Monday, 28 January 2013

Fabric Manipulation Sampler & Reflection

This sketch (which was a design derived from a waterlily 
leaf) was the one I chose to work on for this sampler. 
I like the way there is an architectural feel to the arches,
like churches on a hill in Southern Europe,and between
them some texture that I could work in different techniques.
In my sketchbook I made a rough sketch using pencil to indicate lines of texture in wide stripes formed by manipulating the fabric, overlaid with paper cut outs to indicate relief untextured arches.

Rough sketch of what I wanted to do.

I was thinking about layering fabrics on the arches to give them colour and different kind of texture, but realised that the exercise did not allow contrasts of colour, and seems to be intended to make me use only one piece of fabric. The instructions recommend calico, but I find the undyed slightly speckled cream of it makes me go all folksy and I wanted this sample to be sharper than that. Also I wasn't sure how well it would take the PVA moulding I wanted to do for the arches, so I chose bleached cotton of a comparable weight.

I made a mould out of air-dry clay.
This worked from the point of view of making a hard shape
exactly as required. But it left some residue on the back of the
cloth, and as you can see from this photo it is breakable.

The arches were made by painting
the fabric with pva and folding over
the mould until it dried.

I tried to make them in a pattern like a section of the first blue and red sketch. One came out at an angle.
Then I started making the horizontal lines of texture I had planned.

Pinching zigzags of fabric to make tucks

At this point, I realised the extent of the variation in the sizes of loose fabric between the arches, and that I could not predict how much fabric any particular fabric manipulation technique would take up, so I could not be able to stick to my plan of horizontal lines of different techniques. And I also found that because I did not want to flatten the arches, it was going to be difficult to accurately measure regular patterns between and underneath them.

I thought about working on it without worrying about the stitches distorting the shape, but that would destroy the aspect of the original drawing that I liked ie the contrast between the flat paper and the relief of the arches. I wanted to keep the whole thing so it could be laid flat (if possible). 

Diamonds marked for tucks
As the fabric could not lie
flat I did not try to
measure it accurately but
judged the distances by

Random gathers to make a
rounder shape at the bottom right.
The resulting folds were fixed
using machine stitching in an oval
shape later. I like the way the bottom of the
oval is a reflection of the arch shape.

I also realised that I was going to have to work it in several stages:

1. Work the parts that needed to be sewn from behind.
2. Tack on the backing and wadding, and do the quilting 
3. Finish off. 

I experimented with different techniques, trying overall to keep the texture in the spaces between the arches, and to have some sort of connection between the different appearances across the piece.

As the lower right quarter of it was already skewed a bit by the 'toppling' arch, I tried out some different angled lines to see if that would topple it even more.

A shell shape made with
running stitches in arches.

The top of this arch was fixed
in place by folding and sewing
the folds together in one place
like English smocking.
Two columns were stuffed
to give them a smooth and
architectural appearance.
One was stitched to give it
a curved pattern.

This cording ended up looking like worm casts on a beach

This pattern was made by pinching
tiny tucks and fixing each one with
a double stitch.

Tucks and quilting in a fan shape

I cut a piece of wadding and backing and tacked them onto the front piece, focussing on fixing down the lines around the arches. Then I did the quilting parts.

Straight machine quilting
Finally I decided that it needed to have a neat edge, like a picture frame, to go with the architectural look of it.

So I turned the edges over the wadding and overstitched them on the back.

Stuffed circles joined
by tucks

My finished sampler for Project 6


How does working with the fabric in this way compare with working directly with stitch?
In some ways manipulating fabric limits what I can do in some senses - in the colour in this case - but mostly it opens more and yet more possibilities. Now I have done this exercise I would like to try out what happens to the 3D shape of fabric when you do particular tucks or folds on it. Whether I can use that to make shapes in space. I like the way it uses the qualities of the fabric more directly. And how you can use shadows to define textures and patterns.

Focussing on applique, and the other techniques in that section, was interesting to me as I had not previously thought of these techniques as something separate from stitching, that you can deliberately control the effect of in that way. It emphasised to me the effects of the edges of the fabric, too. And the effects of putting them in layers, or contrasting fabrics next to each other. These effects are of course different from the effects of putting, for example, matt and shiny stitches next to each other. The effects can be subtle or dramatic, complex or simple. And of course are going to be complementary to whatever stitching is used with them.

Are you pleased with the shapes and movements that you have created in both applique and fabric manipulation? What would you do differently?
I like the way my applique sample turned out - it has movement in the wavy lines of different shinyness, and in the contrast between those and the herringbone background. The triangle shapes were placed in a way that moves your eye around when you look at the piece. I would like to work a bit more on the striped 'salmon' shapes, because there's something there that I am intrigued by but I haven't quite got what it is yet. And now I've done the fabric manipulation exercises I wonder if I couldn't make this image even better with a bit of relief!

The fabric manipulation exercises showed me a tantalising glimpse of what can be done with these techniques to give shape and movement to fabric. I am particularly drawn to the piece of muslin with little tucks in crossing lines, that looks a bit like bats wings or something. I would like to try out more of that. And experiment with folding strips around each other to make tubes and other shapes.

The final sample for this project turned out more detailed and complex than I anticipated. And I wasn't expecting to be unable to do any measuring. I think I would have liked it to have been neater, to allow the effects of the particular techniques to stand out better. The pva arches turned out sharp edged as I had hoped, and the arrangement of them worked architecturally the way I expected. They have collapsed a bit while I was doing the other sewing, and I wonder if it might have been better to work the sample the other way round - stitching first.

How did the pieces work in relation to your drawings? Were they very different from your drawings? Did the fabric manipulation technique take over and dictate the final result?
The applique sample was very like the drawing, but working it in fabrics developed the ideas and contrasts further. For example using the herringbone tweed for the background is something I would not have thought of at the drawing stage. And I had a general idea that I wanted contrasting shinyness in the waves, but when the fabric was in my hands it became clearer how I wanted that to look in practice.

For the fabric manipulation sample, it started off like the drawing, but it became rapidly clear that I had not taken into account the different volumes of fabric needed for different techniques, so I changed what I did accordingly. While I worked on it I found that there was a kind of flow to it, with different directions and curviness of lines being needed in different parts of it. Since I kept in mind the ideas that I wanted there to be texture everywhere except the arches, and that I wanted the final result to be 'flat', I did not really allow the techniques to 'take over' exactly. I am now thinking that I want to see what that would be like!

Was it helpful to work from the drawings in the applique exercise? Would you have preferred to play directly with cut shapes and materials?
Before starting this course I would have definitely expected to prefer experimenting directly. But now I have learned how helpful it is to have drawings and ideas in visual form already, even if the final result looks completely different. Why is it helpful? I'm not sure, other than that simply doing the sketchbook exercises opens up more options and brings more ideas to mind. Perhaps it also stops me from going along well dug grooves of what I (or other people) have done before with fabrics.

How do you feel about working with stitch in general? Is it an area you would like to pursue in more depth? Do you find it limiting in any way?
During this project I have really confined my use of stitch to fixing pieces of fabric to each other, and I haven't paid much attention at all to its decorative or expressive qualities. Which are of course infinite. I would like to do more exploration about this. For example I was thinking that the applique sample could benefit from something on top to indicate shadows perhaps. And I have been wondering if I could make some 3D 'roots' with moss stitched onto them, perhaps with appliqued 'bark'. In other words, I've been wanting to combine some of the ideas I have been learning about, including the detail and subtlety that you can achieve with stitching.

Stitch on its own can be used like a paint brush, or to build up a surface to an extent, but ideas can be communicated more powerfully, or subtly, with a combination of different aspects. I am particularly drawn to the satisfying, or witty, ways that fabric can be used in space. I have been thinking I would like to try doing a regular pattern of fabric manipulation to turn a 2D piece of fabric into a 3D shape.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Alexander McQueen

Spine Corset 'Untitled'
S/S 1998

Spines are weird and fascinating in themselves.
See C de Moncheaux

Today I was surfing and found myself at the Met Museum page about Savage Beauty - about the work of Alexander McQueen.

A/W 200-1
Yellow glass beads and horsehair skirt

The way this looks like lichen on an old tree.
You can imaging the different and interesting attractive way this skirt might move.

These pictures are all of clothes designed by him which caught my attention.

It's a jungle out there ensemble
A/W 1997
Brown leather, bleached linen, taxidermy crocodile

The bubble effect is weird and different.
In fact the whole thing is different in a very creative human way.

I am fascinated by the 'dark romantic' side of them, that is slightly creepy at the same time as being beautiful. 

Voss ensemble
S/S 2001
Oyster shells
Silk coat from Japanese screen print

Oysters are beautiful and weird in the way that many of McQueen's clothes are.

And by their use of natural materials which work, but are not usually associated with clothes.

Oyster dress
S/S 2003

It's the fantastic layers and layers of fragile fabric in the skirt that attracts me. You can practically feel that it would be just like touching an oyster shell only warmer and softer.

And by the way he was able to produce effects that I have tried and so far failed at.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

My Theme Suggestion:The Sound of Cicadas

While working my way slowly through making my sampler for this section, I have been thinking about my theme for the final assignment for this course.

In my sketchbook one day I tried to represent that amazing experience of walking out of a house in the evening in some countries, and a curtain of silver sound rising up from the grass into the cooling sky. The sound of cicadas. 

At the time it seems to me that there is a physical sensation in my scalp, around the back of my head and behind the ears, that tingles and is very intense at the same time as being very delicate. Like white sound only more beautiful. Electric, only gentler and more pleasurable.

Because of where I place that sensation, I was thinking of making a delicate raised collar to surround the back of my head. This idea has stuck with me ever since I first thought of it.

A 'truly lovely cicada' from http
I have found some photos of cicadas on the internet over the months since then. There are several species with different coloration.
This one is amazing, like a scarab beetle in colour.
The lines of the pattern, the spots of shiny black, and the contrasting transparent sepia of the wings are all beautiful and interesting.

Periodical cicadas

This amazingly  detailed photo is from
The texture on the chin says 'embroidery' to me.

Periodical cicadas are the ones that live a very long time but only come out every 11 years I think, to mate.

The wings are structured in a delicate way that already makes me think about how I could use the pattern of raised lines to support a high collar. Or just explore different ways to express the delicate strength of them.

The colours here are stark orange and black.
An interesting contrast to the delicacy, and bringing something a bit less pretty-pretty into the mix.
Others are much more gently subtle with softer textures.


This one has less subtle colouring, presumably because of whatever plant it has to be camouflaged against. I love camouflage patterns and colours and have spent time working on them in my sketchbooks.

The stiffeners for the wings are so bright green they are almost iridescent. And warm like green metallic plastic.

The eyes of all these examples are different colours, and different distances apart. But for all they are a strong contrast feature in terms of colour and shape.

This photo shows a corrugated pattern of regular ridges in the transparent wings, and the sinewy thickness of the struts holding them out. And yet another colourway. And strange little hairs above the berry eyes.

A great close-up from

Helmut Lang
Cicada print chiffon dress
I have done some work on developing these images, and the feeling that the sound of them gives me, in my sketchbook.

I think that between the look of the creatures, and their sound, I will have lots to work on. Of course I may end up making something very different from a collar. But whatever it ends up being, I am sure that will find lots of interest and inspiration in these insects.

Even the phrase 'the sound of cicadas' has an evocative ring to it.

And I am not the only one who finds cicadas inspiring!

So I'm going to ask my tutor if I can use these ideas to start off my theme book for the final assignment.

Dear ChristinaHappy new year to you.
I have had a look at your blog page for your theme book and I think it sounds wonderful.  You will have plenty of source material, you have interesting ideas to explore incorporating the feel of the sound of Cicadas.  There is plenty of texture, colour, structure, shape to get stuck into and scope for using different fabrics, yarns and techniques.  The idea of the collar as relating to the feel of the sound is a wonderful idea.  Do keep your options open a bit so that you don't make too many decisions too soon.  But otherwise yes, definitely go for it.
Best wishes

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Research Point: The persistence of craft in the 21st Century

Before addressing the question, I want to say that there is an implication in the question that there is no good reason for the continued existence of textile crafts in the modern world.  Which of course is a questionable premise to start from. And I am assuming that the question is referring to the Developed World, because craft shows no sign of being less useful than it always has been in other parts of the world.

Halloween Craft kit

Summer crafts - foam rockets

It seems to me, reading for this course, and more specifically for this research point, that there is more than one meaning to the word crafts, and that this leads to all sorts of unhelpful apparent contradictions and sets up some distracting diversions when I am trying to think about the place of crafts in our world. And the most unhelpful of all, I think, is the separation of the word craft from the idea of craftsmanship.

The rest of this blog entry is my thoughts about some of the confusions around craft and craftsmanship, the apparent separation of it from the idea of 'craft', where this strange state of affairs might have originated, and about what the future of crafts could be if this were put right. I have generally written it from the starting point of my opinion, bringing in references to written and made works which illuminate (I hope) my train of thought.

Crafts as an expression of tradition
Sometimes people write and speak about tradition in crafts as if 'tradition' referred to the techniques used to make particular things, and the typical patterns that have been used to make or decorate them in the past. And in this context, there can be some confusion about the fact that craftsmen often use their adeptness and the aesthetics of their craft to adapt and change traditional techniques and patterns. Or use them to express poetic ideas, address design problems which only arise in the modern world, or use materials which were not available to their predecessors. So people start to wonder if they are actually craftspeople, or are in fact artists, or designers instead. (1)

I think the apparent conflict betrays a misunderstanding of what craftsmanship is. A misunderstanding I think is in line with the presumptions in Tom Stoppard's epigram: 'Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.' In fact, in my opinion a person is a labourer, not a craftsman, if they do not sometimes take the opportunity to adapt their skill to new conditions, ideas, or materials, or at least see this as legitimately part of their work.

A basket made in 1985 by Mohawk artist Mary Adams
It has distinctive curls and miniature sweetgrass baskets hanging from the lip.
It seems to me that this shows both great skill, and witty imagination ie great craftsmanship.

Looking historically at any tradition, any craft, one can see a long line of skilled craftsmen who were  making, not exactly the same thing as their teachers, but something that incorporated both the techniques and ornament of those teachers and something of their own time. This is inevitable in any lively human activity.

Here is a Link to an outline of this happening in English ceramics, which also refers to the way historical changes inevitably bring changes in design and technique in crafts.

William de Morgan 1880
Tin-glazed lustreware
English 'after 1475'

Early 19th Century child's
lustreware bowl & saucer

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”
—Alexander McQueen (11)

What do we call ourselves?
In an article in the Journal of Modern Craft online, Ramona Barry interviewed some jewellers about what they called themselves, and found that they were generally flexible about this, caring more often about not being pigeon-holed than about what they actually called themselves. One of these interviewees, Vicki Mason, is quoted as saying 'I'm a jeweller, perhaps not as some would know it in the traditional sense, but I make objects to wear essentially, and this is what jewellery aims for for the most part. It's about making objects to be worn.' (1)

Vicky Mason
Red sewn brooch 2008
Powder-coated brass, polyester thread, hand-dyed
Photo by Terence Bogue

Which begs the question as to who is asking craftspeople to label themselves, and why? I will think about this question later on in this post.

The Basic Necessity of Crafts
So, I believe that tradition in craft is more usefully thought of as the visible and tactile expression of the deep history of our culture since the first objects were made by our ancestors. The crafts are evolved adaptations of the techniques and skills derived from the response of the indigenous population to their practical needs, using available materials, and naturally reflect the aesthetic values derived from experiences of living with, or making, craft-made objects.

A waterproof bag made by a Native American
using the waterproof materials to hand.
From the collection at the Royal Canadian Museum in Toronto

People sometimes speak, and write, about crafts as a route to self-actualisation - the pinnacle of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, as if we only start making things when we have safety, enough to eat, a sense of belonging, love and meaning already in our lives. The truth is self-evident that the creative urge is much more fundamental than this. People have always made things in order to eat, in order to have somewhere safe and dry to live and clothes to keep them warm. And people make things in order to earn a living, attract a mate, and signal their membership of a particular group. And the people who are most drawn to the making of things are those people who do more of it, seek out teachers, and become skillful at it.

Crafts are Here To Stay
The satisfaction we derive from the experience of skillful making, or using of objects made well by other human beings, is not something that will go away with one or two generations of factory-made objects designed with profit in mind. Archaeologists have found clothes sewn from animal skins by Neandertal humans 500,000 years ago. The Cro Magnon people made weapons, but also made 'well constructed huts with central hearths for fires; necklaces & pendants, cave art, little statues made from ivory, antler, bone.' Human beings have been making things for so long that the ability to craft useful objects is likely to have contributed to our evolutionary success, and perhaps even to have been selected for by natural forces. So it's going to be a good long time before our tendency to create things is going away, even if we can buy them ready made in a factory. (2)

Solutrean needle,
the world's first identifiable needles
Image from Human Journey

I see the last 60 years of the history of objects as representing an abberation in an otherwise unbroken history of respect for good craftsmanship. Respect, because good craftsmen made objects that were well designed for their use, resilient, and intrinsically attractive by virtue of having been well made. 

There have been signs in the last 20 years or so that this respect may be returning. The introduction to a 2007 book about the resurgence of crafts in art and fashion, states, 'Along with the quiet proliferation of handmade work in the art world, there is a similar prevalence in fashion design, industrial design, and the book arts. The participants profiled in this book all share a dedication to materials and processes.' (4)

The executive director of the Crafts Council writes about a number of artists, marketing organisations, design organisations, and trade and investment fairs using the skills of craftsmen, in the November/ December edition of Crafts magazine. Referring to the British Business Embassy during the Olympics, she concluded 'To my mind it highlighted the current strength of the crafts sector and how seriously it is being taken by government and business alike.'(5)
Stack-ed Desk
Rolf Sachs / David Linley, 2012
A desk made with no screws or nails, which was
used to illustrate Rosy Greenlees' article (5)

Craft as a Marketing Term:
The trouble with assuming that this means a resurgence of crafts in general is that it appears to be driven by the wish to make money. Which carries with it the risk that the use of craftsmen is merely fashion and will quickly pass. Although even if this is the case, all that is lost is that particular hyped up market, not the world of crafts and craftsmanship.

The use of market mores to talk about crafts seems to me to be a fundamental source of the confusion, and the loss of connection between crafts and the idea of craftsmanship. There is a huge market for people who want to learn crafts and another (up to 26 million people according to the Craft Council) for those who want to buy craft-made objects. (6)

But most of the market for people who wish to engage in crafts appears to be for kits which allow for no creativity. Chris Chrombie, chief executive of Hobbycraft, told an interviewer in 2009 that 'our research puts the value of the UK hobby market at £2 million.' The craftsmanship associated with this kind of market is of the kind that Tom Stoppard was referring to in the quote above. What I would call no craftsmanship at all. So the fact that it is, despite this, called 'craft', has detached the word from it's specific meaning of special skill.

Craft as 'the other' for Fine Art
Howard Risatti, in his thorough and readable approach to the theory of craft, aimed 'to show how the craft object is a fundamental expression of human values and human achievement that transcends temporal and spatial boundaries as well as social, political and religious beliefs.' 

In other words that craft does not have to define itself in relation to fine art, because it has its own nature and virtues which are independent from those of fine art (but overlapping in places). That it has been difficult for the crafts to find their way to this realisation because of fine art's need to define itself as being unlike crafts, and because of the cultural hierarchy of creative endeavours that this has set up.(3)

Slow Textiles:
One thing that seems to identify craftsmen/artists in our capitalist world is the slowness of the work. When time is money and profit is everything, spending months on making one object can be difficult for non-creative people to understand. Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro editorialise about the craftsmen they interviewed for their book, 'They admit to spending months on a single piece with no end in sight and, in fact, luxuriate in their long production time. They abandon efficiency to pursue completion in their work, with the results sometimes landing far away from the original design.'(4)

This is not a new idea, of course, as it relates to many movements since the industrial revolution trying to engage us in the political process of slowing down, re-evaluating the importance of the human element, both in the making and the appreciation of an object. One of those movements was led by William Morris, and he wrote about the ideals of craftsmanship, but even he was only partially able to reconcile these ideals with the need to make a profit. (7)

The following is a quote about slowness from, which I have been following for the last few months because many of the opinions expressed in it chime with mine. 

'Slow, means the physical and mental process of slowing down, taking a breath, allowing a human timescale rather than a machine one, to take control of events within our lives. In the context of design, this means re-examining the process of production, repositioning technology, and allowing room for a human dimension. It used to be considered, and still is within large sections of society, that the large scale use of technology and industry in a way that divorced itself from the human dimension, was an affirmation of our progress and destiny as a species, that it could produce items faster than hand or small-machine production, seemed almost a negligent by product, the larger the scale and the faster the production, the better. The near boast that things could only ever get better, looking at much of the pollution, degradation of the individual and social quality of life in general, as well as the lack of concern for what actually happens to the millions of items produced every day, is a very hollow, even shallow boast and perhaps shows the human species as it really is, hands forever reaching for that distant shiny future, whilst having two feet firmly sitting in the mud of reality.

Slow can be added to practically any title, giving new definition and dynamism to a subject or discipline, particularly in the creative field. To be able to stop, contemplate, be inspired, is probably the most important aspect that a human can add to the creative process, indeed, the most important. So in some respects, slow could actually be defined as human, Slow Design being the human intervention within the design world. The design and craft world needs to take an holistic approach to both designing and making. The complexities of human life, both inner and outer as well as our ability to observe and reflect, needs to be entwined with the design process, not just at the end, as a form of human veneer, but at every stage of each and every discipline from start to finish.' (8)

I first heard of the slow textiles movement when following a link from the craft council website to a textile artist who works in Brixton. She was a member of the Slow Textiles Group, and I am thinking of trying to talk to her, or to them, about the way they think about what they do. (9)

Hopes and Fears for Craft
I initially ended this blog with a quote from William Morris from a series of lectures entitled 'Hopes and Fears for Art.' (10) But the world has moved on in over 100 years and while his fears were similar, for his own area of 'decorative art', his hopes were confined by the social and cultural milieu he lived in, where people lived and worked with a fixed hierarchy, in a world where you had to pick your career from a limited number, sometimes before your were born, and then stick with it until you died. The difference in work patterns now, with portfolio careers, and the ease of changing career, and the advent of the internet as a place for exchanging opinion and selling relatively small market goods, could result in an even greater resurgence of crafts. Or it could leave us with only very few with the necessary years of practice to develop craftsmanship. 

(1) Post by Ramona Barry August 20,2011
(3) 'A theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression' Howard Risatti 2007 University of North Carolina Press
(4) 'By Hand: The use of craft in contemporary art' Shu Hung & Joseph Magliaro eds. 2007 Princeton Architectural Press.
(5) 'A decade of design' Rosy Greenlees Inside Edge, Crafts Nov/Dec 2012
(7) William Morris's ideals
(9) Slow Textiles School
(10) Hopes and Fears for Art - a series of lectures by William Morris 1881 Link to the collective commons readable version
(11) Alexander McQueen quoted on the Metropolitan Museum NY website Link to Met museum

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Raised and Structured surface textures continued

I found that although I had spent as much time as I thought reasonable on this exercise, I kept coming up with more things I wanted to do. I also made the mistake of finding 'The Art of Manipulating Fabric' by Colette Wolf, Krause Publications, 1 Oct 1996, which I think I must have bought shortly after it came out and immediately lost somewhere in the piles of fabric in the loft. As you do. This exercise was the motivator for me to find it again, and the result was the following:


I saw a woman in a tweed coat with deep wrist bands
of furrowed tweed which looked interesting, and warm.
Mine is uneven and might look better in a thicker fabric.

I frayed the hessian on top of the silk,
and then the other edge of the silk on top of the hessian.

Two layers of fine silk slashed over printed cotton.
It reminds me of a photo I saw at the Saatchi gallery of
Marilyn Monroe showing through a traditional oriental image.
To demonstrate how insidious is the influence of the West.
I'm thinking about what images I would use...

Seamless Tucks

These are tied tucks in a regular square pattern.
I like the way this looked with muslin.
It's so floppy but it takes the forms very well.

The cord is sewn into the back with herringbone stitch.
This is one of the shapes from a design inspired by a
photograph of water in the swimming pool.
English Smocking

This English smocking has a few rows with red thread on top.
It's surprisingly deep, and surprisingly regular.
If the fabric were altered, could this one show imprisonment
or something analagous?
 Italian Smocking
This italian smocking is very hard to get on film.
Not least because it's fiddly so it's only a very small piece!
I like the way it looks but it was quickly clear to me that
muslin is too fine and flimsy and it would be better to use
calico or something of similar weight, to allow the
interesting regular structure to show off.

Machine quilting of 2 layers of cotton
The gaps between the rows can be stuffed, or have threads
pulled through them to make it stick out further.

The plain back shows the patterns of the stitches more clearly.
I love Durham quilting, that is just white on white, using the
shadows cast by the quilting to make the pattern.


One piece of calico was folded in half diagonally,
gathered in the middle, sewn onto a square, and stuffed.
Although it is quite firmly attached, it looks
as if it's just sitting there ready to leap away like a grasshopper.

Threading ribbons and fabric strips through fabric

I used hessian because of the loose weave which allowed me
to use wide ribbon and strips of fabric. This is the selvage
of the hessian, which has two blues woven into it during manufacture.
 Finally, no sewing involved, PVA moulding.
This fabric was moulded around two spherical bottle tops
of different sizes. The fabric is quite stiff when it's dry,
but will clearly keep the shape well.

This one was pushed into the centres of little cookie cutters
 in various shapes. It looks to me as if sharp edges work
better than rounded ones for this technique.