Monthly Archives: November 2016

Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 1 – Straight wrapping with threads

18 November 2016

Project 2, Exercise 1 – Straight wrapping with threads

I chose to wrap a wooden spoon for this exercise. I have interpreted the purpose of this exercise as exploratory, allowing students to experiment with and understand the following:

  1. Different thread types
  2. Even vs. uneven wrapping
  3. Different tensions
  4. Combinations of materials
Thinking about outcomes it will be interesting to note and record whether the thread and wrapping method:
  1. Emphasise or hide the shape of the wrapped object
  2. Infer texture
  3. Relate to, or is suggestive of what is underneath.
SAMPLE 1: Even and uneven wrapping, cotton double knitting yarn
As suggested, I started at the handle of the spoon and worked upwards towards the bowl. The tip of the bowl was impossible to wrap in the way I had been proceeding up the handle, so I decided to cover it by working threads diagonally, incorporating a dense area of thread in the process. The finished sample is shown below:
The colour and texture of the thread is intentionally bland, almost utilitarian, like dishcloth cotton. I like the way that the thread choice mirrors the domestic associations of the spoon. 
Because I was able to wrap tightly, the object underneath is easy to guess. The crossed threads at the tip add interest and texture, but do not disguise the spoon in any way. The only suggestion is that there might be something small trapped or hidden underneath the layer of crossed threads.
I was sufficiently interested in the sample to make a pencil sketch (see below):
I used regular graphic in different hardnesses to depict the thread, and water-soluble graphic for the shadows. This was very much an exercise in understanding to to represent three-dimensionality through tone. The threads only appear to be above if their shadows are correctly represented. It took careful observation, patience and effort to make the drawing.
SAMPLE 2: Even and uneven wrapping, crepe bandage
I chose this material because of it’s texture and flexibility. The stretchiness of the fabric made it easy to completely cover the spoon (see below):
The width of the crepe (7cm) meant that there were unavoidable overlaps which resulted in a distortion of the contour of the spoon, partially disgusting it. At the tip of the spoon, the bandage is a single layer and barely covers the wood. At the handle and other areas, several layers mean it is completely covered. The fabric is soft and thick and Feels like it is inferring a layer of protection. The association of bandages with healing helps to consolidate this idea.
I decided to use a water-solvable gel pen to sketch the sample (see below):
The texture of the crepe was difficult to capture, and whilst I am happy with the representation of the fraying edges, the surface texture of the fabric itself is rather too bold. Perhaps I should have used my silver gel pen for this detail?
SAMPLE 3: Even and uneven wrapping, nylon fishing line
I was able to easily wrap the fishing line along the handle of the spoon, but the bowl proved impossible, even using the method I had successfully employed in sample 1. I conceded that I could only partially cover the spoon with this nylon thread. Creating more and less dense areas was easy, and the thread appeared darker where it was more densely wrapped.
The tangles in the fishing line make me think of entrapment, or snaring. There is no feeling of protection with this wrapping, instead it suggests restraint, and limitation of freedom.
Being semi-transparent, the threads were interesting to draw (see below)
It was a challenge to make a distinction between fishing line threads and their shadows. The semi-transparency of the threads meant that areas which were wrapped more densely appeared darker, and the thread itself was highly reflective. I had to use lots of different hardness of graphite pencil to achieve the tonal differences which I needed.
SAMPLE 4: Even and uneven wrapping, Boston creeper vine
This vine looses it’s leaves in winter and because the stems are alive and ready to bust into leaf next Spring, they remain supple. I thought this would make an interesting wrapping material because of the textural interest, including the presence of dead tendrils and leaf-bud junctions. 
One reason for choosing the vine was because I had been thinking about the work of outsider artist Angus MacPhee (b.1917, d. 1997). McPhee was born on the Scottish island of South Uist, where he grew up learning the Island traditions of weaving, plaiting and twisting. After the Second World War, he returned to South Uist but seemed unable to cope with looking after himself and became uncommunicative. A diagnosis of schizophrenia meant that he was confined to Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital where he spent the rest of his life. Although verbally uncommunicative, MacPhee wove many sculptures from long grass, including hats, boots and other clothes, which he left around the grounds. Many were destroyed, but a few survive and have been exhibited (Marshal, 2011). The weavings demonstrate a beauty and power that bely their fragility, as shown in photographic evidence in the journal article by Robert Howard (Howard, 2002).
MacPhee sometimes wore his weavings (Marshal, 2011), perhaps as protection from the elements. A feeling of shelter and protection is also evident in my sample. The vines give a structural feeling to the piece, almost like a bushcraft shelter.
When I decided to sketch the sample, I chose graphite and Inktense pencils to help me recreate the texture and colours.
I particularly like the rough, gnarled vine stem contrasted with the thin, delicate wiry tendrils. 
SAMPLE 5: Even and uneven wrapping, thick piping cord
I chose this thick cord to give a very different feel and texture from the thinner threads I had used. The individual strands of the cord appear prominent and rope-like. 
There is a feeling of security and solidity about this wrapping. It is still possible to easily see that the object underneath is a spoon, but it also feels as if it has been ‘parcelled up’ ready to put in the post.
To sketch this sample I chose Neocolor water-soluble wax crayons. It is only possible to draw thick lines with this medium, so although I enjoy using the, they had not suitable for my earlier sketches.
I like the texture of the wax crayon marks, and being able to apply water allows me to soften them in places where I want to emphasis shadow. By leaving some of the crayon marks dry, I was able to simulate the roughness of the cotton cord.
Samples with combinations of materials to explore combinations of colour, texture and differences in tension
Inadvertently, I had already explored areas of looser verses tighter tension in sample 3, which was impossible to wrap tightly. I was looking forward to extending this with combinations of different threads, using what I had learnt in my sampling so far. 
I also thought about opacity. The fishing line which I had used in sample 3 was semi-transparent and this added depth and interest through semi-concealment. 
How the wrapping is considered in relation to the object is also important. For example, does it represent:
  1. Protection/healing
  2. Entrapment/confinement
  3. Concealment/hiding
  4. Restraint/imprisonment
  5. Bondage/fetish
Number 5. only occurred to me when I recalled an article in The Textile Reader (Hamlyn, 2012). Referring to fabric specifically, Hamlyn notes that ‘It (fabric) restricts direct access to the naked object, but it also has the ability to suggest, enhance, and draw attention to what it covers and adorns’ (Hamlyn, 2012:16).
SAMPLE 6: Mixed thread sample, wrapped spoon
I wrapped the same wooden spoon as I had for samples 1-5, this time using a mixture of threads. I used a fine beige crochet cotton, salmon-coloured Coton a Broder, aubergine purple commercially produced paper string, and raffia. 
I started by wrapping the handle of the spoon tightly in paper string, then I joined in the salmon thread and the beige thread. I worked in layers, and after I had good coverage of the spoon, I allowed the beige and salmon threads to become looser as I wound them. I experienced some tangling on the fine threads which I allowed to add to the texture to the wrapping. I also had to cut the threads at one point because of tangling and this gave some loose ends. I particularly like the textural effect of these. 
I had initially intended to finish my sample before adding the raffia (see below):
I felt ok about this, but that it could be better. I love the effect that has been created on the handle, which I feel this has worked really well. However, it was not possible to wrap the paper string loosely around the bowl of the spoon in such a way that it would stay attached. This meant that I had to use the finer threads to secure it, which gave a denser and less open structure. The sample has a similar feel to sample 4 (Boston creeper vine).
I decided to take the plunge and add some raffia to the bowl of the spoon. I felt that as it stood the wrapping in this area was just too loose and did not fit with the handle (which I preferred). The finished sample is shown below:
I choose natural raffia to pick up on the beige cotton thread and the natural wooden colour of the spoon. It now feels as if the spoon is more ‘parceled’ or ‘packaged’ due to the raffia knot. I can’t help but think of it as looking like a voodoo doll. The bowl of the spoon feels like a head and the handle the neck and/or body.
I think this change helps the sample to work better. It adds and additional texture, and helps to make the sample feel like a single unified object. 
SAMPLE 7: Mixed thread sample – wrapped egg box
I decided that I wanted a change from spoon-wrapping. The egg box was a cheap and available found object, with an interesting shape. 
I started with some of my hand spun yarn which I had plied with metallic crochet thread. Before spinning, I had selected the colour combinations of fleece and made a batt. The colours had always reminded me of costume, theatre and showmanship. They were bold, vivacious, and mysterious; reminiscent perhaps of the glitz of the circus?
I chose an aran weight mohair in a greenish blue colour which picked up on one of the hues in my handspun yarn. Because layering had worked so well in sample 6, I decided to take the same approach. I wrapped the egg box in the blue mohair first, getting as much coverage as I possibly could. I then started wrapping in the handspun yarn, leaving some of the mohair to show through. As I did so, I added some cut pieces of feather boa. I had chosen these for fun and because of the association costume. I wrapped both yarns tightly around the egg box so as to emphasise it’s contours. Finally, I chose some bright pink ribbon and tied it around the box to add an accent. I also sewed loops of fine shocking pink mohair into one corner and cut them to make loose ends. I particularly like this part of the sample (see photo below, bottom left corner).
I love the way that the textures and colours combine. I am so pleased with it! It is cheeky and fun, vivacious and playful. The fur and mohair impart animal characteristics (rabbit tail, the ear tufts of a toy-sized dog?). It reminds me of a battery-operated a soft toy. I can imagine it just about to squeak and jump up into the air! The pink ribbon adds a feeling of restraint (an animal harness, or lead?), yet I get the feeling of it being a naughty pet which will run away as soon as the owner turns their back.
Update 26/11/16: I decided to put this sample up for critique on “” (it can be viewed here). I felt somewhat uncomfortable in doing so, which was strange given that I regularly post my work on my public Facebook profile and in closed OCA Textiles and OCA Sketchbooks pages. I was concerned how I might feel about feedback I didn’t agree with or conflicting suggestions. 
Despite my initial reservations, I am very gad that I took part in the OCA discussion/critique forum because have received some very insightful suggestions and observations. For example: that I might try and and include surprises in the surface of my wrapping (suggestive of the secret or the unexpected). Another suggestion was that the sample looked like it was in the process of being overgrown or colonised by underwater organisms such as anemones and coral. I was given a useful link to the artist Jason deCaires Taylor (Taylor, n.d.).
Many people saw a joyous side to the sample, interpreting it as “a bundle of good things” (i.e. childhood “treasures”). There was the suggestion of it being alive or having animals wrapped within it because of the fluffy areas. An alternative view was that it could be seen as shamanic or linked to ritual. This was interesting because I had shown sample 6 to a group of textile art friends last week and several had made a shamanic or sinister connection to this piece as well. I wondered whether it was something in my subconscious, (my creative voice maybe) that was causing this juxtapositioning these opposites?
SAMPLE 8: Mixed thread sample – wrapped baked bean can
I started with the idea that I would wrap the tin in burlap, and then add layers of other threads on top. I cut the burlap into a single long length of about 1″ in width. I used the same method as when dividing fleece arts batts ready for spinning. The diagram below explains (with the dotted line depicting the cut lines).
I wrapped along the length of the can, and the corners which I had made in the process of cutting the rectangle into a single long strip seemed to fall at the open end, making an interesting texture. I am including a photograph of the sample at this stage (see below) because I really like the result and wondered whether to stop wrapping! The weave of the burlap, the loose frayed threads and the way the layers overlap and stick out from the cylinder. All very visually attractive.
I decided that I would continue to add more threads and see what happened. I tried wrapping some orange fruit net strips around the circumference of the can, but it spoilt the texture of the burlap strips (see below):
I took this off an decided that I would wrap in the same direction as the burlap. 
I am interested in identity and wanted to give the suggestion of the brand identity of Heinz baked bean can through the use of colour. I found some kingfisher blue embroidery thread to use in conjunction with the orange fruit net. I decided that the orange colour in the wrapping photographed above was too dominant, so I cut small pieces and trapped them in the blue embroidery thread as I wrapped (see below)
I separated the strands of embroidery thread to get different thicknesses, and as I did so, the thread tangled. I really like this effect which adds texture to the piece. I was pleased with the overall sample, although I would ideally have liked to use wider turquoise thread (perhaps fabric strip or ribbon if I’d had the correct colour). Being sensitive to the colour and texture balance, and I feel that there is a slight room for improvement.
Hamlyn, A. (2012) ‘Freud, fabric, fetish’. In: Hemmings, J. (Ed) The Textile Reader. London. Berg. pp.14-26.
Howard, R. (2002) ‘Psychology in pictures’. In: The British Journal of Psychiatry. At: (Accessed 20 November 2016)
Marshal, K. (2011) Creativity in care: Exhibitions: Weaver of grass, Angus. At: (Accessed 20 November 2016)
Taylor, J. (n.d.) Jason deCaires Taylor. At: (Accessed 28 November 2016)

Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 5 – Forming corners and angles

21 November 2016

Project 1, Exercise 5 – Forming corners and angles

The instructions suggest starting with stiff paper and straight edges and moving onto curved edges. After exploring joining to create corners and angles, the notes then ask for 5 to 6 samples developing what has been done in the project so far. 


SAMPLE 1: Paper, right angled corner, oversewing

For this sample, I decided that I would make a simple join between a strip of paper and a right-angled corner. I used 3-strands of embroidery cotton to sew the two pieces together using an oversew stitch. I had to take care to make the stitches sufficiently narrow, so as not to make a large seam (which would have been a problem when I got to the corner).

As suggested, I started making this sample in reasonably thick paper (180gsm), but found that it was very difficult to puncture and I ended up pricking my thumb and getting blood on the sample. I abandoned this idea and switched to inkjet printer paper (75gsm) which was much easier to sew. The finished sample is shown below:

The join is stable and quite decorative. I didn’t worry about making the stitches neat and even – I worked them in a contrasting thread because I wanted them to show. For me, the piece has the feel of three-dimensional patchwork. It reminds me of mending and folk-art. It would be interesting to work a container (such as a box) in this way. 


SAMPLE 2: 180gsm paper joined at an acute angle with masking paper

I was able to use the thicker 180gsm paper on this sample because it wasn’t stitched. Using masking tape, I butted up the edges of the paper until they touched, then secured them (see below):

The join is almost invisible and stable, due to the thickness of the card. What appeals to me about this join is that it is very precise. I enjoyed arranging the sample in different positions (see below):

Different shadows, and hiding the inside/point gave a sense of mystery. I preferred this sample to the right angle of sample 1. By varying the widths of the paper strip, making multiples of the sample, and perhaps changing the scale, I can imagine some interesting possibilities for development.


SAMPLE 3: 180gsm paper, right angled corner, tie-wraps

I used food bag tie wraps for this sample. Before making the join, I used an office hole punch to make holes which I could thread the tie-wraps through. The finished sample is shown below:

Considering that the holes were oversized for the diameter of wire, I was surprised to find that the join was only slightly less stable than samples 1 or 2. The holes added to the decorative effect, as did the twisted ends of the wire (most evident from the exterior view, shown in the top photo).

Alternatives to the food bag tie wraps might be length of coloured wire or plastic cable ties. The reason I chose not to use bare wire was because of the sharp ends.


SAMPLE 4: Inkjet paper, forming corners with a curved edge, joined using machine zig-zag

I cut a curved piece of paper (convex) and a second, right angled corner piece (see below), which the aim of joining the curved piece around the sharp corner.

Awkward joins are something I have had experience with in dressmaking. Frequently, collars have curved edges which need to be fitted around straight edges and corners. Binding shirt cuff openings is another extreme (and technically difficult) example.

I started by butting the edges up against each other and sewing across the join to make a flat seam (see below):

However, when I got to the corner it was not possible to bend the paper around without tearing (I’m sure it would have been possible with fabric). So that I could complete the sample, I cut the threads, folded the paper, and rejoined the other side of the right-angle. Instead of butting up the edges, I had to overlap them (see below)

I hoped that by using a narrow zig-zag, I would be able to stretch and open out the seam flat, however this edge had to end up being an overlapping seam. The finished sample is shown below:

It is difficult to see, but the curved edges have the effect of lifting the right-angled paper up and not allowing it to lie flat. The join is secure, but there is nothing particularly interesting or inspiring about this sample.


SAMPLE 5: Acrylic felt, forming corners with a curved edge, machine straight stitch

I used the same shape pieces as in sample 4, but this time in acrylic felt, not paper. I used the technique of clipping the curved edges of the felt, which allowed me to shape it to the contour of the straight edge and corner during sewing (see below):

Below are some views of the finished sample. 

The image above shows the seam on the outside. In the two images below, the sample has been turned inside out and the seam is inside.

This sample reminds me of the shape of Napoleon’s hat (or Bicorne). I can’t say I’m especially inspired by it.


A series of five or six samples developing what has been done so far:

I feel that this addendum to exercise 5 should really have been an exercise in it’s own right. It is not related to corners or angles, rather, it is about building on and developing samples with potential, and perhaps exploring interesting combinations. It is an open invitation for the student to explore whatever interests them and to showcase their creativity.

Having completed literally hundred of samples for Parts 1 and 2, I was beginning to feel ‘sample fatigue’. I had been disappointed with several of my samples in project 2, exercise 4, and with some of the samples at the start of this exercise. I had felt torn between the range of material combinations and joining methods I wanted to try, verses the limited time available.

It was at this time that I learnt that I should be focusing my sketchbook more closely to the techniques in the assignment. I changed approach and started producing a sketchbook which developed some of my ideas. I have used this sketchbook work to inform my next five samples.


SAMPLE 6: Padded fabric sample, horizontal mattress suture

This sample was based on my investigation of suture stitches (sketchbook, pages 13-16). I decided to try the horizontal mattress suture (continuous). I used double knit merino wool (quite thick because I wanted the stitches to be visible), and joined two padded layers of polystyrene foam enclosed by brushed cotton. I had to glue the cotton onto both sides of the polystyrene, to make sure it stayed in place as I sewed. The results are shown below:

Of all my samples, I perhaps find this the most disappointing. I had hoped that the stitching would ‘dig into’ the padded surface and make an interesting relief, but it did not. The join was stable when the pieces were laying flat (top photo), but when folded, the sample became unstable and the joining thread became visible (bottom photo). Perhaps there might be circumstances where this could be used decoratively? However, I don’t find it visually appealing in this context.


SAMPLE 7: Rail tickets joined at right angles by friction

This sample was inspired by my sketchbook work on construction toys (sketchbook pages 33-34). In particular, it focuses on a method of joining where slots cut into each piece of material are pushed together and held in place by friction (see below)

I am aware that I perhaps don’t make as effective use of found materials as I might, so this sample was an attempt experiment. I found that the card was not really thick enough to maintain a stable join and the structure only just held together. However, I find the fragility of the sample appealing, reminding me of a tower of playing cards. I felt that this was interesting enough to make another sample joining circles (see sample 8).


SAMPLE 8: Card circles joined at right angles by friction

I used 270gsm card this time, which was thicker than the rail tickets in sample 7. I started by joining three sets of two circles and have included a photo because I think they are appealing as a group of separate identical objects (see below).

The beauty of these structures is their simplicity, the shadows they create, and tonal differences across the surfaces. 

Then I came to joining the three structures. It was surprisingly difficult to get my head around where I needed to place the cuts. I had to make the new joins shorter than the original ones, or the vertical circles would have got in the way. The completed sample is therefore only symmetrical in one plane (see below):

I really like this sample and I’m sure it could be developed into a more complex structure or surface. It find it rather architectural and I can imagine it might form the basis for the design of an office workstation or desk complex, because it has open areas and partitions. Alternatively, it could be seen simply as a visually interesting sculpture or surface.


SAMPLE 9: Textured surface made with paper loops

This sample is a development of the Möbious strip from project 1, exercise 3, sample 14, and draws on the work in pages 35-38 of my sketchbook. I had always felt that the original sample had a huge potential. I loved it’s simplicity, the tonal differences of the curved surface and the visual effect of having one side plain and one patterned. 

In my sketchbook work I have considered different potential materials and different arrangements of the shapes. However, the staggered arrangement which I liked preferred in my sketchbook did not work in practice. This was because there was not enough space for the loops in this configuration unless they were widely spaced, which spoilt the impression of a continuous surface. I therefore fell back on arranging the loops in a grid.

I wanted a paper which was patterned one side and plain the other. I did not have enough of the envelope paper I had used in my first sample, so I decided to take some map paper and paint one side with acrylic paint. Once it was dry, I cut out the strips and made the paper loops. I had to be careful that I twisted them in the same direction. When I came to glue them into the board, I made sure that I stuck them together at the same point in relation to the join. It would be interesting to explore different twist directions as sticking points, however for this sample I wanted to keep the effect regular and uniform (see below):


I am pleasantly surprised by this sample. The map surface is partially visible, and this varies depending on the direction from which the surface is viewed (see below)

I feel that there is a lot of scope for exploring alternative materials and patterning (some of which may give even better results). I can imagine this sample being made into a textured fabric wall panel.


SAMPLE 10: Strips of printed paper joined radially with a brass fastener

This sample was based on project 1, exercise 4, sample 11, and the subsequent development work in pages 1-12 of my sketchbook. Because I had liked the effect of the eraser prints (sketchbook pages 4-6, 9-10, 12), I decided to use them to make a textured surface (see below):

I cut out strips from this paper and joined them in the fashion of the prints on page 4 and 5 of my sketchbook. In contrast to the sketchbook work, my paper sculpture was moveable and could be positioned as I liked it. Perhaps better was the fact that in response to being picked up, the pieces moved under the effect of gravity and made new and unpredictable shapes. 

My first photo (below) shows of the sample laid flat on a white surface and arranged in a way which I found appealing. Unlike the prints on pages 4 and 5 of my sketchbook, I decided to allow the card strips to overlap. This was visually appealing.

The photo below shows the sample lifted and suspended vertically from one point using barely visible dressmakers’ polyester thread.

The sample now looks more creature-like (perhaps the strips even resemble fingers?). There is a suggestion of balance and tension.

I then suspended the sample from three points and photographed it again (see below):

The difference in negative shapes which occur is interesting, but this arrangement leaves me feeling it is rather contrived, whereas the previous one felt more natural.

I like the effect of the patterned paper which I have used. It suggests a fractured image and there is pooling of light and dark areas resembling patterns or folds and creases on an animals skin, or alternatively light and dappled shade.

There is potential for further exploration based on this sample, however my slight misgiving is that it is two and not three-dimensional, so I feel that ultimately this might limit it’s interest.

Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 4 – Overlapping edges

14 November 2016

Project 1, Exercise 4 – Overlapping edges

I feel that this exercise offers the most possibilities. Overlapping edges allow for joining more fragile materials, and there is the possibility of needle felting, fusing of plastic, appliqué and weaving. The course notes suggest overlapping straight joins using different joining methods with paper or plastic, before moving on to dissimilar materials and curved edges. No specific guidance is given on the number of samples. I have tried not to get carried away and make too many!


SAMPLE 1: 180gsm cartridge paper joined by brass fasteners

Because the paper was overlapped, I was able to use brass fasteners as a joining method. I used a leather hole punch to make holes in the paper before using the fasteners to join then (see below):

It is a very neat and stable join which reminds me of button fastenings on a shirt (another joining method which I hadn’t yet considered!)

The only fasteners which I could buy from the art shop were very long. This made for an interesting reverse view:

This is just how the ends came to be arranged (with no particular order or intention). They provide support to the structure and highlight the presence of the join.

Looking at the sample backlit with a daylight bulb angle poise lamp was also interesting:

This is my favourite view because of the different densities of the paper where the two sheets overlap and the visibility of the brass fastener ends.


SAMPLE 2: Circles of 220gsm cartridge paper joined with brass fasteners

You may have gathered by now that I love samples which are configurable into different shapes and orientations. This example allows movement in 2 degrees of freedom. 

The circles which I used were offcuts from part 2, project 1, exercise 3, sample 8. I would class them as straight, rather than curved edges, because I am joining the flat plane surfaces of the paper (which just happen to be cut into circles). I am not joining the circumferences.

I constructed the sample in the same way as sample 1, and I tried to position the brass fasteners so that I would be able to get lots of different arrangements. Here are a few:

I have photographed the sample lit from above with a daylight bulb. These examples show how it is possible to get many different sculptures from just one piece. I love the fact that as well as a different outline, each casts different shadows, has a different surface area and overlaps. Compositionally, each is very different, and I would go as far as saying that it almost feels as if each has a different character. Stretched out, curled in a ball…. there are anthropomorphic comparisons which can be drawn – i.e. feelings of curiosity (above top), introversion (above middle) or relaxation (above bottom).

When lit from behind, the sample was interesting because the overlaps show up as darker tones and add additional shape and structure to the sample (see below):

I really love this sample and feel that it has lots of potential.


SAMPLE 3: 180gsm cartridge paper joined with staples

I wanted to make this sample different from just an overlapping version of Part 2, project 1, exercise 1, sample 1. I decided to make the overlap different, to obtain a different effect (see below):



I also used multiple staples orientated in a random way, rather than a simple row of evenly spaced staples. When lit from above using a daylight bulb and angle poise lamp, it is possible to obtain shadows from the reverse of the staples (see below)

The staples also give texture and interest to the opposite surface and the join is very robust.


SAMPLE 4: 180gsm cartridge paper joined by rows of straight stitch

I made an overlap of several cm and worked four rows of staggered straight stitch in double knitting wool using a crewel needle.

I worked the stitches evenly with long stitches at the front (see photo above) and short stitches on the back (see photo below)

This is a very sturdy and decorative join, albeit it simple. Once again, viewed when lit from behind, the differential opacity of the join and the stitches is emphasised (see below):



SAMPLE 5: 180gsm cartridge paper joined by herringbone stitch

Using the same overlap, paper and thread as sample 4, this time I stitched the join using herringbone stitch.  This is a stitch commonly associated with appliqué.

I made the decision to vary both the stitch length and width as I worked it (whilst keeping the stitches regular).

I like this join because it reminds me of patching or mending. From a distance it looks like enlarged machine stitching. Perhaps it could even be worked on a really huge scale from dramatic impact? 

The reverse side of this sample was not very interesting, so I haven’t included a photo.


SAMPLE 6: Fabric layering, and joining with french knots

Moving on from stitched samples 4 and 5, I wanted to examine materials with different opacities and consider layering. I chose some fabrics with very different textural properties: nylon net, acrylic felt, stretch crumpled velour and heat creased polyester taffeta. I cut small pieces, layered them, then secured the layers using french knots which worked in crewel embroidery wool for additional contrast (see below)

I had high hopes for this sample, but I can’t help but feel disappointed. I didn’t give much thought to the composition, which I think is one of the problems. There is also too little contrast in tone, and the french knots look ‘incidental’ rather than an integrated constituent of the piece. 


SAMPLE 7: Transparent and opaque fabric strips joined by machine straight stitch

I decided to take some different transparency fabrics, overlap and join them. I started with two very sheer organza fabrics; turquoise sparkly polyester organza and shot red/turquoise polyester voile. Because these two fabrics are very reflective, I chose a matt black, completely opaque black needlecord for contrast.

The sample is shown below:

As well a simple overlaps, in some areas I doubled over the organza and vole to create multiple layers. I also varied which of the fabrics was underneath, and which on top, to get different tonal effects.

I didn’t like this sample at first because the black stripes are very dominant compared with the subtle transitions of the sheer synthetics. However, there are elements which are really strong – across the blue sections (including where they overlap the black fabric) the transitions are subtle, flowing and suggestive of movement (perhaps waves?). This is probably because the turquoise shade in the synthetics is very similar. There is a definite sense of depth, with the blue sparkly organza appearing to float above the other strips. The machine stitching is not intrusive and does not interfere with the visual effect of the fabrics.

I tried lighting the sample from behind whilst hanging it vertically, but I didn’t feel that I got any extra benefits by doing so (see below):

It was not until I was writing up a batch of samples that I noticed that if this sample was folded so that the bands/stripes did not align, then a more interesting effect was obtained (see two images below). I taped the edges together temporarily with masking tape to make this ‘fortune cookie’ shape, which also reminds me of humbugs.

The interest arises because of the composition. Now we get discontinuity of the stripes, and because the black sections are repeated in each half they now appear as essential elements of overall piece. I think if I were to use this idea in a folded or pieced fabric sculpture (or surface), then it could be quite effective. 


SAMPLE 8: Transparent fabric and tissue paper strips joined by machine straight stitch

I decided to make this sample after the initial disappointment of sample 7. The aim was to make more subtle transitions, by using white, pale blue and mid-blue tissue paper strips in conjunction with the synthetic sheer fabrics used in sample 7. The same methods were used. 

As well as being really pleased with the results, I like the tactile differences between the soft sheer fabric and the crisp tissue paper. The tissue paper holds a crease, so this enables a degree of sculpting. I made a bigger sample this time and I also included more of my favourite material – the shot synthetic voile.

The red colour in the shot fabric shows up better than in sample 7. I particularly like the view where is was stood on end to make a sinuous curved vertical surface. Looking at it in this way, it appears almost vessel-like. Unfortunately this photo does not capture the sparkle in the organza, but the layers are represented beautifully.

I also folded the sample in half into a long sausage shape, which shows the red colour of the shot fabric up very well (see below):

There are some very engaging stripy shadows. It’s hard to believe these two photos are from the same sample. I can imaging perhaps cutting lengthways strips, folding them to make cross-sectional elongated aerofoils, and joining these shapes to make a surface.


SAMPLE 9: Burlap, leather and polyester voile joined with embroidery thread and ribbon using various stitches

This sample is a variation of samples 7 and 8. On this occasion, I wanted to make the weights and opacities of the materials very different. I also chose to join them with two very different categories of stitches; the first traditional embroidery stitches such as herringbone, buttonhole, running stitch and cross stitch, contrasting with very irregular hap-hazard straight stitch (see below)


With the traditional stitches, I was making reference to the work of Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, in which she uses Latvian cross stitch designs on unusual surfaces such as metal household objects (Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, 2016). I wanted to contrast my traditional regular stitches by working them on burlap (a type of sacking material) – a context in which they would not normally be expected. I wanted the organza areas to be barely visible and appearing to suspend the other strips in space. 

The photo above was intended to be the right side (the suede side of the leather being uppermost). The reverse is shown below:


 I also looked at the sample lit from behind:

I like the way that the brown stitches are emphasised, in particular that both sides can be seen through the burlap, so the thread is revealed as continuous.

You can see from the photo above that I had technical problems with this sample. The burlap was so loosely woven that fraying occurred and the stitched joins partially came apart in places.

Finally, I rolled the sample and looked at the folded edge, as I had in sample 9.

Overall, this is one of my least favourite samples because I feel that it lacks subtlety and cohesion.


SAMPLE 10: An extension of sample 4 

In this sample, I sought to use more interesting materials with the same simple but effective joining stitch. I chose a purple and lime green theme for the stitches, fabric and paper. 

The fabrics I used were synthetic taffeta (purple), heat-creased synthetic (lime green), Japanese tissue (white) regular tissue (white and purple). The threads used were: merino double knit (purple) and pima cotton double knit (lime green).

The photo above shows the right side, the photo below, the reverse. I am frustrated by this sample because I feel that it doesn’t work. The contrast is too strong, due to the inclusion of white, and possibly the stitching is too heavy.

Looking at the sample lit from behind gives a view where the stitches appear to be a continuous, wriggly thread and weave of the taffeta shows up to give added texture. However, I feel that it is nothing remarkable.

Like sample 8, I then viewed the edges of each the stripe (see below):

I consider this configuration similar to viewing a sample with a viewing frame (but in three-dimensions). I prefer this configuration; the focus is more on the textural variations of material and stitch and the colour contrasts seem less jarring. 


SAMPLE 11: Central brass fastener joining acetate strips

I took inspiration for this sample from the radial and spherical joins used by Sarah Sze (, 2001-16).

First, I drew stripes on acetate sheets with a staedler pen (see below), before cutting them into strips.


I used three acetate sheets to give me lots of strips which I joined through a hole at one end with a brass fastener. It was night time when I had finished the sample, and I first photographed it under artificial light. Suspending it into a “dome” shape, I was able to produce some shadows (as I had hoped), although the reflection of the light in the acetate was unpleasant (see below):

It’s worth noting that this reflection was not really noticeable when viewed with the naked eye, and only seemed to be an issue with the photographic image.

I took the remaining photographs in natural daylight. I tried three different arrangements of the strips (see below), some bunched together, some spread out. Because of the large number of strips I had used there was always some overlap of the acetate.



I like the way the image has been fractured and distorted by being cut into strips and then rejoined in this way. The images remind me of rotating fan or propeller blades – they look as if they are moving but frozen in time, as your eye see a snapshot of a changing image.

I found these arrangements interesting, but maybe a little too congested, so decided to remove about 3/4 of the strips and look again at the sample. The images below show different arrangements:

I think these arrangements are also strong. However, when I looked at the images together in my photo library, I realised that they real beauty was when viewed as a group, so that the shapes and spacings could be contrasted.


As it stands, this imagery echoes some sketchbook representations I made about 6 months ago of DNA’s double helix (relating to my interest in the theme of identity) (see below):

As a possibility for extending this idea, I thought about experimenting with different patterning, and even recognisable imagery, such a faces and scenery.


SAMPLE 12: Joining paper with a ring

I wanted to take overlapping to the extreme with this sample and create a ring of flaps joined by a central circle of wire (similar to a key ring). The inspiration came from abrasive and polishing mops which are made with sandpaper or cloth. As a child I was fascinated by the very close edges (my father ran an abrasives business and frequently bought samples home).

Doing some background research, I was interested to see how Japanese artist Masai Bamba had used layers of cloth to create the piece “Floating letters, falling leaves” (Winter, 2013). In this large floor installation, the strips of cloth appear to be laid in partially overlapping strips (relying on gravity rather than being physically joined?) What I found interesting about this piece is that the cloth strips have been allowed to “ripple”, making the edges a feature (Millar, 2013:26-27).

I had initially intended to make the sample out of tissue paper, but I realised that I did not have enough, so used magazine pages (see below).

I was not able to get enough paper on  the wire to make a full circle (I had to close the wire ring with pliers!), however I have still managed to create the effect of multiple edges in a semi-circle (two of these samples could be joined to make a circle, if desired).

I have to admit to being initially disappointed, because I hadn’t considered that the sample would look very similar to an open book. However, I can image if it were to be repeated using, for example, crumpled wax paper, or tissue paper, then a much more exciting effect could be produced. 

Looking for other artists who have made edges a feature of their work, I came across American artist Doug Beube, who works with paper and artist-modified existing books (Revere McFadden, 2009: 63). One such example is “Ruffled collar” (2004), an altered French/English dictionary (Beube, 2011-2016). In an article on the College Art Book Association, Beube provides us with more detail;  each page of the dictionary has been crumpled, then flattened in an attempt to return it to a pristine condition (although that is not possible, so each page remains blemished). He has also created red gouged out indices, indicative of bleeding/injury. These two modifications have added surface texture to each edge and made it interesting to view (Beube, 2011-16). Similarly, had I applied surface/edge distress to my pages, then it would have elevated the sample from something mundane to a visually interesting outcome. I now feel inspired and wish I had time to work more samples!

Post script: I have had this sample next to me on my desk and my interest in it has grown. I am drawn to the tactile qualities of the edges and keep flicking and touching the surface that they creates.  From a distance, the sample resembles a wad of money, joined with an elastic band and I can’t help thinking about associated narratives; power, greed, maybe ill gotten gains (gambling or drug money), or perhaps just saving up for something special.


SAMPLE 13: Joining paper shapes using brass fasteners

This is an extension from sample 2 and sample 9, where brass fasteners are used to make a flexible join which could be configured in different ways. 

The inspiration for the shape came from the work of OCA student Ros Clarke (Clarke, 2016). I particularly liked the samples below  (reproduced with permission).


I am very drawn to the round shapes joined by thin “bridges”, and the negative spaces which they create. This gave me the idea of deriving a unit which could be duplicated, joined and arranged in many different and exciting ways. I took elements from each of the samples above right and left to derive my shape (see below).


I was disappointed with my results, which I feel are rather boring (see below). Even by joining the shapes in different ways, the result was still much too regular for my liking (see below):

Throwing the shapes down randomly on the paper gave a better result, as they were overlapped in a more random way, so irregularity started to feature, bringing added visual interest (see below). However, I am not keen on the 2-dimensional nature of this sample; it still looks very flat and lacks depth.


SAMPLE 14: Twisted paper strip

This simplest of samples originated with the thought of joining strips of paper to make a paper chain (or similarly constructed structure). I picked up a strip of envelope paper from the table which I had torn with the intention of using it as a bookmark. Instead, I started experimenting by twisting, then joining the ends together with glue. I later discovered that this shape is known as a Möbious strip, after one of the mathematicians who discovered it.


The sample is just a few cm, but I think that it as very engaging. The plain side vs. the patterned side, and the shadows that it creates, depending from which angle it is placed, lit and viewed.

My idea for this sample is to keep it small, and duplicate it many times to form a tactile surface. Inspiration came from the commission “Rosette” (2007) by Anne Kyyro Quinn, in which she takes a simple felt motif (a twisted and joined shape) and repeats it many times to make a textile panel (Kyyro Quinn, n.d.)


SAMPLE 15: Variation on the paper chain

The paper chain is composed by a simple join of overlapping edges of a strip of paper. Thinking about this with an artist’s eye, I considered how this simple idea might be elevated. I looked for examples in the literature, and found the work of Brazilian born artist Celia Braga (Revere McFadden, 2009:72-75). In his work “Placebos”  (Museum of Modern Arts and Design, 2008-9), Braga has made simple paper chains made from medicine contraindication labels and hung them from ceiling to floor. Flowers, made from the same material have been hung on the walls behind the chains as a backdrop. This installation expresses the artist’s theme of the fragility of life and attempts to embellish, protect, save and cure the human body (Revere McFadden, 2009:73). The work demonstrates that a simple idea can be used effectively when combined with other elements and in conjunction with a narrative.

For my own work, my thoughts turned to what would happen if I joined the links unconventionally (i.e. not in a line). I also considered dimensions – the chain links could be made wide and short, or thin and long (as equally, wide and long or thin and short!). They could be uniform (made from the same material and of the same size), or they could increasingly large (or small), or they could be completely irregular.

I decided that I would use regularly sized links made from tissue paper (chosen for it’s delicacy and translucency). I would start with one chain, then into that join two chains. Into each of the two, I would join another two and so on. I would retreat this increasing in mirror (i.e. decreasing), until I was left with just one link again. That way a would make a 3-dimensional “rhombus” shape.

My finished sample is shown below: I used varying shades of red and pink to give a feeling of transition from the ends to the centre of the shape.

The photo above shows the sample laying flat on some white paper, viewed from above. It is difficult to see it’s three-dimensional qualities. The photo below shows the sample suspended vertically, against a corner.

The way the piece rustles and moves when it is hung makes a soft sound like wind through leaves. It is difficult to see from the photos, but when viewing the samples from different angles it is possible to look right through some of the rings (which are at right angles on alternative layers). On a much larger scale these could be used as “windows” to partially view an image or scenery behind the piece.

The use of pink, and the resemblance to a frilly petticoat (both because of the layers and the rustling sound), gives this sample a feminine feel.


SAMPLE 16: Fused plastic

I used Gwen Hedley’s book, “Surfaces for stitch” (Hedley, 2004:47-51) as a prompt for this sample. I had not fused plastic before, so it was useful to have a methodology to follow. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a very large selection of plastic bags to use, so I was limited to fairly dull colours. I did, however find a bag with a person printed on it, so I was able to cut out the mouth and hands and use these creatively. 

I made a patchwork of irregularly shaped cut pieces of plastic and placed these, edges overlapping, on a sheet of baking parchment. I then laid another sheet of baking parchment on top before ironing. I used the heat setting for cotton, which I think was too hot, because the plastic is creased and distorted slightly. However, it did fuse very well to make a continuous sheet and I was very pleased with the results (see below):


The joins are like welds – the plastic has melted together and become a continuous sheet. It would be fun to investigate the use of transparent and semi-transparent plastic in conjunction with opaque pieces. Ideas suggested by Gwen Hedley include: using small squares of colour to create a mosaic-like design, using letters and numbers, and making a pictorial piece (Hedley, 2004:51).

My biggest concern with using plastics is that it is difficult to know whether bags are biodegradable, and if so, when they might start to degrade! Usually this takes a couple of years, but if planning for an exhibition, or if the piece was intended for sale, then it would be safest to use non-biodegradable bags.


SAMPLE 17: Plaited paper strips

I saw a wonderful example in the book “Cloth and Memory” (Millar, 2013), which I discovered via a YouTube video suggested in the course notes (An introduction to the cloth and memory {2} exhibition at Salts Mill, 2013). Japanese artist Machiko Agano showed  “The River”  (Taylor, 2013). The installation consists of large strips of inkjet printed polyester mirror sheet, which have been woven together. The work is especially dramatic because of the scale; just a few large elements filing the exhibition space.

Inspired by Agano’s piece, I wanted to recreate the colours and feelings of joy of the kimono patterns she had used. I cut similar shaped strips, but from the pages of a lifestyle magazine. I chose photos of gardens, women and bright clothes to recreate feelings of happiness. To make the sample my own, I decided to plait the strips (Agano had used simple interleaving). I like the reference to plaiting of hair which ties in with the feminine imagery. I purposely arranged the strips so that the womens’ faces would be visible, and I staggered the plaiting to add further compositional interest. The result is shown below:

Although the pieces are primarily joined by plaiting, I had to add some small dots of glue on the ends to keep the pieces together.

I think that this sample works very well, although it could perhaps be further enhanced by printing onto fabric and introduction of transparent, semi-transparent and textural elements. I photographed the sample “Blu-tacked” up against a vertical surface. I especially like the three-dimensionality of the plaits, and the feeling of depth and mystery which comes from not being able to see the images in their entirety).

SAMPLE 18: Semi-circular rings, joined at right angles

I used a toilet roll to make this sample, simply because it was the right shape and size. I first cut rings from the tubes, then cut each ring in half to produce a semi-circle. This was to be my sample for “joining curved edges with an overlap”.

I followed 2 rules when joining:

  1. Each end of the card was joined only once
  2. Joins were made at right angles
I used stapling to make my joins, simply because I was more interested in robustness and stability than aesthetics. My sample is shown below in different configurations, lit with the angle poise lamp and daylight bulb to create shadows.
The three-dimensionality associated with this sample is very exciting. It has the feeling of stored energy and “bounce”. The cardboard is perhaps a little softer than I would have liked, but the sample generally held when I positioned it.

SAMPLE 19: Grass stitched onto velum with couching

I decided that I would like to try couching as a method of joining overlapping materials, and this sample gave me the opportunity to use materials which I had not worked with before.

I had purchased some velum, which I thought would be interesting, being semi-transparent. I used the smallest needle so as not to make too large an entry/exit hole, and dressmakers’ polyester cotton thread. It was easy to sew. I couched some ornamental grass blades which I had picked from the garden. The result is shown below:

This view was taken lit from above with the angle poise lamp and daylight bulb. I was surprised to see the threads showing through from the reverse, because this wasn’t the experience I had whilst I was sewing. When photographed against a black background, the vellum appears less see-through and only the stitches on the right side are visible (see below):

I chose the thread to be intentionally very delicate and red to contrast and complementary colour to the green leaves. This sample has a Japanese feel to it; the velum reminds me of shoji paper used for indoor and outdoor screens, and the red colour together with the delicate grass also reminds me of the Japanese aesthetic.

Compositionally, I like the way that the grass blades diagonally traverse the vellum and extend over the edges. The negative spaces formed where the grasses cross work really well. I am in two minds as to whether the thread is too fine. Perhaps if to was slightly thicker (maybe doubled) the sample would be better balanced?


An introduction to the cloth and memory {2} exhibition at Salts Mill (2013) [user generated content online] Creat. Direct Design. 22 August 2013. At: (Accessed 16 November 2016) (2001-16) Sarah Sze: About the artist. At: (Accessed 9 November 2016)

Beube, D. (2011-2016) ‘Channeling French to English’. In: College Art Book Association. At: (Accessed 16 November 2016)

Clarke, R. (2016) Foundations textiles, Assignment 3, Final samples. 7 November. At: (Accessed 8 November 2016)

Hedley, G. (2004) Surfaces for stitch. London. Batsford.

Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, S. (2016) Severija: News. At: (Accessed 27 October 2016)

Kyyro Quinn, A. (n.d.) Projects: Conference rooms: Jacob & Co, London. “Rosette” (2007) At: (Accessed 17 November 2016)

Millar, L. (2013) Cloth & Memory 2. Shipley. Salts Estates Ltd.

Museum of Modern Arts and Design (2008-9) Celia Braga Placebos [photograph] At: (Accessed 16 November 2016)

Quinn, B. (2009) Textiles designers at the cutting edge. London. Lawrence King Publishing.

Revere McFadden, D. (2009) Slash: Paper under the knife. New York:Museum of Arts and Design. 

Taylor, K. (2013) Machiko Agano. [Pinterest pin, September 2013] Available at:

Winter, K. (2013) Cloth & Memory {2} at Saltaire. [Pinterest pin, October 2013] Available at: (Accessed 16 November 2016)

Assignment 1 – Response to tutor feedback

14 November 2016

Assignment 1 – tutor feedback

My tutor for this module is Cari Morton. A link to her feedback can be found here.


Response to tutor feedback

In submitting this assignment, I had tried to focus on the following improvement points which I highlighted from Textiles 1:Exploring Ideas:

  1. To use the Harvard referencing system correctly by expressing author, date and page number (if appropriate) in the text.
  2. To be wider in my research around each subject (to include magazine articles and OCA blog posts)
  3. To better explain the benefits of peer contact as they relate to my practice (for example, through Facebook, OCA hangouts, discussion forums and email).
  4. In addition to the research topic, to mention specific artists as they relate to specific samples or lines of enquiry.
  5. To be more free and playful in my experimentation and to focus on creativity (i.e. not to be overly concerned about neatness or demonstration of craft skills).
  6. To incorporate what I have learnt about viewing samples at different angles (i.e. inside and outside, back and front), and under different lighting conditions.
I am pleased that my tutor recognised my thoroughness and appreciated the benefits of the scientific approach I had taken, which enabled be to define boundaries and identify characteristics/success criteria.
I was delighted that my tutor was so complementary about my drawings, in particular my ‘samples’ sketchbook. Her observation that my ‘Garden-themed’ sketchbook was not a key part of the broader project is correct. I had understood that any supplementary sketchbook/drawing/painting activities could be submitted, and I did not appreciate that they needed to relate directly to the assignment (in his case surface distortion). 
For assignment 2, I have already started a supplementary sketchbook on the them of ‘identity’. However, most of the work completed involves mark-making and surface texture rather than joining and wrapping, so it does not form an integral part of the exploration for this assignment. I will have try and realign the focus of my sketchbook. My tutor’s suggestion of extending my sample sketches to include planning and proposing ideas, as well as documenting, is excellent. I think that this will really help me by prompting new lines of enquiry and will definitely start incorporating it into my new sketchbook.
My tutor mentioned that she liked the way in which I embedded research her about artists into my blog, and suggested in her pointers for the next assignment that I could include images. I wondered if she realised that I had also created a separate (password protected) blog entry specifically where I had researched artists in detail (password protected because it includes copyrighted images). A link to the entry is given here. I shall check that my tutor is aware of this approach when I submit my next assignment.

Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 3 – Joining curved edges

7 November 2016

Project 1, Exercise 3 – Joining curved edges

Following the suggestions in the course notes, I made a series of samples, firstly exploring:

  1. Curved edges which join together
  2. Curved edges that create a gap
  3. Curved edges that both touch and leave gaps.
From sample 6 onwards, I cut shapes out of the materials to form holes, then filled the holes with another joining method to hold them in place.
SAMPLE 1: Dictionary paper, convex curves, no gap
I started with the simple idea of making a convex shape template (see below)
For my sample, I chose dictionary paper because of it’s toughness, it’s thinness and ease of manipulation, and because of the interest of the text. For speed and durability, I joined the pieces together with a sewing machine zig-zag. This dictated the size of my paper pieces – too small and I would have found it impossible to stitch. On the other side of the scale, the maximum size was limited by the dimensions of the dictionary pages. I joined the curved edges first, then the straight edges to form a surface. 
My finished sample is shown below (Top left: sample viewed on right side, photographed from above. Top right: sample viewed from the side, Bottom: sample flipped over to view underside)
My preferred view is that which I refer to as the “right side” of the sample. I like the fact that the ridges are irregular and that the fullness is not evenly distributed across the surface, which reminds me of triangular shaped tea bags. It is possible to form and manipulate the sample with your fingers to place the peaks in different positions.
The paper was quite stiff, which enabled the peaks to stand up. I wondered what the sample would be like had it been constructed from floppy fabric – would the peaks/full areas of fabric perhaps lay flat and form flaps?
I do like the pattern on this paper, which adds to the interest of the sample. The slightly different orientation of each peak results in shadows with many different tones.
SAMPLE 2: Dictionary paper, concave curves, no gap
The intention was to produce a sample similar to sample 1, but using concave shapes. The template which I used is shown below:
You will note that the position of the straight edges in relation to the curve is different to sample 1 (I wanted to give the curves in this surface a different direction/orientation).
My finished sample is shown below:
As was the initial intention, I started by joining all the pieces with no gaps. However, I soon realised that the sample would be much more exciting if I made “branches” and left triangular shaped “holes”. This encouraged the sample to curl into a tube (as is shown in the second photograph). It minds me of holly leaves, or a spiny animal such as a puffa fish.
I also tried viewing the sample from the other side (see below) to make valleys rather than mountains. However, they weren’t very obvious, so this wasn’t my preferred configuration.
Once again, I like the irregularity of this sample even though it is constructed of identical sized pieces of the same material. 
SAMPLE 3: Convex sections cut from a milk container, joined by stapling
This is an example of curved edges which both touch and leave gaps. I first took a 1 litre milk container and cut strips around the circumference. I cut each of these rings into 4 curved pieces. I chose to join with staples because I wanted a robust join which would add physical structure to the sample.  I made a honeycomb structure, which is slightly irregular because the plastic pieces varied in shape as I cut rings from different parts of the container. The result is shown below:
These two images have been taken  whilst the sample is illuminated with an angle poise lamp and daylight bulb (top: laid flat on a white sheet of paper, bottom: stood upright).
A much more dramatic and interesting result is obtained when the sample is stood upright and lit by multi-directional spotlights (see above). The many shadows look feather-like.
I think this could be a versatile structure. There is the opportunity to add more interest by punching holes in the material and maybe by joining in a less obtrusive way (say glue?)
SAMPLE 4: 270gsm circles joined by staples
Although not directly influenced by a particular piece of work, this sample was inspired by the effective use of the repetition of simple shapes (such as circles) in Alison Reid’s book “Stitch Magic” (Reid, 2011). 
I decided that I wanted to join my circles at the point that they touched with a strong join that would enable my to produce a sheet which could be formed into a 3D structure. This is why I chose staples, rather than stitching or any other joining method.
The image above shows the sheet which I created. I chose a harmonious colour scheme of yellow and yellowish-green, and placed circles randomly. 
I thought about the possibility of folding the sample (the rigidity of the staples would prevent some folds, but diagonal folding (as shown by the black lines drawn on the image below), would be possible to form concertina pleats.
However, for this sample, I decided to roll and pin it into an open-ended cone using paper clips to hold it in place. I found that the best effects were produced by viewing the sample under multi-directional spotlights, where the true beauty of the shadows could be appreciated (see below):
This is my favourite sample so far. I love the regularity of the circles and the geometric negative shapes they produce. The irregularity of the colour placement works well as a counter to the strict symmetry of the pattern, and the complex shadows offset the simplicity of the cards pieces. 
SAMPLE 5: Offcuts from sample 4, joined by knotted lengths of fishing line
The idea of using the offcuts came to me as they lay on the table in a pile and casting complex shadows. They were just as exquisite as the structure I had made for sample 4, but instead of being ordered, constrained and regular, they were untidy, haphazard and muddled.
I didn’t want to detract from the structure of the circle waste with my joining method, so I used tied lengths of fishing line to hold the paper together in a very loose structure which I manipulated into interesting shapes with my hands. The top two images were taken under a single lamp, the bottom one under multi-directional spotlights. There is little to choose between each of the lighting set-ups in this case.
I later came across a Facebook post by Contemporay Art Book, which featured an album of artwork by Kiyomi Iwata. Several of her pieces are open structured sculptures. One in particular (untitled) (Contemporary Art Book, 2016) reminded me of this sample.
SAMPLE 6: Dictionary paper offcuts and tissue inserts
By coincidence, I had borrowed a book from the library which was recommended in Rebecca Fairley’s recent blog post (Fairley, 2016). In Chapter 7 (shadow work), I found reference to the use of circle waste (Franklin and Jarvis, 2005, 78). It gave me the idea of exploiting the semi-transparency of the offcuts from sample 2 and combining them with transparent and non-transparent inserts.
Firstly, I used glue to join the pieces of dictionary paper waste. The combination of curves and straight lines gave me a piece of paper with interesting shaped holes (all different, but related). I then took strips of tissue paper, painted cartridge paper and twisted tissue, and overlaid them to from translucent layers.
The sample appears rather un-inspiring when viewed in daylight (see below):
However, the way in which I developed the sample after dark. Each time I added a strip of paper, I held the sample up against the daylight bulb to assess the effectiveness (with the assistance of my studio helper!) – see below:
The resulting sample, when viewed lit from behind in this way looks like a wonderful textured piece of fabric, and much more exciting than when viewed in daylight. I like the layers formed by the overlapping paper and tissue and the fact that the printing reads both diagonally and vertically. I can imagine using a photograph of this sample as the basis for a printed fabric design.
Finally, I also rolled the sample temporarily into a tube and secured it with paper clips. Lit from above gives a similar effect to the flat sheet lit from behind. It is very suggestive of a lampshade, as it has the appearance of being lit from the inside.
I think that the narrow areas (pinch points?) in the dictionary paper help to provide tension and suggest fragility which is also reflected in the use of tissue paper.
SAMPLE 7: Cut-out holes in corrugated card with offset inserts
I was inspired to make this sample having viewed the work of fellow Mixed Media for Textiles student Sheena (Sheena514848, 2016). She had made a series of samples joining small circles inside larger cut-out circular holes, using stitching and dissimilar materials. My aim was to extend her ideas by using a single material (corrugated card), but to exploit the effects of light and shadow, by arranging the ridges so that they were not facing in the same direction. I had initially intended to attach the inner circles using bullion stitch. However, in the event, I found that I preferred the aesthetics of a single straight thread due to it’s simplicity.
I started by painting my corrugated card in two coats of white acrylic paint to increase the reflective properties. I then used a variety of mats and drinks glasses to make circles of different sizes which I cut out and re-arranged (smaller circles inside larger ones and offsetting the direction of the ridges in the card).
I fixed the inner circles using simple straight stitches, which when taught, held the inserts in a precise position (see below)
These two images above are taken against a white background, lit by the daylight bulb angle-poise lamp.
And the image above was taken with the sample laying flat on a black background. I prefer the white background because of the soft tonal shadows cast behind the cut-outs.
Although I used the same material inside my holes, I achieved a feeling of contrast by changing the direction of the ridges. A similar effect could have been achieved using stripes. In this case I wanted the tonal differences of the ridges to be the focal point, so I kept the colour of the card and stitching white. 
I’m not really fond of this sample (which is irritating). Compositionally, the placement of the outer holes is too even, and despite the offset centre circles, I feel that the sample lacks excitement. Although I like the visibility of the stitching and the impression that it is holding the inner circles tightly in place, I feel that they would have more impact had they been worked in a contrasting colour, such as red or brown.
Thinking of ways to extend this sample further, I like the idea of using ovals instead of circles, and of perhaps making a much larger cut-out with, say 5 progressively smaller interior rings, each joined in a similar way with threads. Offsetting stripes or ridges might be used as a way suggestion a three dimensional effect. I would need to do some sketchbook work first to explore these possibilities.
SAMPLE 8: Holes cut from card with different infills
I was impressed with the final samples posted up by Foundations Textiles student Ros Clarke (Clarke, 2016). In particular, I liked the way she had stitches across holes in tracing paper and waxed paper, and used strips of tracing paper to create layers of different translucency. Below is an example of some of her samples (reproduced with permission).
In particular, I was interested in her use of waxed paper, which provides a wonderful patterning where it has been crumpled and the wax has been cracked. I decided to use it in my sample as an insert material.
Similar to sample 7, I started by cutting holes of a variety of sizes, this time in 250gsm cartridge paper. I was a tired of plain paper, to I painted the card, first in a fine sand acrylic paint effect, then over the top with grey acrylic paint. I purposely graded the colour from dark at the bottom, to lighter at the top.
I have used five different inserts secured using either stitch or glue.
I started by working the insert bottom right which is a torn, crumpled irregularly shaped piece of waxed (deli) paper, secured to the circular hole using twisted insertion stitch (Thomas, 1943, 131), and worked with crewel embroidery wool. I was very pleased with the outcome and had initially intended to work all the holes in this way. However, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to try some different techniques. Next, I secured a folded strip of the crumpled waxed paper to the top right hole using two straight stitch tacks in white crewel wool. Compositionally, I really love the way that the paper dissects the circle into two uneven segments (however, I am annoyed that the paper strip is not vertically aligned with the edge of the page).
The next infill to be worked was top left. I took strips of white organza ribbon and glued them to the back of the circle. I had intended to weave across them with thread, but I really liked their simplicity, and the fact that in contrast to the other two infills, they showed no obvious fixing.
I then worked the infill on the bottom left. I used a thicker tapestry wool and Double Brussels open filling stitch (Franklin, 2005, 112). I’m not entirely happy with how I worked this stitch, as it is rather uneven. 
Finally, I wanted to use the waxed paper again for the middle left hole infill. Just playing with the paper, I found that I actually really liked the effect of it simply laying on top of the hole, so I lightly secured it with glue in two places. This way the fixing appeared invisible and the paper seems to be just floating above the space. It provided an interesting contrast with the stitched inserts.
Overall, I don’t feel that this sample works well because the insert at the bottom left is out of place. There are two reasons for this: firstly the colour of the wool in wrong – it is off-white and all the other stitching is white, so it lacks unity with the other infills. Secondly it is too clumsy, and consequently dominates the piece. The other four infills work well together, displaying cohesion of colour and delicacy. However, I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better to stick to a single theme? My curiosity and desire to explore different outcomes got the better of me on this occasion.
Clarke, R. (2016) Foundations textiles, Assignment 3, Final samples. 7 November. At: (Accessed 8 November 2016)
Fairley, R. (2016) Traditional textile techniques used in contemporary ways. At: (Accessed 22 October 2016)
Franklin, T. and Jarvis, N. (2005) Contemporary Whitework. London. Batsford. 
Reid, A. (2011) Stitch magic: sculpting fabric with stitch. London, A & C Black.
Sheena514848 (2016) Pr-1 Ex-3 More joining of curved edges and Ex-4 Overlapping edges. 24 August 2016. At:
Thomas, M. (1943) Mary Thomas’s dictionary of embroidery stitches. London. Hodder and Stoughton.

Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 2 – Joining straight edges with a gap

3 November 2016

Project 1, Exercise 2 – Joining straight edges with a gap

A logical progression from exercise 1, this series of samples extended the scope by allowing even or irregular gaps between the joined materials. 

Rather than repeat all the samples in exercise 1 with gaps, I took the opportunity to gain technical skills in working insertion stitches, and hairpin crochet (both new techniques for me), and to push the boundaries by extending my use of materials.


SAMPLE 1: Black card, safety pins

I hadn’t used safety pins before, and I felt they would be more suitable for ‘a join with a gap’ than regular pins (see below):

I used different sizes and orientated them the same way. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with that Versace dress modelled by Liz Hurley in 1994 (Barsamian, 2014) and Zandra Rhode’s “Conceptual Chic” collection of 1977, which, inspired by punk, incorporated safety pins as both embellishments and to join pieces of fabric in the garments (University of the Creative Arts, n.d.)

As well as liking the aesthetics and durability of this join, I was pleasantly surprised at it’s flexibility (see below):

The profile of the pins look good standing away from the card too. 


SAMPLE 2: Dictionary paper ‘tabs’ Joining black card

The idea of using tabs of paper came to me as a way of introducing a measured and controllable gap between two pieces of card (see below)

The view above is of the reverse of the sample. I have folded pieces of dictionary paper and used a sewing machine to secure two pieces of card together with them. The card and paper sample is flexible, stable and strong. Looking at it with an artist’s eye, I am drawn to the negative spaces between the tables and the ratio between tab and space. The tabs in my sample are very slightly mis-aligned (i.e. not parallel to each other). I find this quality quite appealing.

Below is a view showing the flexibility of the sample and it’s ability to be configured into a self-supporting shape:

I like this quality of the sample. I can imagine several repeating shapes being used in this way to make a textured surface. Different colour combinations of tab and joined material could also be examined.

As an alternative, fabric could have been used for the tabs and/or the joining materials, but would have given different results due different stiffnesses. I think for this sample, stiff self supporting materials would work best.

I decided that I would select this sample to sketch (see below)


I used olnly a 2H pencil, because that is what I had with me at the time. Consequently it was quite tricky to achieve the full variation of tone. I love drawing in extreme perspective, and I enjoyed the intricacies of the folds, shadows and stitching.


SAMPLE 3: Insertion stitch (buttonhole) joining two strips of “funky foam”

I had never worked any form of insertion stitch before embarking on this project, so decided to improve my technical skills by working several examples from Mary Thomas’s  Dictionary of embroidery stitches (Thomas, 1948: 126-131). For my first example I chose the buttonhole variant, which I worked in variegated Coton a Broder.

Thomas’s book suggested tacking the strips onto a firm piece of paper (or similar), to maintain them equidistant (Thomas, 1948: 130). In order to keep my gap constant, I temporarily taped the foam strips, onto a piece of paper using masking tape (see below):

This ensured the foam strips were secure, whilst enabling me to get behind the flaps for stitching. The masking paper and backing paper were removed once the stitching was complete. Below shows the finished sample:


Because I was interested in learning a new technical skill, I chose to work groups of evenly spaced stitches. However, I’m sure that interesting and more textural results could be obtained by varying the spacings, number of stitches in the buttonholes groups and their lengths. Alternative threads could be used, but these would need to be sufficiently smooth to showcase the detail of the stitching. 

As it stands the sample is highly decorative and aesthetically pleasing, in addition to being robust and stable. However, one point to note is that the stitches do not remain taught unless they are held in tension.


SAMPLE 4: Insertion stitch (Italian buttonhole) joining two strips of “funky foam”

This was a tricky stitch to master. Once again I referred to Mary Thomas’s book (Thomas, 1948: 127), using the same materials and methods as for sample 3. Again, as I was learning a new technique, I worked evenly spaced stitches. The result is shown below:


It is a really pretty, lacy joining stitch which is flexible across the joint. I imagine that interesting results could be obtained by working it is different thicknesses of threads and by varying the spacings.


SAMPLE 5: Insertion stitch (twisted) joining two strips of Khadi paper, wire and threads

Twisted Insertion stitch was the simplest of those I have learnt for this exercise. To make a change, I contrasted pink Khadi paper with three staggered rows of stitching worked in green jute, pink crewel tapestry wool and fine red wire. I used the same method of temporarily taping the paper strips onto a backing with masking tape. My finished result is shown below:


I worked the stitches from right to left, gradually increasing the spacing as I went along. Although the join is pretty enough, I really don’t like this sample. I think it is due to the colour combinations, particularly the contrast of the green with the pink. On the plus side, embroidering with wire makes this sample robust, flexible and easy to bend into shape.


SAMPLE 6: Hairpin crochet with handspun yarn on a 1.25mm copper wire frame.

I had never tried hairpin crochet before and I was intrigued as to how it worked. It looks complicated, but was in fact very simple.

For the method, I referred to a book by Penny Hill in the Norwich University of the Arts Library (Hill, 1994: 74-79). I didn’t have a purchased ” hairpin”, so I had to make my own out of a bent piece of copper wire. Traditionally, the crochet would have been worked on a “hairpin” and once complete, the wire would be removed to give a strip of crocheted lace. However, because I needed to keep the stitches taught and wanted to demonstrate how the stitch could be used to join two rods or strips of material, I left my frame in place. The finished sample is shown below:

There are different variants depending which and w many crocheted stitches are worked into each loop. I chose to work two double crochets each time (English nomenclature). This sample is interesting; the stitches can be moved up and down the frame to bunch them up or spread them out. The frame can also be bent into different shapes, which makes lovely shadows (see example below):

I can’t help thinking that this sample would be more interesting worked in a very thin thread and/or a textured thread such as raffia (I chose the wool for ease or working and so that I could see the stitches easily). In the top image the lacing reminds me of traditional snow shows (although they incorporate more complex netting). 

I was attracted to sketch this sample by it’s colour. I used water-soluable Neocolor crayons to represent the yarn, and I tried to be representative of the crocheted stitches without drawing in all the detail (wax crayons make this difficult, which is why I like them!) The copper frame was represented by gold gel pen outlined with a black Sharpie. 

I didn’t attempt to draw that shadows from the stitches (although there are shadows implied in the knots). I am most pleased with how the crayons have blended to suggest the variegated yarn and the representation of the knots.


SAMPLE 7: Staples in “funky foam”, increasingly large gap

In all the previous samples I had sought to keep the gap constant. From now on I would change the gap as I worked the sample. I started with a very simple example, but I’m not pleased with the results (see below)

It was very difficult to get the staple to ‘grab’ the edges of the foam properly as the gap became larger because there was no material for the staple wire to wrap around to secure it. Consequently the join was unstable and fragile, and also, I think rather unsightly.


SAMPLE 8: Strips of Khadi paper, varying gap, twisted insertion stitch worked with embroidery cotton and ribbon

After the disaster of sample 5, I decided to stick with white for this piece, to show off the stitches and the negative space. I worked freely, first in 6 strand embroidery thread, allowing the gap between the paper strips to become progressively smaller. When I ran out of embroidery cotton I started working the stitches in ribbon. The smooth shiny and flat surface worked really well and gave the stitches  excellent definition. When the paper strips moved closer together and nearly touched they seemed to want to cross, so I let them! This meant the stitches remained in tension and it allowed me to work the stitches in an increasing gap the other side of the cross. The result is shown below:

This is my favourite sample of the exercise, although I feel that the photos do not do it justice. The sample is corset-like. The lacing is decorative and well defined, and the sample naturally forms an attractive cupped shape. I like the use of the ribbon, in particular. It’s flatness helps to emphasise the shape of the stitches which remind me of a snake’s skeleton. They are very structural.

The sample is flexible but firm, and I feel there is a possibility of using this type of joining to good effect in sculpture.

This was an interesting sample to sketch. I was keen to make a loose, impressionistic representation, to I used watersiluable wax crayons, and allowed my drawing to extend past the edge of the paper (see below)

I also purposely chose a colour, because I wanted to get away from grey graphite drawings! This drawing taught me that the twists and shapes make by the ribbon are very irregular, and there are lots of complicated negative spaces.


SAMPLE 9: Packing material surface joined with twisted insertion stitch

Next, I wanted to explore joins where the gap got wider and narrower again. I had some cardboard packing material which I had saved because of it’s texture (see below):

It provided a ready-made framework (although I wondered if this was in the spirit of the exercise, because the pieces were already joined?) Anyway, it was sufficiently interesting that I decided to work it. To maintain the gaps, the card needed to be pulled apart slightly, so I decided to glue the ends to some Khadi paper (chosen because of it’s firmness and toughness).

If this idea was to be used in a finished piece, the packing material (or home-made substitute) could be fixed temporarily and removed after working (however, the stitches would need to be kept in tension, to prevent them collapsing).

I started by working with some double-stranded polyester dressmakers’ thread. However, the effect was too subtle and the stitches did’t show up as much as I would like, so I switched to the variegated Coton a Broder (see below)

What I like about this sample is the way that the packing materials sits above the surface of the paper making a 3-dimensional structure. This causes shadows to formed, both from the packing material and the stitches themselves. Photographed side-on, this surface is more easily visible (see below):

The packing material is very flexible, so this sample could be shaped into a 3-d sculpture, as desired and it would be easily to join pieces together. If I were to use this idea, however, I would probably want to disguise the packing material better by cutting my own version out of a different material (unless packaging and recycling was part of the theme!) There are a number of suitable alternative materials which could be used such as sheet craft foam, or leather for example.


SAMPLE 10: Corrugated card strips joined with twisted interaction stitch

This was intended to be a variation on sample 9, in which I cut strips of corrugated cardboard and joined them from scratch. I used the same insertion stitch worked with Coton a Broder and raffia. I glued the cardboard strips onto a Khadi paper backing in the same way as sample 9 to ensure that the gaps were maintained and the stitching would be shown off. The finished sample is shown below:

My initial response is that this sample doesn’t work as well, because unlike sample 9, it sits in a 2-d plane. However, what I like about it is the way that the raffia strands separate to make a “double thread” with attractive shadows. It is certainly worth considering using raffia in stitching in future because of this quality.


SAMPLE 11: Khadi paper strips joined by threads with an irregular spacing

I felt that I hadn’t explored a truly irregular spacing (which is I what I intended to achieve with this sample). From my experience in working the other samples, I realised that it was not going to be possible to ensure thread tension and irregular spacing with any of the conventional joining methods I had used, so I devised my own approach.

Initially, I laid threads of different compositions and weights across a sheet of Khadi paper. I then laid a sacrificial piece of tissue on top and sewed down each side with machine straight stitch (see below left)

I then cut the tissue down the middle and folded the flaps back to reveal the Khadi paper with the threads laid across it. I was then able to machine sew a two wiggly zig-zag lines down across the threads to hold them in place. Once this was done, I tore out the central strip of Khadi paper to reveal a join with a highly irregular gap! I also tore off the sacrificial tissue paper strips. However, at this point I decided that I actually liked them and that they could be used to add a layer of depth and transparency to the sample, so I glued them across the gap, behind the threads. My finished sample is shown below:

This first view shows the sample laid flat on the table. However, I really like the way that it is possible to fold, clip and stand it up to obtain shadows and to make the threads stand away from the paper at the edges (see below):


I really like the dynamic element that the threads add and the flexibility and durability of the sample. I think it could have been improved further by a still wider variety of threads and a colour scheme with greater contrast of hue. 



Barsamian, E. (2014) ‘Elizabeth Hurley’s top 10 show-stopping Versace looks’. In: Vogue. June 10, 2014 [online] At: (Accessed 3 November 2016)

Hill, P. (1994) Crochet (Sunburst Handguides). Gillingham. Sunburst Books.

Thomas, M. (1948) Mary Thomas’s dictionary of embroidery stitches. London. Holder & Stoughton.

University of the Creative Arts (n.d.) The Zandra Rhodes digital studies collection: 14. The conceptual chic collection. At: (Accessed 3 November 2016)