Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

Less Thinking More Doing 

Before starting this exercise I felt the need to write about recycling and waste. The notes are in my sketchbook and out of them came the idea of man made vs natural.

I am fascinated by how nature is so determined, it takes a lot for us to completely destroy any signs of nature, even when we cover an area with concrete a seed will find its way into a crack or a patch of dust and slowly get on with its job of sprouting. 

This does not allow us to ignore our responsibilities to our planet, it only makes us realise that nature will continue its slow steady work, twisting and changing. It is us that will suffer, we will alter the environment until it is inappropriate for us, we will lose many species of animal and plants that we love and need. 

And should we carry on with no regard to the damage that we are doing nature will evolve to survive in a way that we cannot. 

It’s a battle we cannot win, only consideration, cooperation and collaboration will ensure the continuation of our species. 


Film and photo images of nature returning to places of human abandonment and disaster have always excited me, the latest fashion for post-apocalyptic/distopic stories suits me perfectly!

The first few samples I did for this exercise are based on this theme. I collected some abandoned food packaging (litter) and used natural items to join straight cuts that I’d made to replicate damage caused by decay.


There’s potential here for working in different scales using larger natural or manmade items, then different sizes and maybe even tiny with drug capsules and coffee pods. 

You’d have to be careful or the work would become too obvious or twee but with careful handling it could make a more subtle statement.

At this point I stalled and work ground to a halt. My old demon of procrastination and overthinking came to visit again. I received some complements and good feedback for my ATV submission and it paralysed me.

I’ve also had some excellent feedback and this has swirled up all my thoughts until they have become tangled like a big bundle of Christmas lights. My knitting and crocheting has benefited from this hiatus but my course work hasn’t, leaving me to panic even more about how time is running out. 

This afternoon I tricked myself back into my workroom – ‘just do a bit of tidying up?’ and sat and made a few more samples just for the fun of it.


I was concerned that my joining was making the pieces very fragile so I made some pieces with more strength.


Finally I made a little piece using gentle items to join 2 solid pieces.

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges

Heck, I’m really quite chuffed with the structural pieces that I’ve made during this exercise, they twist, turn and can be moulded into individual shapes that can be photographed at various angles with different lighting. 

Each resulting image, even though they are of the same object invoke their own individual feelings; some are gentle, with similar tones and few angles and others are more dramatic with stronger tones and contrasts. More interest can be evoked by lighting the subject so the texture and pattern is more visible and therefore becomes a stronger element than the tonal contrasts.  If you like lines and corners the piece can be manipulated so the edges created by the slashing and sewing are highlighted and bought to the fore.

My second piece is still a paper sample but this time I experimented with a highly patterned origami paper. I’d like to say that I thought long and hard about my colour choice but that wouldn’t be true. I picked this because I liked it.

Surprisingly the origami paper didn’t adapt to my technique as easily as the handmade paper. It stitched beautifully but it was harder to assess (by touch) when it was ready to twist and mould.  The paper felt happier and more comfortable when it was flat and only started to move once it had been scrunched up a little bit.

In the end I was still able to get some interesting shots of subject, the pattern made it harder to get the same contrasts in tone as before and I had to rely more on lighting and twisting so the front and reverse of the paper was visible to get an interesting composition.

The big sheet of paper (note the blue – that’s my colour palette now!) was also difficult to mould into interesting shapes once it was cut and sewn a number of times.  It was fiddly to stitch because of its size when being fed through the sewing machine.  I have to admit that I probably didn’t carry on cutting and sewing enough times but I had lost interest and wanted to move on. 

Keeping with the blue and wanting to experiment with a softer more fluid material I repeated the cut and sew action on a jay cloth. I keep these around the place for moping up spills and it looks like they might be now saved from a life of servitude! 

It was difficult to keep the join flat and I ended up with rather a nice ridge, I also had a happy accident when I put one of the pieces to sew the wrong way round and I lost the formal rectangular shape. I did play with that for a bit but I’m going to keep that idea tucked away for now or I’ll never finish this exercise.

Now the little ticket is my favourite, it was small so easy to cut and it fed through the sewing machine nicely resulting in a loose join that was easily manipulated. It didn’t take long before the whole surface of the ticket had been altered and affected by my action, I’d put my mark on it but it still kept it original identity; there’s still no mistaking that it’s a train ticket, which journey it was for is less obvious which reminds me of my husbands yearly expenses nightmare where he creates a landscape of little piles of tickets and receipts all laid out in painstaking sifted monthly records mapping his previous 12 month work routine ready for the accountant to assimilate into that years accounts for his company.


To further make my mark, on the resulting this time I had some fun editing the images on my iPhone. 


As it say’s on my sketchbook page this got me to thinking about all these tickets that I keep as trip souvenirs; would they make an interesting time focused design? Just perfect for the call for submissions for the next edition of Uppercase magazine – if I hadn’t missed the deadline, grrh!

The only good thing was this did make me think about using the passage of time as a theme, this is another idea that I e carefully tucked away for another time, but not before looking up Michele Fandel Bonner who was featured in the Uppercase newsletter and having just a little go at making my own passage of time based collage.



This final piece gives me the most pleasure, it always breaks my heart when I see embroideries and tapestries for sale in charity shops for pennies. We all know how much time and effort goes into the making and it seems so sad to see them undervalued in this way. I often buy the item and take it home, hoping that I can later repurpose it into my own work. 

I’ve had this tapestry for a while, it made a small appearance when I was doing my City & Guilds course and as a bonus it’s blue, so I can keep to my colour palette.

It was still sad in a way cutting it up and resewing it back together, it felt quite brutal – especially when I broke a needle on the beads, it was almost like it was fighting back, struggling against the movement of time and it’s rebirth as a less twee and modernised version of itself.



That’s exercise 1 finished, it’s been quite a journey. I thought I would never find a way of making flush joins that would be interesting and inventive without having to result to power tools to cut holes in solid materials. I have an innate fear of drills and an even worse one of welding machines and grinders. Maybe that’s another idea I need to tuck away – face my power tool fear!

Art · MMT - Assignments · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges

MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges 

Faye’s feedback suggested that I try working an idea in a methodical fashion and it’s a good suggestion. I’m not very happy with the results of my first go at being more methodical but I did like the process.


I replicated my metal hanger way of joining a flat edge finishing off the edges in a rather haphazard and random way.

 Before I quite liked this mixed up method but I decided it’s actually better when the edges are finished off with more care.


I had more success with fine wire and the heavy wire was a disaster. I couldn’t wind it and the metal ripped through the cardboard.


It was interesting working through a pile of different elements, it made me realise how much value there is in taking this more regimented approach; you do get a sense of satisfaction from watching your result developing and improving.

 You also get a nice spread in your sketchbook.

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – joining straight flush edges

Yesterday after a day of sewing joins you’d have thought I’d had enough but I was getting very frustrated with not being able to find something that I wanted to repeat and experiment with so in the evening I did some hand stitching.

I thought it might be nice to work with some small pieces of fabric and because felt is quite solid and cuts with a smooth edge so that’s what I used.

I made a few structural pieces, the shapes don’t gel very well for me and I think they need more elements to make them work properly.


Using a feather in the joint worked better and I particularly like this first sample. The feather sinks into the felt in a very satisfying way, it looks very comfortable tucked between the 2 edges and the brighter and defined stitches keep it help there safe and secure.


This piece I worked using contrasting fabrics and in the actual sample the effect is quite dull, it only came into its own once it was photographed and manipulated using iPhone photography apps.



The final sample also benefited from a little iPhone enhancement, the fabric was very soft and it was difficult to sew the feathers across the gap. In the end I gave up and rubbed the feathers to make them frayed and flighty.  Pretty but not what I was looking for.


Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges

Today I found the cut-sew-cut-sew repeat technique that I really like and would like to explore with different materials and in various sizes but before that I was trying to find a way of joining straight edges together that got me feeling interested and creative.

Whilst I had the sewing machine out I spent some time slicing and sewing some different materials. I had a play with some plastic, keeping to a grey, black and white colour palette to start off with. Mixing in some paper to add a little bit of contrast.


It was easy but didn’t light my fire, apart from this piece where the plastic got caught up between the sides of the feet and made a lovely gentle ridge. I repeated the stitching until the whole piece was stitched through. The ridges and stitches made the plastic look like smocked fabric which always appeals to me.


I felt a bit syntheticed out after sewing the plastic so I stitched a couple of organic, natural items. The feathers were cheating really and although I love the seed pods I think this is very me and doesn’t show me pushing my boundaries enough. 


Then I had a play with the balloons! They are fab! The colours are bright and I chose fabrics to join, frame or complement that I thought worked well with the balloon colour and contrasted with the smooth rubber.

The line of bright balloons are stitched together and stand side by side with a soft, white textured slab of felt. They make me think of carnivals and beach huts. I ran out of balloons or I might just have done a few more!

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges

The first few samples I did for this part of MMT involved hand stitch and for this next exploration I decided to have a play with the sewing machine and invisible thread. I was wondering how ‘hidden’ I could make the join.

On the bubble wrap it was visible but looked more like a glued edge.


On the kitchen towel the stitching was hidden but the walking foot on the sewing machine left a repeated indentation.  I actually quite liked that and it might actually be useful one day; I love the kitchen towel that I often have left over after a dyeing or painting session. The fabric is really tough these days but still absorbs the dye/ink/Brusho etc without dulling down the original colour.


On the felt I was again left with the marks around the stitches, if not the stitches showing. The join looks almost like a scar running down the centre of the piece. It’s pleasing to look at and adds just a very subtle piece of detail to the base fabric.


This sample using hand made paper with daffodil flowers included in the mix had the best hidden join but that’s probably more to do with the texture in the base paper. It almost felt pointless; I could just have punctured a few holes across the centre of the piece to get the same effect but this did prove that I could stitch easily into this kind of paper and in future I could try with a coloured thread. Or maybe join lots of little pieces together, in a cut, join, repeat manner until there’s not really any conceivable way to cut and join again. 

So that was what I did. This piece of paper has little bits of marigold in it which didn’t stop me being able to make smooth cuts.

At this stage the cuts are nice and clean and most of the paper has survived being stitched and sliced a good few times. 


The reverse is quite interesting but I prefer the front. 


The best thing about the back is these little bits of thread, base plus raised holes. 


I had set out to keep cutting the paper as many times as my nerves would allow. As I continued to slice and sew the paper lost its 3D quality and it started to get more supple, more fabric like. Small scraps of paper broke away and it was impossible to reattach them so there are now some nice organic chinks to add to the distruption of the slashes and holes.


This time I really like the back, it now looks almost ceramic. It’s difficult to tell of the holes and lines haven’t simply been pressed into a soft material. This surface could be made into a stamp for printing or small areas selected and then replicated onto clay.

I went back to when the cut and sewn piece had got a 3D quality to it. I made a second item and twisted it into different shapes. 

What a delight!  This looks like a little bird, I wonder if I will ever be skilled enough to make more of these in different bird shapes?

The shape can be twisted,  turned and manipulated into more abstract compositions and photographed in different lighting to change the areas of light and dark.


It’s late in the day now but tomorrow I’d like to try replicating this changing the scale and sampling a small and a larger example.

Art · MMT - Part 2 - Joining and Wrapping · MMT - Part 2 - Project 1 - Joining · MMT - Pt2 - Pj1 - Ex1 - joining straight flush edges · Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Part 2 – Pj1 – Ex1 – Joining straight flush edges

How do you loosen up and play? It’s a tough one when you’re starting out, Faye says we should enjoy this (study) time, it’s a time to make mistakes and to really explore but (could this be partly due to all the social media sharing) I find it’s more a time of proving that you can be professional, a time for displaying your work and visual style. 

I started this journey to push myself to see how far (and talented) I can go, can I make beautiful work with memorable meaning. Am I putting myself under too much pressure and is this stopping me from exploring and being experimental and free enough? 

All of this is making me quite grumpy and quite angry in my day to day life as I sit trying to fathom out what I should be doing so apologies to my nearest and dearest. 

Julia Cameron talks about anger in her book The Artist’s Way, she says to expect it at the ‘midsection’.  In her case when you are working through her course in discovering and recovering your creative self. It comes after the elation of getting started and should be listened to. I’m feeling a little bit like this now; I felt I was doing okay, I was finding my voice and I could cruise for a while. But let’s get real here, that is not going to be the case and it shouldn’t be. 

I am going to listen to Julia’s words from page 61/62 in the chapter Week 3: Recovering a sense of power.

Anger is fuel

Anger is meant to be respected.

Why? Because anger is a map.

Anger shows us what our boundaries are.

Anger shows us where we want to go.

Anger points the way, not just the finger.

Anger is meant to be acted upon, not acted out.

When we feel anger, we are often very angry that we feel anger. Damn anger!! It tells us we can’t get away with our old life anymore.

Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool not a master.

Sloth, apathy and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend but a very, very loyal friend.

I am angry because this part of MMT is challenging me, it’s taking me back to the ‘new learner’ stage. I keep feeling nostalgic about ATV, have I lost myself? Was ATV my peak, did it suit me too much, am I just a one trick pony? 

It’s not coming easy but I am trying to use different materials and to repeat ideas, it all feels clumsy and forced right now but isn’t that how we feel whenever we start learning something new.  I’ve got to climb up over that step when I feel myself pulling back and not persuing an idea, get over the hurdle of ‘less is more’ 

There are going to be lots of photos and only a few notes, that’ll be the online result of taking this more persistent approach.

Samples

I started very simple with some tape and stitching. The bar idea was looked nice and I could see that working well for attaching embellishments but it didn’t make a very solid join. This all felt very tight and restrained.


I had a little go at working up the bar idea and decided to leave it there for now, it’s pretty but it’s very much my style and I need to try something different.


In the materials that I collected prior to starting this exercise were some little metal wire hooks experimented with to join some different materials.


I liked the tactile quality of these samples, the process of putting the 2 pieces together side by side, adding the metal through the material and them turning the pieces flat was very satisfying. The samples look more scrappy and I quite like that, it works well with the random twists and turns of the metal. 

 I thought the twists looked best on the more patterned surface, it was the plain, single line of metal that worked better on the plastic. The metal contrasted well against the white, slightly crumpled base.


Spurred on by my use of household plastic I made a couple of samples with jay cloths. 

I’m really not comfortable with using household items, it feels juvenile and a bit too trendy.  I like beautiful fabric and paper, I have huge respect for artists like El-Anatsui but I don’t feel that it resonates with me. Is this one of those steps I’ve got to climb over?


The cloth was actually quite nice in the end and I wonder if one of my challenges should be to work with it like it is an exquisite piece of material?

At the end of this making session I wrote up some notes and ideas to take forward.