Category Archives: PART 4 Textile Structures

Part 4 – Research Point – Textile Artists

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We are asked to consider how the work of the textile artist differs from that of the designer, the designer-maker or the craftsperson and if there is any crossover in terms of approach or the way in which each uses ideas or textile processes.

A textile artist may be working in their chosen medium for a variety of reasons and with different backgrounds of art education and experience.  They may have developed their particular way of working having a begun their career in fashion, fine art or having trained and worked as a textile craftsperson.  I do think that there are many points of crossover with describing someone as a “textile artist” rather than a craftsperson or designer-maker and unfortunately actively giving a label to this type of creativity is sometimes an unnecessary barrier to the wider appreciation of a body of work.  Also, many classically trained fine artists, such as Tracey Emin who describes herself as a “visual artist” use textile as part of a variety of media to convey their thoughts, desires and messages.  (Tracey Emin on her exhibition She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea at Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate in 2012.)  Emin famously crafted a tent, exhibited in 1995, appliqued with the names of all the people she had ever slept with, lovers, family and friends.  This piece belonging to art collector Charles Saatchi was famously destroyed in the Momart London warehouse fire of 2004.  The artist could equally have produced a work such as this in paint, paper, or stone but she chose to convey her feelings about this very personal, intimate part of her life in fabric, the material that we use to clothe ourselves, to make our homes more comfortable, to sleep under and wrap our newborn babies in.

In her article, Textile Art or Textile Craft? published on Bodkinz, a website dedicated to a community of fibre and textile artists in New Zealand, Shirley Dixon provides a detailed investigation on the definition of textile art and textile craft.  She proposes that a work must possess certain properties in order to be textile art, including positive aesthetic properties, a subject, originality and creativity, and communicate complex meanings: ideas, emotions or points of view.  She expands on these properties to show how there is also a contextual element; just because a quilt is displayed on the wall of a gallery does not necessarily mean it is a work of art.  Similarly, textile crafts can be shown to have properties that differ from textile art so, although requiring a particular skill to execute, this skill has a basis in tradition, as opposed to the originality and often subversive or critical quality of textile art.  Textile crafts can be practical or useful and can be an antidote to mass-production, as well as exhibiting originality and creativity but textile arts carry a message, communicating the human condition to the wider audience.

There is also the element of value put on textile art or craft, with a basis in how crafts have been regarded through history.  I was lucky to visit on the last day of the recent exhibition at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Petal Power, featuring graphic work by women designers of the Silver Studio of Design.  This was a prominent London studio that produced dress and furnishing fabric, wallpaper and homeware designs for Liberty, Sanderson, Selfridges and others at all levels of the market.  The exhibition highlighted how women designers were treated differently to their male counterparts, working from home rather than at the studio itself and paid less than the male designers.  Of course, this was the convention at this time.  Winifred Mold, although employed by the studio from 1912 to 1935 only visited the premises and commented “I never saw the room where the men worked”.

The Sixty Two Group, established over 50 years ago, was formed to give textile artists, particularly embroiderers, a voice in a predominantly male-dominated and traditionally fine art world.  Alice Kettle, an honorary member of the Sixty Two Group is a textile artist who uses machine-stitched threads on a backing fabric to draw as others might use a pencil on paper or paint on canvas to produce figurative images.  Alice studied fine art and then textiles as a postgraduate student at Goldsmith’s College.  Some of her pieces are very big, such as the colourful banners and sail produced for the Margate Hosts the Boat project in 2012.  These flags incorporated artwork from local schools and community projects and were flown on Margate Harbour Arm to help celebrate the arrival of the Margate Sail, again a collaborative project between Alice and residents and school children of Margate, produced as a gift for the vessel the Collective Spirit.  This was a boat made using modern yacht building techniques but formed out of wooden artifacts donated by local people, each with a story to tell.

In this video of the 2010-11 exhibition The Narrative Line from the National Craft Gallery of Ireland Alice Kettle explains how her exposure to the craft of sewing as she grew up was a large part of her choosing stitch as her medium of working.  It is interesting how she also comments on how her work crosses between art and craft and that she is comfortable in the world of craft.  Kettle also talks about how she researches and develops ideas, sometimes from books she has read or a story but that quite often, through sketching, sampling and the responses to that, the process itself is a journey to an unexpected outcome.  Kettle likens her work to illustrative story-telling using thread.  In one particular large wallhung “tapestry” of this exhibition Kettle has used ephemera, including items from around her studio, and stitched these on to the fabric of the piece that depicts Alice Kyteler (another Alice Kettle) so that the finished work is very highly textured in certain areas.  The artist also uses the empathy that she feels with her namesake to fuel the story-telling.  It must be hard not to become deeply involved in a subject when you have done a lot of research but even more so when there are strong links, as in the name and the possibility of a family link.

Sue Hotchkis describes herself as “an artist with a passion for texture, surface and space” and she uses photography to help her with inspiration.  She uses multiple textile techniques and layering to depict her environment in colourful abstract cloth artworks, which can range in size from large mural-style wall hung canvases like blue check shirt to her entries in the Button Project at Macclesfield Silk Museum  She seeks to show that there is beauty in ageing and decay that is occuring constantly and hand dyed or painted fabric is overprinted and then embellished with machine or hand embroidery.  As the artwork itself will change over time the artist often enhances this characteristic by distressing with a heat gun or soldering iron and is not concerned that the piece be preserved but will use whatever techniques necessary and take as long as necessary to achieve the required result.  Once is a really detailed piece (40 x 108 cm) that when you look closely, incorporates an incredible amount of intricate hand stitchery and you see layers as the top surface is cut away to look like rusted through metal.  The colours are bright and the artist has used layers of many threads of different colours to build the overall effect.

The concept of textile art as an art form in it’s own right is an idea I have discussed with some of my creative friends and I usually come back to the conclusion, for myself, that there are so many ways for an artist to express himself that I find it hard to justify designating a work by medium.  I prefer to appreciate that artists will strive to put forward their ideas, emotions, messages in any way that feels appropriate to them at the time, whether that be in music, sculpture, tapestry weaving or dance.

My feeling is that the fine art establishment is going to need to be more flexible in how it promotes and critiques textile art if they want to enjoy the continued support of collectors who will always vote with their feet and if the fashion of the moment in art buying circles is for textile pieces then that is where the money will flow.  Also there is a blurring of distinction between media in education these days, with students producing amazing work in many different forms while they are finding their artistic voice at college and university.  This will help to make textile art as acceptable a form of art as oil painting and water colours but it will be a slow process.

Bibliography:

Tracey Emin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHj7mp6JLKA

Alice Kettle – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ3gH-DasNA and http://www.alicekettle.com/

Shirley Dixon – http://www.bodkinz.co.nz/textile-art-or-textile-craft

Sue Hotchkis – http://www.textileartist.org/sue-hotchkis-interview-free-motion-machine-embroidery-and-print/ and http://www.suehotchkis.com/

Assignment Four – Reflective commentary

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Structures is an aspect of textiles that I have been keen to explore ever since I began to make clothes for my dolls as a child.  The challenge is making a new form from threads, fabrics or other materials that has an identity of it’s own.  At the beginning of this section we were also asked to work on analysing visual sources, colour matching and gauging proportion to develop ideas for design.  This was a very useful exercise and I produced three yarn wound cards for development.

Stage 1 required me to make a complete rationalisation of my yarn stash as I couldn’t see what I had until all the balls, cones, hanks and strips were constrained into colour boxes.  This was very helpful when it came to producing the yarn windings and woven samples, and I found I had quite a lot more in the way of unusual fibres than I had expected.  The Yarn Book – how to understand, design and use yarn by Penny Walsh was very helpful for identifying the more unusual types of yarns and fibres I had accumulated.  I also included my experiments with yarn made out of strips of plastic crisp packets folded in half and machine stitched along the length.

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Yarn made from crisp packets.

Stage 2 – making woven structures using paper and card was an interesting exercise and I can see that this type of development could lead to all sorts of other textile work, combining weaving fabric and other materials with appliqué, felting, knitting, cord-making, netting – the list is endless.   Almost an overwhelming amount of inspiration!  Also, when I began making the ropes, plaits and cords I did not feel that any of the samples I produced were particularly inspiring, until I began to experiment with paper and wire and then I started to see the possibilities.  I also found the book Three-dimensional Textiles with coils, loops, knots and nets by Ruth Lee full of ideas for producing more combinations and shapes.  The two further exercises involving frames in this stage were great fun and I ended up with two samples using some interesting materials, including maize leaves and kebab sticks.  I also discovered that if you are using a triangle form you need to work on a larger scale than you might think.

I had made some simple woven structures in my previous textile studies, along with felting, knitting, knotting and wrapping but I have not attempted tapestry weaving in particular before.  This is probably because the floor looms that were available to us at my old college allowed for making woven patterns so it was easy to get absorbed in that technique rather than keeping things simple and experimenting. I have been keen to investigate weaving further for my research into traditional Greek textiles and I now understand how the Ghiordes knot technique probably forms the basis for Flokati rugs and cannot wait to try out some more experiments on a larger scale but I will need to source a bigger loom than the one I was using for the samples in this section.  I am pleased that my “toy” loom worked very well to help me produce my woven samples with a bit less stress than there might have been if I had been let loose with a hammer and nails.  Again, I experimented with using materials other than woollen and cotton yarns, making use of plastic biscuit wrappers, fabric strips and fruit nets.

The final sample exercise was very useful.  Starting with an image as a start point, developing this with a yarn wrap and scaling this up from a coloured sketch on graph paper is all good practice for future design development work.  I need to try not to be too apprehensive when confronted with suggestions of using words or moods as inspiration for design development.  I am working on this whilst I research my theme project as I have the word “entrance” as a starting point.

Project 9 – Stage 4 – Developing design ideas into weaving

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For this Stage we are offered a choice of ways to approach producing a final weaving sample.   Sample 1 suggests using a source image and producing a striped sample.  Sample 2 suggests an intuitive approach using a word as inspiration.  I found earlier work using words to suggest a mood very challenging so I decided to opt for Sample 1 – I know I could attempt both but, as always, I am pressed for time.

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I chose this sketch I made in pastels (click on the image to enlarge), inspired by greetings card – bottom left which is a photograph by Steve Lovi.  (Incidentally, I remember Lovi’s images being very popular back in the 1980s and he was the photographer for many of Kafe Fassett’s colourful books on embroidery and knitting but when I just tried to Google him, very little information seems to be available.)   The colours in this image are very Spring-like and I especially love the Primulas.  Once I started looking for yarns to use in my card wrap I realised that both the original image and my sketch lack texture – the overall impression is quite flat.  I decided to try to reproduce the shapes of the flowers in my woven piece by using the uncut Ghiordes knot to make loops.  I have used a combination of woollen, cotton, acrylic and silk fibres for this sample.

I reproduced the blocks of colour from my yarn wrap in coloured pencil on some squared paper and I used a scaled up photocopy of this to act as a cartoon whilst weaving, just to give me a guide for the colour changes.

I found that I experimented with techniques as I wove.  This is not difficult on a small scale piece like this but I can imagine that it would not be practical when planning a larger project.  I did need to double up quite a few of the chosen yarns just to get some more texture in to the sample.  Also this helped with producing blends of colour that more nearly matched my original image.  Along with the uncut Ghiordes knots I used Soumak and wove some rows with two colours to produce the checks and dots in some blocks, just to introduce some more interest and echo a little of the patterning on the plate in the background of the source image.  DSC_0155

I think using the uncut Ghiordes knot to make large and smaller loops to imitate the flowers in the original image has worked quite well but I should have woven some rows less densely to help the loops to separate better.  I wove some rows, the pale mint green and the darker green blocks, by staggering Soumak with gaps in between and this worked very well to improve on the texture of the piece.

End of Project Notes

* Did you have enough variety in your collection of yarns and other materials?  Which kind of yarns, etc., did you use most?  How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?

I definitely had lots of yarns, cords, fabric and other materials to choose from for this project.  I found that I used more knitting and tapestry yarns than anything else as I had these in a wider variety of colours.  Also, anything finer like embroidery flosses or even sewing threads would have disappeared using the scale of sample we were working on.  Also, anything too chunky would have dominated the pieces.  Obviously you have to work within a range that suits the loom you are using and the scale of the finished piece.  I enjoyed working with other materials such as fabric strips, wires and plastic bag strips and would like to do some more work using recycled materials.  I have done some willow basket weaving in the past and had a go at making a vessel by weaving strips of corrugated card.  This is fun and grows quickly but you need to learn new techniques to stabilise the work whilst you are building it as the weaving materials are a lot less easy to manipulate than using yarns on a loom.

Using wools and cottons gives a soft finish, the wools being a little more textured and hairy and the cottons being smoother, sometimes shinier and more uniform in appearance.  Also, using cottons and wools is very traditional and recognisable as a tapestry but when paper, foil, wire, plastic, etc. are used there is a lot more texture and unusual effects are produced so this gives more possibility for experimentation.

* How did you find weaving in comparison to the other techniques you have tried?  Did you find it slow or too limiting?

I found weaving just as fun as the other techniques we have used through this module, apart from perhaps embroidery which was my least favourite.  I find I am drawn to the more constructional techniques, like weaving, knitting and even applique.  Weaving is not too slow.  I suppose it depends on the size of project and the materials.  I did find having my little “toy” loom very useful and this definitely sped the process up, as I had hoped.  As for limiting, again, that would depend on the size and aim of the project.  For the purpose of sampling and learning new techniques this process was fine.  Obviously, there are limits with regards to the 2-dimensional construction of weaving.  But this is usually overcome by making up sections and joining them later to produce different shapes.

* How do you feel about your finished sample?  Are you happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size?  Is there any part that you would want to change?  If so, try to identify exactly how and why you would change it. 

I am quite happy with my final finished sample.  I was able to introduce some texture that seemed to be lacking from my perception of the overall look of the original source image by using Ghiordes knots and Soumak, along with the colour work.  I think the proportions of colour are pretty good and that there is a good balance between the size of the finished piece and what is happening within it.  As I mentioned earlier, I could have used the Ghiordes loops a little more sparingly in places, to emphasise the circular shapes.

* Was there any stage in the whole design process that you felt went wrong?  How would you tackle this process differently another time?

I don’t think there was anything glaringly wrong with the sample, although I am still not very good at keeping an even width to my weaving.  The design process itself was pretty straightforward.  My colour block diagram could have been better but I didn’t have a very good selection of coloured pencils and had to try and convey the colours using a combination of coloured stripes.

* Which did you enjoy more – working from the source material or putting colours together intuitively?  Why?

I have only completed Sample 1, rather than both of the samples.  As I mentioned earlier, I was not confident about putting something together using words to convey a mood.  This is obviously something I need to work on in the future.

Project 9 – Stage 3 – Experimenting with different materials

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In this exercise we are asked to work freely and try out different materials in a new woven sample.  I chose to use a range of fibres and other materials from my “yellow” colour box.  This includes natural colours as well as brights.

DSC_0044I warped up with the same dish cloth cotton as before and wove a few rows in some tapestry wool.  To start I experimented with soumak using some chunky hemp string then went on to use some plastic gift wrap string – the type that you can unwind to make big bows.  I flattened it out a bit before weaving and it looked good on the loom but after it was released from the tension of the loom the plastic looks like it is trying to curl up again, an interesting effect in itself.

I then went back to some more soumak using some yellow sisal string which is stiff so loops quite loosely around the warp threads.  I should try again with something even more stiff to see the effect that gives.  Then I tried again with the thick hemp string to experiment with a darker and lighter background.  The chunky string obsures the plain rows a lot but the different coloured backgrounds give a subtle effect.  More experimentation needed again here.

DSC_0045Here I have tried some more curved shapes using a variety of materials including sari silk waste yarn on the bottom left, orange plastic fruit nets making the thick orange lines, yellow fruit nets making the yellow area to the right, gold chenille yarn on the left and some strips of plastic carrier bag, kept flat whilst weaving, making the light area at the top of the image.

DSC_0046In this section I have combined the plastic carrier bag strips with some variegated woollen yarn in the same pick which makes an interesting dotty line texture.

DSC_0047Here I just had a bit of fun with strips of Tunnocks Caramel wafer biscuit wrapper which I had heated previously with an iron giving the bobbly texture.  It works well for a novelty image but the plastic is quite fragile in the narrower strips.  Also, because of the nature of the image you have to leave the ends free at the selvedge so I had to use some sticky tape across the back to stop them falling off the edge of the warp.  If you wanted to see more of the original image you could use a Nylon thread for a warp instead.

DSC_0048For these rows I have combined materials within the picks, using strips of knit fabrics along with woollen yarns.  Plain yellow shetland wool sweater with some brown chunky wool that has coloured slubs to the bottom of the image.  Then some 1960s Nylon jersey in a gold and tan print is combined with some red/brown wool. Finally I cut inch wide strips of a black and gold lame jersey fabric and stretched them out a bit.  The strips start to curl when stretched and I layed some pure undyed wool pencil rovings inside the curl and wove these.  The effect is interesting but I didn’t have enough space to weave many rows.

DSC_0049Here I have used Ghiordes knots to weave some strips of yellow jersey lycra fabric which gives a good shaggy effect and between the knotted rows I wove a couple of plain rows using strips of cream coloured tights.  Finally I combined a variety of cream and yellow woollen threads for a couple more rows of Ghiordes knots and finished with some plain weave rows of cream silk threads.

In between experimenting with different effects I have woven some plain rows using natural raffia and hessian threads which seem to work well.  I also like the effect made on the back of the work by the soumak, it is like short vertical lines and might come in useful later.

Assignment 4 – recommended reading and an interesting film

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To anyone who borrows from the Libraries West consortium, I apologise for hogging the following books recommended from the course reading list for a long time.  Sorry, but they were too good not to get the most out of before I took them back.

Structure and Surface – Contemporary Japanese Textiles, McCarty & McQuaid is a beautiful book published to complement the exhibition of textiles jointly arranged by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Saint Louis Art Museum in 1999.  I had requested this book from the library whilst I was making samples for Assignment 3 but it didn’t arrive until after I had finished that section but it is definitely worth a look.  It is full of photographs of contemporary Japanese textiles that use novel and innovative processes, combining modern industrial techniques with handwork.  The designer Issey Miyake is featured, alongside the Nuno Corporation and many others.  There is a history of textile production in Japan and information on the designer’s inspiration.  The book cover itself is made of a very beautiful dyed and heat-treated fabric which has been creased and pressed to look like golden bamboo or willow leaves on a brown background.  Inspirational.

The Yarn Book – how to understand, design and use yarn by Penny Walsh is a really well thought out and detailed text book for textile artists.  I was impressed by the amount of information in this little book.  There are lots of colour photographs and line diagrams to illustrate each section.  The book covers everthing from the history of textile production, materials, techniques, fabrics and yarns, including a useful glossary of types of fabric and details of suppliers and places of interest at the back.  The book does go in to a good deal of detail on spinning – s-twist and z-twist, etc which would be very useful to anyone beginning to spin yarn seriously.  Highly recommended.

Tapestry Weaving – a Comprehensive Study Guide by Nancy Harvey is a classic text book for the practical study of weaving that would be ideal for the beginner weaver.  I have to admit that I did not get beyond the first couple of chapters as I felt that it would probably be more useful if I were required to go in to weaving in more detail at a later stage.  The samples we have been asked to make for Assignment 4 were using very simple equipment and techniques so I wanted to make the most of my time and left this book to one side.

Three-dimensional Textiles with coils, loops, knots and nets by Ruth Lee is a fabulous book crammed full of ideas for creating textiles with form and body using a range of materials and techniques gleaned from traditional basketry, knotting and net-making.  Again, this book is full of colour photography and good explanantions of how to reproduce the techniques used.  This is a book I would like to get for my own shelf as it is brimmiing with inspiration.  I still haven’t tried making cords using yarn and a zig-zag stitch in a complementary or contrasting thread.  So simple and yet so effective.

Finally, I requested Kim Tittichai’s book Experimental Textiles – a journey through design, interpretation and inspiration while I was working on the last assignment and it also arrived late.  It is not on the suggested book list but I think it should be.  Kim taught a popular course, Experimental Textiles, in the south of England for many years, offering students all the basic skills and encouragement to develop and work independently as textile artists.  The book goes through the stages of developing ideas and designs, colour and dimension, through interpretation and where to find inspiration.  The book is full of photographs of other artists’s work and how they developed their designs which is very useful.

I visited Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme, Devon a couple of years ago with the West of England Costume Society.  There is now a really useful video on their YouTube channel which complements The Yarn Book showing spinning at the mill on an industrial scale.

Project 9 – Woven structures – Stages 1 & 2

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Stage 1 Preparation

I had done a little weaving during my previous college course and when I was making an initial scan of this section I looked at the weaving frame and thought that with this method, as you get to the top of the frame it will get more and more difficult to make the shed in the warp.  I had the idea of getting hold of a small “toy” loom which had a heddle to lift the warp threads and that I could use long enough warp threads so that I wouldn’t have to warp up too many times.  I also thought it would help speed the process up a little and I am always on the look out for labour saving ideas!  I discussed this with my tutor and she was happy for me to use this tool and showed me a children’s loom she found in a charity shop.

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I managed to find a nice little vintage Spears weaving loom on eBay and decided to go with that rather than a new one which would have been a little more expensive in the end.  It is in very good condition, apart from a slightly warped heddle but it does the job.  It came with 3 shuttle sticks which helps a lot too.

I am not sure what cotton warp yarn is like and when I went looking for it online it seemed quite expensive.  I used a dishcloth cotton yarn in the end as I thought it would be fine here where I was only making a small sample and it would not get too worn through the heddle.

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I used my desk legs as a warping frame and managed to warp up, although I found it difficult to tension evenly.

Stage 2 Basic tapestry weaving techniques

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This photograph shows my first few inches using some Jamieson & Son shetland yarn (dark green), some cotton knitting yarn (blue/green) and some of the woollen yarn that was in the box with the loom (green, red and blue), possibly part of the original kit.

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I continued with the suggested colour change patterns and would like to experiment more with this.  I used some chenille yarn and some different types of cotton yarns to see the effect.

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I continued with some rows trying out the curved or eccentric weft technique and would like to try some more making larger areas and using more chunky yarns.  I used some quite fine woollen boucle and silk yarns, along with some cotton yarn for some of this area and then tried using plastic fruit nets which worked quite well and gave a very shaggy result.  There is some narrow green ribbon in here as well to try and fill the gap to straighten the line of the weft for the next stage.  Also I would like to see the effect of using an outline colour around the shape.

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I next tried the soumak technique which I found quite soothing in it’s repetition.  Here I have used one type of wool blend chunky knitting yarn so that you can see the subtle ridge effect made by the knot.  I placed the rows such that it made the line look like arrows going one way and then after a few plain rows I did some more soumak to give the impression of the arrows pointing in the opposite direction.  With the last row I was using a double weft which raises the surface a little more again.  I found with the soumak weaving that the weft that remains to be woven seems to wind it self up very tightly.

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The Ghiordes or Turkish knot is something that I have wondered about before, having looked at the production of traditional Flokati rugs from Greece and not been quite sure how it worked.  I wove a portion using woollen knitting yarn of several cut strands which produced a thick pile.

ghiordes 2I then tried a row with slightly finer yarn, mixing a yellow synthetic and another orange woollen cut yarn together.

ghiordes contI then took the fine orange yarn and tried it using the continuous method.  This, I believe is the technique that is used in the Flokati rugs which, once felted, results in the distinctive shaggy pile.

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The final portion of this sample is made up of more experimentation with different yarns using soumak and plain weave.  Materials include chunky chenille and  eyelash knitting yarn, a cotton yarn similar to that used in fine decorative crochet, silk handkerchief fabric, synthetic raffia, old tights and some printed cotton fabric.  The chenille soumak section is interesting as I used a woollen yarn in a darker colour which shows through the gaps -another area to experiment with.

Project 8 – Yarns – Stage 2 Experimenting with structures

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Exercise 1

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For this sample I have used coloured newsprint that I cut in equal width strips.  I used two photographs of faces from a sport supplement that was full of the Olympics so sports fans will most likely be able to identify who they are but I am afraid I don’t know!  I thought the puzzle of two faces might work quite well but the swimmer is not quite in the same alignment so it makes the whole image look a little less cohesive.

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For this next sample I have used magazine pages, one of a tiger and one of an apple tree.  I cut the strips of uneven width to give more interest and I like the way you get the impression of the tiger slightly camoflaged in the greenery.  It is amazing how the brain fills in the gaps in this type of image.

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In this sample I have used a magazine photograph of boats on water cut into strips of varying widths against some heat treated plastic biscuit wrapping cut into uniform strips.  I thought the shiny bubble shapes would complement the water and I think it works well.

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Here I have used a stripey gold and black print wallpaper contrasted against some black dress netting.  It was a fiddle to weave, especially since I had cut all the strips in wavy lines rather than straight and the dress net is difficult to stick with paper glue so I had to use masking tape to fasten it off.  The result is interesting where the net is overlaying the stripes

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For this final weaving sample I have used two wallpaper prints, the gold and black stripe again and a floral design in the same range with added mauve and pink.  I cut all the strips in wavy lines and this time wove them with spaces in between to accommodate some pink synthetic raffia on the diagonal.  I have mounted the whole on black card so that the strips show up well and I think it is quite a bold design.  A good starting point for some further development.

Exercise 2

I have made a variety of braids, cords and ropes out of different types of yarn and other materials.

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These are some ropes and braids loosely based on a theme of soft.  Chunky chenille yarn features highly and since most knitting yarn is made of lovely soft wool and wool blends it is not too difficult to produce something soft-looking.

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This rope comprised of several different yarns is more smooth than some of the others.

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These two I classified as shiny.  The first has some lurex mixed in to one of the yarn strands of the plait and the other is a lucet braid made using enamelled copper wire.  It is not too difficult to manipulate this way but it is interesting that the end result looks more like a chain of crochet than a lucet braid.

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These two could also be interpreted as hard.  The first one is a loose rope made with twisted newspaper and florist’s wire.  I had in mind the material Lloyd Loom used to make their furniture.  I can imagine the paper is much more precisely prepared than my effort and the wire should be enclosed by the paper.

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I thought these two could also be showing a rough quality.  The newspaper rope is very angular and the braid on the right is using some hairy eyelash-type yarn – very textural. icord

This is an i-cord I knitted from written instructions, having not tried this technique before.  I got quite a way along before I realised I was really knitting it inside out (left) so I turned it around and the result looked a lot smoother (right).  Useful for further development though and I like the roughness of the first attempt.

lucet braid

This was an experiment learning how to use my lucet braid tool, a very basic one that my Mum had picked up at a craft fair.  Again, I like the smooth quality of the surface and need to experiment further with different materials.

Exercise 3

For this exercise I looked around my workroom for some inspiration as to what to use for a frame that would be rigid enough to support the wrappings.  My mother gave me some dried American corn cobs some years ago.  My husband doesn’t much like dried food hanging around the place and I must admit that they did become dust catchers so they had been relegated to my windowsill because I still liked the texture and shapes.  I decided to use some of the leaves to make a square frame and bound the corners to secure them together with natural raffia.  Inside the frame I started by wrapping some unravelled beige woollen knitting yarn that has retained it’s kink across one axis and then I looped some handpainted art yarn in aubergine and dark red tones front and back in such a way that it looks roughly like very loose knitting but it was all done freehand without an endpoint in mind.  I added a trio of tassels on the bottom to finish it off.  This makes it easier to see which way up to display the sample.

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Exercise 4

For the final exercise in this section I looked around again and initially thought of using some chopsticks for the frame but I decided on bamboo kebab sticks in the end.  I made my job quite difficult by making the grid triangular in shape as this meant I ended up with a lot of small awkward shaped apertures.  I wrapped the whole frame in sari silk ribbon yarn.  This is very useful for this sort of job as the fabric is pre-cut in nice narrow strips but I had to go through pretty much the whole rainbow of the hank to find enough of the same colour strips.  The fabric has a little gold metallic stripe through some of it which makes a nice contrast against the dark red.

Next I used some silk thread that came in short lengths to make a very rough woven area and, because it lacked texture, I tied some shorter pieces on at the intersections of the threads and left the ends so it all looks a bit untidy and shaggy.  Then I took some shot woven upholstery fabric and cut it into two strips with pinking shears to make the edge a bit more interesting and I wove this in and out of some of the framework.  To keep it in place I have used 3 strands of complementary coloured embroidery thread knotted around the frame.

I then filled the other larger area by weaving using some hand-painted ribbon yarn, pulling the weft in a little to cinch the warps.  Lastly I took a few threads together and crocheted a chain which I then fastened to two of the frame ends.  The curves of the crochet soften the whole a little as it was getting a bit too linear.

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Notes on Project 8

* Did you enjoy inventing constructed surfaces?  Were you surprised at the results?  Can you see a connection between your choice of materials and the types of structures you made – regular, irregular, small or large scale?  Which samples worked best – and why?

I have really enjoyed this section so far.  I have always preferred constructing textiles over pure embroidery or other embellishment techniques.  Using paper to weave images produces a lot of useful work that will be invaluable for further design development.  I can’t say I was particularly surprised by any of my samples, although the last weaving sample with the diagonal elements was quite interesting but I could do some more work with other materials.  Obviously the more bulky the material the less neat the result.  Both my frame and grid samples were not large, being around 10 and 12 inches wide each.  Perhaps I should try to do some more ambitious pieces on a larger scale but I was pleased with the results I got this time.  The grid sample was challenging.  The triangle shape meant that there were fewer opportunities to fill larger spaces than there might have been if I had tried something more regular like a square or rectangle with evenly distributed cross pieces.

I was happy with all the samples, particularly the final woven paper sample where I opened it out to show the background.  Also, I was pleased to try some cording techniques I hadn’t had a go at before, the knitted i-cord and the lucet cord, particularly using wire.  I have knitted with wire, both with a knitting machine and by hand so this was a fun additional skill to learn.

* How accurate were you in matching all the colours in your postcard:

– with paints?

– with yarns/other materials?

I am not sure which exercise this refers to.  I am presuming it was the exercise at the beginning of the section using an image and analysing the colours.  I spent quite a long time on this, especially trying to reproduce the colours using oil pastels.  I am pleased with the results but I found that the longer I looked at the image, the more colours I could see.  I also found the yarn wrap worked very well, although it can be very time consuming deliberating over which colours to use and finding which yarns and other materials can help to convey the textures best.