Thursday 20 February 2020

Surface, Structure, Stitch at City Lit: Week 6

  Week 6 already of  Surface, Structure , Stitch  with Louise Baldwin  at  City Lit  and we were looking at  joins, seams, darts , pleats , and  tucks.  I'd done some homework   looking through some of the many books I own , especially the ones above.  We looked at the work of  Karen NicholCaroline Bartlett, Joan Livingstone , Debbie Lyddon Tanana  Takite

 Louise had  lots and lots of samples : use of darts to give volume; pleats on different fabrics, manipulated into shapes;  joining  different fabrics( the seam of the 'back' being just as interesting); inserting small pieces  into seams; pintucks in different directions  with waxing ; working on the bias  with zigzag giving ' lettuce' effect ;  working with  various weight/types of fabric, giving different effects; smocking, suturing , faggoting  stitches  to join  edges. 
 One technique   caught the imagination of several of us  -  using  a bobbin of  tightly wound shirring elastic ( or ' knicker elastic'  as someone referred to it !)   on very taut fabric held in a hoop, stitching from the top with ordinary thread, 
  I didn't have  a chance to do a ' before' shot  as the tension  while stitching finally came too much  and it burst out of the hoop !  Nice effect but  would need a lot of practice ( and hand winding the tensioned bobbins was hard )

 Thinking of my limpet shapes, I spent  time just using  different  weights of calico and  muslin , using darts to make the shape and then using pin tucks in between to give structure ( Louise suggested I could insert kebab sticks in the pintucks to give it even more form )  

 I'd bought some of my ecoprinted fabrics with me  and started to apply  the same processes to that 
 Then  while I was in pleating   mode,  Louise suggested I use the 'Princess Pleater' smocking machine .  Caroline Bartlett  ( who also teaches at City Lit)  puts yards and yards  of it through  to make her work .  
  This is my  16 needle Read Pleater which I bought secondhand  years ago   for shibori but have used very little,  but I'm keen  to experiment  with after   seeing its potential.
 The hardest part  was threading the needles as I'd cut my left thumb badly and the plaster made it difficult  to hold.  The trick is to use long lengths of threads   to push the pleated fabrics off the needles .  I put through  strips of muslin, folding it as  I turned the handle;  cotton organdie  and the ecoprinted  linen ( which being so soft   was lovely to work with )

 This could get addictive  but I need to concentrate on sorting out what I'm going to take on my annual textile retreat   at Glenthorne in the Lake District  next week ( it'll be my 9th trip) .  As I'll be missing a class , Louise   went through what we'd be doing exploring the possibilities of using one shape in a variety of ways , manipulating and making multiples so I have homework to do !  

Thursday 13 February 2020

Surface, Structure, Stitch at City Lit: Week 5

 This week the focus of Surface, Structure, Stitch  at City Lit was on machine covered cords  " A line in space" .  For homework I'd looked  through my copy of  Stitch and Structure    by Jean Draper (  and also Janet Edmonds Three Dimensional Embroidery )   but had misread the instructions  on bringing  an image with strong mood , texture and colour.
  I'd remembered the 'colour' bit   and on a lovely sunny day  had drawn some of my shell collections   -  as  my daily drawings ( love the serendipity of  the combined drawings when backlit)  

  And on a sheet of watercolour paper  divided as we'd done for black and white studies in week 1.  I used neocolour crayons and W&N Watercolour Markers which I've had for ages ( and was reminded why  I still don't like them , back in the drawer they go! )
  I'd cut my thumb badly with a breadknife, tacking pebbles on my trainstitching piece on the way to class  was trickier than you'd expect!

What  we were doing with the images   we had ( or hadn't!)  brought in  was to describe in  words some of the qualities  of our image  then interpret the words in  drawn/collaged  lines . These examples Louise shared were based on a photo of a  cactus with red flowers, 
 These drawn  lines were then  translated into  stitched cords of fabric or thread wrapped string  
  I  did have some photos of shells with me  but  to more accurately  describe their qualities  used some of the  items  available in the class. 

 I was struggling to capture the true colours using the art materials  available so Louise suggested I construct ' moodsticks' ,  covering a stick/piece of card with scraps of fabric and winding threads  around them  from the exciting range of fibres available.  Similar  to  swatches prepared for weaving  but freer , with overlapping threads and colours giving more texture and optical colour mixing. This could get addictive!
 Then  an attempt  to make some machine wrapped cords : laying a string under free embroidery foot with feed dogs down  and using a wide zig zag   stitch and  pulling it  through. My poorly thumb hampered me somewhat as I couldn't hold it taut enough so  didn't have enough control.  

 Still , enough  to see the potential, discussing with Louise how they   could be coiled  or joined  together  to make circles  or stitched into a network .  I spent  the rest of the session gathering  bits to bring home  and try out on my own machine.
Enough  writing for now, time to go and play ! I could be some time...

Surface, Structure, Stitch at City Lit: Week 4

 Week  4  of Surface, Structure, Stitch   was on Kantha and Boro , definately  in my comfort zone !  And with a week away , I'd been making good progress reconnecting with my  #trainstitching  of #wrapmeintheshore   with  the addition of precious fragments  from the City Lit Textile  Studio scrap box 
The notes  that Louise  supplied    recommended reading  of books  by Ahmad, Gillow, Morrell  and Zaman  - I have  them all (!)  plus the catalogue from the Boro exhibition at Somerset house  which  she also showed.  Apart from an example of a kantha stitched sari silk scarf ( of which I too own several), her  own samples  showed how kantha could be used in  reversible 3d forms, either a  spiral stitched bowl or a strip that could be manipulated in different  ways. 

 I had a go first using  circles of felt and  linen furnishing fabrics  -  another time I wouldn't start right in the centre and would add a coin in the bottom between the layers to  produce a base.
The second one   was a small strip of layered creams and blues with crude running stitches, pulled up  into a shell shape. Lots of possibilities.  Louise  suggested I  make  a much larger piece  of layered fabrics and incorporate ' lumps'  of buttons between the layers  to add further distortions and texture 

 I finished the stitching on the way  home on the train  and  spend quite a while manipulating it into different shapes

 Then , deep breath,  I started pulling up some of the stitching, taking photos as I went along 

 I love the potential of inside and outside  being  equally important

  Finally for my' daily drawing' I did a small patched stitched sample  showing the effect of the rippling from pulling up the running stitch.