Category Archives: Part 2

Part Two: Project 5 Painting and Printing – stage 3 printing and painting on fabric

I spent a considerable time printing and painting on fabrics. I worked on a wide variety of fabric and used a large number of techniques and media. I created a wide range of fabric samples.

mono print then transfer printed to evolon

mono print then transfer printed to evolon

With some ideas I printed the image using a lino cut design as seen here in this example and then I also created the same image by transfer paint printing which gives a very different looking image but using the same design.

Lino print, fabric paint

Lino print, fabric paint

 

I took this further by printing with discharge paste on to hand dyed fabric to give a different image again.

lino print, discharge paste

lino print, discharge paste

Reflecting on this example what I found interesting was the strong and quite colourful prints made by transfer printing on to evolon were quite festive and had a sense of carnival whereas the discharged version of the same image on black fabric takes on a darker and somewhat more sinister atmosphere. I repeated this kind of experimentation, looking at how different materials and print media could create different mood with the same image. A similar effect is seen here with these onion images. Based on sketchbook drawing using pencil and ink created from boiling onion skins I wanted to create a print that captured the strong lines that run from root to shoot. I created a wire form shape of the outline drawing and used that to do a ‘rubbing’ of the image on to fabric. I then coloured it with water colour pencil and water then set it with heat ( Inktense pencils work well for this). This I heated the wire shape and pressed it in to formable foam to create a stamp which I then used to print a negative and more sinister looking image.100_7015100_7016
I recorded all the techniques I used, the fabric it was printed on to and the effect so that I could return to those which seemed to me to be most successful for conveying different moods.
I also wanted to explore the shapes which were best suited to repeating pattern. I was particularly interested in looking at the negative space created by repeating an image and how the relationship between background colour of the fabric and the colour or tone of the print medium helped to create the pattern and the impact of positive and negative space. These examples using a commercial stamp show how the placement and the background colour all create different effects in repeating pattern.100_7010

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Throughout I was also interested in the surface qualities of the fabric and the effect that had on both print quality and the effect on colour and tone of the inherent texture of the materials. Throughout this work I had several pieces that did not really work in the way I expected them to or were disappointing. I have held on to them though as I think they will have potential for overprinting or cutting up to use later. I also made notes about fabric prints or painted surfaces which whilst not particularly successful in their own right have real potential as a background for stitch. 

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Part Two: Project 5 – Stages 1 and 2 – selecting design ideas

For stage 1 the task was to collect a number of fabrics which could be used to print or paint on. Building on what I had learned about the relationship between the surface of the print block or printing material and the surface on to which it was to be printed I selected a range of fabrics to reflect the possible surfaces I would need. I choose a number of smooth surfaces such as satin and fine cotton and some fabrics which had a more textured and les flat surface such as lined and silk with a slub in it. I also collected together some neutral and undyed fabric and some fabrics which already had a strong colour. I selected in some hand dyed fabric I had made earlier in the course so that I could discharge the colour using bleach or discharge paste. I prepared some of the surfaces by painting on to the fabric before printing on it.
Moving on the stage 2 I had to select at least 4 design ideas from previous work in my sketch book. I was looking for examples where I could demonstrate the different relationships between colour and shape, texture and line and texture. I wanted to build on some drawings I had done of green peppers, a number of earlier sketches and development work on ivy and other leaves. I also wanted to use some of the print pads and masks I had created in my experiments which had, in turn been developed from earlier sketch book ideas.This is a selection of some  the images I wanted to work from.

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Part Two: Project 4 – Experiments with Painting and Printing

Stage 1 Preparation

I wanted to make a printing pad in preparation for the work on printing.  The course notes gave straightforward instructions for making a small printing pad however I wanted to make something a bit bigger as I envisaged that either now, or later in the course I would want to work on a larger scale beyond the samples I would be making for this section of course unit.  I had send some great printing tables used at demonstrations at the contemporary arts centre in Dundee and at the festival of quilts in Birmingham each year.  I decided to use a piece of MDF board the size of our kitchen table and was able to find a wonderful traditional grey wool blanket in a charity shop. Although the blanket was damaged around the edges it was otherwise sound and still quite think without any wear in the middle.  I covered the board in two layers of wool, stapling it in behind.  I used heavy cotton as a drop cloth to prevent bleed through or spills getting to the wool covering.  It seemed to have just the right amount of give and I experimented with some thermofax screens and found that I got a clean print on both paper and cloth.  The size of the board means that I  can now print a larger cloth or have several small samples drying after printing at any one time.

Stage 2 Experimenting with techniques

 

I wanted to experiment with as many techniques as possible and I had to work to try to fit as many in as time would allow.  I could have spent the next year simply working on this section of the course unit as it interests me a great deal.  I was also keen however to get on the next project and begin using these techniques on textiles which I saw as the key objective.  I found the course note a bit confusing here.  The helpful notes set out, by section, a range of print and paint techniques relating them to making marks on textiles but the actual work on textiles didn’t seem to come till the next section.  I appreciate however that this is about developing the process and it is, of course, iterative rather than linear so I concerned myself in this section with working on paper and separated out the work on fabric in the next section.  I made a decision that whilst I wanted to do as many experiments as I could I wouldn’t cover them all.  I decided that I would not do silk painting at this stage.  I have done a bit of batik in the past and wanted to focus on new approaches I had less experience of.  Similarly, with the use of markal paintsticks.  I have a good supply of paintsticks and really like using them but have used them a lot in previously so felt I had enough of a grasp of their properties and uses not to need to experiment with them at this stage. I might however come back to use them again later in the course.  I find them especially good for making a new layer of marks on top of already worked fabrics and particularly like using them on top of quilted or stitched fabric.

I wanted therefore to focus on relief block printing, mono printing, using masks and making stencils.

As these were experiments the course seemed to call for small samples but I could see how each of these techniques could be developed to cover much larger areas either by sizing up the  print block or stencil or by repeating patterns.

Relief prints experiments

Relief prints experiments

I created a number of relief blocks from found objects, using buttons and lace, string, and through developing lino cuttings.  This was my first attempt at relief printing and I found it very immediate.  The hardness and how porous the objects were that I printed with made a big difference to the nature of the print on paper.  A print made with a rubber stamp or a stamp made with foam was much stronger in terms of maintaining its edge than a stamp made with a fragment of ceramic tile.  Both however had interesting properties and could be used to good effect.

100_6744I also experiments with printing on different kinds of paper including paper I had already painted on and using very thin layout paper.  The layout paper was ideal for lino print but some of the foam stamps really worked much better on paper that had some tooth.  That was really interesting and worth noting for further experimentation on textiles.  I was keen to find out for example how satin would respond compared to calico as they have very different surface properties just like the layout paper which is very smooth and the thick cartridge paper with more textures surface.  I also found that when I had a disappointing result I could use the printed papers as the foundation for printing on top of to create more complex and interesting layered prints.

Masks, stencil and transfer printing

Masks, stencil and transfer printing

Similarly with mono printing and using masks and stencils I found that the surface qualities of the paper make a difference in the take up of the print.  I combined mono printing to create shapes and marks with transfer printing to repeat that on to another printed surface.  I thought that this technique would work well on fabric using transfer paint to mono print and then reprint on to fabric.

Part Two, Project 4 – Developing Design Ideas (Stages 1 – 4)

Making space move

Making space move

Stage 1 was an introductory and preparatory stage.  The aim of the project overall was to develop an eye for design.  The first exercise was straightforward, but instructive and was provided an opportunity to understand how tot make ‘space move’.  Moving squares around in a defined space enabled me to see what configurations made the space static and provided stability and how the shapes could be moved to create energy and tension.  It was helpful in understanding what we so often do instinctively and to help to analyse what is going on when we feel a drawing or composition is not ‘right’.  The image from my project sketchbook shows just two of the completed exercises.  The image on the right being relatively  static though not completely so,  with the one on the left causing the eye to move across the diagonal and back and providing more energy.

Stage Two was a series of experiments in masking off areas of images to create different arrangements of shape.   Working in both my project sketchbook and on A3 sheets I worked with a variety of images.  I wanted to choose images that were different from each other and looked at an arial photograph of a river delta, some Tiffany glass and the internal architecture of the V and A library.  I did get a bit diverted at times and found myself focussing on line rather than shape.   By the time I moved on to exercise 2 I had my ‘eye in’ and was more confident in looking at shape, both positive and negative shapes.  I worked from some collected images of Aegean buildings, an interior wrought iron staircase and a palace in Spain.  Interestingly it wasn’t until after I had completed the exercise that I realised that they were all images of architecture.

Selecting from my own drawings

Selecting from my own drawings

Moving on to exercise three I chose a landscape and masked of a section that allowed me to look at shapes in both buildings and the natural landscape.  I found the task of preparing for drawing by isolating colour, texture and shape quite challenging.  Colour and shape seem more obvious and straightforward whilst isolating texture I found more tricky.  I went back to the work I had done on texture right at the start of the course and that was helpful.

In exercise 4 I had to choose a subject to draw and paint from life.  I decided to do something very different from man made objects or the built environment and collected together some fish and some vegetables rather in the form of a still life and created some drawings of the object together and some masked off selected areas for further exploration.  I found the preparation useful by identifying colour, texture and shape and was clearer this time about how to approach this.

Developing drawings from an image

Developing drawings from an image

Moving on to section 3 the activities were designed to help us develop design ideas from our own drawings.  I really enjoyed this section.   I realised on approaching it though that I am not doing enough of my own drawing.  I am not confident in my drawing ability and it is easy to put off but this stage of the project let me explore how any drawing or mark making, no matter how unpromising can be further developed either in terms of shape, colour or texture and how it can be used to create design and composition.

Editing sections of my own drawings and mark making

Editing sections of my own drawings and mark making

I selected 9 of my own images, either drawing or mark making, from which I chose particular sections to focus on.  I then further edited these down to 4 images which I used for further development work.  I used a variety of media and styles and  tried to be expressive in the development work.   I believe I now have a working methodology to enable me to go back to my day to day sketchbook and work in to and from some the pages there to develop them further.

Reworking my sketchbook to develop drawings

Reworking my sketchbook to develop drawings

One example of that is shown here where in addition to the work for the exercise I developed a small drawing of an ivy leaf in my everyday sketchbook applying what I had learned about development and design.

Review of Project 4

As I have referenced in this post I believe I did manage the exercise on getting space to move.  It was helpful in thinking about positioning images and areas of drawing on the page and in relation to other elements.  The drawing I did at stage 3 was quite stilted to start with but became much more confident and expressive as I worked my way through the project.  I particularly enjoyed the development work and kept finding ideas which could be translated in to stitch and textiles.   I also think I have developed some approaches to reviewing and reworking my everyday sketchbook and will now start to produce work in it of a different nature.  I am very much looking forward to the second half of Part Two which will provide the opportunity to apply these concepts and ideas to textiles

Part 2 – Project 3 – Research Point

Wedding dress

Wedding dress

I have decided to research two textile pieces I have at home.   The first of these is my wedding dress.  I think my wedding dress provides a good example for the research questions and is interesting in itself but it does not allow me to research for information I don’t have immediately to hand.   For that reason I intend to do some research on some fragments I have of an old woven paisley shawl.   This will allow me to build on what I already know about paisley shawls and I will make a visit to the PaisleyMuseum where they have an important collection of shawls.  This will, I hope, broaden my knowledge and let me find out more about the shawl fragments which are a bit of mystery.  I will write up that research later.  This set of notes then, is about the wedding dress. 

 

The dress was made in October 1982 (over 30 years ago).  It was a mid-winter wedding so the dress was calf length and made of raw silk.  One of the reasons for making the dress myself was to keep costs down (we had just bought our first house) and because at that time I made most of my own clothes.  It is made of cream raw silk bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh.  At that time Lewis’ had a huge fabric department.   I had seen a dress designed by Bill Gibb which was the inspiration for the shape of the dress. The Bill Gibb dress (which would have been well beyond my means to buy) had a long sleeve with a cap sleeve on top and had braiding down the bodice.   I used a basic dress pattern and redesigned it have a double sleeve and decided to cover the bodice with lace and ribbon which was echoed round the cuff and hemline.  I recently went hunting for the paper pattern I made which must be somewhere in our attic but have not yet been able to find it. 

Cuff trim

Cuff trim

The lace, ribbon and collar used was a mixture of bought and acquired trimmings.  I had a box of lace at that time, including an old cream collar which I had recovered from garments bought in second hand shops.  That went in to the dress.  I bought some new lace and satin ribbon to add to it.  The collar in the picture is not the original.  It got removed and used (and worn out) on a subsequent silk blouse.  The one in the picture is another old collar very similar to the one on the dress originally.  This one was given to me by an friend who has ‘ had it in her trimmings box for ages and has no idea where it came from.’   Another mystery.   Originally the dress had a tulle petticoat with lace trim but that has vanished over the years too.  

The dress was mainly made by machine with some handstitching.  The New Home machine that it was sewn on is still in good working order today though it is relegated to semi-retirement.   

I suppose what the dress says about society at the time is that young women (at least some) still made their own clothes.  The cost of the materials was relatively modest and the cost of a wedding then, at least in our case as young teachers, was nothing like the investment that it seems to be today.  Making our own clothes also allowed young women to have something different.  The range of clothes stores in the 1980s was expanding but still limited.  Within our reach were the Vogue designer patterns which were well cut and enabled someone who could sew to have a better quality garment and in colour and fabric of their choice. 

I have a notion that the dress, cut up, would make an interesting quilt and I have been collecting other cream, white, peach and coffee silks, satins, wools and velvets with a view to making a Victorian style crazy quilt with a limited palate and lots of stitch.  I have not yet been able to put the scissors in to the dress though I did cut up the sash which was made of the same silk and trimmed in the same way as the bodice.  It was only meant to be used once and has been in retirement for 30 years but I am not yet ready to make the first cut.    

What I like most about the dress is the double sleeve.  I also like the fact that it is cream on cream and is very textured despite the most limited palate. 

Part 2 – Project 3 Review

Having looked at my work for this sub-section I found that I had explored a number of ways of working with colour and texture.  As the course notes rightly point out the subject of colour could provide a lifetime of  study however overall I was quite pleased with what I had demonstrated in the relatively short period of study.  I think I have demonstrated that I can mix and match colours reasonably accurately.

I have also tried to used colour more expressively and have researched artists who do.  I found the exercises to develop looking at what colours actually present themselves rather than what I think they should be helpful and made good use of my learning in that regard.   I do think though that I need to continue to work on this as I believe it will free my work up and extend my confidence in painting and in the use of colour in textiles.   I worked with a range of media.  This included watercolour, gouache and acrylic paint.  I also used some household emulsion paint for background for pages in my sketch book.  My preference is to use acrylic as that give bold colour and holds brush strokes but in reviewing my sketchbooks I note that I have mainly used quick drying paint like watercolour.  Partly I think because it is more portable and for speed.   I need to try to make time to do more with acrylic.  I found that I like using Derwent’s ‘Inktense’ pencils which give quite vibrant colour when used with water so that could be further opportunity to use bolder colour.

I have enjoyed this part of the course and look forward to project 4.

Part 2 Project 3 stages 5 and 6

100_6651Stages 5 and 6 of project 3 explores colour theory and applies it to stitch.  It then extends further in to examining colour and texture.   This was an interesting group of exercises and activities.  Most of what I tried out was hand stitched but I was keen to extend a bit further and try something different with machine stitch.   I decided to carry out my experiments with stitch in small rectangular samples.   Focussing in on the use of blue and red as my two primary colours I tried out a wide range of stitches in different densities and in different tones to see what effect I could get.  Essentially I was trying to vary the tone of the blue by placing it next to different reds and to see if I could create the illusion of purple just with those two colours.  I chose to work on a black background and achieved a range of effects.   The experiments showed that the denser the stitch and the more interspersed the red was with the blue – the more likely it was that it would give purple tones – especially from a distance.

Developing colour mixing with thread

Developing colour mixing with thread

I had researched the work of George Seurat and the painting technique he developed which we know as pointillisme.  I tried to apply the thinking behind this using French knots and by placing lines of different coloured stitches very close together.  From looking at the work of Seurat I also looked at the work of Maurice Vlamick.  Different in style from the very controlled painting of Seurat Vlamick creates expressive and turbulent scenes.  He does also however place brush strokes of colour directly next to each other to create texture, energy and building on the impact that colours have on each other.  One of my favourite post impressionist painters is Edouard Vuillard.  Vuillard was inspired by the shimmering techniques of Seurat and Monet and he is recognised for his use of bold colour harmonies.  Again he creates these harmonies by the careful placement of different coloured brushstrokes directly next to each other on the canvas. Bearing this research in mind I went on to create some experiments with colour on a cream background.  This time  I explored  how by adding in a third colour or removing an earlier colour could create an effect.

Taking it further

Using pastel colours

Using pastel colours

One of the suggestions in stage 6 was to do an exercise which referred to pastel colours.  I had already made some small samples with pastel colours so I decided to take it a bit further and do a larger sampler based on some drawings I had been making of lupins.  Again I used pastel coloured threads and French knots to create the impression of wild lupins.

Changing tone of background with surface stitch

Changing tone of background with surface stitch

In addition I had researched a number  of textile artists suggested by my tutor.  One of those was Audrey Walker whose work I had seen in the 62 Group exhibition.  I decided to do some further stitch samples to practice what I had learned from looking at the way Walker uses stich to change tone.  I found that extremely helpful. I had also done some earlier colour work looking at analogous colours and had photographed a ‘still life’ of a jug and bowl with flowers.  Using what I had learned about the impact of coloured stitch against its background I created another larger sampler of stitch and fabric based on my earlier sketches.  I used what I had learned from the work of Louise Baldwin to think about composition, use of colour and stitch placement.

The machine stitching, alternative exercise, gave me scope to experiment with colour and textures to create some samples using stitch, yarn, carded dyed wool and plastic bags.  It was quite different from the close work of hand stitching but provided some surprising and very interesting effects.

Part 2 Project 3 Colour Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4

Overall these fours stages introduced working with colour and colour theory.  In addition to the exercises summarised in this post I read Hornungs ‘Colour: A Workshop for Artists and Designers’.  There are so many useful exercises in that book but to do them all would use all the time I have available for the course.  That said I will return to it to try out a number of the exercise and use them to build my sketchbook on colour.I have set out this post by exercise: summarising the main learning activities and reflecting on what I learned from each.

Stage 1 – Understanding colour and the colour wheel

I was familiar with this aspect of colour theory from earlier learning but it is always a good way to consolidate learning to try out colour wheel exercises again.   I produced a colour wheel with 6 colours of gouache and then tried again using only the three primary colours.   Both were useful and created colour wheels for reference.

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Colour wheel from 6 colours

Colour wheel produced with 3 colours

Colour wheel produced with 3 colours

This was useful preparation for the subsequent exercise in identifying and reproducing colour accurately.   I also created a colour wheel from the fabric and threads I had dyed in the preparation section for project 2.

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Colour wheel from procion dyed cotton fabric

Stage Two Exercises 1 & 2This was a useful exercise in focussing on the relative values of colour when they are placed next to or surrounded by

other colours.   I carried out several exercise with different coloured squared.    It demonstrated that a small blue square will look different in tone depending on what is surrounding it and even looks different in size.   The exercise with grey papers squared in the centre of colour squares demonstrated the effect of an after image.

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I carried out a number of activities related to colour in my sketchbook looking at analogous and opposite colours including placing colours to create the illusion of secondary colours based on my research into pointillism and the work of the impressionists.

Stage 3 Exercises 1,  2 and 3

In the first exercise we were directed to experiment with mixing colour and creating tones and tints.  I worked in my sketchbook with a number of media including coloured pencil, watercolour paint, gouache and acrylic.  I enjoyed working freely in my sketchbook with colour as this is one of the aspects of textile studies I am most drawn to.

Creating tints and tones

Creating tints and tones

In exercise 2 the practice of mixing colours to was extended to developing colours to match the colours on patterned fabric.  I extended this a little by first of all working from some source material which was a postcard of a piece of textiles then worked around a piece of fabric.  They were very different in nature so it was good experience in working to create specific colour.

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Stage 3 Exercise 4

In exercise 4 I was working from 3 dimensional objects.  I chose to work from fruit.  I did a colour study that was not meant to be realistic but was blocked out colour from fruit and a shell.  It was quite difficult to ignore the shape of the fruit but I was forced to look at the colour rather than the shape.

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In the second sample I did focus in creating the form of the piece of fruit but again focussed mainly on the range of colours and colour values I could see.

Colour in pears

Colour in pears

Stage 4 Exercises 1 and 2

In stage 4 I did some further work on analogous colours and did some quick sketches in my sketch book to demonstrate moods associated with colour.   We attach a lot of significance to different colours in terms of mood and symbolism.   This can of course vary from culture to culture.   I worked a number of examples of opposite emotive words and the colour associations with those.  Interestingly the same colours are associated  with more than one ‘mood’ or verb.  For example, I used blue and blue / greens for both sad (in happy / sad) and in cool (as in cool and hot)

Mood colour sketch sample

Mood colour sketch sample

I enjoyed the final exercise of pulling together source images, fabric, threads and other materials in to mood bags as this seemed to me to be step towards creating some textiles pieces.