Category Archives: Theme and theme book

Done but not finished

I have now sent my final assignment to my tutor but have kept working at a few things I was exploring on the course.  As posted in this learning blog earlier I extended my work at part 4 by learning to weave on a loom. Whilst just at the very rudimentary stages I am really enjoying it and considering investing in a table loom.

imageThese samples were worked on 4 different table looms which had already been warped up.  It provide an opportunity to experiment with pattern and colour.  I also used different yarns, mainly cotton, cottolin  and fine lambs wool.

It was really interesting to compare and contrast the process and the effects of loom weaving and tapestry weaving.  The placement of the warp and interplay between the warp and the weft in terms of colour mixing and pattern is of paramount importance in weaving on the loom.

I had the chance then to design my own piece of cloth and to learn the process of warping the loom.  I wanted to go back to the lotus seed head ideas I had and wanted to weave a piece as a accompanying piece to the tapestry cushion I produced for my final assignment.


I thought that that this pattern had potential to weave some cloth which referenced the blue seeds in the pink/ brown pod. I also wanted to introduce the sharp greens and yellow in the image and reference my tapestry piece.  I also referred back to some research on Anni Albers suggested by my tutor and drew ideas from this design by the artist.image


I  sourced these lambs wool yarns which changed the tones from my original piece but reflected the colours I was interested in from the photograph.

I have now warped up the loom using a rose pink with a pale pink every 6th warp thread. My plan now is to weave in bands of pink and blue with a stripe of greens and yellow to tie in with the design in my assignment piece.  I had not appreciated the number of steps and the length of process in warping the loom but each stage was really interesting, including learning how to correct mistakes!

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I found an black and white image of what looked like an x-ray of a seed pod.  This took me off in quite a different direction.  After a few drawings of some seed pods (again in red and green) I began to stylise my ideas to reflect the very interesting shapes that the  x-ray image seemed to suggest.  I began to think about the seed inside the pod and had found a poem where the seed is referred to as the secret within.  I wanted to portray the seeds as precious, almost like gems.  Bean and pea pods and the seeds inside provide a perfect basis for this.   I began to develop the shapes in a more abstract way whilst still keeping the distinctive shape of the pods.  I had collected some lovely dark coloured broom bush seed pods from the garden and within a couple of days of being in the warm dry house they had popped open and the seeds had sprung out.  I wanted to try to capture what they would have looked liked just before that happened as if I could see through the case of the pod. Decided to work with Koh-i-noor paint which is a dye rather than a paint and can be used on fabric.  It provided jewel like colours which were very vibrant.  The lines of the drawing were decorative and quite simple and I decided to have a thermafax screen made directly from my drawing as a possible development for my final piece.  At this stage I was thinking about recovering an old battered chair but was also still thinking about a wall hanging so could afford still to keep my option open.   I experimented with a few other pod shapes but none were quite so pleasing. In fact some looked rather more like sausages than seed pods!








Putting aside the work on seed pods for the time being I then began to look at the lovely poppy seed heads a friend had gathered for me from her garden. I had done a little sample piece earlier in the course unit based on poppy seed heads and decided that I would like to think about and expressive way of portraying these in paint. My drawing can be rather laboured so I experimented with pencil and pen attached to a piece of dowel rod so that I had to stand back from my sketch book and work, literally at arm’s length. I was pleased with the effect. A much more free style of drawing emerged and I had a lot of fun using different media developing a more expressive painting and colouring style. I really liked the contrast been the long stems of the poppies and their complex and architectural seed pods. I realise that I have gone beyond simply collecting images for my theme and was now going along a path of development and refining and changing the images. I am already thinking there was something here that I will return to for my final project To that end I am also going to have a thermafax screen made from one of my poppy drawings. I am really interested in the idea of printing then painting on textiles.



Continuing with my theme book I have been exploring the effect of complementary colours in nature. I had a photograph I had taken of dock plants in a hedgerow and had brought a part of the plant home.


The contrast between the green and the red led to some exciting colour study and again I created a little woven sample and explored ideas of how I might represent seeds in stitch using silk and cotton yarn and with aptly names seed beads.
This green and red contrast led me on to thinking about a piece of green trellis which is worn and broken in our garden. I began to experiment with how I could print a trellis shape which would describe the weathered worn edge of the trellis wood and was interested in the shapes and colours we see in the strong negative shapes in the trellis. Creating stamps from cardboard and thin craft foam I created some interesting background papers on which to work.


Using thermafax purchased screens I began to work on the shapes of grasses trying to create interesting backgrounds on which to print and bringing this experimentation together with the trellis backgrounds I had created. In this part of my theme book I wanted to experiment on backgrounds that looked worn, weathered or distressed.



On deciding on a theme I had thought to choose a topic which was wide enough to allow for development and experimentation and yet not so wide that I would never narrow down my choices.   I also wanted to choose a subject which would also lend itself to a concept or concepts that went beyond the representation or interpretation of the topic.  To that end I think that my theme will serve me well.  The concept of renewal from what looks like the dead end of plants will provide much food for thought and I am already thinking about the process renewal and recovery in textiles as well as in the human experience.

Having sorted all my own photographs of seeds and seed heads, grasses and seed pods out, along with other source material I realise that there is enough scope here to keep me going for several years!  So I set about the process of selecting what I was most interested in exploring.  These included seed and seed heads of: umbrella shaped plants;  poppies; honesty; and grasses.   I also collected together some quotations and poetry in which the concept of seeds is explored.   I started working us some sketches and ideas using honesty seed cases.


What I love about honesty is the transformation from a somewhat ordinary purple flower to the shiny, silver seed cases that are both architectural and fragile.





I also worked up some sketches of plants which, in their skeletal seed form have umbrella spokes.  I had a bought screen and did some experimental printing on fabric with these shapes.  They are pleasing in their simplicity and give a sense of silhouette against the sky.

Part of this development work took me in the direction of lotus seed pods.  These alien shapes are intriguing with their amazing colours as they turn from bright green with blueberry shaped seeds through to brown and reddish dried pods.  Abstracted the shapes create wonderful patterns.  I was particularly interested in the colour combinations of green, purplish blue and browns and enjoyed weaving some samples in these hues.    These sample weavings were enjoyable to do and I might return to this idea later as a possible avenue of development


Developing my theme book 1

One of the approaches I plan to take in developing my theme book in what I hope will be a varied and rich way is to mirror the exercise I have done throughout the course so far but in relation to my chosen theme.  I decided too that when I am doing the work for part 4 I will mirror some of the exercises in my theme book in relation to seeds and seed heads.

I had begun by taking photographs of seeds heads and grass seeds I had found by hedgerows.  I have put a number of these in to my theme book, spaced throughout the book, as sources from which to draw, paint and analyse colour, line and texture. A small selection of these are below.  I am also drying out some seed heads a friend gave me from her garden and will sketch directly from those.  A small selection of my photographs are below.


I chose one image which I had printed out in colour and in greyscale.  I thought it would be interesting to carry out the paper weaving exercise using these two prints.  Whilst they don’t line up exactly it makes a pleasing image which gives an impression of decay as the colour fades to grey.  I think this will be an interesting idea to work up further in my theme book.


Project 7 Starting a Theme Book – SEEDS

cotton seeds

One of the concepts that I became interesting in whilst working on part 3 of the course was the concept of decay and starting again.  I then began to see everywhere in the hedgerows and the garden the decaying remains of seed heads as the growing season draws to a close.  I decided therefore to develop this as my theme – working through my  theme book and in preparation for the development work for Part 5 of the course unit.

The theme of seeds, seed heads, decay and re-growth is potentially a very wide area of study and most likely to lend itself to a wall panel but at this stage I am not ruling out other potential final piece forms.

I think this theme will allow me to develop my drawing and sketching skills and will be rich in source materials.  I have already taken a lot of photographs and collected and dried seed head and seed pod from the garden and from wild plants.  The topic also has potential for print making, for stitch, for creating surface texture by manipulating and adding other fabrics and stitch.  The colour palate may be limited but that will be a really good challenge to work through.

I have begun to collect together fabrics, yarns, threads, and embellishments that might be useful in the theme and plan to try to keep up regular drawing and painting in my theme book from my photographs and collection of dried seedpods and seeds.   Seed packets from the garden centre will be an excellent source of ideas in themselves.   The concept of new growth/ decay/ new growth that sits along side the theme of ‘seeds’ will be interesting and whilst I don’t have any fixed notions of where this could lead as yet it does have potential for quite wide development.  The connection between plants and textiles is an obvious one but the development of cotton, flax and jute from seed is interesting too.   Collecting seeds and the fibres that ultimately come from them will form a useful part of my theme book.