Project 1 of the course was initially daunting as I had not explored mark making this way for many years. I am still struggling with the concept that I should be sketching every day, but I am finding new ways to make my marks all the time and the task that I first found arduous and thought almost insurmountable is becoming easier. I am slowly building up a stock of materials to use for sketching and I am surprised to note that I have had to transfer these to a bigger box now! I think my family still regard my drying the tea bags on the Aga and then emptying them into the compost bin as a little bonkers …
Project 2 of this part of the course tapped into areas that were more familiar. I have been sewing since primary school and when it came to trying different stitches to get different textures I began to relax into the exercises a bit more and was able to work in a less formal way. Although, at the same time, I do find it difficult not to produce regular, neat lines of stitching because it was drummed into me from such an early age! I also enjoyed experimenting with using different materials to stitch with, such as fabric strips, food packets and sweet wrappers. I would like to do some more work with plastic and was inspired particularly by the techniques shown in Gwen Hedley’s book Surfaces for Stitch and Beaney and Littlejohn’s Stitch Magic.
Machine embroidery captured my attention early on but I felt I needed to cover a wide range of techniques to show my experimentation so I did not dwell too long. I can see myself coming back to that very soon. I also wanted to see how I could use the machine with other materials, like plastic and heat-transforming fabrics, but that will have to wait. I find reviewing my work very useful. I look back and see more ideas for further development of images and techniques each time, which can only be to the good.
I am hoping to visit some more exhibitions this year, where I want to study other people’s work and get a better idea of what new techniques and materials people are using. I get the feeling I have missed out over the years since I last studied textiles and there have been many innovations in equipment and fabrics, such as the embellishing machines for needle felting and new textiles like Tyvek and others that have originally developed for use in industry and been adapted by textile artists to enhance their work.
When I studied originally my preference was for the history of costume and textiles and I still go back to that having recently become a member of the West of England Costume Society and attended several of their study days I particularly enjoyed one last year on knit and one more recently on shopping where the archivist of Liberty of London gave a very insightful presentation of the history of the Liberty “style”. My aim back then was to pursue costume for drama but now I am much more aware of how artefacts and behaviours of the past can influence the innovations of the future. I am looking forward to using my knowledge of the history of textiles to inform my study of contemporary practices and hopefully shape my own creation of new pieces.