I definitely enjoyed this project and felt I was able to put more of my previous creative experience into the exercises than before.
I feel I could have done more experimentation with the free machine embroidery but somehow I began to enjoy the spontaneity of picking up different threads to work with and got really absorbed with the physical acts of working with a needle and thread on fabric by hand. I will definitely be making time for machine embroidery again, especially trying out different tensions and threads. I feel I ought to go steady with the machine I have at the moment since I can’t afford a new one, and I wouldn’t want it to break down just when I needed it!
I think I have used a wide range of materials for my samples. I am fortunate to have collected much over the years and can put my hand to most things now I have a dedicated room to work in. The “colour bags” proved very useful, not only for keeping everything in one place for easy reference, but also, in a way, it restricted my choice of materials to work with and helped me focus. I tried dying some fabric but it was with machine dye and I did not achieve the density of colour I wanted. I need to experiment with smaller batches of a different type of dyestuff.
Many years ago I made a large tapestry sampler on canvas in shades of pink and cream for A Level Fashion and Textiles. I researched and sampled many different stitches for that project and going back to my reference books and working the stitches after all that time was very evocative. When you start to work some of the different embroidery stitches you realise that many of them are just different versions of one basic stitch and then it is easier to work in a less formal way and experiment a bit more. I did find it a little difficult not to get stuck in a rut, working in a geometrical and rigid pattern – even more difficult when you have a background fabric which has obvious lines to follow. I think that is where machine embroidery scores because you can use most types of fabric and are forced to move the work to make the stitches, instead of working with the thread into the work. It seems to encourage a more free technique.
I am becoming more visually aware of texture in my environment. I find at work that a lot of my surroundings are quite bland and lack much in the way of surface texture – an office has never been the most inspiring place to find oneself. But I do see quite a bit of pattern here and there and I am sure I will be able to incorporate some of these observations into later projects.
I find it exciting to develop a sketch using image manipulation software on my computer. I use very basic freeware but even the simple task of enlarging and cropping and enlarging again produces further interesting images. Then printing them out gives even more different qualities to the image, sometimes adding a new focus to the balance of the picture or adding colour not observed in the original perspective.
I enjoyed producing the last sample of the project as it felt like I was finishing something. There is always a great satisfaction in that and it is good to get to the end of this part of the course and see the physical result.