Part Two: Surface and Stitch: Project 1: Creating Surfaces

 Exercise 2.2 Paper Manipulation Library

First decision was to choose the papers and cards that I would use for this exercise, based on the drawn marks of my six chosen drawings.


I picked:-

  • heavier recycled card, sturdy brown papers and thick, coarse-textured blotting paper for the rug drawing;
  • soft, drapeable tissue paper, and tracing paper for the quilt drawing;
  • crisp, fresh copier paper and a herringbone patterned paper bag for the grass drawing;
  • heavier water colour paper, patterned envelope papers and tissue paper for the various textures suggested by the papier mâché 3D drawing;
  • some lighter copier paper, tracing paper, and cellophane for the ‘ethereal’ slug drawing;
  • and glossy photographic papers and tissue paper for the mixture of hard and soft marks in the digital drawing.

Next, using a selection of viewfinders (as suggested by my Tutor in my last feedback); I isolated areas of interest within the drawings and tried to represent the marks and feeling or emotion of the drawing in paper.

1 Inspired by Patchwork Quilt Mark Making Drawing

This piece in tissue paper represented the pattern, fragility and draping qualities found in the drawing (about A3 size – all the other pieces are A4, folded double in image at left, and draped in image at right).

Techniques used: folding, cutting

Comments: I liked the soft, feel and repeated patterns of this piece. It looks quite different laid out, folded or draped.

Tracing paper, to represent the lines and patterns seen in a section of the quilt drawing.

Techniques used: cut, folded, re-joined, various techniques applied to make pattern marks (punching, pricking, stabbing with blunt and sharp tools, embossing, cutting, dragging).

Comments: the reverse was as interesting, or more so, than the front of this piece. I like the asymmetrical shape and variety of marks. Perhaps the finish is a little ‘crisp’ and sharp, though.

Tissue paper, chosen to represent the checked fabrics represented by straight lines, in the drawing.

Techniques used: folding pleats into both long sides, then both short sides and repeated. Folds glued on one side.

Comments: again, this has a nice flexible quality, much like an old, washed and worn fabric. It is more matte on the reverse (right hand image). I like the simplicity of the repeated pattern, yet each segment varies because they are not measured with a ruler.

2 Inspired by Digital Flower & Foliage Drawing

White, glossy, photographic paper, chosen to represent the shiny quality of the drawing and the hard look of some of the marks.

Techniques used: embossing, scoring, cutting with various tools.

Comments: this reminded me of a white ceramic tile with raised details. I liked the variety of surface textures on the embossing and scoring, but was less keen on the parts I had actually cut. The reverse is a matte, inverted version. I liked this one.

Copier and tissue papers to accent an area of bold lines representing stems in the drawing.

Techniques used: scrunching, twisting paper into ‘ropes’, layering

Comments: I liked the linear qualities of this piece, although I’m not sure that its organic feel was successful in capturing the mixture of hard and soft lines in the original drawing.

Exploring the same linear marks in the digital drawing, trying to get a variety of bold, medium and finer lines.

Techniques used: laminating cord, yarn and paper string between two layers of paper: letter paper and tissue paper. I picked the letter paper to give a firm base, and the tissue paper to allow the raised inclusions to show up clearly.

Comments: sometimes the drawing has dictated the chosen papers, sometimes the chosen technique has demanded a certain type of paper to make it work, as in this case. I felt that this was more successful in representing the variety of lines found in the drawing, than the previous example.

Trying to capture the contrast between sharp, hard lines and soft, fluffy marks in this piece.

Techniques used: photographic paper cut and woven; torn and layered tissue paper.

Comments: there is quite a contrast between the two areas. I’m not sure that the two types of paper work well together.

3 Inspired by Grass Pullover Mown Drawing

Well, these ones are for Cari, as she expressed a wish to see me working with more cut, tufted surfaces. I picked a paper bag, with a pattern which reminded me of grass.

Techniques used: folding, cutting, gluing, dipping into acrylic gesso (inspired by my research into Stephanie Tudor’s work).

Comments:- I’m showing the more successful areas of this manipulation: the gesso was too thick in some places and dragged the paper down. It did highlight the higher areas of ‘pile’, as the shorter-cut areas did not pick up the coating. I liked the extra dimension the gesso gave to the piece.

I decided to have another go at the technique, but making a denser pile. I chose lined A4 paper sheets to work with as they offered a crisp, stiff, texture to give the grass-like texture I wanted. The lines added to the vertical dimension. I concentrated on the placement of the cut area where the arm of the ‘jumper’ joins the body in the drawing.

Techniques used: the paper (10 sheets) were folded, finely cut, glued to an 11th sheet of paper. The loops were cut, then one area was trimmed.

Comments: a time-consuming technique and painful on the thumb! However, I liked the overall effect: it feels lovely to run your fingers through – quite springy – much like the original drawing.

4 Inspired by Rag Rug Collage

I had high hopes for this piece, made from thick blotting paper, chosen to represent the solidity of the original drawing.

Techniques used: the paper was doused with water, then placed over assorted pebbles; a soft layer was put on top, followed by heavy weights. The paper was supposed to mould itself around the pebbles forming raised lumps that resembled the raised area of the border in the original drawing. The lower edge was torn into strips to represent the frayed area of the collage. Needle holes were added to mark out the raised areas more clearly.

Comments: a very disappointing result (I tried it both ways up with the pebbles resting on the paper and vice versa), but it did not make much impact. Maybe a thinner paper or papier mâché would have been a better choice.

This manipulation was chosen to represent the deep creases in the original rag rug collage drawing. I chose tissue paper to achieve a highly wrinkled surface.

Techniques used: scrunching, pinching, gluing to base sheet.

Comments: I like this texture and imagine it would be good to stitch into. The shadows formed by the ridges and hollows give an interesting and irregular finish. It is probably too soft to resemble the original piece, though.

Trying to find a way of making bumps on the surface of the paper using two types of brown paper and tissue paper.

Techniques used: cutting holes in the ground paper (which had been pre-folded and opened to give a textured background). Looping strips of paper through the slits. The reverse shows what looks like a running stitch.

Comments: the heavy brown paper was incredibly hard to pull through the holes, and tended to fold in half along its length, but the tissue paper was much easier to use, and could be spread out on the surface to make a satisfying blob. I liked the effect of this piece and it was made in a similar way to the original rug, although the ‘pile’ is not as dense as that shown in the collage.

A heavy piece of recycled card, showing three different textures representing the fraying, border and main area of the original drawing.

Techniques used: a scalpel was used to cut the ‘frayed’ area and to mark out shapes for the border area, these were then loosened with a finger nail and peeled to raise the outer edges. The holes were made with a punch and hammer.

Comments: this piece took a very long time to make, both loosening the edges of the shapes and punching out the holes (20 hits per hole was about average!): that card is tougher than it looks. I liked the shapes with loosened edges and thought that the holes might be able to have something pushed through them. However, the frayed edge was too neat. It was one of my favourite pieces.

5 Inspired by 3D Cone Flower Painting/Collage

Aiming to recreate the variety of shapes, weights of mark, and textures in the original drawing, using recycled envelopes, graph paper and recycled card. The original was a bright, playful piece so I tried to recreate that feeling.

Techniques used: the punched out pieces of card from the previous drawing were just what I needed to represent solid raised balls in the collage drawing; other pieces were cut and layered.

Comments: I liked the contrast of subtle patterns, light, floaty moving shreds of tissue and the solid circles of card. I also liked the asymmetry and blank areas.

Thick, textured watercolour paper, chosen to represent the heavy texture of the papier mâché in the original drawing.

Techniques used: hammering with a ball-peen hammer, scoring with various tools, paper resting on polystyrene to make the marks.

Comments: I didn’t like this piece, I think because of the holes where the hammer had broken through the paper.One interesting aspect was the geometrical lines that formed as the thick paper was hit.

Copier paper and tissue paper were chosen to represent the light, free floating areas of the original collage, and the solid balls, and finely cut sections of the drawing. I thought I would explore a more stylised presentation in this piece.

Techniques used: top to bottom: cutting/folding/crushing into balls; tissue shapes cut and partially attached, overlapping, leaving free edges; folding/cutting.

Comments: a nice combination of textures, but it feels somewhat finished already, not sure where stitch could be added to this successfully.

Concentrating on enlarging one small area of the original drawing, where a knotty yarn was placed next to some larger paper balls. A fairly tough envelope paper was chosen as being necessary for its strength.

Techniques used: a very fine strip was cut from around the outer edges of the envelope paper in a continuous strand; this was then knotted at intervals along its length. The larger ‘balls’ were represented by cutting wider strips into the lower edge and double knotting them. This alluded to the stem lines in the original drawing.

Comments: I liked the simplicity of this piece, and the knotted paper string can be manipulated in a number of ways: looking rather smoke-like in this photo, but it could be left hanging as a single length, or a combination of the two. The knots form shorter straight lines within the length of the string, which give a geometric feel to the piece. It could be couched into its chosen position.

6 Inspired by Slug Drawing: Parsley Seed Head

Tracing paper was chosen to represent the fragility of the original drawing. One small area of the piece was selected through the viewfinder.

Techniques used: cutting, twisting

Comments: a simple piece, but quite delicate, and it has a lot of movement in the cut areas when held by the upper edge.

Mount board was chosen as a solid base, as in the original drawing. I was aiming for subtle surface textures.

Techniques used: scoring, punching (partial cuts); scratching and raising surface with sharp pottery tool.

Comments: I think that the representation of the slug trail was successful in showing a raised, chewed texture; the punching and scoring were rather lost on this thick, heavy ground.

Using copier paper with wax to capture the ethereal feel of the original drawing.

Techniques used: dripping and ‘drawing’ on the paper with tjanting tool and melted wax.

Comments: this gives a very raised surface; quite subtle; the reverse shows a ghost image revealing only the areas where the wax has penetrated the paper. I liked the combination of wax on paper.

Following on from the last experiment, I used watercolour paper and more wax!

Techniques used: wax coating (3 or 4 layers); cracking; peeling; punching; scoring; marking with dress pattern marking tool.

Comments: this had a nice, translucent look to it – much like the slug trails on the original drawing. The cracking was intended to suggest the stem lines; the slug trail was recreated with the pattern marking tool, making trails of tiny indentations across the surface. The cracking revealed lower layers as some of the upper layers of wax could be peeled away. Some areas of the paper again absorbed the hottest wax giving another layer of pattern. I had seen wax/thread art works on my first study visit, so will be interested to add thread to this piece.

A final paper manipulation, aiming to show the glimmering marks of the slug and ‘eaten’ areas where the original drawing had been.

Techniques used: copier paper was cut, burned, layered with cellophane.

Comments: the burnt areas are fragile and crumbly. I liked the effect of layering with cellophane to give an added shine to the background.


I tried some interesting techniques, that may be transferable to textiles: wax coating, dipping, burning, moulding, knotting and layering with cut away areas, to name a few of my favourites. All the pieces are now labelled on the reverse, so on to the next stage.

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