Category Archives: Part 1

Part One Project Two – Stage 6

Texture of wood

Texture of wood

I got a lot out of this exercise. I think that was because it allowed to bring together the elements of the project I had been working on and let me get on the exploring samples which, whilst not realised pieces of work, were more satisfying in bringing together elements of stitch, design, reflection and texture.
The course notes call for one sample but I was keen to try to take further two or three ideas I had from stages 3 and 4 of project 1. In particular I focussed back on the texture of wood and the wooden doors that caught my imagination in project 1 and the texture of woven cane furniture. I also went back to the photograph of water surface and the development I had done from that in project 1.
I worked two samples to illustrate using thread to create texture based in the piece of old worn wood I had done some sketches on. I used machine stitching in both samples but to different effect.

Wood texture 2

Wood texture 2

I also created 2 samples to interpret the texture of woven, cane furniture. The first was hand stitching using different threads on layered fabrics which creates a pleasing effect and represented the idea but was not really capturing the texture.
The second sample was less abstracted and more representational as I used a darning technique much closer in fact to the way the cane basket weaving is created. I thought it was effective but had a lot less energy than the first piece.

weathered doors 1

weathered doors 1

Next I looked back at the weathered doors in my sketch book and created two samples based on that earlier work. I think both samples are interesting and particularly the first one quite good technique for interpreting the texture. However, on reflection I think that is due more to the layering and burning back technique I used rather than the stitch. Having said that, it is a reasonable sample using yarns and threads below the surface and revealing them to create a weather and distressed look. I have included them for that reason.

weathered doors 2

weathered doors 2








The final sample I worked in stage 6 were related to the sketches I had done to try to recreate the surface texture of water.

The first two samples were worked on some cotton which I had dyed with indigo using a shibori technique which gave a base which was rather representational of water surface. I used that underlying effect to create stitch which represented the lines of reflection on the water.
In my final sample I took the crossing line of reflection and, referring back to the torn paper collage from project one I densely stitched each section with threads by hand. This was much more time consuming but produced and interesting effect from a bag of yarns and threads I had put together based on the collage.

Review and reflection

In completing stage 6 I reflected on the range of questions in the course material. I could certainly see the relationship between drawing and stitching and this became more obvious in stage 6 where I was working from my experiments in project 1. I used a variety of stitches, lines and marks which expressed the lines in the drawing. The source materials I had chosen provided plenty of scope for interpretation. I did not limit myself to one and actually learned more I believe by working several samples all of which led to different stitch technique. In reflecting on whether I preferred working with stitches or working with yarns to make texture I found this quite difficult to say. I found that both of these elements actually came together in some of the work I was experimenting with and didn’t see it as an ‘either /or’. I have commented on some of the individual pieces above. I did work from drawing and sources but I also got a lot out of seeing how different yarns could be combined to create textural effects without it being directly related to my drawings. An example of this is the basket weave effect I worked with straight stitches in different thread on layered sheer fabrics. It looked a lot less like the basket weave reality that the darned piece but I thought it was more pleasing in terms of the finished sample. There were many more samples and techniques that I might have tried. I could have trapped yarns below soluble fabric and stitched into it, I might have painted on cloth and built up the texture with layers of stitch texture. I decided to stop as it was time to move on to the next part of the course however I have gathered up a number of ideas that I might be able to apply later.


Part 0ne, project two – stages 4 and 5

Stitches which create texture

Stitches which create texture

These two stages focus on stitches which create texture. I thought there was quite a lot of overlap with stage 6 and some of the experiments I did really fitted in with stage 5 but as I took them further really fitted better with stage 6. |I believe that may be the tension between breaking down the learning in manageable chunks and also being part of a developmental process. Well, learning is messy anyway and this is not a problem other than when it comes to providing assessment evidence for elements. No doubt I will learn more about the OCA expectations on this as I go along.
I had no problems compiling bags of suitable selections of yarns and materials. Knowing when to stop was the challenge. I also organise my materials differently from that and had to get accustomed to my ‘palette’ being different from the way I normally scan across my materials and resources. What is did do was to allow me to see when the selections lacked something to create energy or interest. I found myself there though straying in to thinking about colour which I found difficult to separate out from texture at times as can be seen in some of my samples.

machine stitches for texture

machine stitches for texture

For stage 5 I returned to my sketch and chose some of the samples I had developed to practice making marks to create texture. I worked on the sewing machine to interpret these in stitch. I stuck to black and white for the reason I referred to above which was that I was inclined to use colour rather than stitch in my approach.
I extended that then by moving on to using some of the stitches on my sewing machine which create texture working more densely with some stitches but always referring back to my early sketches.

Hand stitches to create texture

Hand stitches to create texture

I decided it would be useful to also do some samples with hand stitching and worked a number of samples which created in stitch some of the samples from my drawing sketch book pages on texture with line. I am comfortable and like using both a sewing machine and working by hand. They create quite different effects and could be used in combination to help build up textural elements in more resolved piece of work. Stitches like satin stitch on the machine certainly reflect light and the use of variegated thread enhanced that in some of the examples. Hand stitching gave more control over some aspects. For example in hand stitching seed stitch I was able to vary the length of the stitches as well as the angles to create different textures across the small example.

100_6528In hand stitching I was also able to represent texture by varying the number strands or combing threads which whilst not impossible on the sewing machine is more limited. Both have advantages and drawbacks but between the two techniques it offers a wide range of possibilities for creating textures

Part One: Project 2 – Stage 3

This exercise required me to go back to the marks and sketches in my sketchbooks and to choose a drawing with strong lines or linear qualities.   The task was about looking at lines and marks that could be recreated or reinterpreted using stitch.

I found this a really useful exercise though I had difficulty in just deciding on one sample.  Consequently I repeated the exercise a few times and with very different results.   Since this was a return to expressive mark making I was faced with a range of choices about colour, quality of line or marks and the type of stitch and thread I might use.

My first study led me back to the paper and oil pastel collage I had done in project 1.  The technique had produced very strong marks and when I produced the samples in sketchbook for project 1 I had noted how the paper sketches would lend themselves to being translated into fabric and stitch.  This time I used scraps of fabric and oil pastels  applied to two different textiles.  I created one sample on strong cotton and another on buckram.   The colour transferred well on to both materials but gave different results.  The pastel applied to the buckram looked almost like paint on canvas.  The cotton had  soft hand which it pretty much retained even with the pastel applied and the buckram was a very stiff materials to stitch on.   It took a few days for the pastel to cure enough to stitch into.  Since these are sketch sample the permanence of the medium was not too important but if doing this again I could use paint sticks which would provide a more permanent solution for textiles.  I cut both samples up in to fragments to work on.

This experiment provided really interesting samples to stitch on.  The quality of the mark and how it sat on the fabric differed markedly between the cotton and the buckram.  I stitched the cotton through a backing of thing cotton wadding but stitched through the single layer of the buckram based samples.  I used a variety of threads and stitches to try to create movement and beginning to think about texture.  Some of the samples I stitched by hand and some were done on the machine and I used the mark making in some sketchbook from project 1 as a starting point.

Fabric and oil pastel collage fragments with machine and hand stitching

Fabric and oil pastel collage fragments with machine and hand stitching

Cotton and buckram samples with a range of hand stitches

Cotton and buckram samples with a range of hand stitches

On a couple of fragments I added stitch in a different way with machine stitched drawings of seed heads and grasses. I felt this had potential for further experimentation.

Collage fragments with machine stitched images

Collage fragments with machine stitched images

For my next attempt at thee exercise I used the pages from my sketchbook for project 1 on weathered doors and the ideas of lost doors and the building they belonged to.   One of the photographic images was of a red door which had weathered down to shades of pink.   I used this as a background choice and worked on a piece of silk I had dyed and a recycled facial wipe coloured with aquarelle pencils.  I then used these materials to sketch child like drawings of houses with free machine stitching.

Free machine stitching

Free machine stitching

My third experiment started with some simple drawings in my sketchbook of seed heads.  I found a photographic image of poppy heads against a hazy green and lilac background.  The image was copyright protected so I have not reproduced it here.  Building layers of fabric to create the background I then sketched the poppy heads with machine stitching building up variations of thickness and darkness of line with repeated stitching.

Samples of materials used and finished poppy head stitched sketch

Samples of materials used and finished poppy head stitched sketch

Part 1 Project 2 – Stages 1 & 2

Part One Project Two – Stages 1 and 2

Because of having been working with textiles for some time I already had a good supply of fabrics, threads and yarns.  I took the opportunity to dye some fabrics – I used cotton and few scraps of silk.   This project calls for mainly neutral fabrics on which to make marks but I am sure the dyed fabrics will useful further on in the course.

Fabric dyed with Procion dyes. Dyeing done in plastic bags.

Fabric dyed with Procion dyes. Dyeing done in plastic bags.

I am keen on both hand and machine stitching so decided that I would try out some of the experiments and samples using both approaches.   I found using a hoop with hand stitching very straightforward being used to doing that.  I did do some stitching on the machine in a hoop but also used wadding and interfacing as stabilisers as alternatives to keep the fabric from puckering.  I appreciate that where marks are to be made on sheer or lightweight textiles using a stabiliser is a less suitable option unless it is a soluble one.

Working through the suggested samples in the course notes I referred back to the approaches I had taken in the sketches on paper done in the parallel exercises in project one.  I worked examples in hand and machine stitching varying line, shape of line, and created a sample of the embroidery stitches set out in the notes.

Hand embroidered samples of different lines and different stitches

Hand embroidered samples of different lines and different stitches

Machine stitches lines both straight and curved - continuous line

Machine stitches lines both straight and curved – continuous line


Fabric cut up and stitched with straight lines in black and white


Machine stitching building up density with different lines and closeness of line.


Fabric and ribbon layered on and marks made on top with different densities.

Naturally the hand embroidered marks take longer to do than the machine stitching.  However, they create quite a different effect both in term of the lines they make but also the way the stich sits on the fabric.   The range of yarns and threads too vary and whilst cotton and rayon can be used for both hand stitching allows for a wider range of threads to be used.  Combing both is also a possible way of creating marks in future work.

Part One Project 1: Stage 4

There were two components to stage 4.  The first was to go back to work done so far and to create more textural drawings and mark making.  I focused in on a number of images and first hand observation.  This included the Tay Esturary which flow past the window of the flat I stay in mid week and  some images I had collected of old wooden doors.  A sample of that work is illustrated below.


Living in Dundee and overlooking the Tay estuary the water changes with the ebb and flow of the tide and the height of the river. Applying paint to bondaweb and then fixing to the page created a textural interpretation of my watercolour sketch


I found some interesting images of old doors. The range of textures was fascinating.


100_6464 Pen drawings on paper that had been washedwith water colour and rusted to represent ageing and decaying wooden door Using paint thickened with PVA and applying rusting powder was an interesting way to both represent and create texture on the surface of the paper..

The second part of the this stage of the work was to reflect and the review the work done across project 1.   The course sets out a series of questions which I have included with my responses.

Have you ever thought of drawing in this way before?

I am not confident about drawing.  I am very happy to draw rough ideas for textiles and they are fine for reminding me what was in my mind.  What I have been much less confident about is my skill in communicating to others through drawing.  This has made me reluctant to draw anything other than sketch ideas for mixed media or textiles work.  I did try out a range of new ways of making marks in this project though which I am sure will help me going forward.

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?

I was increasingly able to be inventive as the exercises went on.  I found the instructions in the course material quite prescriptive to start with and it took me a while to realise that I had ‘permission’ to stray a bit from the cited examples of what I might try.  I produced better work after that I believe.

Did you explore a wide range of media?

Again I think this improved as I worked through the stages of the project.  Once I actually laid out a range of media on my table and set myself the task of not just reaching for a pencil the range and the way I used the media did improve.

Are you pleased with what you have done?  Will it help you approach drawing more confidently?

Well, I still wish I had more skill but overall I am pleased with the work I have done.  I was sure I was going to find it tedious when I first read through it even though I understood the purpose of the activities and agreed that it would be helpful.  At first I was really just wanting to get through it so I could get on the to next project on stitching but in fact I ended up getting a lot out of it and had to decide to stop as I felt I had spent enough time on this part of the work.  That said I have lots of ideas still and will  try to add to my sketches and mark making now throughout the course.

Which exercise did you enjoy most and why?

I really enjoyed the tasks on creating surface texture.  As I was working I could really see how I could translate what I was doing in to textiles and stitch.

Which media did you enjoy working with most and why? 

I enjoyed using paint.  Although I knew I was working on line and surface texture it was difficult not to get involved in thinking about colour.  The paint, especially when thickened, let me do both.

What other forms of mark making could you try?

I would like to extend my mark making to print making.  There will the opportunity to do this later in this course and I may choose print making as my ‘not textile’ option for the first level of the degree.  I kept finding images and ways of working that could have led in to print making.

How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?

I think, on reflection, that keeping up the exercises will expand the possibilities for translating ideas to textiles.

Part One Project 1: Stage 3 Exercise 2

Building on the last exercise on creating surface texture I set out to find some objects which had interesting surface texture.   The sources I chose were the slate floor tiles and the basket weave chairs in our conservatory and then I looked at some grasses and reeds on a canal walk.

I wanted to try to find ways to contrast the stone of the tiles with the softer more organic texture of both the basket woven furniture and the grasses and reed .

Using oil pastel, coloured pencil, paint to represent the texture of slate tiles

Using oil pastel, coloured pencil, paint to represent the texture of slate tiles

To represent the hard texture of the tiles I used drawing pencil and oil pastels in a range of greys.  I started with an oil pastel rubbing of a tile and used that to help be find the lines and marks that would give an analogy of the texture of the tiles.   The images I have included here show that I tried to capture the texture through line but that the blocks of grey and indeed the pigment of the oil pastel played a part in trying to represent the hardness of the stone.


A range of media used to represent the texture of basket weave furniture including paper weaving

In looking at the furniture I wanted to convey a sense of the woven nature of the product.  I attempted to represent that with linear marks in different ways in pencil both by focusing on the line and on the space created by the lines.  I decided to try to use woven paper to recreate the texture.   I painted some brown craft paper to create surface texture first of all so that the woven sample would have depth and varying tones and produced small woven sample.  I think this worked well.

Pen, pencil and water colour applied to observational sketches of dried reeds and seed heads

Pen, pencil and water colour applied to observational sketches of dried reeds and seed heads

Looking for a more organic and natural source I decided to focus on recreating the texture of grasses, reeds and seed heads.   I am not sure I really captured the texture here as I found myself focusing on the shape rather than the texture.  I could take this further by doing more work to focus in on the textural elements.

Part One Project 1: Stage 3 Exercise 1

This exercise was about making marks to create surface texture.  The task was to work from visual sources.  I am an avid collector of postcards with interesting images so I had a good source of images to choose from.   It took a little bit of reflecting to really understand what was meant by making an ‘analogy’ or feeling of the texture.  However I did finally get to work on it and really enjoyed the experience.  Using different media really helped this process along because the properties of the media forced me to take a different perspective on what the texture of the focus area meant in that material.    I chose three very different images.  The first was a photograph from a community art project in Aberdeen that involved knitting, the second was an image of old wood and the third was a photograph I took of the water in a public fountain when I was on holiday abroad.   I selected these because they were quite different textures and because they seemed to me to allow for a range of media experiments.


Knitted texture

I represented the texture of the knitted garments in three broad ways.  Firstly by representing in pencil the difference between the stocking stitch and the rib.  I then used chain stitch style marks to represent the pattern and finally I abstracted that further to have broad marks to represent the stitch. I thought this could be developed further in textiles by using chain stitch.


Decayed wood

My second sample was the decaying wood.  I found this a really interesting sample and tried to represent it in three ways.  The first two combined water colour with pencil marks to represent the grain lines.  Using different papers gave different effects.  The third treatment was what I thought was the most successful.  I thickened paint with PVA which allowed me to make marks by dragging a comb across the wet paint.  I could see that with the use of acrylics and Golden Medium I could make this work well on fabric and could form a base for stitch.  I may try to develop this experiment further using fabric and paint at a later stage.


Water and reflections

The last of the three images was the photograph of water.  I remember taking the picture on a sunny day with very blue skies.  I took the photograph because the water in the fountain looked like a David Hockney painting.   It was remembering that which gave me the ideas for representing the texture.    Here again I used thicken paint and used the brush marks to create the texture.  I did a water colour wash that I laid on in several layers.  My final attempt was what I considered to be the most effective.  I tore up paper from a glossy holiday brochure which provided plenty of azure blues and greens and the end result was very interesting.  Again I could see how this could be developed further in textiles.  Stitch could be added to recreate the line of the ripple and the reflection.

I learned a lot from this exercise and developed my thinking from reproducing the image in drawing to creating a variety of ways to represent the textures.

Part One Project 1: Stage 2 Exercises 3 and 4

I really began to enjoy mark making during this exercise as it afforded the opportunity to use a wider range of materials.  Again I was not sure when enough is enough.  I could have carried on for several days doing this kind of work and I am still not sure whether what I have is sufficient but my view is that I can go back and supplement the work.  One of the temptations was to move off into to developing a particular set of marks in textiles or stitch.  Because the course is structured in stages it is really helpful to build up the process but it was hard not to follow the idea through in to stitch right away.  Looking forward in the course materials I can see there will be opportunities for that and that this exercise provides space to generate a wide range of ideas that I will be able to draw on later.  I started by replicating the pencil marks from exercise 2 two into to coloured pencil but then began to make much more interesting marks with a range of different kinds of materials and different kinds of line, tone and shade.  Some samples of the work  for these two exercise are below and show the range of mark making that extending the media opened up.   The range of ideas suggested in exercise 4 gave plenty of scope for trying out techniques.  I was particularly interested in doing some collage work.  I had seen an  idea for collage by Sue Dove in an online workshop at and thought it could lead to some interesting results.  Using paper collage and filling in the space in an expressive way with oils pastels produced some interesting marks.  I cut these up choosing areas for their colour, to create little compositions and to highlight interesting marks.   I felt there was potential here for application in textile and stitch at a later stage.   I was also interested in the way that some of these ‘ fragments ‘ reminded me of the work of the Fuaves and in particular  colour expression in the work of Henri Matisse.   Some of the accidents of cutting up the fragments also provided some interesting images that could provide ideas for further work.

I have collected here a small sample of the work in my sketchbook.  The different materials and media give very different strengths and types of mark.  For example the copic pens which are favoured by graphic artists give quite a different type of image from pastels or paint.


Experiment with collage and oil pastel

Experiment with collage and oil pastel using cut paper and oil pastels. The experiment was cut up into small sketches selected for colour or composition and movement.

Trying out Copic Markers

Trying out Copic Markers – these markers come with a chisel end and a brush end and are favoured by graphic artists and illustrators. The make very bold marks and give a strong line. The consistency of the colour and the line using both ends of the pens was good. They could be combined with other media such as pen and ink as sampled here.


Textured surfaces to create marks

Trying out marks with coloured pencil enabled to repeat the kinds of marks I made with graphite pencils but introduced colour. I also tried to make some more expressive marks with the pencils


This experiment was a discharge using household bleach on tissue paper. I thought the tissue paper was a good proxy for fabric. I made marks with brushes, cotton buds and the edge of cardboard. I would like to return to this technique later with discharge paste and fabric


These examples show further mark making. In the sample on the left I combined media with a water colour wash with pen and ink marks on top. On the right are two strip of Khadi paper (cotton recycled in to paper) with discharge marks. The colours of the paper suggested ethnic textiles and I made simple marks to reflect this. I thought the marks worked well and this has the potential to be worked up further.

Part one – Project one: making marks Stage 1 and 2 Exercises 1&2

Stage 1 was a short preparatory task to prepare my working area and to ensure I had all the equipment and materials to hand.  The course notes call for work to be done on A4 paper.  I did quite a lot of the work on A3 but found I was more comfortable for some of the work on A4 and worked for much of it directly into my sketchbook.  I reasoned that an open two page spread of the sketchbook is in fact A3.  I also choose to work on loose paper for some activities where I wanted to used non cartridge paper or where I wanted to leave work to dry whilst I got on with other activities.  This worked out well for me but some work in the future may well be bigger and samples on textiles and in other materials may be confined in a set sketch book size so, since I enjoy making books, I will hold materials together then bind them in a coherent way either in exercise groups or themes.  I like to go back and resolve work or add to it and this seems like a more flexible approach to me.  I have also started a small notebook in which I fill a 3 inch square with marks on each page when I have a spare minute and to ‘ limber up’ for drawing.  I am also keeping small books for notes for exhibitions and notes from research.  This may lead to a bit of duplication with this blog but I can keep it under review and see what works out best.

Stage 2 Exercise 1 was about making marks in an expressive way.   I found myself wondering when it would be enough?  I found this quite a sterile exercise to start with but as I went on in project one I really got in to it and kept coming back to add more or to think about different marks.  That was what led to the little book of marks which I think I will keep on the go for while as it is a useful tool for thinking about marks based on what I see around me.  I have selected only a few images here with a bit of commentary but there is a much wider range in my sketchbook.

These first marks were straightforward use of pencils of different degrees of hardness and blackness.   I was rather tentative to start with but it was a starting point.

The second image shows examples of shading and cross hatching where the various weight and blackness of pencil make a significant difference to the effect of the marks.   The third sample below shows some examples of developing marks in an expressive way.

ImageShading and cross hatching