Part 2: Project 2: Ex 2: Wrapping with materials and threads

I have researched the work of ‘outsider artist’ Judith Scott*1 (now deceased) – she used a variety of wrapping materials & weavings to create large & small structures. She was born with Downs Syndrome, as well as being mute and deaf. She was abandoned to an institution, as she was considered uneducatable by the time she was 7 years old. She experienced social deprivation and massive under stimulation. Her twin sister Joyce, rescued her from this environment later and became her legal guardian.

She was offered a place at an art class, one of the first of its kind for people with disabilities in Ohio. Joyce’s ongoing sisterly support, and this art environment, eventually provided the necessary breeding ground for Judith’s wrapping of objects. No one was able to decipher why she did her artful wrappings, did she see them as art? No one knows. She created over 200 sculptures in her life time. I love her work, it was deeply personal to her and had arisen out of her own world and psyche. This story begs the question about what is art? How many mainstream artists have an idea, then organise other people to construct the work? Here in Judith, was art that came out of her very being, she manifested every thread, shape and layer. An interesting article in Crafts magazine*2, describes the rise of the outsider artist, into mainstream galleries. The article featured Judith Scott and her sculptures in the March  /April 2016 issue.

The American visual artist/photographer Frances Lina Conde stayed at my house for 10 days, during this period and she introduced me to her wrapped organic wire formed shapes that were photographed and juxtaposed against the stark extraordinary landscapes of Lanzarote. She had an exhibition “Profundidad”, in Barcelona, March 2016.

Eager to begin, my starting point was to do a number of small wrappings on various surfaces , for example wrapping thread around wire, tiny bundles of fabric; wrapping screws and rawl plugs; wrapping CD inserts with yarn.

Next, I cast my eye around the  house and my ‘stash’ of found objects (mostly broken pieces of domestic ephemera ). Once selected, I choose a bold shiny fabric and a flat matt complimentary colored thread for a wrap. With the wrappings in place disguising its origins, I loved its unintended organic shape immediately. I did a second wrap to part of the piece in fine gold wire, which gave a web-like gossamer effect. It became a talking point in the room. No one could guess what ordinary object was underneath those wrappings (2.2.1WMT).


My next samples (2.2.2a-c) started life as a vintage, twin candle holder. The meaning for me is that it is a holder of ‘light’ in a sometimes ‘dark’ world. I wrapped it in see-through plastic film, so that initially I could see right through to the object. It was undisguised. The object has some interesting features that could be teased into intriguing wraps. The next wrap was fine silver thread. My initial aim was to see as much of the object as possible.


However, as I wrapped, I questioned whether keeping this idea of ‘light’, was useful, given how much of a dichotomy there is in the world, especially since the refugee crises and humanitarian issues that have been in the news and affected so much of Europe. As I see it, there is as much ‘darkness’ as ‘light’. I’m thinking of religious fundamentalism,  war, profits-before-people, greed, femicide(*3), genocide, pollution.  I wrapped  it in a dark black thread for this reason.


This was not enough to make a statement. I wrapped it in thick grey yarn to see where this would take this piece. I wanted it to be more menacing. I wrapped across as well as around and then turned the object upside. Now, the appearance has a more, demonic quality. Can I keep going? Or is it enough?  This is starting to look like a darker, gloomier image, the opposite of light. This is the Goddess of darkness and dark forces. And like Kali, her Indian counterpart, and Nix from the Greeks, she was at once the ‘giver of life’ and at the same time ‘the wielder of the destructive powers of nature’. Light and dark at the same time.


The Lampedusa Cross by carpenter Francesco Tuccio was created from the wreckage of a boat that had been carrying 500 fleeing refugees on 11 October, 2013. It sank off the coast of Sicily where Tuccio lived, only 151 people survived. He collected the flotsum of wood, he created crosses from the wreck and gave them to the remaining refugees. The Pope travelled to take a service on the island. The BBC picked up the story, The British Museum acquired a cross and have placed it on public display in London.


Tuccio stated …”I hope that if one person sees the Cross and is moved to use their skills to do something about it, that will be great.” Jill Cook, senior curator at the British Museum stated “…I’ve used my skills as a curator to put this in the public eye…” My own response is to use my making skills for this project and to look back to more peaceful cultures and create my own symbol.

The Vinca goddess culture has left behind hundreds of sculptures and this topic found its way into my next wrapping. Many of the sculptures have elongated necks, amorphous bodies and rounded hips. I had to recreate a stone sculpture using a styrofoam sphere, cardboard tube, wooden dowling and wire.  It took several attempts to get a pleasing shape (2.WM.6a), using the right materials, plus the use of my husbands sacred space (his workshop) and an understanding of using his static electric drill with various drill bits. I have spent hours getting it this far. I finally stitched a layer of torn organza into the former before inserting an Indian mantra into the cardboard tube (for peace and protection of the whole world). I swapped the first idea of using cocktail sticks wrapped with pipe-cleaners to make the arms,  with wooden doweling, it is stronger and it makes the whole structure more solid. Only then did I begin wrapping in yarn, string and crochet thread (red for fire, brown for the earth and blue for the sky and sea).  That was the easy part, it has taken days of planning and execution.

Marijas Gumbutas book and images





*1 Judith Scot

*2 The rise of the outsider artist. “Why Outsider Art is All the Rage” Glen Adamson, Crafts magazine. Issue 259, February 2016

*3 The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas. ISBN 0-520-04655-2

*4 Femicide


Part2: Project 2: Ex 3: Uneven Wrapping

I have researched the work of Christo ( born ‘Histro’ in Bulgaria in 1935) and his partner Jeanne-Claude,  born in Morocco on the same date (1935 –2009). Together as artists, they wrapped and covered landscapes, buildings and smaller objects. It was interesting to see familiar objects or landmasses cocooned in unfamiliar layers, some parts highlighted or obscured as a result of their work. Or “..revelation through concealment..” as art critic David Bourdon*1  once said. Christo insisted their work was, “…to create works of art for joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes…”. My interest, as far as this project is concerned is looking at their smaller wrapped objects, like bottles and cans. There was no doubt what the objects were, they did little to disguise the shapes.

Wrapped objects of Christo and Jean Claude

 I also looked at the work of French Algerian artist Alice Anderson who wraps in copper wire; she works in big installation pieces or has wrapped small objects in her studio. In an interview with Aesthetica Magazine about her installations and performance for Frieze, in 2012, she said “When I am winding around objects I guess that I am transforming a libidinal energy into something else. It is like an act of reparation, protection, and preservation. During the past two years, I’ve focused on binding various objects and buildings with copper thread and red fiber…” It is interesting finding out the artists response to her work, it gives a resonance and depth to her work that is difficult to find when looking around an exhibition or watching a performance.

Alice Anderson’s copper wire wrappings

Mar Gorman’s installations about the institutionalized Lucy/Joseph, a  female sectioned due to her male behavior and who died in the Oregon State Hospital in 1922. Mar wanted to create a memorial for the forgotten when the hospital closed. Most of the objects on display are not wrapped, but I did take an interest in the ordinary found objects that were among the exhibits and which Mar decided to wrap as part of the display. As a textile artist I find it an intriguing question to ask when considering exhibiting, what should be wrapped and why? The objects below have taken on a secondary meaning with the wrappings, as the new shapes have hidden or distorted their original function

mar gorman2

Eva Hesse, the post war German/ American artist, now deceased, was influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Feminism and Minimalism; She said of her art “I think art is a total thing. A total person giving a contribution. It is an essence, a soul.. In my inner soul art and life are inseparable.” 

Shannon Weber, Who has been working in fiber sculpture for over 30 years, uses mainly reclaimed or natural materials found outdoors. I was particularly struck by her varying techniques. She says “I love stitching, weaving, and laying things together like beach plastics, fish bones, reclaimed metal and wire, which can be 3-7 layers in a piece. If I can’t weave it I will find a way to stitch it in. There is no use of glue in any of my work.” I got permission from her to use some of her images.

My wrapped experiments took some time to mature. Not that I was hesitant about wrapping objects. I saw potential wrappings everywhere, but I felt the work needed to have a deeper meaning for me personally. My first experiments drew me in to wrap something ‘sacred’, the topic running through my Theme Book. I chose an Indian mantra that I had once used to place inside my ‘sacred pod’ a piece I made for my final project in  A Creative Approach to Textiles. It is a mantra I use daily in my yoga practice. At that time I wrote it on deliberately aged paper, wrapped in into a scroll shape and secured it inside a pod of vine and honeysuckle, an ode to the Goddess of Creativity, Saraswathi.

Sacred Pod

For this next sample, I inserted a mantra into plastic coin saver, available in Spain, instead of plastic money bags more familiar in the UK. These can hold one euros worth of one cent pieces. I immediately saw their potential  for holding a small scroll  and in addition, they had interesting fastenings that folded around satisfactorily. With their almost indestructible nature, I assumed they could act as a tiny time capsule.

Plastic one cent saver



I wrapped the first coin saver in black plastic mesh, the kind used in the garden. I wrapped the mesh in red threads of varying weights (2.WM.1a). In History, Myths and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees by James Mooney, printed in 1900 s, The Red Man, living in the East, is the spirit of power, triumph, and success. Red is a warm color. It conjures up conflicting emotions, from passionate love to stop signs, to female blood (since Neolithic times*2), violence, anger and war. Red could be a St Valentine Cupid or a Devil. Some studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and raising blood pressure. It’s use as a colour should be used with caution or in small splashes.


I intended the next wrap on this object to be white thread. White is for purity, blank pages, virgin snow and brides dresses, it is not an accent color, rather a colour that other colours are set off against. My other wrappings had been colours that were easily available and at hand, the colours  for these sample were deliberate. Black, red and white. My husband thought they looked like tampons! I feel he has a point.

2.UW.2 and 2.UW.3

I created two more  mantra holders, with different mantras, using the same colorways in different orders. Black, red or white fabric wrapped in either black white or red threads. Maybe I need to consider how to join them together?  I do not want to undo the wrapping and redo these pieces. I may provoke this concept further and make a lot more and create a hanging of sacred mantras. I have about 20 empty coin holders and feasibly I could get hold of a lot more from the bank.

One of my mantras

The next wrapping came out of the story of an archaeological dig in northern Israel. It was said that, the find, which appeared to be a bundle of plant fibers wrapped around a broken clay pot, contained earrings believed to be 3,300 years old. Experts believe the earrings were used for trade purposes before the use of currency. “The jug and its contents appear to be Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, in the 13th century BC, the time of the Exodus and wilderness wanderings described in the Hebrew Scriptures...” archaeologist Robert Mullins, an associate professor of biblical studies at Azusa Pacific University said “….This is one of only 20 silver hoards ever found in Israel.”


The earrings and other silver pieces were cleaned by Mimi Lavi, conservationist in the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Photo: Gabi Laron, Institute of Archeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

I have a box of old jewellery that I have been hoarding for such a project. The image of the find reminds me a little of one Shannon Webber’s more beautiful natural pieces (see below). It looks rather organic, not unlike a bird’s nest. The blue/grey tint of the Israel find reminds me very much of handmade felt. I have some banana plant fibers and wrapped wire and I want to experiment. Now where will I find a broken pot? Yes, I could buy something cheap and break it, but first I will search my stash of household objects and my garden as well as my husband’s workshop for other materials.


Photo: With permission of Shannon Weber, the artist

After a half day of research, I realised that I cannot mimic the Israel hoard without a lot of effort and time. Making the right type of felt will take a day, even if I had the supplies (which I don´t). I live on an island where getting hold of art supplies means that I have to order everything in advance. Shannon Weber can take months for her works to mature and I think this idea may be on that time scale. I have to be realistic, the work I do  for this project is all about sampling and then maybe later considering how to evolve the idea. I have to use what is to hand, in my home and around the island. I have therefore gone with the banana leaf idea, wrapping some objects that look like the Israel earring finds. Oddly enough they did not arise out of my jewelry stash, but my husband’s electronics supplies.

The fresh green banana leaf idea did not work for the wrapping experiment, even though it is a leaf that I use to wrap fresh caught salmon and bake in the oven. Delicious! But I am rambling away from artistic endeavor.

The green banana leaf wrapping broke up and did not yield to being wrapped around my small objects. I abandoned the idea and looked at the dried leaf alternative and cut them off the plant. I have plenty to choose from, there are 6 banana plants in various stages of growth and decay in my garden. I wrapped the objects and then tied them with cotton string. I left the strings long and uncut. I found a tiny wooden chest and placed them inside, like treasure. A very different outcome than I had first thought, but I was pleased with the process and the result given the time frame.

Fresh and dried banana leaves


bana wrap3
Electrical components
banaa wrap2
Wrapped fiber bundles
banana wwrap1
Bundles in ‘treasure chest’


*1 David Bourdon, “Christo”, Harry N. Abrams Publishers, Inc., New York City, 1970

Alice Anderson: The Independent. Monday 27 July 2015 ·Memory Movement Memory Objects’ Everyday objects wrapped in copper wire

Israel Dig






Pt 2: Project 1: Joining: Ex 1-2

There are a lot of samples to be made in this investigation on joining. There are a total of 5 exercises related to joining various surfaces together. For this reason this post deals with the first two, exercises 1 and 2. That is, the samples and commentary about joining straight flush edges together  and also joining straight edges with a gap.

I felt a real sense of excitement about this project, I am very much enjoying new lines of artistic inquiry. Sometimes I feel out of my comfort zone but I am learning so many new processes, using different materials and following a whole galaxy of exciting ideas and artists.

At the time of creating some of these samples I was on holiday for a month, in the UK, away from my art studio and tools. I used unsophisticated materials like paper and felt that were easy to access. I also took advantage of British Libraries and spent a lot of time on research as well as visiting artists studios and a September art trail in North Wales.  I can never quite leave the itch to investigate art related events, attend workshops, exhibitions or meet other artists. Apart from socialising and family time, other interests have faded into insignificance. I rarely watch television, read newspapers or main-stream women’s magazines. I have far too much to read in the world of art and archaeology. Perhaps third in line is science literature or listening to TED lectures and talks.

Materials for these samples were found easily by visiting a rural ironmongers,  stationary shops, the haberdashery and the use of recycled and found materials.
I gathered together rivets, crushed bottle tops, ring pulls, cartons, (cleaned opened out & cut to shape), an A3 sketchbook, acrylic paint, torn fabric strips, glue, masking tape, tomato puree tubes, pipe cleaners, assorted metal shapes, fishing wire, paper yarn, raffia, safety pins, staples, sellotape, crochet thread, plastic coated wire, fine cotton thread, plant fibers, different gauges of wire.
I had been looking at the work of Jennifer Davies (1*) who works in various media, but I particularly liked her handmade paper subjects, especially the scrolls, which are all joined together with stitch and glue. It looks seemingly haphazard, but the whole gives a very pleasing, yet fragile effect.
12-051 Jennifer Davies
Jennifer Davies
Exercise 1: Straight Edges joined to Straight Edges
I revisited the work I did at Gwen Hedley`s workshop (Contemporary Kente) whilst participating in an earlier level one course, A Creative Approach To Textiles with the Open College of Arts. I reminded myself of the various process I had used  using fabric & stitch  as well as using wrapping techniques. I called my piece Spanish Mafia Wedding, the colourways were very different than any of the other participants on the course,  with their muted blues, browns and ivories. This course had also been my first introduction to contemporary embroidery and it changed the way I though and worked with embroidery for ever. I deleted from my mind tidy rows of perfect stitches on anti-macassars on my mother’s chair and sofa backs.
spanish mafia wedding
Spanish Mafia Wedding

Sample 2.1.1a : I clipped tiny holes with a punch using two pieces of strong handmade paper. Next I used button hole stitch along the two edges to be joined to give it extra strength, & then I joined the two resulting edges with a contrasting coloured thread using ladder stitch. The result was a sturdy and malleable surface and could be further embellished, or other surfaces attached to it if I chose to do so.

paper and stitch
2.1.1a and 2.1.1b

Sample 2.1.1b: I reinforced a smaller piece of the same handmade paper using interfacing to make it stronger and joined it to the first sample with safety pins.

Sample 2.1.2a: I took a vintage printed fabric and cut straight through the printed pattern in three places. I then joined the two edges together with ladder stitch using a thick thread without reinforcing the fabric or strengthening the edges with anything other than paper underneath, so in effect the surface is likely to fray. Later I thought I could add an iron-on fabric stabliser to the reverse to make it stronger. I liked the sample because it had added an interesting texture to the surface.
IMG_0037 copy
2. 1.2a fabric and stitch
Sample 2.1.3a: Two pale brown felt pieces were cut straight across at the edges, I stitched them back together with a variety of cross stitches in different weight threads and outlined the area with small black straight stitches in an effort to show that the join was almost invisible. I did not like the sample, except for the simplicity of the join. I added more joined edges embellishments to make it look more interesting.
brown felt
Samples 2.1.3a – 2.1.3d
Sample 2.1.3b: I took the sample 2.1.3a above and added a dark felt piece using a pair of  hook & eyes meant for skirt waistbands, joining them using large French knots in an attempt to make it look decorative rather than ugly stitching. I wanted to expose the hooks rather than use them in the more traditional way of hiding them. The two techniques were simple, but I didn’t like the sample. I wanted to create something on a much bigger scale and use the idea on a different medium. I had no desire to keep adding embellishments to make any more of the work. What I have learned is that even a ‘poor’ sample can be a jumping board for another idea. The second sample should really be in the category below under ‘joining edges with a gap’ and also ‘joining overlapping edges’ using studs.
Sample 2.1.3c. Using the same felt sample I joined two straight edges using metal studs.
Sample 2.1.3d – I used Kantha stitch to join two edges.
Sample 2.1.4: A piece of brown organza was joined with an iron-on webbing to a piece of scrim between two sheets of baking parchment. The invisible webbing partly melted in the centre, where perhaps I had held the iron too long. I feel this sample has potential for more work, despite the fragility of the materials and the melting effect. I like the concept of Wabi Sabi and the idea of mending old or worn sufaces, making them beautiful in the process. This fragile piece may be the perfect opportunity at a later date.
organza & scrim
2.1.4 organza & scrim
Sample 2.1.5a & 2.1.5b: For these samples I painted paper in my sketchbook in acrylic paints, then tore it into four pieces lengthwise and rejoined with stitches using household string, some areas were reinforced by masking tape. I liked the contrasting different size holes and large stitches. I thought more about presentation as I worked on these samples, and these can be sent in the post to my tutor or for assessment in a flat format. I am also planning to join wood samples on my return to Spain with this method.
2.1.5a & 2.1.5b paper


2.1.6a  zipper

2.1.6 a This is the front cover of my sketchbook, which I tore in half then joined it back together with a large zipper. The top and bottom part of the zipper remained exposed with a small gap and I used bold red stitches to draw attention to this. The reverse was rather unstable and capable of being destroyed by too much use. I  glued a strip of fine scrim on the surface, this was a mistake and the glue was exposed and looked ugly. I  used a thick strip of tape (2.1.6b) instead to make the surface strong and also to have a bold contrast to the prosaic looking brown sketchbook cover.

2.1.7a I took a paper insert from a discarded CD and tore it in half, then stapled it back together. The fragility of this idea was obvious and there was a lot of movement in the paper, that could potentially destroy the piece if there was much handling.  I was attracted to the novelty of using staples and I liked the texture. I used two different size staplers. I was feeling a sense of excitement with these shiny metal staples in different sizes and wanted to experiment more with this material.
2.1.7a & 2.1.7b staples


Sample 2.1.7b: I added a different torn paper CD  insert to the edges of the sample 2.1.7a. I used masking tape on the reverse to create a more solid structure. I also liked how the two disparate pieces worked well together. The  top and bottom pieces were images of skiers on a ski slope, yet they looked like Ermine on a royal cloak. I liked the extra strength created by the masking tape so much I explored more with this idea.
2.1.7c joined by staples

Sample 2.1. 7c: I carried on being playful with the staples, and I cut many level slices into sturdy paper from a shiny brochure, the paper was stronger than the CD inserts. On the reverse I used masking tape to put the slices back together.  I used a stapler to heavily staple all the slices. I really liked the texture this was creating as well as the sheen of the metal in the staples and decided  I wanted to explore this idea further with printable fabric. I have opened up a new direction with the use of staples and I have yet to exploit its full potential. These samples are also flat pieces of work that can be presented in my sketchbook. I had also investigated and researched artists who used staples in their work.

French Sculptor Baptiste Debombourg (2*) creates detailed art on white board that needs to be viewed up close to appreciate that he is uses staples as an art material. From a distance his work looks like fine sketches in pencil.  Debombourg took 75 hours and used 35,000 staples to create two pieces of art,  Air Force One and Air Force Two.  Debombourg wanted to play with the ideas using the guise of engraving and to  make a comment about contemporary aggression. He uses Italian Mannerism as his inspiration.

Baptiste Debombourg
Baptiste Debombourg: staples
Baptiste Debombourg: close up
Ex 2: Straight Edges joined to Straight Edges leaving a gap
Sample 2.2.1: Dyed felt pieces were stitched together leaving a gap, using a variety of embroidery stitches in different weights. I overlaid stitches on top of each other, some stitches employed sequins, in effect the gap in some cases is barely noticeable. This gap idea with stitches could be exploited on other materials and I wish that I had more time to play with hand made papers, slices of ply wood with holes drilled into it, or  plastic piping.
My husband has felled a tree in our garden and there is a large part of the trunk remaining. I asked him tentatively how difficult it would be to cut it into quarters, vertically. (He said he would need to borrow a chainsaw, but was not put off by my query! I asked  him to lift it and place it vertically in the ground to examine it more thoroughly). I could foresee a large sculpture ‘stitched’ together with plastic washing line, but that would be a massive amount of collaborative work and perhaps only photographed for my coursework, with no hope of my tutor or an assessor viewing all the hard work. There would only be myself, husband and visitors to the garden to enjoy it. But I like thinking big. And the ideas have sprung from creating these small samples. When I have more spare time I will create the sculpture, collaboratively with my husband,  just for pleasure.
Blue felt
2.2.1 Blue felt
2.2.2  paperclips and stitch

Sample 2.2.2: Using a piece of yellow damask and pale blue felt, I joined the felt with bold red paperclips and joined the pieces together with a matching red running stitch. I very much liked the colour drama, crude running stitches and shiny paperclips on matt foundations. I would love to rework this on a number of colour variations and on a larger scale

There are far more ideas I would like to explore…. but with a time limit to work through the coursework,  I am taking this sample-making too far. The way my mind  works, and the wonderful ideas springing from the samples, I would need a year to complete this section!
2.2.3: Hessian painted & marked with symbols from prehistoric rock art  joined with plant fibers, sharpened match sticks, knotted string and household string cross stitches. I added the petroglyph imagery onto eco-dyed cloth using Free Machine Embroidery that I had made last year. There is a need in me work to reach some conclusions, to finish things and these two disparate pieces seem to have all the right ingredients. All this sampling that I am doing is driving me to marry current and previous work. I cannot resist the urge. Its like cutting of my air supply if I don’t follow it.
balsa wood
2.2.4 Balsa wood and ribbon

2.2.4 I used plastic samples that I had fused in an earlier module of this course and joined them together with slices of balsa wood joined with metal studs.

plastic wood
2.2.5 Balsa wood, fused plastic, metal studs


Part Two: Joining and Wrapping Research

This part of the coursework explores methods of joining two or more pieces together. The second element is to consider joining objects with the additional method of wrapping. This project will encourage and provoke different ideas and methods to develop these two concepts into a shape or object. 
The two projects in this section help the student to both acquire new skills, as well as re-visit old skills  & techniques learned in previous modules. In my earlier module – A Creative Approach to Textiles, fabric manipulation introduced me to the idea of taking a flat object, like a piece of organza and rendering it into 2 & 3 D formats.  In the example below I wrapped strips of organza and wound and then stitched them into a vessel shape.
Diane Lawton: 3D Devotional vessel
Diane Lawton: 3D Devotional vessel
This Joining & Wrapping module, will also deepen our knowledge base about the  creation of three dimensional structures as well as develop our research about artists, designers & makers who use either of these skills in their work.
I will continue to research other artists &  their processes, create samples of my own with a personal edge, sort my work with a more skilled eye, develop my skills  with colourways & technique as well as record & reflect on my outcomes.
I also feel that visiting art exhibitions and meeting other artists is a crucial part of the learning process. During September in the UK, just prior to beginning this module I viewed the work of an undergraduate Fine Art Degree program and talked to the students and interviewed them for this blog post.
I also visited working artists in their studios and learned about their processes and inspiration. It was such a valuable resource, that I have created a short study of the undergraduates and the working artists, with images of their work in a separate post under ‘Exhibitions’, which can be viewed at the top of the blog home page.
I need a linguistic starting point for the word  ‘join’ because it is so wide and universal. Everything I look at is joined in some way to another idea or object, and the more I look at the world around me, the more I see joins and connections between disparate objects and things everywhere.
A dictionary definition:To join; a verb

  • to bring in contact, connect, or bring or put together: to join hands; to join pages with …. a staple, stitches etc
  • to come into contact or union with: The brook joins the river.
  • to bring together in a particular relation or for a specific purpose, action, etc.; unite: to join forces
  • to become a member of (an organization, party, etc.): to join a club.
  • to enlist in (one of the armed forces): to join the Navy
  • to come into the company of; meet or accompany: “I’ll join you later”
  • to participate with (someone) in some act or activity: ie My wife joins me in thanking you for the gift.
  • Join: verb (used without object)
    1.  to come into or be in contact or connection:
    2.  to become united, associated, or combined; associate or ally oneself; participate (usually followed by ‘with’): Please join with us in our campaign. 
    3. to take part with others (often followed by the words ‘in’): Let’s all join in
    4. to be contiguous or close; lie or come together; form a junction : Our farms join along the river
    5. to enlist in one of the armed forces (often followed by the word ‘up’): He joined up to fight for his country
    6. to meet in battle or conflict.
    Origin of join
    1250-1300; Middle English joinen < Old French joign- (stem of joindre to join) < Latin jungere to yoke1, join
    With those helpful words provoking my response to this exercise, I am reminded that Part Two, Project 1 (joining)  is to create a number of samples and then assess them for their aesthetic potential and structural capabilities.
    For this project, I am required to:
    • join straight flushed edged surfaces of objects
    • join straight edged surfaces with a gap
    • joining curved edges
    • join overlapping edges
    • create joins that form corners and angles
    The format for approaching the work is the same as in Part One. That is:
    Research: (artists, designers and makers)
    Sample Making: ( how the practical investigative process informs my personal work)
    Recording Outcomes: (thinking about placement, colour, structure, comparing and contrasting, my conclusions)
    Sorting: looking at samples that stand out, don’t work, have my personal voice, offer potential for further work or development, reflection
    Artists I have studied:
    Gwen Hedley
    I met Gwen Hedley(*2) at a workshop at Art Van Go in Knebworth, Hertfordshire for an embroidery class called Contemporary Kente. She used the broad idea of African wax cloth, (historically woven strips of fabric created on portable looms & then the separate pieces joined together to create new lengths of fabric). Her piece below epitomizes her artful approach to embroidery and particularly joining. This reminds me of some ancient burial goods from an archaeological dig.
    Gwen Hedley: Relics Series
    It was the first time I had met contemporary embroiderers and the experience moved my ideas of working with threads exponentially. Gwen provoked us to use a number of mediums to join one piece of cloth to another such as using sticks, cubes of plastic, straws, or wrapped objects, using our broad base of 3 different colours of fabric. She didn’t realise it, but her class woke me from the dread of stitching school samplers on embroidery hoops. The work we experimented with at that workshop was mostly joining disparate pieces of fabric & objects together using a variety of techniques & materials. That earlier work will undoubtedly inform this project.
    I bought her book DRAWN TO STITCH: which helps students uncover their process for drawing as a basis for their creative work.  Many students are hesitant of putting pencil to paper. This book gently leads the reader into building their confidence with a range of mark making, using a number of tools & materials, before making the leap into making & stitching their own pieces. I also bought her earlier book, SURFACES FOR STITCH which explores the basic materials for exploring any surface for the experimental embroiderer.
    I adore her piece above using found objects, complimentary rust colours and dramatic shapes. She has used a number of wrapping and joining techniques. There is something of an ancient icon about this piece with all its miniature wrappings, that resonates in my ‘search for the sacred’. I searched in my husbands dustbin in his workshop for rusty screws and odd bits of wood and metal.
    At her workshop, having brought brightly coloured fabric ( she had requested participants to bring three different colours). I had chosen black, red & white, influenced by the carnival culture in Spain. I noted with an initial feeling of inadequacy that many students had brought muted blues, beige’s, whites & ivories. I called my sample ‘Spanish Mafia Wedding’ & after the class, she told me to continue to be daring with colour.I have come along way since that class.
    Diane Lawton: Spanish Mafia Wedding
    Diane Lawton: Spanish Mafia Wedding
     Gwen Hedley is a member of The Textiles Study Group. (TSG) based in the UK. It has evolved  into an international group of  textile artists and tutors. They practice innovative approaches to art practice and contemporary teaching, with workshops, publications and exhibitions. Gwen  has been exhibiting her work in the UK since 1994. Her methods of networking and finding outlets for exhibiting have encouraged me to be more proactive in becoming part of the art community and to be open to invitations to exhibit my work.
    Barbara Cotterell 1*
    Mixed Media artist, Barbara has a BA Hons in Art in the Community as well as a Diploma in Stitched Textiles. She regularly exhibits as part of the group known as Material Space. Barbara is also one of the 50 artists featured in the book 3D Mixed Media Textile Art. I love her innovated work and the interaction she sometimes creates with the viewing public.

    Babara works mostly with salvaged materials & uses subtle changes of repeat images to make cloth-like work. She likes to raise awareness of our collective responsibility and impact upon the environment.  She  has a preference for working with found materials, especially from the scrap yard and does her best ‘….not to buy anything new….’

    “Being around familiar objects always gets me thinking about what I can do with them. Manipulating materials, finding out how they behave individually, how they perform as a group, what kind of fastening works. Everything is about repetition, the similar but slightly changing unit. Like my mother’s sewing it is overall very neat but on inspection wonderfully untidy.”
    Babara Cottrell  – Lens
    Her work rests on three principles which I rather admire;
    1. reusing and recycling
    2. producing work with a cloth-like quality
    3. repetition of patterns

    Susan Lenz

    Susan Lenz: Keys
    Susan Lenz: Keys

    One of the reasons I admire this artist, (an American from German descendants),  is that her work uses simplicity, like needle and thread, recycled materials, vintage fabrics and the discarded. She also uses Free Motion Embroidery to express some of her work.  I like her references to time and memory. And maybe because she has an interest in the ancient with her BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I am drawn to her philosophy.

    My spiral, susan lenz
    Susan Lenz- spirals

    Damian Ortega (3 & 4*)

    I chose to study Damian’s work because he provokes me to ‘think outside the box’, he is an artist outside of the Textile field, and  can offer a different perspective. Mexican artist Ortega is considered one of Artsys 10 most popular living sculptures, he uses every day objects like bricks, volcanic stones or old tools and provokes his audience to look at them in a different way. In one case he dismantled a Volkswagen Beetle (Cosmic Thing) &  the resulting parts were suspended in the air, only joined by fine wires. The order of the dismantled parts almost look like a technical drawing ….. Iconic and boyish. He offers  fascinating glimpses into his structures, some with the ability to walk through and touch the work. His ideas provoked me to consider deconstructing a simple structure like and old watch or a non functioning fuse box and then re-join the parts together with fisherman’s wire.
    Ortega started life as a political cartoonist and his wit and  commentary on our consumer culture continues to motivate his work with his installations, sculptures, performance and videos. I particularly liked the way that in Nine types of Terrain (2007) he took house bricks and stood them upright in a circle, at the touch of a hand they were all knocked over with a domino effect and subsequently joined to each other in the process. He repeated this idea in a number of formations. His work has made me question my own motivations towards a personal approach to my work. I am beginning to see that environmental concerns and the use of waste materials will inform my own working methods.
    Damian Ortega: White Cube
    Damian Ortega: Nine Types of Terrain (2007)
    In Lanzarote I met up with Swiss born, environmental artist Tobias Heeb of who uses waste materials joined together, from beach clean-ups of our small Atlantic washed island. He was subsequently invited to display one of his many works ‘Whale Tales’ that uses plastic waste, washed up out of the ocean, at an exhibition I was helping to curate. His work is reminiscent of Romuald Hazoumè who’s work I saw in an exhibition in Llandudno in 2011, who uses the diatrius of African culture to create art and give it back to the west.
    Tobias Heeb, environmental artist

    During my work for the wrapping experiments, it has been an exciting time in Lanzarote where I live. Jason de Caires Taylor (*6), sculptor and award winning photographer, has been on the island for some months creating figures wrapped in marine-safe cement bandages. Some of my art friends have been ‘wrapped’ along with wrappings of local plant life, as well as the typical children’s boats (bolataroes) made from old tin drums. With two straws put up your nose during the wrapping, I desisted. Otherwise I would love to have been a model and wrapped with my image in perpetuity at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

    All his wrapped figures have been on view in the Museum of Contemporary International Art (MIAC) in the old castle in Arrecife. Some of the images below are my own, the others are used with permission from the artist. All the wrappings are soon to be placed in the ocean  off the coast of Playa Blanca (March 2016). This will help create a coral marine-scape and anyone is free to dive and visit the marine sculptures. Taylor’s first marine scape  was created in 2006 and is located in Grenada in the West Indies. It is described by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World.


    Photographs used with permission of Jason deCaires Taylor

    Textile artist Ali Ferguson’s work has come to my attention from reading the book 3D Mixed Media Textile Art (1*). I contacted her to get permission to use some of her images and now I see her work in progress and images on Facebook. Her work is very distinctive and I like the way each of her pieces has its own unique narrative and identity. Some of her canvases are joined by drilling many holes and stitching them together in an intriguing display with other added found objects that enhance the whole piece. Her materials can be printed fabrics, old letters, recipes or vintage odds and ends. In building her work in many layers… ” it reflects how lives are a series of layers with everything that has gone before affecting everything that happens after”.

    ali ferguson
    with permission of Ali Ferguson


    Refs :
    1* 3D Mixed Media Textile Art
    2* Gwen Hedley: My workshop with her and her website
    3*The Twenty First Century Art Book, PhaidBon Press, 2014. ISBN978 O7148 6739 7

    6* Underwater sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor

    Part 1: Project 1: Ex 5: Scrunching paper

    For this level 1, Open College of Arts course in Mixed Media for Textiles, it is broadly based around surface distortion. I have spent the first few days researching, note-taking and looking at the work of other mixed media artists using this concept.  I already mentioned which artists in the previous post.

    I have started the paper crumpling exercises for Project 1. I chose to start at Exercise 5 because I have ordered Paul Johnson’s book Folding Techniques for Designers  and wanted some thoughtful deliberation and practice before experimenting with the folding experiments in Exercise 1. However the course manual does ask students to be playful and choose where to begin.

    This deceptively simple exercise in surface distortion, has given me an insight into how to work with a flat piece of paper and model it into a 3D object.

    Project 1: Exercise 5: Basic crumpling techniques.

    My paper sources:

    • A3 Drawing paper 110g
    • A3 Brown wrap
    • A4 Vintage musical score
    • A4 Page from a recipie book
    • A3 Spanish newspaper
    • A4 printer paper
    • Gold wrap
    • Insert of tissue paper from shoe box
    • sparkly wrap
    • serviette,
    • shiny printed gift wrap paper bag.
    ex 5
    Project 1. Exercise 5: Basic Crumpling Techniques

    Unexpectedly I found this practice to be a meditative experience. Crumpling takes time and we have almost become accustomed to seeing instant results using technology. I stood up from the work table with a piece of A3 drawing paper and walked slowly around the room scrunching the paper and feeling the textures under my hands. I peeled back the dry layers carefully, so as not to destroy the fibers, then crumpled again, walking and repeating the the process. Time stopped. I was aware of nothing else. Crumpling and opening. Crumpling. Walking. Opening.

    My first sample was 110g drawing paper, it started to tear and break. It occurred to me that Cas Holmes had described a process (Momigami), in her book The Found Object in Textile Art. She used oil to crumple paper into a flimsy, but suitable ground to stitch into, so I rubbed oil into my hands then carried on crumpling, using all the 12 paper samples described above.

    1.5.1     110g drawing paper, scrunched
    scrunched colored serviette
    1.5.2   scrunched colored serviette
    1.5.3       A5 drawing with fine point biro

    My skill level at sketching is marginal and I particularly dislike working in fine detail. I need help!  I watched this simple video on sketching scrunched paper, it helped me to define light and shade and how to approach fine detail in a clearer way. Yureka!

    Folded and srunched paper drawing.
    1.5.4      A4 Drawing,  HB pencils, white pastel
    1.5.5       A3 paper; pencil and chalk

    Happily, most of the papers I chose for crumpling, stayed more or less intact, with only a little tearing, except the vintage musical score, which is rather more fragile. With all the creasing and folds, most papers had shrunk by about 2/3rds. But the tearing and fraying that occurred in the papers may come in useful later, I am open to exploration.

    june 2015 011
    1.5.6   Paper Samples: after scrunching

    Next, I stayed working with the drawing paper, flattening it out with my hands then molding it into interesting shapes. My hands picked up smears of red dye from a serviette I had crumpled earlier, so that this was transferred to other lighter coloured papers.  I noted which papers can leach color and how it effects the processes. I molded the drawing paper into interesting shapes and tried to take photographs before I moved on to another shape.

    At the same time as starting this course, I am also learning how to use a new DSLR camera and to work with Photoshop. I want to take my imagery to another level for this course.

    I set up the camera on a tripod studying the YouTube videos on Ipad at the same time. I hardly know what to do with all the buttons and dials and its taking rather a long time to get any results. I have decided to book some photography lessons rather than try to learn everything from a manual, besides I could do with the interaction. Studying from home can be isolating. But my interest and excitement with this form of paper manipulation is high.

    1.5.7a ribs pinched and distorted
    drawing pastel
    1.5.7b quick pastel sketch
    5.1 with linear ribs
    1. 5.8 with linear ribs
    centre point molded over funnel shape
    1.5.9 centre point molded over funnel shape


    1.5.10a Molded over small dish
    5.4b Molded over dish reverse view
    1.5.10b   dish reverse view
    5.5a Liner ribs rolled at one end
    1.5.11a Liner ribs rolled at one end
    5.5b side view of above
    1.5.11b side view of above
    5.6 Linear ribs rolled at both ends
    1.5.12 Linear ribs rolled at both ends
    5.7 Rib points painted with watercolor brushes
    1.5.13  Linear rib points painted with watercolor brushes
    5.8 Linear ribs, rulled at one end and painted
    1.5.14  Linear ribs, rolled at one end and painted
    5.9 Painted linear ribs with centre pinched
    1.5.15  Painted linear ribs with centre pinched
    1.5.16 center pinched, ends clipped
    5.11 Wrapped around box shape
    1.5.17 Wrapped around box shape
    5.10 Ribs radiating from a central point
    1.5.18 a Ribs radiating from a central point
    5.10b Ribs radiating from a central point, inside view
    1.5.18 b Ribs radiating from a central point, inside view


    After experiments with the samples with the A3 drawing paper, I made similar experiments with brown wrap. The difference being that brown wrap is a very good medium for scrunching and shaping, with hardly any tearing.  Whilst the A3 drawing paper was beginning to tear and break. Then I started with experiments on flimsier paper, from a shoe box, a Spanish newspaper and a page from a recipe book. I have overstretched what I can achieve because I am aware that there are another 9 exercises to be done. However,  the work with the newspaper was particularly interesting, the crumpling had distorted the imagery and text and it began to take on the appearance of a ceramic work.

    5.12 Newspaper, scrunched, folded shaped
    1.5.19 Newspaper, scrunched, folded shaped
    1.5.20 crumpled folded brown wrap, twisted
    Distractions working from home!

    Doing a degree course from home is inevitably full of distractions. Ask any home study student. My cat, (known for jumping over a 12 ft gate & squeezing herself into impossibly tiny spaces) was determined to rouse me from my studies.

    She is an orphan, since her sister was run over by a car. We buried her in our garden with a lot of tears. La Bamba is not used to being alone. She seeks me out constantly for companionship. First she flung herself on my course manual, then stretched herself over my work space. Next she knocked pencils and paper samples to the floor. I had spent 3 hours on my coursework, so a well deserved cuddle was a timely end to a very satisfying session.

    I still have a lot more experimentation to do with all the scrunched paper when I have more time, it is interesting what can be achieved. I have re-scrunched the shoe-box flimsy paper and the drawing paper with painted lines in readiness.

    shoebox tissue

    Research: Mixed Media for Textiles

    My initial research has flagged some interesting textile artists working in 3D structures, to follow-up for this module: I am sure more will follow.

    Louise Nevelson, (1899-1938) American, Russian born, Sculptor. She was famous for her monochromatic wooden assemblages and was contemporary with Alexander Calder. In the 1940s she produced Cubist figures in stone, bronze, terracotta and wood. I have admired her work since 2002 when I created a minimalist version of her ideas using simple 3D forms in wood. I created the form ideas generally to do with modern sun worship, and called it White Out, as it’s white sculptures embedded on an all white background (in fact it was the sign board for the house that I bought) it has a thin black border.

    Penny Burnfield, UK, with her interesting background in science, biology and medicine and her interests in alchemy and archaeology. I immediately like her piece Towers of Babel, based on a Mesopotamian obelisk for a Japanese exhibition, which she formed out of foamboard and international newspapers. My interest in archaeology informs a lot of my work and I have an inner drive to express myself in larger structures, using cement, ceramic tiles and wood, though getting them in the post and under the 20kg weight limit for my tutor is another matter.

    Penny Burnfield: Towers of Babel
    Penny Burnfield: Towers of Babel

    Susan Lenz (USA), her work is conceptual, she is influenced by vanishing environments, anything neglected, old and vintage. Her need to create is one of her greatest drives and I feel like that a lot of the time. I rarely struggle to create, even on the worst of days. It is my antidote to the banalities of life and the inhumanity that exists in the world.

    Susan Lenz: Keys
    Susan Lenz: Keys

    Ali Furguson, Textile Artist, UK. She uses her art to translate other people’s stories into patched and stitched textile pieces. She often prints her own fabric using vintage letters, recipes and post cards. I am fascinated by her process of drilling holes and then stitching into wooden objects. My husband is rather concerned that I have been eyeing his small electric drill very thoughtfully.

    Ali Ferguson
    Ali Ferguson, stitches on wood

    Lindsay Taylor. UK, makes use of Free Machine Embroidery to create 3D work, by molding, wiring, felting and sculpting. I particularly like the fragility that she creates. I have a little project I did for A Creative Approach to Textiles using molding for a fragile linen and organza sample. It was pleasing to create shapes in this way and I look forward to creating more samples and taking this idea further, especially utilising the ideas from the web like structures that can be created with FME.

    Lindsay Taylor: Shoe
    Lindsay Taylor: Shoe

    Shannon Weber, USA. Mixed media sculptor. She most often works outdoors, inspired by nature and ephemera she finds there. She admits to rarely buying supplies, instead most of her materials are found objects like beach finds, fish bones, plant fibers and recycled materials. Her materials for Tossed  Ashore 2014 were reclaimed fishing wire, washers, sticks, nails, and bone. I’m an avid collector of ephemera in my environment and my cupboards are full of beach finds, sea glass, dried palm and banana fronds, and rusting pieces from my husband’s workshop. My fingers are itching to make my own sample when I see her work, even her titles draw me in to experiment.

    Shannon Weber: Burned Offerings
    Bethany Walker, UK. Mixed media artist, who completed her degree in 2010. I will follow her progress with interest. She works in concrete and fabric and draws her inspiration from the urban environment. She had a collaborative exhibition with Ruth Singer, Interlace at the Bilston Gallery.

    In an interview by Textile Artist.Org she was asked:

    What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?

    My work uses a combination of Cement & Textiles. An odd combination you may think – but this dynamic combo creates beautiful and captivating pieces which possess immense tactile qualities. Embroidered and knitted fibres are embedded in a hand cast concrete composition. I have developed my own individual hand techniques’, meaning each piece is individual and creates intrigue with its integral shape, colour and relief. It’s a bit of amessy process but that makes it all the more interesting.

    I am intrigued by this mismatch of materials and want to learn more, particularly as I learned how to mix concrete whilst renovating the house I now live in. At least one of my works, Matres Domesticae, using ceramic mosaics is embedded in concrete. Happily, my tutor, Rebecca Fairley also works with these unusual materials.

    Bethany Walker: concrete & fabric
    Bethany Walker: concrete & fabric

    My next line of research to compliment the exercises I am about to undertake, arises from artists using solid materials to create structures using crushing, crumpling and folded techniques. I studied the work of the following artists:

    El Anutsi, one of Africa’s most famous artists. He created an installation on the facade of the Pallazo  Fortunny in Venice, constructed from the diatrus of modern African culture. He collects old bottle tops and tin cans then crushes, folds and links them together using the resources of teams of villagers.

    El Anutsi: crushed cans
    El Anutsi: crushed cans

    Amy Jean Boebal from USA, who uses crushed folded layers of screen mesh to make fragile, gossamer installations. By some incredible coincidence that often makes me smile,  I read about her work and chatted over dinner to my husband about her use of materials. The next day he handed me folds of mosquito netting, left over from a job he undertook for a friend. The experimental itch is unbearable, I can hardly wait.
    Amy Jean Boebal 600 x 480 mesh /metal sculpture
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