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
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|
|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|
|Cotton homespun||Lincraft||6.99/ m
|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|
|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|
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:
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.