ATV - Pt2 - PJ2 - Drawing with Stitch · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Stitching on Paper – samples 1.

These days I’m quite comfortable with drawing, I’m no Leonardo Di Vinci but I’ve found a sort of style and I can enjoy putting pen and paint to paper.

But stitching is a different matter. I love to stitch but my spontaneous and slightly haphazard approach makes it difficult to be consistent and my love of fine lines and technical drawing/doodles doesn’t translate easily to stitch.

 I’m often caught in a world of seeding, knotting and hand quilting. Using stitch to extent my mark making and drawing has been a challenge.

I started with translating the little stitch motifs from the patch of darning on the smock shirt.

I soon became bored after completing the first row and a half but I’m glad I finished it. The tissue paper quickly became very fragile and I had to layer up the scrim on the back to make a more solid surface.


I continued with the idea of the motif and worked with a thinner thread on the Tyvek surface. The stitches were getting lost in the texture so I continued the motifs down into the plainer areas.



The splits and gaps in the Tyvek remind me of the rips and frayed areas on the linen garments. 

The colours I have chosen are influenced by the colours of the flowers I painted previously as the second design source.


I had been working with a basic motif that I was stitching randomly so I wanted to experiment with being more controlled. 

I made a collage, cut out an area and sellotaped it to the back of the paper surface. 

Using a thick thread I marked the corners with knots on the front and then wound a thinner thread around the knots to create the motifs.

It was clumsy to do and some of the knots came undone so had to be couched down.


The next sample started with the motifs (again!) but this little scrap of paper kept catching my eye so I pinned it to the paper and went for lunch.


When I got back, refreshed I decided to use the simplist influence and do some darning stitch. Obvious really. I really liked it and decided this was the way forward.  

I built up some layers and added more darning. I prefer the controlled darning from the photocopy but I do like the effect of using a thick and a thin thread. 


I’m was quite happy to leave the motifs behind and concentrate on darning. 

Stitching in this way feels very similar to cross hatching that is used to add tone to sketches.

When I had printed out the collage I’d left some acetate by mistake in the printer. This happy accident provided me with a lovely surface to stitch. 

I laid the printed acetate over a distressed paper surface which has two holes made by the rotary grinder.

I’m not sure everyone will like these explorations but I loved using the thread to highlight shapes and to run the lines from shape to shape. I find it very satisfying to use the printed shapes as anchors/pointers for linking/drawing the threads across the image.

If I had not controlled myself I would have kept adding more and more thread until every point had been joined or taken off the edge of the acetate and over the ruffled paper. 

I have a couple more prints so maybe I will. Is that the way I should be going? Exploring one idea, onwards and onwards? Or, stopping and picking up another idea to keep it fresh?

ATV - Assignment 2 · ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Pt2 - PJ2 - Drawing with Stitch · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

A Little Preparation 

Before I threw myself into the stitch sampling I decided to review what is needed for Assignment 2.

I like to have at least a little inkling of where I’m going next and for me reading the course materials is just not enough!

Usually I would write them out, almost, word for word but there are a lot of instructions this time. 

So I had to come up with a way to review and digest the guidance that could also make it easy for me to re-read, review, take notes, jot down ideas, research, keep pictures etc etc.

I had loads of paper left over from the previous exercise and I’ve used some of it to make a workbook. 

I’ve printed the instructions off on sticky backed acetate, cut them up into paragraphs so I could read them in small bites and fixed them onto different pages. 

And this will give me lots of space for mind maps, ideas, photos and photocopies etc.

The issue now is, do I want to mess up all this uncharacteristic organisation by actually doing something??


ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Pt2 - PJ2 - Drawing with Stitch · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

It’s Audition Time.

After putting together my manipulated paper surfaces for stitch, the next stage is to sift through all of the source material and start to decide what I am going to stitch.

Tonight I have the lounge to myself (almost, if you don’t include the pets!) so I started off by printing off pictures of my surfaces and the drawings I have selected to use as direct sources for the stitching. 

Then using my view finders I selected areas of the drawings that I felt had some link or similarly to the different surfaces.

I photographed and printed off these little duos, then I worked through the actual surfaces and put them together with the print offs.

At some point it had got to the stage where I had stuff everywhere so I decided to set up some admin style folders to organise the samples and ideas.

I’m not sure if it’s really very arty or creative to be this organised but it helps me! Not so sure Gem was that impressed though!!


There is still far too many examples to stitch so there is still more auditioning to do. 

Thank you to Anne Armes for sharing this concept of ‘auditioning’ items when selecting ideas to take forward. 

It’s been a busy evening and as you can see it’s all worn Leo the cat out!!


ATV - Pt2 - PJ1 - Creating Surfaces · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Folds, Tears and Circles

Power tools scare me, they’ve always made me nervous and they never fail to make me jump! 

This happened at least once today as I ventured into the world of manipulating paper with grinders and sanders. 

This pretty gold tool (that’s the technical term!) was satisfying but a little bit too rough for my liking. It had a habit of swirling big bits of paper away from the layers and I didn’t feel any where near enough in control of what I was doing. 


In the end the whole front sheet of the layering was whipped lose by my over enthusiastic hole making. It was a happy accident and I really like this top sheet glued onto a new background layer.


So I changed the fitting for the rest of the circles and used a flat circular grinding stone. 

I like the little green half moons and the rubbed rings of texture (that sounds like somewhere on the moon!)



I’ve also been having a play with flexible filler to add some texture and as an alternative to PVA for sticking together layers of paper.


This gave me some great texture but made the paper feel quite thick. Using it with Modge Podge glue made the paper very wet and this resulted in delicate papers becoming mushy. 

It didn’t help that I had rubbed a juicy succulent leaf into the mushy mess.


I wanted to find a way to adher the layers but not have to slop on lots of glue, even if it does dry clear. Again, I had the uneasy feeling of not having enough control over the layering.

This led me to have a dig around in my workroom and to finding a tin of 505 spray, its a fabric glue that’s not designed to be permanent. There was nothing left in my can of 606, the permanent version so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the 505 holds on because this is paper and not heavy fabric.

The spray has allowed me to make a couple of samples with more defined and controlled folds.

On the next folded experiment I used a pocket file, much less scary than the power tool to mold and define the folds.


I used the spray to layer up some lighter papers on a sheet of bark paper and used another pocket file and the flat circle grinder to create some lines, folds and signs of general ‘wear and tear’. 

The file was particularly good for embedding the layers into each other.

I felt like I was getting into a rhythm then and I worked another piece of light paper glued onto painted cartridge paper, slashed with the grinder. Then more tissue paper spray glued into place with more grinding and filling. 

Next came some slightly more defined lines I made with what was left of the cartridge paper and lots more tissue paper.

I continued to explore using the same process and rhythm and put together this final piece. I particularly like the feeling of seams and slashing.



I’ve decided that I now have enough surfaces to stitch and it’s time to start considering and planning what I am going to stitch.

 This fills me with excitement and trepidation, but first, where did I put that copy of Selvedge?  Said the procrastinator to the student!! 

ATV - Pt2 - PJ1 - Creating Surfaces · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Multi layer paper samples and some more simple experiments

After my experiments with 2 layers to create some interesting surfaces for stitch I went onto multiple layers.

There is some fibre paper, some silk tops, some scrim and an old Tyvek envelope in this first sample. Lots of smooth surfaces here.

Running this through the embellisher has created some lovely textures but I’m not sure (again) that the sample meets the brief. It’s more fabric than paper now and very detailed. 


 I’m very keen to use the heating gun on these samples so I had a play at melting the Tyvek. 

It created lots of yummy bubbles and distressed areas. So that’s gone in the sample box. 

To continue developing the distressing of a paper layer by forcing fibres through the surface with the embellisher I played with some Lutrador and scrim. 

I’ve put this in the sample box but I’m still not convinced that this isn’t too busy and fancy.   


I went even further with this experiment and added lots of layers to some bark paper and battered it until the embellisher needles really gave up the ghost! 

It was lovely to work with colour but looking back at the linen smocks to re-focus I decided to tame down the colour and work at creating some folds and tears. 

I used lots of tissue paper and PVA to create these 2 samples. 

Of all of my samples I love these 2 the best.   

ATV - Pt2 - PJ1 - Creating Surfaces · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Manipulating Paper – Simple Layering.

I have a huge collection of paper, I’ve been accumulating it for years and good friends save unusual wrappings and papers for me, so this project has made me very excited. Sad but true!!

Recently some amazing bark paper and other hand made papers have come into my possession and I’ve been itching to play with them. They have a very fabric like quality, rough and fibrous rather than smooth.

My original plan was to take them to my husbands workshop and bash and weather the papers with his power tools but time has got the better of me and I’m been working in my own workroom at home. 

My original source material: the archived garments had lovely textures and detail created by wear and tear and I want to experiment with different ways to distress my paper.

After the distressing I shall go on to some explorations involving the hems and seams and then the folds of the smocking.  

Including the smocking feels like an obvious choice but they are so beautiful it would be rude not to at least have a go at doing some different with it. 


My textile archive source material is subtle and mono in colour which is in stark contrast to the second source material the flowers, which were very bright and bold. 

I shall bring in some colour using this as the reference to the second source at this point.

So in the absence of manly power tools I got out the embellisher and armed with a few lose ideas I set to work on creating some interesting surfaces.

I forced some muslin and ribbon through the bark paper; bits of needle flying off everywhere! Luckily broken needles still work with paper. Good job too, embellisher needles cost a bomb!

These samplers were too small, so I changed onto A4 sized sheets. I’m not completely sure using muslin and ribbon really meets the brief but I liked the result so decided to continue with the explorations even if I chose to disregard them later.


These first few samples are simple; I selected 2 layers: 1 plain and 1 coloured and ran them under the needles until the thinner layer started to rip and distress. 

Orange lutrador and handmade fabric paper (tissue paper, PVA glue & calico)

I like the areas where the weave of the fabric is starting to show through.

Flecked cartridge paper and handmade silk paper. The cartridge paper started to flake and I’m not sure it will hold together once stitched without a coat of PVA or gesso.

Mulberry paper and the lighter grade bark paper. Yummy yummy! The bark paper started to give and stretch but didn’t rip as I forced the mulberry paper through the fibres again and again. 

The colours are very bright, which has the reference to the bright colours of the flowers but I wanted to tone them down, so with a nod to Alberto Burri I rang the heat gun over the edges to char the raised and loose fibres.

Finally I had a go at embellishing some scrim through some cartridge paper. It’s not my favourite but it does give me a simple base where I could let the stitch be the star.


I’m not finished yet, my next post will be some multilayered experiments and today I bought a Variable Speed Rotary Tool with 172 grinding, sanding and stabbing accessories. Just how much mischief can I get into with that?!!

ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Pt2 - PJ1 - Creating Surfaces · ATV - Pt2 - PJ2 - Drawing with Stitch · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Selecting what to work on next.

Focus! Keep it simple. That has been my brief all through this course so far. No over thinking but informed rational decision making. This isn’t always easy when working in an atmosphere of assessment and judgement (peers and tutors). 

I try very hard to ignore this and to work as an artist would: using their own eye and judgement to decide which direction to go in next. But then at least I don’t have the haunting consideration of ‘will this sell’.

So my choices? What governs them? 

1. Putting something right – taking something I don’t really like and seeking out ways to make it a pleasure to view. 

2. Making something bigger – this is tricky, pretty lines and shapes are just that so how does extending and stitching something take it to a new level? 

The answer must be in the selection process. I am going to experiment with taking an area of a drawing that now transmutes the original source into something very different.

3. Turning flatness into texture – taking a mark making exercise that hints at depth and tone and experimenting with creating that texture with stitch.

4. Building and developing a feeling or idea – another tricky challenge, I like the dreamy quality of these seed heads and can I improve on this or will stitch just overwork the image and alter its original qualities?

5. Fixing an issue with colour – when the basic composition is sound but the colour is not pleasing I can remedy with different colour choices.


6. Working across several pieces to identify unusual and interesting compositions – where there are several sketches on one page and sometimes lines and textures created by the base paper(s) then I like to block a small area that covers different elements.

That should be enough to get me started. I’ve got my view finders and once I’ve started moving them round my actual picture selections may change but I shall endeavour to keep to the 6 guidelines above.


ATV - Pt1 - PJ2 - Recording & Capturing · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Textile Archive – Recording & Capturing. What have I got here?

I was slow to start with this exercise, I was very nervous about contacting a museum and didn’t know at all what the etiquette was. But it all went very well in the end and I spent some wonderful time with my 3 linen textile items. 

I was able to do some sketches on site and to take lots of photographs so I had plenty of source material for my sketchbook.

The brief split the recording and capturing instructions down into 3 elements: line, detail & definition and collage.

I made 3 line drawings of 2 of the garments, hoping to capture the atmosphere of the garments without getting bogged down with too much detail.


I also made a number of more relaxed and abstract renditions of the lines in the stitching and the folds of the fabric.

It was a real test of my need to add lots of detail to keep this sketch this simple. I think it stands out against my other sketches.



Recording the detail was very enjoyable, the smocking and folds in the fabric of the garments gave me lots of shapes and shadows to record.


Then there were the interesting shapes make by the rust marks and the weave of the linen. And I experimented with some different ways to express their shapes and attributes.



Making the collages proved far more tricky, I was restricted by the small pages in my chosen sketchbook. In the past I’ve used collage to make far bigger compositions.

I began with a detailed rendition of the sleeve sketch I made on site.  I used an assortment of magazine pages but it was very flat so I cut out and added 2 little pieces of a photocopy of the sketch to add some contrast and a focal point.

When I found an article in a magazine with some photographs of carved wood I was very excited that it would make good collage material. Well, I did my best with it but it really didn’t come together in the end. I was hoping for gentle lines but I think it just looks clunky and very clumsy.

I did try to rescue it with some distressing and colour but I’m still not satisfied with the results. 

It does make me wonder though whether I should take it forward to the stitch samples. It might work far better if I select small areas through a view finder?

I’m including these collages but I don’t think they are very good!! I was trying to show different ways to record the folds and weaves but I think my 2 attempts are too obvious and clumsy (again) 

I was a little bit happier with this piece, I like to draw over photocopies and I like the way this collage takes the original source and it’s now something very different.

I finished off the sketchbook with a couple of Hockney style montages.


ATV - Ex 1.8 - Portraying by Drawing · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Flowers – Picking and Portraying. So what have I got?

I gave myself the challenge of making big, bold, bright paintings of my flowers.

This is totally out of my comfort zone. I prefer fine line drawings and more abstract mark making. This has left me feeling slightly worried that I haven’t been experimental or original enough during this exercise. On a personal level it has been very enjoyable and forfilling. It was not very long ago that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to attempt a series of paintings without using photocopies or tracings.

So I could ease the pressure of making accurate paintings I decided to use Procion MX Dye to paint the backgrounds and some of the basic shapes, they are very easy to apply, generally vibrant and create organic graduations of tone.

I then chose to use pastels to actually draw the flowers. I’m not a big lover of pastels, I’m drawn to buying them because they always look so lovely in their boxes or displays but they usually just sit around, still in their wrappers, so I thought this would be a good exercise to get them out and put them to some use.

I liked the idea of making some dreamy painting with lots of dispersed colours, all running into each other and layering up over time and with continued applications. To add some texture I also got some brusho pigment grains ready to sprinkle onto the wet dye.

As a base and rather than be restricted to the size of a sheet of paper I have used lining paper. This worked really well; it made me feel I could splash dye all over the place and make big bold statements. I could be free with my mark making and expressions and not become overly obsessed with making accurate renditions of the flowers.

In the end, I filled up 3 pages/table tops with colorful flowers. I don’t think I pushed any boundries or developed anything new but for me this was a whole new painting experrience. It was lovely having this all set up in my workroom and I was able to nip in first thing in my pyjamas to lay down a few quick layers, then keep going back  during the day, right up to bedtime to add more paint or detail. Very gentle and therapeutic.

My first page consists of a failed attempt to use Jacquard Solarfast to make a background with the shapes of some of the ephemera I’m always picking up off the floor.  I hadn’t realised (stupidly!) that it needed UV rays to work properly. So that’s one to try again when it eventually stops raining!!

Then I went on to doing what I had originally set out to do and make an attempt to capture the abudance and bright beauty of the flowers whilst they are still fresh and sunny. Looking back now I think I could have added a little bit more detail or contrast with brusho but I didn’t want to over work these first 2 pieces. I love the way the dye clings to the edge of the brush strokes but I’ve no idea how I might interpret that in stitch, french knots maybe?


I had sidestepped the pastels quite nicely on the first page so I made myself start with the pastels on page 2.  I used Neocolor I wax pastels to draw the shapes of the crazy structural flowers from one of the bouquets. I was looking to capture the shapes of the rigid leaf like petals and plasticky stamens with the smooth oily pastel. Quick rapid strokes worked best. Over the top I painted a Procion MX dye wash and added some highlights to the background with a soft pastel. Painting over the wax resist is a wonderful process, it just brings everything to life.


On the left hand side of the page I made some quick painted impressions of the gladiolas and lillies and left them to completely dry. The flowers are starting to wilt now and the colours are darkening and becoming more intense.

The gladiolas were getting quite sticky so inbetween the drying paintings and pastel drawings I laid down a gladioli stem and painted round it  and then pressed and hammered at the petals to transfer some of their colour. It was exciting to see how the colours developed under the dish cloth I used to cover them so I could press down with plenty of force. The finished article was a little too simple so I added some pastel detail and a little bit of iridescent white ink to give some highlights.


Back to the pastels then and a few doodle style scrible details on a couple of the gladiolas. I’m happy with the layering of the colour and the Procion MX dye makes a perfect base for pastels because it adds a little bit of texture for the powdery pastel to grip onto.


I had a mad idea to spray some primer onto the page using some leaves as a stencil but it really didn’t work and I ended up with a big battleship grey cloud. Odd to say the least! So I went a bit crazy with the next gladioli and added some more pressed petal colour and splashed on some more layers of dye.

Photographs of the pages take well to being digitally manipulated and these are a couple of my favourites.

I would love to be able to make paintings in this style so I’ve stored this idea away to be worked on at a later date.  I’m wondering if I could use a photograph as a base and if I could add layers of textured paint to replicate the small geometric dab like marks.

I might even use these as part of the drawing folio that I will consider for the next exercise in this project to complete a small collection of stitch samples.

By the time I came to the third and final page the flowers were really starting to decay and were slowly starting to fall apart. I decided to use the sunflowers as stamps and I painted them with procion dye and pressed them onto the lining paper. Very little of the dye transfered so I added more dye with a brush to represent the petals.

Then I had a go at the back of the sunflower and created the alien! These is another blog about my attempts to save this monstrosity.


I then had a go at a couple more pastel drawings, I don’t think the sunflower adds anything to the party but the lttle bells are quite sweet, they look better now the dye has dried fully around the oil pastels. I must have overlayed 3 or 4 different colours now and I love the way the oil pastels stay very defined so you can keep adding to the background and playing with the tones and composition without losing the original drawing.

At a later date I would like to expand and build on this technique, maybe trying to scrape away some of the pastel usings pins or sandpaper.


The little scabious flowers were really drying out so I thought I might have a play with using then as a stencil and maybe getting some of the colour to transfer on to the papers. So I dousted them with dye, layered them with paper, a dish cloth and some wood and flattened them with the flower vases and my hands.


The paper in the sandwich has some potential but the effect on the lining paper was just a big blue puddle! It did look quite nice with the reflection from the water in the flower vase shining on it.

After it dried it did provide a very nice base for a few flower sketches. Scabious is one of my favourite flowers and I felt very intimidated with the prospect of drawing them so I fell back on an old technique I use in these situations and drew with my eyes on the flowers not the paper and once I’d got the basic shapes down I added some more detail with the pastels.

On the little purple flower I wetted the petals with dye and added a few grains of brusho on the trip of a brush and worked the colour as it developed into the paper to get even more of a graduation and mix of tone and colour.

The pink delphinium like flowers were tiny and delicate so I decided to draw them big and bold with lots of bright pink, by the time I started them the page had begun to fill up with the edges of other experiements which gave me an interesting and spontaneous base to work onto. These pink flowers always make me smile. There is nothing new or exciting about them but sometimes it is nice to produce something that is just pretty.

I had been using some Modge Podge glue on the ugly alien sunflower and whilst I’d got it out I decided to use it to make some glue prints with the sunflowers. I hoped that the glue would work as a nice resist and wouldn’t pick up too much colour when I painted over them with the watery dye.  The big sploges didn’t work so well but the more defined prints actually look quite nice. I just kept adding more colour and then walked away to let the colour dry before going back and adding more colour.


As the sunflowers dried whilst I was working around they became paler and paler so I started to add more colour with dye, pastels and Inktence blocks. In the end I think I went too far and I’m glad I’ve photographs of the paintings a long the way. It does fit in quite well with the final page but I have lost the delicateness of the original  painting.

Overall I am very pleased with my flower pages; I used pastels and enjoyed the results; I painted flowers that actually looked like flowers and the Procion MX dye worked as I intended and created a huge variety of tone and colour.

It is very different to the sketchbook on the Textile Archive which is full of line drawings of detail and mark making to record textures and fabric. It is going to be interesting to see how the 2 elements come together for the next exercise of stitch samples.