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

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


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


– 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!


My reflection on the Formative Feedback, above.


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].

Coursework Part 2: Exercise 2.4 Developed and Composed Samples

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.


Coursework Part 2: Research Point 1: Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois was a French born artist, who moved to New York in 1938 with her new husband. Her early life had involved helping out in the family business of restoring historical tapestries. Her family was dominated by her tyrannical and philandering father. Her mother turned a blind eye to his infidelity. She suffered from ill health and died in 1932, having been nursed by Bourgeois.

These early experiences generated the intense feelings (such as fear of abandonment), and other emotions, that would fuel her art for the rest of her life. This baring of her inner life and ‘soul’ in her art has led to the art works as being described as self-portraits. Bourgeois said “The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole” [quoted in Hauser & Wirth 2010].


The art works shown above, seem to me to be linked to Bourgeois’ early work in the family business, the central piece resembling a spider’s web, suggesting the artist’s association with her mother as a spider: one who repairs (tapestries, as well as hurt and pain).

For many years Bourgeois kept boxes of her own clothing, and that of her parents, husband and children, together with household linens such as napkins and tablecloths. In the mid 1990s she began to use these emotionally charged garments and textiles in her artwork. Textiles were manipulated by cutting and re-stitching. Some are formed into three-dimensional soft sculptures.


Above left: Louise Bourgeois Single II, 1996 Fabric, hanging piece (Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate)

Above right: Louise Bourgeois Couple, 1996 Fabric, hanging piece (Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate)

These pieces explore relationships between men and women, including physical and emotional connections. The curved ‘spine’ of the left hand piece evokes a tortured pain, (part of Bourgeois’ exploration of hysteria) and possibly someone being kept hanging there at another person’s convenience. The figures are headless, the one on the left having female genitalia in place of the head, maybe indicating that the only value of the figure depicted is her sexuality.

The piece on the right shows a female form clinging to a male form, perhaps in love, or for fear of losing him, or in an attempt to control him. The exact meaning of the pieces are left for the viewer to think about and draw their own conclusions from.


Louise Bourgeois, Untitled, 2002 Fabric, aluminium (Photo: Christopher Burke. Louise Bourgeois Trust/DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2011)

Source: Kettle and McKeating 2012

The stitch in pieces like this sculptural head are used by the artist as a metaphor for repairing emotional damage. I think that the act of hand stitching for Bourgeois may have allowed her to simultaneously work though in her mind, the hurt and unresolved issues in her life. This piece shows interesting use of the lines of the original textile to form the directional marks on neck, forehead, eyes etc. She is quoted in the above-mentioned book as saying that all the women in her house used needles and that she always had a fascination for the “…power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage. It’s a claim to forgiveness.”

Jerry Gorovoy, Bourgeois’ friend, curator and assistant, describes how she transformed her stash of personal textiles into collages, fabric drawings and sculptures. He says that during this stage of her artistic exploration, she switched her focus from the earlier work in hard materials exploring her feelings of aggression towards her father, to using the soft fabrics that she identified with her mother. He speculated that she was searching for the love and care of a ‘mother’ in her old age. Gorovoy describes that her collection of family clothing was like a diary, prompting memories of associations with places, people and events. Some still bore traces of perfume, which must have proved a strong connection with her family members.


Bourgeois has selected textiles that have a direct personal connection with her: belonging to herself, her parents, her husband and children. These articles still hold scents, shapes and associations for her. Textiles are cut, woven, sewn, stuffed, and/or formed into sculptures. The textiles are used in ways that evoke her early life – the actual work of repairing tapestries -as well as the recovery of traumatic memories and feelings, and the cathartic release of emotion and subsequent healing in making the art.

This research has underlined for me, the joy and poignancy of working with re-purposed textiles. In my own work, I have made several quilts and wall hangings using recycled fabrics, including family clothing. When the quilt is in use, I can look at the individual fabrics and recall who it belonged to, what it was originally, or where I bought it, which adds another layer of meaning to the piece. Although, for me, it is a matter of wishing to reuse precious resources rather than working through emotional trauma.



Artist Rooms Louise Bourgeois Resource Pack. Available at: (Accessed: 13 September 2016).

Kettle, A. and McKeating, J. (2012) Hand stitch: Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

MoMA: Louise Bourgeois: The Complete Prints & Books: Chronology. Available at: (Accessed: 29 May 2016)


Hauser & Wirth (2010) Exhibitions — Louise Bourgeois: The fabric works — Hauser & Wirth. Available at: (Accessed: 13 September 2016).

Worcester Art Museum – Louise Bourgeois: The woven child (in context) Available at: (Accessed: 13 September 2016).

Wroe, N. (2013) At home with Louise Bourgeois. Available at: (Accessed: 12 September 2016).

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

Exercise 2.3 Drawing With Stitch Onto Paper

Using viewfinders, I identified some areas of the six chosen drawings to inform the stitched marks and lines in this Exercise – examples of isolated areas shown below.

I gathered an assortment of different threads, yarns and other materials for stitching with, together with assorted needles, hole punches etc.

A selection of the paper manipulation samples were cut into 10 cm square (or occasionally larger) pieces to work on. I felt that some of the paper samples were finished already or in one case, too delicate to use.

Parsley Head/Slug Drawing Detail on wax-coated, cracked, indented paper.

Techniques/materials used: Trying to capture the chewed, silvery marks made by the slug with a rayon/metalised polyester thread and small, multi-directional stitches. The holes made by the needle give an added dimension, more visible from further away than the delicate, shimmering thread marks. The parsley heads were drawn with flour, so I was looking for a fairly matt, springy thread to represent the marks, and chose a thick, linen taxidermy thread. (No, I am not a taxidermist: I have the thread for rug making!) To give some dimension, I added paper circles attached with beads. This gives a mixture of smooth, waxy surface with cracked, peeled areas, almost gritty feeling stitches, contrasting with loose springy, large stitches.

Comments: I felt that this captured and exaggerated the marks in the original drawing. If I was doing something similar again, I might make more cracks in the background first, to give more interest to the base layer. I had thought that the small stitches would embed themselves in the wax, but they didn’t.

Parsley Head/Slug Drawing Detail on burnt paper, with cut outs and cellophane layer.

Techniques/materials used: Fine strips of iridescent cellophane (packaging material) were used in bunches of 3 or more strands at a time to enhance the shiny ‘slug trail’ marks in the paper sample. I decided to leave long tendrils of loose ‘threads’ to show the entrance and exit points of the ‘trails’. I used a torn strip of re-purposed cotton fabric, twisted and knotted to represent the floury plant head and stem marks in the original drawing. These were secured in place with a matt thread.

Comments: The fine cellophane strands were perfect for representing the slug trails. The twisted cotton textile contrasted well with the shiny threads, and with the dark hole behind it. I thought that this piece was quite interesting.

3D Flower Collage Detail on cut envelope paper.

Techniques/materials used: The threads I used for mark making on this piece were: – pink embroidery thread (wrapped around card); ribbon, gathered and stitched at the lower edge: the bold purple marks; short lengths of piping cord, couched with contrasting thread; the knotted paper ‘fibre’ that I had made in the paper manipulation stage (couched, but with most of it hanging free). The wrapping was irregular, trying to recreate the variable pink felt pen marks in the original drawing.

Comments: The wrapping did not go well on the sloping areas of card and I had to use adhesive tape on the reverse to get it to stay in place. It was also looser than I would have liked. Maybe a quick-setting glue, or rougher-edged card would keep the threads in place more easily? I liked the knotted paper, with myriad ways for arranging it, but was less keen on the other elements of this piece. The ribbon feels a bit ‘old school’ (although nothing wrong with that per se, but it was not in keeping with this ‘modern’ sample). The attached, wrapped card gives a raised dimension to that part of the composition, which might be a technique to bear in mind for the future.


3D Flower Collage Detail on embossed watercolour paper.

Techniques/materials used: cotton rag strip (sewn, wrapped, and knotted in one place), textured yarn (sparsely couched), thick, antique silk thread (fan shapes – sewn through pre-pierced holes). The base paper had quite a minimal impact on this piece, but I decided to keep it monotone and concentrate on the different qualities of marks and lines in the original drawing. (Reverse shown below, left).

Comments: I liked the contrast in textures, and reflectivity of the materials in this piece. The lack of colour gave it a calmer, more sophisticated air than the original.

Rag Rug Detail on recycled card, with peeled, lifted areas and punched holes.

Techniques/materials used: trying to capture the frayed quality of the rug drawing and the raised areas with darker fissures between. I used grass stems and leaves, gathered into small bunches, passed through two holes, looped and knotted on the surface. A black hemp thread was chosen to accentuate the areas between the raised areas of card.

Comments: This was one of those pieces where the back was probably more interesting than the front. This was not enjoyable to make: the grass stems were rather tricky to handle and did not create the regular looped (but frayed) surface I was aiming for, instead the loops lay in all different directions and it just looks rather a mess. Sewing with a needle through the card was unpleasant, as it crumbled and broke in a few places: should have left this one as purely a paper sample!

Rag Rug Detail on scrunched/pinched/glued tissue paper, layered with flat tissue paper.

Techniques/materials used: Trying to represent the creased, raised areas and frayed look of the original drawing. I used wrapped, couched piping cord with hemp thread; white embroidery thread; ecru quilting thread to densely cover the lower half with lines of stitch, with big loops left at the end of each pair of rows; thick linen thread and crochet cotton were also used to make large, loose stitches outlining areas suggesting the fissures between the raised paper blobs in the original collage/drawing.

Comments: This was one of my favourite pieces. It is almost the opposite of what I would normally make (which is usually colourful, and flat with no loose ends!). It has a delicacy and range of interesting marks and textures. On the downside, the tissue paper is very fragile and has to be sewn carefully, so there are a few small rips. My friend, Margaret, has just introduced me to Swedish pattern paper, which would be a more resilient alternative ground to use in future. It reminds me of a deep sea creature.

Rag Rug Detail on tissue paper.

Techniques/materials used: I thought I could make raised bumps in the paper by using elastic to draw in the edges of the paper. Two thicknesses of black, shirring elastic are used.

Comments: A horrible mess. I worked in a circle and it did produce a slightly domed centre. It might be possible to make something more pleasing by working in rows or in a check pattern. Probably a better technique for textiles.

Quilt Detail on pleated tissue paper, double layer.

Techniques/materials used: Aiming to recreate patterns resembling the marks on the quilt drawing. For the soft, shading, I used fleece wool balls attached with single stitches in a fine, cream thread, which were embedded into the wool and don’t show on the front of the piece; small lengths of reed were irregularly couched to the paper with bold hemp thread to evoke the strong lines representing a striped fabric; next came staples for the ‘checked fabric’; two thicknesses of black embroidery thread for small, all over patterns; thick, hairy, knotted wool for the bold marks on one section; and finally a very fine polyester thread for a random cross stitch pattern.

Comments: The reverse (shown at right, above) was as interesting as the front of this piece. The tissue paper tore a little, but I liked its soft, draping feel representing the quilt, so stuck with it (although the staples and reeds made it stiffer, in places). I liked the variety of textures and marks in this piece.

Digital Flower Drawing Detail of Stems, on letter paper with laminated cord, yarn and paper string, and tissue paper layer on top.

Techniques/materials used: this was really an ‘extra’ piece that did not adhere to the rules of copying the marks/colours seen in the original drawing. However, I wanted to make a small sampler of different stitches and textures, and more densely stitched than some of the other samples. Sections left to right: brown button thread, long, horizontal stitches; hemp thread looped into loose knots and couched to surface; silk thread (3 strands) sewn into closely spaced running stitch; a line of broken stitches of variable length, following the line of the laminated yarn; reverse cross stitch; grommets sewn with raffine; an overlapping, broken stitch line; strands of yarn couched with long stitches; silk thread French knots; gold elastic over laminated yarn; hemp thread, half sewn, half wrapped into cuts in the edge of the base papers, in two directions.

Comments: I liked most of the stitch experiments here, apart from the ‘woven’ section , which I would probably use on a stiffer base if I tried it again, and actually weave rather than overlaying the threads. I also wished I had not used the gold thread over the laminated yarn, instead leaving all the raised areas white. My favourite stitches were the horizontal ones, which could be placed closer together for a denser look and vice versa; also the reverse cross stitch has an interesting random look to it.

Grass Drawing Detail, on cut paper bag dipped in acrylic gesso.

Techniques/materials used: I cut up some bobbly braid and stitched into the bobbles using white embroidery thread to create ‘clover heads’ at different stages of flowering.


These were then sewn in an upright position amongst the ‘grass’. Some loops were tight, other loose, and some were cut, with a small amount of glue added to hold the threads upright.

Comments: A mixture of textures, but I didn’t like this one because of the mismatch of realistic and stylised representations of the plant material depicted.

Grass Drawing detail, on folded and cut lined paper.

Techniques/materials used: I was aiming for a stylised version of the weeds, moss and other life in our lawn (which is where the grass drawing was made). From bottom to top of the sample: knotted black paper string, with long ends left and also knotted; wire with glass beads (threaded through, twisted and bent); antique beaded braid (attached with small stitches); black raffine (sewn with large loops, which were then cut); black pipe cleaners (sewn through pre-punched holes and made into loops.

Comments: it is quite liberating to work with unusual materials and see the variety of textures and marks that can be achieved. I loved the wire/bead combination which could be bent to form different shapes and the knotted paper string, and tufts of raffine. I was not so keen on the attached braid, although it was like a hidden ‘treasure’ that can really only be seen by handling and exploring the piece. A very tactile sample that I liked a lot.


This has been a fascinating exercise, exploring both traditional and non-traditional materials for recreating marks, lines, patterns and textures. Both the very delicate and flat papers and the highly textured ‘grass’ like bases took stitches well, although care had to be used with tissue paper. It has taken me out of my ‘comfort zone’ and I found that I liked the white/cream monotone rag rug inspired piece, and the final grass drawing best – neither of which resemble anything I’ve made before; proving that experimentation and ‘play’ is good for discovering new processes and techniques.

Another aspect of the exercise that I have not used before is to make numerous small samples. In the past I usually have the idea in my head and sometimes on paper, launch into a big project and then it either works or does not. This method allows trials that could save a lot of time and materials in the long run, and lead to new discoveries.

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.

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

Exercise 2.1 Selecting

I cleared a space in my sitting room to lay out the drawings made in Part One: a mini exhibition! Here’s about half of it.


I spent some time evaluating and reviewing the drawings, with regard to line, marks, texture, scale, pattern and surface qualities, as suggested in the coursework manual, before selecting the following six…

Coursework Part Two

1 Patchwork Quilt Mark Making Drawing I picked this drawing because it has a range of different types of marks and lines, and I may use a viewfinder to focus in on one interesting section. It has a drapeable quality since it is drawn on tissue paper.

2 Digital Flower & Foliage Drawing This was one of my favourite drawings that I made. I liked the colours and different qualities of lines and marks in this piece. It is very flat and glossy, printed on photographic paper, but I think it will be interesting to try to capture these very two-dimensional marks on a three-dimensional surface. I am hoping to be able to use some colour, but I may try a monochrome version as well.

3 Grass Pullover Mown Drawing I felt that this drawing had the potential to produce some interesting surface experiments comparing where the mown and unmown edges of the drawing meet.

4 Rag Rug Collage This drawing has quite a lot of texture already, but I think it could be interesting to try to capture in close-up detail. The contrast between the fraying at the outer edge, large puffs used in the border and smaller balls in the main section should provide some variety.

5 3D Cone Flower Painting/Collage I chose this drawing because of the range of marks and textures – flat, painted marks; balled, cut and torn paper; and various yarns. The torn areas will be of particular interest.

6 Slug Drawing: Parsley Seed Head There are a number of contrasts to explore in this drawing: dusty, powdery flour; rough, chewed areas; matte background; and silvery slug trails. The shape of the seed head itself inspires me to make a 3D version.


I thought that these were a good representative sample of the drawings I made in Part One: (three from different textile sources and three from different plant sources). They show variety in subject, marks, lines, suggested and actual textures, and different forms to play with. Some drawings have patterns to explore, and/or different scales of marks and forms to experiment with. I think there will also be an opportunity to include repetitions in the pieces I develop from them.

Research for Part Two: Surface and Stitch

Sandra Dufour

This artist’s work has been featured in magazines, she has illustrated magazine articles, written books, made installations and undertaken commissions.

mep broderies.indd

Sandra Dufour, Pages from the artist’s publication “Broderies Fifties” Dessain et Tolra, 2014


Dufour has taken iconic imagery and designs from the 1950s and turned them into embroidered pictures. The art works show a variety of stitches, densities of stitching, different backgrounds, depictions of objects as well as shapes and patterns, thoughtful colour choices.

Sandra Dufour, Image from the artist’s publication “Mette et les cygnes sauvages”, Thierry Magnier, France 2012


This piece features layered lace, appliquéd shapes, embroidery and a stitched frame.


Sandra Dufour, From the artist’s series, Fumées (fumes):-


Dufour has made two series of art works mentioned on her website: one on things that give off fumes (house chimneys, people, industrial chimneys, trains, kettles) and another on mountains. Both series show variations on the theme – different embroidery used and differing images, stitches, techniques etc. Some use machine stitching, others appear to be hand stitched. Some feature holes made by a sewing machine in one pattern (swirls, for example), oversewn in places by hand in a more geometric style.

Pages from Dufour’s artist book “Ouvrage”, 2009


The altered book contains decorated pages featuring cutting, tearing, textile inclusions and patches, stitch, layering, translucent pockets etc.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • Be experimental
  • Combine all sorts of materials and threads, yarns and papers to create texture and interest
  • Use a variety of stitches in the same piece
  • Work out different ideas in a series of art works
  • Pay attention to colour choices

Stephanie Tudor

“… Stephanie juxtaposes unlikely materials to create highly textured wall panels and interior objects.” Her tactile tiles, wall panels and objects invite touch with their intriguing surface treatments. Different types of surfaces are juxtaposed. Unusual material combinations are used.

stephanie tudor 1


These pieces use a number of techniques including mixing media; printed images on textiles; and shredding or fraying textiles. There looks as if there is paint or printed colour on the ?wooden elements.

Stephanie tudor 2


Another fascinating set of material combinations: string emerging from painted wood, clay beads threaded onto fibre and suspended from a twig, and painted/dipped plant material.

Setphanie Tudor Wearable Textures


I love these wearable, highly textured pieces, which include: specks or broken material suspended in another substrate; natural material embedded in a substrate, impressed lines, printed images, and carefully considered colour combinations.

Other work created by the artist includes dipped threads, thread-wrapped objects, painted wood segments attached with nails to sticks, painted sticks, etc.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • Combine all sorts of materials
  • Use bold colour contrasts
  • Experiment with wrapping, embellishment, natural materials, dipping, threading through, sandwiching between two layers, embedding, fraying, printing, painting

Elena Stonaker

Stonaker is a Los Angeles-based artist/designer. She makes exuberant, colourful and highly decorated soft sculptures and wearable art and performance costumes. Her pieces are hand sewn, and include beading, quilting techniques, appliqué and embellishment. She works with her intuition rather than pre-planning the work and the pieces may evolve and change over time. She incorporates beauty, humour and the unexpected in her art work. Some motifs, such as eyes, are a repeated feature in her work.

Elena Stonaker 1

Elena Stonaker, Detail: Domitille’s Dream. Wall Tapestry. Beads, sequins, hand dyed velvet. 2016. 4’x6.5′


An exciting combination of shapes, recognisable forms, patterns and textures. A palette of creams, pinks, greens and black.

Elena Stonaker 2

Elena Stonaker, Detail. The Offering. Ongoing sculpture 2013-present. Beads, fabric, stuffing.


A very three-dimensional piece, with repeated eye motifs, encrusted embellishment with sequins and beads, embroidery, couching, hand stitch and appliqué.

Elena Stonaker Wearable Art

Elena Stonaker, Wearable Art. Detail of Photo by James Cromwell Holden. 2013. 


Some flat, graphic, printed and/or painted patterns, two rather frightening, mask-like faces, contrasting with plain areas on the sleeve and front, padded additions, unusual garment shapes displayed on the body.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • Bold pattern and colour choices
  • Surprising and unexpected design elements
  • Embellishment with beads, stitch, appliqué, padded forms
  • Unique vision based on own experience, imagination and observations
  • Use of repeated motifs and patterns

Marie O’Connor

This artist and designer uses found materials, stitch and collage techniques alongside digital and animation processes.

She creates unusual shapes and outlines for clothing and experiments with “…interplays between the body and clothing, image and reality and scale and distance.”


Marie O’Conner, Make Shape (mixed media)


This piece looks like a playful assemblage of toy-like items that begged to be handled and explored. She has used silhouettes of familiar and unfamiliar shapes and objects; geometric pieces; flat and three-dimensional items; items with cut outs; lots of colour against a mid-toned background, itself a circle (rather than a straight-sided background); smooth and textured inclusions. Some pieces evoke links to real objects such as a swingball and record player. There is repetition and variety included.


Marie O’Conner, Source:-

This piece shows use of yarns winding and connecting two separate elements of the composition. The arc on the left is a yarn-wrapped flat shape, giving it a variable striped and textured finish. The element on the right has pins marking out the corners of an octagon, around which more yarns are twisted and woven forming new geometric shapes. Knots are visible, creating a clear connection between the yarns and accentuating the colour changes. The yarns used vary in thickness and texture. Shapes come forward and recede depending on which colour(s) of yarn you focus on.


Marie O’Conner, Source:-

Three non-traditional outfits that play with form and pattern, with unexpected additions and cut-outs. The patterns and shapes on the textiles draw the eye, further distorting the perceived outline of the garments, and adding interest and detail to the pieces.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • Use colour and pattern to create depth of interest and several areas of focus for the viewer
  • Bold use of colour and shape can give alter the perceived outline of a piece (rather like camouflage or dazzle ships)
  • Mix shapes, colours, surfaces, textures, dimension; but include repetition

Lauren DiCioccio

This artist has worked with fibre and hand stitch in her earlier work, which examines our relationship with everyday objects. Her more recent work, ‘Familiars’, includes sculptural forms that explore the tools she uses in her art. She starts with a form, built intuitively, then embellishes it with embroidery, wrapping, weave, etc. The resulting sculpture evoke an anthropomorphic reaction in the viewer, with their almost recognisable shapes.

Lauren DiCioccio  Sculpture  2007-2012  paper pad reconfigurations

Lauren DiCioccio, Source:-

This piece shows a flat piece of paper cut and edge-sewn to form a three-dimensional structure, rather like a cross between a sea urchin and a patchwork quilt. The simple ‘found’ pattern on the paper gives further layer of interest to the piece.

Lauren DiCioccio  Sculpture  2013 - present  Familiars (large)

Lauren DiCioccio, Familiars (Large), 2014, Hand-woven cotton, wood, stuffing, felt, thread

30″ x 20″ x 17″


This piece reminds me of the yarn-bombing displays. A wooden form has been closely covered with woven strips of fabric, some left loose and unfinished to provide added texture and interest.

Lauren DiCioccio  Sculpture  2013 - present  Familiars (medium)

Lauren DeCioccio, Familiars (Medium)


This collection of sculptures are indeed like little creatures or figures. Padded or wooden forms are decorated with additional ‘limbs’, threads, and colour. Most are stuffed, smooth pieces, one has been wrapped.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • Consider the papers and textiles you are using carefully (texture, pattern, drape, colour etc)
  • Pattern and texture can provide another layer of interest
  • Simple additions to a form can evoke memories of an actual object/subject
  • The same materials can be used in several ways in the same piece


Plenty of inspiration and food for thought for the next part of the course! There seems to be endless variety in the possible choices of colours, forms, textures, surfaces, material combinations, pattern and so on.