The stitch sample collection is building up quite nicely now, I’m sure I probably have enough but I’m finding it very beneficial to keep stitching more and more.
It’s taken a small stack of day sketchbooks and doodle books to build up my confidence at drawing and painting and I was not convinced I would be able to find a similar level of comfort using stitch to draw. And to start off with I didn’t. I’ve found the process frustrating, limiting and at times, plain horrible but I’m working through it. I’m getting better at expressing my ideas with needle and thread. It’s feeling more normal, my co-ordination is improving and I’m starting to see a style emerging that I am comfortable with.
I have always been very envious of the way stitchers like Gwen Hedley can interpret their drawing and mark making into stitch. The transition always looks so easy when you look at it in books and I was really doubting that I would be able to even make a good stab at it, let alone create something that I was pleased with.
As I said, it”s been a slow journey towards my goal of using stitch like a pen or a pencil and I’ve tried quite a few different ways to transfer or transform the images that I had selected into stitch samples.
Selecting some simple cotton thread and an interesting piece of paper, I worked on recreating the sketch I did at the museum of a seam that was coming loose and straining.I used the single long stitches to hold together the rips in the paper to replicate this motion and highlight the weave like fibres showing through on the damaged paper.
This felt easier than the earlier samples in part 2 and although it’s not an accurate copy, I don’t think that matters.
I then had a go at using simple back stitches to copy another quick sketch. This still felt quite difficult and clunky, nowhere near as smooth or as free as pen strokes. I felt constrained by the way the thread pulled and found it’s own route between the holes and over the surface of the folded paper.
This piece has gone onto the back burner for now and I moved onto experimenting with more couching, it’s still one of my favourite ways to apply thread and I’m determined to make the end result as appealing as the process of stitching is.
Following on from the couching I decided to go back to using stitch in a way that more closely resembled my drawings and using a piece of quite tough and distorted paper and similar coloured thread I set out to stitch in a way that would evoke a sense of the delicateness of the garment but not hide the fact that it was made to be tough and hardwearing.
This sample developed slowly and it taught be a valuable lesson: sometimes a complicated process, in this case the overstitching and whipping of the stitches, can create a simple image with small details that provide interest.
I want to build on this concept of more can equal less. I’ve always been guilt of trying to overwork my stitch pieces in the past and have tried to steer clear of adding too much thread. In doing so I have found myself feeling that my work has lacked depth and interest. Maybe this practise of looking for ways to add subtle detail to simple ideas is my holy grail