The aim of this exercise to re-work my Old Master image using representative media, conveying the texture and colour palette of my yarn wraps.
I have made six initial explorations using a few of the actual yarns, and some other media (ribbon, twigs) that I may use in the later pieces.
Materials: chenille yarn
Construction: a looping, type of button hole stitch was worked in interconnecting rows over a form made from grain in a plastic bag, taped into shape with masking tape.
Handle and appearance: soft, lacy, insubstantial, floppy. A fragile appearance with matt finish thanks to the yarn type.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns; different media (eg, wire, fishing line, thread). The structure could be sprayed with a stiffener to give it more body.
Thoughts and ideas: I had varied the size of the stitches when making this, and that could be an area for further exploration. It was a bit tedious to make as the yarn kept getting caught around the pins, but I think it created an interesting structure, that reminds me of coral structures, or veins in a petal. It could be made into a complete vessel form, like those of Jean Draper.
Materials: chenille yarn, rug yarn, embroidery thread.
Construction: another ‘made-up’ stitch here (I was trying to work out the one used by Jean Draper in one of her diagrams, without success!), worked across two warp threads, then moving one thread down and repeating the process.
Handle and appearance: as a 2-D sample, it has a knotty feel.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media; other connecting stitches. I can imagine that it would work as a method for covering a 3-D form, with quite a lot of body if a thick yarn or cord was used.
Thoughts and ideas: I think that this method would form a fairly sturdy structure, but it was a bit ‘random’. Mastering some basketry techniques might work better. I will check out the library for a book on the subject, next time I’m there.
Materials: chenille yarn, rug yarn, embroidery thread.
Construction: based on a technique described in Draper, 2013: a random grid of rug yarn is bound in some areas with the other yarn and thread.
Handle and appearance: as a 2-D sample, it has a ridged, net-like feel. The yarn makes it quite chunky and three-dimensional in places. The little touch of contrasting red gives added interest.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media. This would work well for covering a 3-D form. It could be manipulated further, depending on which structural threads you choose to bind together into the covering yarn.
Thoughts and ideas: this was one of my favourite of the six samples I made. I liked the random structures that formed where the structural threads crossed. The secondary pattern formed by the binding yarn/thread gives an interesting texture and seemingly suspended abstract shapes and lines.
Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, embroidery thread, dogwood twigs.
Construction: inspired by Lizzie Farey‘s willow sculptures, I took some dogwood twigs and twisted them into a circle (if I was making this as a 3-D object, I would work it as a ball shape). It was then bound or stitched with assorted yarns and embroidery thread.
Handle and appearance: this feels rigid and heavier than the other samples. The twigs contrast texturally with the yarns in an interesting way.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media (other natural materials such as willow, bramble stems and other flexible plant material; or manmade materials such as plastic strapping, or paper rolls).
Thoughts and ideas: I think that this would work well as a 3-D form. If the twig structure had larger gaps between the twigs, then more irregular stitch could be added, as well as binding. The thick needle with the yarn would not penetrate the structure shown here. The less heavily bound area is more successful, as the beauty and texture of the twigs is more visible.
Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, embroidery thread, cotton calico fabric.
Construction: inspired by Margaret Raine‘s coiled vessels, as seen in my recent research, I tore the calico textile into a 3 cm wide strip, then coiled it up while stitching in place with first, embroidery thread, then chenille yarn, then rug yarn. The thicker yarns overlapped two rows of coiled textile each time, the first section in the centre had stitches penetrating the cloth.
Handle and appearance: this has quite a rigid structure, but there is some flexibility (the centre can be pushed upward or downwards forming a convex or concave form). The feel of the stitch dominates this sample.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media (the stitch could be worked over any core, such as piping for a more regular appearance; or plastic or rubber tubing, for example). It will work as a 3-D structure. The stitch could be varied (eg, lengthened by passing over more rounds of base material); or could be more irregularly placed.
Thoughts and ideas: this sample does look a bit like a placemat or coaster, but I’m sure that using different base material and making a 3-D form will change the appearance. I liked making this and felt that it was a simple and flexible way of making a vessel.
Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, fine synthetic ribbon.
Construction: I made a warp thread over card and then wove the ribbon and blue yarn through in a simple, ‘over one, under one’ pattern. The red yarn was stitched over in a random pattern.
Handle and appearance: the red, erratic stitch contrasts well with the woven structure. In this sample there is a mixture of textures: rough/hairy, soft and smooth.
Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads for warp and weft; different colour palettes; different media (plastics, fabric strips, plant materials, etc.
Thoughts and ideas: I’m not sure how this will act as a 3-D object, but hope it will hold its shape. It may require more stitch or denser weaving to achieve this. I thought this was a bit dull until I added the red stitch, then it came alive for me, and, I felt, represented the source material well.
A5 size, POSCA pen drawing of sample #6
I will carry forward samples 3, 5 and 6 to the next stage and try them in a more 3-D format.
Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, braid, fancy yarn, embroidery threads, sheeps’ wool balls.
Construction: I made an apple-shaped mould from quinoa grain in a plastic bag, shaped with masking tape. A warp thread was wound around the apple shape, from top to bottom overlapping at each end, and then I wove the cream, green and gold threads, braid and ribbon in an ‘over one, under one’ pattern. The blue yarn and blue ribbon were stitched over the top in fairly horizontal stitches, and then the red yarn was stitched over in a random pattern. The warp threads were cut and tied to each other at the top and the mould was removed. The top of the ‘apple’ was gathered and the form was stuffed with wool balls. A ‘stalk’ was bound at the top.
Handle and appearance: the sample is somewhat apple-like and resembles the source material and yarn wrap, as many of the yarns/threads used were the same or similar. On half of the ‘apple’ red dominates, and on the other half, blue. There is quite a lot going on in terms of colour and texture.
Possible variations: the scale and colour palette could be varied. I feel that a more realistic green apple would have worked better. The method would also work on a 2-D wall hanging.
Thoughts and ideas: My idea for this was to make an Adam and Eve’s apple (seen in the Old Master image), (as a metaphor for the earth), on which the forces of good (blue) and evil (red) were fighting it out. I felt that this was not a successful sample, as, although the colour palette matched the source material, it was too busy for the small surface area of the ‘apple’. Another problem was that apples are usually red or green, so having red as the ‘bad’ part didn’t really work. If I was making it again, I would make the apple red or green (and that in itself would stand for the ‘good’), and the corruption or ‘evil’ would be brown.
Materials: cotton shirt textile, crochet cotton, glass beads, eyelash yarn, polyester thread.
Construction: Inspired by Margaret Raine’s lovely ‘pods‘ seen in my research, I made a coiled pot ‘in the hand’, with twisted strips of shirt textile, sewn in place with crochet thread and topped with a circle of beads and a ring of eyelash yarn.
Handle and appearance: this small piece fits easily in your hand and is quite light in weight. There is some flexibility to the sides of the ‘pot’ and it has a delicate appearance.
Possible variations: the scale, media and colour palette could be varied. The form could be anything from two-dimensional, neatly circular, to a randomly formed, three-dimensional sculpture.
Thoughts and ideas: following on from the apple idea of the last sample, I decided to make a small, apple-ish vessel with a simple colour palette reflecting the background colours of my source image: greens, teals and beige/brown. The eyelash yarn reminded me of the texture of the yarn I had used in the original yarn wrap. There was no ‘message’ hidden in this piece: I simply was inspired by the colour palette in the source material. The red beads were added after exploring a number of other colour options, but I felt that they gave this piece the lift that it needed to enliven the otherwise analogous palette. I liked this sample and feel that this ancient technique has a great deal of potential for variation and I think I will return to in future.
Watercolour/POSCA pen drawing of coiled vessel.
Drawings of some ideas for making a coiled or bound structure from wooden articulating snakes.
Materials: 19 wooden toy snakes, plastic coated wire.
Construction: The snakes were held in place over a mould made from florists’ foam with elastic bands, then the wire was looped and knotted in three rows near the top of the structure. At a lower point, three rows of twining were put in place. The bottom of the structure was wired to a wooden ring and glued where the ‘tails’ met the wooden ring.
Handle and appearance: the loose part of the snakes can move about; the object can be stood the other way up, too. The colour on the back of the snakes appears when viewed from one direction: from the other, the plain undersides are visible.
Possible variations: All sorts of long, thin, flexible objects and materials could be combined in this way. In fact, in a library book (mentioned below), I saw pencils used to make a pot and short sections of twigs, so, as long as they can be joined successfully, almost anything is fair game. Obvious alternatives are strips of plastic, such as parcel strapping or carrier bags, as well as the many natural vine-like sticks and plant materials, such as bramble stems, willow, clematis etc.
Thoughts and ideas: Following on from sample #8 and a thought I had in the middle of the night about coiling, led to thoughts of using snakes, (one of which was in the Old Master image of Eden), I came up with the idea of using toy snakes to make a coiled vessel structure, but when I was drawing ideas, I thought of joining them side by side. This was quite a challenge to make – much harder than I had anticipated. Getting the snakes into the correct position for joining was tricky. I had hoped to make an amphora shape with the tails joined at the base, but the wire would not stay in place, so I used a wooden ring instead. (I may alter it again if I can find tiny tacks to hold the wire in place). It is rather a wonky effort, but I was quite pleased with it. It was not until I had the snakes to study, that I realised that they articulated side to side rather than up and down, so I had to bind them sideways on to make them rear outwards (I left a lot more loose than in my drawing as I felt it added to the writhing snake effect). Each one varied from the next in flexibility and somewhat in size, which means that the base is rather uneven. The shape of the individual components dictates the shape of the ‘vessel’. It was only by trying out ideas on the actual materials that I was able to come up with a method that worked. I tried out a number of different materials for joining the snakes, but ended up with wire for its colour, strength and flexibility. The potential for this technique is large: the twining method worked well for binding the separate units into a fairly sturdy object, so would presumably work with other similar units. If it was carried out with more skill, I think it could make an interesting art object.
Drawn idea and trial layouts for snake structure.
Materials: toy rubber snakes, glue, thread.
Construction: after experimenting with different layouts the snakes were glued at the places where they cross. They will be mounted on card by sewing in place with black thread.
Handle and appearance: the toy snakes are very rubbery and jelly-like, so do not make the sort of structure you can hang from the wall. They have a random appearance, with repetitions of elements such as heads, tails and the general shape.
Possible variations: I think that this might also work well with a coiled technique, similar to that used above. The scale could be larger, and the colour palette varied: black snakes with white binding, or spray painting the whole arrangement another colour, for example.
Thoughts and ideas: I found a book in the library about basketry techniques: (Harding and Waltener, 2012) and thought that the section on interlacing and random basketry held promise. Taking that on board along with sample #3 above, and the coathanger ‘DIY’ yarn concept from an earlier exercise, I came up with the idea of using a grid of snakes glued together in a random pattern. As with the last experiment, I used the found colour of the materials, so it varies from the source material. This idea could be used to create fashion items, such as a dress, or room dividers, wall art, lamp shades/light fittings, a textile design, etc.
Tiled version of the snakes with apples grid.
Summary: Reflective Commentary
The processes I adopted for this exercise, were weaving, coiling, twining and making a random structure, based on basketry techniques.
I discovered that these ancient techniques can be updated by using new materials and intentions (making artwork instead of functional objects).
I felt that the small coiled textile vessel, #8, worked well and stimulated further ideas for developing the theme of coiling, leading to the use of ‘snakes’.
The woven structure of #7 was tricky to finish, because I had not left spare warp: something which I will bear in mind for the future. The colour palette of that sample was too complex, and inappropriate for my chosen theme of good versus evil. I learnt that it was better to plan the colour palette in advance through drawing and trying materials together before making the finished sample.
Sample #7 was a 3-D re-interpretation of a woven structure, combined with hand stitch. Basketry and coiling were re-invented by using unusual materials (toy snakes).
I chose to re-interpret and re-invent the colour palettes from Exercise 3.2 by combining them in a 3-D form (#7), and then by simplifying them and being more selective for sample #8, then using ‘found colour’ for #9 and #10. The imagery, which depicted the departure of Adam and Eve from Eden, complete with snake, God and Devil, was re-interpreted as ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Initially, as red and blue stitch on an apple (the world). In the later pieces, the snake alone dominates the imagery, which stands for temptation. The yarns were initially copied from the yarn wrap, then were developed to become a simple palette of green, golden-beige, and red. Finally, a snake structure, and a 2-D snake grid were made using wooden and rubber snakes in purely the found hues of those items.
Draper, J. (2013) Stitch and structure: Design and technique in two and three-dimensional textiles. London: Batsford.
Harding, S. and Waltener, S. (2012) Practical basketry techniques. London: Bloomsbury USA Academic.
https://textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/jean-draper/ Accessed 08/02/17