Assignment 4


Reflective commentary.

I didn’t enjoy this area of the course at all, and so ended up dragging it out over a long period of time which probably made it seem even worse. My hands can be stiff and shaky so i found spending any decent amount of time on these samples painful, and would often have to leave them for a few days before continuing. I much prefer to get a piece mostly or entirely finished in one go where possible, otherwise I feel it loses its flow, and my mind is always crammed full of so many ideas that I’m ready to move on to the next one.

The areas I did manage to find some enjoyment in were weaving with paper and split-ply braiding, both of these I feel could be included in other projects. For example, the woven paper could be used as a background or collaged into a painting, and the split-ply braiding could be incorporated into embroidery or sewn together to make more of a 3D piece.

During this time I found that I really enjoyed working in my theme book, developing my passion for painting figures and portraits. My pieces eventually became bigger than my sketchbook, and I enjoyed the freedom this gave me, especially as a direct contrast to the restrictive nature of the weaving. However, I’m still struggling with how to develop my theme book work into a final textile piece. My current idea is to take an expressive close up portrait and develop it into a many layered, appliqued and embroidered wall hanging, but I’m unsure whether to go in that direction or try to create something more 3D. I’m completely sure though, that it won’t involve loom weaving.

Project 9 Woven Structures


Experimenting with different techniques and materials.

I started this project by warping up my small loom with a dark blue acrylic DK yarn and practising making stripes with the same yarn in different colours, this produced a nice even piece, but the warp can clearly be seen, I’m not sure if this is just because it is darker than the weft yarns or if I didn’t beat it down hard enough. My next sample was made with a shiny DK cotton yarn and Ghiordes Knot’s, I tried to give it an ombre effect of one colour fading into the next, but I’m not sure how effective this was, the texture of it reminds me of a bath mat. My third sample was created using a chunky grey yarn and two different coloured DK yarns held together. I interlocked the yarns where they met in each row, and passed them back through the weft strands in the same place they went in creating some super chunky rows which left the weft clearly showing. I really like the effect this technique produced. The fourth sample contains curved weft of a variegated viscose yarn, surrounded by chunky grey acrylic, I found this one very difficult to do. Sample five combines plain cotton weaving, with a focus on covering the warp threads, I also used warp threads of differing colours to see what effect this produced, I then finished it off with a few more Ghiordes Knots’s just for fun. My sixth sample experiments using different colorings and materials, including pom-pom covered yarn, fabric strips and hand-twisted rope.

Developing Design Ideas Sample 1.

For sample one I chose an abstract sketch of cells from my sketchbook, I like the different shades of blue and green and find myself drawn to these kinds of colours. I first made a yarn wrapping to try to match the proportions of the colours used in the picture, I didn’t have enough similar shades of blue and green to really capture the feeling of the piece, but I tried my best with what I had. After copying the wrapping on to paper I wasn’t happy with it, so using the original one as a basis I created a second plan for my weaving which I felt much happier with. When making my weaving I tried using a few different textured yarns, but I didn’t like how they looked, so I ended up using just plain cotton and acrylic yarns, which look much flatter and neater, but still change texture from rough to smooth if you run your hand over them.

Developing Design Ideas Sample 2.

Sample two I approached in an entirely different manner. I chose the word ‘rural’ and created a storyboard for it, then whilst looking at the pictures I chose some yarns and just started weaving. I much prefered working without a set plan, and what started off resembling overlapping hills in the distance, seemed to turn in to a meandering path by the end. I tried combining different weights and colours of yarns in this piece, but probably wasn’t adventurous enough as I like it all to look nice and neat when its finished, which probably misses the point of the exercise.

  • Did you have enough variety in your collection of yarns and other materials? Which kind of yarns, etc., did you use most? How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?
    My collection of yarns is not vast, although I bought a few more with different textures and colours for use in this project. After experimenting with them though, I found them difficult to use and the end result looked messy to me, so I ended up returning to plain DK yarns in acrylic or cotton as i found them easier to use and I liked the nice flat and even appearance they produced.
  • How did you find weaving in comparison to other techniques you’ve tried? Did you find it slow or too limiting?
    I didn’t enjoy weaving at all, it was painfully slow and all the planning and long time scales meant it lacked spontaneity. My hands can be quite shaky and clumsy, so I found weaving yarns in and out and making knots incredibly frustrating, or at times simply impossible. I find I enjoy the freedom and speed of painting much more.
  • How do you feel about your finished sample? Are you happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size? Is there any part that you would want to change? If so, try to identify exactly how and why you would change it.
    I don’t like my finished samples over all, they feel boring and safe. I wish I had experimented more and used unusual materials, but at the time I was so frustrated and annoyed about the entire process that I no longer felt creative. I stuck with simple, plain and flat techniques because they looked neat, tidy and some how more finished, but that isn’t how I express myself in the rest of my art work so it feels wrong here. I also dislike the small size of the finished pieces, I quite enjoy working big, so this felt extremely restricted, but my loom was only small.
  • Was there any stage in the whole design process that you felt went wrong? How would you tackle this process differently another time?
    I felt my choice of materials was wrong, if I did this again I would try to be much more adventurous.
  • Which did you enjoy more – working from the source material or putting colours together intuitively? Why?
    I enjoy having something as inspiration to work from, but I don’t enjoy making and working from a plan, I prefer the freedom to start however I want and make changes as I go along.

Project 8: Yarns


Analysing colour, texture and proportion.

For this section I found a variety of pictures and tried to match some of the colours found in them, before creating a representative yarn winding of the proprtions of the colours used.

Stage 2 Experimenting with structures.

Exercise 1.

I used various pieces of scrap paper and card to make small paper weaving’s. Some pieces of paper were soft and fragile like newspaper which ripped easily, other pieces were thick water-colour paper which was difficult to bend. I also tried using different shapes, my favorite has to be the blue background with white strips and orange circles on it. I also experimented using threads, yarns, and fabric strips.

Exercises 2 & 3.

Exercise 2 was quite fun, I enjoyed making different 3 or 4 strand braids with various threads and yarns, as well as stiffer leather cord and soft plastic bags and muslin strips. I also made some rope by twisting two strips of fabric together by hand – which was very time-consuming! I also used a contraption like an old hand powered whisk to twist various DK yarns together – that was much faster but needed a strong yarn or it just broke under the tension of the twisting. As I enjoyed this section so much I spent a day at a workshop with Julie Hedges trying out split-ply braiding, which produced some very beautiful samples that remind me of children’s friendship bracelets. When moving on to wrapping yarns around a frame I started with a piece of wire I bent in to a triangle, the idea was to try to make something inspired by a prism with the light shining through it, but the metal was too slippery and the yarns wouldn’t stay in place. For attempt two I started with 4 twigs which I bound together into a rectangle with recycled string. This was much sturdier, and the roughness of the bark kept the string in place enabling me to loop and weave string across it. I attempted to make denser and thinner areas, so light would pass through it more easily in some places compared to others, I think a lot more string might be necessary though for it to have any real effect.

Exercise 4.

This exercise was all about using a rigid grid as a base for weaving. I experimented with using thicker and thinner yarns as well as tissue paper woven through wire fencing. The thick materials filled up the spaces in the grid very quickly, producing a beautifully even and textured pattern. The thinner threads were much trickier to use, but i like the effect of weaving them through each other within the squares of the grid.

  • Did you enjoy inventing constructed surfaces? Were you surprised at the results? Can you see a connection between your choice of materials and the types of structures you made – regular, irregular, small or large-scale? Which samples worked the best – and why?
    I enjoyed the weaving with paper, it reminded me very much of things I used to make as a child, and the paper is easy to cut and handle as it doesn’t fray or pull out of shape. It also resulted in some surprisingly good geometric pictures. I also enjoyed trying split-ply braiding, which was quick and satisfying as well as also producing beautiful geometric patterns. I didn’t, however, enjoy weaving and wrapping yarns and materials. I found it very time-consuming and fiddly, and a lot of the time I thought the results looked messy and childish. I think the yarns and materials I used may have been too thin, and that I might have enjoyed it more using much thicker ones, which would’ve made the work faster and also more uniform in appearance. It was interesting to see the difference in appearance between very bulky materials and thinner ones used to weave through a grid. The samples I feel work best from this section are the split-ply braids, they are neat, interesting to feel and look at, and i also really like the colours I used to make them. It could also be though, that I made these at a workshop where hands-on help was available, so if I had any problems I could get advice and all the materials needed were readily available. If I had attended a workshop on weaving then those samples may have ended up better.
  • How accurate were you in matching all the colours in your postcard:
  • with paints? 
    With plenty of practice I feel my colour matching with paint has massively improved, I still find it tedious and boring, but the end results are a better match.
  • with yarns / other material?
    This I found harder to do as you can’t create the colour in the same way, you either have that colour of yarn or you don’t, so I ended up just using the closest match I could find.

Research point – Textile artists


The Work of The Textile Artist

I feel that textile artists and designers/craft-people approach a piece with a different outcome in mind. For example, when making a quilt to go on a bed, historically the quilt would’ve been a functional piece to keep people warm. The craftsperson would’ve used whatever materials were available to them, finding pieces of fabric and holding them together in layers for extra warmth. To prolong the life of these early pre-industrial fabrics which were very labour intensive to produce, they would’ve been patched and repaired, hence creating a more decorative patchwork quilt. The main function of the piece though would’ve still been to keep people warm. Even after people started designing simple geometric decorative patterns for the quilts, and using them to make their surrounding more beautiful or show off their wealth, the people making them never considered themselves to be artists and the items they made were still functional.

A textile artist however, would’ve approached the quilt from a more aesthetic point of view. Many of them have previously used other media like paint, printing, or weaving before moving in to quilting. This means they often bring new ideas and ways of making things to projects, and may use unusual textiles or combine the quilting with other media they have used before. Whilst this may make the quilt more beautiful, it can also make it less functional as an object to keep someone warm. For example, some fibers may be too fragile to wash or handle on a daily basis, and some dyes and paints may fade in strong light, so the quilt may end up hanging on a wall to be viewed rather than used. To an artist this may not matter though, as the decorative effect may be more important than the usefulness of the item.

Regardless of weather a quilt is made by a textile artist or a craft-person, the main method of construction will be the same, as essentially a quilt is just layers of fabric held together with stitches. The creation of the fabrics may be quite different though, as a craft-person would be making use of whatever they have available to them, whilst a textile artist could be painting, embellishing and assembling their work of art in fabric, however, as with most things at times boundaries between the two get blurred.

Textile arts on Wikipedia 
V & A Introduction to Quilting
Quilting in Great Britain
America’s Quilting History

Internationally Known Textile Artists

Emily Jo Gibbs

Emily has produced 3 distinctly different types of textile art over the last 20 years, starting by making unusual, luxury handbags, before moving on to vessels and baskets, and finally embroidered portraits. It is this final body of work that interests me most as I enjoy painting portraits myself. Emily recreates photo’s of her family and other children using linen, silk organza and mercerized cotton thread. She appliques layers of silk organza on to a linen background before embroidering over it with cotton thread – often adding a written message. The layers of silk organza used combine to produce pieces with a muted and delicate colour scheme. Her pieces of work are small – generally A4 or A3 size, this enables he to work without a frame. The subject of some of her embroideries feel deeply personal, you can feel the time she has spent observing her loved ones to create their likeness, the soft layers making them seem fragile, and the embroidered words pass on important lessons she feels they need to know to navigate modern life.

Gizella K. Warburton

Gizella makes both wall hangings and sculptural pieces using cloth, thread, paint, charcoal, wood, slate, in fact any media which produces the effects she wants. The pieces are fairly big with some measuring over 1.5m across, and made in natural muted colours like greys, indigo’s, and dirty whites. They have a raw and emotional quality to them, different elements are collaged together to create an expressive scrap-book of the artists emotions and experiences. All marks are made expressively to invoke a feeling or memory in an abstract manner, leaving the pieces scarred, stained and pierced charting a journey through life.

I view textile art in the same way I view any art, the fibers and threads used can tell a story in much the same way as paint and sculpture, it’s just a different media to use. I feel traditional textile art has been widely accepted for a long time, for example large tapestries and woven wall hangings have been used to decorate homes and buildings for hundreds of years. Abstract and unusual pieces may be less accepted as fine art but then I suspect painters and sculptures may face to same problems as well.

Assignment 3


I really enjoyed this assignment as it contained a good mixture of stitched samples and painting. I find making stitch samples relaxing and enjoyable but it can be very time consuming, whereas painting and sketching is much faster but requires more concentration, and produces more pieces I deem to be failures. This time whilst working through the exercises I tried to place more emphasis on colours, as I feel this is something I struggle with, so I took it as an opportunity to look at work by Josef Albers and to collect many examples of colour schemes that work well together, which I can then use in my own projects in the future. My favorite colour scheme so far has to be intense blues and greens you would find in a peacocks tail, and I used these a number of times in the fabric manipulation section. Read the rest of this entry

Project 7 Your Theme Book


My Theme Book is all about people. I’ve collected many pictures and postcards that have inspired me, and developed pieces of my own from these using sketches, paint and fabric.

I found these beautiful portraits painted by Francoise Nielly, they are made with thick oil paint and a knife. I’m not quite that adventurous yet, so I made a similar one with acrylic paint and a brush, I feel it is a good start but needs much more colour adding to it. I had a second attempt using larger areas of brighter colour but I don’t feel that it works, it seems too flat and lacks the depth of the original pieces. Read the rest of this entry

Research point – craft-produced textiles


I believe that craft-produced (or hand-crafted) textiles still maintain a place in modern society as they are a way for people to express themselves, their thoughts, feelings, emotions and sense of individuality. I know from personal experience the feeling of accomplishment when finishing a project, and even greater joy if other people praise it. If it happens to be something like a dress, then I can walk out proudly knowing  that no one else has the exact same one, and that my choices in fabric and construction techniques say a lot about who I am, what I like and how skilled I am at making something. Even a simple drawing gives you the freedom to express how you’re feeling inside, so every piece produced by a crafts person has a story to go with it, something a mass produced item doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry

Project 6 Manipulating Fabric


To work on this project I chose these 6 pages of my sketchbook to work from.

  • The first two are inspired by fungi I spotted whilst out walking, I made a few initial sketches then worked from those and additional photo’s I found, experimenting with collage, oil pastels, acrylic paint and inktense pencils.
  • The next page was inspired by a photo I found of bird in a magazine which was focused on the beautiful pattern made by its feathers, I worked on these ideas using layering and scratching away acrylic paint, wax crayons, marker pens and a fabric collage. It was the jewel-like colours and overlapping shapes which really interested me here.
  • The ‘rock-pool’s’ page was inspired by the road where I walk my dog, it is very broken and uneven and the patterns the stones form on the floor always catch my attention. I really love the small range of colour’s shown in the photo I found, it is very simple and ‘earthy’ feeling, but still has lots of contrast, it also has a strong circular feeling to me which I think came through ion my sketches.
  • The page about ‘birds on a cliff’ doesn’t really show up very well in the photo, but I felt very drawn to its feeling of many layers and lines.
  • The last page I worked on has to be my favorite. I had been reading a book about people marooned on a desert island and when I saw this photo in a magazine it caught my attention. I really love the shapes and colours shown in the photo, although in some ways my sketches and collages make me think more of a peacocks tail than the desert island I intended.

Read the rest of this entry

Research: A visit to Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings


This weekend I went to visit Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, for me one of the most iconic buildings there is the windmill pictured above. This photo was taken when we first arrived, but we were lucky enough to see them rotating the windmill to catch the wind and unfurling the sails later on in the day. The sails were huge pieces of what looks like a heavyweight cotton calico, firmly tied down to the wooden frame, and it was certainly effective at getting the mill working, but I do wonder how they stop them from going moldy being outside in all weathers! Read the rest of this entry