Sunday 28 June 2015

Evaluation and Resolved sample Module 6

Resolved sample Module 6 a wall hanging


It is becoming an increasingly regular observation that the most memorable lessons often come from making mistakes!  When something goes right you move on but tackling errors makes for more concentration on how to surmount the issues.  While sometimes its best to walk away there are times when something needs to be resolved and completed.  It still may have mistakes but…. in the words of this timeless quote; your best teacher is your last mistake. Without going into  detail of my errors  I am adopting a more positive attitudes, with observations that will help me move forward!  

  • Sketch out your ideas before you take to fabric and threads. Sketch and include details of the basic areas of work and method and thread you will use…make samples, sketch and sketch again.  Work in the size you want the piece to be.
  • Be prepared to change if the way ahead is not showing positive outcomes, but it may need you to go a step further before you turn back. An artist friends comment, ‘Leave it and let it sit where it can be seen at the corner of your eye’
  • When working colour palettes that bring together an image consider pulled together material: paper, fabric, thread that you dye together, each variation of material will take the colour differently but it will sit together in tone.
  • Bought variegated threads can work well in free machine embroidery, but in hand sewing it can be difficult to affect a pleasing, evolving tone. 
  • When working in larger scale consider that detail can be lost but it can also detract.
  • Embrace happy accidents, if in doubt leave before you take out, make notes of how this could impact and keep that eye alert to how it impacts on the whole.
  • The finished piece may not be what you wanted it to be but you have learnt along the way. 
  • Despite all these lessons you will make more mistakes!!
Decisions made
In progress
Now here are images of this staging post from the learning zone. The final decision! to stitch or not stitch over the edge!  I need to take  better photos of the hanging! 
Slightly change a quote;
The journey has been the destination.
My thanks to Sian for her knowledge, observation and supportive skills, my fellow Distant Stitch colleagues for their comments and generosity in sharing experiences, my encouraging authenticator and last but by no means least Mike for his patience regarding things that happen in his special space!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Module 6 Appendix records

As the course is taking place in my home the following three criteria have influenced the following decisions regarding storage and health and safety issues:
  • My own convenience and safety
  • The convenience and safety of my family, and friends who may visit
  • The well being of the environment in which I live – a remote rural location where we have a private water supply and septic tank.  I endeavour to recycle paper, fabrics  and am know for collecting ‘thrums’- waste threads in Scotland - from not only my own work but our monthly sewing groupies inevitable come armed with bags of their thrums for me. In trying to maintain a low carbon footprint car use is considered carefully and as craft suppliers are a sixty mile drive away I do use the internet! But again I try to look to my collection first before pressing the order button!

I maintain two work areas:
  • a wet area within the garage, where there is easy access to water
  • a dry area in an upstairs study where there is access to a computer/printer and sewing machine, threads, fabric, books and sketch pads/pencils. My ironing area is in another part of the house
As an excuse for my hoarding tendencies I need to have a variety of storage options.

Wet Area
With grateful thanks to Mike who not only allowed me a space within ‘his domain’ the garage, but also built the bench and shelves and cut various boards and acrylic panes I have:
  • a bench,  150 x 70 x 70cms
  • stool
  • two shelves
A series of three plastic containers for paints/printing inks, fabric medium and stamp/mould making and adhesive materials allows easy, visible access.
Rollers are hung on wall, brushes are kept in containers and cutting tools are kept in original boxes.
A plastic sheet is used to cover work surface- particularly useful when Mike is having a wood working day or when I have a printing/painting day
Apron and shirt are hung for easy access
When cleaning paper making equipment ensure plug holes have a filter system over the top in order that stray pulp does not block sink.
To ensure there is no cross contamination of colours occurs when using containers that have dyed paper or fabric in them ensure that they are covered when not in use.

Dry Area
With great appreciation again to Mike for making me three mobile tables and a bookshelf I am able to expand and contract the area I take up relatively easily. 
Storage is in colour blocks as we use the area for living and like to keep it ‘attractive’:
  • A series of glass cookie jars hold my threads, for sewing; separate Kilner jars hold more varied weight threads; old glass sweetie jars hold fabrics.
  • A 4 ring binder sketch book to log my progress for upload onto blog with A5 rough note pads at my side for thoughts and ideas
  • A4  plastic display folders hold Distant Stitch module chapter notes and templates made and not included in sketch/log book
  • A3 plastic display folders hold papers and fabrics that have been printed for project
Ease of access on working samples
To ensure that materials for the project I am working on are easily accessible I have made and covered two cardboard trays:
·         one for threads being used on project
·         one for fabric that could be useful in the project
and specifically for Module 2 were lots of pieces of paper were used a plastic envelope for papers
·         a story board serves as a billboard for each chapter. Key pieces are kept on it for reference and inspiration

     As I have progressed I have identified a need for flat storage of A3/2 pinboard on which I lay ideas flat and incorporate fabrics, threads and other items to 'play on' working through ideas as I go along. Thank you Mike for your carpentry skills!

    When starting work for the day read through work sheets of the current chapter, plus the following chapter to ensure you have all equipment and materials that will be needed close to hand, this not only saves time but allows you to follow thoughts that come to mind. It is worth considering what you will do if items are left over, e.g. dye – could other threads, fabrics or papers be used to add to your stock cupboard or use in later chapters of the Module.  I find it useful to have waste paper, fabric and threads to hand to experiment on before doing something with ‘treasured’ pieces.

The key concerns that have arisen when undertaking Module One include:

Ensuring that I work in a space that is:
·         light, well aired
·         cables for any equipment are well concealed reducing any hazard when moving around the work area
·         all items to be used on the specific part of the project are close to hand
·         and, take regular breaks to help stop fatigue.

Dyes and colourings: 
My main colouring agents have been:
·         acrylic and water colour paints, pencils and inks.  Concerns on using an old set of inkjet printer refills made me research the product and Appendix A gives the advice that I followed.  As the containers had sharp ‘injection needles’ empty refills were disposed of at the local Doctors Surgery where they have a ‘sharps disposal’ facility.  Any other waste was disposed of away from the water system.  When using inks ensure that the tops are screwed on after each use in order to avoid spillage and contamination.
·         Dylon fabric dye has been used.  The warning that it is an irritant is heeded and gloves are worn when working with the dye.  The fact that it can be an irritant to eyes, might cause an allergic reaction and one should not breathe in the dust  makes one vigilant while and after using the dye.  As the hints include the fact that the dye may run after several washes I only use this dye on items that will not be washed thereby ensuring no contaminated water gets into the water system.  When mixing this dye I only make sufficient quantity for immediate thereby reducing storage issues or waste disposal. In instances where too much has been made and I have insufficient material to dye contacted Dylon who have informed me that it can be disposed of in our land drains.
·         Bleach is toxic and should be used with great care.  It can not only damage clothes but make an impact on the environment.  When used to lift colour from dyed fabric I placed a small amount on a china plate to ensure no waste remained.  It is advised that your wear gloves when using bleach and work in a well ventilated space.  While I do have a face mask I was able to open doors so did not use it in this instance. A little bleach goes a long way so decant into small containers. When using bleach to take off colour be aware that it takes a few moments to lift off colour so move along and don’t over do it!
As I need to replace my stocks I have looked into more user friendly items.

·         When using brusho powders sprinkle sparingly at first and build up colour depth gradually.

·         Glue sticks, sellotape, double sided tapes and PVA are easy to use and apart from ensuring it does not stick on work surfaces.  However, I have found that is best not to use PVA on typed paper and place in sketch book as it diffuses and turns some images green!!!
·         When working with papers I have used a spray temporary adhesive.  This is a highly flammable substance in a pressurised container and should be kept away from heat/flames or electrical equipment that is in operation.  It should be used in a well ventilated space and in short bursts without extended spraying.

Cutting implements:
·         Scissors – the work has alerted me to the fact that my scissors are not particularly sharp!!  I have found a person who will sharpen them so hopefully not only will my cutting be easier but also more accurate. 
·         Knives - The main concern centred on my craft knife which was used on flat, stable surfaces with a cutting board underneath the item.  The protective cover was replace as soon as any cutting had been completed
·         Olfa Rotary cutter should be kept with black click cover on, do this between each cut, do not place on fabric or table without cover on when not in uses to ensure that it does not have sharp edge protruding.  This can cause injury. When using to cut into fabrics or papers it should be only used on stable surface and one should push away from the body. When handing to other people ensure cover is on.
·         Seam ripper – While seemingly innocuous this little implement is sharp and when used for cutting channels one is exerting pressure and the cutting edge can slip off line so one should be sure that they are treated with respect.

Sewing implements:
·         Sewing implements and accessories, again simple things like pins and needles are stock and trade in sewing but in the wrong position they can cause discomfort and wounds.  To minimise risk of needles and pins dropping into carpets or chairs I always have a pin/needle cushion to hand and tend to ‘count them out and count them back’ i.e. I use glass topped pins and only have the needles I need to hand.
·         When working with beads maintain them in a lipped container with velvet to help position them and avoided spillage on the floor.
·         Selected the relevant sewing needle for the task to ensure that you do not strain fabric or your hand to pull it through the fabric 
·         Sewing machine – to ensure smooth running of machine, particularly when using frequently or running thick thread, it is important to ensure that spool area is cleared of dust.  When sewing various layers or thickness of fabric loosing tension and using a slow speed seems to be good practice.  Ensure that needles are not blunt.
·         When different thickness of threads/cords are being used it is important to consider the use of different machine feet, e.g. cord or braid foot to ensure  easier and safer sewing takes place. The use of drinking straws on the thread, placed either side of the machine foot, also maintains more accurate positioning of the thread through to the needle.

Hot Tools
·         Domestic irons, this is in a separate area and as well as using non stick baking parchment I have invested in an ironing sheet to protect my ironing board.
·         Test iron a small sample of fabric if you are not sure of its fibre content
·         If using steam be aware this can cause burns
·         Soldering irons, this is kept and worked with in the garage where a work surface and stand are available and I am close to a source of water.  In Module 5 I was specifically tasked to burn/melt fabric so for this exercise I had a container of water on the work surface so that items could be dropped in to prevent flames becoming unmanageable.

As I progress through the course I will add notes to this report that identify concerns and actions taken.

Time spent on Module 6
  • 219 hours spent
  • over 92 days giving average of 2.44 hours a day. 
  • Of the total time taken 50% has been spent on resolved sample chapter 11

Records Spending
Module 6
Amount used
Cost for module 4

A4 Sketchbook
W H Smith

stock replacement cost

Fabric and dye
stock replacement cost

Soluble fabric/paper


Reference books

Sub total stock for module

From previous purchases

Glue sticks

one third
Double sided tape

two third
sugar paper

Printing inks
Cartridge save

Printing paper

Metallic crayons

one third
 A 3 Portfolio


Total Module 6


·                     Books, websites and references, exhibitions
Sources of inspiration,

A Complete Guide to Creative Embroidery- Design, Textures, Stitch
Jan Beany & Jean Littlejohn, B T Batsford Ltd, Publisher
Surfaces for Stitch, Gwen Hedley, B T Batsford Ltd, Publisher
Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, Brockhampton Press
Machine Embroidery Stitch Techniques, Valerie Campbell Harding Pamela Watts, Batsford
Previous Modules Workbooks from Distant Stitch, Sian Martin
The Geology of Auchernach, James E Smith, Stevenson Buchan, Arthur G Hutchinson, Milne & Hutchinson, Aberdeen
Ordnance Survey Maps
National Library of Scotland

Television BBC Maps -Power Plunder Possession Professor Jerry Brotton

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Chap 11. update 4 Making a Hanging

Ref  6.11.9
Ref 6.11.10
One chapter over let a new one begin!!
Unhappy with my large 'final piece' have resolved to start again with a new lighter version. This was reinforced when taking the piece apart I pinned my patterns over the original artwork. Thanks for Sian's support what follows below will capture feelings about the area and the theme of creative conservation. 
To keep me on track decided a map, in the form of a story board, would keep me on track ...after all, maps had be an initial part of the inspiration!
Boards were headed
Discover - identify the key elements:
  • the brief on conservation
  • the essence  of the space 
  • appropriate images, influences
  • colour palette
  • line,stitch
  • structure
  • inspiration in words and images
Ref 6.11.11a
Ref 6.11.11b
So how is it going since my posting of this update on 2nd June .. a glimpse of the storyboard and first steps:

Ref 6. 11.12 a 
 The storyboard is an homage to many influences that date back to my first course with Distant Stitch, 'Study of a Wall' and the words of wisdom of John Muir and others with regard to conservation.  Images of other artist work  on story board are from Mary Ruth Smith and Herta Puls from Module 1. 
Ref 6.11.12b
Hopefully taking slower, meditative steps through the processes of not only conservation but a resolved piece the decision is to go forward with mainly hand stitch leaving some loose ends....  As ever during these periods you seem to have lots of serendipity moments and for me one came with this quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery: ' Perfection is not when there is no more to add but when there is no more to take away' but I am sure you will spot the moments when I failed to stick to that resolution...head kept saying I needed a touch more after I had taken a whole lot out! More of that in my evaluation and administration but now for some images of the process.

Ref 6.11.13
Ref 6.11.14
The colour ideas were drawn up in 13 and 14 but still felt they were too bold and too much detail  So set out to consider stitches and yarns to see how it could be more satisfactory.  

Ref 6.11.15a
Ref 6.11.15b
Had considered colouring the back ground,  see middle left of 15b but thought this was going into dangerous territory!! 

Played with machining words!

Ref 6.11.16a
Ref 6.11.16b
Then decided to have fun from my thrums box. This is a weving  thrumb from Belinda Rose, thanks Belinda for allowing me this little treasure.
I can hear the cry, 'it was much better before you worked it' but its fragility worried me and it was a wonderful source of threads for my seed stitches but no more explaining .... restraining myself from making you sit through a book full of photos of work in progress!

I will post my admin details in next chapter and save the final picture of the piece to sit with my evaluation of the Final Resolution!!

Monday 16 March 2015

Chapter 11 Making a hanging, stage 3

The A1 scale was scary and needed to get some feel of not only colours and stitches but how it could be put together before I made full scale patterns.  To get rid of tension did an A4 free machine stitched sample using the orange highlight, you will see stitching is manic but wanted to consider putting contrast threads in bobbin so pieces marked up through to the top and also put some lustre thread to have spots of light.  
Ref  6.11.14a
Ref 6.11.14 b
 The surprise was when the back of the piece came into view!! The simplicity of the 'shadow' was a bonus. I had considered that the back of the hanging needed to be as important as the front, it could then hang in a space and be seen on both sides, if required. This 'back' image offered a simple image and contrasted the 'layers' that would be on the front, it took me to an important place... how could the pieces be worked?
  • the blue and green central image a) could be worked and stitched and then the back outline b)  hand stitched onto a plain background that could be the full size of the hanging.  Note to self  - the outline of the central head shape in blue and green layers was crucial to the piece, it wobbled on image b), if it was to be seen from the back!
  • subsequent layers on the front of the piece would be stitched to each other and then invisibly attached to backcloth or perhaps use a kantha stitch line?  A concept buzzed in my head that the words of TS Eliot could be worked around the back silhouette but all things could change on this journey and where was my,' keep it simple' reminder!!
When I washed sample to dissolve the Solvy paper the following appeared.
Ref 6.11.14c
Ref 6.11.14d
Back to the task in hand of small samples.  Using Fabric-Solvy to make A4 layers copying from my original papers.  The layers were attached to self coloured chiffon rather than the calico used in earlier sample. 
Working the whole of each colours A4 sample  before cutting the shape, this is the result...
Ref 6.11.15

While all this was going on thought I would write down thoughts for what I wanted the full scale piece to reflect:

  • wanted the piece to move so kept hold of the idea of the 1,2,3 widths, although was prepared to abandon the 6 inch squares cuts
  • needed fabric to be light in its layers but considered it should be weighted
  • contrast of texture with space was important didn't want too much distraction...perhaps I should re read brief as to how this could pass muster!
  • samples not used would be interesting to display beside the finished piece if I did get an exhibition space outwith my home.
Ref  6.11.16a
Ref 6.11.16b
Wanting to get a feeling of space and sky into the image the hill outline were sketched in.  The context seemed to bring in a perspective.  While the three panels were taped together to get an idea of pattern size for each zone the three panel concept remained in my mind.
Ref 6.11.16c
Put some pattern ideas and designs into my large sketch book.

Ref 6.11.17a
Started making layers on chiffon using machine free stitching and felting on chiffon.  Chiffon had lustre and advice was not to use but the light weight appealed and the idea was to cover it so that lustre didn't overwhelm.  The samples are not the best worked but my anxiety was in testing the theory of construction.

Ref 6.11.17b
Ref 6.11.17c
Ref 6.11.17e
Ref 6.11.17d
By layer two, seen above, it was evident that each layer would need to be made separately  before attaching them to each other. This would keep the simple back image in play. No comments please about layer 3, I know, I know I've found the Yeti in Glen Nochty!!!
At least I had found out how to diffuse edges but perhaps more appropriate in small sections and the  'higher' corners sections. I had learnt that the 'wrong side when embellishing the piece is possibly the more acceptable but have showed this effect in 17e.  All five layers were worked and placed under the A4 pattern they had been free machine stitched and /or embellished.
Ref 6.11.18a
I was constantly wanting to do kantha hand stitching and to get it out of my system decided to do it on the layers 1 and 2 together and 3,4 and 5 together. Selected and tie dyed yellow for the 3rd section instead of the 'yeti' piece. The results here show the first part

Ref 6.11.18b
Ref 6.11.18c
Then disaster stalked me again, in washing out the Solvy paper I found that the yellow was not colour fast but have put it up to remind me. 

Ref 6.11.18d

It could be time to pause,  reflect on my plan for how to make up the piece... Hopefully the layering technique is acceptable as the clean central feature appeals.
Will wait for guidance as to whether I should move onto trial of full size samples? In meantime will muse and rescue 18d so at least it is made more presentable!