I laid out the six chosen drawings, paper manipulations and sewn paper samples to inform my selections for this exercise.
The first drawing I chose was the rag rug collage; and the second one, the grass pullover.
Sample 1: Inspired by the Rag Rug Collage
In my sketchbook, I explored different potential shapes and layouts for the larger piece, and decided to retain the diamond (square on end) shape that I had liked in the small paper sample. Other considerations included the scale of the raised elements (I decided to make them larger and more three-dimensional); the handling of the frayed element (I opted to cut the threads to give a more fringe-like/frayed appearance, and also to make holes in the paper between the rows of stitch). Although I liked the all white/cream palette of the small paper and stitch sample, I decided to use black contrasting with the off white paper to accentuate the creases between and on top of the raised areas.
Thanks to my friend, Margaret, I had some more durable paper to use for this piece than the tissue paper in the smaller sample. This was in the form of Swedish pattern paper. I used two pieces, one scrunched and pinned over the other. I then marked out the outlines of the raised shapes, sewed round the shapes through both layers of paper, made a small cut on the reverse and stuffed them with sheep’s wool balls, before sealing the slit on the reverse. This gave raised areas with a layered and fissured surface. The piece measures approx 48 x 48 cm, measuring to extremities.
After pinning the piece to the wall, I stood back to see the overall effect (as recommended by my tutor, Cari, in my last feedback!) This told me that the piece required more definition. I highlighted the gaps between the raised shapes with large stitches in black wool and/or paper string. To add a further layer of interest I couched some finer hemp threads over the raised areas to enhance the creased and thready look.
For the lower ‘frayed’ area, I sewed quite dense rows of stitching, snipping the ends and unravelling the six strands of embroidery thread to accentuate the fringe/frayed look. I used a tiny pair of embroidery scissors to snip holes in the paper between the stitching to continued the frayed theme and to add a pattern to this area.
I felt that this was quite a successful piece in the texture (knobbly and frayed) and three-dimensional effects achieved. I particularly liked the fine area with cut-outs and stitching. It is less successful in conveying the weight and solidity of the original collage/drawing, as it has quite a soft, spongy feel to it.
Sample 2: Inspired by the Grass Pullover Drawing
I liked this small sample (above), which was a stylised version of our lawn – full of weeds, moss and insect life.
To push the idea a little further, I was inspired by the ‘re-wilding’ that we have been encouraging to take place in our garden: a large tarmacked area is gradually being covered over with moss, clover and grass. Instead of the neat rows of stitches, I decided to start from the flat ‘tarmac’ (a piece of grey card, textured with holes), to the low cut areas surrounding it, and so to the longest levels of ‘grass’ with ‘plants’ increasing in size. I wondered if the paper string used in the first piece could be unravelled to give a more dramatic look to the stitches. The ‘plants’ would be scattered rather than lined up in rows. I decided to drop the couched braid that I had included in the first piece, as it was not easy to see. I also incorporated a couple of the stitch types from another of the samples.
This piece is approximately A4 in size.
I used crochet cotton to make French knots in the lowest areas, supplemented with quilting thread seed stitches. I used twisted wire and glass beads to form the alien-looking plants; grouped stitches of hemp thread (uncut) in loose clumps; then moving out to the bigger ‘plants’: some raffine, with cut loops, trimmed to points; and paper string, again stitched into clumps, with loose stitches cut on the surface and unravelled in three different forms.
I thought that this was quite a fun piece and had relevance to myself and my interests. The paper string was surprisingly versatile as a ‘thread’. I liked the variety of contrasting textures in this piece and the simple colour scheme with a pop of red. The use of contrasting surfaces and levels of stitch, is one that I think I will return to.