Monday, 18 July 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 11 - a little bit more

I've been giving some more thought to my special book structure and thought I'd just record my ideas so far.  I still have some book structures to try from the Chapter 10 course notes and a few I've seen on the internet.  I'll try to make the content of these samples relevant to my ideas for interpreting ee cummings' poem "maggy and milly and molly and may".

I have three main areas to focus on for my work now:

  • explore some more book structures and, from my samples, select ones suitable for interpreting the poem
  • decide on the content of each girl's book
  • devise a method of linking the books that contributes to the theme

I've come up with three main ideas, which I've scribbled down in my notebook:

4.11. idea 1

4.11. idea 2

4.11. idea 3

Sorry about the untidy and scrappy writing and sketches!  At the moment I'm liking idea 2 best, I see the net as being suspended with each book clipped on so that it can be removed to read.  The first two lines, "maggy and milly and molly and may went down to the beach (to play one day)" and "For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it's always ourselves we find in the sea" would each be written on a piece of paper inside a bottle, while each girl's book would contain her part of the poem along with stitching inspired by it.  I like the idea of shaped books, possibly concertina style like the little rows of paper dolls that little girls used to play with.

4.11. concertina stars

I feel happy and excited that I can see my way forward and know what I need to do next, yet have enough leeway to change my route if the work brings new ideas.  

Friday, 15 July 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 11 "Make a Special Book Structure Related to Media" - first thoughts

In choosing my colour scheme based on objects I picked up while beachcombing on a family picnic, the beach and the sea seems to have crept in quite unintentionally to all my work.

 It reminded me of a poem I often used to read to my Primary 6 and 7 pupils when I was a teacher.

'maggy and milly and molly and may'
maggy and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

e e cummings

When thinking about what I wanted to do for my special book structure, I thought I'd like to try to interpret e e cummings'  poem.  (He had his own eccentric approach to punctuation.)  The poem makes us think of the character of each girl and how her character influences how she reacts to the objects on the beach.  I thought it would be interesting to make a book to represent each girl and the object she found.   I had a very exciting tutorial with Sian at the Summer School when we had a real brainstorming session, discussing how I could portray each girl and how I could present the books in a way that would link them.

Since coming home, I've been thinking of how I could do this and how I could also incorporate some of the exciting new techniques we learned about at Summer School.

I was afraid I might forget about some of the ideas and so I started by having a brainstorming session, taking a sheet of paper for each girl and writing down words and ideas that came into my mind when I considered her part of the poem.




I'm feeling quite excited about this project and looking forward to exploring each book and how to link them.

I've been playing around with portraying each object through embroidery, at the moment quite literal interpretations, but some of my brainstorming inspires me to try to portray some more abstract qualities - should be fun!  I've also, when working through Chapter 10 and the various book structures I've been trying out, tried to portray the sea and the beach in general.

4.10.9 A beach-inspired sketchbook, bound using coptic stitch, which will enable it to lie flat.

A small pocket sized sketchbook, filled with pastel paper separated by tracing paper to mimise smudging.  Each folded pamphlet is stitched by hand and the pamphlets are joined by threading a machine embroidered ribbon through the stitches on the spines.  The ribbon was then glued down to the covers.  This idea could be developed further.

Fabric shapes trapped between adhesive soluble fabric on back and transparent soluble fabric on the front.  Machine stitched and then soluble fabric dissolved in warm water.  This is one of my samples from Summer School.

Another sample from Summer School.  We used "gloop", made from 10% PVA and 90% cellulose.  This was painted on a sheet of plastic before threads and  pieces of fabric were laid down (making sure they all linked) and secured by more gloop.  Once dry, the pieces had adhered to each other and could be peeled off as a new lacy fabric.  I thought mine looked like sea creatures, perhaps jellyfish.  I had some stiff paper which I had coloured in sea colours.  I glued on strips of coloured tissue paper using transparent blue Mod Podge, which I also used to give a top coat.  This, I have found, gives an almost leather-like texture to the paper.  I intend to use this piece as a book cover.

These are very early days.  I will have lots more samples to make and also lots of different book structures to explore.  However, as part of my resolution to devote more time to my Distant Stitch work and to work and post regularly, I wished to record my progress so far.  I feel as though I have taken the first tentative step on a really exciting journey!  

Monday, 20 June 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 10 (Part 1)

I thought, although I haven't yet finished this chapter, I'd better post my work so far since we'll soon be heading south for a holiday and the Summer School.

I had completely stalled with Chapters 8 and 9.  I wasn't happy with my colours, I was bored with the work, and it seemed that no amount of will power could get me going again.  So I decided to leave those chapters for the moment and re-visit them later and to continue with Chapter 10.

What a difference that made!  I decided to brighten my colour scheme somewhat and was really looking forward to making book structures.  Chapter 10 seems to have finally cast off all my winter gloom and let the sun into my life again.  I loved, loved, loved making these book structures!  In fact, I found it hard to stop, working on till late at night (through enthusiasm, not pressure).  This was FUN!

4.10.0  My little library of hand-made books

4.10.1  A simple pamphlet

4.10.2  A pamphlet construction with pages of varying sizes.  I used dyed tracing paper so that each one would affect the colour of the one on top.

4.10.3  Two pamphlets set in a longer cover

4.10.4  Four bundles of paper set in covers stitched in zigzag fashion using Japanese Stab Stitch

4.10.5  Three bundles of paper set in covers stitched as in 10.5 above, but with covers of different sizes

4.10.6  Two pamphlets stitched into a longer cover folded in zigzag fashion

4.10.7   Five signatures stitched into the spine of a cover.  Fabric was glued to the inside cover to support the stitching and for decorative effect.

I was in paradise all weekend and for once I didn't mind the amount of football on TV as I was engrossed in making books.  I particularly liked the last one, book 7 as it seemed to me like a "real" book.  Up to now, my books were just samples, more decorative than functional.  However I decided to make myself a real, functional book.  With Summer School coming up soon, I thought a small sketch book would be useful.  The pictures of it are below.  (There are lots of pictures, I apologise in advance, but I'm so proud of my baby I couldn't resist sharing them.)

4.10.8a  My finished sketchbook

4.10.8b - the spine

4.10.8c  lots of space for drawing

4.10.8d  the outside cover

This weekend was a very intensive and enjoyable two days.  While working on the books, I found that repetitive, time consuming cutting and stitching gave my mind the opportunity to roam free.  This chapter, as well as revitalising my enthusiasm, has started me thinking of the subject of my embroidered panel and I have the germ of an idea in my head.  I think that reaching this stage will enable me to make best use of my tutorial with Sian at this year's Summer School - I can't wait ...

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 8: Stitchery Into Paper


I seem to have taken an age with this chapter.  Family visits and other enjoyable, but time-consuming activities seem to have got in the way.  When you have a pause it is so difficult to pick up the reins again and I'm beginning to feel I have stalled at this point.


One of the problems was that I was finding my colour scheme rather dull and uninteresting and I couldn't get enthusiastic about it at all.  However, a visit to the seaside, with my usual beachcombing, made me think that the colours of my finds were very similar to my colour scheme, but ones that did appeal to me.  My little collection of shells, stones and driftwood gave me fresh interest in my colour scheme.



4.8.1 My collection from the beach


Here was my cream, beige, blue and brown, but with the spark of a lovely ochre colour.  I invested in a few new threads to liven up my colour scheme.



4.8.2 My revitalised colour scheme.


I was now ready to start stitching into paper.  In many of my samples, I've worked on Chapter 9 at the same time, incorporating borders with my stitching.




4.8.2 Polyester fabric with a grid burned with a soldering iron with blue paper pulp spooned on at random.  At the top a series of parallel lines of long straight stitches formed the base for letter shapes in needle weaving.  At the bottom a letter "S" filled with cross stitches worked at random.





4.8.3  In a previous chapter I'd played around with a virtual drawn thread grid.  I printed this onto my hand-made paper (backed with ironed on Vilene to strengthen it).  I then machine stitched on top of the virtual grid.  Spot the deliberate mistake:  I was so intent on getting my stitching accurate (and avoiding stitching into my fingers!) that I missed out a crucial "r" so that it spells "dawn thread work" instead of "drawn thread work".  However, it conjures up an image of the dedicated embroidery sewing away industriously at the crack of dawn so I rather like it!  I worked a hand-stitched border around the edge with buttonhole stitched loops.





4.8.4  An evenweave grid bonded to a sheet of hand-made paper.  It has a virtual grid with virtual herringbone stitch printed on top.  I wasn't sure if my printer would survive putting the hand made paper with bonded fabric through it, but it printed as sweetly as ever.  I then stitched a copy of the virtual stitching in machine zig-zag.  I like how the real stitching is just a pale imitation of the virtual stitching.





4.8.5  Some dyed scrim with threads withdrawn was given a frame of paper pulp.  Machine stitching was then worked in letter-type shapes on the bars remaining.





4.5.6  a  close up of above





4.8.7 Triple piece




4.8.8 Top of triple piece.  I used a piece of hand-made paper from an earlier chapter which already had the letters S T A in a contrasting paper.  I outlines each letter shape with back stitch and then filled the letter using a different stitch for each letter.  I worked a threaded chain stitch around the border of the paper, which I attached to a piece of dyed cotton fabric.



4.8.9 Centre of triple piece.  I put a piece of hand-made paper into the sewing machine, with no thread, and stitched around the letter shapes.  I then used the resulting perforations to carefully tear out the letter shapes.  I applied them to the brown cotton fabric and laid a piece of square-mesh netting on top.  I stitched around the letter shapes with blue cross-stitch.  It looked disappointingly plain and dull and so I stitched a different filling stitch in each shape.  This shape had a border of couched down string.



4.8.10 Bottom of triple piece.  The paper with the voided letters was applied to the brown cotton.  Each letter shape had a grid of straight stitches and then each was filled with drawn threadwork stitches.  Each letter shape was outlined with running stitch in a white thread.  The border was stitched twice with blanket stitch, first in an ochre colour and then in a smaller stitch in blue.  An awkward empty space at the bottom was filled with the word "stationery" in double running stitch in fine thread.



Because I had worked in little dribs and drabs in between being very busy, I thought that I hadn't done much work on this chapter.  I was pleasantly surprised, when I drew it all together to photograph it and post it on my blog, to find that I'd done more than I had realised.  There are still some pieces from Chapter 7 that I'd like to do something with, but I seem to have hit a brick wall as far as ideas are concerned and so I think I'll give it a break for now.  It could be that, when I explore ideas for my embroidered panel, that more will occur to me and I'll re-visit this chapter and chapter 9.  In the meantime, I've got a book on book-making and a small book-binding kit to start me off and I can't wait to get going with Chapter 10.

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 7: Applying paper pulp to a woven fabric grid

It's been a while since I posted on my blog, so long that I forgot that, although I'd done the work for this chapter, I hadn't yet photographed it or posted it on my blog, thinking I would wait until I had done the next chapter too.  By the time I realised my mistake, I'd already started stitching into some of the pieces and so here I'll post only the pieces that haven't been stitched and the rest can be seen when I post Chapters 8 and 9. 

This chapter was messy, but fun.  Having tidied out my filing cabinet, I had an abundant supply of shredded paper as a base for my paper pulp making.  I made two basins of pulp, one brown, coloured with walnut ink, and one blue, coloured with Dylon cold water dye.

For my first piece, I tried an idea which had been in my head for a while.  I had an old frame, about 35 cm square.  I bound it with string and simply spooned on pulp from both basins.  Some dripped through to the back but some remained on the surface.

4.7.1 One side of the large bound frame piece


4.7.2  the other side of the large bound frame piece

4.7.3 a close-up view of the layers

I was (and am) quite excited by this piece.  I've given some thought as to how it could be developed through stitching, but haven't yet come to any conclusion.  I'll wait until just the right idea occurs to me.  It would be easier to work it if I cut it off the frame, but I like how the different layers have formed.  Hmmm ...

I also tried making a grid from wire and dipping it in the pulp.

4.7.4  Wire grid dipped in pulp - first side

4.7.5 Wire grid dipped in pulp - second side

4.7.6 A variety of different fabric grids dipped in paper pulp
Clockwise from top left: nylon fabric with a grid of holes burned with a soldering iron, soft metallic mesh, vegetable net, wire grid, plastic canvas, nylon fabric with holes burned, evenweave fabric with some threads withdrawn, vegetable net, blade for a file.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 6: Drawn Thread Work Stitching – the rest of it



I'm going to be sorry to leave this chapter behind as I've enjoyed it so much.  Well, apart from the tedium of actually withdrawing the threads, which takes far longer than the more interesting stitching does.  I found I was becoming cross and bored.  However, I remembered that I had recently done a course on mindfulness, and so decided to take a mindful approach to the drawing of threads, concentrating intensely on the colour, texture and feel of the fabric, the slight sound of the threads being withdrawn etc.  And it worked!  I still prefer the stitching though.


First of all, I revisited Chapter 5 as I was keen to try out Sian's suggestion of adding a group of light coloured withdrawn threads to the felt strips in sample 4.5.8.  I think it does improve it and gives it more life.


stitch sampler 2

4.5.8 before . . .


sample 8 ch 5 revisited

. . . and 4.6.8(a) after.


While I quite liked the dark chunky quality of my early samples, I really did like the pale daintiness of Sample 4.6.8  (hand stitching on the bars left by withdrawing threads) and decided to stick with that colour scheme for the machine stitched sample.  4.6.9 below shows a combination of hand and machine stitching.



In the top row (blue) I withdrew 6, left 2 and withdrew 6 again.  I then used a scallop stitch on my machine to sew over the narrow bar left.

In the next row I left 4 threads and withdrew 24, then stitched over the bar of 4 using an undulating stitch on my machine, using a warm beige thread in the needle and the bobbin.  I later worked herringbone stitch by hand over the 24 bars, using  3 strands of blue stranded cotton.

In the fourth row I again used the undulating stitch, this time with a longer thread length and worked two rows criss crossing.  I used stone coloured thread for the first row of stitches and a dull blue thread for the second row.

Row five was the undulating stitch with quite a short stitch length in pale blue thread over a bar 4 stitches wide.

In row six (4 threads withdrawn, two left, 6 withdrawn) I simply used a narrow, close zigzag stitch, in the warm beige coloured thread, over the two threads left.

In row 7, I used pale blue thread and tried one of the decorative stitches on my machine.  The difficulty of holding the fabric taught meant that the stitch became distorted and gave an irregular effect which I rather liked.

Row 8, 12 threads withdrawn was hand stitched in a knotted stitch in a thickish warm brown hand sewing thread (it's quite shiny and has a twist, but I can't for the life of me remember its name).

Row 9, 4 threads left: a simple open zigzag in dull blue.

Row 10, 2 threads left: a close zigzag in a stone colour.

Row 11, 3 threads withdrawn and stitched from the back with dark blue in the top and pale blue in the bobbin. The top tension was loosened.  I had the fabric held in a hoop and used free machining with the width set at maximum to produce machine needleweaving.  I liked how it looked like a row of trees, the narrow bits of pale blue enhancing the look of the bark.  Stitching from the back was an error as I got mixed up with which side was which when I was putting it in the hoop, but I really like the effect and now I know how to achieve it deliberately!

Row 12: 4 threads left, 6 withdrawn.  A clump  of light brown threads (withdrawn from the unbleached and undyed scrim) woven in and out of the bars.


I had fun with the treatment of the withdrawn threads in this sample.  On the left hand side, I held the loose threads down temporarily with two strips of masking tape and then stitched two rows of machine scalloped stitch to hold them down before removing the tape.  On the right hand side, I gave each group of withdrawn threads a different treatment.  From the top:

  • two groups of threads twined around each other before stitching through 4 threads and then knotted together
  • two groups of threads repeatedly knotted together and then stitched down
  • a clump of threads simply twisted together and then stitched down
  • two groups of threads stitched through the fabric so as to make crosses
  • a clump of threads stitched through the fabric in running stitch
  • a clump of threads plaited and then stitched down
  • a clump of threads stitched down by machine using the meandering stitch.


I had another play with the loops produced by withdrawing a large quantity of threads and then folding the fabric over


4.6.10 Ok but a bit boring

loopy fringe sample for blog

4.6.10 (a) A bit more interesting.  I withdrew two lots of threads and folded it over and stitched as shown above, then thought I could make it a bit more interesting.  I teased out the threads top and bottom to make fringed edges, then folded it so that all four fringes (two looped, two straight) were on top of each other.  I pulled out two lots of four threads on the plain bit of fabric at the top before folding and then folded it so that the open bars were on top of each other.  I then worked two rows of hem stitch taking in threads from both layers and offsetting the hem stitch to make a series of v shapes.  It's just a scrappy little sample, but may be an idea for a border for future use.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Certificate Module 4 Chapter 6: Drawn Thread Work Stitching. A Start …

This is a traditional technique that I’ve been looking forward to doing.  About a million years ago (1989 actually) I did a little of it for the old City and Guilds Part 1 and I really enjoyed it.
I started by looking through my collection of antique embroidered teacloths etc that I have either inherited from my mother and aunt or have bought from charity shops and antique shops.  Quite a few had some drawn thread work on them.  The one that amazed me most was a small lady’s handkerchief in fine cotton lawn with four rows of drawn thread work around the edge.  I couldn’t believe someone could do that much work for something to blow your nose on!

Here are some examples.  Sorry my phone seems to be going through a pink phase at the moment and has coloured everything a pinkish colour when they are all either white, cream or beige.
4.6.1 My 1989 sample of drawn thread work for the old City and Guilds Part 1

4.6.2 An antique tray cloth with some drawn thread work

4.6.3 The corner of an antique table cloth which has some drawn thread work as well as some other white work techniques

4.6.4 An old ladies’ handkerchief with 4 rows of drawn thread work.  The remaining threads are grouped simply with hem stitch.

4.6.5  A tray cloth I started some years ago.  As you can see I never did manage to finish it as there are still a few inches of the edging to work.

4.6.6  A detail from my tray cloth

My first effort this time was a sampler again, trying to show a variety of ways of stitching on the threads left after some have been withdrawn.

First drawn thread work sample
4.6.7 First drawn thread work sample.  Explanation of techniques below:
a.  Threads withdrawn horizontally.  Remaining threads grouped into threes and secured with hem stitch in a thin thread.  A thicker thread was then used to make a twist pattern with the remaining threads.
b.  Threads withdrawn and grouped as in (a) and then a thicker thread used to group the remaining threads into bundles of four groups and secured with a knotted stitch.
c.  Threads withdrawn and hem stitched as before and then wave stitch worked using ribbon.
d.  Wave stitch using a thick thread.
e.  Bundles of two groups stitched with buttonhole stitch.
f.  A double twist securing four bundles of groups at a time.  Instead of hem stitch between (e) and (f), herringbone stitch in a fine thread was used.
g.  A frayed out strip of fabric was woven between the groups of threads after they had been hem stitched top and bottom.  The frayed out threads were brought to the front and allowed to curl freely.  They were secured with a very flat herringbone stitch catching in the bars at the back.

4.6.8 Second drawn thread work sample (partly completed).  The threads in this sample have been removed both horizontally and vertically, withdrawing four threads and leaving four each time.  Diagonal stitches have been worked on the bars and  cross-overs.  Since I was working on cream evenweave linen and wanted to work in colour, it was not possible to disguise the working threads at the edges of the work and so I thought it best to make a feature of them, along with the withdrawn threads which had been cut in the centre, drawn back to the edge and partly woven in, leaving the end on the surface to form a fringe.  When I finish this sample, I’ll give details in my next post of the techniques used.

I have not yet completed this chapter, but felt the need to post something since I want to keep working and posting in a regular way.  I shall finish this sample and then go on to machine stitching combined with further hand stitching and using tucks and other ideas.