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.