Thursday, 30 October 2014


Thinking about the surface layer of this assignment piece has got me thinking about the meaning of the gashes, and reminded me of Roseanne Hawksley's sewn wounds. There was also a deceptively simple piece in an amateur show in Bristol last year which had some of the same imagery. And another piece at the PRISM show earlier this year.

Roseanne Hawksley's painful repairs

All these are making me wonder if I can't use some representation of skin as the surface layer, and have the slit or slits cutting into that, as a development of my train tunnel into belly photo.

Freckled skin might be interesting to print onto fabric.

One of my samplers from
the first part of
'Exploring Ideas' 

Underfabric with printed organza overlaid.

The edge of the printing, showing the texture it adds.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


Mood board

Deciding on an object to make:
I had been thinking that I wanted to make an object that represented the difference between the amazing and wonderful natural complexity of the inner person, and the way that only shows through in a 'glass darkly' kind of way to the outside. And perhaps even to suggest to the person looking at it that the 'rind' over the top was also part of the wonderful natural expression of the person inside.

Pair of embroidered leather gloves
Made in England 1615-1625
Leather embroidered with gilt and
silver-gilt thread
V&A London
Then I took a cousin to the V&A to look at the Wedding Dress exhibition, and we had a look at another gallery as well, with examples of 17th Century furniture and objects. There were lots of gloves there.

Glove 1600-1625
Kid leather and satin embroidered with silk,
silver-gilt threads and seed pearls, with silver-gilt
bobbin lace and spangles. Made in England
V&A London
Gloves were used to indicate social status, to make the hands and fingers look long and thin which was associated with attractive personality traits, and were very similar for men and women.

Glove 1660-1680
The curls around the wrist are made from fabric,
and are very modern looking in the sense that they
change the whole 3D feel and proportions of the hand.
V&A London

I was initially thinking of making a glove covered in skin, but when I started on this it was too difficult not to have connotations of dead flesh, and also intrinsically hard to get a good representation of the colour and pattern of skin.

So I decided on a glove that was a bit like bark, or roots, covering a tree, reflecting my studies of roots from earlier in Exploring Ideas. This also had the advantage of intrinsically symbolising a barrier made from inside.

The process of coming to this decision has been a slow gathering of apparently unrelated threads. I was fretting a bit that I hadn't decided yet, and then one day it dawned on me that I had already decided, without knowing it!

Creating a glove pattern:
In order to make a glove I had to make a pattern for it. I based it on a kid glove that I had kept of my grandmother's.

I drew an approximate pattern onto tracing paper by drawing round the shapes of the glove.

I traced this pattern onto fabric, a tacked it together to check the fit.

My first attempt at the thumb left a gap.                                    

Which I corrected using an extra arc of fabric. When I come to make the final version, I have unpicked the glove, and I will cut these two pieces together.

This is what it looks like with the printed organza over the top.
My idea is to cut slits into the fabric of the glove, and use the folded printed organza as texture around the edges of the slits to emphasise the shapes.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Using light inside

Sketchbook image of how I might produce the effect of light coming through a slit.

This was an exploration of my thinking about the contrast between the slit "golden light" and the surrounding areas.

Using copper florists wire for its flexible but strong properties, and it's ability to withstand the heat of being so close to a light bulb, I wrapped it round picture wire uprights, to give the structure of the sketchbook picture. Also referring to the structure of African huts and the shapes in the little pictures below, from earlier sketchbooks and samplers.

With light coming through I can see that:
1. This emphasises the edges rather than the split
2. It might be better to give the impression of light rather than having actual light coming through.
More interesting to look at.
3. There needs to be more breadth, and more regularity, to the 'verticals' to put the emphasis on the split-ness.
4. The presence of a warm light bulb reduces the options for materials.

Another sampler I made to explore the idea of light inside was on the sewing machine, with layers of fabric split apart and joined by stitching onto dissovable fabric.

I found that the requirements of the dissovable fabric for connections and reinforcement of the stitching meant that some of the expressive lines I wanted to make became thicker and more vertical than I wanted them to be. For example, there had to be some stitching down the sides of the slit, which interfered with the pattern of horizontal lines that I wanted to emphasise, and smoothed out some of the attractive complexity of the slit's edge.

On the other hand, stitching seems to be a good way to introduce colour in a different way, and has the potential for subtle shading. I might well use this technique on another occasion, but it doesn't seem suitable for this piece.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Next stage of designing

Pulling threads to make an image

I pulled out some fabrics in the range of 'golden light' colours which would either allow the light through or reflect it.

The pile on the left is what I found.

The grey chiffon is clearly not in the colour range and was removed after this photo.

I used the A4 drawing of cork tree bark as my template and used it to cut threads in the layers of fabric, starting with the palest chiffon

Palest pink satin underneath

Light behind

I tried to work out a patter for each layer that would give
a final arrangement like the cork bark, with areas of greater
depth and areas with closer lines. This is at layer 3.
This is one of the more translucent layers against
a window. This made me think again about
what imagery might be meaningful for this piece.

Close-up of the next layer in
The light coming trhough from behind gives it an attractive glow, and shows the variety of colour achieved, but also reveals that I could have
paid more attention to the detail of the pattern when designing it.

Pinboard showing that this sample reflected the image of cork bark, but that it needed some oversewing to get the detail. (Some difficulties getting a photo that shows the structure without the flash light being reflected from the surface so much that it confuses the image. )

Monday, 6 October 2014

Receiving feedback

I need to write something here about the experience of receiving feedback from my tutor. Or from anyone whose opinion I respect, in fact. Because I have just had a long period of difficulty getting down to working on this project, and I think the two are related.

I had no trouble at all working in my sketchbook in a constructive and rewarding way when there was no expectation of me doing that, during the 'Researching Artists' part of this course. But somehow, since getting feedback from my tutor about my work on that section, I have been unable to find the time. I think this is something like 'writer's block', and therefore something that I will have to learn to deal with better.

I have also noticed during previous coursework, that the first time I read feedback or assessments, the only bits I see or remember are the parts about how I could improve. I feel useless and that there is little point in carrying on. And I withdraw into the desert to lick my wounds. It is only later, when I pluck up courage to read the thing again, that I find that overall the feedback was positive, appreciative of the good things, and encouraging, and I wonder how I could have so misinterpreted what I read.

This recent episode of this critique-wilt has been worse than the rest, and has resulted in a longer period of desert. I had a different attitude to this academic part of the course, partly because I was confident that I wouldn't have any trouble with it, as I felt good about what I had submitted for the assignment, and because of all my previous higher education being word-based. (All the other assignments have been voyages into the dark for me, so I had hope but few expectations of a good result.) And then I find that, contrary to my expectations, what came back seemed to be a long list of things that I did wrong.

Of course, this kind of writing has its own rules, which I was foolish not to stick to (as much as I was aware of them).

Of course, this is my first ever marked essay about an artist, so what can I really have expected.

Of course, I am still early in my Textile Art education and how else will I learn.

Of course, when I look through the feedback again, it's a different story. I seem to have done OK after all/

I know all these things, but somehow receiving this feedback still made me procrastinate about the next assignment for a long eight weeks. So I will have to extend my deadline again, and I have lost the creative oasis I was in at that time, so there is some work to be done getting back into it.

Sheila Hicks miniature

How? By looking at what I have done already, and try to get myself, if not back into that one, into a creative state of mind.

I wonder whether this rather more painful episode might add some depth to what I make in the end (here's hoping!).

I suspect that, in fact, I have been working on these ideas in a subterranean way all along.

Here are a selection of the pinterest images I have picked up during that 8 weeks, that seem to be related to the work I've been avoiding...
Iris van Herpen SS 2011
Sheila Hicks - From what I have seen
so far, a textile artist
worth researching further.

Tawny oil feathers detail

Patrick Dougherty installation