Friday, 7 December 2018

Module 6–Chapter 4–Fabrics and Threads–Colouring and Bonding

Various dyeing and colouring methods were chosen to give random colouring effects to selected fabrics ready for use in the following chapters of this module.

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I selected a range of polyester fabrics, from heavyweight polyester satin, dress lining, soft, lightweight polyester net, and a polycotton mix. I painted and printed papers with disperse dyes, and, when dry, transferred these onto the fabrics with a hot iron. It was interesting to see how many prints I could get from one piece of transfer paper as it gradually faded with use, and also how the print ‘took’ on different fabrics. The polycotton print was a lot more subtle/subdued/faded compared to the other fabrics due to the cotton content.

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I crumpled a plastic bag onto the wet painted paper and allowed it to dry before removing it, to give a lovely water-marked effect.

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I got a little carried away printing with bubble wrap, but I think the ‘bubble’ effect relates perfectly to the subject of water. It was also interesting to see the colours of one painted paper transferred onto a paper painted with different colours.

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I collected a selection of polyester machine threads in variegated and metallic colours to match my colour scheme.

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I experimented with markal paintsticks. The image below was stencilled through sequin waste over a commercially printed fabric.

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Again, with markal paintsticks, the fabric below was one I had screen printed for a previous project. The fabric is quite light in weight and so was suitable for frottage over a nylon mesh fabric.

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I then soaked a range of cotton and silk fabric in a soda ash solution.
I scrunched and stacked a couple of commercially printed fabrics into a jar, poured dye on them and left them for a few hours whilst I painted the rest of the fabrics.

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I also dyed a selection of threads to match my colour scheme. The first was a blue ombre effect.

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The other group of threads were dyed in a variegated range of colours.

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At the end of a very enjoyable day, I ended up with a pleasing array of fabric and threads to use in the next few projects.

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The next method I experimented with was adding colour to transfer adhesive.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the results that could be achieved with coloured crayons. I ironed this sample onto plain white felt.

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Fluorescent green acrylic paint was watered down, and rippled the backing paper, to give a lovely watery effect.

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I painted one of my patterns from Chapter 1 onto the bondaweb with blue drawing ink.

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Jacquard Lumiere in pearlescent turquoise, and silver acrylic paint onto bondaweb, then ironed onto plain white cotton.

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Silk paints.

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White oil pastel circles, and white acrylic paint onto a green/grey polycotton. I thought it might give an interesting effect if I tore the bondaweb and layered the two designs together.

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White oil pastel circles onto a dark blue cotton.

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I watered down some of my thermo-chromatic printing ink and painted it onto the bondaweb. The colours seemed to separate very slightly giving a touch of a pink halo around the ‘blocks’ of purple.

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But the ink still changed colour beautifully when heat was applied!



This year, three people have had a massive influence on my research/studies. At Summer School, Bobby Britnell introduced us to the work of Wilhelmina Barnes Graham. Her sea paintings using rows of wavy lines were so simple, yet beautifully evoked the movement and rhythm of the sea.

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Nancy Crow’s amazing EXPLORATIONS IN MONO-PRINTING, showcased at the NEC’s Festival of Quilts. Mono printing has always been my nemesis, I guess I find it too messy and unpredictable, however, after seeing Nancy’s imposing display of quilts, I decided I ought to force myself to experiment further.

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In Sumi Perera’s interactive work UNBUILDING BLOCKS: VARIATION ON A THEME at the 62 Group ‘Cntl/Shift’ exhibition at the MAC in Birmingham, she used thermo-chromic printing ink. Sadly, we were unable to see the effects due to Health & Safety regulations, but, as a screen printer, I felt it was something I’d like to explore.


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Currently, in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera has created a heat-sensitive floor that, when visitors work together using their combined body heat, reveals a hidden portrait of a Syrian refugee, made with thermo-chromic ink.


All this being said, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to experiment with combining all three, so spent the afternoon mono-printing onto cotton organdie.

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I mixed prussian blue acrylic paint with textile medium to prolong the drying time and to make the surface softer and more suitable for stitch, rollered it onto a plastic sheet and drew the wavy lines with a rubber colour shape tool before printing onto a piece of cotton organdie.

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I then printed a second layer of wavy lines with thermo-chromatic printing ink. Its purple, but turns pink when heat is applied.

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On some pieces of fabric I printed a third layer of jacquard Lumiere pearlescent turquoise, which gives a lovely iridescent sheen when held up against the light.

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I didn’t intend to print the wavy lines over the spiral image, but due to the speed I was working at, ‘it just happened’! The result shows that two different patterns can work together quite nicely, and I might follow this through with some of my stitching samples in the next chapter.

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The purple print layer turns pink when heat is applied. This can be heat from a radiator, an iron, a mug of hot water, or even warm breath. It doesn’t seem to change with heat from my hand, but then its winter, and my hands are always cold!!!

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The speed at which you need to work when mono-printing forced me to be spontaneous. If you don’t work quickly, the ink/paint will dry on the printing plate. The patterns created by the wavy lines were much looser and uncontrolled compared to my usual carefully planed and structured pen work.

I also noticed that where I’d concluded that I’d made a ‘mistake’ on some prints, the un-intended pattern led me to think of ways I could possibly stitch into the print in a much less predictable manner in the next chapter.

Working quickly forced me to make ‘mistakes’ in layering colours, which led to ‘happy accidents’. I usually spend a lot of time planning colour arrangements and working out how I think something should look before embarking upon an exercise. It didn’t feel good to be ‘out of control’, but I really think I learned a lot, and am very happy with the results.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Module 6 – Chapter 3 – Free Machine Stitchery

I created a series of densely machine stitched samples, devising as many different textural rhythms as possible relating to photographs and drawings from Chapter 1.

My first sample used straight stitch, with equal tension on top and bottom of the machine, using standard sewing thread, and calico fabric stretched tightly into a hoop. All squares are approximately 3cm x 3cm.

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My next set of samples was worked with ‘whip stitch’. A loose bottom tension and a tight top tension, thereby pulling bobbin thread up to the surface and looping slightly, giving a slightly raised knobbly texture. Stitched with standard machine thread.

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Continuing with whip stitch and machine thread, I worked the next set of samples using a zig zag stitch. This created a very interesting effect with the bottom thread being pulled through to the surface and forming a decorative fringed pattern either side of the top thread.

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Again with machine thread, I worked the next samples using ‘cable stitch’. A loose top tension and a tight bobbin tension, worked from the back of the fabric (upside down).
On straight machining, the stitch resembled couching, a straight thread held down by loops of stitching from the ‘top’ thread.
The top thread extended loosely from the outer edge of the bobbin thread when stitching curve or wavy lines, and when zig zagged, the top thread was pulled alternately from each side.

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Finally, I stitched a set of samples using cable stitch. For these I would the bobbin with a selection of thicker, decorative yarns such as boucle, chenille, mohair and metallic threads.

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Friday, 9 November 2018

Module 6–Chapter 2–Designing with Shapes and Layers

The task was to identify very simple shapes from images of sea and sky from Chapter 1, and, using decorated papers, form patterns dictated by their rhythmical qualities.

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So to start off, I decorated a large selection of acetate, bubble wrap, khadi paper, cartridge paper & newsprint with relief rubbings, discharged ink, fused polythene, etc as per my experiments in Chapter 1.

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I particularly enjoyed working onto an acetate sheet, pulling acrylic paint off the edge of a sheet of plastic, cut with a wavy edge. I like the contrast between the clean, sharp edged where the paint is brushed from the template, and the rough uncontrolled side displaying the brush strokes.
I used touches of thermo-chromatic paint, which changed colour from purple on the left, to hot pink on the right, when subjected to heat.

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I sketched a few rhythmical patterns from the images in Chapter 1 to use as a reference to cut patterns from my decorated papers.
The first image I chose was the photograph of the concentric ripples.

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Initially, not sure how to get started, I tentatively cut some simple shapes from my acetate sheet and laid them over another decorated paper.

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From this new design, I cut out the same shapes, in the opposite direction, and placed this on a sheet of sequin and glitter bonded acetate. This gave me an instant burst of confidence! I loved the result and was compelled to experiment further!

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I pasted the left-over sections to another paper.

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I then sliced both papers into vertical sections and experimented with various ways of combining the two designs….

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I eventually staggered the strips and pieced them together in a random arrangement onto silver foil.

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My next experiment was inspired by Wilhelmina Barnes Graham’s waves.

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I cut waves into a sheet of decorated khadi paper (I love the way this paper takes coloured dyes!) and placed it onto a pattern of discharged black ink.

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I then cut similar waves in the opposite direction, placing it onto an indigo blue bleached background.

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I rotated the cut-out shapes and replaced them in slightly off-set positions.

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I then experimented with staggering the overlaid strips

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…and again in another formation which allowed more of the blue patterned paper to show through.
I really like the way this still gives the effect of fractured ripples in water.

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My third experiment was wavy lines again, placed onto painted & flattened bubble wrap.

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I placed this onto a silver foil background for added reflection, then cut out similar wavy lines. I rotated some of the resulting wavy strips, allowing them to overlap each-other in some places, and to leave gaps in other places. This was then placed on a sheet of newsprint decorated with a relief oil pastel rubbing, overlaid with purple procion dye. Interestingly, this new pattern gives a similar effect to the rippled water pattern in my initial sketches.

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I then cut the design into quarters, rotated the panels and repositioned to fracture and develop the design further.

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I cut lozenge shapes from discharged ink paper and attached them onto another sheet for a rippled water effect, for my forth design development experiment.

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I cut further lozenge shapes from this new design. I placed this onto a relief rubbing with green brusho, and re-positioned the lozenges randomly.

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Using Egon Scheile’s reflected water as inspiration I carefully cut strips of discharged ink paper.

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I cut this into horizontal bands and wove it with strips of bubble wrap.

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I was really happy with this design. I’m more comfortable with geometric structure and order than I am with random, organic disorder, but I do tend to get a little too precious, and scared to push things further, so after taking a photograph, in the spirit of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, I cut it up again in horizontal strips of wavy lines, replacing the lines in a staggered formation, and pasting onto a purple sequin waste rubbing.

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Did I take this design development too far? I’m not sure!