Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pt1 - Pj5 - Ex2 - Stitching · MMT - Pt1 - Project 5 - Punching & Stitching · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt1 – Pj5 – Ex2 – Stitching

Oh, this has given me a headache; for a while I drifting but I think I might be getting back on track. 

As part of A Textile Vocabulary we had to do some stitching on paper and I’d enjoyed the process of texting design ideas on manipulated paper so when I came to do this exercise I felt very lost without a theme to guide me. 

I spent sometime thinking about whether I should choose a theme and whether I should do this for the rest of MMT.  The only problem is the course material wasn’t written with this in mind and what if in the end it just tied me up in knots. The challenge still was, how could I find a focus for these experiments?

So to loosen up I did a bit of stitching and then took a break to do some drawing with a friend at Attingham Park.

The break was useful and on the drive home I started to think about stitching I’d seen on paper before and what I’d liked or disliked. As soon as I got home I decided to look through some magazines for some inspiration. I’ve not been doing half as much research as I would normally do and I started to wonder if this was why I was starting to drift and lose interest in the exercises.

And with some help from Uppercase and Selvedge magazine and the artists Andrea D’Aquino and Alison Worman I felt some ideas starting to evolve. 

I’ve never been keen on thread stitching on photographs, I have an aversion feeling when I see pieces on Pinterest but I don’t think that’s because I don’t like them but because I’m jealous that I didn’t think of it first and scared that I can’t do something original and different with the technique. 

When I looked at the pile of ‘research’ I could see some links and similarities between what I’d chosen; connections, long threads and mixed mediums (paint, thread, photos). 

This gave me some constraints to work within; long threads and mixed mediums and a mini theme to explore: Connections.

So to grab the moment I made 3 little samples using some old photographs. In the first sample I used thread to replicate the sound and wind that was blowing over and from the speakers towards the flags on the beach at the Looe Music Festival.

I then added some very smelly paint to the next two photos as a different way to express the wind and the sound. And then on the second sample I used thread to highlight the strong stable flag poles to connect the blast of the wind with the strength of the poles.  Finally I went very simple and ‘drew, lines between the speaker and the flapping edges of the flags. 

Simple but pretty effective for me. I’ve always liked these photos and I loved the flags in situ at the festival and I’m happy that I could put my own mark on the images. I think my lines make the photos more dramatic and atmospheric which was just what it was like to be there.

Following on from this I’m going to bring together a less than successful attempt to mould some more fabric, with the more effective photographs of the bundles of solid objects wrapped with material with the 3 elements of long thread, mixed mediums and connections. 

And phew, today for the first time for ages my blogging has caught up with the actual work. This has me on time for getting this part of MMT finished and Assignment 1 sent off for feedback by the end of the month.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pt1 - Pj5 - Ex1 - Punching · MMT - Pt1 - Project 5 - Punching & Stitching · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt1 – Pj5 – Ex1 – Punching

Here’s another technique that I’ve only dipped into. 

I’ve played with some simple little punches. This are nice and gentle and I particularly like the little triangle stab holes I’ve made with a craft knife blade. I can see me using this to add some delicate texture in large expanses of colour in a collage composition. 

I then went on to experiment with highlighting areas with different sized pin and knife marks. I like the way you get different effects from punching from the front or the back of the paper. This now looks like a satellite photo of a grassy area. 

After doing the section of creating flaps and layering holes I though I might experiment with making a hole big enough to see a picture through the punched marks. I’m not happy with the ragged edges of the holes and I don’t think it’s a very good way to work with layering.

For my last quick experiment with punching before I moved on I thought I might try pushing some of the background through as I punched the hole. It hadn’t worked very well with the more detailed/interesting element underneath the punched hole maybe it would work better the other way round.

It was fiddly and you need lots more fabric or silk paper that you think you’ll need. I also cheated a little by using a fibrous paper that I could force the fabric through easily.

This is the exploration that I would put more time into and take forward.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pt1 - Pj3 - Ex3 - Using Hot Water · MMT - Pt1 - Project 3 - Heating & Fusing · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt1 – Pj3 – Ex3 – Using Hot Water – Part 3

The one thing about this strange bubbly mounded bits of synthetic shiny material is that they work really well when put over another strong interesting surface. If like me you like looking at things from different angles and indifferent lighting situations then this is perfect for you.

I laid one of the samples over a piece of bright yello scrim. The shadows are really appealing. The shapes are very random and fractured but if you keep manipulating the pile of fabric you get some intriguing structures.

Laid out on flat scrim works well too. They look like thin clouds at sunset.

After taking some photos I ran one of the pictures through some iPhone photo editing apps and came up with a couple of interesting results. The apps defined the lines (with a view to finding areas to draw) and added some sweet extras,

 There are textile possibilities here, both to work with the original fabrics and to replicate the marks and shapes with stitch.

As before I returned to my sketchbook and made some effort into recording the textural qualities of the samples and capturing the chaos created by all the different lines, textures and shadows. I also had a go at simplifying the lines and working with some colour.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pt1 - Pj3 - Ex3 - Using Hot Water · MMT - Pt1 - Project 3 - Heating & Fusing

MMT – Pt1 – Pj3 – Ex3 – Using Hot Water – Part 2

Not deterred by my first disastrous attempt at moulding with hot water I decided to take a more restrained approach to my next foray.

I only wrapped a few items, using a nice dependable cotton thread.

I have to admit to one mistake, just to be all edgy and interesting I included a couple of oxtail bones. And yes they did make the water all sticky and fatty. It was not pleasant but luckily it did wash off … eventually.

The little pebbles in a row came out okay, the moulding was good and clear and they were nice and springy.

 The only problem was they gave me the creeps! All bubbly like the scum you sometimes see on the beach, or jellyfish – not elegantly swimming about but rotting and sickly looking on a beach after the tides gone out.

Could they be rescued with felt? I’d done some wet felting on lacy fabric to make some nuno felt.

Did it work? Did it hell. The fibres just slipped off the fabric …. could have been the bone scum! So undeterred (again) I just wrapped the blasted thing in some prefelt and rubbed until the fibres started to join. I soon got fed up with this and added some stitches to hold the whole thing together.


Not too bad in the end and ploughing on with the course instructions I started to draw what I’d made. This proved to be far more satisfying. Drawing is not in my comfort zone but that’s taken a bashing through out this exercise so I just went for it.

I’m actually quite pleased with the result. Keeping the bubbles white I worked at keeping the feel of contrast between the smooth, clean bubbles and the intense felt surround.

Developing this idea further I used some masking fluid to draw the bubbles onto a sheet of paper and once it had dried I painted over it with acrylic ink.

It was very wet so being impatient and not wanting to waste anything I soaked up the excess paint with one of the disaster mounded samples. 

The end result after lots of drying and rubbing of the masking fluid made me smile. I love the tones and the contrast of the void areas.

To finish the painting off I used Inktense blocks with water and a brush to darken the edges around the bubbles.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pt1 - Pj3 - Ex3 - Using Hot Water · MMT - Pt1 - Project 3 - Heating & Fusing · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt1 – Pj3 – Ex3 – Using Hot Water – Part1

Polyester fabric? Uck! It’s horrible stuff but you need it for this exercise. The only other time I’ve used synthetic fabric was when using transfer paints. You do get some lovely bright images but the fabric is just so unpleasant to handle. 

I was not enthused about this exercise but I chose this one over the heating and burning exercise because I’m unsure about these as well because of the horror stories I’ve heard about harmful gasses filling up your lungs.

To start I needed to identify which fabrics in my stash were synthetic, in my memory was something about burning the edge of the material and from how it burnt or smelt you could tell if it was man made or not. In a well ventilated room I did a bit of burning, I didn’t go as far as wearing a mask, I’m not that paranoid, I did used to smoke after all.

I could smell celery, so it’s synthetic – don’t ask!!!

Next came selecting what I wanted to wrap, I have no shortage was solid items with interesting shapes. I’m a hoarder of pebbles, shells and other interesting (to me at least) ephemera.


All enthusiast at last I started to wrap up my items with loom bands.

I added seeds that I thought might add some colour (no chance really on synthetic material) and interesting bits of glass.

They all looked so cute wrapped up and then ready in the pan for boiling. There are more images on my instagram feed Sallyharrisonart.

I stood over the pan all excited then disaster struck. The loom bands, I’d been so proud of this time saving idea, were melting, everything was unravelling. It was a horror story in a saucepan.

Not to be defeated I whipped then out of the water and plunged them into cold water and then put them out to dry. As you can see even Gemmie wasn’t that impressed.

And in the end? Rubbish! There is some moulding and shape but it can’t even be described as subtle and delicate. It just looks weird and half hearted. Back to the drawing board then.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pjt2 - Tearing and cutting · MMT - Pt1 - Pj2 - Ex5 - Creating Flaps · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt1 – Pj2 – Ex5 – Creating Flaps – Part 2

More using up old stuff! I though I really should make another sample for this exercise so I went back to my stock of manipulated papers to have a play.

I’ve always liked this layered sheet that I attacked with a circular grinding tool, the circles are all very squiggly and random. 

Without any focal point or alteration it’s pleasing to the eye. But that didn’t stop me cutting some oval leaf shapes (my ‘go to’ shape as the young people say!)

I then decided to continue with the filling the hole created by cutting the flap and added some needle punched scrim and lutrador and an interesting magazine image.  Tonality the image was very flat so I started adding some dark areas with some black pigment pastel and acrylic ink.

And because this is playing and I don’t have to hold back when playing I started to add lots more colour. I layered it up until I was happy with the balancing. Even with the colour the image was still far too clean and bright and the layers weren’t sinking into each other so I scored across the surface with the side of a lollipop stick. 

This little close up shows how the lines that have distressed the surface draw the shapes and the layers together. They flatten the background but do not interfere with the colour and focal points created by the images in the holes.

Art · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pjt2 - Tearing and cutting · MMT - PT1 - PJ2 - Ex3 - A Meandering Cut · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

Playing with ‘a meandering cut’

I’m still here plodding along, once I sit down I’m hooked and love what I’m doing but it’s far too easy to procrastinate off into the distance! So what have I’ve been up to?

Raised surfaces and textures are something that I really love, it must be something to do with the way the light gets distorted by the highs and lows and alters the surface into something of wonder and interest. Heck, ignoring the flowery works, let’s just say they make me happy!

Playing with meandering cuts has therefore given me a fabulous technique for creating really interesting and surprising surfaces.

My first sample is very simple and is made from soft handmade Japanese paper.

It was very plain so I decided to add some gentle colour to highlight and draw more attention to the edges of the folds.

And finally I had a little play around with light and camera angles to increase the tonal changes to create more of a dramatic feel to the piece. It struck me then how important it must be to have your work put in exactly the right place at an exhibition and how frustrating it must be when this isn’t possible.

I’d enjoyed working with the simple paper but the idea of working with photographic and pictorial images was still playing on my mind and I was chuffed to find this little book for 50p in a charity shop. Ummm? Could I make a long cut and distorted sample?

The book is full of page after page of images of paintings of horses. Just perfect for me to continue the theme of manipulating and transforming a flat picture to alter the viewers immediate first look, to keep the eye darting round trying to make sense of what they have just seen. 

I make a few quick note and a sample in my sketchbook book.

This isn’t going to be a quick or simple sample to make this time, the basic strip of pages is quite long and quite unruly (but I have tamed it a little with a quilting clip!)

I’m also a messy worker so I’ve only got a small portion of my work table to use for the cutting and sticking. It all soon got out of hand but then I remembered I’d got some lollipop sticks which might help stabilise the structure.

Things are coming along nicely and this method of exploration and ‘working with the faith that it’s going to be okay in the end’ made me think of Matthew Shlian, I’d researched him via an article in Uppercase magazine when I’d started MMT and I definitely feel some of his words had sunk into my subconscious. 

I can never resist taking a few photos and publishing them on Instagram. There’s still looks of cutting and sticking to do!

Oh and on another note my submission for formal assessment of ATV has been posted and received. Let the nervous waiting begin 😬

Art · MMT - Ex 7 - Rotational Crumpling Technique · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pjt1 - Folding and Crumpling · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Surface Distortion – Ex 7 – Rotational Crumpling Technique

This technique almost beat me and although I’m okay with the results, I’m not entirely sure that they met the brief. After 3 attempts I made a decision to not do any more searching for a better paper choice and to move on.

So what did I do.

First I tried the technique on brown paper but it was far too fibrous, far more than the brown paper used to wrap parcels. I just couldn’t get the folds to hold, crumples I had galore but the circles just wouldn’t appear. So, heck I added some pen to give the impression of rotation.

I chose some soft handmade paper but it was far to fabric like to make the folds hold. In the end I resorted to holding the centre into a circle with a loom band.

But most things can be rescued with a good iPhone filter.

I’d always wanted to use some Japanese calligraphy paper printed with grid lines on one of these exercises and because I’d gone in a different direct with the folding I decided to have a go at crumpling it.

This didn’t really work any better, the folds, textures and shadows are nice but my circle just forced itself back into a square.

Art · MMT - Ex 4 - Incremental & Twisted Pleats · MMT - Part 1 - Surface Distortion · MMT - Pjt1 - Folding and Crumpling · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Surface Distortion – Ex 4 – Incremental & Twisted Pleats – Teeth

Teeth! This image was just too good to not fold, just what could I do with this! 

I made lots of folds and once the folds were rough and thin I sprayed the back of the image with some blue acrylic paint so it soaked through the folds to the front.

I then has some fun twisting and turning the image. Making the teeth move as if the mouth was opening and closing.

And then getting up close so the gums were closer and looking swollen and slightly slimy. 

Then far away so the fingers look huge and almost in your face whilst the teeth are receding into the background. Are the racks of teeth plastic or real?

I wanted to manipulate the image more, making it more abstract whilst still keeping some hint of the teeth.

Finally at this stage I just made them look creepy, with just a touch of alien about them.

After I’d taken the photographs of the folded paper, using different angles and lighting to alter the image further on from the folding I used some iPhone editing apps to throw some different colour and texture into the mixture.

One of my MMT challenges is to learn how to better explain my reasons for liking and disliking an image. This is what I wrote in my sketchbook about folded photograph of false teeth.

“What appeals to me?

“The macabreness and strangeness of the teeth, it’s a normalising and mechanising of the essential naturalness of teeth. To take something that is so unique (dental records are after all used as a maker for identification) and to record and categorise so many of the individual pieces is such a human process. The simple hospital blue colour palette allows the pinkness of the gums to stand out and highlight the teeth”

Staying with the creepy feel I applied an invert filter to give the effect of an x-ray, the cooling of the colours actually made the teeth less unpleasant to look at.

Using green as the dominant colour then warmed the image and made it easier to identify the lines that make up the image. Highlighting these lines creates a grid of interesting shapes .

This final image is my favourite, I like the composition: the way the thumb nail acts as a focal point drawing the eye and then allowing it to run down the 2 sides of the images and finally ending with the teeth. The use of the painting effect filter defined the fold lines, segmenting the image adding fractures that gives energy.

I hope my teeth (their not mine I promise) haven’t grossed you out and the few puns dotted about have not had you rolling your eyes too much!