Sunday, 9 December 2012

Decorate with Stitchery

Selecting fabrics for hand stitching samples I chose a hand dyed piece of calico from my attempts in Chapter 3 to make the first sample 3.4.1a, see right.  
The sample fabric had been wrapped in peaks to try and achieve a shibori effect. Sadly, the fabric was left too long in the dye and the contrast was not obvious, however, ridges had appeared and this suggested the use of running stitches in a variegated cotton perle to replicate the appearance I had wanted. Using the same thread whipped spider wheels were made, the smaller ones were not as effective as the larger ones due to the bulk of the thread.  Moving up the sample and considering my doodles page, Ref 2 the snake like doodle came to mind so a casalguidi stitch was used.  I really enjoyed this stitch and while working it considered how a variety of skin patterns could be made using a range of plain colours threads feeding them in along the 'grid' of the underlying satin stitch and the overlying stem stitch.  Moving round to the radiating french knots a Sulky variegated cotton thread was twisted making a 4 ply yarn. This thread was also used for the shell like cone then moved down the side using fewer threads in a series of 7times wrapped bullion wheels. 3 x 10 inches.
For sample 3.4.1b a piece of felt fabric bonded with chiffon and trapped threads that was made in Module 1 was used.  The central feature of a continuous spiral using a variety of threads and stitches from the middle appeared to sit well on the textured surface.  The inner row a series of lime french knots contrasts with a dark green perle stagged chain stitches.  A pink perle back stich begins the contrast and is then given tone with a couched floss thread.  The outside scroll stitch brings a hint of a paisley type pattern which led me to explore a few more examples in the cornes using hemp, embroidery thread. 4 x8 inches
For sample 3.4.1c a network of scrolls were completed on one of the monoprinted fabrics, the top left of Ref 3.3.4d. Hand dyed threads from preceding chapter were also included.  A variety of couching stitches were used; classic couch stitch, whipped arrowhead, zig zag chain stitch stitch, whipped chain stitch, running stitch, french knots and stem stitch. 10 x 14 inches

Ref 3.4.2a                                                                                                                                        
Decided to do a few sample pieces to get me into the faster flow of machine stitching.  Included pieces which I have cut up and will using them for buttons, as outlined in Sian's brief.                  Ref 3.4.2b                                     
With the choice of two 'new' feet on my machine, well they were in the accessories box but have not seen light of day and a bit of practice before the next chapter could be useful; Nos 21 and 25  for braiding  and couching allowed fun with oversewing but needed to watch that I didn't flatten the texture of braid so widened stitch. Three braids used hand dyed paper yarn, string and gimp.  Single braid was a purchased variegated, thick, silk gimp  3.4.2a. Samples in 3.4.2b are Sulky varieted thread sewn to emphasis the water dye marks on the fabric.
Ref 3.4.3                                                                                                         
The  sample on the left is worked on the monoprint in the middle of the top row on Ref 3.3.4d.  Using hand dyed string and paper yarn gimp, with a lurex yarn the fun began.  I had wanted to try lurex yarn in spool but that didn't work so all yarns are couched. Experimenting with different spool threads I was happier with the plain yellow rather than variegated thread used to couch the top middle to right section.  Lurex, not usually my scene but found at the bottom of a thread jar, gave a festive touch and  liked the fact that its touches of blue/green linked into the dye on left edge. 
7 x 10 inches.                                                                                                                                      

This sample to the right,3.4.4,uses print 3.3.3a from previous chapter.  Close scrutiny will show this piece is not completed but stopped at this point as I felt it could make a good background for a later display including perhaps that allowed?  The sample shows free machine embroidery using variegated and plain threads.  The possibility of using gimp threads in the spool could also give additional texture and have also considered some hand sewn detail to highlight aspects of the design where the high relief is in need of emphasis, gaps in stitch runs will allow beads to 'bed in' . 7 x 10 inches. All samples have been unironed and show errors in tension this sample to the right should have allowed more margin of fabric so that the design could have been taken over the edge and not cramped the circle!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fabrics and Threads

 In the last chapter, Ref 3.2.2a and 3.2.2b I had started to sort out threads that existed in my storecupboard it was now time to do the same with fabrics.  
For this exercise I included the Deb Menz 'Colorwork' colour cards to try and keep me on track! See 3.3.1a and b below
A range of samples of white silk and cotton fabrics were selected to dye and I also included small squares of fabric dyed for Module One,shown at bottom of 3.1.1a and b.  Using dip dyeing and random dyeing techniques the samples, shown in the centre of each picture, show the results also including threads dyed at the same time. 
Concentrating on pinks, yellows and greens, the pinks were the most success and greens the least, see the turqoise (nice colour but not what I had tried to mix)that appeared on 3.3.1b third from bottom on left! 
Wetted fabric seemed to take colour best. I wish I had taken pictures of the fabrics before it was rinsed as the colours seemed more true to my hopes- maybe next time I won't rinse all of the fabric!
Ref 3.3.1a                                                                                                                                                         Ref 3.3.1b
Before doing monoprints on paper (from the last chapter) and fabric I had a play with some ideas of spirals with Gimp programme.  Sian had sent a great set ofcomputer enhanced pictures of one of my spirals from the last chapter, also, a recent trip to see some Pictish stones at St Vigeans had inspired me. As my hand was still sore it seemed a perfect time to revisit spiral designs before getting into the process of monprints, which I recall needed one to move smoothly and at speed!
            Ref 3.3.2a                                                   Ref 3.3.2b
Ref 3.3.2c Celtic cross at St Vigeans

These images show 3.3.2a, top image; centre of Celtic cross(3.3.2c), the middle image;a footprint (found when removating our house) perhaps a hint of paisley and the bottom image; paisley design which comes from my doodle page: ref 2.  In 3.3.2b the left image; my earlier work in the module ref 1a, and the right image;corrugated model 3.2.8a.
Here are the results after further play. The designs were printed onto transfer paper then heat set onto fabrics, interesting to see the colour change of above designs on the fabrics.
  Ref 3.3.3a                                                                                                                                                             Ref 3.3.3b
Printed on dyed green cotton                  Printed on dyed beige cotton                                                                          

Ref 3.3.3c                                           
 Printed on hand dyed purple muslin

                                                        Ref 3.3.3d
                         Printed on hand dyed olive muslin
Now to the monoprints. I decided to print papers first and then with colour palette refreshed and fabric medium added, and eventually an irredescent medium added, continued onto the fabrics.  Hoped to get the maximum out of the colours but realised there was still more left on my screen so did some threads as well!
Have had problems with my camera 'speaking' to my computer so these colours look a bit unrealistic, hope to get problem sorted and my cameraphone back in action.
                                   Ref 3.3.4a paper, helix and paisley patterns                Ref 3.3.4b fabric, wheels, scrolls and paisley
                            Ref 3.3.4c  papers on left fabric on right                   Ref 3.3.4d fabric
                                                                            Ref 3.3.4e Fabric printed then flooded - polyester tile print

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Research for Spirals

Spirals seem to appear everywhere! 
My first thoughts were to spelling out my thoughts and literally applying these to types of spirals.
                                                         Ref 1 a) Radiating and thickening       Ref 1 b)scrolls uniform and random 

                                                      Ref 1 c) open end and double                        Ref 1 d) even, changing direction and wrap

The initial samples had bought to mind other connecting ideas Reference 5 and 3 D objects.  My 3 D objects sit beside my story boards for further inspiration from past pieces of works - am hopeful they can be cross referenced in later chapters of the module.
While exploring the types of spirals and investigated how these are designed I began to like the idea of random spirals that appear in wood knots, waves, skyscapes and wind patterns in fields of barley and stretches of sand. But that will be for later! Now I will concentrate on making spiral designs.  I have decided to do a spot of free designing of shapes and patterns and made up three few 'stamps' .
                                                              Ref 2 Spiral doodles                              Ref 3, stamps made from foam and paper covered wire
I was also delighted to come across the work of Trinh Vu and to see how she made her spiral creations, please see the link, just  2.30 minutes to show the simplicity of an idea but the complexity of the process!  
For my way forward  I referred to George Bain's wonderful dictionary, Celtic Art; The Method of Construction and Janet Edmonds three-dimensional Embroidery (specifically her page on shells!)
                                  Ref 5 the opening continuing and curving of spirals      Ref 6 Spiral circles and 3 d 'cuts and bands'

Spiralling into colour - Introduction

After the discipline of black and white my first musings on photos and objects that should show 'spirals of colour' seemed subdued.  My thoughts turned to an object I had made for a recent exhibition and the piece of poetry that inspired it.  Above, in the header of this blog, you see the coiled object made from string and a silk thread mounted on a piece of curled birch bark and below the poem:
The Cocoon by Robert Frost
As far as I can see this autumn haze

That spreading in the evening air both way,

Makes the new moon look anything but new,

And pours the elm-tree meadow full of blue,
Is all the smoke from one poor house alone
With but one chimney it can call its own;
So close it will not light an early light,
Keeping its life so close and out of sign
No one for hours has set a foot outdoors
So much as to take care of evening chores.
The inmates may be lonely women-folk.
I want to tell them that with all this smoke
They prudently are spinning their cocoon
And anchoring it to an earth and moon
From which no winter gale can hope to blow it,--
Spinning their own cocoon did they but know it.

So hopefully this module will see the emergence of a beautiful piece at the end of Chapter 12!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Resolved sample and admin

Moving towards the last part of the process, making the sample stable by firming the corners: all pieces had been machined together and placed on a cardboard shell with double sided tape and bondaweb or pelmet vilene, in the case of the lid where I wanted to ensure that the curved shape would hold.
After much experimentation I decided that wooden skewers would be the answer to the corners allowing me to cut into fabric edges at 2 inch intervals and slide alternate sides or hinges onto the skewer. Doing three of these to each corner made a secure finish; putting a forth skewer on the inside edge proved to be somewhat problematic!

Satisfied with the solutions to the corners the tops of the skewers were cut and I then set about with the finishing touches to curved seams of the lid.
Triangles were sewn on a tape that could be cut to fit the curve and this was handsewn to inside and outside of lid, white triangles to outside, black triangles to inside.
The finished sample:
Having badly bruised my arms and right hand in a fall the process of hand sewing the finishing touches took far longer than I expected.  I was pleased with how the overall shape held together but decided to let a few feathers 'fly free'..with a bit of hidden support!  

Back view

                                                          Back details
                                   Hand stitch in perle thread

 Bottom view: positive and negative  shapes

                                                                                                        Front view:  'Birdsong'

Right Side                                                                          Left side

The camera seems to exaggerate an uneven edge, particularly on rightside, so will re visit!
My overall reaction to the finished piece is positive.  There is a sigh of relief and thoughts that I should have considered 'bite and chew', it has been a longer project than I envisaged
For Health and Safety I have updated my paper on Module one.
STORAGE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES DISTANT STITCH Module 1 and 2 ( new additions in blue for Module 2)

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
 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
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. 
·         Dylon fabric dye has been used.  The warning that it is an irritant are heeded and gloves are warn 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 dyeI 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.
 As I need to replace my stocks I have looked into more user friendly items.
·         Glue sticks, sellotape, double sided tapes and PVA  is 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 in Module 2 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 are 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 when not in uses to ensure that it does not have sharp edge protuding.  When using to cut into fabrics or papers it should be only used on stable surface and one should push away from the body.
·         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 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. 
·         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.
         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.
·         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.

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

Module 2 Supplier Cost Amount used Cost for module 2
A4 Sketchbook W H Smith 5.99 5.99
Glue stick 2.99 two thirds 2
Letter clips 1.99 stock
Cartridge weight paper HP 3.99 half 2.00
Fabrics & threads Seattle Quilt Co 13.40 quarter 3.35
Fabric painting for embroidery Amazon 12.17 stock
Dylon, Black Mitchells 3.25 all 3.25
Adhesive spray Ario 6.98 two thirds 4.64
Sub total stock for module 50.76 21.23
From previous purchases
Bondaweb tenth 1.03
Double sided tape third 1.83
Printing paper quarter 1.25
Printer inks quarter 18.75
Total Module 2 £44.09

28 weeks of work with an average of 6.25 hours a week
82 days of work with an average of 2.13 hours a day
Chapter    Hours
1              5
2             12          
3             15
4             13
5              8
6             14
7             13
8              8
9             10
10             7
11             9
12            10
13            49

Books and websites
Machine Embroidery stitch techniques, Valerie Campbell-Harding, Pamela Watts. Batsford

Fabric Painting for Embroidery, Valerie Campbel-Harding. Batsford

The Art of Manipulating Fabric, Coletter Wolff. Krause

Creative Embroidery Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn. Batsford

Quiltmaking in patchwork & applique, Michele Walker. Ebury Press

101 Patchwork Patterns, Ruby McKim. Dover

Creating Handmade books, Alisa Golden.  Sterling Publishing Co Inc

Quiltline/Studio Quilts, Pauline Burbidge,

 DR  Digital reader symbols

 Museums and exhibitions and observations
  • Birmingham art Gallery
    • Lace African Textiles
  •  Platt Hall Manchester Exhibition Group 62 50th Anniversary
  •  Ludlow architecture
Authenticity Document

After each module I change my blog design so this is a reminder of the header used for Module 2
Stitch mark

Friday, 3 August 2012

Functional Ideas

 In putting together ideas for a functional three dimensional embroidered item brainstorming what could be considered as functional seemed to be the best first step.  Some perhaps stretching the limits of function, but here goes, with some inspirational samples from The Asmolean Museum in Oxford and the lace jacket below from Birmingham Art Gallery:
 'Wearables' clothes offer warmth, cover, celebration, historical context, fashion, status. Ideas that could be made as a resolved sample, neck capes, kimono, poncho, jacket. In considering patterns I was particularly taken with a garment I have not seen before , an African tobe.
'Addables'  or perhaps a more contemporary description, accessories, have functional qualities and should not just be considered as secondary to 'wearables'.  They can be used to join items together e.g buttons, torques, and pins.  There are an adornment that not only set of details of fashion, but can suggest or celebrate status.  Ideas that could be made, bags, jewellery;bracelets, torques, necklaces, brooches.

'Playables' toys, models or mobiles offer instructional tools which have educational value, entertainment appeal and accessability of scale. Ideas that could be used are smaller versions of 'wearables' showing variety or sequences of design.  They could also give three dimension to shapes in historic or geographical context, e.g petroglyphs. While the examples here are animal mummy's; one of a cat the other a baby alligator the fact they are wrapped in log cabin design was a surprise.

'Containables' shapes that display and/or hold items such as this beautifully carved sarcophagus on the right.  Ideas could include vases, bowls, curved plates,boxes as container or as a display item.
With these key concepts in mind some rough ideas,inspirational visuals and paper/ fabric patterns, Ref Page 60 a and b, were collated before considering the stage of honing in on templates and design elements.

Ref Page 60 sample a Ref Page 60 sample b

A series of templates from each 'able' sector were made.
Monymusk Reliquary inspiration with rounded top, see Ref 60b top picture in bottom left feature

Wearables & Addables:
Inspiration Golden Sequence spiral  and ammonite  See bottom Ref 60a to see design idea
While using a minature wooden artist model to make a 'clothes horse' I realised I would need to do several dolls to show the range of techniques and considered a simple shape. I was becoming concerned that the model was too small and after tackling a large piece of fabric in my samples in Chapter 12 sample B thought maybe dolls were not an option.

I had paper patterns of birds I had cut from handmade paper, a slit is in the body through which a pleated paper is place to give wings.  The model was flat but a gusset can easily make a 3d shape.
While a variety of shapes  and variations of tails and feathers could be produced it maybe interesting to produce a flock of one shape with an emphasis on variation in pattern and stitch as well as different stages of flight
So now to a decision:

  •  The thought of  an item of clothing  appealed. But was concerned about scale. Clothing could always be made doll size but thought this could be a fiddly issue at the other end of the scale.   I was beginning to think that big was possibly easier.
  • The idea of an ammonite 'addable' was intriguing but think spirals are coming up in later modules.  The idea of brooches from the petroglyhs - rock art, could always be something for the future, or as a small project.
  • So after all the pondering the most likely functional items probably exist in 'containables'.  From the inspiration of the Monymusk Reliquary and the Book of Deer  my model chest evolved, which I thought could hold all my Distant Stitch Module sketch books, but it could also made as a smaller container. The Clamshell book cover could be used to just house my Module Two sketch book...of course it may led to making one for each module!!!
I wait to hear Sian's views on what I should attempt.