T1: MMT; Pt 1: Pj 5: Ex 2: Stitching

So, what are we looking at here… exercise 2 – stitching.

I took the ‘start with paper’ instruction somewhat liberally as it seemed too close to the paper stitch library I had created in the Summer for ATV. I appreciate modules will revisit skills and techniques in order to refine and recognise progress, but I was striving to experiment and innovate. I have found this part quite prescriptive and found I am assuming a voice rather than creating from my own. With encouragement from my first phonecall with my new tutor tonight I feel that I’m not doing the course or myself a disservice by ‘pushing the parameters’. So, I feel secure updating this post with words and explanation as to my reasoning.

Therefore, onward with the update with words and some pictures in Real Daylight and a Sunny Light too!

Sample 1: Returning to the kitchen roll tube – because I like the tubular nature of this form – that is has an inside and outside that can be transformed. I used raffia and a needle to puncture and sew in and out in an irregular pattern. I have previously seen the intricate paper art of  Anastassia Elias who cuts intricate scenes and places them into toilet rolls creating shadow theatre style works – I suspect these have seeped into my inspiration pot from which I can draw up new work. I like that she chooses images of ‘common daily trifles…All these small events of life often go unnoticed. But it is these small details that make up a life. So I wanted to put these neglected events on a pedestal…’ I can relate to this notion of the surface as a stage, a platform as it was this concept that was beginning to emerge for me at the end of my last module. Looking down my stitch modified tube what can be seen through is altered by the network – like the root system of a tree seen from a rabbit warren.

Sample 2: the red rafia stitched into the purple net of a cut apart bath scrunchy really came into its own when the sun shone and cast the form’s shadows. The raffia has a firmness that allows the netting to scrunch tight or be held apart, while the stitches remain looped and curled. I find these images very pleasing and think that this is worth exploring  either as a traditional or phone sketch.

In sample 3 above : the plastic cup sewn with blue copper wire- I stitched around the base in a simple running stitch, but this offered no interesting surface for me, so I worked my way up the cup stitching in a similar fashion to sample 1. Sometimes I allowed the copper wire to knot and loop inside the cup, at other times outside. This created a far more visually satisfying effect. But, again, this from came into its own when the sun shone on and through it. The cup’s shadow recalled the early images of gene coding that i remember from school, there’s a kind of code print cast by the shadow. The wire is very thin and in the photos almost looks like a squiggle of fine-liner. In the flesh there is a shine that is lost on the digital image. I thought that this was what drew me to the wire, but looking again i think it is that is hold the appearance of a squiggle of pen suspended in space.

Exploring transparencies and layering in Sample 4:

After this I punctured two other found objects to see whether they could be stitchable. The bark took on the appearance of a wood-wormed sample. At first the punctures were lost to the freshness of the apple skin but as time wore on the wounds began to appear growing brown around the edges and much more marked. There’s some poignancy to this for me – the wounds are not apparent at first – the apple appears to have walked away from the puncturing unharmed – however, time reveals the extent of the damage. The wounded surface reveals its hurt only after it is away from the harming.

Mid-making I had to break off to do mummy-taxi. I know there is talk on the forum about how much is lost in creativity by completing mundane tasks e.g. 10% loss of performance for checking emails… However, I seem to get my best brainstorms when I’m driving and have no hope of noting things down and I have to keep rolling and rolling them over in my mind so I don’t lost them. This is fine until the ideas start snowballing and I am afraid I’ll lose the trails and stopping points. I have the Evernote app for recording on the go, but when driving there is nothing I can do – so I’ve now earmarked certain landmarks on my journey with mental post-its. The last tree after the roundabout is ‘labelled’ as the sky I could see “punctured by stars” and then the ‘road closed’ sign is re-labelled “milky way – how might the stars be stitched” then the garage fuel price is re-numbered “clockwise/anticlockwise” as Scientists have discovered some stars in certain galaxies rotate in opposite direction ( I learnt this when I was listening to Mihaly Csikszentmihali’s text ‘Creativity’). Unfortunately this means that every time I drive past these landmarks now they shout out their label – need to get a mind-post-it eraser! By the time I got home (a 10 minute journey) my next exploration had formed. I recalled all this time delay photos of stars and then wondered how starlight would look if we could see it as light travles in straight lines. Then I wondered if I were to make a box that was pinpricked and the lights fell in shafts creating a pattern on the floor… then the Milky Way emerged from the recycling: a play with the milk jug, punctured and then stitched with a thick metal wire (7/8 mm?). I shaped the wire with pliers and broke it off with wire cutters. I managed to shape the wire around the bottle to hold it as if it were constantly pouring out. The shapes of the wires were made with me mindful of the patterns starts might make if they were free to control their own motion.

After this everything sped up about a million miles an hour. I was barely able to sketch the leaps in my head. The movement of light made me think of pin hole cameras and those biology diagrams of how images form at the back of the eye. Then I remembered having seen silk jacquard cards in the Huguenot Musuem when I had been doing my research for the ATV archive task. This all jumbled itslef a littel as I blended the optics and silk pattern concept in my brain. Split seconds later I remembered punch cards for knitting machines and recalled Charles Babbage’s brain in the Science Museum beside his invention The Difference Engine’ which was programmed by cards that owed their genesis to the jacquard silk cards (Babbage owned the intricate silk portrait of none other than Jacquard). This article (particularly section 4.2) details how the textiles industry gave rise to programmable computers – with a huge nod to Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) whose contribution to programmable computers is only recently receiving the acclaim it deserves.

So, the next sample emerged. I call this ‘not all messages get through’ at one end the punctured card is threaded with raffia of many colours that are pulled together with a focal knot after which they should join up to form an image on the other card/screen, but some strands are shorter than other, some strands have taken a more circuitous route in the knot and thus become shorter than their partner – not all lengths can reach the ‘back wall’ and form the image.

Although this is a satisfying exploration neither the puncturing nor threads have altered the surface. The shadow and form has altered the surface of the white plain. Nervertheless, to stand this sample needs its story. What would I have to create that is simply stitch altering the surface but could convey the same range of narrative?

Looking at this sample now I am reminded of the wires that are seen when you walk past the telephone engineers working away at what to me looks like an impossible knot of coloured wires. This might be a possible material concept to investigate.

I think I will spend another session working on this exercise to see how many boundaries I can stretch before I send it to my tutor. I have  along car journey tomorrow so goodness knows what flight of fancy I will have to hang on to!

Also, further to discussion with my tutor I will set the heating and fusing tasks aside for the moment and revisit them at a safe time.To compensate for this I’m going to see how much voice I can muster for this stitching exercise.


‘Paper Works’, Gingko Press,  2012, pg 76 & 77




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