Exercise 3.3 Watercolour studies

Working with watercolour paints and using the same mixing theory that I have used with gouache paints I have started to work towards mixing the colours that I can see in the first glass arrangement.

Watercolour mixing exercise


The first arrangement of glass items had a mix of green and blue glass jars, two with smooth surfaces and two with faceted surfaces.  I laid out my arrangement in different rooms in my home as the light is different in each of them and I have chosen to use my kitchen which has lots of light.   I have placed the glass items on white paper with a white paper background, and white paper on the left hand side which just shields the arrangement from kitchen items on the work surfaces.

Arrangement and stripe design 1


Arrangement and stripe design 2

Arrangements 1 and 2 were completed on the same day which has resulted in similar results, the weather outside was overcast and I have used the same glass items for both arrangements.

Arrangement and stripe design 3

Arrangement 3 was painted on a very sunny day and I wore a bright pink t-shirt which was reflected in the glass along with the bright light which reflected off the surrounding kitchen surfaces.  This time I have replaced one of the jam jars with a drinks glass which has a direct effect on the colours on the painted stripe.


Arrangement and stripe design 4

Arrangement 4 was painted on a bright but not so sunny day and I have used different glass items which have a blue hue.  I find it fascinating that my clothes again had a direct influence on the colours in my painted stripe along with the other items in the room.

I found this exercise interesting and enjoyable although I am not sure why we have to do so many of them!  They are quite time consuming and initially I struggled to know where to start and how translate the colours in the glass to the paper.  However once I made a start I felt better about my stripe designs.


Exercise 2.4 Developed and composed Samples


Sample 1

Line drawings – Dorset button

I have selected my drawings taken from the Dorset button on the cotton bust bodice.

I have carried out some research about the history and how to make these buttons.  This is recorded in my sketchbook.

A Dorset button is made from a ring of metal which is covered with buttonhole stitch and then the middle is constructed by laying thread over the outside of the ring and secured in the middle with a cross stitch.  The center is then made by back stitching around the centre spokes.  There seem to be different designs even in the original buttons (seen below) and there are some beautiful modern ones on pinterest.

images of original old Dorset buttons from pinterest

I started to look at what buttons are used for – closing an opening in a garment sometimes with a decorative element.  You push the button through an opening, one made especially for the button to enable the garment to fit close or be closed up.

I have experimented with the idea of the half hidden button as it is pushed through the opening, the button hole.  This then developed to ‘two sides to every story’, the part you see and the part you don’t or how something is portrayed which depends on someones point of view or life experience.

Details from sketchbook initial ideas
Initial experiments recorded in my sketchbook
Experimenting with machine sewing the tracing paper
Experimenting with different size circles

I had originally thought that I would cover the card circles with button hole stitch in an ecru cotton perle as the sample in my sketch book but I preferred the texture of the cardboard after partially peeled off on layer of the card leaving an interesting texture.  I played around with different layouts of the circles on the tracing paper until I felt I had a balanced, interesting, not in a straight line, obvious design.

Experimenting with layout and sizes of circles

I discovered that the tracing paper tore quite easily so I stitched the outer edge on my sewing machine and then made a ‘button hole’ in response to the position that I required for the card circles.  This was successful and prevented any unwanted rips also knowing that I would be hand sewing the circles in place.  After machining I gently crumpled up the paper to get the scrunched up surface that I wanted and inserted the card circle buttons half through their paper buttonholes. I then backed this with a sheet of A3 plain white paper.

Final placement and buttonholes made in tracing paper

Using ecru cotton perle thread I stitched the buttons through the tracing paper and white paper backing on one half of the button and under the tracing paper just into the backing paper on the other half.  I used a long straight stitch to mimic the construction of the spokes of the Dorset button. I then used a silver rayon thread and twisted this around the spoke stitch on the visible side and added some beads made from shells and seed beads to embellish the centre of the button.

Work in progress


Close up of button

I like that the tracing paper obscures and blurs half the button and the embellishment is only on the emerged half of the button.

Sample 2

I have selected the study of the Borage flower using Inktense pencils, which is a drawing of a single flower.  This image is colourful, vibrant and has a strong shape.


I like the shape of the individual flower and enjoyed manipulating paper in exercise 2.2 and had an idea that this may create an interesting combination with stitching.

Rough drawing of Borage flower cut into black paper

My initial idea was to cut the flower shapes into black card which combined with some stitching in the vivid colours would give a pleasing result.

Selecting the colours from the drawing

However I always have an idea but can’t actually picture an outcome.

Experimenting with hand and machine stitching

I tore a piece of stiff black paper to just larger than A4 and played around with how big I wanted the flowers to be, one large one or a few smaller ones.  How did I want the stitching to be, hand or machine?

Experimenting with machine zig zag stitch on black paper
Smaller flower shapes and cardboard template

After much deliberation I decided to have smaller flower shapes cut out in reference to the experiments in exercise 2.2 where they cover the paper and extend off the paper. To give the black card a bit more surface texture I rubbed a large stone on the surface whilst the card was on a rough concrete floor, this broke the surface of the card with random puncture marks.

Experimenting with hand stitching and cutting the paper shapes I decided to use the sewing machine to create petal shaped arcs of zig-zag stitching in the colours identified from the original drawing.  Experiments proved it was also better to cut the shapes after stitching, as machining the cut paper resulted in bits being torn off accidently.

After the machine stitching I used a card stencil to draw on the flower shapes and cut just the petals with a sharp knife along with any stitching.  I really liked the outcome my only reservation was that not all the flowers had stitching on them.  Stitching on quite thick paper on a sewing machine is quite tricky and you have to be careful not to break the needle or damage the machine in the process.

Overview of finished piece
Close up of cut flower motif and machine stitching

Part 2 Research point 1

Tom of Holland – Tom van Deijnen

Confessions of a serial darner

I had the opportunity in September 2016 with the Essex Handicraft Association to hear Tom speak about his journey into textiles and his ‘Visible Mending Programme’.

He describes himself as a self-taught textiles practitioner who specialises in knitting and mending knitted woollen items.  He enjoyed being creative as a child which included teaching himself to knit.

His mending journey started as a reaction to the ‘throw away’ society that we have become and how knitted woollen garments can be mended and continued to be worn and enjoyed.  He aspires to share his love of mending not just in the traditional darning sense but also using mending as a decorative feature adding a new aspect to a preloved garment.

He also referred to the manufacture of cheap clothing today, and considering the narrative of the person who has made that item of clothing.  He believes that even this type of clothing deserves to be mended and taken care of, and in doing so giving respect to the person who made it wherever they are in the world.  By choosing to mend and continue to wear our clothing for longer we are using less materials and resources.

In his research into the history of darning he referred to the ‘Make-do and Mend’ campaign used by the British Government during the Second World War as rationing was brought in and fabric and clothing became scarce.  Fabric and clothing production was used for the war effort and people were forced to mend or re-use fabric because it was in such short supply. Knitted woollen garments were unpicked and re-knitted to get maximum use out of the scarce yarns.

Another of Tom’s philosophies is;

‘A garment is finished when there is no more mending or wearing left’

This is not how many of us think about garments, most of us who make clothing think of a finished garment as one which the making process is complete and it is ready to be worn.  He has pushed that idea to the end of a garments life when no further adaption can be made to enable it to be worn.

Tom has carried out a lot of research into different methods of darning particularly traditional methods and has examples of some of the books he has found and read on the subject some Dutch others English.  He had a few samples of his work showing the different techniques he uses and how a traditional darn can be used in a decorative way making a feature out of a piece of mending.  Not all mending can be completely invisible so why not use it to enhance a garment?  His preferred textile is wool and wool from old rare breeds of sheep.  He had some examples of different types of darning tools, mushrooms, European and English (there is a difference in the shape) and a little gadget called a Speedweve – Lancashires smallest loom which you can sometimes find on Ebay.

Tom teaches his darning techniques in Brighton and undertakes commissions.


My observations…..

I had to smile whilst this young Dutchman spoke about his textile speciality to the group of ladies who are all members of the Essex Handicraft Association.  The average age of the audience was around 70 and most of these ladies have been darning and mending all their lives as have I, although I’m a little bit younger than they are!  Whilst I was not around during the Second World War the Make-do and Mend mentality has been firmly instilled into my persona.  I learnt to darn as a child, taught by my mother who always seemed to be mending, repairing or darning, particularly her hand knitted socks.  Despite this they were all interested in a young man whose enthusiasm for an old traditional technique was being rejuvinated and reinvented for a new modern audience.

Taken from my own personal notes made during his talk and https://tomofholland.com


Part 2 – Surface and Stitch

Exercise 2.1 – Selecting

Laying out my drawing and mark making exercises again I am excited to start the next stage. I am looking for the most interesting visual qualities, variety and those that I will enjoy working with for this new work.  I have to select 6 from my strange collection.

I have selected drawings that I find interesting and that will translate into interesting surfaces.  Each one has been drawn using a variety of different mediums, tools and techniques.  They are all drawings that I like either by the process of creating them or by the outcome.


Exercise 2.2 – Paper manipulation library

Laying out my drawings I can see that I need to create strong lines, soft lines, parallel and curved lines, spirals, blocks, holes, ridges and dragged lines. From the list of ideas I can identify folding, crumpling, creasing  and cutting which I use to start my ideas forming. I have gathered a few different papers to play with but I start with copy paper as it is the cheapest to experment with and I start with creasing and pleating the paper. I have alread carried out some experiments with burning different materials so I get my soldering iron out and use this to burn the creases of my folded paper. I want to create holes so I experiment with pleating then use a hole punch through the pleats and further burn the holes with the soldering iron. I try individual burn marks to suggest the rows of my marks and I use a similar method to show a spiral of holes. I try a pyrography tool to puncture and burn paper to replicate the marks made with an Elderberry brush.   Burning paper is quite hazardous and I do end up with a few burning a bit more than I required! This maybe useful in the future but not at the moment.

left to right – pinch folded – stabbed and burnt -pleated and burnt – burnt in swirl pattern
left to right – burnt – folded, hole punched & burnt – folded, hole punched & burnt

I am still pleating/folding and combining with cutting out holes, I know that I need to keep part of the paper joined or I will be left with a plain hole and I want to retain the cut piece.  I try different combinations of this process and am happy with the outcome.

folding and cutting experiments to create holes


left to right – rubbing – rubbing, cutting & puncturing – scrunched

I think about what else I could use to alter the surface of the paper,  I place tracing paper onto a rough concrete floor and rub over quite heavily with a stone this produces a good surface with a few small holes appearing which I like, they are random and there is no control of what happens. I combine this with specific slashed cuts. I use a sharp knife to cut curved slashes into manila paper removing some of the slashes to leave spaces.  I think that this has lots of fabric potential along with melting techniques rather than direct burning.

left to right – curved slashes and voiding – surface rubbed with electric sander in circular movement

I have some soft cardboard and I experiment with an electric sander to remove the surface in circular patterns, it creates lots of dust but although you can’t see from the photograph it has created raised areas not touched by the sander. This doesn’t work on paper, it has to be something with enough body and thickness to withstand the motion of the electric sander.

left to right – slashed & twisted paper woven through – scoring, layer removal

I am still using slashing and cutting to depict the heavy marks made to represent the solid stitching on the English stays.  I  cut slashes into some light card and then twist soft recycled paper into a ‘tread’ which I weave through the slashes.  Luckily we had some lovely thick corrugated card from some furniture that we had delivered and I experimented with stripping away some of the layers to leave raised areas indicating the same heavy marks. I have kept this quite regimented like my mark making but both these could be used in a more random and relaxed way.

Some close up photos of my paper manipulation experiments; pleating, scrunching and rubbing – copy paper, baking parchment and tracing paper


Close up images of pleating, punching and burning experiments – brown paper and copy paper and recycled paper.

pleating and burning – copy paper

Folding & cutting – copy paper and handmade paper

Manila paper and soft carboard

Slashing, voiding and rubbing techniques.

I have really enjoyed this exercise, all these techniques have great potential to be developed in a much looser and more experimental way and I look forward to doing this in the future.


Warner Textile Archive

Recently I arranged a visit to the Warner Textile Archive at Braintree in Essex with my local branch of the Essex Handicraft Association.

The archive is housed in the original grade II listed textile mill.  It is the second largest collection of flat textiles in the UK after the V&A and includes 10,000 paper designs in notebooks, sample books, rule papers, print blocks and ledgers. The archive is a wonderful historical tour of British textile design.

An interesting talk was given by one of the archivists on the history of the mill and then we spent some time in the Exhibition Gallery looking at a wide range of fabrics, design papers, printing blocks and photographs of the mill and workers in production.

Benjamin Warner bought New Mills in Braintree in 1895.  New Mills was an existing silk mill that had gone into liquidation and Benjamin Warner moved his company from Spitalfields in London to Braintree, joining  Courtaulds who already had a mill there. Other nearby areas known for silk weaving are Halstead in Essex and Sudbury in Suffolk.

Warner & Sons were a very successful company weaving silks and velvets for all the English coronations from 1902 to 1971 when weaving at New Mills ceased. In their height they produced fabrics for palaces, stately homes, ocean liners and royal residences.

Warner & Sons embraced change throughout their history moving from hand looms to power looms, they used renowned designers producing high quality silks, velvets and traditional chintzes.  In 1927 they purchased a printing works at Dartford in Kent enabling to extend their range of fabrics further.  During the war years they produced parachute silk and were involved with the design and production of utility fabrics.

Alec Hunter, Marianne Straub and  Eddie Squires were some of the designers who kept Warner & Sons at the forefront of textile design.

Warner & Sons closed in 1990 and the brand sold to new owners.  The historical archive was saved by various charitable bodies and individuals in 2004 and is now called the Warner Textile Archive.

Further information taken from;

Two Centuries of Creativity – a textile collection of national importance – Warner Textile Archive (booklet purchased from the Warner Textile Archive)









Written reflection

Researching my chosen archive was difficult because I was unaware of the restrictions in the V&A and with hindsight I would have chosen something more accessible. Not having the items to hand during this process was a hindrance,  I had considered purchasing some vintage garments but the cost was prohibitive and items difficult to find.  I tried to choose textile items that I found interesting and were different from each other in design, manufacturing processes and worn by women at different times in history.  I enjoyed the research into my chosen textiles and it has certainly made me aware of all the things that I need to consider when using an archive to research from in the future.

I enjoyed the mark making process as I had not done anything like it before and I had to spend some time experimenting with different items and the marks they made so that I had a reference to use when considering my textile items. However I found it difficult to translate this to my textile archive and really struggled with this exercise.

My first attempts at collage have been painful to say the least, this is not something that I have found very easy and I spent too long worrying about what I was doing and getting very frustrated with myself.  I hope that I can develop this technique as it is a popular way to develop ideas and designs.

I have enjoyed the research into other artists and designers, it makes me realise what a big world of art there is to discover and I am just scratching the surface!

I have really enjoyed Project 3, I felt more confident and I feel that I have consolidated my learning throughout Part 1 to produce a good folio of work to progress onto Part 2.



Research point 3

David Hockney

David Hockney was part of the pop art movement of the 1960’s.  His work ranges from large pictures made up from multiple canvases depicting the Yorkshire countryside to images of swimming pools and houses in California and portraiture.  His paintings have a clean, clear easy way about them, they are not fussy or overly detailed.  His use of perspective is wonderful, his landscapes are huge from open countryside scenes to industrial landscapes.

His brush strokes are bold and the colours he uses are bright some are slightly psychedelic looking and remind me of a set of collecting cards I had as a child with images from the Yellow Submarine album by the Beatles, which I now understand were from an animated film, the artwork was designed by Heinz Edelman.

I find it amazing that David Hockney now uses his ipad to create his pictures, still experimenting with his art and happy to explore a new generation of media alongside printmaking.

web sites visited: