Assignment 2: Response to Formative Feedback

Following my feedback from Cari, I have returned to my work from Assignment 2 to make some follow-up, visual evaluation drawings of Pieces 2 and 3.

Piece 2

Cari suggested that I make a repeat design and a simpler design by focusing on selected elements of the original.

The top circle on the original piece featured a layer with seeds on it and a damaged, blackened layer above, which had holes in it revealing the layer below.

For the first drawing, I decided to make a simpler, all white paper manipulation concentrating on repeating those elements, and to make three sample ‘repairs’, which were shown in the second circle of the original piece.

The top layer of paper was crumpled and torn. The underneath layer had holes pierced to represent the ‘seeds’ in the original piece (piercing from the front gave a clean, smooth hole; piercing from the reverse gave each hole a raised, ragged edge, which I preferred for its tactile quality). The three samples were made using Swedish pattern paper strips:

1 A rectangle of holes was punched and a darning/woven pattern used. Ends were taped to the reverse.

2 A ring of holes was punched and a random repair stitch, with knots on the surface, was used.

3 No holes were punched, paper strips were sewn through needle holes in a star pattern; knots on the reverse. The paper strip became more cord-like as it was pulled through the narrow openings.

I preferred option 3 of the sample areas. The smaller holes and more rounded profile of the paper ‘thread’ made it feel more like traditional sewing. I felt that overall, the drawing made a simple statement about ‘damage and repair’ that could be about the environment; or an analogy for the human condition: ‘hurt and healing’, or ‘wounding words/actions and forgiveness’, ‘war and reconcilliation’.

The second area of Piece 2 that I found interesting and ripe for further investigation, was in the third circle where I had needle punched white wool yarn through the background fabric, using different densities and different lengths of stitch. I used white ink, pastel and coloured pencil for the following drawing.

I thought of three methods/variations of representing the design:-

1 Needle-punched yarn: sparsely punched yarn centre, with red, wiry inserts (either tied stitches or wired beads); densely punched and longer, uncut loops surrounding the centre, getting longer the further away the stitches are from the centre.

2 Similar to 1, but with cut loops and no red additions.

3 This I imagined being hooked from fabric strips: sparsely in the centre, tightly in the surrounding area, then prodded, long strips in all other areas.

I liked the potential of the third option. The areas could also be reversed, so that the centres were the long, prodded areas and the surrounding areas were the sparsely hooked ones. In fact that would probably work just as well, and would be faster to make. I may return to this idea in future.

Piece 3

There were quite a lot of variations that I could imagine arising from this piece. The first I considered was a repeat design, with the stitch repeated in small areas over the surface (rather than as just three areas in the original).

The drawing on the left above is a multi-media drawing, based on the original colours. I thought that the areas could be separate and randomly spaced and positioned, or overlapping (drawing 2 above), or could be precisely spaced and grid-like. They could also be any shape…

This drawing looks at using ‘island’ or organic shapes with a more naturalistic colour scheme. The centres have different marks to represent the concrete/barren areas, and the same for the surrounding borders, with a mixture of paints and felt pens for the ‘wild’ areas. I liked the idea of random shapes and this idea could be stitched or hooked/needle punched. Again, the textured areas could be reversed.

Next, I considered a very simplified version that would consist entirely of stitch on something like a grey linen textile. I used some lovely Khadi paper with white gel pen and ink.

I liked the small organic patches of marks, that reminded my of lichen or bacteria growing on a petri dish, but was not happy with the ‘wild area’, bolder marks. The heart shapes were meant to represent two leaves and the whole effect is too cartoony compared with the more delicate areas. Probably simpler, bolder straight lines or crossed lines or twisting, root-like lines, perhaps over a wash of white paint, would have been more in keeping. The background could be prepared first then have the small, delicate areas cut out and glued over the top, or cut and inserted in the case of a textile piece.

Having been reading up on textile history lately in the following books:- (Dupont-Auberville, Harris, and Auberville, 1989) and (Harris, 1993) and on knitted textiles in (Tellier-Loumagne, Black, and Black, 2005), and fabrics by Rubelli in Issue 73 of Selvedge, I have seen many inspiring textures created in luxurious textiles past and present. A small sample below.

This fed into the idea of a repeated textile pattern inspired by the Pieces I had made for Assignment 2. There are, of course, endless variations of shape colour, design, fibres used, which areas are raised/translucent/flat/shiny etc etc. I imagined the drawing below turned into a fabric with sheer golden-beige background with raised velvet areas with differing heights of pile for the different areas of the shapes and dots. Or perhaps as a knitted textile with raised areas, all in one colour (see examples above, bottom right).

p1280182

Summary

This revision and extension of my work for Assignment 2 has been useful in eliciting some new ideas, and has opened up possible areas for future work. It seems a very useful approach for assessing existing work and developing new work. I will try to form the habit of drawing and sample making for new work.

Regarding the drawings above: I felt that the drawing for further hooked/prodded pieces was interesting. I also like the simplified, pure white stitch on a grey textile idea, and the use of a more naturalistic colour scheme with organic shapes.

References:-

Books:-

Dupont-Auberville, M., Harris, J. and Auberville, M.. (1989) Classic textile designs: Fifty plates, in gold, silver and colours comprising upwards of 1, 000 various styles of ancient, mediæval and modern designs of textile fabrics with explanatory descriptions and a general introduction. London: Bracken Books.

Harris, J. (1993) Five Thousand years of textiles. Edited by Jennifer Harris. 2nd edn. London: British Museum Press in association with the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tellier-Loumagne, F., Black, S. and Black, Y. (2005) The art of knitting: Inspirational stitches, textures and surfaces. London: Thames & Hudson.

Articles:-

Mann, P. (2016) ‘Reflected Glory: The Shimmering Fabrics of Rubelli’, Selvedge (November) Issue 73, pp. 56–61.

Websites:- 

http://www.rubelli.com/INTERnet/sito_v5/en Accessed 11/11/16

 

 

Reflection on Formative Feedback for Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary: Assignment 2

Formative Feedback from Cari, my tutor, followed by my reflection.

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Overall Comments

Thank you for submitting another varied, playful, lively and enjoyable body of work. You’ve clearly acted on advice from earlier feedback and are constantly evaluating your work and reflecting on your approach to it to ensure continual improvement. The work is all well-presented, clearly structured and well-labelled, making it very easy for me to move through your response to each of the projects and exercises.

Feedback on projects 1 & 2

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You’ve submitted a great range of samples in response to projects 1 & 2. The paper manipulation library incorporates such a lovely range of techniques, scale of mark and varied materials, which have been employed to alter both the surface and structural qualities of the papers. I particularly like the cut and layered paper samples and those which use paper like thread, e.g. to create raised loops on the surface. This translation of textile techniques (like hooking) is a real strength. There is a wealth of approaches in this body of work that you could draw on in future projects – use this like a dictionary and return to these processes to exploit in future.

I’d have liked to see a clearer visual journey of how you developed your selected drawings (ex.2.1) into these tests. Whilst there is some sketchbook work for the assignment, there isn’t much use of drawing to analyse and develop work for earlier exercises or to propose the myriad ways that they could be developed into patterns, textures, processes and materials. You work so well in response to the tactility of the materials and processes, but try to shift some of the emphasis onto using drawing to help you analyse, plan and propose throughout the development process. You’re using your blog very well for this but using a sketchbook throughout the journey of the course would prompt you to draw more regularly.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You’ve documented your research well on the blog and in how you’ve presented your small fabric tests alongside your larger, refined samples. The logic of how your ideas progress into physical investigation of materials and processes, and then into the final piece, is clear.

You’ve done well to challenge your urge to jump straight into creating larger samples without the prep work, and the small tests of different techniques and processes have had a clear impact on the development and success of the refined samples. Now you’ve seen the value of smaller samples, increase the quantity of this testing and start to use drawing as part of this preparatory, exploratory process. (You said it yourself in fact: “More sketching needed”.)

You’ve used drawing to plan out different compositions in for the assignment pieces- the range of media used to explore piece three is particularly effective. Try to draw far more extensively to test different compositions. I really like the texture, pattern and colour of piece two but something about the composition feels contrived and the shapes distract me from the wealth of detail within. I wondered whether this could have been resolved with more planning.

Consider using drawing to propose further developments for the pieces as well – like a form of visual evaluation. For example, your inspiration images for piece three show a sense of repeat pattern. What if piece three repeated in a similar way? Whilst making this sample would take far too long, a drawn idea of how you could extend it could provide a way of further reflecting on and evaluating the strengths of the sample. Again, this could be done in a sketchbook. This will all hugely help your exploration of design and composition, which you felt needed more practise. The close up photo of piece two in your log shows the huge potential this piece holds for further refinement too – I’d love to see it as a repeat design, or equally as a simpler design that focuses on selected elements.

Applying constraints to the development of piece three has worked very well- I agree with your evaluation that the simplicity that this approach created is the strength of the piece. There’s a lovely sense of rhythm in the regimentation of the design, which highlights the nuances of each knot beautifully – a feeling of ordered idiosyncrasy. The change in scale provides variation without distraction, so there’s an overall sense of harmony. You stated that the earlier two pieces are comparatively too busy. Piece one is nicely unified by the monotone palette – the muted tones allows the eye to focus on the movement of the cuts and details of the stitch, though there is quite a lot going on.

Though the presentation of the assignment is good, I wonder whether it would have been better to send it to me in a simpler manner and then present it later for assessment. The boards have got a bit dented in transit, for example, and it wouldn’t want you to have to waste time re-presenting it for assessment. An A3 sample file of the smaller presentation boards with the large refined samples folded alongside them would have been sufficient for me. (In fact, that would also sufficient for assessment. Some students do submit A2/A1 boards though.)

Research (including sketchbooks and samples)

Context, reflective thinking, analysis, Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

– Playful interpretation of textile processes into paper (e.g. stitches, hooking).

– Strong crafting skills.

– Continue to do small samples and tests to explore your ideas on a smaller scale before selecting those to develop.

– Draw more regularly to think, to plan, to propose and to document and learn from your samples.

– Use a sketchbook to prompt you to explore your ideas visually more regularly. – Continue to use varied media to create lively images that reflect the energy of your samples, as you did for piece three.

– You’ve learnt the value of constraints to focus your creative exploration, so return to this idea to focus future work. (Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist book has a good section on how constraints broaden our capacity for creativity rather than diminish it.)

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

– Good ongoing reflection on the process and your evaluation of specific pieces. You evaluate the processes and materials, stating what you’d change if you did it again, and also evaluate the aesthetic and formal qualities of the work.

– Your analysis of contextual research (the work of artists / designers) is highly relevant and discussed critically in relation to what you’re doing. It’s clear the research is informing your work (e.g. into the American quilt books).

– Continue to explore work of both artists and designers to develop a good understanding of the context of contemporary textiles.

– The ‘Strong points of my work’ focuses on the techniques and aesthetics – also consider strengths in your approach, your development process and your thinking around the projects.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

– Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist

– Your playful adaptation of textile techniques into paper reminded me of a lovely book by Francoise Tellier-Loumagne called The Art of Knitting, which is full of knit structures but also inspiration images, like tyre tracks in sand which look like a knitted fabric. (The front cover of the English version looks like rather un-inispiring – the original French book that I have is much more engaging.)

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.
  • See bullet points above!

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My reflection on the Formative Feedback, above.

Good

Cari had picked up on the fact that I have acted on previous suggestions for improvements made in her feedback for Assignment 1. My presentation was clear and logical, (but could be simpler). I have worked with a good range of techniques and media in a varied and playful manner. The Learning Log blog has been well used in documenting and reflecting on my work. Preparing small samples prior to making bigger pieces of work was useful and should be expanded upon. The use of a monotone palette in Piece One allowed a focus on the movement and variety of stitch. Piece Two showed good use of texture, pattern and colour. Applying constraints to Piece Three led to a coherent rhythm and harmony in the outcome. My crafting skills were strong. Reflection in my Learning Log about the pieces made was good, as was contextual research.

Needs Work

Providing a clear visual journey in the selection process, (eg, Ex 2.1), using drawing to analyse and develop work, and to experiment with ways in which the patterns, textures, processes and materials can be developed. (I am having to overcome my usual method of working, which is to think about alternatives for a few weeks, before starting on the final piece with little, if any drawing, and no sampling. I am becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of drawing/sampling in exploring and refining ideas and saving time and materials with unsatisfactory pieces that end up in my bin!)

Cari noted that the composition of Piece Two felt contrived, and that the use of shapes (circles) distracted from the detail of the textures. (I had chosen circles to represent The Earth, which I thought made sense with the theme I had attributed to the piece, but I can see that sticking to a rectangular shape would have brought the focus back to the surface treatments.) Cari agreed with me that Piece One was rather busy and could have been simplified.

I should stick to a smaller, A3 format, where possible, for submitting Assignment work for tutor assessment.

To Do [links to examples of my responses in square brackets]

  • Store paper samples carefully to use as an inspiration library for future work. [A chest of drawers purchased for storing work].
  • Spend more time using drawing to analyse, plan, and propose during the development process. [Ongoing, examples in this post.]
  • Use more drawing to test different compositions.
  • Draw further possible developments arising from finished pieces (visual evaluation). [Assignment 2 visual evaluation.][Ongoing, example in this post]
  • Use my sketchbook regularly. [Ongoing, Sketchbook examples]
  • Use my ideas to make more small exploratory samples during development work and to draw before and after making these to aid in documentation and learning.
  • Make a drawn idea for extending Piece Three. [Assignment 2 visual evaluation.]
  • Make visual evaluation drawings for Piece Two (eg, a repeat design and a simpler design focusing on selected elements). [Assignment 2 visual evaluation.]
  • Simplify presentation of my Assignment work. Use A3 format and fold larger samples. [simple presentation and smaller format chosen for Assignment 3].
  • Continue to use varied media to create lively images (eg Piece Three).
  • Employ constraints to focus creative exploration. [eg, colour palette constraints used in this exercise]
  • Read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist. [Read and reflected upon here].
  • Continue to explore the work of artists and designers to develop an understanding of the context of contemporary textiles. Examples of research into collage artists, designers who use colour effectively, knitwear designers]
  • When reflecting on my work, consider strengths/weaknesses of my approach, development process and thinking around projects (as well as techniques and aesthetics). [Ongoing, example in summary of this article].
  • Read Francoise Tellier-Loumagne’s The Art of Knitting. [Read and commented on in the context of contemporary knitting].

Assignment 2: Self-Evaluation: Performance Against Assessment Criteria

1 Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I experimented with a wide variety of techniques in the paper manipulations (embossing, dipping, cutting, tearing, collage, burning, folding, layering etc). Stitch was added to reflect the marks observed in the selected drawings using all sorts of threads and yarns, including wire, paper cord, elastic and plant material.

I represented the ideas of:- repetition – in the forms used, types of stitch and types of textile manipulation – ; scale – from the tiniest seed stitch (Piece 2) to large tied stitch (Piece 3) -; and placement – from flat areas with delicate stitch, next to areas with medium and high texture (all three textile pieces).

The designs for the textile pieces were worked out in my sketchbook, using small compositional drawings, and drawings exploring stitch placement, colour, and placement of texture.

I took my Tutor’s advice on standing back to look at the whole effect of the pieces, by pinning the works in progress to a cork board.  I feel that this helped in judging how the different areas of the textiles worked against each other.

I felt that I was quite strong on exploration of the media, but that the design and compositional aspects need more practise.

2 Quality of outcome

The three resulting pieces show variety and the use of different techniques, including textile manipulation: forming a grass-like texture in Piece 1, layering and punch needle (Piece 2), using scraps of re-purposed textiles to form the base textile (Piece 3).

I hope that I have presented the work in a coherent manner, with the textiles and samples mounted on mount board; the paper, and paper and stitch manipulations grouped by type, and a folder of labelled sketchbook work. The learning log features my deliberations and process throughout the Projects and Assignment.

Although I was not entirely happy with all three textile pieces, they form a useful body of experiments to inform future work. I feel that they have, for me, embodied my theme of re-wilding, although I think they may need an explanatory label!

3 Demonstration of creativity

The research on artists’ textiles for this Assignment expanded my ideas of materials that could be combined (for example, paint and textile), ways of embellishing, and experimentation with three-dimensional textures and forms.

I chose to take forward the grass drawing as inspiration for the Assignment textiles, and expanded the idea to the theme of ‘re-wilding’, which I felt pushed the textiles into an interesting area that had some personal relevance and meaning.

4 Context

Critical thinking about the work and ideas of other artists, and evaluating  different approaches and techniques, enables me to relate these to my own ideas and work (for example, the tied quilt I spotted in a book informed my third piece of textile work). I feel that this filtering of information has helped me to focus on issues that are important to me, such as the environment, and areas that interest me, such as abstraction.

Assignment 2: Written Reflection

First ideas in response to the brief

Excitement at the thought of paper manipulations, and adding stitch to paper – both new techniques for me.

First impression of the Assignment

Cari had suggested more cutting into textured surfaces, so I picked the grass drawing as an inspiration for the Assignment. This led to a theme of ‘Re-wilding’.

Techniques explored

This Assignment has been about exploring the translation of marks made in drawings into paper surfaces, stitch and textured base fabrics. New techniques included, burning, laminating, embossing, dipping, and wax coating. The process of research, thinking, drawing, experimenting, selecting and refining is beginning to become ingrained in the way that I work.

Strong points of my work

The paper (and stitch) manipulations explored a variety of techniques and media. Concentration on the grass drawing resulted in three quite different textiles: monotone (Piece 1), multiple textures (Piece 2), and constraints (rectangles/ knotted white stitches) (Piece 3). I liked aspects of 1 and 2, but thought that Piece 3 was the strongest.

Weaker aspects of my work

I still want to ‘jump in’ without doing the preparatory work of sampling, but I am starting to appreciate the benefits (eg, sampling helped me with techniques for tied stitches; and using paint instead of burning the base fabric in Piece 2). More sketching needed.

New skills

The main skill that I have learned is the usefulness of having a process when making an art work, and being open to play and exploration in the ‘discovery’ stage.

Potential work in future based on this Assignment

I will return to the theme of ‘re-wilding’ in the future, perhaps using more realistic colours. I enjoyed working in an abstract way, branching out into three-dimensions, and using unusual shapes for the artworks.

Assignment 2: Base Textiles and Stitching Into The Base Textiles: Piece Three

Choosing and Preparing The Base Textiles

I wanted to make something more abstract on the theme of re-wilding, inspired by the grass drawing, and paper manipulations shown previously. I thought I would include a photo of what it looks like ‘on the ground’. The tarmac is slowly populated with moss, then clover and daisies, and then grass and larger plants.

rewilding-photos-collage

Continuing with the red, white and black colour scheme, I decided to set some constraints for this third piece: I would stick to knots for the stitched aspect, and roughly rectangular shapes for the three different areas.

I started by considering the layout and where each colour should go, also the colour and type of stitch in this drawing.

assignment-two-piece-3-drawings

I thought about what the colours might mean in connection with the theme and decided upon:-

  • white in the centre for the lowest stitched area, representing sterility of the ground (when it is concreted over or built upon);
  • black for the medium ground, representing alchemy/change (thinking of formal gardens and farmland);
  • red for the wild area (back to my earlier theme of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’).

Considering the base textiles, I picked the thin, white table cloth textile for its fragility and slight translucence, rejecting various other textiles that weren’t white enough, or were too thick.

For the black area, I thought of a shirt that had lines like plough furrows on it, but decided that they would be too distracting against the stitch. A plain black felt was a possible choice, but the corduroy I found seemed to fit the bill better, as it had the raised ‘furrows’ on it, but no extra colour.

For the red section, I wanted to manipulate the textile to produce a ‘wild’ and varied surface, so I sorted out lots of different red fabric scraps, yarn, and some different types of textile (eg found orange net bag, red silk, darker red from a silky dressing gown, jersey, cotton etc). I experimented with the sewing machine and found that I could attach them to a base textile while introducing some folds, pleats and overlaps.

Stitching Into The Base Textiles

1 Directions of stitch and creating lines. 

assignment-two-piece-3-drawings-2

The stitch I decided to use was based on knots: small, self-coloured French knots for the centre in a random pattern (returning to the idea of hidden potential in the sterile surrounds); the black section would have medium-sized ties set in rows and quite tightly packed (like crops in a field); the red section would have very large and random ties, hopefully with a certain feeling of vigour to them. Another constraint I set was to use white for all the stitch (this after trying different colour placements in the drawing at the top of this article.)

2 Using stitch to create texture.

I tried different threads and yarns on the selected base textiles and chose white embroidery thread for the ease of sewing French knots, and it showed up well through the thin white base textile (like roots underground); the stiff, fairly thick linen thread was chosen to represent the farmland/formal garden marks (the embroidery thread split into individual threads after it was tied, the crochet thread was not white enough and too fine); for the red section I tried a nubbly yarn (too floppy and hard to sew through the base textile), string (same problems as the yarn) and chose the paper cord as it had a good springiness to it and was the easiest to sew with. I picked up a couple of techniques while sampling: the loops for the tied stitches had to be left long enough to be cut and tied easily before being snipped to the desired length; and to make holes in the ground for the thicker threads, I had to use one sharp needle, followed by a large blunt needle to make the holes large enough for the cord to pass through. I think that these three different threads, types of stitch, sizes of stitch, and placement of stitch, with the different densities, will provide quite different textures.

3 Deconstructing and recessing. The white base textile will be fine enough to enable the viewer to see (on close inspection) the lines of thread on the reverse, like roots underground.

4 Building relief. The white base textile will be on top, overlapping the black textile, and the red textile will be below them and surrounding them in places. I will applique the pieces into place. I was initially going to make all of the areas clean rectangles, but have decided to leave the red, manipulated textile with uneven edges, as if it is spreading ever outwards.

5 Looking at the reverse.

The reverse of this piece does not look as interesting as the first two pieces. The stitch on two of the sections is hidden, as they are appliqued to the largest section.

6 Repetition/scale/placement. There is repetition in the choice of stitch (all varieties of knots), the colour of stitch (white), the shape of the base textile sections (rectangular) and in the stitch within each section. Thinking of the scale in this piece, I wanted to exaggerate and contrast the difference between the smallest, the medium and largest stitches. I had made a small sketch to consider this, seen at point 1, above. I had deliberately arranged the placement of the sections so that all areas would touch at some point to produce the comparison between the texture in each. (Illustrated in the first drawing in this article.)

The Finished Piece

Re-wilding #3, 50 x 38 cm

Summary

I felt that this was the most successful of the three pieces I made. I certainly enjoyed making this piece the most. I think that the simplicity focuses the eye on the contrasts in the stitch (and what that might mean to the viewer), whereas the earlier pieces were perhaps too ‘busy’, with too much variety in the materials used. All of the textiles in this piece are re-purposed, which underlines the theme of caring for the Earth. If I was making it again, I would use a firmer backing for the red textile (I used thin quilt wadding, which was a bit too stretchy in places); and I would mount the white textile over card or plastic to give it a hard, crisp edge, rather than the soft, slightly uneven edge it has now. I had considered covering the white section in cling film, but, although I liked the idea of the ‘seeds’ being ‘shrink wrapped’ below the surface, when I tried it, I decided that I preferred it without the plastic overlay.

 

Assignment 2: Base Textiles and Stitching Into The Base Textiles: Piece Two

Choosing The Base Textiles

For this piece, I wanted to depict a series of interconnecting sections: one with damage, but hidden potential; the second showing healing and growth; and finally abundance. The idea initially came from my grass drawing, but is also influenced by the paper manipulations below:-

To make a needle punched wool section, I needed to use a loosely woven base textile, and considered three: monk’s cloth (white cotton); grey polyester rug backing and hessian (natural jute colour).

p1270947

The monk’s cloth was rejected because it would not contrast well enough with my red, white and black colour scheme. The hessian proved to have too loose a weave for needle punching, but the grey polyester was a good colour and would take the stitches and needle punching, so that was my choice of base textile.

Preparing The Base Textiles

In order to show the damaged aspect of the re-wilding idea inspired by the grass drawing and paper manipulations, I needed to make holes in the grey polyester. One of my paper manipulations had included burnt areas, so this was where I began my sampling.

p1270948

Unfortunately the polyester just buckled and shrank unevenly but did not form a hole when a match was applied (sample at left). I tried making holes first to see if a flame would singe the edges of the holes, but the loose threads melted leaving open black holes: not quite what I was looking for (sample second from left).

The central sample shows scissor-cut holes, which I preferred to the burnt ones, however to supply the blackened look to the edges, I tried adding felt pen and then acrylic paint. I opted to use the sample at far right with the paint, as it gave a bolder colour, and stiffer aspect to the cut edges, which I hoped would enable me to manipulate them open to reveal a layer beneath.

Stitching Into The Base Textiles

1 Directions of stitch and creating lines. My plan was to make three connected circles (Earths). The first showing damage (with potential); the second circle healing; and the third would have an abundant, wild feel to it. To show potential, I decided to have a ‘hidden’ layer with tiny ‘seeds’ of potential below the damaged surface. A random seed stitch seemed the ideal way of depicting this. For the second section, I wanted to show healing, by repairing the holes (using a straight stitch surrounding the hole, and then a darning stitch over some of them), and also including ‘germinating’ plants. The stitches I selected for the latter were French knots, then tied threads with ends on the surface, finally couching some organza-like fabric in place to give a more densely-covered appearance to the surface. The third circle would be fairly densely covered with needle punched wool with inclusions of other yarns, threads, the organza fabric etc.

I made some sketches and notes about how I thought the piece should look, with the stitches I envisaged using.

2 Using stitch to create texture. This piece would be very much focused on textures. There would be increasing density of stitches and thickness of the threads and yarns employed, with each successive circle.

I tried out some stitches and couching on small samples. Some yarns were rejected as they would not fit into the needle punch and run through it smoothly. A stiff, wiry thread was found to represent the germinating plant life, however, it proved to be too stiff for making French knots, so a vintage embroidery thread was used for that purpose. A combination of cut and looped yarns would be used in the ‘abundant’ circle, along with some strips of organza-like fabric, and bound cord, to give a three-dimensional and layered feel to the piece.

3 Deconstructing and recessing. The first and second circles will have holed and damaged areas, with a ‘hidden’ layer under the first circle featuring the seed stitches. I selected a black felt for the under layer as the seed stitches embed nicely into the surface (sample shown above right, middle).

4 Building relief. In the second circle, some of the stitches will be on top of ruched and frayed textile strips. The third circle will have a three-dimensional texture with threads, yarns and fabric standing proud of the base textile.

5 Looking at the reverse.

I find the needle punched area (largest circle) very interesting on the reverse: it looks like a running stitch, giving little clue as to the texture on the other side.

6 Repetition/scale/placement. I have aimed for repetition in the use of three circles or Earths in this piece. The scale is explored in starting with tiny, almost hidden, seed stitches, increasing to more texture and boldness in the second circle and a riot of texture and variety in the third circle. The three circles themselves, increase in size as they descend from top to bottom. Placement is highlighted at the areas where the circles meet and overlap. This was explored in my sketch shown at point 1, above.

The Finished Piece

p1270933

Re-wilding #2, 23 x 45 cm (stitched area)

The first circle has cut and painted base textile; the circle is outlined in straight stitch. A circle of black felt with red seed stitches is attached to the reverse. Small stitches hold the holes open to reveal the hidden layer.

The second circle has embroidery thread French knots; the damaged areas showing signs of repair (‘healing’); moving downwards to tied knots in a wiry thread suggesting small plants, then the same tied stitches are couched over red fabric scraps to give an impression of thickening plant cover.

The third, ‘abundant’ circle has needle punched wool yarn at two height levels and increasing density of stitches towards the bottom of the circle. The top section has contrasting wiry, tied threads emerging, together with small clumps of plant like, cut yarns in red and black. These elements increase in scale towards the bottom and are joined by bound and couched cord (suggesting exotic plant or animal life), and prodded and tied red textile to give an added dimension and layer of interest to the textures. The tips of the red textile are cut to points, suggesting leaves.

Summary

The first two circles had some interesting and, I think, successful elements to them: the damaged surface with layer below, just visible; the tied stitches, and French knots outlining the top of the circle were pleasing. I was less keen on the third circle, which although it looks dense and ‘alive’, could also be said to resemble an unsavoury pizza, which was not what I was aiming for at all. Thinking about why that is, I think the colour scheme, and the patches of red and black cut yarns were not successful in suggesting plant life. Although, for this exercise, I have nominated red, white and black as my chosen colour palette, I think that a more ‘realistic’ green ‘plant life’ would probably work better. I may return to this theme at a later date and try that, however, for now, I will stick to my chosen colours. I did, however, like the wool yarn with its differing heights and some areas of the base textile showing through.

Assignment 2: Base Textiles and Stitching Into The Base Textiles: Piece One

Base Textiles

For this first piece, I decided to concentrate on a fairly monotone colour scheme (inspired by the sample seen below at top right) that would bring the focus onto the textures, so I picked out various white and cream textiles, favouring those that were recycled or remnants. These were chosen because my theme of ‘re-wilding’ and repair to the Earth demonstrated a care for the environment. Having researched Louise Bourgeois’s textile work was a further impetus for this approach.

I made some drawings in my sketchbook exploring possible layouts for the piece, and using the method of making small test compositions as suggested by my Tutor, Cari, in my last feedback. I started with the layout I had used in my larger paper and stitch sample and tried moving the areas of flat, medium and high texture about. I then considered non-rectangular shapes and came up with a spiral. This seemed to offer an interesting placement of a central area with no texture, then increasing texture in stitch and fabric manipulation around the outside.

I needed a fairly sturdy base fabric to support the weight of the project I had in mind, and chose a recycled duvet bag made from calico. The ‘grass’ required a stiff, springy texture, so I decided to carry out some sampling on the best way to achieve this. Also for the central portion which was to have little texture and represented the bare concrete.

I selected two types of cotton: a recycled duvet cover and a remnant of quilt backing, both with cut and uncut loops. I preferred the cut loops as they were more like the grass drawing. The quilt backing had more body, but still not the springiness required, so I tried spraying it with stiffener (used for making roman blinds). That added some body, but with the addition of some medium-weight interfacing, I arrived at the texture I wanted (top right image, above). For the central portion, I started out with a loosely woven linen (curtain sample), which did have a concrete-like texture, but after considering the comments in Research Point 1, I chose a damaged tablecloth fabric to represent the damaged Earth, which would be an appliquéd circle at the centre of the spiral. (Sample shown bottom right, above). The stitching would be carried out on a piece of the quilt backing fabric and then that section would be appliquéd to the centre of the grass-like textile manipulation.

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The two sections of base fabrics with manipulations completed. The grass-like section goes from a low height at left and increases in length as it goes. These raised sections were attached with a sewing machine, before being cut into strands, and trimmed to the correct width.

Stitching Into The Base Textiles

The central portion would have all the stitching on it, before itself being stitched to the ‘grassy’ section. There would be a mixture of scale.

I picked the samples shown below as containing stitches that I wanted to include (couched, nubbly yarn, knotted threads, random cross stitch and I also liked the looped, couched stitch in this sample.) I made some sketches of how I wanted the stitch to progress around the spiral, starting with a tiny seed stitch (seems appropriate!) in a single strand of fine thread, progressing to a slightly thicker quilt thread and random cross stitch (representing tiny germinating plants); and so to French knots (somewhat like the moss that appears on bare earth); and onto the looped stitches in ever thicker threads/yarn, to a few tufted areas that would lead into the fabric manipulation area. The feeling I wanted to recreate was of bare earth being slowly seeded, and repaired by the ever increasing plant life. Therefore the thickness of yarn, density and size of stitches would increase around the spiral.

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These are the threads and string I picked (including cotton and linen). I also chose the yarn shown in the cream paper and stitch sample.

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The finished piece, which I will call ‘Re-wilding #1‘, 34 x 43 cm

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The reverse of the piece, showing machine stitched area and hem. This side looks like a sea creature!

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Some close-ups of the stitch.

Summary

I was reasonably happy with this first piece, but there are some things that I would do differently if making something similar again:- I managed to singe the ‘grass’ fabric in several places, which happens to blend in with my thread choices, but was not deliberate; the central stitched portion shrank from my original measurements, so I ended up with a small gap between the two areas; it was extremely tricky sewing the central area into place over the ‘grass’, so I would, in future, make the central portion first and then add the textured fabric, which would also mean that I could adjust for any shrinkage in the centre. The transition between stitch and textile grass was somewhat jarring. There is a lot of variety in the stitch, but only height variation in the grass section.

On the plus side: I felt that the idea was a good one. I liked the spiral shape with the damaged ‘Earth’ at the centre. There is an interesting mixture of scale and texture, with both close-up interest and an overall impression of increasing wildness.

For my second piece, I think I will try a less formal textured area with more colour included, and use yarn mixed with fabric to create the raised area.