Exercise 4: Overlapping Edges. Two or more materials that overlap each other are to be joined together. Some samples of joining should be of curved overlapping edges.
I took a longer than usual look at a sweet potatoe (below) that I buy to make Spanish tortilla. It was growing out of my neglected vegetable rack. I immediately saw its stone-like curved shapes had the potential for a joining experiment and decidedit had to be sketched (sample 2.3c.6). I saw its shape as a potential for a collage of joining overlapping edges.
I provoked the idea by thinking of fish scales that are curved and overlapping. I used torn papers that slightly overlay each other. It was fun to do and I can see a direction of sorts to explore overlapping edges using collage further.
For my next two samples: 2.4.2 and 2.4.2a I used the same type of collage to resemble the potatoe/ stone shapes on a background of crumpled paper from a shoe box. I used the torn paper tones from a magazine for all the shapes. In one, I used (removable) red ‘roots’ and for the other I removed them completely. I’m unsure which worked best, or did not work at all. I am in reserve mode. I need time to look back on this exercise and make a decision. I have not exhausted this line of inquiry using collage.
Using ideas from the joining experiments so far, for sample 2.4.3, I overlapped the edges of fraying hessian with a variety of materials, including plant fibers, cotton string, cocktail sticks and wire. I marked the fabric first with a variety of symbols from prehistoric rock art.
I like this example of joining curved edges, it is by Vassily Kandinsky `Free Curve to the Point – Accompanying Sound of Geometric Curves´ Ink on Paper 1925. I am attracted by its pure simplicity of arcs with its two different thicknesses of line. All hovering over a black dot.
The sample below (2.4.4) is inspired by knots of seaweed that I spotted floating on the tide on a beach walk. At home I wrote down words associated with my first impressions, then created a poem. I made a textile piece using kantha stitch, mimicking the curved and straight edges crossing each other in a tangle.
I wonder what it’s like to drift in the tide like seaweed.
Knotted and tangled, the taste of salt in your mouth.
It would be dreamy to lay there floating on the ocean
And watch the clouds and sun move over my head.
The next samples were also inspired by nature, this time a jar of poppies. A simple sketch (2.4.5 and 2.4.6) had me looking in depth at the overlapping shapes. Inside a poppy bud there were deeper layers that I wanted to include in this section. I teased out the imagery in my sketchbook finding textures and then created a textile piece from scraps of fabric. I can see this poppy bud idea with its overlapping edges exposing intriguing elements underneath being taken further.This was an unexpected result given my starting point of seeking out overlapping edges.
The next samples arose from an image I found on the internet of an elderberry seen under a microscope. The textures reminded me of textiles and I tried to copy the overlapping edges by using free machine embroidery on dissoluble film.
For this exercise, students are requested to form corners and angles by joining two materials together. We are starting out using straight edges and then experimenting with what happens when we used curved edges to create angles.
2.5.1 On a flat surface I used a number of materials, including a picture cut from an old bank note, hand made paper, balsa wood and fused plastic. I joined corners and angles with machine stitch and then created joins with wood, plastic and metal studs.
2.5.2 On a flat surface I have used the fused plastic (that I made in Part 1. Surface distortion) that is embedded with newspaper, I joined angles of stitched paper in zig zag stitch to create an uneven frame for the face, then I over-stitched small areas in red.
After working with angles and corners on a flat surface, I have been looking at three dimensional objects. I studied the construction of box-like objects in Janet Edmond’s book Three Dimensional Embroidery.(1*)
I cut out some triangle shapes from mount board, they made lovely sharp angles and corners to work with (2.5.3). I could have joined them with any kind of tape, but I thought what was too simplistic and overdone. I decided not to hand stitch the angles with threads straight onto mount board because as I learned from a previous project it tears easily and the needle can leave unintentional marks.
I took it a step further and covered each triangle in coloured printed cheesecloth (2.5.2) and then I hid the stitching behind pieces of felt (2.5.3). I then stitched all the angles together. (2.5.4-5).
I also used strips of torn fabric that I twisted into long lengths and machine stitched them over them. Then I wrapped them in a fine blue thread, next I stitched them over the joins of the angles to hide any visible stitches underneath.
Next I started to scrutinise small objects with angles and corners around the house, like those small cardboard corner shapes that arrive to protect a picture, or a canvas. I deconstructed it and drew it as a flat object (see below), noting the fold and cut lines and I also drew out its original shape. Can I recreate it in other materials and join those angles together?
Drawing it, made me look at product packaging in general, particularly at those that are designed to hold box like shapes with odd angles and corners. I looked at simple objects like small box and drew out the shapes and recreated it in scrap card. (2.5.4)
The precise folding that make up these constructions are taking me back to the work I did earlier for Surface Distortion in Part One. I am looking at them with a curious eye. The work I did then was mostly using paper, but I am particularly interested in the objects I made then, like the linear accordion pleats or knife and box pleats that were subsequently made into cylinder shapes. Now that I am seeing them as angles and corners, my interest is to consider how to construct them using a different material? I am questioning if I can cut up the shapes and rejoin them? With what materials?
I also looked at the boxes within a box of Sarah Edmond’s (below), she is primarily an Illustrator, print-maker and book artist. I have a great love of boxes for putting things in, and they litter my house, I have round boxes, cylindrical boxes, oblong boxes, glass and plastic boxes, wood and cardboard boxes of varying dimensions. I like Sarah’s construction for the simple pleasure of looking at the shapes, the personal and disparate contents she has chosen to put inside them, and all those angles and corners. But clearly it looks like a book that could be closed with all its personal stories in those little compartments and put on a book shelf.
I am considering using cardboard, fine balsa wood or mount board to cut out angular shapes, I could fold or punch or drill holes in them or cover them in fabric and stitch the corners and angles together……..
Pojagi or Bojagi is a Korean form of joining pieces and angles of cloth, by hand. It was originally used to create bigger pieces for wrapping objects. It has a very long history and a piece remaining from the 12th century still exists. In earlier times the tradition was that each carefully wrapped object, would convey a blessing or honor to the receiver. It is also used in contemporary Korean culture and among fiber artists. There are similarities in Bojagi to the French seam used in tailoring, but the French seam is only ‘invisible’ on the front side. I was very keen to experiment and used a descriptive tutorial, the link is here.
I can’t say my first experiments with Pojagi were that successful- I am not used to working in fine detail, especially on flimsy materials, 2.5.5 (I used netting in two different colour ways) and my hand stitching looks uneven. I have a condition called Essential Tremor, this means that the finer the detail I have to concentrate on, the worse the tremors, especially affecting my hands. The only reason I am willing to work like this is that I am confined to a small area of my house with access to a limited range of materials and tools after foot surgery and I cannot walk freely for another 40 days.
Being experimental means that one naturally has to go through stages of incompetence before reaching an acceptable level of skill. I continued with the Pojagi idea. I remind myself I am not making a work of art, just a sample. As a critic, this idea needs a lot more attention, the stitches are ugly and I could have used better colorways in terms of thread and materials. I can’t see why these experiments couldn’t be done on a sewing machine to create a more even line of stitches and for speed.
I choose African Wax cloth for my next sample. The cloth is strong and I was also able to use an iron to hold the crease instead of using a folding tool. One line is worked in hand stitching all the other lines and connected lines are worked on the sewing machine. This sample has more competence and my skill has improved.
Looking at the work of fiber artists like YeonSoon Chang’s beautiful transparent structures (below), utilising fine seams, certainly gives me inspiration to keep sampling with Pojagi.
2.5a-2.5c The following samples uses curved edges to create angles. I took my inspiration from Japanese folded patchwork techniques. The starting point was a circle of fabric which measured 10.2cm. I pressed and then stitched a 2mm seam allowance, I ironed the sides inwards to form a square. Inside the square I placed a square of fabric with a piece of wadding underneath it. I then stitched all the rounded angles into place. Many of the patchwork pieces stitched together form more angles and corners making more interesting curved edges.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2.1.6 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.”
Her work rests on three principles which I rather admire;
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.
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 Artsys10 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.
In Lanzarote I met up with Swiss born, environmental artist Tobias Heeb of coop.org 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.
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.
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”.
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
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 set of screwdrivers in various sizes
a hole punch
a pointed chisel
various size needles
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
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.
5.1.3a 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.
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“.
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.
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.
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.
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
Exercise 2 Stitching
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5.2.6 Working with the same image above, I cropped part of the eagle and enlarged it. I then printed it onto fabric.
5.2.7 Next, I painted the surface in some exciting coloured fabric paints to make it look more contemporary
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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 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