Art · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Re-interpret, re-invent. Explorations

After doing the design work I decided I’d do some samples using an overhand knot technique that is used to make strings with buttons. So ploughing on forgetting that I should be using one of the 3 techniques I had previously learnt I started making samples.

I selected buttons and yarns with the same colours as the ones I’d used in the colour wraps. I really quite liked the results, the colours worked together well but I felt they were too simple and there was nothing new or exciting about them.

Using my sketchbook I worked up a few more inventive designs.

And then using the yarns from the original yarn wraps I worked up a couple of samples.

Again these didn’t fill me with excitement, they were starting to meet the brief but they didn’t say anything about me and had very little evidence of my style.

I think this sample is far more me, I like both sides of the piece but I didn’t feel that they reflected back to the original yarn wraps enough.

This sample started to look more fun and interesting and I like the explosion of colour. It was at this point that as I looked back at the samples to decide which features of the samples appeals to me most and I looked at the ripple effect created by the threading of the yarn through the button/felt that I remembered I was meant to be using the new techniques.

So for the last sample I used the three stick weaving technique and the lovely textured clumps of Oliver Twist threads that I had used briefly in the yarn wraps to make a very bright and chunky exploration. 

I’m really not sure that I have reached a satisfactory conclusion to this exercise by I am going to move onto the next exercise and if I feel I need to I will go back and revisit the requirements.

Art · ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Re-interpret, re-invent. Design and Planning

Although this exercise called for the use of the colour wraps from Part 3 I wasn’t quite sure how to start this exercise so I decided to gather some ideas together about the colour wraps and do a review of what I had done so far in my sketchbook.

As I reached the end of this review I decided that I wanted to look to my flower paintings from Part 2, they have a luxurious feeling and I wanted to use them as the source for the shaping of the linear samples. 

Again I worked in my sketchbook and looked for some suitable shapes and referring this back to my book of knotting techniques to match the designs with a suitable technique. It’s only now as I look back I realise I’d forgotten I was meant to use the techniques I had previously tried. Doh!

Art · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Trying New Techniques 

I already know how to knit and crochet but there are plenty more ways to make cords and strings. It was fun looking for techniques to try and slightly scary because I’d need to at least learn the very basics of the ones I chose.

Firstly I had a go at stick weaving. It’s very simple and the technique gives you a lovely restful ripple effect. I did 2 samples: the first with three sticks and the second with five. I did a little bit of experimentation with yarn choices.

Macramé was the first word in the table of techniques in the course materials that appealed to me, it caused two feelings, one of dread: wasn’t it naff, old fashioned? And one of interest: is there potential here? Could new things be created from this dated technique? 

None of my fluffy yarns were suitable for macramé on their own so I made a sample using a thick yarn as a base with thin fabric strips to make the knots. I also made a sample completely with the fabric strips. Both samples worked okay but the fabric tends to fray and this distracts from the knotting. They look better in the close up photographs.

Lastly I had a go at french knitting, this is a very restful technique and it was nice to see that you could add in various yarns to give different effect. I particularly liked these strings, they were soft and springy.

Art · ATV - Reflections · ATV - Research · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Break that Block – the WARofART and Morning Pages. 

Before I talk about the OCA work that I’ve done I’d like to explain how I’ve battled my latest block of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my creative work and my poor output.

Firstly a book found its way into my hand whilst I was procrastinating a few more moments away in Waterstones. Steven Pressfield’s the WARofART shone on the shelf and after I’d read the sleeve I knew it was just what I needed  “A vital gem…a kick in the ass” – Esquire. 

The book is slim and written in a very simple and easy to read way. It’s split into 3 sections:

Book One – Resistance – Defining the Enemy. This book helps to make sense of why we delay and faff and dance round our dreams and desires. It made me see that my resistance is not personal, it’s indifferent, it’s a simple force of nature that has one job which it does very well especially, if you don’t find a way to avoid falling for it’s temptress ways.

Book Two – Combating Resistance – Turning Pro. This book provides a tool box of actions and mindsets that take the sting out of resisting. It recommends that you turn pro, that you sit down and work, that you don’t worry about all the intrusive thoughts about success, the market, why your doing what your doing. This part of the book helps you to step back from the outcomes and to mould yourself into a person with the right attitude.  I particularly like the last page in this section: “There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision bought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.”

Book Three – Beyond Resistance – The Higher Realm – The most important lessons are in this small part of the book but you have to read this whilst interpreting the language to work with your own spiritual beliefs. Steven is a Christian and uses terms like ‘muses’ and ‘Angels’ He offers alternatives to help you decode the terms in a more abstract way. 

This section has the chapters about ‘territory’. Here was the part of the whole book that has helped me the most. It has allowed me to create an area; a place surrounding and within me that is mine. The place where I work. Steven uses examples like: “Stevie Wonder’s territory is the piano. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s is the gym’. Mine is my sketchbook (wherever I am), my studio, my sewing machine. This is my place, where I sit down to work.

Back in the early days, before I came back to art and found embroidery and quilting I bought a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book was a course, several months of tasks, words of wisdom and actions to break creative blocks. This book changed my life, it kicked off sysmic changes that saw me leave my job, become friends with a whole new group of creative people and helped me start to draw, design and sew in ways I could never have imagined. 

At the base and as the foundation to all of Julia’s help and advice are the Morning Pages. Every day you sit and write 3 pages of flow of conciousness thought. Everything that’s there: blah blah blah. A total brain emptying action, a way to clear away all the negative thoughts so that you can enter the day with a few less burdens and worries. 

So often I believe I am ‘okay’ I don’t need the pages, I have self confidence, I have willpower, blah blah blah! Then bump! I crash, I shrivel and slow down. I pretend I’m okay by doing lots, lots of stuff but it’s all simple and easy and mind numbing. It’s not what I should be doing. Then the anger, the dissatisfaction and the unhappiness creeps back in and I escape it by running away and eating and drinking so I’m too tired to question myself. I convince myself this is what I want.

Steven’s book shined a light at the end of the tunnel and grabbing a new notebook I started back with my morning pages, pouring out all of my worries and insecurities and clearing some space to create my territory, my place to work.

And that should be me sorted for a while, I’m not sure how long it’ll last but I’m going to try and get as much work done as possible whilst I have my gremlins and demons in their cages. 


theWARofART – Steven Pressfield 

The Artist Way – Julia Cameron 


OCA Study Visit – Making Space at Macclesfield Silk Museum

On Saturday I went on my first OCA study visit to view the 62 Group of Textile Artist’s exhibition called Making Space, which is there as part of the Barnaby Festival in Macclesfield. The exhibition is being held in the Macclesfield Silk Museum, and as well as seeing Making Space, we were also able to visit the museum and the accompanying silk mill to see the original silk cloth looms.

After a brief get together in the cafe we made our way to the exhibition and immediately went our separate ways to look at the exhibits.

My initial impression was that this was a light and airy room but with not a lot to see. Then I realised that almost ever space and corner was filled with textile pieces. There was a very eclectic and varied mix of interpretations and techniques in evidence. In fact after a longer look round I could see that the room was quite cramped and although efforts had been made to place the pieces in the most flattering and pleasing way some of the exhibits had missed out and there was evidence that some pieces had been shoe horned into awkward corners.

It was difficult to really study all of the displays on a limited time budget so you had to gravitate to the pieces that caught your eye and the first piece that drew me in was Lucy Brown’s Ladies Companions.

They were inside a glass case which was a good idea because they just asked to be touched, to be examined but they were so delicate and intricate that I wouldn’t have trusted my clumsy hands with them!

The use of human hair woven into vintage sewing items gave them a slightly disturbing feel, not everyone agreed with me when I said they were macabre and made me think of strange talismans and voodoo dolls.

Reading through Lucy’s interview in Radical Thread (1).  I was drawn to why and how she uses weaving as a language and a method to reconstruct/ re-invent raw materials to explore ideas about re-telling/re-working histories’ What a wonderful idea and so relevant to Part 4 of A Textile Vocabulary.

The next piece I was drawn to was Caroline Bartlett’s piece Journey. I was bound to be drawn to this one because it included smoking in its design. I loved the look and design of this piece, I liked the way it was self contained and simply hung on the wall without a frame. The clock likes shape links well to her description of the piece and links to time and duration.


I loved the use of smocking in this piece and the gentleness of the shape. The use of blue and the red bought the composition together, gviving it interesting points of light and focus.

I find Caroline’s particularly interesting and relevant to my own work on ATV.  In Radical Thread she says ‘I like to work across a breath of practice, switching between gallery based work and responses to site; historical, museological and archival’

There is evidence in her work of the adaptation and transformation of traditional methods into thoughtful and considered pieces of contemporary art.

This is something I would love to be able to do successfully and I will take her words with me as I tackle the next exercise in ATV.





Ann Goddard’s pieces were the ones that engaged me the most, I really did have to stand on my hands to stop myself from touching and poking and prodding the textures and individual elements. I was helped by the fact they were displayed on the floor and getting down there would have meant getting back up, not an easy task these days!


I just loved the way these little cocoon like pieces were held within the harsh concrete mood. I wanted excavate down and dig them out to see what lay beneath.

I wrote in my notebook:

” you want to dig your fingers in and see if the concrete will release it’s captor. I feel the need to release the bud/large type pieces, pull them free and investigate the hole, what is left? What is behind/beneath the cotton?”

















The other piece by Ann Goddard I found equally arresting. I loved the folded and spiky forms that were all the same but all also unique, they all lay in tantalising ways. There was a sadness about the piece, it was difficult to accept that these may have been dying or dead creatures struggling to survive in the wake of man’s destruction of their environment. It was particularly alluring that they had been laid out with distance between each piece and in their position below the window the pieces cast little or no shadow.


I love the way the pieces are called ‘twisted constructions that represent small life forms’















Already this exhibition had demonstrated the aims of the 62 Group to ‘show strong, innovative work to the widest possible public through the continuing exploration of this most basic medium which touches us all’. (1)

I particularly liked this quote from Ann Goddard, in the book of interviews of the members to celebrate their 50 years called Radical Thread, referring back to 2005, when the group (62) was questioning the relevance of calling themselves ‘textile’ artists.

Ann says ‘ because of my border position (between ceramics and textiles) I have never really known what to describe myself myself as, but I know I personally need the parameters of textile practice as an unlying influence on my work’ (2)

She goes on to say that she hopes the group continues to promote, and encourage awareness of, contemporary art practice using or referencing textile elements and processes in the broadest sense.

I’m was very aware that at this point I had not been drawn to any of the traditional style textile pieces, the quilts the embroideries. This in a way demonstrates the changes that undertaking this OCA course is bringing about in my personal view of textile art, at times this has been difficult, and yarn and linear explorations have particularly boggled my brain but as I stood in that bright room in Macclesfield surrounded by so much variety I felt suddenly revived and inspired.

It is wonderful how looking and appreciating the work of others can change your mind set in such a positive way.

The next pieces I looked at were Debbie Lyddon’s stunning beautiful pieces, Holed Cloth 1 & 2.














As I said, they are stunning, the pieces had been soaked in sea water for 6 weeks and grown a beautiful organic skin of salt crystals. At first the surface appeared matt but as you looked closer there were little glimmers and reflections of light. The pieces are folded so that your view through the holes is impeded, at times the holes are huge spaces of nothingness that then crumples and is blocked by the stiff fabric that surrounds it.

I love the way that the pieces have been displayed, it isn’t framed or protected but left open to the elements and I wonder how this will alter the salt cover? If I see it again will it be different?

At this point I made this observation in my notebooks:

“Change and the ability to alter (by my hand or nature) – I see this as a theme that I like in this exhibition”

There were 4 pieces that I felt linked in directly to my current project in A Textile Vocabulary and yarn collections.

Firstly there were Shuna Rendels own linear exploration and her larger resolved piece Reflect. I love the way she calls her technique: Complex Linking.


It was wonderful to find something at the exhibition that so perfectly demonstrated what has been required by the exercises in this part of ATV. I’m still not completely sure that I’m following the brief exactly but now I can see how the pieces you produce can be worked into pleasing forms and textile related pieces. Later this will be further demonstrated by Jean Drapers beautiful organic thread creation.

Shuna’s sculptural design was very fluid and tactile, it looked like it had grown out over the confines of its display plinth and was trying to see how far it could go before it toppled to the floor. I loved the contrast of the dark and light in the brown fibres and the gentle sweep of the base was very pleasing to the eye.









Jean Draper’s book about using structure has been one that I have referred to often during Part 4 of ATV and I was looking forward to seeing one of her pieces. I wasn’t disappointed but I did feel that it had been hung in a very poor location and in fact that was one of the low points of the exhibition; so much has been squeezed into such a small space that some of the pieces hadn’t been displayed to their best and both Jean’s and Jan Beaney’s work suffered for lack of space.

I loved Jean’s piece despite this and wrote in my notebook ‘beautiful twists & turns & links, layers of depth and texture and again a stand alone structural piece’











Dorothy Ann Daly’s exhibit was a more traditional selection, I wasn’t particularly wowed by the piece but I loved the description.





















Finally I was taken by Atsuko Yamamoto’s beautiful lace called Time Warp. Again this piece wasn’t displayed to it’s best advantage, it was hung in front of a white background in shade so it was difficult to see the intricacies of the weave. It still had a beautiful ethereal quality to it and still cast some delightful shadows.












These pieces I have chosen to blog about were only a very small part of a very eclectic and varied exhibition and then the museum and the tour around the silk mill next door and the company of like minded artists made for a fabulous day.


The 62 Group of Textile Artists

Radical Thread (1) (2)

Making Space

Macclesfield Silk Museum

Lucy Brown

Caroline Bartlett

Ann Goddard

Debbie Lyddon

Shuna Rendel

Jean Draper

Dorothy Ann Daly

Atsuko Yamamoto

Priscilla Jones





ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Reflections · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Linear Forms – WTF

I’m really struggling with this part of ATV (A Textile Vocabulary). I just don’t understand what I am being asked to do. What am I being asked to create?

I can’t decide if its the vocabulary that I don’t understand or if I’m just being plain stupid. I’ve tried notes and I’ve tried mind mapping and now I’m going to try and explain it here on my blog.

Sumarising and explaining would be how I would usually fathom things out, I will talk it through and try and explain it to someone else. The only problem with distance/online learning is that you don’t really have that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong OCA work very hard at providing us with networking and discussion opportunities but it’s very difficult when we are all at different stages and working at different rates.

So Part 4 Yarn and Linear Explorations. The title got me straight away, but let’s put that behind us. So ‘Yarn’? This took me a while to accept. I use yarn, I’m surrounded by yarn, I’ve got every concievable type of yarn somewhere in my house. Why in God’s name would I want to make more? I’m making yarn with yarn and other found ‘stuff,

I’ve never wanted to spin yarn and most methods of making yarn create an unusuable mess. That’s why so much is either spun or mercurisized. The Harrison logic machine had gone into overdrive!!

After a while I did manage to drag myself through the first project and I have created some samples. I would not really call them yarn, I couldn’t knit with them, I might be able to couch them maybe? They are not yarns to me but embellished ribbons and braids.  And there is my problem, it’s like I have gone and lost my open minded joyful approach to my work, I’ve gone and got hung up on a word! I really quite like my embellished ribbons, braids, twists and cords. And if in the world of OCA these are yarns then I’m happy.

Everyone else seemed to be seeing inspriration and references to their other work when doing these exercises and I just felt kind of numb. It was quite a scary feeling, usually I’m having to hold myself back. I even contemplated leaving the course all together. But that’s only a small step away from being pathetic and that’s not gonna happen!!

Just confessing all of this is helping, I’m feeling lighter and almost excited about project 2. That is of course if I can actually work out what I should be doing. So what have I learnt so far? Don’t be closed minded – check. Don’t get hung up on the words – check. Don’t over think – check? Me – overthink? Quick, I better get started before I get hung up on the minute details again. Wish me luck x