Saturday, 25 August 2018

Module 5 - Health & Safety Rules Observed

  • Bleach: use in a well ventilated area and avoid breathing in fumes. Wear rubber gloves
    to protect skin. Store away from children & pets.
  • Dyes: wear mask to avoid inhaling particles. Keep away from draughts. Wear rubber
    gloves to protect skin. Store upright with lids secure. Keep well away from food
    preparation areas, and also away from children and pets. Clean tools after use.
  • Adhesives: always read manufacturers instructions before use. Use in well
    ventilated area, away from naked flames. Keep away from food preparation areas.
    Store upright with lids secure, away from children & pets. Avoid contact with skin.
    Clean tools after use.
  • Knives, scissors and rotary Cutters; Never pull a blade towards you. Keep fingers
    well away from path of blade. Fasten rotary cutters after use. Put tools away after
    use and store well out of reach of young children.
  • Pins and needles: store well out of reach of young children, and ensure that no pins or
    needles are left lying around on floors or work surfaces.
  • Iron: always unplug after use, and do not leave unattended. Sore away when cool
    with flex lightly wound.
  • Heat gun and soldering iron: use on a head resistant mat. Unplug after use. Allow tool
    to cool before putting away. Keep away from children and pets when in use. Ensure wires
    and plugs are tucked away so they are not tripped over. Wear a mask and use in a well
    ventilated area. Take care when handling items that have just been exposed to heat.
  • Sewing machine: unplug and keep covered when not in use.

Module 5 - Storage of Work, Materials, Tools and Equipment

Design work in progress: kept flat, in a large folder.
Completed embroidery: wrapped in acid free tissue paper inside a box.
Completed design work: kept flat, in a large folder.
Papers for design work: kept flat, in a large portfolio.
Inks and paints for design work: kept upright, with lids secure, inside store cupboard.
Glue, bleach & sprays: as above.
Embroidery work in progress: inside a workbox with needles, scissors etc, kept in a store cupboard
away from children and animals.
Fabrics: folded neatly, wrapped in acid free tissue paper and kept flat inside storage basket.
Threads: in special clear storage boxes for easy viewing, separated into colour groups.
Beads, metal threads etc: in acid free tissue paper inside storage box in store cupboard.
Dyes, paints, etc: kept upright, with lids secure, inside store cupboard.
Sewing Machine: kept upright on table in workroom, covered when not in use.
Other electrical equipment: on shelves in store cupboard, flex lightly wound.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Module 5 - Costing Materials and Recording time

box frame: £4.50
fabrics: £9.00
threads: £7.50
dyes: £7.00
beads: £2.25
wire: 50p
foam board: £1.00

design time: 3 hours
stitching/making: 48 hours

Module 5 - Evaluation of Completed Work

The completed embroidered assessment piece for Module 5 is a Resolved Sample based on the design topic of Texture in Landscape.


Do you feel satisfied with the results?

Yes. I feel that the individual textural components within the design are extremely successful. I am very happy and content that they fill the brief of four different panels displaying extreme textural contrasts, whilst maintaining a limited colour palette.
I was originally unhappy with the way the four panels combined to make a whole, but after a discussion with Sian during my tutorial at Summer School, we agreed solutions for adapting and evolving the design to make it more ‘coherent’. I further adapted our strategy, through experimentation, when I got back into my workroom, but after talking to Sian, I felt confident that I could work through the problems and resolve the issues, allowing me to re-work the design, resulting in a much more considered and pleasing piece of work.

Is it fit for its purpose?

Yes. The work shows four areas of extreme textural contrasts, using fabric manipulation and embroidery. I have used a limited colour palette, and there are various levels of height within the work.

If you were asked to make it again, what changes would you make?

When photographing the work, I noticed that it was much more pleasing when I zoomed in on just 3 or 4 panels. I think I would reduce the ‘pattern’ down to a smaller cross-section of design. I think this simpler version would appear much more harmonious.

Module 5–Chapter 13–Study of Three Artists

Jennie Rayment

Jennie Rayment is a very amusing, entertaining and talented public speaker. I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture at a local Embroiderers Guild Regional Day where she performed her famous ‘strip’ Show and Tell routine!
I really like the way she uses calico and natural coloured fabrics in a lot of her work, allowing the manipulated textures to ‘speak for themselves’.

Jennie Rayment is an internationally known textile artist from Hampshire, UK. She is a tutor, and author, specialising in fabric manipulation and surface texture.

In 1989, after several different career moves from managing hotels, inns and restaurants to running a village general store and Post Office, Jennie saw her first piece of patchwork and made her first quilt. Having never sewn other than family mending and household repairs.
Over the next few years, Jennie explored and experimented and by 1994, she was firmly hooked on all forms of patchwork and quilting. In this period she completed a teaching diploma, and taught the Creative Studies course in Patchwork, Quilting and Appliqué to several groups in the South of England.
Much of her work is created in simple calico. Her textile manipulations may be adapted for any type of fabric and used to make quilts, wall-hangings, boxes, baskets, cushions, table linen and of course fashion garments and accessories. She describes herself as being obsessed with twiddling, fiddling, nipping, tucking, manipulating and manoeuvring.


Nowadays, her work is exhibited in various galleries, at shows and exhibitions around the world.
Jennie has published many books on fabric manipulation techniques. She teaches a wide variety of classes for all levels and abilities of sewers from patchworkers, quilters and embroiderers to fashion, soft furnishing and home décor enthusiasts, and entertains with hilarious lectures with real ‘Strip, Show and Tell’.

Michael Brennand-Wood

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Michael Brennand-Wood at the ‘Midland Textile Forum’ Symposium a few years ago. I found him to be a very relaxed, down-to-earth, ‘rock-n-roll’ sort of guy. Very honest about his upbringing and the reasons stitch, and making, became an important part of his life and career. He wore a red & black stipey mohair jumper, and reminded me of a cross between Denis the Menace, and Johnny Rotten!

Michael Brennand-Wood’s interest in textiles goes back to his childhood. His grandmother was an industrial weaver who worked in a mill in the north of England and as a small boy he used to play with fabrics that she bought home. She also taught him to knit, sew and do a little embroidery. Her brother had a little loom at home and the noise and smell of the loom is a strong childhood memory.
His grandfather was an engineer. He had a shed at the bottom of the garden where he made things in wood and metal. He was an old-fashioned craftsman who really enjoyed making.
At University, Michael wanted to study fine art, but when he discovered the textiles department he felt much more at home and decided to stay there. He chose to study embroidery as it was far the most open-ended area of textiles and the area closest to fine art as he saw stitching as drawing in thread.
Until 1989 he worked as a lecturer at Goldsmiths alongside Audrey Walker, as senior lecturer in the department of visual art. He has taught extensively in colleges and universities in the UK and overseas, and has undertaken residencies in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Belgium. He was appointed Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2005 and is Research Fellow at the University of Ulster.

Michael now has an international reputation as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles today. His work is sculptural and tactile. He is particularly interested in embroidery, lace-making and traditions in floral textiles. He uses his knowledge in these ancient crafts and combines them with modern day techniques, such as digital printing and computerised machine embroidery, to create sculptural, wall-hung, textile and multimedia pieces.

Although his work is first and foremost decorative it can be read on more than one level. Michael uses titles to allude to the source of inspiration for each one of his works. Recent flag-based pieces, for example, reveal their reference to conflict and war when seen up close.

Jean Littlejohn

This course would never be complete without giving credit and offering gratitude to one of my all time stitch heroes, Jean Littlejohn. I spent many happy hours admiring Jan and Jeans books in Waterstones bookshop in New Street, Birmingham. I can’t remember when I started to buy the books, but gradually, one by one, I now have them all. Videos as well, and could never tire of watching them. Always learning something new, they are a constant source of inspiration.
I am fortunate enough to have enjoyed taking part in a few workshops with Jean (and Jan), and thanks to Sian’s Distant Stitch Summer School, was able to spend an entire weekend in their presence, enjoying workshops, lectures, and even dinner at the same table!!!

Jean Littlejohn, along with her long-time stitch & business partner Jan Beaney, is the Joint President and Honorary Member of the Embroiderers’ Guild. She is a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and a member of the 62 Group. She is one of the best-known teachers of textile art and has held workshops in the UK, across Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Jean was born in Maidenhead, England. She trained as a teacher, specializing in Art and Textiles. Her work has been exhibited and sold in the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Israel, Japan and many other parts of the world. In 1997, Jean co-founded Double Trouble Enterprises with Jan Beaney. This company was formed to publish books and promote further interest in embroidery and allied subjects. Their aim is to give students the confidence to design and create their own unique work. They have published 27 books and 3 DVDs.

Jean teaches all aspects of work, from design to embroidery. Much of her work is based on hand stitch where she builds up many layers of stitch (hand and machine) and mixed media to create the most amazingly textural works. She experiments with hand stitch, pushing the boundaries of traditional methods and materials, exploring exciting new effects and patterns that can be achieved with simple stitches to describe echoes from the past, layers of life and experience, and aspects of decay.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

Module 5 - Chapter 12 – Stitch Trial Samples – Using Extreme Contrasts

So from my line drawing and subdivided shapes in the previous chapter, I decided to take the design a stage further, and present it in either a square format or an elongated format. I think these proportions appear much more considered and appealing than a simple A4 or 10x8 format.
I did a few ‘thumbnails’ to see which of my designs would best lend themselves to these proportions.


I chose the middle option in the second row. A square layout. I felt it gave an interesting balance of shapes and areas to explore contrasting texture and also incorporate an element of height.
I then made a template and cut up all of my various textural papers so that I could swap and reposition patterns until I found a pleasing arrangement. This was a difficult task. I’d become quite attached to and precious about my lovely papers!!!


This is the layout that I most liked. It gave a nice balance of texture and tone, whilst demonstrating extreme contrasts of texture. I like the ‘holey’  tissue paper shapes and feel that these could make a perfect raised area, particularly if I could somehow mount on white so that the holes would reflect shadows, as it had in my original paper sample.


I spent an enjoyable sunny weekend dyeing, bleaching and overdyeing fabrics to attempt to achieve the required colour palette to match my selected colour scheme. Some of the fabrics needed mono-printing with brown random patterns afterwards to knock back the red colour, as, although this is just a stitch trial sampler, its important that the finished piece appears unified and considered.


I was left with a pleasing collection of varied shades of ‘brown’ which, along with existing threads and fabrics, gave me a lot to play with.


I thought the text in the panel in the centre of the design would be ideal worked in a tatty length of scrim couched down with rusty coloured and metallic gold threads, and copper wire. The sample was pleasing, but I felt it needed to be layered on top of a heavily embroidered panel of couched threads for the background, in order to give greater texture.


I couched and wrapped knotted strips of synthetic fabric, multiple strands of threads, lengths of beaded threads, knitting wools and string in mono-tone shades of brown. On top of this, creating another heavier textured layer, I couched my lengths of scrim as above, wrapping, as before, with metallic gold threads, and copper wire, some of which I twisted and coiled to give greater impact.


I tried working tiny buttonhole circles into a fairly loosely woven fabric, pulling it tight in order to part the threads to create holes. I loved this effect, but the paper sample had been produced on tissue paper, so I felt this was far too heavy to recreate a similar effect. As I also thought it a good idea to raise this panel to give reflection through the holes, it would require a much lighter, more transparent fabric.


The scrim was fun to stitch, and the pulled threads gave much bigger holes. So that it would remain rigid when raised, I  stiffened this sample with ‘Paverpol’. On the whole this gave a pretty good result, but it remained a bit ‘plasticky’ and white where it dried in contact with the ceramic plate that it was put on to dry.


The final sample was worked on nylon organza. The holes were burned through once the buttonhole circles had been worked.


I experimented with stiffening with Paverpol, but this left an unsightly white opaque finish. I sprayed another sample repeatedly with starch, ironing between spraying. This did not affect the appearance of the fabric at all, but despite many repeated coatings, the result was not exactly as rigid as I had hoped for. I then glued the stitched circles to a thin sheet of clear plastic (so that glue was not seen on the fabric), and burned holes through both layers. This would hold the raised fabric panels perfectly above a white background to give beautiful reflection!


For the two ridged panels at the top, I experimented with different ways of creating raised bands of parallel texture. I tried tucks gathered onto sticks, which gave a pleasing effect, but I couldn’t decide how I would finish the edges of the shapes.


Tucks stuffed with lengths of knitting wool gave a very tidy finish, I could then snip the knitting wool slightly shorter so that I could turn the edges under neatly.


Parallel lengths of string, wrapped in fabric and over-sewing was fun to stitch, but the stuffed tucks above were much smoother, which I felt would contrast suitably with the heavily couched centre panel.

For the final panels, I referred back to Chapter 4’s fabric investigations, specifically ‘decorating bands with exciting edges’. When Sian reviewed this work, she suggested that I repeated some of these edges in the form of layers. This idea excited me, and I wanted to try it out for my resolved sample, as I felt it would echo the rough, linear pattern of my paper sample.
I cut lengths of various fabrics, and shades of brown, cutting the edges with an irregular, bark-like pattern. On the synthetic fabrics, the edge was burned in a similar way. I then stitched the strips to a background fabric. I was delighted with the results.


I was not sure what background/mount I intended to use, but I selected a 30cm x 30cm box canvas to start off with, as I needed the white background for the holey, organza reflective pieces. Referring back to my design layout idea, I made paper patterns and cut out each section, placing them onto the canvas in their correct positions.


It was at this point that I realised I’d made a huge mistake. I wasn’t happy at all!
I could see instantly that the middle raised panel would need stitching all abound the edge to disguise the grey fabric base that I had couched onto. This wasn’t a problem, and wouldn’t take long to put right.
I wasn’t at all happy with the edges of my ‘layered strips with decorate edges’. I felt they looked ‘shoddy’. They needed to be either rougher/frayed, or much neater & more sharp. There were also white gaps between the panels where my cutting was obviously not accurate enough. This would be accentuated when I raised my ‘holey organza, reflective’ pieces. HELP! Fortunately, Summer School was next week. I would be able to discuss the work with Sian during my tutorial.

When Sian saw my work, she felt that the ‘decorated edge strips’ were ‘fighting’ with the central panel. She felt that the whole central panel (including the stuffed tucks at the top), was very strong, and that the side pieces should be ‘knocked back’ to simply play a supporting roll to the central panel. Sian also felt that the white strips of decorate edges were too strong. I’d put these in as, firstly, the original paper design had white/light areas within it, and secondly, because I felt I needed to echo the white section that was going to reflect the holes from the organza. I had to agree though, that there was far too much going on. I could see that something was going wrong, but was too concerned about creating four fabrics with extreme contrasting textures, as per the brief, and was not paying enough attention to the coherence of the work when all pieces were joined to make a whole.
Although Sian liked the idea of the reflective raised panels of holey organza, there was too much going on to make the whole piece coherent. I could appreciate all of this as soon as she pointed it out, and after a long discussion we were in unanimous agreement that there were a few options open to me:
I could make a new panel of ‘decorated edges’, to cover the entire box frame, including the edges, then cover this completely with a new panel of organza holes, some stitched in gold to both echo the gold couching in the central piece, and also to distinguish between the four separate edge panels of my original design. This would make the central panel stand out more strongly.
Alternatively or even additionally, I could put a gold fabric underneath the holey organza to shine through the holes, or perhaps I could loose the ‘decorated edges’ panel completely, and paint the box frame behind the holey organza panel.

When I got home, I mulled the options over in my mind. Then I cut out alternative bits of fabric to try different shade options. Somehow, I wasn’t happy with any of the solutions we’d come up with at Summer School. I really liked my decorative edges and felt that, along with the other panels, particularly the holey organza, I had four extreme contrasts of texture, as per the brief.
So it was back to the drawing board. I knew that, although I was no longer happy with the solutions we’d come up with at Summer School, Sian was correct with her observations and assessment, so was there another way to put this right???!!!!

I put a photograph of my work onto the big screen of my computer at work, and turned it upside down so that Ii could evaluate it ‘out of context’. Whilst Sian was correct about the white strips being too strong, I felt that the dark strips were also causing the ‘background’ to fight with the ‘foreground’. These would both have been eliminated if the organza had been placed over the top, as the organza would have the effect of ‘knocking back’ the stronger colours, and blending/smoothing the shades within the decorative edge panel.


I therefore made a new panel of ‘decorative edges’ in much more subtle, muted tones of brown. The strips were more equal in tone to each-other, and blended better. With less contrast within the strips, it gave a much more gentle, smooth, unified, and perhaps a more ‘diluted’ resulting panel.
I ‘oversized’ this panel, so that I could wrap it around the box frame, making all edges tidy, whilst not losing the effect of the loose ‘decorated edges’, as I love the loose, tactile, un-attached quality of this panel.


This gave a much more professional, ‘finished’ appearance.
I happy with the entire central panel, so, after tidying up and stitching around the edges of the embroidered panel, I put them in place, just ‘off-centre’.


The visual contrast was much more apparent, and presented the central panel to much better effect. I think it served to achieve the result that Sian and I had in mind at Summer School, whilst satisfying my desire to retain all of the textural components.
So, the final challenge was my buttonhole stitched circles on organza!


I place my original stitched pieces in situ, along with other shades of fabric, to decide whether I wanted to work the buttonhole circles on a different fabric. Although I liked the gold, I felt this detracted too much from the central panels. I still felt the first option looked the best. I decided to combine both options, and stitched the gold fabric underneath the organza, so that the ‘holes’ showed through in gold! Genius! This gave a lovely metallic reflection in certain lights, and created a fourth, extremely smooth, metallic looking, visual texture to compliment the others.



I experimented with photographs on a mirror which gave a very interesting reflection.


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Module 5–Chapter 11–Design from Landscape

So, I think I enjoyed this chapter a little too much, which is good, because I’ve always been a little bit bored by mark making. Couldn’t see the point, but now its making much more sense to me. Its fundamental to any work, and when you look at the work of Shelley Rhodes and Amanda Hislop and Gwen Hedley, there is beauty in the way they explore ways of using creative mark making.
The aim was to decorate some papers with both flat textures and raised textures, exploring ways of making marks which related well to the textures in my source images. These will then be cut up to make designs. The colour must be based around one main colour that is suggested from the landscape research images.
I found a lovely app for my phone, Real Colours is a palette generator. It analyses a photograph and generates the 5 most representative colours from the image.


This was really helpful in assisting me to select a colour range.
The next step was to create papers with flat textures. I experimented with a large range of different papers, newspaper & newsprint, cartridge paper, tissue, lens tissue, abaca tissue, tea bag and deli paper, mulberry paper, khadi paper, hand made paper and Chinese rice paper.


I painted these with a combination of walnut ink and bleach, acrylic paint and brusho, then overprinted with natural sponge, and various rollers & stencils to create a selection of colourful papers.


I selected a couple of images to use as pattern inspiration.

trees original
leaves original

I felt that the strong rigid linear format of the trees gave a pleasing contrast to the irregular, random, scrunched pattern of the leaves.





Next I worked on raised, relief textured papers.

firstly I selected one of my painted khadi papers & stitched slightly wavy lines to echo the linear patterns on the paper. I used a wing needle from behind to give a ‘punched out’ slightly raised texture of holey lines. The light shines through these holes which adds another exciting dimension to the paper.

Selecting another painted paper, I painted the reverse in dark brown. I then used a leather punch in a half moon shape, hammering semi-circles into the paper and folding back to reveal the back of the paper. I placed this over a burnt sienna patterned paper.

Simple, but effective with its rough, linear texture, I painted some corrugated card!

On a piece of painted deli paper, I used a soldering iron to burn holes. This gave a lovely light reflection when placed in sunlight on white paper, with the holes edged in the darker brown singed paper giving a slightly raised texture.

I tore strips of decorated papers and stitched them to another painted background with a twin needle. I then folded some of the papers back to give a raised texture.

I loved the decorated text used in the last chapter, so was compelled to compose a collection of words about my source images and write it with hot glue gun over another decorated paper before using a gold metallic ‘rub-on’ (I didn’t have copper to hand!)

Scrunched tissue paper stuck onto a firm sheet of watercolour paper with a thick layer of PVA. Painted when dry with a wash of walnut ink. I love the way the different textures in the paper hold the ink so that it appears darker in some places than in others.

Lines of texture paste textured with a child’s sponge roller, again painted with a wash of walnut ink when dry. I love walnut ink! The colour changes within the different surface textures are amazing!

I scraped pollyfiller onto a sheet of watercolour paper with a palette knife, trying to get a combination of rough and smooth random marks which were then enhanced with walnut ink. I think I should have tried to leave patches of paper without the polyfiller, it might have given an even more interesting colour effect.

I mixed sand with PVA and spread it onto watercolour paper with the back of a spoon, to give a very heavy texture. I’d like to play more with this process, experimenting with different consistencies and thicknesses of ‘paste’ to create different textural patterns. The wash of walnut ink was absorbed into the texture, so perhaps a layer of gesso might have been a good idea before painting. I think there is room for a lot more exploration!

Referring to my source images, I looked for simple divisions to create shapes. I made line drawings, and then used some of my decorated papers to subdivide in different ways.