Assignment 2 – Placed and spaced

For this assignment I have selected to work from one of my stitched papers which originated from my drawings of the Damask silk stays.


As part of the brief was to start with a textile with a relatively traditional quality and I have chosen to use Calico.  It is a world away from the Damask silk used on the original garment but the stays were lined with a linen fabric.

I started to experiment with ideas using an interfacing fabric and used this as a basis for making decisions as I worked on my first sample.  I selected the main features as a starting point, the ridges in the corrugated card suggested pleats or folds and the raised rectangles of card which represented the straight stitching from the original garment suggested a feature or window. The stitches I used in the paper sample were chain stitch in cotton perle and cross stitch in tapestry wool and cotton perle.

Sample work in sketchbook


Sample 1

Sketchbook work

From my first experiments I divided my fabric piece up and marked where the pleats would be put, I didn’t want to cover the piece in pleats but just have sections of pleats between the rectangular areas.  I know that I can not make the windows in the pleated area as the pleats will not stay in place after the fabric is cut and it would be to bulky, luckily this worked out as 3 sections of pleats with two rows of rectangles.  I stitched in the pleats to start with using running stitch in black cotton perle.  Pleats use up quite a bit of fabric so I had to allow for this when cutting the original piece of fabric to work on.  I have again used the original paper sample as a reference to the 5 rectangle areas between the rows of pleats.  I used a card template to work out how big to make them and then stitched around the shapes before cutting some of them out of the fabric.  I then washed the fabric so that it frayed on the raw edges as I didn’t want perfect rectangular opening but a softer window.

I gathered together small pieces of red and black fabrics, these were scraps of different fabrics from my collection, a shiny polyester silk, cotton velvet, netting, threads etc.  I did not have any Bondaweb to fuse the fabric pieces to a backing fabric under the windows so had to hand stitch them down using either cross stitch or herringbone stitch. I tried to do something different to each window around the idea of the stitched paper sample.


Some of the windows I padded with polyester wadding to give a raised effect.  I also slashed and cut the upper fabric on some of the windows to reveal the coloured fabric underneath.  The whole sample was then hand stitched using a variety of threads and stitches with reference to the original paper sample.

I have used cross stitch, running stitch, chain stitch and herringbone stitch and the treads I have used are cotton perle, stranded cotton, polyester sewing thread and rayon threads.

Experimental stitching
Close up of one of the windows

Stitching like this is way out of my comfort zone because I naturally like things neat and tidy,  I have deliberately worked in an experimental way using the original stitched paper sample to lead me throughout the exercise still within the bounds of using only a few types of stitches and materials that I already had in my stash.

Threads used in Sample 1

Sample 2

This sample follows on from Sample 1, using the rectangular shapes, pleats and stitches but worked in a different way.

Sketchbook work for Sample 2
Working on layout designs for Sample 2 in sketchbook

I have now purchased some Bondaweb and started by fusing some of the fabric scraps that I used in sample 1 onto a polycotton backing fabric (left hand photo).  I fused together some sheer fabrics (right hand photo) cut them into wavy strips and fused this on top of the other fabrics.

Result of the two layers of bonded fabrics

The fabrics I have boned are netting, polyester satin, old synthetic scarf fabric, felt, polyester lining fabric, and velvet.  I have not purchased any fabrics but managed to use suitable materials from my stash.  I have selected an even weave cotton fabric which is heavier than calico but a similar colour for this sample as it will be bigger than sample 1.

I have experimented with the layout of the bonded pieces in my sketchbook and have deliberately chosen a repeating pattern layout which is part of the criteria for this exercise. For this sample I have cut out rectangular shapes from the bonded fabrics and have appliqued them onto the cotton fabric using a straight stitch on my machine.  The use of pleats has been reduced to just one pleat worked by hand in black cotton perle to separate the rectangular bonded fabric pieces into rows.

Example of appliqued rectangle

While I worked on this sample I thought that it would look better if I stitched an outline of the rectangle shape in the areas where there were no appliqued ones.  I think this was successful.

I have stitched over the top of the applied rectangles with cross stitch worked in different threads.  I also experimented with working just half of the cross stitch.  I have used the contours of the bonded fabrics within the rectangles as a guide for working the cross stich,  stitches are deliberately random in size and shape.  I have used cotton perle, stranded embroidery cotton, rayon threads and polyester sewing thread.

Finished sample 2

The sample is a repeating pattern and if the ends are joined together they continue the pattern. I could have experimented with a lot more stitching but it is very time consuming and where do you stop experimenting?

Sketchbook details


Sample 3

For this sample I wanted to use a different base fabric, one that could be manipulated within itself still using rectangular shapes, cross stitch and running stitch which are the theme of my chosen orignal worked paper sample.  I started to experiment with a piece of cotton scrim in a large embroidery hoop, necessary because scrim is very flimsy.  I also soon found that it was easier to work on with a piece of net fabric behind it (please excuse the sequins this was repurposed fabric) as my first attempts with no backing fabric didn’t work at all.

Sketchbook samples for Sample 3

I have manipulated the threads of the scrim with a needle to make the rectangular shapes as you can see in the photo below.  Scrim has a very loose open weave so the threads are very easy to move around.

Scrim fabric and initial embroidery experiment

I have continued to use cross stich as the basis for my stitching but in a more informal approach.  I like that you can see the stitching underneath the fabric as a shadow particularly with the finer threads.  I have used cotton perle (no 5), stranded embrioidery cotton, and a rayon thread.  I deliberatly have not use very thick course threads like tapestry wool as they would not work very well with such a light fabric substrate.


I have continued to work in an experimental way across the fabric trying to bring different ideas within the same boundaries taken from my original sample, mark making exercise and stitched manipulated paper sample.  I have also used the same colour palette in reference to the samples and original textile piece.


From left to right

Blocks of experimental cross stitch worked in cotton perle and stranded cotton.

Cross stitch in stranded cotton worked around manipulated threads of the substrate fabric.

Cross stitch using cotton perle No 5 on the edges of the manipulated threads to maintain the open areas of the substrate fabrics.

A more considered row of cross stitch and back stitch using stranded cotton.

Cross stitch in stranded cotton this time used to pull a group of threads of the substrate fabric together (2 rows).

Rayon thread with stranded cotton (1 thread) used to oversew the groups of substrate fabric threads together.

Just for interest here is a photo of the reverse of the sample.

Reverse of sample




It is difficult to know if I have done enough to fulfil the criteria and this is what this introductory assignment is about for me.   I have not studied at this level before so whilst I have used the skills that I already have, I know that I will need to improve and gain more skills and experience along the way through research, visiting exhibitions, viewing other peoples work, guidance from my tutor and progressing through the course itself.  I know that I will need to experiment more and move out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons, which I will do as I learn.  I am already learning new skills, analytical writing and reflection are not things that I do normally, I have set up my blog and I’m looking forward to starting the next project.


Written analysis

After reading through the Introductory Assignment and giving some thought to the 4 themes I selected Natures Larder as I thought this would give me a wide range of ideas and I enjoy nature.  Whilst the other themes were all very different they did not appeal to me as much as Natures Larder because they were not so familiar to me and I may not have been able to source items to fulfil the brief as easily.

Mind-mapping produced lots of ideas and during the process I could not get away from the idea of protection – nature provides protection for itself but humanity relies on nature to provide that protection.  It was important for me to show this idea in the selected objects and fabrics and that I could obtain them fairly easily.

Gathering the items gave me a chance to use some things that I had at home and some which I collected from the beach nearby.  Grouping the items together and trying out different coloured backgrounds was made easier because they were of a similar size.  Taking photos of the arrangements and background colours meant that I could look back and decide which showed the colour and mood the best.

Although we were not required to produce accurate sketches, I have tried to do this for my own benefit and used it as a starting point as I have not sketched or drawn really since leaving school.  It is not something I find easy and have in the past avoided it by using images from the internet and a photocopier, so it has been an interesting experience and an area that I know I will need to gain confidence in.  Using charcoal, pastels, crayons and ink created a different feel to my sketches and I need to develop this area as well.

In the future I would like to be able to sketch more loosely and confidently,  spending more time experimenting and being less constrained by my own lack of confidence.  I also need to spend more time each day working on my assignment as it has taken me longer to complete than I first thought.  I have enjoyed using my blog and find this easier than a paper version, uploading photos directly and writing about my experiences although I do have to be disciplined using it.

Developing my work will be a continual and gradual process and one of the reasons for doing this course, it is the start of my journey and at present I don’t know where it will lead.

Textural comparisons

This is a photo that I took whilst I was out walking Bella, it reminds me of the layers of the oyster shell that I selected as one of my items for the Introductory assignment.


These sand patterns look like the textures on the piece of bark in my collection.


Tyre tracks on the sand – interesting textures





Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois – fugue  (

Her drawings are simple line drawings but within the lines there is an angst.  There are images of a large spider with a human face, images of a sexual nature, childbirth and conception.  Her work is dramatic even though it consists of lines and shapes and shows that drawings don’t have to be detailed to have impact and show feelings.  and

Alison Carlier

Alison uses sound to create an images. She uses speech recordings which allows the listener to interpret her words into their own image.   She uses something that we would not normally consider as a tool to create an image. and

Katie Sollohub

katie sollohub
Katie Sollohub

Katie’s drawings look like they are worked in charcoal or pastel as they are soft and smudged.  There is a lot of variation in tone, really dark black areas to just a hint of shading.  She uses lines and shading with lovely effect, there is no detail but still there is perspective and

I love her paintings. They are colourful, modern and varied.  It is smudgy, simple, no detail just lots of colour and impact.

Katie Sollohub – Everything and The Kitchen Sink – oil on canvas

I also love the fact that she wears overalls while she works!  Very inspiring work.

http://www.katiesollohub and I follow her on facebook and instagram

Roanna Wells

Roanna uses brush marks to create her images. They are regular marks with tonal changes, sometimes lighter or darker than the next one, complete brush marks or parts. They look like painted fingernails to me, maybe not what she had intended!

Her stitching is monochrome and is straight stitching build up to create an image. Some of her images remind me of dust blown across paper or a childhood toy where you used a magnet to move iron filings to put hair on faces! Only someone who grew up in the ’60’s would remember that!

roanna wells stitches
Roanna Wells – stitches
roanna wells image
Roanna Wells – Variations on Payne’s Grey

I like her stitching, this type of stitching has become popular recently.

Michael Griffiths

Forgotten-But-Not-Gone m griffiths
Michael Griffiths – Forgotten not gone

Outline shapes, bold colours. This is not art that I understand or can relate to.  It does illustrate that although I don’t particularly like or understand it, to other people it is great art and they resonate with it.  Not everyone will like or understand my creative output but that doesn’t matter.

Debbie Smyth

Debbie’s work is a modern version of something else I did as a child.  Creating patterns around pins stuck into a piece of polystyrene or plywood.  Her images have a ghostly, wispy quality and range from familiar objects to landscapes.  They are effective and clever. They remind me of when my sewing machine bobbin loses its tension and produces a tangle of threads underneath my fabric.


debbie smyth
Debbie Smyth and

Hilary Ellis

hilary ellis-Remembered-II-Detail
Hilary Ellis – Pale Remembered II detail

Hilary is a mixed media artist, her work is mostly small marks repeated lots of times to build up an image.  She describes her work as “an obsessive preoccupation with repetition” and “an attempt to impose order on chaos”.

I really like her work and it illustrates how mark making in whatever medium you choose can have a powerful result.

http:/// and I follow her on instagram

Alex Chalmers

alex chalmers
Alex Chalmers – Untitled (for Ian Welsh)

He produces grid drawings, a series of lines meeting a dots producing a mesh like image. The grid is not regular but has areas of varying intensity of marks which appears to make the paper undulate.  Other pieces of his work are asymmetrical so the design looks like a mirror image.

Starting to make marks


Today I have searched though my stash of papers to select a range for the next part of the assignment.  I have always kept interesting papers and card from wrappings and I also make my own paper and I have selected some of this to work on.  I also like tissue paper scrunched up and glued to a paper backing to work on as this gives such lovely surfaces.

I have looked out black and white crayons, pastels and oil pastels along with a few different pencils, a fine line pen and ink.  I have dabbled with some of these mediums in the past but now I really have to get down to business!

Black ink applied with a brush onto brown paper – White crayon and pencil on black paper

I have started off by using ink with a small brush on brown packaging paper which is slightly absorbent and making simple marks of varying sizes to show the flow and patterns on a small area of the tree bark.  Black paper with white crayon and produces an interesting effect, a negative image of the surface of the tree bark.

Silver foil pressure rubbing of linen fabric and oyster shell – Linen fabric and oyster shell rubbing with black crayon on handmade paper.

I had a piece of silver foil from a piece of chocolate (already consumed!) which gave me the idea to take a rubbing of the linen fabric and the oyster shell combined as I was interested to see what this would look like.  I then did the same with a piece of handmade paper which is softer than normal paper and a black crayon and the effect was quite different.  I like the radiating lines from the shell which are quite clear against the regular lines of the fabric.

Black pen and pencil on handmade paper – Drawing pencil and charcoal on crumpled tissue paper stuck to drawing paper

A combination of radiating lines from the oyster shell drawings and outline of the honesty seed heads in black ink pen and a soft pencil which has been smudged and an eraser used to create shadow, drawn on handmade paper.  Crumpled tissue paper stuck to normal paper creates a lovely surface, one of my favourites.  Honesty seed head shapes drawing with a soft drawing pencil and charcoal produce a delicate image.


Black crayon on white paper – White crayon with black ink wash

Simple spiral patterns taken from my stone drawings, drawn randomly with black crayon on white drawing paper, some outlines are smudged to produce a softer outline.  I am trying to show stones being rolled on the beach by the sea.  Quickly drawn in white crayon on white drawing paper then with a large brush I have washed diluted black in (which looks blue now) over randomly.

Black crayon on handmade paper – Black ink wash applied with brush

Lines taken from the feather drawings in black crayon trying not to flow the same way produces an interesting pattern.  Black ink wash applied with a big brush very lightly on handmade paper which is very absorbent, the different intensities in the lines formed are due to different areas of the brush picking up different amounts of ink.  Inspiration taken from the feather drawings in my sketchbook.

Black ink brushed onto brown paper – Black oil pastel and chalk on handmade paper

The oyster shell is made up of many layers.  Do they indicate how old the oyster was?  They are like the dating rings of a tree.  The layers are irregular and frilly, does this indicate good and bad years in the life of an oyster?  I have tried to achieve this effect with black ink brushed onto brown packaging paper with a brush.

Black felt tip, crayon and chalk on packaging paper – Black marker on corrugated card

Whelk egg cases are hard to draw, I have tried to capture the round ball that the egg cases form.  They are a sponge ball make up of hundreds of different cells. I have seen hundreds of them on the beach in Deal this week where we have been on holiday.  Bella my dog loves to play with them and sometimes she eats them.  I suppose they must be a form of protein.

I have used corrugated card with a marker pen to show the lines and layers of the oyster shell. I wanted a surface that would give an impression of the layers of the shell.

Black pen on white drawing paper

A collection of some the marks I have discovered for this assignment creating a larger image.

This has been an interesting experience and one I need to develop in a looser and more confident way.