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)


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