Art · ATV - Ex 4.4 - Deconstructing Colour as Yarn · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Deconstructing Colour as Yarn – Ex4.4 – Focus?

Before I show you what I have done to finish this exercise I’m going to quickly mention ‘focus’. This is another of my weak points, I find it very difficult to focus and to work within self made constraints. Today I received another reminder for the submission of Assignment 4. I really am so far behind on my deadlines but once I get started on something I enjoy I find it very difficult to restrict myself. Is it the case that these ATV exercises should be done in a day? If I was attending classes is that how I would work? If I give myself deadlines I become a quivering mass of tension and anxiety, just how am I to find a balance between working swiftly and not sapping all of the fun out of what I am doing? Everyday I think about the exercise I’m working on, I reflect on it and research but I just don’t accomplish anything. Is there a habit I should cultivate to kick start me and get me going. 

It has been very difficult for me to prioritise my collage work, there are 3 of us studying in my household and I’m the one studying at the highest level but I am always the first to drop what I am doing to help and support the others. They are my offspring and I naturally put them first. But, the big but is they are growing up; 22 & 16. In truth they are more independent now and it’s up to me to change my attitude and acknowledge that I am undertaking a serious piece of education and that I should give it the time and respect that it’s due. Well, after a quick cuppa and a look at the latest edition of Uppercase!

So back to business. Despite giving myself a nail infection from the grub and dust on the camera bellows I’ve really enjoyed making these linear explorations. I haven’t stuck religious to the brief and I’m really not sure that all of the pieces could be categorised as yarn, in fact I know they aren’t. I have made some in longer lengths that I believe would function well as couched yarns, I would not be able to knit or stitch with them and after reflecting on focus and deadlines I’m going to have to accept at this point that I can’t explore that avenue at the moment. 

For these pieces I cut the camera bellows into strips and then used sandpaper and a file to roughen up the edges and surfaces. To emphasise these frayed edges I added gesso and some liquid watercolour. My intention was to lighten the very dark colour of the bellows. 

I had a little play with the first two strips, adding some sniped mulberry cocoon and beads from a deconstructed bracelet.


I wasn’t particularly pleased with these samples and they have been relegated to my ideas book, not the yarn collection. I felt they were just a bit too fussy and twee. 

This next piece brings together all of the various elements (materials) that I have gathered. There’s a piece of the burnt out car, some of the beautiful holed paper, thread from the ladies Thai blouse and a cog and some of the bellows from the camera. Yep, I know it’s not yarn but I love it anyway. 


After making this piece I decided I should at least try to make a yarn like sample and I went onto attach some of the thinner strips of bellow together.


These pieces have more of the gesso and paint and are lighter. The pieces had some interesting holes which lent themselves nicely to having threads worked through them and then I added a little yellow bead from another old bracelet to add a focal point. 

For the final piece I tried to keep with the idea of length and more subtle embellishment. I’m really happy with how these 3 samples and how they look together.

Art · ATV - Ex 4.4 - Deconstructing Colour as Yarn · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Deconstructing Colour as Yarn – Ex 4.4 – Dismantling & Rebuilding

Reading back over my last blog I have noticed that it is simply a description of what I am doing.  I think it is time that I thought a little more about what I am doing and why I am drawn to the idea of reusing materials and in particular things that you would not usually associate with textiles. 

In the book Hand Stitch Perspectives I’ve found a small paragraph about Betty Pepper it says that she uses found objects and discarded memories. It goes on to say that ‘the stitch she uses is an agent for mending, darning and reworking the echoes of a tradition of oral storytelling where words are passed on and retold over and over again Betty’s work recycles the savings and leftovers of fabric and the decayed and cast off ephemera which she pieces back into new composite forms using tiny pictorial stitched drawings’.  

I find this fascinating, I’m a collector and hoarder by nature and my home is full of junk shop finds and pieces of ephemera that I pick up from the ground just about everywhere I go. I have jars of feathers, trays of shells,  boxes of stones and pieces of metal and pottery cluttering up my home. I even keep leaves until they have turned to nothing but dust. 

During my childhood I was surrounded by my mother’s and my grandmother’s stitching projects and my father’s modelmaking and engineering. This project; where I am using the camera has given me the opportunity to bring together these two elements and I have even involved my father by borrowing some of his small delicate screwdrivers.

This return to playing and the use of objects that bring back childhood memories has allowed me to overcome my original reluctance to complete the exercises in this part of ATV. 

I am still finding it very difficult to express in words what it is that I like about the process of dismantling with loving care objects that has most probably been used before with loving care but with a different purpose. I have chosen my camera carefully because I did not wish to destroy an object which still had a life/longevity in its original purpose. I cannot say that I saved the camera it could easily have been rescued by someone skilled at repairing cameras or who wished to use it simply as an ornament. It is difficult to deny that I bought it with the sole purpose of ripping it apart and completely changing what it was originally designed to do and this does feel almost brutal.

The only way I can justify my actions of tearing at the soul of the camera by compounding it’s demise, which began by being abandoned to a dusty corner of a junk store, is to use the parts that I salvage to make something new with integrity and its own soul. No pressure there then!

In writing this blog I have also recognised that the selection of the ladies Thai blouse also has an echo back to my childhood. My father was in the Merchant Navy and travelled widely in the Far East. I was lucky enough to visit Japan when I was as young as five and then later at 12. My parent’s home is full of Oriental treasures and for a while they even lived in Singapore. So I can see why I was drawn to this simple piece of Far Eastern fabric.

That’s the introduction now let’s see if I have been able to meet my own brief of creating some samples that at the very least show the potential for integrity and a respect for their original makers and owners.

Once I had borrowed the slim screwdrivers from my Dad I set to removing all of the interesting elements from the camera as delicately as I could, there was some heaving and wrenching but I tried to keep that to a minimum. There is something about these little pieces all set out like displays in a museum that makes me happy. 

They demonstrate the craftsmanship that went into the making of this affordable item. Even though these cameras were mass produced to sell at a reasonable cost to allow Kodak to bring the magic of photography to a wider audience they were still given beautiful Art Deco design elements and finely milled screws and levers.


Using my sketchbook and some paper I worked a simple sample of an idea I had brewing about cutting the bellows into strips and using some stitch and knotting techniques to add both light and heavy elements to them.

I attached a bead using the ‘overhand knot’ technique. It was fiddly and the bead still twisted and turned in the way that it wanted with no regard to my design.

The small washer is far more effective and I was pleased with the overall effect.

Whilst I was hard at it, like all women I was multitasking, chatting to a fellow maker, in the room and her daughter in Australia via Viber, it’s like a kind of text message but cheaper! And Tori, sitting down with a G&T (we assumed this was because it was evening down there) suggested I include some old film in my samples. Now we didn’t have any old film but we did have some blank negatives (thank you Jenny Compton, I hope you don’t need them back).

At this point it became clear that I was now juggling quite a few elements and I decided that I needed to work through some thoughts and ideas in my sketchbook. 

After building up some confidence with a paper samples and off loading some of my brain into the sketchbook I had a go with one of the corners of the bellows. I’m really quite pleased with the result and I can see lots of potential for more of these small pieces. They really are not yarn but they would make a nice series, especially if I could include an element of progression. Maybe in to or out of ageing and decaying?


I had a little bit of a wobble at this point, the yarn sample is very dark and the exercise brief asked for a demonstration of the use of lighter more delicate qualities. Consideration of this point led to this more subtle colour palette and yarn sample using a bracelet that I had deconstructed (cut the cord) and some of the beautiful holed paper and the threads removed from the ladies Thai blouse. 

I’m very happy with this sample and I promise I will start practising ways to better express the qualities of my pieces and the feeling they provoke in me. 


It was now quite late in the day and I was nicely full of caffeinated tea and feeling quite satisfied with what I’d achieved, it’s not a lot but I did say that I worked very slowly! So this last sample is just a bit of fun, it’s full of jarring lines with bits of crochet. It’s like a big tongue of camera film full of all the stuff I had been talking about and considering throughout the day.

It includes some of the sari silk that is supplied by YarnYarn which I am unashamedly becoming addicted to.


To finish off the day I attached the samples to the pages of the original sketchbook that has now become so unmanageable that I have had to remove the pages from the metal ring binding with a view to attaching a more suitable and practical binding for the submission of the assignment at the end of Part 4.

Art · ATV - Ex 4.4 - Deconstructing Colour as Yarn · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Deconstructing Colour as Yarn. Ex 4.4 – Materials & Ideas.

Oh and here we go again! More making yarn. Now this has been a fun one, I’ve strayed from the brief and I’ve done some weird stuff but it’s been very enjoyable.

This exercise looked at translating colours and qualities of work done in a previous exercise using watercolours. To me this felt a little repetitive, especially when I looked at the colours and the first few materials that I gathered together. In fact so much so I actually decided to include the few samples that I made with those materials in the previous exercise 4.3.


So the challenge for me was to find something interesting: an approach or a material that would get me enthused. I decided to focus on the word ‘deconstruct’ and around the same time I was being inspired by a couple of friends who had been on a Matthew Harris workshop that involved taking an item with fabric elements, but not a garment, to pieces and using the pieces in various ways as source material and mark making tools. 

After reading through the course materials (again) I did a mind map and then set out to find interesting items to deconstruct that would work with yarn making processes.


I scoured the local antiques market in Shrewsbury, a wonderful place full of hidden treasures and in the end spent a whopping £9.50 on an old Kodak Bellows camera. I just loved all the little screws and dials, there was fabric in the bellows and lots of interesting Art Deco features. It was pretty battered and only usable with knowledge and care so it came home with me to begin a new life as yarn. Yarn? Turn a camera into yarn? The guys at the antiques centre thought I’d gone barmy!


Then I had to think about the other materials that I wanted to use and I still had to give due consideration to the original colour palette. I gathered together some ‘stuff’ and packed it up to take away on a sewing retreat. Whilst I was there I also found a ladies Thai style blouse that I decided to include in the yarns.

The sketchbook that I was working in for this part of ATV had become quite unmanageable so I’d set up another smaller one ( that’s the luxury of having taken advantage of the Pink Pigs clearance sale).  I used this sketchbook to first make some preliminary sketches of the camera and then to record my initial explorations as I started to dismantle the camera. This proved to be quite difficult because I need very small but strong screw drivers.


I couldn’t draw anymore I just wanted to start taking the camera to bits, that’s just my destructive nature coming through!


This was great fun and I could see plenty of potential but I was hamstrung by not having the right tools, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! So I was forced to go to Slimbridge to look at birds!  

Art · ATV - Ex 4.4 - Deconstructing Colour as Yarn · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Exercise 4.3 – Hands-on Exploration

After deciding that I was not comfortable with any of the new techniques that I’d researched, don’t get me wrong I like them, particularly the stick weaving and I’m sure I will go back to them later. The problem was I was finding it difficult to be truly experimental and to concentrate on the colour whilst I was getting caught up with how well I was working with the new skills. So after deciding this I thought why don’t I make some samples using crochet and knitting which I am very, almost too comfortable with. This would still challenge me because I almost always crochet or knit to a pattern and being more experimental will challenge my preconceived ideas.

Many of the original yarns have now gone so I selected some more that matched the yellow yarn wrap. I worked a base yarn using different weights and textures of yarn on a variety of sizes of crochet needle. Working across and down. Once the base was finished I felt that it was too fluffy and undefined so I used a corse yarn made from nettles to run a focusing line down the yarn.


I was really quite pleased with the result, I felt like I could work with this yarn and I would be happy to make more and to develop the idea further.

Then I worked on developing a yarn with the emphasis on the blue yarn wrap. I love the contrast between light and the dark blue and the way it translates across from bulky to slender. It looks nice from the front and on the reverse. 


I was a little concerned that the blue yarn was too like conventional crochet so with the next sample I tried to be far less defined and built up the layers using highly contrasting materials, using the full colour palette. I am pleased with the results of these experiments, they may not be the most inventive but I find them more pleasing to look at than the previous set of samples.

I really like the contrast of light/dark, bulky/thin so for the final crochet sample I took this further by including a silk yarn that could be split and frayed. I used the nettle yarn again and got quite excited when the bulky yarn started to turn back on itself and I had a random mesh of the slim yarn developing between the thicker side pieces. The silk has the most beautifully delicate qualities and frays wonderfully. I’d really like some more but I’ve only got some scraps.