Re-working part 1




imageFollowing my tutor’s feedback for Part One I have reworked one of the samples in recycled brown wrapping paper. My tutor felt the printed papers I had previously chosen were too distracting. Looking at the work now I can see that the form is still sharp and clear, but without any print the light interplay is far more apparent.



T1: MMT; Pt 1: Sorting

The time for that critical sorting.


Those samples that have potential. Those samples that have been exhausted of their potential or are not working. Many of the working samples are only such because of the steps that came before, but the learning has been done in the initial exercises so these samples are not failures, they have simply served their purpose and the work has moved on.

The size constraint of the blue bag is extremely effectual as a sorting device!

I went through each exercise sorting samples into those that still have working potential, and those that have fulfilled their purpose. Their purpose may have been to discover that a particular process didn’t work with that particular material, or the effect of the process didn’t inspire me, or the samples was so inspirational it jettisoned me on to far better and greater things.

Pj1: Ex 1: Linear Accordian pleats




Exhausted samples:


Ex 5 & 7: Crumpling:

Keepers (interestingly all paper based)


Exhausted samples (all plastic):


Pj2: ex2: Cutting edges:


Exhausted samples:

Ex 4 & 5 Cutting holes and flaps:



Exhausted samples:


Pj3: Ex 2: Heat Gun:

Keepers (in contrast to above – the more plastic the greater the keep rate)


Exhausted samples:


Pj4: ex2: Scratching:


There are a large number of exhausted samples from this exercise. They were all important steeping stones but either the material or process did very little to inspire me. The surface being a dry and unsatisfying alteration.

Pj5: Ex 1: Puncturing



Exhausted samples:


Ex2: Stitching:


Exhausted samples:



My criteria for sorting have been to ask myself the following questions:

What is still working?

What feels new?

What still has potential to explore?

What is interesting?

What is effective?

What has potential quality?


All the keepers still interest me conceptually or visually. Each sample is part of my visual research, I may still loop back round on the samples exhausted so they are not rejects, however the keepers are bursting with further possibility at the moment. They still hold the magic ‘What if-ness’. What if this sample were bigger? What if this sample were in a different colour? What if this sample were layered? What if this sample were multi-processed?

At this stage I feel it is OK to still have questions. Answers would be too definitive and I understood this assignment as exploratory. I suppose the bottom line has been – which samples am I still curious about either singly or in combination.


T1 : MMT; Pt1; Pj3: Ex 2: heat gun

Sun and dry = extension lead and garden. Commence the heat gun sampling.

I knew I would.

I loved this.

I put cat and children inside while I played outside – they watched through the window.

Perhaps I should rephrase that. I loved the heat gun experimentation not the being outside all on my own (well ok maybe a bit of that too.)

I had gathered my stash of plastics and synthetic fibres. I was a little nervous. I’ve never used a heat gun before and Mr Man loaned me his. This was a real grown up tool. It had 2 speeds. I asked (stupidly now I consider it) how you controlled the heat at each speed. Mr Man demonstrated. Bringing his hand nearer the surface and pulling it further away. I learnt quickly!

What stunned me was the difference between heat tolerance of different materials. The most frightening was the 2 second duration before the tulle of my children’s (grown out of and well beyond passing on) fairy costume shrivelled and was impacted by the heat – at that point no hotter and fiercer than a hair drier.

The polyester silk from my wedding dress that I’d  made took forever to be affected. I did laugh at this. This woman and her dress can take a whole load of heat before she crumples. That marriage was er… like Dante ‘s inferno. Great wedding though. Pants marriage. The very material of my nuptials held the secret!!

Delicious results. Bubbles, curls, shrinkage, white water rapid marks, streams, tears, stiffening, twisting. I loved the polyester ribbon that in mere seconds became seaweed.

A girl could get addicted to this! Glad I waited and the weather was benevolent.

Definitely time to sort now!!

T1: MMT; Pt1; Pj5 : Ex 2 last sample

It had to be done. Pippi’s hollow tree.

My progress was somewhat thwarted by the cat and I competing for The Sunny Spot. But in the end I used this to  my advantage.

I upped the scale of my stitched tube sample and used about 1.5m of lining paper. Using the same process of craft – knife cutting triangular flaps I enjoyed the light interplay before I rolled the cylindrical form:

Eventually I muscled off the cat (he got his vengeance later) and rolled the vast cylinder. Again the sunlight made such a difference to the shadows and tanslucency of the form:

I then cut some elder sticks (it grows like a weed in the garden) and stitched the flaps with these. I needed to use an inverted plant pot to stabilise the form.

Again I had company.

Using the home made mallet my children had made I took the form down to the grassy bit and ‘re-planted’ it. I know it’s not willow but elder is like this in my soil. Not a lot else grows except for bulbs and hawthorn and old roses. The plants have to be tough here.

It felt like a den or a plant teepee. It seemed much happier in the ground. It wasn’t long before my first curious customer came to try it out!

It obviously felt a safe place.

He did enjoy busting his way out somewhat indelicately. But it doesn’t matter. I made it. I took thisimage:

To this:


Via these stages:

T1: MMT; Pt1; Pj5: Ex 2 cont.

Taking yesterday’s sample:


I worked on these in my sketchbook, trying to look again. First in orange ink:


I shouldn’t have started shading the tube area – this really spoilt the line that was emerging. I decided I’d lost my eye so went for a blind drawing next to liberate my anxiety and free up my hand and eye.


This really helped me focus on the line and movement within the piece. It provided some interesting etching marks were I to consider taking this into a print.


I think it’s clear to see how much more I was looking at the piece when drawing blind and how much I was sketching what I thought I ought to in the ink sketch.

Finally I slowed down and rotated the sample for a different interesting angle. I am pleased that there were a selection. The one quiet area that has less still life interest I think still works on the sample because – like a piece of music- the form needs some place of pause – when stitching there is a moment of stop when the thread has been pulled taught just before you change direction with the needle.


I was going to call it a day at this, then I remembered some feedback from my previous tutor on ATV about working over and into sketches that haven’t been seen as successful. I decided to photograph the orange ink sketch and then import it into the drawing app that I use and play with it in this format.

This left me with the original preserved in my sketchbook but also enabled me to work in series and print off the process.

I have one last experiment I wish to work on tomorrow before I sort the samples for posting and write up my reflection. I have some lining paper rolls. I’d large to try to create a large scale flapped tunnel wherein one can sit and see the effect.


Because I’ve been pondering exhibitions. My tutor put a thought in my head – at some point this course and my work cannot remain a secret. At some point I will need to consider exhibiting. I ignore the laughing derision of my inner critic at this suggestion and just take it a face value. If I were to exhibit, what would I want my audience to experience?

I know for certain I want my work to be an interface for change. I know I want my work to be interacted with in more ways than looking. I am afforded the luxury of feeling and seeing and holding and touching and smelling and hearing the work I create. What craziness to deny this of my audience so they are left to interact with my work behind a glass screen, or a ‘do not touch’ sign. What would be lost if I deprived my audience of the sensual experience I have in the making of my work. This gained me some clarity today.

I hadn’t quite understood the distinction between Textile Artist and Textile Designer. In my ignorance and prejudice I had seen a Textile Designer as someone who created  fabric or yarn, or the design for these. I had removed from this role any sense of communication of meaning – I had seen the role of designer as ‘meeting a customer’s brief’ creating something that would be a product, be a constituent part of something greater – e.g a fabric design used by an artist in their e.g. installation (see Yinka Shonibare) but I had my epiphany today in the car park. A designer makes things that people interact with. It is their artistic vision that brings this to form. A car designer meets their audience first  in the poster, the conceptual design preview, but it is only when the audience gets in and drives the car that the full interaction between designer and audience takes place. So too with a fashion designer – the artist in them develops the concept, the vision, what they wish to communicate – the designer in them devises the garment. It is again at the moment when the audience wears the garment that the circle is closed between designer and audience. Yes, there is an element of functionality. A car park designer may have an artistic vision and design brief, but the final success of the work is in its effectiveness and impact on audience (the car park user). Likewise diagrams – a designer has been successful conveying their meaning when communication occurs…again I feel I’m tiptoeing around the rim of that great big pot full of my potion – semiotics.

Where does that leave me? I know I want to make work that people interact with in a very physical way. I know I want to design creations that have an architectural nature to them. I know that nothing would make me sadder than hearing someone go into an exhibition of my work and say, ‘I wish I could touch/hold/feel that… I wish I could step into that and see what it looks like from the inside out – or what the world looks like from inside there.’ I recall Pippi Longstocking  when in chapter 5 of the book by the same name, she hides in the trunk of the tree with her new play friends:

“Annika,” she heard Tommy’s voice say,  “you can’t imagine how wonderful it is in here. You must come in too. It isn’t the least bit dangerous when you have a ladder to climb on. If you only do it once you’ll never want to do anything else.”

Imagine if I could create something that paid homage to the vision of artists like Takashi Kuribayashi, who create such interactive works like the ‘Forest from Forest’ installation. Imagine if I could take my audience inside the tree like Pippi – giving them the best adventure.



‘Pippi Longstocking’, Astrid Lindgren, OUP, 2002, pg 53 & 54


T1: MMT; Pt1; Pj5; Ex2

Making this the last of the the visual research for this Part. Tomorrow I intend to do a few drawings of the first sample from today, then on to sorting so that I can have the blue bag in the post on Saturday.

I have been out and about during the day so making had to wait until evening time. All day I’ve been turning over the ideas from my research last night. From stars to computer programmes. I’ve been wondering how I could create these concepts with the addition of stitch. I am trying to keep uppermost in my mind the need to ensure the stitch transforms the surface. As I was driving I was imagining what it would be like to stitch through the ground on an architectural scale – with a huge metal pipe of a stitch – how would it appear? Would it corkscrew into the ground or leap across the grass in dashes?

Yesterday, I went to a local art cafe which has a gallery attached. The exhibition included an installation by Christopher Sacre. I was again taken by the notion that I want my art to be interacted with, I want people to be able to feel it, climb over it, go through it and see how that changes their day. I’ve never thought I shared any kinship with sculpture but the more I look and consider, the more I find that I am after a textile form that is more than sculptural. I am after a textiles form that is architectural. It forms a design which can be interacted with. Interestingly fashion, clothing allows the wearer to interact with the textile art. But there is currently something of Andy Goldsworthy that is emerging from my work. Much to explore and consider here.

So my sculptural-architectural-textile stitch samples for today:

Spiral sample:

This piece started as a spiral of 0.8mm gauge silvery wire. I then curled a cylinder of tissue paper within and tore and cut it as some of my earlier sample for this part, I allowed the torn edges to furl back and curl over themselves, others I pleated as in earlier experiments. I aimed to preserve the space within the cylinder – looking somewhat like an ice cave or crevasse when looked at from above. I decided to use the stitch to attache the tissue to the wire with an overstitch. Sometimes this went through all layers, at other times it held a pinch of tissue and surrounded the wire. This still felt lacking so I looked for a range of different yarns of different textures. I chose the end of a length of string that was rucked and twisted from its being tightly held at the centre of  a ball, the shiny slippery green yarn from ATV, and some white paper raffia. I knotted these together and allowed them to drape over the form. When I look at the photos there is a figurine image to the piece in the middle left image, the bottom row recalls my obsession with jellyfish, and the knot at the top is visually satisfying due to the different yarns held closely in contrast. I wish to investigate this sample further with some drawings tomorrow.

In my next sample I found some of my children’s guinea pig straw and rolled it around in my imagination for a while. I wanted to use it as the yarn, but wanted to push this away from simply being a natural found object yarn. I therefore encased each straw in a wrap of plastic film, that held it as if in a tunnel – like some delivery chamber of the ‘beam-me-up-Scotty’ ilk. I crumpled tissue paper and cut precise lines through which to stitch the straw tunnels. This created a kind of fence-like structure. As we’d been following lorry after lorry on the motorway today Mr Man had talked to me about panel beating and how a panel is beaten to have a crease/fold in it in order to give the panel strength. This is not something I had ever considered. So I put it into my design adding a pleat, a fold, between each stitch line. This added far more movement and interest to the piece for me. Also the tubular ‘yarn’ created a great distraction from the otherwise flat surface. This could be explored further with different items being encased – or back to the secret message yarn I was developing in ATV. I also wondered what it would be like to crawl up the tunnels and what you would see – I imagine something like walking through those shark tunnels in a sealife centre.

Finally, I went back to the snipped triangular flaps as a base surface. I chose the white printer paper again for its crispness. My tutor and I had been talking about paper yarn and I picked up my drop spindle again and the sacrificial dictionary. I tried moisturizing this paper with oil as it is so dry, but to no avail, it still snapped after every hand’s length of spun paper yarn. I accepted defeat with the length but utilised this to thread through the pointed flaps.  After taking pictures of this surface flat I rolled it up into cylindrical form. At first the spikes on the outside:

While this makes it easy to see the paper yarn and flap interaction I still am taken by the reverse: flaps to the inside:

I love the business of the inner landscape of this piece, the exterior seems calmly stitched – then you look down the tube… I had to draw this and used my phone app:

I am excited by this drawing app and how it allows me to look with real depth at the image and how subtle changes to scale and focus and colour can be made. It feels much more immediate using my finger to create the sketch – feels much more natural. I love that even though I can change the drawing implement I am still pointing with my finger to what my eye sees. The sketches also suggest stitching patterns and prints.

Something else I was thinking – what if you could create an animated stitch design – i.e. return the influence from textiles to computer programming as this time computer animation to textiles – have no skills yet in this area – but there’s always  a time to learn!!



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