Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions

Having looked back over my drawing research and drawings made in previous parts of the course, I looked at images on Pinterest and to find some inspiring drawings of flowers and foliage to inform this stage of the project.

Drawing Inspiration

Source: details about individual artists can be found on my Pinterest boards.

From this research, I can see that layering, mixing types of mark and types of media, simplifying forms and using carefully selected palettes are important for producing these enticing outcomes.

My approach was to use a wide variety of media and techniques for information gathering from the plant source material. The course guide stresses the importance of making new marks and sourcing new colour information to feed through to the development stage, so that was another point to bear in mind.

The source material was also to be varied, to provide interesting drawings to take forward. I selected a bunch of roses, a bunch of tulips and, taking inspiration from Elizabeth Blackadder‘s flower paintings: gathering inspiration from my garden: a chard leaf and views of plum blossom and a wider view of part of the garden.

I experimented with different backgrounds, lighting options and whether or not to include other objects, shown in the collage below are some of the experiments.

Coursework Part 5 collage

Another preparatory exercise was to make a mind map describing the flowers and making some associations.

roses mind map


Gouache paint and chalk on watercolour paper. A3 size.

I wanted to start with something fairly ‘realistic’ and the colour of the roses suggested gouache paint to me as a medium – it’s chalky, opaque colour seemed an apt way of trying to capture the colour palette of the arrangement. I had added in the coffee pot as it made a good contrast to the bright colours, and I selected the sky blue wall as the perfect foil for the colour of the flowers. The colour of the flowers was echoed in the tea-towel and oranges.

I was pleased with the colour palette in this piece – although not identical to the original, I really like this range of hues from all round the colour wheel, with touches of brown and white. I think this looks rather old-fashioned (a quick Google search provides numerous examples of artists painting roses), but it could be simplified and rendered in other media, such as a print on textiles. Roses provoke associations with romance and love. The colour palette perhaps gives it a more modern vibe.

On the downside, the position of the arrangement on the paper was not good – the roses are all cramped up at the top.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #1.


Felt pen on smooth sketchbook paper.

In this drawing, I concentrated on the pattern and lines found in the flower heads and leaves. I thought that this was quite successful in capturing the pattern made by the petals and could imagine this line drawing layered over a patterned cream or grey background, or in red against a black ground to make a fabric design. Its simplicity means that it could work with a number of colour palettes. The fineness of the paper was perhaps more suited to the subject than the thick watercolour paper.

#3 and #4

#3: Pencil on cartridge paper. A3 size. (Two details shown).

#4: Pigma Micron pen and Aquarelle pencils on cartridge paper. A3 size.

Trying out a different, simpler arrangement, laying the flowers out like scientific specimens. One quick pencil sketch using a mixture of soft and hard lines. The second drawing is a simplified, version accentuating the form and features of the roses. I find that I prefer to make a realistic drawing first and then, having observed the source material closely, I can more easily identify the aspects that need to be included in the simplified version. It is a way of getting familiar with the subject. The simplified version is perhaps suited to illustrative uses, such as greetings cards or wrapping paper. The colour palette is ‘cute’ with pretty pastels.


Pencil and gel pen on cream watercolour paper. A5 with 2.5 x 2.5 cm boxes.

Concentrating on tiny details, identified with a viewfinder. This exercise had been useful in Assignment 1, and I tried to highlight rose features that define the plant (leaf, thorn, petals, sepals etc.) The resulting snapshots provide some interesting patterns that could be developed in stitch. Tiny drawings in flat bright colour might be something to try on another occasion.


Paper, textile, and mixed media, collage on mount board, 40.5 x 27 cm

A first ‘realistic’ attempt at this arrangement. The purple/pink blooms were already twisting downwards away from the main bunch. I used suggestions of walls and a table for the background with the painted lace fabric giving a cottage/’shabby chic’ feel to the piece. I also tried printing a background with lace, but that didn’t work well with watercolour, maybe with acrylic or oil paint it would have done. The stems alone are fascinating in the way that they twist springily out from the bunch and could probably be represented by couched yarn or similar. The colour palette of bright colours against a muted background is, I feel, successful. I can imagine these working well in a quilt or wall hanging. The placement of this arrangement on the page was more successful than the first painted roses drawing.

tulips mind map


Wax on Khadi paper, size A4

This drawing explores the waxy quality of the tulips with wax applied with various tools to the paper. The drawing concentrates on the silhouette of the flowers and foliage. I experimented with pattern to represent the jug and background. The leaves and flower heads worked well with this media, but I’m not so sure about the rest. Using wax means that the paper becomes translucent when held up to the light where wax has fully penetrated the paper. This might be useful for free-hanging work. I like the monotone simplicity of this palette: shades of grey give it a subtle and sophisticated air – like a damask curtain fabric. One possible future development is to work on textile using a batik method, and to introduce colour.



Felt pens/POSCA pens on ‘marker paper’. A5.

Trying out a new type of smooth, coated paper, ideal for felt pens. It has a satiny sheen to it that suits the shiny texture of the plants. I used lines to try to capture the lines on the surface of the petals and leaves, and to show the way the light gleamed on them. The flower heads worked well in this drawing, and I can imagine using embroidery or machine stitch to recreate this linear pattern on textiles. I find the pink and orange of the flower at top left to be a particularly pleasing colour combination that would work well in fashion accessories such as scarves.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing the palette found in drawing #8.


Chalk and nail varnish on watercolour paper. A5 size.

It occurred to me that nail varnish had the right kind of colour and shine to it to represent tulip petals, so this was a quick experiment to see what it would look like. The viscous liquid is hard to work with, which means that only a rough approximation can be achieved. The shine is apparent on the finished drawing, but the smell of the chemicals is horrible, so I would probably not repeat the process. Thinking about it, one could probably make a whole picture using make-up (eye shadow, pencils, lip stick, blusher etc): a thought to bear in mind if the subject matter is appropriate.


Acrylic paint on tracing paper. A4 size.

I wanted to try a close-up view of one of the ‘blown’ tulips looking at the details in the centre of the flower (inspired by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe), and using thick acrylic paint to try to capture the ridged, succulent petals in texture. The paper was really too thin for this type of paint (it wrinkled), but its waxy translucent quality did feel like a good fit for the subject matter. The simple colour palette of shades of red with touches of black and white was dramatic and could inspire eveningwear in the fashion world, or accessories such as an embossed, faux leather handbag. The thick acrylic paint did provide the most accurate rendition of the texture and weight of the petals.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #10.


Ink on watercolour paper; pencil on tracing paper; POSCA pen on cellophane. A4 size.

In this drawing I was exploring ways of layering marks and patterns (inspired by the work of Leisa Rich) and using the tulips to inform the created marks. Another link is Escher’s Three Worlds print in which a reflection of trees, the surface of a pond and the fish in the depths are shown. In my somewhat less accomplished piece, the eye is drawn in to notice the main top layer, and then the more faded and delicate marks beneath.

I think that this area is ripe for further experimentation: introducing colour, transparency and hidden areas; using cutaway areas; introducing texture. This could lead to dramatic artwork, ideas for printed and embellished textiles and free hanging layers which might be useful in home decor.

#12 and #13

Graphite block on cartridge paper; chalk and POSCA pen on Khadi paper. A4.

Exploring line in these two drawings of a plum tree. The first, graphite drawing concentrates on the lines and patterns made by the branches; the second introduces the additional layer of emerging blossom. I like the simplicity of these drawings and feel that the linear pattern of the branches could feed into textiles as a background pattern, or a close-up section (example shown at top left, above) could be developed into an abstract art work by itself. Black lines on a white ground look striking and austere. The introduction of blue and white gives the palette a Japanese feel.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #13.


Mixed media on cartridge paper. A1.

Inspired by Alicia Galer‘s wonderful drawings, brimming with mixtures of marks, I decided to try a distant view of part of our garden (most of the plants I have drawn so far have been in mid to close views). This also showed plants in a natural state rather than arranged in a vase, and was worked on a larger size of paper. I enjoyed making this drawing – using which ever medium and technique seemed suitable to the subject (eg, felt pen for the spiky chives, blended chalk for distant or indistinct foliage, sponge printed paint for the new leaves; splodges of thick white paint applied with a bunch of fine wooden dowels for the blossom). This method generated a variety of types of mark, including overlapping areas, that could be taken forward for development into stitch. The palette is restricted to greens, browns, and grey with a touch of yellow.

#15 and #16

#15 Aquarelle pencils and felt pen on cartridge paper. A5.

#16 Oil pastels on cartridge paper. A5.

Comparing fast and slow study of the subject: the Aquarelle drawing took an hour or more, the oil pastel drawing was completed in a few minutes. The first drawing captured more of the succulent texture of the leaf and stem, but there is something lively and recognisable about the quickly-made drawing. The colour palette of the first drawing is one that I like: cherry red, muted green, and purple with white highlights. The leaf quickly dried out and flattened, which is something to bear in mind when using source material that can degrade.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #15.


Photograph, metallic thread, beads on glossy photographic paper. 15 x 10 cm.

Inspired by the work of María Aparicio Puentes, whose work I had seen in some previous research, I took a macro photograph of a willow catkin and added stitch and bead embellishment over the top. I considered quite carefully the amount of stitch and the placement of the stitch, as well as the colour palette to use: opting for sparkly pink and silver to add an interesting extra layer of texture and contrast to the image, without overpowering it. The lines echo and extend the stamen and perform the function of highlighting the structure and pattern of the catkin.

I liked this technique and the outcome, and can imagine using it in collage work or as a way to add a layer of interest and texture to 2-D images. The colour palette of soft brown, yellow, white and pink with a touch of green is very Spring-like and delicate: the sparkle evokes a frosty morning.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing image #17.


What have I learnt in this Project?

  • To make a quick outline to check the position of the subject on the page.
  • Begin with a ‘realistic’ drawing and use the information gathered to generate more simplified images.
  • Layering marks can give depth and interest to a piece and should be translatable into exciting stitch and textiles.
  • Mixing media and using colours and marks appropriate to the subject was a freeing way to work and generated interesting material for further development.



Websites:- Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17


Research for Coursework Part 4 including my Yarn Research File

[Edited 26/03/17 following tutor feedback. Now includes the Yarn Research File here instead of as a separate page. Please see the end of the article for the artist/designer research].

Yarn Research File

Yarn’s role within the textiles discipline is to provide spun fibres to knit, weave or felt into textiles, which may be used in diverse sectors of business and industry. The type of yarn must be appropriate and suited to its end use, for example:- colour, thickness, texture, strength, water-resistance, performance, ease of care, handle, and special properties may all be important factors.

Yarn Design

Sources for Fibres

  • Derived from Plants (Minimal Processing):-
    • Abaca
    • Cotton
    • Flax
    • Hemp
    • Kapok
    • Nettle
    • Ramie
    • Sisal
  • Derived from Plants (Chemical Processing):-
    • Bamboo
    • Ingeo
    • Rayon
    • Soy silk
  • Derived from Animals/Insects
    • Silk
    • Sheep
    • Alpaca
    • Llama
    • Camel
    • Mohair
    • Angora
    • Cashmere
    • Other, less frequently used fibres are obtained from: qiviut, guanaco, buffalo, pygora, vicuna, dog and cat
  • Synthetic/Other
    • Acrylic
    • Fibre Blends: any mixture of two or more types of fibre
    • Elastane: my previous research on this fibre.
    • Lurex® is the registered name of a fibre owned by the Lurex Company Limited. It licences the use of its product and name to manufacturers to use in their products. The product is very adaptable and new innovations include  fluorescent, glow in the dark, reflective, holographic, translucent and iridescent yarns. A video about the product can be found here.LUREX RAINBOW LIGHTSource:-
    • Microfibres (very fine fibres, used alone or in blends with other fibres)
    • Mylar
    • Nylon
    • Polyester
    • Synthetic Spider Silk
  • Protein/Cellulose-based Synthetic Fibres
    • Tencel (cellulose derived from wood pulp)
    • Viscose (can be from petro-chemicals or pine trees)
  • Suppliers of fibre/yarn for individual use

Issues and Considerations for Yarn Design and Manufacture

  • Ethical and Sustainability Issues (origin of the fibres, animal welfare, processing effects on the environment (pollution, water use, chemical use and disposal, deforestation etc), workers’ conditions, transportation, end of life recycling or disposal)
  • Properties/Capabilities (absorbent, breathable, durable or non-durable, conductive, insulating, waterproof, water repellent, coloured, drapable, easy to care for, colour-changing, recyclable, light- or heavy-weight)
  • Aesthetics (colour(s), method of combining, texture, repetition of pattern)
  • Application (surface decoration, knitted, woven, constructed textile)
  • Handle and Performance (softness, fullness, drape, movement, resillience – spring-back, affected by construction methods and finishes/treatments)
  • New Innovations (combinations of fibre with new technology, eg, electronics – sound, light, monitoring, communication, social interaction etc)

Yarn Manufacture

Fibres are cleaned and processed for spinning into yarns, then knitted or woven into textiles. Finishes (such as printing or water-proofing) can then be applied.

  • Spinners (link to article about the industrial spinning process, and its history) Link to further articles about industrial spinning. Link to hand spinning information and videos.
  • Worsted process – to make yarns with a smooth appearance, used for clothing such as suits, underwear, sportswear, etc. Long wool fibres from the back and sides of the sheep are used.
  • Woollen process – this system uses shorter fibres than the Worsted process, resulting in ‘hairier’ yarns, used in knitting wool and garments such as tweed jackets, fabrics for coats and Shetland jumpers.
  • New Innovations Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have an Advanced Textiles Research Group, whose aim is to “… improve knowledge and innovate in the science and engineering of fibre materials …”, which can then be marketed to industry. They have textile manufacturing and testing facilities and can call on a number of disciplines to inform their research. Increasingly, the integration of electronics is an important aspect of fibre technology. De Montfort University in Leicester has a similar department. Innovation in Textiles has up-to-date reporting about fibres and textiles.

Yarn Marketing

  • Cotton Incorporated is an organisation funded by US growers and importers of cotton and cotton textile products. Their aim is to increase demand for and profitability of cotton, through research and marketing activities. Their main areas of focus are:- cotton farming practices; fibre management (research into spinning, dyeing and finishing processes and product quality); testing raw materials and end products; developing ‘on trend’ products and communicating their knowledge and advice to mills, manufacturers and retailers in the cotton industry. They are aiming for “environmentally sustainable production” and have launched a program called “cotton LEADS™”to achieve this aspiration. It has some useful pages to consult about different types of textiles containing cotton and the benefits of using cotton.
  • INVISTA™ is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc. (The parent company also sells beef, fertilizers, building materials, electronic components, fuel etc). It operates in 20+ countries throughout The Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. It promotes the use of man-made fibres and end products, such as those made from nylon, spandex, polyester and other speciality materials. The full range of products can be found on this webpage. (Koch’s own products include: COOLMAX®, CORDURA® and THERMOLITE®).
  • The Campaign for Wool launched in London in October 2010, and now has events worldwide. It’s aim is to raise the profile of the variety of wool products available, with both retailers and the public, and to educate young designers about the benefits of using wool. The Prince of Wales is the patron. Their ‘About Wool‘ page lists the reasons why wool is such a versatile product: including:- its sustainability, biodegradability, insulating properties, resilience, etc. They also have a link to guidelines for wool-producing sheep welfare.
  • The Wool Lab This is a bi-annual brochure featuring a selection of the latest wool fabrics and yarns available. It presents samples of fabrics that tie into seasonal themes. The themes are informed by fashion, lifestyle requirements, pop culture trends, etc. A ‘mood board’ feel is created with colour charts and interesting images. The brochure is aimed at the textile industry (spinners, weavers, manufacturers), fashion professionals (designers) and retailers.The Woolmark Company which produces the publication is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, which represents the interests of sheep farmers in Australia. They promote Australian Merino wool.


  • Pitti Immagine Filati, Florence is a ‘trade only’ fair. Yarns are exhibited to fashion designers and buyers. Fashion At Work showcases exhibitors’ latest innovations in the fashion world (areas such as manufacturing, dyeing, finishing, notions and embellishments, style and trend consulting, etc). Knitclub features high quality knitting mills, where contacts can be made with firms for bespoke manufacturing. A short video gives a taste of what was on offer at the 2016 Show.
  • Yarn and Fabrics Sourcing Fair, Dhaka allows international manufacturers of yarn and clothing textiles to showcase their collections to the Bangladesh garment manufacturing trade.
  • Heimtextil International Trade Fair for Home and Contract Textiles, Frankfurt showcases the latest trends and products for interior textiles, interior design and interior trends. The exhibition halls are divided into sections for home textiles, household textiles products, and related services.
  • Spinexpo is a trade fair which will be exhibiting in shows in Paris, New York and Shanghai. This brochure features the latest collections of innovative yarns and shows an exciting way of presenting the products: with inspirational images, colour palettes with Pantone numbers, and close-up shots of the yarns and garments made from them, revealing the latest textures, colours and fibre blends.spinexplore_mag_september_2016-pdf-google-chrome-05012017-210350Source:-

Uses in Industry

  • Aerospace industry (uniforms, protective clothing, aeroplane furnishing/carpeting; safety belts, in development: electronic textiles that can monitor structural integrity of aircraft)
  • Agriculture/Gardening (specialist weed-suppressant/mulching textiles; anti-bird netting; sacks for protecting and transporting plants, string/twine)
  • Architecture (fibres and textiles with electronic capabilites to monitor structures; “Buildtech” textiles: strong textiles (incorporating fibres made from carbon, glass and resin) are building components (in place of wood, steel, concrete etc). Such textiles are strong, flexible and light. Specially coated textiles may used for sunlight deflection).
  • Automotive Industry (safety belts, carpeting, seating covers; also future developments where textiles are integral to the bodywork where structure monitoring can take place).
  • Engineering (link to the Journal of Textiles Science and Engineering).
  • Fashion and Accessories (sportswear, outdoor wear, fashion clothing, luminous textiles, headwear, footwear, bags, jewellery)
  • Fishing (nets, lines, protective clothing, rope, sails, ship and boat furnishing/accessories, safety equipment such as life jackets).
  • Interior Decoration and Furnishings (Design inspiration research, seating covers, cushions, decorative accessories and art, room dividers, curtains and blinds, carpets and rugs, lampshades, bed linen, table linen, household linen, storage containers, protective covers).
  • IT/Technical (wearable computers, and communications devices, electronic components are increasingly being integrated with fibres and textiles).
  • Medical (surgical uses, bandages, support garments, gauzes, mosquito netting, protective clothing, clothing which can monitor vital signs, heated gloves for people with Raynaud’s disease, synthetic spider silk that can have medicine particles attached to it for precise delivery).
  • Military (embroidered fabric antenna that can be integrated into clothing to monitor staff location – also useful for search and rescue teams; potential for vital sign monitoring, detection of harmful gases and radiation, communications etc).
  • Sport (sportswear, clothing which can monitor performance, heated gloves).

Uses in the Arts and Crafts

Links to my research on:-

contemporary knitting

knitted textiles research

contemporary embroidery

designer research (furnishing, home goods, audio tape clothing)

textile artists (Part 2 Research)

textile artists (Part 3 Research)

drawing (including fibre work) (Assignment 1 Research)

Making Space Exhibition, Macclesfield 2016

Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, 2016

textile art at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

historical textiles and decorative arts at the National Museum of Scotland 2016

artists and designers using luminous textiles

American quilts (two book reviews)

textile jewellery

needlelace, felt pictures, performance costume (Embroiderers’ Guild talks)

Louise Bourgeois (Coursework Part 2 Research)

textile artist: Alison King lecture

performance costume: Alex Rigg exhibition

Pam Ducker exhibition (work of the late textile artist, working in patchwork, quilting and embroidery)

textile samples library (ongoing personal research into types of textiles)



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.

Websites:- Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17,66,-1,-1 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 04/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17


Artist and Designer Research for Coursework Part 4

I visited Carlisle Library to see what I could find there on yarns and yarn manufacture. The following two books were available: Claydon, 2009 and Draper, 2013. Jennifer Claydon’s book focuses on traditional methods of spinning and dyeing different types of fibres, which will be useful if I decide to spin my own yarns in the future.

Jean Draper‘s book has some fine examples of linear media, showing knotting, binding, threading, dipping and embellishment.


Source: Draper, 2013 pp 32-38

Her textile art is mostly hand stitched and its method of creation involves forming structures and textures from linear media. Art work may be further developed by using earth to dye fabrics, and using clay slip, sanding and paint to emulate natural erosion. She is influenced by landscapes, plant life and the craft of people from SW America and Western Australia. Jean says, “My stitching is a form of drawing, an intensely physical activity; the actual process being as meaningful as the finished work.” I find that her process is very relevant to the work for this part of the course: drawing things that inspire and interest her, and translating those marks into stitch and both 2-D and 3-D forms. She discusses her work and process in more detail in an interview at, where photographs of her some of her art work can be seen.

What can I learn from this artist? 

  • draw whatever interests you
  • study traditional techniques for inspiration
  • take an experimental approach

Ella Robinson is an artist working with mixed media including linear media. She makes decorative objects and sculpture; collections of found and arranged objects; altered furniture (mixing embroidery stitch with wood); and overlapping, patterned pieces, featuring repeating shapes cut from fabric, cork and other materials.

The artist is influenced by the British coast, graffiti and street art. Her style is strikingly graphic, with a focus on colour, pattern and texture. In the art work below, Ella highlights the contrasts between the dull, eroded wooden surface (?masculine) and the ‘feminine’, colourful, shiny threads. The wood is drilled to add repeated elements to the design, and the threads follow the natural contours of the wood.

Ella Robinson Canoe Cocktail, 2009. Stranded cotton and driftwood. 15 x 8 x 2.5cm.


Ella Roinson Death By Jumbrella (detail), 2011. Five 2m poles wrapped with plastic lacing and tubing


Death By Jumbrella is a set of five decorated poles that can be displayed in a variety of ways, in a garden or park. The artist has played with the direction of wrapping, proportions of colour, placement of colour and a bright colour palette. The straight bands of colour stand out as manmade in a garden setting where more natural colours and organic shapes form a contrast. The use of colourful, smooth and shiny plastic materials contrasts with the texture of the wood, and is also appropriate to its end use of being displayed outdoors. To me, it evokes memories of deck chairs and the brightly coloured sweets I ate as a child – linking back to the seaside theme, although the title also suggests umbrellas. Not quite sure where the ‘death’ element comes in, unless it is in excess.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • use of contrasting materials
  • use of unusual materials (found objects, plastic, cork, wood etc)
  • use of a wide and varied colour palette
  • attention to direction of lines, proportions of colour and placement of colours

María Aparicio Puentes was born in, and works in Santiago, Chile. Her artwork involves stitching over images such as photographs after analysing them for “… geometries, rhythms, tensions … everything”. In an interview for Frankie Magazine, the artist describes using thread in this way as being very forgiving, as she can change her mind or overlay threads until she has the outcome she is aiming for, playing with the thickness of thread and density of stitch. She describes her interest in depicting:- “People and their relationship with the environment. Also working on the microscale of an object or clothing.”

Maria Aparicio Puentes, from the “Be Brilliant” series 2014, photographic paper and threads


Maria Aparicio Puentes, Collaboration for Stage Fashion Magazine. Paris, France.
Model: Jakub Nowocien. The Right Stuff Agency.
Photographs: Alessandra d’Urso.


The stitch gives a new dimension and layers of new meaning to the photographic image. In the image above, one can read the stitch as thoughts, music, aura, maybe even personality or actions.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • altering an existing object to give new depth and meaning
  • reacting to the qualities (such as pattern or form) of an image or object to be altered
  • sparing and focused use of stitch drawing attention to one area of interest in an image

Anton Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean artist, currently based in Stockholm. His art is concerned with “… the design of systems and the creation of tools and processes for producing products, objects and architecture.”

This interview and video of his artistic process (including an amazing thread wrapping machine!) on Artsy show him and his assistant wrapping objects such as stools with brightly coloured bands of thread for his exhibition, Wrapsody. Visitors could view the creation of the objects, as well as the completed pieces. They could also contribute objects for wrapping. The machine adds glue with paint mixed in, as it wraps the pieces with thread.

Anton Alvarez, One of a series of objects illustrating ‘The Craft of Thread Wrapping


Anton Alvarez, The latest version of the thread wrapping machine, working on larger scale pieces


The artist seems to be particularly interested in the making process. The finished objects are visually interesting with their mixture of paint and thread on a 3-D object, sometimes these are recognisable pieces such as chairs, at other times, forms such as arches or blocks. In a Telegraph article he says: “I forced myself not to think about the outcome… It was important to me to maintain a level of abstraction, to not get too distracted by elements of functionality, beauty or tradition.” His interest, seems to me, to be questioning the need for a human hand in the making of art, and exploring the creation process as performance, as did the abstract expressionist work of Jackson Pollock. Anton’s more recent work is in ceramics, made automatically by an unattended machine that slowly extrudes clay through a template with holes in the shapes of letters. Although I don’t have a machine as exciting as these, I do have a new (second-hand) sewing machine that might be brought to use in the current coursework of making linear media. These are exciting art works to contemplate, but if the process eventually becomes fully automated, where is the hand of the artist? Having the idea, that is then manufactured harks back to Andy Warhol’s “Factory” method of production.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • experiment with scale
  • focus on the process as much as the final outcome
  • create an interesting story that will engage viewers and journalists

Raw Edges is a design company run by Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay. The pair met in Israel, studied at the Royal College of Art and now work in London. They have produced an interesting furniture line (amongst many other designs), The Coiling Collection out of thick felt, which has been coiled and telescoped to produce a bowl-like structure, which is mounted on wood, or has a wooden surface in the case of the tables. The felt is coated with silicone in places (adding strength, structure, cohesion and decoration). The rug consists of strips of felt placed in coiling parallel rows and set into silicone.

Raw Edges, The Coiling Collection, 100% wool felt, wood, silicone.


The designers have a good sense of humour and inquisitiveness that shows in their work. The colour palette they have chosen for this collection includes bright, fun hues, in solid blocks or stripes, paired with the natural wood or the white of the silicone, this echoes the feeling of playfulness. These pieces remind me strongly of the standing wool rugs I have seen, and in fact have made some small versions as trivets and wall hangings. Also a technique that Australian textile artist, Louise Wells used in her piece made from coiled neck ties, Honouring Good Men. The materials used are appropriate to the meaning behind the art work.

Louise Wells, Honouring Good Men, 2014, 165 re-purposed neck ties


 What can I learn from these designers?

  • combining materials for functional and aesthetic reasons
  • playing with materials to come up with new forms
  • experimenting with scale

Michael Brennand-Wood is an artist working in textiles, with a particular focus on fusing inspiration from both historical and contemporary spheres, in particular 3-D line, structure and pattern. He has worked in areas often eschewed by contemporary textile artists, such as embroidery, lace and floral artworks, such as the piece below.

Wasn't born to follow

Michael Brennand-Wood, Wasn’t Born To Follow, 2004


Michael’s artworks such as the one above may include mixed media, eg, machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage. Viewing the image one thinks of abundance, gardens, kaleidoscopic images (except that the image has variations rather than being perfectly symmetrical), spinning and twirling, perhaps with a link to childhood games and the remembered summers of youth.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Michael Brennand-Wood, Flower Head – Narcissistic Butterfly 60 dia x 40 cm, 2005


In this artwork, the artist has given fairly 2-D floral images a 3-D aspect by mounting them on ?wires above a bejewelled mirror. The pattern of arrangement echoing the form of a flower or seed head. I presume that anyone leaning over to examine the piece will find themselves reflected in the mirror, thus becoming the ‘narcissistic butterfly’ of the title.

Another piece by this artist, Little Black Egg, was illustrated in the coursework and shows a black and white striped cord (which reminds me of an old-fashioned electrical cord, such as those found on irons), arranged into a fairly 2-D, rough egg shape on a pedestal. The cord loops, overlaps, and changes direction like a fast scribble on a page, and I can imagine that this piece may have started life as such a drawing.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • study traditional techniques, but include modern advances and media in your artwork
  • pattern with variation is more visually arresting than pure repetition
  • consider secondary and tertiary levels of pattern within a design, ie, layers of interest

Vadis Turner is an American artist working with re-used textiles in a painterly fashion. Her artworks reference gender roles and what was traditionally women’s work from a modern angle.

Vadis Turner, Precipitation, 2013, 60in x 84in x 4in, (ribbon, dyed textiles, acrylic paint and mixed media)


Vadis Turner, Swamp, 2013, 7ft x 6ft x 6in, (fabric, ribbon, mixed media)


I admire the artist’s use of colour and descriptive line direction, with varied sizes of ‘mark’ in these artworks. The recycling of materials is also a pleasing aspect, that I try to include in my own work. With respect to my current coursework, her manipulation of media is relevant (eg, using paint or bleach to change the colour and texture of the textiles). Other pieces by Vadis include textiles combined with resin, ash and/or twigs to create different textures and effects).

What can I learn from this artist?

  • vary the lines (thickness, direction, type) to add movement and visual interest to a piece
  • alter materials to fit your requirements
  • combine unusual media with textiles

If you want something a bit different, Jane Bowler is the go-to designer for bridal wear. The bridal collection includes pieces in a traditional colour palette of white, but combined with gold and flesh tones. The dresses and headpieces again combine tradition (net tulle, macramé knotted textiles, lace) with contemporary materials and geometric grids of ‘chain mail’, metal connectors, PVC shapes, chains etc.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/13


The ‘armour’ of this headpiece is constructed from silver jumprings connecting soft PVC triangles. The connections allow the material to drape and move with the wearer. The effect is like a space-age warrior princess.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/16


This dress combines the flexible grid of PVC shapes with a macramé skirt featuring fringing and beads.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • a simple colour palette can be brought to life by using a mixture of textures
  • connect pieces of harder material together with connectors that allow drape and movement
  • combine different scales of pattern within one piece
  • mix traditional media and techniques with modern ones

Working from Edinburgh, Hannah Camp‘s company, Trail of Yarn, produces simple, functional, contemporary Scottish textile designs.

Her werkstof collection of woven textiles designed for interiors was derived from a ‘library of textures’ inspired by art from Japan, Scandinavia, and from Bauhaus style. The colour palette is simple: blues, greys, and yellow.

The created sketches and images of textures are imported into software, where the designer can explore different colour arrangements, scales and pattern repeats before sending the finalised designs to a Jacquard loom for manufacture.


Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the werkstof collection



Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the 554 Collection, bow tie with inspirational drawings


The 554 is a collection of hand woven accessories in a palette of blues, greys and yellow to “…capture the urban textures of transport”.

I like the way in which the designer has displayed the finished piece with the inspirational images, and this will feed into the way I present my yarn samples for this coursework and assignment. I also admire her simplicity of design, enlivened by texture and touches of vibrant colour.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • take inspiration from everything and anything around you, including the work of other artists and other cultures
  • derive expressive and simple palettes from your inspirations
  • keep a library of inspirational images to inform artwork colour palettes and textures

French designers (and brothers), Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec design:- small objects, such as jewellery; make designs for interiors; architecture; drawings; videos; and photography. They stress the importance of experimental research and development for informing their work.

Studio Bouroullec, one of Seventeen Screens, 2016


The Seventeen Screens are made in a wide range of media encompassing:- textiles, ceramics, metal, wood, elastic etc. The screen shown in the image above is a simple grid, enlivened by repeated pattern in a striking, but limited, colour palette. Other pieces are made from embroidered textile or strung ceramic forms. Some screens are a single sheet of material, others are formed from many individual pieces hanging freely like a bead curtain; yet others are joined with cross pieces of cord or elastic to form a flexible grid; or metal dowels which allow for a geometric construction which could be configured in a number of ways. All of them form a functional room divider, with opaque and transparent areas.

Paul Tahon and R & E Bouroullec, Vegetal chair: Blooming, 2008


These gorgeous chairs show an updated tradition of basing chair designs on natural plant forms. Similar to the screens shown above, the formation of a structure from linear elements is of interest to me in part of the coursework. The chair seat is formed from a functional grid of lines of polyamide: they appear to cross and diverge like the branches of a tree.

What can I learn from these designers?

  • experiment with materials, combinations of materials, and configurations
  • pay attention to ways of joining materials – the join can be a design feature adding to the pattern
  • bring a contemporary slant to your work


This research highlights the importance in design of exploring:- contrasts; colour palettes; ways of joining different media; direction and ‘movement’ of line within the work; methods for altering materials; creating and layering patterns; scale; presentation; and the narrative behind the work.



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.

Draper, J. (2013) Stitch and structure: Design and technique in two and three-dimensional textiles. London: Batsford.

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