Part 1: Project 5: Puncturing and Stitching

Project 5 Puncturing and Stitching

There are two projects in this section that work in tandem. This work is about exploring and creating samples using a range of tools and materials by puncturing and stitching into a surface. I searched the house, my art room and my husbands workshop and have come up with these tools:

a bradel
a set of screwdrivers in various sizes
a hole punch
a pointed chisel
various size needles
sewing machine
a pointed welding tool
any sharp instrument!

For my first inspiration I have drawn upon one of the harem window images I have collected from my trip to Jaipur.

The last ruling Maharaja of Jaipur was Sawai Man Singh(1922-1948), he was adopted into the Royal household by his father (Sawai Singh – also known as Madho Singh II ) who had 65 children by his various concubines.

Known as The City of the Temples due to its abundance of religious buildings, it seems extraordinary that slavery, especially of women, could exist side by side with disciplined religious practices and duties. Hundreds of women and children from the age of 12 would have been kept imprisoned for little more than sexual slavery for the benefit of the ruling elite all over Asia. (*1) However ‘religion’  hasn’t seemed the way for any other group of people to practice what they preach about love and kindness and it has not prevented the enslavement of people of almost any culture by their fellow-men for 1000’s of years.

The image below is one of the more basic ‘windows’ looking out from the harem at the Amber Fort, into the palace in where I visited in 2012. The shapes are irregular and looked almost like a block of cement that had been hammered into to create crude spaces.

Exercise 1 Puncturing

Harem window Jaipur
Harem window Jaipur
hareem+window b w
5.1.1 Paper copy
Punched and backlit
5.1.2 paper: Punched and backlit

5.1.1 I stylized the window in Photoshop to bring out the shapes and printed the image onto A4 printer paper, I transferred the image onto card using a light box.

5.1.2 Using a bradel and screwdriver I punched out large and small holes. I held the card up to the natural light and then the light box.  It was only possible to see through the holes to the other side with the eye right up against the largest of them.The light effects were interesting though.

5.1.3 vylene
5.1.3a vylene

5.1.3a For this sample I enlarged the harem window image and drew out the shapes onto Pelmet Vylene, I used the fine point of a hot welding tool to burn out the various shapes. There is a much clearer vision through these holes, especially noticeable with a light behind it. I am thinking to paint this sample and overlay this image with another of the harem windows images or perhaps a photograph.

Jiyoung Chung
Jiyoung Chung
“Whisper-Romance” series
Jiyoung Chung

I particularly like these textured pieces by the Korean artist Jiyoung Chung.. the photos above are used with her permission. She seems to have used the same layering idea I have been planning on taking my harem windows. I love the wonderful sophistication to her work with her layers of textured and layered handmade papers using simply water and scrunching techniques (an ancient Korean skill called Joomchi). In her artists statement she says of her work  in her “Whisper-Romance” series that it “….. has taken me on an exploration of the significance of women’s work in Korea to our relationship to each other across cultures and then to our connection with nature and ultimately to God“.

sewing machine punched

5.1.4 An image from The Book of Kells inspired the next ideas.

I ran an A4 printed paper image of an eagle from the Book of Kells under a sewing machine needle (not containing any threads). I set the stitch to the longest length available. The one good thing to say about this effect is that the punctured holes are very evenly spaced. The printer paper is very thin and fragile, I can imagine any stitching on this paper is going to damage it. I imagine this technique being useful with other thicker paper or materials or the idea could be used to obtain an outline of an image on paper via a sewing machine.

drilled branch
5.1.5 drilled branch

5.1.5 Next I took a branch from a tree that I found on a walk (a rare find on this almost treeless, scorched island).  The branch had been bleached and damaged by the sun and I rather liked its horned shape. I interviewed a Belgian artist, Cindy Batsleer recently, as part of my contribution to promote the 15 artists exhibiting for The Elements Exhibition in Lanzarote. Her drawings and paintings are almost exclusively abstract branch shapes. It was Cindy that pointed out the value of a branch find on this island, so when I came across it, I treated it with some reverence. And here was an opportunity to turn it into an art piece. I used three various sized drill bits to puncture holes, from the narrowest point to the thickest point where the branch splits into two ‘horns’. The horns were too fragile for drilling holes.

Cindy Batsleer, Artist, Lanzarote
Cindy Batsleer, Artist, Lanzarote

More punching samples on paper, card and wiremesh


5.1.6 For this sample I used 90g pastel paper and punched with two different sized knitting needles. The paper was quite fragile to work with.I took the image using a lightbox underneath.

watercolr paper
watercolr paper stitched

5.1.7 and 5.1.7a These sample were punched on 180g watercolor paper, much more robust than my 2 previous paper samples.I painted one surface with green acrylic paint. I punched with knitting needles and a hat pin into the reverse side . The resulting textures were very interesting, but difficult to photograph, hence the use of a lightbox.


5.1.8 This sample was done on card stock and I used two sized knitting needles and a hat pin. The card bent slightly as I worked, distorting the shape. I used a lightbox to take the photograph because ordinary light did not show up any detail. The shape is a very common paisley design that I drew in my sketchbook during my trip to India.

Other samples for punching holes have come from copper wire mesh (5.1.9), some strips of palm bark picked up on a walk and some circular cardboard shapes that I rescued from the recycling bin. The photographs I took of the cardboard and bark samples, for some reason were too distorted to use. See them below after the stitching process

5.1.9 copper mesh

Exercise 2 Stitching

cardboard wire
5.2.1a cardboard & wire
close iup

5. 2.1a and 5.2.1b.  After puncturing three cardboard circular forms (inserts from kitchen roll) with a paper punch, I cut up some discarded electrical cable and threaded them through the holes that were deliberately created in lines to be either horizontal, vertical or diagonal. The cable was flexible enough for threading, but not knotting. I next drilled smaller holes in the forms with a smallest electrical drill bit I could find (I held the drill in place with a vice). I decided this was dangerous, my fingers were too close too a spinning drill. I experimented with threading 1.25mm plastic coated garden wire into these holes. However the lack of flexibility of the wire for this particular sample didn’t work very well. I then used a large eyed sharp needle to create horizontal lines of holes so that I could use a finer thread between the wires.

I didn’t pursue this particular idea further. The cardboard is crude, with printed matter on the surface. I imagine a sample going further if I had painted or decorated the surface before proceeding to punch and stitch into it. I can take this further, I can imagine a series of these,  one on top of the other in layers, like a totem pole.

palm bark
5.2.2a  Palm bark

5.2.2a and 5.2.2b and 5.2.2c I am an avid collector of natural ephemera, (one reason I like the work of Shannon Weber.) She notices nature, right there in front of her, she says she is …”amused and inspired by observing nature…”. She weaves and winds, stitches and paints as well as adding all kinds of ephemera to her original works.

Inspired by nature, Shannon Weber
Inspired by nature, Shannon Weber

On a recent beach walk, I found long strips of dried palm bark (which look very much like fragile driftwood) and also I found an almost oval-shaped, grey piece of sea-softened, volcanic stone with a hole in it. I immediately saw the potential for puncturing and stitching.

Palm bark close up
5.2.2b Palm bark close up
palm bark3

On another walk I collected a handful of sea-washed mussel shells, pale blue and beautifully iridescent. At home I used a hole-punch to make a number of holes in the palm bark and then drilled holes with a fine bit in the electric drill into the mussel shells. I had intended to stitch the shells into the bark. Unfortunately most of the shells either split and cracked, so I discarded them and threaded the bark instead with a thick, naturally colored yarn. I looped in the stone at the bottom of the piece as contrast of textures and colour, but also to give the sample weight as the bark is very lightweight.

kells stitch a4

5.2.3 I took the work from 5.1.3 above (the Book of Kells eagle) and using a very fine needle & silk thread, stitched the outline with the finest thread I had in my stash. The paper was fragile and not only was it very fiddley to work with, the outcome wasn’t very satisfying. I can see this idea could be carried out on thicker paper to give it more interesting textures, or contrasting textures.

crop enlarge eagle

5.2.6 Working with the same image above, I cropped part of the eagle and enlarged it. I then printed it onto fabric.

Kells eagle in color

5.2.7 Next, I painted the surface in some exciting coloured fabric paints to make it look more contemporary

kells quartered

5.2.8 I cut the surface into quarters. Then each quarter was cut into four pieces. Then I punched holes in the four corners of each piece.  Then my creativity took a nose dive,  I was tired from working all day and creatively stuck! It took overnight to come back to the pieces to see where I would go next. I had thought of punching holes in each edge and stitching the edges together to creat a box, but I only have once size hole punch and the placement of the holes would be critical to the piece, and the holes I had practiced on were not aligning as I had expected. Even if i got the holes right or used a smaller tool to make holes, would it be strong enough to stand alone?

I read through Janet Edmonds advice about the designing process in the first chapters of her book three dimensional EMBROIDERY. She suggests that models are essential if you are taking your pieces into three dimensions. She takes the artist on a journey from flatland to a 3D world using a tried and tested process.

5.2.9a After reading her advice I decided to created a mock-up of my next idea using paper (in layers) on a wooden baton, before I continued the experiments on the fabric pieces. I am subliminally aware that my island home is surrounded by giant mobile installations on roundabouts. It is all the work of the artist Cèser Manrique. His work is bound to influence me, the one below is in Tahiche, the village where I live and I drive past it nearly everyday. .And I feel that this is where an element of my idea is developing from.

Cesar Manrique mobile Tahiche
Cèsar Manrique mobile Tahiche
Cesar Manrique
Cèsar Manrique mobile Lanzarote

Edmonds reminds the reader that drawings have only one view, and that many drawings are needed to work on a design. ‘Drawing’ in 3D requires the making of models. This was a solution that pushed the work from flatland.

I used 12 square pieces of the printed Kells image on printer paper, painted them and punctured holes in the four corners as well as one in the centre. I threaded the central hole onto a wooden plinth with a central painted wood dowling. It seemed to fit in with the layers theme  that I wanted to create. And the black wood enhanced the thick black lines of the imagery.

kells paper stand

5.2.9b  Next, I stitched a piece of yellow raffia through all layers in two of the corners, knotting it at the top. I am quietly pleased with its evolution. Now I’m asking more questions, does it enhance the piece to have the raffia thread through the holes? Does yellow enhance or detract? Will the idea work with the fabric pieces? Could I, or should I change the thread? What impact will it have on the pieces if I add a thinner or thicker ‘thread’? Or, how can I stop the pieces moving around? Should I have shaped the pieces in different sizes from top to bottom or bottom to top? Should I twist the pieces at different angles?

However, the pieces are cut and ready, so I will go ahead with the fabric pieces and pierce them through the dowling. I will make a decision about whether to add more thread when it is done. The fabric will have more strength to do this than the paper sample.

5.2.10a underneath view
5.2.10b front view

5.2.10a and 5.2.10b After threading onto the wood dowling, I decided not to stitch further into the pieces. The dowling itself, I consider to be a  ‘thread’ and it made enough of a statement. The pieces of fabric stayed in place due to the tension between a slighty smaller punched hole in the fabric, compared to the width of the dowling. It all feels very solid and does not move around. I liked the drama of the colours and the thick black lines on black wood.

An art acquitance suggested I make a project investigation to Dublin University of this piece.  It would look good  placed on an enlarged scale using  black metal and reinforced glass and placed in the University grounds along with their other sculptures, especially as this work has the Book of Kells imagery embedded into it, albiet in an abstract way.

Stitching into the branch

stitiched branch
stitiched branch2

Sacredness in trees

There are many traditions that revere trees, the oak tree for example has been used by the Druids in their sacred ceremonies (*2) and some traditions believe in wood spirits living in the tree. Magicians wands are made from tree branches (ie beech, apple and ash). I decided to embellish the branch I have found, as an act of devotion.

5.2.11 and 5.2.12 Having already drilled holes into the branch (see 5.1.5 above)  I used Antwerp edging stitch in thick brown thread along the whole length of the branch. Next I overlaid it with another Antwerp edging stitch, this time in a red shiny thread with a similar thickness. The stitch has some attractive knobbly features, which I increased by double knotting each stitch. I wanted a stitch that I could act as a web, so that I could attach other objects. I wound a fine gold wire around the whole length of the branch.

I practiced a few embroidery stitches that would be able to sit on the surface of the web of Antwerp stitches already in place. I discarded any stitches that required more than three holding stitches.

5.2.13 Using an elongated version of a woven picot stitch that I learned from Three Dimensional Embroidery Stitches by Pat Trott, I used a hat pin to keep the picot  in place whilst I worked it. In effect it is a tiny weaving. I added an embellishment to the end loop.

wrapping tree branch sample
5.2.13 wrapping tree branch sample
5.2.14 mesh joined in

5.2.14 The experimental part of embellishing the branch is purely intuitive and devotional, I can’t find any artists working on physical branches to do any research. I knitted a mesh on large needles using a thick thread to make a web like structure for the fork.  I have not done any drawings yet, which might bring out more ideas if I spend time and effort studying its shapes, and knots. The branch project has cost me over two and a half days in research, making decisions, practicing stitches, working out ideas, photography and writing up the blog. I won’t spend any more time on this idea for now, but at some point in the future I will finish it as an art piece.

Paper and Card Stiched samples


5.2.15 This sample on pastel paper was stitched into with a fine white embroidery thread. It seemed to loose a lot of the nobbly texture that had been created by punching on the reverse side.


5.2.16 This card sample was damaged by the punching process, but I did like the textured effect of the punched holes, I stitched two thicknesses of flat thread into the card as contrast the the knobbly texture of the holes in the card. I felt It would have been too much to stitch over the whole surface.

Stitching into wire mesh

5.2.5a and 5.2.5b These samples used copper wire mesh and 1/8th” copper wire form which I stitched together, using the folding ideas from an earlier project. I used fine gauge copper wire as a ‘thread’. I created a cylinder of the folded shapes by stitching all the edges together.


5.2.6c For the third sample I threaded both pieces of copper with plastic coated electrical cable after punching holes in both the pieces, which wasnt as successful as I had hoped. The wire form was damaged by the hole punch and was further stressed by the thread. But this might work better on a more robust wire form and on a bigger sample.

5.2.7 pin holes and stitches

5.2.7 Pin  holes were punched into the surface of an earlier sample from fusing plastic and stitches were unevenly threaded through this sample.


5.2.8 This sample used leather, suede and canvas stitched together with various gauges of threads. It was a sample from my coursework for A Creative Approach To Textiles that I had worked previously as a collage. I wanted to include it because I can see that it looks quite crude now, and I can see how far I have come and what I have learned since starting the course. There is a germ of an idea here all the same.

I would like to rework this, using the various textures, thicknesses of thread and the colours in a better way and on a larger scale. The work needs a stronger, more refined message.


*1 Andrea Major, Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843, ISBN:9781781388426

*2 Porteous, Alexander (2002). The Forest in Folklore and Mythology. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-42010-8.

*3 Robert Graves, The White Goddess.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2 edition (October 8, 2013) ISBN-13: 978-0374289331

*4 About the work of Jiyoung Chung



Part 1: Project 3: Exercise 1: Fusing Plastic

Plastic bags are reviled for the damage caused to the environment and celebrated for their usefulness. The statistics for the polluting harm to the environment, birds and sea life are extensive and utterly demeaning to us as civilised humans. Yet it is a practical item used daily all over the world at least since the 1960s. I too am part of the problem. I feel it is up to everyone to protect ourselves and the earth from pollution by combining its practical uses, along with efficient, safe disposal (if that is at all possible given the ingredients). I note that more shops are banning plastic bags, and despite using several reusable shopping bags, I still manage to acquire a small collection each week that I use for all sorts of secondary uses.This must be multiplied by everyone all over the world.

I looked at the safety features for these experiments, because plastic bags are made from polyethylene and petroleum and can give off harmful gases. After reading the literature, I decided that, as a short experimental period, in a well ventilated room, it was worth doing.

3.1.1 leaf

3.1.1 My first sample took me into the garden for inspiration (nature v chemicals). I placed 2 layers of white plastic bags over the leaf, and 6 underneath, it made interesting holes and textures. Maybe the surface can be stitched into? Although it feels rather too solid for my sewing machine or hand stitching.But that result might be more to do with my lack of technique for fusing plastic.

3.1.1 leaf 2
3.1.2  leaf 2

3.1.2 This sample included a layer of printed plastic over another leaf, but most of the ink adhered to the baking paper. An interesting faded effect all the same.

Felt and fine thread
3.1.3 Felt and fine thread

3.1.3 For this sample I used coloured bags underneath white plastic with a sandwich of felt and silver thread. I thought the felt might have shrunk more, but it didn’t. When I removed it from the heat source I placed it under a heavy flat object because it was curling.

sequin waste and acrylic thread
3.1.4 sequin waste and acrylic thread

3.1.4 Uninteresting sample, which thinking back on, I could have distributed the sequin waste in a more artistic way instead of just tucking it under a layer of plastic.

3,1,7 Newspaper image of David Cameron
3,1.5  Newspaper image of David Cameron


Newspaper mage of Lord Bramell
3.1.6  Newspaper image of Lord Bramell

3.1.5 and 3.1.6 I didn’t know quite how newspaper would react with the shrinkage of the plastic. Despite some fine holes, it stayed intact whilst the plastic shrunk around it, although the image itself is rather crinkled. I used part of a coloured bag in the background.

d beckham plastic
3.1.7 Newspaper image of David Beckham
Newspaper image of sportsman
3.1.8  Newspaper image of sportsman

3.1.7 & 3.1.8 Unfortunately, despite being from the same newspaper, David Beckham did not fair very well with the technique, some of the print from a bag remained inside. Both these samples had a white background with print, I thought the coloured backgrounds worked better. But then it would depend upon what I’m going to do with the images next. I am already thinking of a stitched assemblage of ‘Heroes or Villans’.

mos net plastic
‘ 3.1.8 Mosquito netting

3.1.8 I knew this netting melted, as a result of my earlier experiments with folding when I used an iron to press it in place. This sample created interesting lace like effects with the plastic melting satisfactorily,  with holes.

3.1.9 coloured and white plastic bags

3.1.9 Due to the fact that the print adheres to the baking paper, I reversed the printed bag under a white plastic bag. This is possibly my least favorite piece, but I can see some use for it if I cut it into smaller pieces and stitch them back together into inchies or an assemblage using some of other samples.

How far have I come with this process?  I am still open to exploration. I watched the above video on using plain white plastic bags to create sketchbook pages. So I will continue to experiment.

3.1.10 Blues
3,1,11 Reds
3.1.11 Reds

3.1.10 and 3.1.11

On my second lot of samples I turned to different iron and realised that the temperture settings were more controllable.  After processing, the samples felt smoother and pliable and I would defintely be able to stitch into them. I used only white carrier bags of the same density, and I cut out coloured  shapes for contrast. A single sheet from an almost transparent bag was the final layer in the ‘sandwhich’.

3.1.12 single colours
3.1.12 single colours

3.1.12 For these samples, (blue and transparent)  I used single colour plastic bags, on a low setting. They almost have the feel and transparency of silk. I will soon find a use for them. They would be easy to stitch into by hand or sewing machine.

3.1.13  Printed

3.1.13 For the final sample I experimented with maintaining printed matter and not loosing it to the baking parchment.

I have learned a limited amount about fusing plastic bags. It was interesting process to learn and I did gain more control over the process once I adjusted the various heat settings on the iron, I can understand and how this effects the final result. It is another tool I might use in the future.

Normally I like working with discarded and recyclable materials, because I despise that fact that in such a disposable culture as ours, so much of it ends up in landfill sites or dumped in our oceans after very little use. I can see a use for some of these pieces and I know if I got better at the technique I could be more creative and produce more consistent samples. But working with these chemical substances and the fumes having possible carcinogenic effects or creating other respiratory problems is not particularly appealing.

I did look at the work of Khalil Chistee who uses black and white plastic bags to create fascinating sculptures. I cant work out his process, I am certain heat is involved. The effects are stunning.

Khalil is from Pakistan, but now lives in New York. He said in an interview ”We live in the age of plastic, and plastic bags are the most ordinary form of this material. It goes back to the Sufi approach of my upbringing where worth does not depend on what you inherit, it depends on who you are. Anything made out of bronze, wood, stone or painted on a canvas carries the appearance of being worth looking at, because of its history, but if one can change the impact of that history, one is an artist.”

Kalil Chistee
Kalil Chistee
Khalil Chistee
Khalil Chistee


Beautiful Decay: Khalil Chishtee’s Plastic Bag Sculptures, November 12, 2013 by

Part 1: Project 1: Ex 3 – 5: Box and Knife Pleats

A shock wave has entered my work. My iPad crashed after uploading  an update. Many of my images are kept on Icloud. For a small device, the clarity is of photography is generally good and the photos appear on all my devices within seconds. Suddenly, all my images were unavailable, they were not even on iCloud. A local technicnician promised to get all my images back provided I had not ‘restored’ the iPad, he failed to deliver anything except a CD of photos which I could not open.

At the same time Windows 10 does not work with Photoshop. This has meant a huge amount of time has been spent on technology this month. The photographs have been a catastrophic loss, because my iPad also contained art notes, photos of my projects for TM Media and references that I had been maintaining.

It has been a harsh lesson  A friend who managed to restore some of the images, bizzarely most are out of date order, upside down, or others I can read only. My response has been to buy a hard-drive for my laptop and save my work each night.

I have discovered Evernote which syncs with all my devices througout the day. I have to face the fact that many images from travelling, visiting exhibitions, and collating other artists work have been lost. Maybe this has nothing to do with my coursework and that assessors would not be interested in this sideline. But I feel the loss and the subsequent adjustment is critical to my role as a student and artist in the world of technology and I have to respond to these new demands.

I am diving straight back into my coursework. I have been reading Hannah Hinchman’s book, A Trail through Leaves. She is an artist who suffers with depression, she will mention it in passing, then says how she overcomes it with a few short sentences, then she carry’s on with her art, her deep interest in nature, the poignant thrust to her life.

After my first few experiments with paper folding, I have added a few more basic tools to help the process

  • flat object to flatten paper
  • paper clips
  • washing line pegs
  • bull dog clips

Exercise 3: Box Pleats and Knife Pleats. Whilst the linear pleats had equally spaced valleys and mountains, knife pleats have unequal distribution of valleys and mountains. That is, the mountains are all exactly the same dimensions and the valleys have a narrower dimension. Box pleats are double pleats, with the material folded under at each side.

3.1.1  Knife pleats
3.1.2 Rotational knife pleats in semi circle
Knife pleats
3.1.2 a Knife pleats in semi circle
3.1.3 Box pleats
3.1.4 Box pleats cylinder
Box pleat cylinders
3.4.1a Box pleat cylinders, side view

I have discovered that printer paper holds it’s folds in crisp folded lines. Next, I experimented with handmade paper which has a thicker, springier quality and it does not hold its lines in a solid way. My first knife pleat samples I placed under a weight overnight to keep their shape. This worked resonably well, but after a while the pleats spring into a more rounded uneven shape. I quite like this surface because it is more pliable than printer paper and I felt I could be more playful in teasing out shapes.

3,1.5 Box pleats handmade paper
3.1.6 Box pleats
Mark making
Mark making repeat
3.1.7  Box pleats double folded and shaped
3.1.8 flattened and pinched
3.1.9 Boat shaped
3.1.10 ruffled
3.1.11 Hat shape
3.1.12 Bridge
3.1.13 pleats in fabric wrapped wire

The mark making above, provoked my response to wrap wire in fabric and bend it into rounded box shapes.

3.1.14 double rows of pleats
3.1.15 mixed pleats
3.1.16 twisted pleats with wrapped pleats

Exercise 4: Incremental and twisted pleats

The division of space between the valleys and mountains varies. I discovered that adding lines or marks to the paper makes them far more interesting to the eye. I altered the shape of the white paper into a double triangle. The coloured wrap could not hold a fold very well, so I punched holes in the centre and threaded a skewer through it to hold the shape.

Incremental pleats on lined paper
4.1.1 Incremental pleats on lined paper
4.1.2 Incremental pleats, coloured wrap
Incremental folds african wax cloth skewer
4.1.2a Incremental pleatswith skewer

Exercise 4 Twisted Pleats

Twisted pleats are arranged in lines of 3 so that the mountain can be laid to one side at the top and twisted in the middle and laid to the opposite side at the bottom. Variation in size of mountains can make an interesting pleat. I worked samples on hand-made paper, card and coloured tissue paper (which was extremey fragile and I enlarged the spaces betwen the pleats to hold them in place)..

4.1.3 single twisted pleat
4.1.4 card before pleat
4.2.5 pleats twisted
4.2.6 two twisted papers
4.2.6 twists on tissue paper

I have learned a lot from these exercises, particularly sampling and recording my work in a methodical way. I have also progressed by learning new methods relating to how to manipulate flat objects that are capable of holding a fold. I did a little further experimentation using a commercial starch / fabric stiffener. It did not work as expected, or hold a fold in a piece of cotton; maybe its the brand, I dont know. I dislike aerosols in my home and do not want to buy another. Instead I made my own from cornflour and water. I made samples using washed vintage cotton, some were sprayed from a simple spraying mechanism, some I ‘painted’ onto the fabric and allowed to dry. The latter were very successful. Due to the loss of a lot of my work, II will retake the images when I have more time.

I would like to take the folding experiments further. I have recently dismantled a wooden slatted blind. I want to drill holes in each side and lash them together to make valleys and mountains into a sample using materials other than paper. This idea has come out of studying Ali Ferguson’s work, she drills holes in wooden objects and stitches into them to create a story.

As far as this type of paper origami is concerned, it was fun to experiment with, but I’m unsure I like working in such precise ways and there are many very talented artists working in this field. I can forsee using some of the ideas in different mediums and would like to spend more time considering where and with what materials I could take this methodology further.

Project 2: Exercise 4: Cutting

This topic appealed to me very much, because after a trip to Jaipur, India in 2012 I brought home photographs of the screens and windows in the harem at the Pink Palace. It intrigued me that these women, who were virtually prisoners, could see out through the various screens dotted about their living space, but outsiders could not see in. There were a variety of visual illusions, some were very basic concrete blocks with shapes punched out. Some were repeat shapes like a honeycomb or intricate layers of fine wood and gold inlays. Some women in the world still live behind the veil, at least when out in public, and I wonder about their view out into a world that cannot see them. I hoped that I could draw on some of these ideas for my samples.

My reading of Kandinsky’s masterpiece reminds me that art is about capturing an ‘inner response’ to the moral and spiritual matters of the past and that this will stir new artistic responses and forms.

harem windows
Harem windows
two layers of circular holes
2.1.a Two layers of circular holes. red/white

2.1.a This sample has regular sized circles cut in the top layer of white paper, underneath red shiny paper has 3 different sized holes cut out of it, giving it an irregular effect of circles and partly revealed circles. I rather like the effect.

p1 ex4 cutting holes 1b
2.1.b Two layers of circular holes red/blue

2.1.b This sample has the red, shiny paper used in the sample above, it is layered over irregular cut circles of a matt flat blue acrylic painted surface with more irregular circles cut out of it. I find the red paper far too dominant.

2.1.c Two layers
2.1.c Three layers

2.1.c Three cut layers are used here. I used the piece of red shiny paper cut with varying sized circles, the layer underneath is a white paper (harem window images), that I enlarged and used a light box to mark out the shapes then cut out with a craft knife. Underneath the second layer are blue oblong cut outs. The red screams for dominance. The boxy shapes underneath look like arrows.

2.1.d Circular and harem window shapes
2.1.d Circular and harem window shapes

2.1.d The harem window shapes become dominant on white cut card, whilst underneath the irregular red circles are more discreet than 2.1.c above. I really like this piece, there are hidden gems or moons here.


2.1.e The harem cut out window shapes on card, are dominant over a blue background. The background is a blue painted acrylic painted paper with cut out oblong shapes. But they are barely noticable. Next I inserted a small geometric printed paper into the cut out shapes. If the image was sharper the oblong shapes would have been more prominent. I must improve my Photoshop skills! It all looks blurred, the detail and effort is lost.

Cell shapes from sketchbook
Cell shapes from sketchbook

2.1.f  and 2.1.g These samples are a mixture of ideas. The top layer is the cut out card of the harem window shapes, underneath is another idea I have been working with. Spot shapes are cut out of paper, leaving a negative space, some spots are collaged back onto the paper. I could have cut out some of the spots making it possible to see through the work. This work was inspired by some sketches in my sketchbook of cell shapes and the work of the artist Yayoi Kusama who works almost entirely in spots and organic forms.

2.1.i notan
Notan shapes on black card
2.1.j Notan shapes on black card

2.1.h; 2.1.i and 2.1j:  These are another set of ideas that have come together. The top layer is the cut out harem window shapes in whie card and the bottom layer is a Japanese notan* shape, using dark and light areas to create a composition in black card. Two Eastern concepts have conjoined. *The nearest translation for notan is ‘dark and light harmony’. I first learned about the idea in Cas Holmes book ‘The Found Object in Textile Art‘. She describes a process using black card folded in half, then cutting away various shapes leaving some of the folded area intact. So that when opened out there is a series of positive and negative spaces. Having a second layer over my notan shape gives it second illusion and the eye tries to make sense of it, due in part to the illusion of a face.

Where do I want to next with this idea? I would like to create a series of images using the harem window shapes with various cut out shapes showing through. I would also like to work in the same way with the spots overlayed with spots, perhaps in balsa wood or lightweight wood. I will have to work out how to create perfect shapes with my husbands tools or perhaps gain his assistance! Although he says he doesnt understand art, he is always more than willing to help me with my projects. Meanwhile I will pursue some of these ideas in heavy card and work out some different colorways.

Artists Interviews Lanzarote: Cindy Batsleer

Hello Cindy Batsleer, where are you from originally and what did you do there?

I was born and raised in Ghent, Belgium. Ghent is known for its Medieval city centre and universities. It´s a vibrant cultural town with a lot of young people.

I studied painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (known as KASK). Afterwards I taught at the Municipal School of Arts for 9 years. I also painted in my studio on a daily basis and created decorative interiors for themed parties for a Night Club in Brussels.

What brought you to Lanzarote?

I fell head over heels in love and following my heart, arrived in Lanzarote! When I became pregnant with my son it was pretty much decided I would stay in Lanzarote, literally and metaphorically planting a seed for a new life. And besides the man in my life and my child, I also fell in love with the island! The volcanic earth here has a certain energy, it is strong, I likened it to fertility. In many ways. I have never run out of inspiration for my art on the island.

How did you become interested in painting? Have you always been interested in that subject?

Since I was a very young age I was constantly drawing and painting. Sometimes real life can seem boring, I need an imaginary world as an antidote and to have some fun. I love to play with various mediums, but at the same time it can be exhausting switching from one technique to another. I was always happiest using colour. Over the years my work has evolved, but my motivation is pretty much the same.

Sometimes artists get criticized for being too self-absorbed with their subject matter and their artistic endeavor, I feel that for myself, like certain people, we need time to let our imaginations loose. Artists, like a lot of creative people, need time to allow their thoughts to produce something we can share or give back to the others. Artists are not as selfish or egocentric as one might think. We often produce work to seek connection with others, or to help translate into imagery what life is about. My work is a constant search for connection and also discovering new things and surprisingly, it´s about never finding the answer! The day I find the answer, maybe it will be the last day I paint.

What work do you have in the Elements Exhibition at Barstro restaurant and is there a theme to your work?

In the Elements Exhibition I show two mixed media drawings in color, that I use as prep-work for big sized paintings. My theme is branches. I often find them during walks with my dog. As I see it, we don’t  have a lot of trees here on our volcanic island, so branches are valuable objects.

Each branch has a story to tell, so I sketch them and some of them inform my work and come to life under my hands, but some branches don´t evolve into a work at all. It is an intimate conversation between me and nature. A few years ago I started to work with very linear drawings, but lately they have evolved into more abstract colourful creatures.

It´s amazing how viewers engage with my work. I´m often asked “what are they”? People feel the need to have a solid identity, a word or a theme, or some safe world to hold onto, but as with all abstract art, as soon as they permit themselves to observe more freely, the connection can often be made.

The viewer of abstract work has created something personal by finding out what that connection is. It might be instinctive, it might be guttural or it might remind them of shapes or images they have seen subliminally. My work has a double layer of meaning, quite primitive yet sophisticated at the same time. I say to people “You can encounter the tragic, the serious or the comic side of existence” and it shows in my work, life is as it is, the viewer finds their own answer.

What’s your goal for your work and do you offer art related courses or workshops on the island or anywhere else?

For the moment I´m still working on the branches concept and would love to bring all the work together in a solo exhibition here in Lanzarote or in Northern of Europe.

I´m also an art teacher at the British School of Lanzarote in Tahiche and enjoy dedicating my time to helping others develop their own visual language.

What is your scariest art moment?

My scariest art moment would be when we get ruled by people who deprive us of the right to create and express ourselves. Art can sometimes be seen as a comment on society, and its frightening to think of living in a culture that censors art to the point of imprisonment. It’s hard to imagine that Michelangelo’s famed Sistine Chapel was once deemed immoral by the Catholic faith. Nudity still has that dangerous taint in many cultures.

What’s your favorite thing about Lanzarote?

My favourite things on Lanzarote are, next to its beauty, the non-polluted fresh air, the space to create and the International blend of people.

Thank you Cindy and good luck with your exhibits.

Cindy’s drawings along with 14 other artists work, can be viewed at Barstro Restaurant in Nazaret, until the end of August 2015. Cindy’s work is due to appear as a solo exhibition at El Grifo, the bodega in Lanzarote until 30th October 2015,

Cindy Batsleer, Artist, Lanzarote
Cindy Batsleer, Artist, Lanzarote

Artists Interviews Lanzarote: Matthew William Scott

Hello Matthew Scott, where are you from originally?

Bradford, Yorkshire, UK

What did you do there?

I have also lived in London and Barcelona. In London I worked at the Circus Space National School of Circus Theatre as Box Office Manager and Head of Reception. In Barcelona I performed as a Mime / Living Statue on Las Ramblas and after some poor experiences working with theatrical agents doing the same there, I started to tour and represent Living Statue Shows and Competitions around mainland Spain independently. Back in Yorkshire I was member of a number of Street Theatre Companies touring shows around the UK and in Europe.

How did you become interested in art, photography and stone balancing?

After predominantly science based ‘A’ levels – Physics, Computer Science etc. I realised that I did not want to be a computer programmer. So, instead of going to study Computer Science at University as I was expected to do, I started to re-visit my artistic roots (my drawings of nature were celebrated and exhibited back in Middle School). I was inspired by the potential of C.G.I imagery but after 5 years of academic study and other experiences, I felt a bigger need to be expressive and turned toward more conceptual art combining Live Art and Installation in my Fine Art degree show back in Hull. Stone Balance Art was inspired and nurtured by my present rocky environment here in Lanzarote.

Have you always been interested in that subject? How did you find out you liked that medium?

Land Art was always attractive to me. I remember seeing works by Andy Goldsworthy whilst hiking in the Yorkshire Dales. Stone Balance art happens to tick a number of boxes – Contemplative / Meditative, Creating Outdoors, Connecting with the nature of our environment.
What brought you to Lanzarote?

I was invited by the Ayto. de Haría to show an ensemble group of Mime / Living Statues from Las Ramblas (I was living in Barcelona back then). We performed during the Christmas Market back in 2008. I made some remarkable friends very quickly and since I had no big ties with Barcelona, decided to give me and the Island a chance to get on together.

What work do you have in the Elements Exhibition?

2 framed prints of Stone Balance Creations.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

I continue to create Stone Balance Art and also Mime / Living Statue characters. I also do web design.

Is there a theme to your work?


Do you offer art related courses or workshops on the island or anywhere else?

I offer Stone Balance Workshops when the weather is apt (wind isn’t a good factor when balancing stones precariously). I will be delivering a Workshop in Crete in the last 2 weeks of September this year.

What’s your goal for your work?

For me to feel more balanced. It’s cathartic and I like to challenge peoples perceptions of what can be done.

What is your scariest art moment?

Performing as a Living Statue stood half way up a winding staircase in the inauguration of a Hotel in Barcelona. I was directly above the Mayor of Barcelona who was delivering his speech below. It was so hot, the sweat was literally dripping off my nose and onto the Mayors head. Or Perhaps being punched in the face whilst being a Living Statue at the Edinburgh Festival. I was of course just being still, until that moment.

What’s your favorite thing about Lanzarote?

Lots. The quality of the air. The healthy living. The sea, the rocks of course, the feeling of knowing the exact limits to the land mass on which I am residing. Arriving / returning by plane and seeing those limits from the air. The fact that the geography puts a physical limit to the place. However, although I like this aspect, I tend to appreciate it more after leaving and coming back to it. Oh and the Sweet Potatoes.

Matthews work can be seen at Barstro Restuarant, Nazaret, along with the photography and art work of 14 other artists, until the end of August.

Matthew William Scott Stone Balancing
Matthew William Scott
Stone Balancing