Tag Archives: crosses

Module 1 Chapter 3

Design Sheet A

For Design Sheet A, I decided to stay with the origami compass rose I folded for Chapter 1, and also the simplified Toulouse cross I used for Chapter 2.

The enclosed negative shape formed by placing four Toulouse crosses in a square is an eight-petalled flower shaped star.

The asymmetry and distortion exercises were a challenge.  The asymmetric star was produced using the Fibonacci series to re-space the quarter points from exercise iii.  This involved calculating proportions for each point at which a line on my star crossed a segment of the lines of symmetry from exercise iii, and translating this to the corresponding point on the lines of asymmetry (?!) on exercise iv.  It took me a while to work out how to do this.  Constructing the perspective distortion example was easier – I found that I could just project lines across from the ‘symmetry’ example.  It is possible to see some of the construction lines on the image below:

Construction 1

I realised that while the star shape worked well for the asymmetry and perspective distortion exercises, I probably needed a shape with some design bulk along the outline and, especially, in the corners to make sense of exercise 6, so I moved back to the Toulouse cross.  To begin with, the ‘tights’ method worked well for the distortion designs in exercise vi, but I found it quite difficult to get the outline of the cross on my tights to conform to the new shapes, so ended up placing the outlines on a block of styrofoam, then pinning the tights over them, stretching as I went, and securing the new outline with lots of pins.  The excess tights material could then be pinned out of the way, and the designs traced onto tracing paper before transferring using carbon paper to my coloured paper and cutting out.



Here is Design Sheet A:

Design Sheet A

I realised after constructing my repeat pattern using the triangle shape (which I arranged radially) that if I had used the diamond shape, I would have made a six-pointed star.

Design Sheet B

Design Sheet B appears rather busy:

Design Sheet B

The gold ink is a little difficult to see on the red background.  The shape combinations are quite interesting, I think.  The cross with the arrow corners lends itself to interlace design, too, although I couldn’t quite get this happening in the border and corner repeat without obscuring substantial proportions of the green stars one-out from the corner to a degree I wasn’t happy with.

Design Sheet C

The shapes on Design Sheet C are all based upon the compass rose star:

Design Sheet C

I went with the instructions to make each quadrant in Exercise i more complex than the previous one.  Quadrant 2 is the one most similar to the original star.  Quadrant 3 has a decidedly art deco look about it, and quadrant 4 looks disturbingly like a migraine!  The first time I attempted this exercise I didn’t think it through properly (same quadrants each time from the same colour) and, when I put it together, it had lost the contrast effect.  I tried rotating the second star by 90 degrees but then lost the shape repeat, so I cut the second star again to match the first.  I used Quadrant 2 in Exercise ii to produce the new motif, which reminds me of a Bogong moth.  I found this was a good shape to overlap, interlock and make interesting geometrical arrangements from.  In Exercise iv, I used some of the hairy Japanese paper I painted for Chapter 2, and also some of the hand-made metallic paper (in the centre), together with my moth motif and the arrow shapes from Exercise ii.  I think overall the tessellated pattern in Exercise vi is the most interesting.


Module 1 Chapter 2

A. Making coloured paper

When I looked at my research images, there wasn’t a complementary colour scheme which really leapt out at me.  The architectural sources are overwhelmingly blue, some with yellow and/or white, and the heraldic/religious/symbolic examples tend to be in primary colour triads.  The images I really liked for colour were the walking sea urchin and the round diatom from New Scientist, so I have opted for a turquoisy/tealy blue-green and a corally red-orange.


I had two attempts at making the coloured paper.  The first attempt failed spectacularly owing to use of really questionable ink and (possibly) excessively good quality paper which may, I think, have had size in it, or perhaps have been very, very hot pressed.  The ink I used was labelled ‘Drawing Ink’ , but it was thin, smelly, didn’t produce saturated colour on paper and, oddly, the colours I mixed tended to separate on the paper.  I think I can still use the paper I printed, perhaps for backgrounds or for interesting washed-out effects.  These are a couple of samples:

Coloured paper attempt 1

So – off to my favourite art supply shop for thinner, more open textured cartridge paper and some really good ink.  The second attempt was made using Art Spectrum Concentrated Artist Ink, and the result, after attempt no. 1, was a revelation.  Sheet 1 shows samples of some of my coloured paper, with the (approximate) recipes. 

colour samples

The papers with more than one colour came up well – these look quite interesting and yes, I can see different effects when I sponge both colours at once or sequentially.  Here are some examples –

mixed colours

I painted a variety of papers, including tissue and crumpled brown paper, newspaper and magazine paper, some interesting hairy/lacy Japanese paper and a few different handmade papers with surface texture and metallic highlights already incorporated.  The scanner is not so good at picking up the variation between red and orange – this photograph gives a more realistic impression of the chosen colour scheme:

variety of papers

B. Printing onto coloured papers

I had a vinyl tile, so decided to try cutting a stamp from that rather than from a rubber.  The printing block is one quadrant of the origami compass rose from Chapter One.  The colours were mixed from Liquitex acrylic paints. 

Print1Print2Print4   Print3

The turquoise (cool yellow and cool blue) mixed to a very dark colour which, when printed on the coral paper, looks almost black.  When printed on the blue paper, the result is a bit more subtle, but not much.  This was a more contrasting result than I expected, and I thought a tint of the turquoise may work better:


The coral colour (warm red and warm yellow) works well, I think – it looks quite interesting printed on the turquoise paper, and even more so on the orange.  I accidentally picked up a bit of the turquoise paint when I was printing in coral onto the orange paper, liked it, picked up a bit more …

The tessellated patterns can be quite interesting – I think the coral on orange example (my favourite) looks like stylised birds.  I might try some more of these later.  I did get the hang of registration eventually …

C. Star or cross shapes from coloured paper

I prepared two sheets of star and cross shapes based upon my research images, as I wanted to see what difference it would make displaying turquoise images against a coral background, and vice versa:



Again, these are scans, and the colours are a bit knocked-back.  Even so, it’s quite easy to see from Sheets 2 and 3 why warm colours are said to advance, and cool colours recede, I feel.  The stars and crosses were interesting to make.  I used scissors for the simpler shapes, and a stencil knife on a cutting board for the more complex ones, including the outline shapes.  The example in the lower right hand corner of Sheet 3 is, of course, torn.  The white outline makes it look a bit out of place.  I like the series of variations based upon the Toulouse cross (without blobs on the vertices – I wasn’t game to tackle the blobs with a stencil knife).

Module 1 Chapter 1

Stars and Crosses

Stars and crosses – cross swords with somebody, cross one’s heart, cross-eyed, cross patch, cross hatch, cross purposes, cross to bear … stargazing, stardust, starry-eyed, star anise, star quality, swinging on a star and, of course, star-crossed lovers – just like Shakespeare to give us both words in a single phrase.

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a cross is ‘a mark, object, or figure formed by two short intersecting lines or pieces (+ or x)’ and a star is ‘a fixed luminous point in the night sky … a stylized representation of a star, typically with five or more points’.  As I have worked through Chapter 1, though, I have been persuaded that the cross, setting aside its symbolism, is a subspecies of the star.  For me, provisionally, a star is a shape with some degree of rotational symmetry, with protruding points (which may not necessarily be all that pointy).  If it has four protrusions, it may be a cross.

My collection of images of crosses and stars has been growing for the last week and a half, and I had a good pile to puddle around in by about mid-week:


I didn’t want to commit too soon to either stars or crosses so have collected both.  The first page of inspirations consists mostly of stars (a few crosses), all from architectural sources – the Alhambra at Granada, Samarkand, Amiens Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, and more mundanely, my house and my sister’s.  I’ve been seduced by the Islamic interlace designs.

Page 1

The second page of images is a mixture of heraldic and symbolic crosses sourced from the web, a Mucha lithograph, a ticket to the Book of Kells exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, a bit of my stitching, an origami compass rose folded from scans of a topographic map (trust a geographer!), a square of Japanese patchwork fabric with an imitation- sashiko print,  and some gift wrapping accoutrements:

Page 2

The third page consists of images from nature (mostly captured from the web, although the succulent – not the actual plant, only the photograph – and the two photographs of the teak seedpod are mine).  Information about sources for published material appears at the bottom of this post.

Page 3

I particularly like the sea urchin and the diatoms (to think they make cat litter from these!)

The next step was to make line drawings of a selection of my research images, as well some rubbings of starry or crossy items, as shown on sheets 4 and 5:

line drawings


Colour Circle

I already had a few gouache paints, in primary colours.  I had chosen primary blue, spectrum red and spectrum yellow ages ago, in the expectation that these would tend neither to the cooler end or the warmer end of the primary colour range (room temperature hues?).  So, for the purposes of the colour circle, I supplemented them with the warmer and cooler variations.  Sheet 6 shows some brush-outs of the primary colours, and also the secondaries mixed from the ‘correct’ variants of the primaries.  The green looks a bit flat in the scan – it is brighter in real life.

Primaries and secondaries

I thought it would be interesting to try mixing secondary colours the ‘wrong’ way, so sheet 7 shows the results.  These are muddy but interesting.

Wrong colours

Sheet 8 shows my mixing experiments for the colour circle.  It was interesting to find out just how little red or blue is needed with the yellows to make orange and green, respectively.  I mixed quite a bit more paint than I needed trying to get it right – next time, I’ll start with the yellow and add the other colours in small increments.

Colour mixing

Sheet 9 is my colour circle.  I stayed with the hues labelled ‘primary’/‘spectrum’ as the primaries – they generally look OK, except that there is a rather abrupt change between blue and indigo.

Colour circle

References for images:

Sheet 1

RefsArch  archwords

Sheet 2



Sheet 3