Exercise 2.4 Developed and composed stitch

Brief: Develop two more considered and larger pieces that take on board what you have learnt at the sampling stage.

For my first piece I chose to work from the college of the lace veil from the previous assignment.Project16 (Small)

The paper base: I used a view finder to find a part of the collage I found most interesting and then I photocopied the original collage, cut out the part I had chosen and then messed around with the scale by photocopying it at different percentages. This gave me a range of samples to choose from. I went for the 200% bigger and then used a viewfinder again to choose which part I wanted.

In my sketch book I wrote notes and ideas on how I was going to put the piece together and also experimented with small samples to ensure my ideas would work.  The image I had chosen had 3 parts to it which I could have done as 3 separate pieces as each was segment was interesting in its own right but I decided to stick with it as one complete piece as I liked the contrasts between the patterns and textures.

The top part of the image reminded me a bit of blown ink but after I sampled that I decided it wasn’t ‘crisp’ enough so I settled on making a cut stencil from black card which I felt worked much better and gave a cleaner, crisper look. For the middle section I used crumpled white recycled packaging paper and then I lightly coloured over the texture with a black chalk pastel. I sprayed the piece with hairspray to prevent the pastel from smudging. The bottom section comprised of two parts, one on top of the other. For the base part I used the same white recycled packaging paper crumpled up. For the black swirl I used black card and then I used bleach to leach the colour away in circular patches.

Project17 (Small)


Stitches: I attached the cut out stencil piece to a sheet of white card and I hand embroidered small straight stitches around every line of the stencil. I wanted to stay with the crisp/clean lines and this stitch worked well to achieve that.

The middle section was attached to the white card base and then I used free motion machine stitching to sew lots of overlapping circles in a sort of ‘scribble’ effect. This created a dense effect of texture and tone. The next part was the crumpled white paper on which the black swirl would sit. This part to me, looked like scribbly writing. I knew I had seen stitching that looked like writing while looking at artists in part one so I went back to my research and found it was a piece called ‘Enigma’ by Hilary Ellis. Inspired by this idea I used thin sewing machine thread , double threaded, to create my own style of scribbly stitches. This was actually a lot harder than it looked-trying to be random and leaving longer stitches pulled out and securing them in place-  sort of controlled random scribbles!

Lastly I attached the black swirl with glue and used brown embroidery thread to do little ‘seed’ stitches on each bleached patch.

Evaluation: I like the overall contrasts of this piece, the bold and the straight lines with the crumpled, mixed with the scribbly stitches and straight uniformed stitches. There are different textures in the papers used and the stitches add to this texture. I particularly liked the loose ‘scribbly’ stitches. It was a technique I had not tried before but I feel it is a very effective way of translating the marks from that section of the collage into stitch.project18-small.jpg

For piece two I chose to work from the pencil drawing of the waistcoat from part one.project1-small.jpg

As above, I chose an interesting piece of the drawing, photocopied it and played around with scale and size until I found the optimum section to work from. I gathered different papers such as corrugated card, recycled corrugated card, handmade silk paper, brown parcel paper and glassine paper.

The paper base: I had chosen a section of the drawing that had interesting angles and lines in so I needed to create my paper base using the varied papers I had chosen. The glassine paper had similar qualities to the silk lining of the waistcoat, it was a little brittle and very shiny, the handmade silk paper was like the wafer thin ribbon ties on the original waistcoat and the corrugated card translated well into the lines of the watered silk. So, even though I was working from the pencil drawing it was still good to think back to those textures of the original waistcoat to complete the overall feel of the paper piece. I used the brown parcel paper as a base and then cut out the other papers and attached them with glue. I folded the crease lines from the drawing into the glassine paper before attaching it.Project2 (Small)

Stitches: I looked again at the paper samples I had created in exercise 2.3 using the corrugated card and black wool. I wanted to keep the colours more neutral and consistent with the original colours of the waistcoat if possible so I had to sample a few different yarns to use in the ‘chanels’ of the corrugated card. I made some small samples for my sketchbook and the yarn I felt had the most potential for this piece was jute garden string. On the sample I had attached the string to every channel but that made the string sort of blend into the card so I decided to leave some channels in between. This worked better as it made the string more visible. Each piece of string was couched on with a smokey invisible thread. I then used vintage mending thread in a dark brown to ‘oversew’ the string representing the shadowy lines on the drawing and then I oversewed the string again in a pattern to represent the watermark lines. The dark brown thread contrasted nicely with the jute string really making the pattern stand out. On the glassine paper I used vintage mending thread and I hand stitched running stitch along some of the more prominent crease lines. I then used some chunky wool to hand stitch some bigger stitches at the join between the glassine paper and corrugated card. I used running stitch again on the handmade silk paper to interpret the crease lines.

Evaluation: I like that this piece is not square, I have purposely left it angled as I feel this gives it more dimension and depth. The corrugated card part is quite firm but the glassine and handmade paper is quite floppy and soft reminiscent of the original fabric. The neutral colour palette works well and helps to give it an aged look. The oversewn jute is most effective in depicting the pattern of the watermarked silk. If more time could be spent on it I think maybe it would have worked filling every channel with the jute as it wouldn’t matter if it blended in as the darker embroidery lifts it up again.Project3 (Small)


Research point one, Project 2, Wabi-Sabi

Notes: (written up in my paper learning log but also added here in note form for my tutor)

Different definitions found on Google:

  • The discovery of beauty in imperfection
  • The acceptance of the cycle of life and death
  • A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay
  • “A japanese way of being and seeing, honouring the beauty of all organic processes of birth, growth, decay, death and new life”– Deborah Barndt [1]
  • Wabi means-freedom from attachment, subtle, profundity. Sabi means- Austere, sublimity, asymmetry
  • “…an appreciation of the transient beauty of the physical world. It embodies the melancholic appeal of the impermanence of all things- especially the modest, the rustic, the imperfect and even the decayed…”– Andrew Juniper [2]

So…Wabi-Sabi is about finding the beauty in imperfection, not seeing it as damaged or old or broken and peeling. Appreciating the stories of these items, the growth of the journey, the transient nature of something, the natural cycle of its life. Nothing lasts forever, appreciate its beauty, in all its stages before its gone. The marks, scars, scrapes, chips, all contribute to the journey of the piece.

How Wabi-Sabi relates to Archive textiles-

Old or archive textiles have been on a journey. Every ripped seam, tear, stain, frayed edge and piece of moth damage contributes to its story. They have a history, a journey they have travelled on and those imperfections help tell the story. Without those imperfections we may not have the whole picture. We need to appreciate the beauty of these marks and imperfections for it is what makes it the piece it is today. You could look at it like a person’s story. Every experience, every piece of knowledge gained, travel taken creates a person’s life, their view of life, makes them who they are. They have been bumped along the way, fallen, stumbled, been let down, have wounds and scars- this makes them who they are. Without those experiences they would be a totally different person. You need to see the whole, the inside and the outside to appreciate the beauty. The damage contributes, rather than takes away from the story. Wabi-Sabi is a very difficult concept to explain!

[1] www.deborahbarnt.com 

[2]From the back cover of Andrew Juniper’s book: Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese art of impermanence

The best explanation of Wabi-Sabi I found was here


Project Two, exercise 1.6, Detail and definition

For this exercise I focused on the little details of the blue dress and the waistcoat. I used hard and soft pencil and a variety of fine nib drawing pens and brush markers. I chose these media as I wanted to capture the fine details and these gave me the best results for that. For the waistcoat drawings I started off with the top middle drawing, focussing on the embroidery stitches and the pattern of the watered silk. I then did a detailed pencil drawing (bottom middle) of part of the back of the waistcoat, showing the ribbon tapes, creases and the frayed edge on one of the seams.  Top right was detail of the creases up the middle back seam of the waistcoat in varying scale.

For the dress drawings I started out by drawing a small detailed pencil drawing of the whole dress to show the creases and folds. Then I did close up detail of the creased velvet on the hem and the lace sleeve. I then looked at various other small details such as the hook and eye, moth damage, the lace, loose threads and frayed holes and made 9 small pen drawings of these. I then finished by drawing the bottom hem again, this time in pen and brush marker to capture the fold and dage on the hem.


Project Two , exercise 1.5, collage and creases


These are the collages I did. Top left is the black lace veil. I used black paper as my background. I created the net/lace paper by using a picture of netting and repeating it in word until I had a whole page and then printing out 2 copies. For the embroidered detail on the lace I used different black and white magazine pictures cut up into stylized shapes of the detail. I didn’t manage to get it in proportion but I think overall I managed to capture the essence of the veil. Bottom left is also the veil, I looked at one of the scalloped edges and I used magazine images of lace to construct it. I used different tones and I folded the papers in places to capture the folds and tone of the piece.

Bottom right is the hem of the blue velvet dress. I liked the rolls of the folds in the hem so I concentrated on that area rather than recreating the whole dress. I used magazine papers for the top and bottom cotton fabric and crumpled tissue paper for the velvet. I added the moth damage marks by using a magazine page with speckled paintwork on it which I thought worked well to show the damage to the velvet.


Top right is the waistcoat. I used old mottled book pages for the base of the waistcoat. I then found some magazine pages of laminate floors and wood as the wood grain looked like the watered silk pattern. There were not enough pieces to cover all the waistcoat and anyway I didn’t want to cover up all of the book pages, so i just placed a few, using different colours to convey the tone and light and dark surface of the watered silk. I cut out small images of flowers from magazines and then hand cut leaves from pages with foliage on. I used crumpled tissue paper for the fragile ribbon tapes and twisted tissue paper for the buttonholes and also around the edges of the waistcoat to represent the double layer thickness. I like the finished piece but I think I prefered it before I added all the detail. It has a clean look about it and where the page edges are mottled and darker it manages to give it a depth that I think it loses in the finished piece.


Project Two, exercise 1.4, lines and edges

-A series of drawings with a focus on using line.

I enjoyed using the continuous line, left hand and eyes closed method in this exercise. It helped me to loosen up a bit with my drawings and introduced some new marks where my lines crossed over or went on top of previous lines. I worked on large sheets of paper with sharpie marker pens for the continuous line and eyes closed methods as I felt this gave me more freedom.


The blue dress- Large drawings, continuous line, smaller drawings with eyes closed. Using pen and ink and pastel to explore the drape and folds in the hem line.


The black lace veil- large eyes closed work, smaller continuous line on deli paper, using a metal tube and indian ink on deli paper to represent the net structure, detail of lace design on deli paper using soft pencil and blender pen. Experimenting with different pens and marks on the piece at the back. I found the lace net background very frustrating to draw. It is so structured and precise that it would take hours to draw it correctly but a lot of the other marks I tried didn’t really capture it that well.


The waistcoat. I did quite a few drawings as I really like the shape of the waistcoat and it lends itself well to the continuous line and eyes closed methods.

The detail of the watered silk is one of the things that drew me to choose the waistcoat as one of my 3 archive textiles but it has been incredibly hard to try and capture. I have used pastel but that didn’t work so well, white prisma pencil on black paper looked ok as did fine black drawing pen. I used square paper and scaled up the watered silk marks and that has given an interesting effect.


Project Two, exercise 1.3, making marks

I was allowed to draw these items in the archive room at the castle but I could only use pencil. I used hard and soft pencils to change my range of marks. I took lots of photos so when I got home I could do a few more drawings with a range of media, including pen and ink, pastel and paint and drawing pens.


I made detailed notes on my drawings and I also wrote some notes/descriptions of each item. I was allowed to turn the items over myself if I wore the gloves so I did sort of get to feel the items, albeit through cotton gloves. For the Blue Dress (drawings above and below, wordpress won’t let me rotate the top photo today for some reason!) I wrote; The velvet is soft and plush, the nap is brushed in different directions which gives it different tones, the fold lines where it has been stored are very visible and have marked the velvet, the weight of the cotton (twill?) fabric is very heavy, the lace is stiff and yellowed with age but delicate, I can see some of the stitches, the dress is full and looks stiff.

Pencil drawings and 2 pen and ink drawings, one slow and detailed, one done quickly capturing the folds in the hem.



Waistcoat; watered silk, shiny almost holographic, complex embroidery, stem stitch, exquisite and so detailed, very precise and tiny, I think it is silk treads as the embroidery gleams,one of the button holes is frayed, the hand stitches are a lot more prominent on the back, not as carefully sewn (I wonder if this is because the man would have had a jacket on so the back would not be seen?). The ribbon tapes are wafer thin, delicate and aged, look very fragile. The front of the waistcoat looks quite sturdy but the back is very thin and fragile. There are signs of wear on the collar and lots of creases on the back. There is some fraying of the back seam that runs up the middle back of the waistcoat. Again the fold lines are very prominent where it has been stored for so long.

Pencil drawings, pastel experiment for the watered silk, watercolour experiment for the watered silk and a fan paintbrush and indian ink to capture the watered silk.


Black lace veil; Textured, fragile, delicate, patterned, so fine reminded me of cobwebs. Drape and fold to it, repeating pattern, the net has a honeycomb pattern and is quite structured. Light, airy and flowing. Turned over hem at the top is a little twisted, scallop type edges on the 2 sides and bottom. Again, fold lines very prominent. 

Pencil drawings, bubble wrap dipped in ink, fan brush and pen and ink and fan brush and indian ink.