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.

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