinking around shape, colour and scale, to achieve a specific artistic object.  As well, though, I am drawn by Gaudí’s exuberant use of riotous ornamentation which, though diverse in colour and form, always seems just right in the overall context of the building or landscape.

References:

Wikipedia sites on Gaudí himself, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoni_Gaud%C3%AD

and on Modernisme, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernisme

UNESCO World Heritage pages: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/320/

12.

File:Barcelona 29-04-2006 11-29-38.JPG

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Barcelona_29-04-2006_11-29-38.JPG

13.

Park Guell mosaic

Source: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-park-guell-mosaic-image12586382

14.

Mosaic detail in Guell park in Barcelona

Source: http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-mosaic-detail-guell-park-barcelona-image17117705

15.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Casa_batllo_chimney.jpg

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Casa_batllo_chimney.jpg

16.

File:Bellesguard0006.jpg

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bellesguard0006.jpg

Module 1 Chapter 12

Usually, I write these posts after I have worked my way through all the exercises and samples in the learning materials for the chapter. This time, though, I am coming up with so many thoughts and questions as I work through that it seems best to document the development process for my resolved sample as I go.

The story so far

I’ve reached the point where I am now working in a slightly different order to the notes. First, I played around with scans if some of my stitched samples from Chapter 11. Here (image 1) are a couple of designs using repeated scanned images based on the techniques on page 46 of the notes. While they are decorative, I felt that they represented a bit of a dead end, in that they look a bit more like a tile pattern than the effect I am after. Perhaps it’s the white space between the shapes. Anyway, not very promising.

1.

Graphic1 Graphic2 Graphic3

Image 2 shows another example – this time, no (intentional) white space, and showing the shape growing in width:

2.

Graphic4

I’ve been using CorelDraw for this. I’ve had it on my computer for years but never really learned to use it properly. I think this shows. At this point, I went back to my favourite samples from Chapter 11, and made a few decisions about how to interpret the brief (in a conceptual sense) and what techniques to use. I thought it may be useful to think of growth and disintegration in concrete terms – the example I decided to use was the process of star formation – coalescing from a gas cloud, evolving into a stars, then disintegrating, perhaps as a supernova (now that would be exciting!) or as a dwarf star. So my cross has just become a star.

The techniques from Chapter 11 I think looked the most promising were the ripple version of reverse appliqué and the seeding. Here (image 3) is my CorelDraw version of the star coalescing from the gas cloud, growing, then shrinking and disintegrating back to nothingness (OK, not astronomically correct, but I’m not designing a galaxy, and the star conceit was only meant to get me started).

3.

Graphic5

In the top left-hand corner there are a few dashed lines. I was trying to work out how to show seeding or running stitch, without a great deal of success, but left the marks there to remind me. This time, I managed to produce a matching background. I thought that if I placed the growing and disintegrating crosses at random angles, and the fully developed cross square on the sample, this might reinforce the idea of the growth-and-disintegration process (oblique = chaotic).

The next step was to translate this design to paper, as per the ideas on page 45 of the notes. This is where I am up to as I write this post, so the rest of this post might be a bit ‘stream of consciousness’ as I develop my ideas.

The paper composition

I’m going to continue with my reddy-orange background, turquoise crosses colour scheme as I think this worked quite well last chapter. Looking at my papers, I think the printed orange papers are not subtle enough and are likely  to ‘fight’ with the crosses. I want a printed pattern which will tone, not contrast with the paper, so as not to confuse the conceptual ‘point’ of the design. I still like the shape of my stamp but feel that the size of the design is too large, so I’ll make a smaller replica and print a sheet using a mixture of red, orange and gold paint.

Image 4 shows the result. So far so good.

4.

Scan0013

I want to represent both fabric and stitch on this paper composition. I should be able to show stitch in opaque coloured pen or perhaps with painted abaca paper. Here goes (image 5):

5.

paper model

Developing the resolved sample

I’m reasonably happy with the paper composition, so am now thinking my way through the process of translating it to fabric and stitch.  Some of the questions which are arising can be dealt with as thought experiments; some will require trial samples to solve.  I suspect that knowing the difference will be a useful design skill to work on.

How do I make sure that the red background doesn’t dominate, and doesn’t look flat and uninteresting?

  • Use printed fabric
  • Arrange turquoise crosses to cover most of the background
  • Use seeding in turquoise threads to tie the whole composition together
  • I will need to consider carefully how to stack the fabrics:
  • Not too thick or it will be too difficult to hand-stitch
  • Maybe two or three red and orange layers at the top to ‘grow’ the shapes out of, then a couple of turquoise layers to give variety in the crosses, then a couple more reddy-orange layers underneath to cut down to when disintegrating the crosses.

Can I machine stitch the ripple lines? Would this look odd if I add hand-stitch (running stitch and seeding) as design elements to form the cross shapes and suggest the ‘gas cloud’? Would the resolved sample be sufficiently robust if I hand-stitch the ripple lines? What if I machine the lines in matching thread then hand-stitch over them in contrasting thread? Work a trial sample.

Shall I use cotton homespun or bemsilk lining material for the background?

  • The bemsilk has a lovely sheen but would it fray too much to support the cutting of slivers between the stitched ripple lines? Would printing it make a difference? Work a trial sample.
  • Texture contrast in the background – maybe use shiny threads to stitch on a matt background, or vice versa.

What would be the best treatment for the parts of the design represented on the paper composition by abaca paper? I could:

  • Use stitch – seeding, perhaps
  • Include abaca paper as a layer in the stack of fabric – but it’s too dense, and I’m not sure the texture would be very compatible with the woven fabrics
  • Use sheer fabrics or net layers in the stack

Probably a combination of stitching and sheer fabric would work. I can include strategically-placed sheer layers immediately above and below the turquoise layers to give a subtle transition, perhaps.

trial samples

I worked four trial samples – the first (image 6) with printed cotton homespun as the top layer, ripples hand-stitched in running stitch in turquoise Danish flower thread, and seeding in the background in coton à broder, cut down to a layer of teal bemsilk; the second (image 7) as per the first but with ripples machine stitched in turquoise rayon; the third (image 8)with printed bemsilk as the top layer, with ripples stitched in reddy-orange coton à broder; and the fourth (image 9) as per the third but with the ripples machine stitched in matching orange thread.

6.

Trial 1

7.

Trial 2

8.

Trial 3

9.

Trial 4

What did I learn?
  • The acetate bemsilk fabric looks too ‘plasticky’ as the top layer.  I thought the sheen would work well but it actually detracts from the appearance of the samples.  As well, it is quite fragile and, I think, would not stand up too well to the cutting process, especially if it were to be handled a lot;
  • The cotton homespun performs much better when stitched and cut, although it has its problems too, as it has quite an open weave.  It looks better than the bemsilk when printed, stitched and cut, so I’ll use it for the top layer;
  • I thought the hand-stitched ripples would work better than machine stitching with the seeding on the background (and I am intending to stitch seeding onto some of the cut shapes, too).  Having made the samples, I feel that the machine stitching does not look at all out of place with the hand stitching.  The running stitch ripples, on the other hand, appear quite heavy and a bit clumsy – not a look I am trying to achieve.  I’ll use machine stitching but, because the fabric is quite loosely woven, I’ll use shorter stitches, plus stitch a double row, which should increase the stability of the fabric as well as making the lines of stitching a little less formal without appearing heavy;
  • Having tried stitching the ripples in contrasting and toning colours, I’ve decided to go with the contrasting thread because I’m looking to the stitching to define the growing and disintegrating cross shapes.

The other thing I learned relates to technique.  If I am to have this sample depict growth and disintegration in the way shown in the paper composition, I think the technique will need to be a hybrid of contemporary appliqué and the ripple or contour effect (both Chapter 9).  The reason I say this is because I won’t be able to get, for example, the clear large turquoise shape at the lower right hand corner of the paper composition if I stitch all the contours through the top (red) layer.  So – I’ll need to stitch the first outline, then cut down until I reach the top turquoise layer, then stitch contours and keep cutting.  If I don’t do this, I also won’t have any room left on the cross shapes to add any hand stitching.

stitching the resolved sample

The first step was to print the top layer of fabric (the reddy-orange homespun).  I did this in much the same way as for the printed paper in image 4, with a mixture of red, orange and gold shapes.  Then, I composed my stack of fabrics.  The top two layers were reddy-orange: homespun on top, then a layer of fine red, sparkly tulle because I was trying to replicate the effect of the abaca paper in the paper model.  Then, three layers of turquoise: a sheer glass organza, then turquoise homespun, then teal bemsilk.  Under that, a layer of orange glass organza, then a final layer of reddy-orange homespun for the base.

The next step was to stitch all the outlines.  I used shiny rayon thread, with a short stitch length, and stitched a double outline.  I decided to use a paler turquoise thread for the shapes that were growing and disintegrating, and a darker thread for the shapes which were more or less fully formed, as image 10 shows:

10.

RS1

At about this point I realised that I needed to cut down to a turquoise layer on the three largest shapes before stitching any more contours (I realised this only after adding a second contour to the top right-hand shape – fortunately, I was able to fix this by carefully disintegrating the orange layer within the outer shape).  I also decided to make my shape grow and disintegrate in an anti-clockwise direction, and to convey this by cutting down from the top to a turquoise layer as the shape grows, and cutting down through the turquoise layer to the lower orange layers as the shape disintegrates (clear as mud!)

Here is the design with further stitching, and the first few shapes cut away (image 11):

11.

RS3

As the stitching and cutting progressed, I found I needed to think logically about which layers I should be showing, and about how to ensure each cross shape incorporated a variety of surfaces for interest, and to convey the ‘growth and disintegration’ concept (image 12 – sorry, a bit of camera shake).

12.

RS4

I thought the stage in image 13 was about the place to stop cutting.  The balance between reddy-orange and turquoise appeared to be more or less right in terms of growth and disintegration of the shape.

13.

RS5

The next thoughts were about adding hand stitch:

  • to the shapes, to add interest and to reinforce the growth and disintegration idea – I decided to add some strategic seeding to three of the shapes; and
  • to the background.  The gold print on the fabric had turned out to be much more prominent than on the paper (image 4), so I wanted to knock this back a bit.  I also wanted to add some stitching in turquoise to integrate the cross shapes with the background and deal with the impression that they had been ‘plonked on’.  So, I opted for a powdering of seeding in a light turquoise coton à broder.

I stitched the seeding with the work in a hoop for a while, then realised that friction from the hoop was causing the fabric to fray a bit where I had cut away slivers of the top layer.  I had to watch the tension of my stitches once I removed the hoop, but found that the thickness of the seven-layer stack kept the sample reasonably stable.

The hand stitching completed the  resolved sample.  Image 14 shows a photograph of the sample with a black window mount, and image 15 shows a scan.  The colours in the photographs (especially image 13, above) are far more realistic than in the scans.

14.

RS6

15.

RS8

It is just possible to make out the red tulle overlying the outer turquoise layer on the centre and lower left hand crosses, and the sheer, shiny turquoise layers at the outer extremities of the three largest stars.  It really looks more interesting texturally ‘in the flesh’, given the way the light catches the organza layers.  One more try, with flash (image 16):

16.

RS9