well, it’s done…

… the ‘when will this ever be finished’ wall hanging for City & Guilds Patchwork & Quilting is now finished!

This was my first experiment using felt as the batting so it became an integral part of the design. The assessment was to make a piece using appliqu̩ techniques. It has three layers Рpainted silk organza, handmade felt, and painted silk pongee. The shadow appliqu̩ shapes are hand dyed cotton and hand painted silk, and the machine and hand quilting are in cotton.

I cut back the top layer of some of the shadow appliqué and machine quilted areas after quilting them. I finished the edges with buttonhole stitch and then needlefelted them to break down the stitches into the felt. The support is a piece of driftwood I found on the beach, and the work is 53cm x 78cm (or 76cm x 78cm if you include the wood).

applique hanging

applique detail

applique detail

applique detail

applique detail

seeing shapes

OCA Textiles 1 is (obviously) a textile course, but a significant proportion of the exercises involve design work on paper – I’m still not sure what I think about this or whether I’ll continue to work that way – it’s a big change for me since my previous method was basically to get out the materials and see what happened. It feels good, though, to be challenged so fundamentally. I did enjoy this exercise very much – to isolate interesting parts of an image using a frame and represent them, focusing on the shapes.

framed shapes

framed shapes

more French knots and other dots

I hoped I would get a bit more done last week, art-wise, than I did, but there was more work (day job) than I expected (which is good, really) and so in the end I was squeezing the art in around it. I did the machine quilting on the second of three panels for the appliqué assessment in my quilting course, and started on the hand stitching. It’s crazy, really, to be doing large amounts of hand stitching on a project like this when time is short, but I am, because when I decided to do that, it turned from an assessment piece I ‘had to get done’ into something that I feel engaged with and might even want to look at again afterwards.

For OCA Textiles 1, I’m still working on the pointillist stitching exercises. I tried some different stitches…

pointillist stitching

… and then French knots at a different scale, though not (yet) with rope as envisioned by Jude in her comment! This was just tapestry wool on canvas.

pointillist stitching

I enjoyed this exercise, which was to blend pastel colours across a sample. Though I had to scrape the barrel a little to find any pastel colours at all in my thread collection – just a few silks left over from something I made for my niece when she was a baby (she’s practically a teenager now and I don’t seem to have bought any thread you could call pastel since then – a few knitting yarns, that’s all).

blending stitches

The next exercise is to interpret something from my sketchbooks, also in pastel shades, in a pointillist style. Well, a quick glance through them reveals that even when I paint something that looks pastel-ish, I make it stronger or brighter or even a different colour! So I think the next exercise is actually to sit down with my sketchbook and some paint that includes liberal amounts of white, and see how pale and interesting I can be…

painting crockery

a good dyeing day today

Actually, yesterday and today, since dyeing isn’t a process to be hurried. It always amazes me how the alchemy takes place and this…

dyed fabric in tray

becomes this…

dyed fabric drying

and then this…

ironed dyed fabrics

and then – who knows? could be a skirt… or a quilt…

though today was not a good quilting day. Suffice to say there was much too much unpicking of stitches involved. And tearing of hair.

Why is it that on a practice piece everything flows along without mishap but when it really matters (that would be my City and Guilds assessment) the opposite is true? I’m not being perfectionist about this, but I really don’t think I can hand in something that looks as if a demented ant did the quilting. OK, deep breath, good night’s sleep, try again tomorrow…

expressive markmaking

I’m struggling a bit with the exercises in expressive markmaking for Open College of the Arts Textile 1. I can spend hours making marks – some that I like, some that I don’t, in different media and with different techniques, but I don’t naturally see any of them as expressive of sadness or happiness, even when I am trying to convey these specific emotions. I am making judgments about them, but not related to mood. I see them as interesting, boring, ugly, beautiful, etc, and I don’t have too much trouble with strongly visual words like sharp, smooth, delicate, but I get more doubtful when it comes to words like fast and slow, hard and soft. That is – I can relate those words to the gestures I’m making when I make the mark, but when I look at the mark, it doesn’t seem to reflect the speed of the gesture. Or a softly placed mark doesn’t say ‘soft’ to me.

Not sure where I’m going with this, just getting the thoughts out.

While I was musing and wondering about it yesterday I googled for expressive markmaking, and rediscovered TRACEY, an online journal devoted to contemporary drawing research. Specifically the issue on Syntax of Mark and Gesture. Masses of material here – I’ve bookmarked this to read over the next week or so. Following their links I also looked at Access Art and their online workshop ‘Draw!‘. After that I thought I am just being too precious ahout this and I sat and brainstormed in my journal some other evocative words and visual ideas around what sadness and happiness mean to me.

happy and sad words

During the week I’ll spend some time finishing the exercise by making marks around these thoughts. But today I’m going to go on to the next stage, using marks to create surface textures.

These are some of my favourite efforts from yesterday. I notice they are all paint, except the first which is a candle resist with an Inktense pencil wash. The results I get drawing with pastels, crayons, etc don’t grab me much – maybe an indication that I need to spend a little more time getting to know these media. They work well for me in rubbings, stencils and so on, but not when it’s just me and my bare hands!