Book review: Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley

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I borrowed the book Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley from the library recently as it seemed to fit in with the things I’ve been experimenting with whilst learning about making marks. The beginning of the book covers many of the areas that I’ve been studying lately, refering to different ways to draw and mark lines and then progresses on to the different background’s you can create to put these markings on.

I love the clear instructions the book provides for creating many different backgrounds yourself. One I’ve experimented with before is layering paper onto cloth with PVA glue to create paper cloth. The process for making this is very messy but also very fun. To begin with I layered up blue and white tissue papers on calico, and found that by moving the blue pieces after they’d sat for a while in the glue they left a blue mark behind which made it look like there were even more layers. I then moved on to using heavier pink and purple paper mixed in with the tissue paper, old dried tea bags and tea leaves with gold acrylic paint and finally threads and fabric. After a few days when they had all dried, they were very stiff but felt pretty much the same no matter what they were made with. I then decided to try some free motion machine stitching on the blue piece much like the piece shown on the front cover of the book. The paper cloth went through my machine very easily as it was stiff enough to move under the foot easily, and also very easy to grip and hold. The needle had no trouble getting through the paper cloth, but did blunt it quite quickly. It produced a pleasing result that I would try again, although I know from previous experience that it can be hard work to sew on by hand.

After such a success with the paper cloth I decided to try out a few more of the techniques she describes. The first one  is made by sticking two pieces of tissue paper together with bondaweb, sandwiching threads in the middle. The first picture of it is held up against the window, the second on a dark surface. I love the kind of semi translucent effect this technique produces, and I wonder if it would also work well on very lightweight fabrics, it makes me think of lace and wedding dresses, and I’ll probably try embroidering on it in white thread in the future, but its so delicate I fear it might just rip apart. I also tried out her chalk-lift technique, which produced some interesting and abstract effects. It was hard work covering the paper in so much chalk and wax crayon though so I’m not sure I’d really bother with it again, the kids won’t forgive me if I use up all their wax crayons!

There were also lots of other techniques and artists work covered in the rest of the book, some of the samples shown helped inspire me when I made my bubble wrap sample, and also to try new stitches and different colours like in the circles stitch sampler shown. Some of the techniques I’ve already tried before, such as printing with objects, fusing fabrics with a soldering iron, using resists and dabbing paint as well as reverse applique, but this book has inspired me to look at them again.

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