Sunday, 26 May 2013

Media Research

Using the collection of mail that greeted me after a weeks holiday seemed to be a rather uninspiring collection of stamps - so much now is prepaid black and white stamping. On closer inspection some inspiration popped up in colours that where within the body of the envelope, e.g. green lettering encouraging us to recycle, orange bar codes which process franking machines.  Including the cardboard box and tissue paper that had contained a 'fashion item' I also saved the bubble wrap and plastic bag that contained a brochure as I felt these could be used  for colouring and printing later in the module.  The link here: is a wonderful example of how words can be used as a colour chart.

There was a plus side to the initial disappointment it made me consider the wider concept of media that is now at our fingertips, through a computer keyboard, memory sticks or on our TV screens. 

The internet offers a mindboggling combination of sites that burst with images and text and the individual has access to a host of programmes, not least blog spots!  I have found a few sites which I will keep an eye on while doing the module:

Books that I owned got included in the recording process along with a couple of old Letraset sheets, which my father had used, it seemed a good opportunity to use them in the process of the module. 
Also included, a theme board - something  I make  each year in place of  New Year's Resolutions! These boards are very much grab the words that fit you mood and stick with favourite photos, each year a host of fonts appear!  While away in March a conference of the Baskerville Society in Birmingham was held where I was staying, amongst the  oldest font, 1757, have a feeling this could appear somewhere in the module - the name itself leads to images! and the British Library is another website to watch.

Writing implements and a letter opener were included to remind me of equipment used as much as the finished article.  The feather would be cut to form a nib and an address stamp could inspire me to cut stamps of letters in reverse! The boxed inks and the glass pen, seen to the left of the box, were purchased in Venice at Rivoaltus on the Rialto Bridge, a mecca for handmade leather bound books and beautiful pens, even the box is a work of art. A tiny shop but what a wonderful place. The other nibs and charcoal pencil were items found in my father's paint box. 

The serendipity of being in the 'right place at the right time' or seeing something that hits a chord is always a memorable moment and researching themes for this course keeps one open to such moments - one occured for me last August at a Red and White setter meet at a remote spot in the Cabrach. I found a publication of a local magazine,The Knock News and read an article about,  'Men o' Letters'. Filed away until I started Module 4 I contacted Steve Carroll, and he has kindly given me an image of his work to show here.  His website  His ability to capture the character of the 'sitter' from their name is inspiring, you will find more of them on his, 'My Type of People' page.

While visiting Oxford in March I visited the Bodleian Library exhibition, 'Love and Devotion -from Persian and Beyond'. I was particularly inspire by illustration that included text, not only for information but as part of the design on each page. 

With all of these images plus the work of Cas Holmes and Lois Walpole and the Distant Stitch Gallery for Module 4 it should be an exciting new journey ahead!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Loosely lettering Introduction

The header for Module 4 is produced by adhering newspaper headlines on canvas which are then layered with a variety of coloured acrylic paints.  The handle point of the paintbrush is then used to do continuous writing across the canvas while the paint is still wet. 

Module 3 Administration

My  Storage and Health and Safety notice is revised as I progress through the course: 
STORAGE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES DISTANT STITCH Module 1, 2 and 3 ( new additions in red for Module 3)
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
As I have progressed through Module 3 I have identified a need for flat storage of A3/2 pinboards on which I lay ideas flat and incorporate fabrics, threads and other items to 'play on' working through ideas as I go along....this is now work in progress for Mike!

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 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. 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 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 protruding.  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:
·         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
·         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 3Supplier Cost Amount used  Total module 3
A4 Sketchbook W H Smith 5.99 5.99
Beads various 13.45 half 6.77
Embroidery Techniques Search Press 12.99
Sub total stock for module 19.44 25.75
From previous purchases
Glue sticks third 1.00
Double sided tape third 1.83
Cartridge paper half 2.00
Printing paper quarter 1.25
Silky threads half 5.80
Total Module 3              £ 37.63

 26 weeks  
average time per week 7.46
78 days
average time per day 2.49



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

Celtic Art – the methods of Construction, George Bain, Constable London

three –dimensional Embroidery, Janet Edmonds, Batsford

Evolutions – a stitcher’s evolutionary workbook, Fibrefusion

Colorworks, Debbie Menz, Interweave

Celtic and Chinese Knots for Beaded Jewellery, Suzie Millodot, Search Press

Decorative Patterns of the Ancient World, Flinders Petrie, Studio Editions

Embroidery Techniques Using Space Dyed threads, Via Laurie, Search Press

Mary Corbet’s website Needle ‘n

Artist websites as indicated on blog

At the end of each module I change the blog header here is the one used for Module 3