Thursday, 7 January 2021

Chapter 9. Progress thus far and further ideas.

 It's now after Christmas and I've been away from this project for a while and I need to gather my thoughts and ideas. I'm also preparing for a Zoom tutorial with Sian Martin so a summary is helpful.

As mentioned in the introductory chapters I have a fabric collage in mind incorporating a variety of techniques to decorate and portray the story behind the work.

A collection of elements so far:

The same image but with a numbered guide for each element which I'll deal with individually:

 The importance of oak leaves - these feature on the inside page of my Grandmother's autograph book. I'm a bit obsessed! I love the shape of them and the many possibilities they offer up in their portrayal.
Following the Zoom sessions with Sian and the Stitched Textile Group I'm finding that the SHAPE and OUTLINE principles are resonating strongly especially with regard to the beautiful shapes of the oak leaves.

1a. Reverse applique [see chapter 6]:

1b. Fabric collage, worked on monoprinted silk with free machine embroidered detail and arranged according to the Fibonacci sequence:

1c. I wanted to make a spray of 3D oak leaves . I visited our local park to collect leaves and small branches to to help me understand and observe their shape and patterns of growth. .

I made the leaves using acetate fabric secured in an embroidery hoop. Over the acetate I lay random dyed silk and free machine stitched the leaf shapes. I then cut out the leaf shapes and dissolved the acetate in an acetone solution. This process plus pinning the leaves to a sheet of polystyrene enabled me to mould the leaves to the desired shape.

Health and safety. Acetone is highly flammable so it's essential to keep it away from any flames. A well ventilated room is required to avoid inhalation of toxic fumes. 

To produce the leafy twig I added each leaf individually to the oak twig using wood glue. This worked well. I plan to wrap the twig stem with olive green thread. I'm delighted with the realistic look I've achieved here:


1d. The inside page of the autograph book with the beautiful leaf pattern. However, I dislike the background grid which was revealed on enlarging the image: 

I really like the background the leaf pattern gives to the overall design so I decided to trace it off onto tissue paper [below] and plan to free machine stitch through the tissue paper onto a beautiful natural linen fabric using an olive green sewing thread:

2a ad 2b. The nurses uniforms. I have documented the process of making these in chapter 8. I'm delighted with these! They are worked on vintage napkins and I love their scalloped edges as they reflect the shapes of the oak leaves. However, the napkins are currently too wide [I needed the width previously to enable me to fit them into the embroidery hoop. 
So how to make them narrower? Just folding up to the scalloped edges and machine stitching doesn't feel right:

So I've experimented below with cutting the napkins, turning in the edges and then working an insertion stitch to rejoin the edges in a way more  appropriate to the design. Also in this way I can ensure the scalloped edges along the upper and lower edges are in alignment. I've used a linen thread to work a fine blanket stitch along both edges and have brought them together by weaving into the edges.
It's important to stitch evenly so I've pinned the fabric to some graph paper to help guide my stitching.

3.A friend of mine gifted me these buttons and fasteners following her mother's death. It feels very fitting to include them here especially as my Grandmother loved to sew and mend. The cards are 
complete and in lovely condition.

4. I'm fascinated by this photo of the clinic at Exeter, the soldiers waiting to be seen and the nurses lined up in their uniforms, I wonder what they were thinking? 

I wonder, at this stage, about bringing together the above photo with some of the writing from the autograph book using reverse applique and free machine stitching to outline and highlight the oak leaf shapes. I'm fascinated by how the soldiers within the cut out shapes stand out, one of them apparently looking straight at me! Not sure about this, however, may need to rethink.

5. Extracts from the autograph book: I need to consider how to include these:

I'm toying with the idea of reproducing the autograph book as an added 3D feature to really bring the project to life and to ensure that it lives on and not forgotten.

6. Poppies. I love the idea of using these snap fasteners as poppy centres as they tie in with the fasteners above.

The poppies themselves are made up of a heavy space dyed calico over sponged with red and green acrylic paints and based on the shape of the poppies available around Remembrance Day.

7. The Red Cross. The cross on the design at the beginning of this chapter is made of paper sponged with red and green acrylic paints but I plan to take some red felt and add some painted
Bondaweb to give added texture and interest. Below is my Grandmother's Red Cross button which will also be added.

So this is the project so far, it still needs more work but having put it onto paper [or blog ] here I'll ponder at my leisure and enjoy discussing next stages with Sian.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

A weekend with The Stitched Textile Group led by textile artist and tutor Sian Martin

 The weekend was scheduled to take place at The Ammerdown Centre in Somerset but we were restricted by the country's second national lockdown so we enjoyed a weekend of Zoom sessions with Sian at the helm!

The weekend was entitled 'RESPONDING' looking at ways of exploring ways in which drawings and design ideas could be resolved into textile methods.

I knew I wanted to develop my ideas for my 1914 project ,

We were invited to bring with us some drawings or design ideas of our own.

Thinking of simple drawings I felt the humble oak leaf was important,  I experimented with a simple line drawing and then folding my paper concertina style and drawing over the folds which when opened revealed exciting new shapes

I also love this monoprint as a design idea:

During our first session Sian invited us to make a few marks straight onto a piece of fabric which we felt related to our theme.

We were also encouraged to consider two words which we felt related to our theme, for me the words SHAPE and OUTLINE were resonant.

And then to experiment with fabric manipulation methods still keeping our key words at the centre of our processes.


Friday, 6 November 2020

Chapter 8. The nurses and fun portraying their uniforms through stitch

 This was going to be fun and I have looked forward to working on these!

Again I used a photograph as reference. I took a sheet of tissue paper to trace the image. I then took firstly snippets of red dyed calico and traced the sleeves / lower skirt hems and then bits of an old white linen tablecloth to represent the aprons [ this was no longer fit for use and rotten in places! It felt good to give it a new lease of life in this way!].  These were traced onto fusible web and ironed in place carefully onto an antique napkin  ensuring that they all lined up

With the sleeves and aprons ironed into place the tissue tracing was laid over the top taking care to line the image in place and secured in an embroidery hoop ready for stitching into place. I used black thread and free machine stitching to complete the image using an embroidery foot. 


 Stitching complete:

I'm really pleased with this and excited about the scalloped edges of the napkin as these will reflect the shapes of the oak leaves as the composition takes shape:

 I tried another with plain sleeves and apron but feel they are all equally characterful:

I love the original photograph of these two nurses and feel the stitched versions capture their friendship and support for each other.

Inspiration for this technique originally came from a workshop I attended with textile artist Rosie James who produces fabulous images with the threads left uncut. This suggests a lot of atmospheric movement and I have experimented with this below with the nurses and examples worked from the family photos in the first chapter.
But for the purposes of this current piece of work I've decided to take the threads to the back of the work as this seems more appropriate on this occasion:

Chapter 7 The transfer of photographs onto fabric

 I knew I wanted to use some of the photos in the final textile piece but needed to find a way of transferring them onto fabric to facilitate resilience for stitching. 

I have experimented with freezer paper and have been delighted with the results.

Freezer paper is easy to come by on line, it's cheap and easy to use. 

The paper is plastic coated. I simply ironed the plastic coated side to a piece of fabric which has been cut slightly larger than A4. I keep an old iron specifically for such jobs and use baking parchment to protect it. I then trimmed the paper /fabric to A4 size to fit my Inkjet printer, selected the image to be printed from my computer files and taking care to place the fabric the right way up pressed print and looked on in wonder as my image emerged on fabric!

The results:

 The clinic for soldiers printed onto calico:

The autograph book inside cover with it's beautiful leaf patterns printed on calico:

An example of one the autograph book pages with a soldier's entry printed on calico:

One of my Grandmother's embroideries printed on scrim:

I'd like to develop ideas to incorporate these images within a fabric collage using stitch and textural effects.
I love the embroidered image on scrim and would like to experiment to hand stitch into this. This piece defined my red / green colour scheme, so beautiful.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Chapter 6. Surface decoration on fabric - monoprinting and solar printing. Reverse applique.

 Monoprinting seems to work really well to interpret the oak leaves and so I decided to work with this on fabric. I used acrylic paints with a fabric painting medium, the latter extends the drying time of the acrylics and offers a softer finish.

I used the same method as follows:

Monoprints on silk laid as a collage onto a calico backing, I've allowed the silk to fray when it overlaps for added texture and interest:


Detail 2

Monoprints on calico over laid with monoprints on tissue paper:

Monoprints on calico and then flooded with silk paint:

Solar printing.

I used calico and silk both of which were washed to remove any dressing.

Early experiments [ not linked to this project]:
The fabric was painted with Setacolor paints and laid over surface which would take pins.
 Flowers pinned into place and then placed in a sunny spot for a couple of hours:

Until a negative image develops:

Now using oak leaves:

The result:

I have yet to stitch the above samples awaiting development.

Added information re solar printing taken from The Found Object by Cas Holmes. 

Below is a sample of reverse applique. I used a monoprinted piece of calico with some free machine embroidery as a bottom layer. I had a piece of silk painted with Setacolor paints which had not responded to sunlight which I used as atop layer, I monoprinted oak leaves onto this before stitching oak leaf shapes at random on the back. I then cut away these shapes on the right side and free machine stitched around the cutaway shapes
I finished by adding stitching to the monoprinted oak leaf shapes on the upper side. to produce some interesting textural effects.

My monoprinting tile after a long printing session, much too beautiful to wash away!

Chapter 5. Decorated papers and surface decoration.


My favourite way of decorating papers is to monoprint. This works particularly with leaves and results in the most intricate detail.

Monoprint with acrylic paint on cartridge paper

Monoprint on tissue paper with acrylic paints:

Sketchbook page monoprints:

Sketchbook page - layers of monoprinted tissue paper:

Charcoal rubbing: 

Frottage is a way laying paper over textured surfaces to create interesting rubbings, I've used a cardboard leaf shape and a leaf shape fashioned out of string and set with PVA glue.

The results using oil paint sticks, Aquarelle and water colour pencils on cartridge paper:

Resist methods:

Resist methods are achieved by using water resistant wax crayons, oil paint sticks, oil pastels or candles which are then washed over with inks or water colour paints, in this case inks and Brusho paints