Module 3 Chapter 2

design work: spiral ‘warm-up’ exercises


I decided to go with a lime green-red violet colour scheme because I really like the Romanesco broccoli (image 2 in Chapter 1) and some of the more reddish-violets in the basket and in one of the Andromeda photographs.


Image 1 shows a variety of papers (cartridge and tissue papers) coloured in the range of my lime and violet colour scheme.  I used Art Spectrum acrylic ink to colour the paper – it gives good, dense colour, is relatively affordable and I can buy it locally.



I tried to make these as interesting as possible by:

  • mixing colours on the sheet using a sponge;
  • saturating the sponge to leave areas with bubbles of excess ink which dried very dark;
  • painting slightly darker spirals onto sheets I had already coloured using a foam brush;
  • creating a resist using an oil pastel in either the self-colour or the complementary colour before painting the sheet with ink.

Since making the coloured papers for this chapter I have discovered Tissuetex (abaca tissue) which had high wet strength relative to ordinary tissue so I’ll use some next time.  I did find, however, that if I plastered the tissue paper to a plastic freezer bag with the ink, then left it to dry before removing it, that I could avoid making coloured pulp instead of coloured tissue.

Simple two dimensional shapes

For this section, I began by interpreting the observed spirals in my research images, then found that the paper designs which emerged were creating their own inspiration, so some of these shapes are a generation or two removed from the observed images.  I’ve photographed these in twos and threes, so will write about them a page at a time.

Image 2 – the left-hand spiral represents a bird’s eye view of Queen Victoria’s dog’s spiral.  The bottom spiral is similar but the violet pieces are based on a smaller circle, exploded and cut into to imitate the acanthus leaves.  In the right hand example, I have displaced the spiral off-centre and have rotated the spiralling shapes relative to each other.



Image 3 – the left-hand sample has spiralling arms made of squares of crimped lime-green paper arranged by size.  The right hand sample is based on the first sample in image 2 but with a greater degree of ‘swirl’ and with some sections of the spiral removed so that the violet background appears to swirl too.




Image 4 – the left hand spiral is a further development of the acanthus idea, with a balance between the violet and lime colours.  The lower spiral is based on the lower spiral in image 2 (without the teeth) but I have reversed the orientation of the violet spiral elements so the centre is now at the edge of the circle.  The right hand spiral was inspired by the Romanesco broccoli – I wanted to see what would happen if I cut spiralling lines in each direction with the number of lines as consecutive numbers in the Fibonacci series.  It doesn’t look much like broccoli but it does have a bit of movement.



Image 5 – in the left hand sample, I have cut out right-handed (lime) and left-handed (violet) spiralling shapes and interwoven them before sticking them down, then have outlined the violet shapes with gold ‘stitches’ to make them stand out.  This is my favourite – the interweaving and the asymmetry lend it a bit more movement, I think.  The other one is based on a simplified spiral staircase.



Image 6 – these are two quite similar samples, each with a single spiral made from small pieces of contrasting paper.  I like the spikiness of the one on the left.



Having made a few circular samples with flat, cut paper, I was ready to try some rolling, folding and pleating.  Some of the elements in image 7 relate to my research images; others don’t, but it was interesting to get a bit more dimensionality into the shapes, and I like the tissue paper ‘string’ – it’s very versatile for making shapes.




Simple three-dimensional shapes

For reasons I cannot fathom, ordinary grey-brown corrugated card is not so easy to obtain here, unless one wants a sheet 2 metres wide and 40 metres long.  Most of the cardboard used in packaging is double-faced.  I did manage to salvage a small amount from a parcel and have supplemented this with card with finer corrugations purchased from craft shops.  Some of this was a nice, natural brown; some was black or white, and some of the white I coloured with acrylic inks.  Consequently, the spiralled shapes in the images do not look particularly harmonious, but it was useful to be able to interleave some of the different colours to emphasise the form of some spirals.

Image 8 shows some rolled examples similar to those in the learning materials.  I like the looseness of the one on the right hand side.



The image 9 spiral I really like.  I cut a circle, then cut it into six spiralling arms.  These are glued to the paper at the centre, then each arm was curved to suit the direction of the corrugations.  I’m keeping this idea for my accessory.



Images 10 and 11 show a collection of spiralling shapes in various colours and combinations of colour.





Designs using monoprinting method

For these monoprints, I used a gelli plate rather than glass, and have built up layers using the range of colours in my colour scheme.  For some of these prints, I made stencils from paper and placed them on the gelli plate before rolling out the paint, as well as drawing into the paint with foam brushes, Catalyst wedges, a paint shaper and my fingers, so there is a mixture of positive and negative shapes on some of these prints.  Images 12 to 23 show the results.

























A brief diversion (I)

Cutting stencils from paper for the monoprints gave me the idea to make a collagraph plate from spirals cut from various types of paper.  I have not tried this before so it seemed like a good opportunity.  Image 24 shows the collagraph plate.  I haven’t printed from it yet – it needs sealing first, so I’ll post images of the prints later.



Spiral drawing using a computer paint programme

I did have a go at making spiral drawings using both Corel Draw and Micrografx Picture Publisher.  This was fun– each of these two programmes works quite differently, and the spirals are made by using specific effects in the software.  Images 25 to 32 show the results.  I rather wish I’d made notes while I was playing with these – there’s no way I could ever produce them again.  Some of them, while they appear to be spiralling, are actually circular designs.  Interesting.


















When I was young I had a spirograph.  It was tremendous fun and produced some great designs which would have been adaptable to stitch.  There are a few spirograph websites but the results aren’t very interesting so I haven’t reproduced any here.


2 responses to “Module 3 Chapter 2

  1. Wow!!!! Everything here is amazing! 🙂 I love your colour scheme, in fact it is one I have used in the past when dyeing fibre to spin into yarn. Your computer generated images are mesmerizing, and I bet you could reproduce them again if you tried! 🙂 And how impressive are you making your own collagraph plate for printing, as well as exploring geli plates? You continue to set the bar very high!

  2. You are an inspiration. What a joy to read about your design process and the sampling that you’ve done. Thanx for posting again. (No wonder it took a while to repost. You’ve done an amazing amount of work!)

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