Catherine's Stitching

Work done for City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery with Distant Stitch.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 2

It's taken a long time of lots of little short bursts of work to get this one chapter done.  With my husband's health giving increasing cause for concern, not to mention a visitor from the USA staying for two weeks and a couple of short trips away, time seems to have been at a premium.  However, here at last is chapter 2.

5.2.1  Folding various papers

5.2.2   More paper folding experiments

5.2.3   Scrunching various papers to fit in a particular space
1. tracing paper
2. waxed paper
3. vintage (1950s) copy paper
4. printer paper
5. cartridge paper
6.  paper kitchen towel
7.  a commercial craft paper (translucent and stiff)
8.  tissue paper
9. 250 gsm mixed media paper

5.2.4  playing around with tissue paper

5.2.5  gathering and folding tissue paper by hand

5.2.6  gathering tissue paper by machine stitching

I enjoyed this chapter more than I had expected to.  The exercises could be fitted into short spaces of time that I could snatch during the day or evening and were a fun and welcome break from caring for my much loved spouse, domestic chores and taking care of our guest.  Early morning and late at night were my favourite times to do this.

I've been doing a lot more walking in order to try to improve my fitness (and spreading waistline!) and I keep seeing texture in the landscape everywhere I go.  I couldn't resist adding a few more photos to Chapter 1 as more inspiration.

5.1.supplemental 1
a piece of birch bark I found lying on the ground

5.1.supplemental 2  the reverse of s1 above

5.1.supplemental 3  a tiny but exquisite beech nut husk

5.1.supplemental 4  beautiful patterns in a stone wall

Another day, when I've more time, I'll convert them to greyscale and play about with Photoshop filters but now it's 7 pm and I'd better think about starting to cook dinner!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 1

This new beginning is very refreshing for me after having been so bogged down in Module 4.  I go out walking regularly with several groups and these woodland walks near my home gave me inspiration for lots of photographs.  I seemed to see texture in the landscape everywhere I looked.   I took the photos initially in colour, using my mobile phone's camera.  Later, I transferred them to my computer and used Photoshop to convert them to greyscale and sometimes to resize them, crop them and play around with the brightness and contrast so as to accentuate the textures.  Here below is a random sample of some of the many photos I took.
























I played around with some of these images, drawing and making some lino prints in order to find out just what it was about these images that made me photograph them.  I find that working with an image, drawing, painting or printmaking helps me to isolate what it is about the photo that drew me to that particular image.  I have been particularly interested in printmaking recently, particularly lino printing and monoprinting and am finding it fun to explore my images in this way.  When time permits, I hope to make more lino plates from other photographs.

5.1.23 lino print of ferns


Images 24 and 25 above are both monoprints of exposed tree roots on a grassy bank.  The first was done by rolling ink onto a glass plate, carefully laying a sheet of paper on it and drawing the shape of the tree roots with the end of a thin paintbrush.  27 was done by rolling ink onto the glass plate, drawing the shape of the tree roots into the ink using a cotton bud, laying a sheet of paper over the image on the glass and rolling over it with a clean roller.

5.1.26 monoprint of foxglove flowers
5.1.27 lino print of tree branches

5.1.28 print of tree branches made by pressing the clean lino plate used for image 28 onto a Gelli Plate which had been rolled with black paint.  A print was then taken from the Gelli Plate.

5.1.29 a lino print of ferns
5.1.30 a Gelli Plate print of ferns produced by the method described above

5.1.31 two of the lino plates used

I am interested in trying Maggie Grey's idea of casting water soluble paper as described in her book: "Long Diaries, Tall Tales" (d4daisy 2015).  I think that my home-made lino plates might be suitable for this.  However, domestic duties have recently made increased calls on my time and I have not yet managed to try it out.  I am looking forward to a couple of weeks when I will have more free time to explore this further.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

New Beginnings: Certificate Module 5 - get ready ...set ...

Very excited to be starting a new module and a woodland walk last week gave the perfect opportunity to take lots of textural photographs.  Now I can hardly wait to get stuck in!

However, in this, the penultimate module of the Certificate, I'm determined to learn from my experiences.  I will try to curb my enthusiasm (temporarily) and get organised with the equipment and materials I will need.  It is not ideal to have to search the house (not to mention the garden shed/summertime studio) while in the middle  of a piece of work and so I have taken time to gather what I will need and keep it in one handy place.  It also gives me the opportunity to make a shopping list of anything I am lacking.

I worked my way through the requirements list and put together everything I could find from the list.  First the design materials:

Next the embroidery materials, first of all threads:

And then fabrics and sewing equipment:

Next, tools and equipment:

Now where to keep it all?  The sewing machine lives on a shelf underneath the table on which I use it.  The rest, in plastic boxes, can sit on top of my sewing trolley.

Finally, a shopping list of things that might be useful, but I don't have them.  One online shop should do it.

  • matte medium (I prefer it to any other kind of glue, but I'm running short)
  • Markal oil bar in white
  • more black ink (I have only a small amount)
  • quilting wool
  • pipe cleaners

OK, now I'm ready for action.  Watch this space ...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Certificate Module 4: Health and Safety Rules observed

The main opportunity for accidents in my studio is the lack of space and congestion and muddle that can result when I am on a roll and working flat out, not pausing to tidy things away.  I have to be careful that this doesn't cause:

  • spillage of potentially damaging paints, chemicals etc
  • tripping over  boxes, bags and trailing electrical wires
  • accidental damage (to objects or self!) from hot or sharp tools caused by putting things on top of them
In order to avoid this I have tried hard to:
  • tidy as I go along (a place for everything and everything in its place
  • be careful of where I use electrical things to avoid trailing wires
  • make sure I have plenty of power points in my studio to avoid using multi-adaptors where possible
  • use a heat proof mat when using hot tools
  • letting heat tools cool completely before storing them away
  • keeping sharp objects in a box while they are not in use
  • taking frequent breaks so that tiredness doesn't cause carelessness
For this particular module, other safety actions I've observed are:
  • Using a self-healing cutting mat while punching holes in acetate
  • Keeping bleach in a sealed container, upright in a secure place
  • Using a mask and working in a well ventilated area while using bleach
  • In bookbinding, always keeping the awl covered when not in use
  • wearing a mask when mixing up powdered pigments
  • making sure that mouse and keyboard are in a good position when working on computer and taking frequent breaks to stretch arms and shoulders and rest eyes by looking out at the garden
  • when machine embroidering, always using a darning foot to guard the needle and avoid sewing through fingers!  (I've learned this some time ago through bitter experience!  Not something I'd repeat again.)
  • This is one that I didn't observe yesterday but will in future and that is not to work on something absorbing while in the garden, scantily clad in midgie weather (hot and humid).  Scottish midgies are awful and I'm still scratching! I was so intent on what I was doing that I didn't notice until it was too late.

Certificate Module 4: Storage of Work, Materials, Tools and Equipment


(Whilst my storage is not perhaps ideal, I think I have made best use of the very limited space at my disposal.  It has taken a lot of thought and trial and error to fit so much into so little space!)

Design work in progress
In a folder on top of a chest of drawers
Completed embroidery
Wrapped in acid free tissue paper and stored in a large lidded plastic box
Completed design work
In an A2 portfolio case.  Ideally this would be kept flat but in our tiny cottage this is not an option, so it stands against a wall behind the sofa
Papers for design work
Large sheets in A2 portfolio case, smaller pieces in a folder in the bookcase.  In between size (A3 approx) on top of a chest of drawers.
Ink and paint for design work
Upright, lids secure, in a trolley that can be wheeled to where needed (no children or pets around to worry about)
Other items, glue, bleach, sprays
Some in a drawer, some in a cupboard, some on the art trolley.
Embroidery work in progress
Plastic box with a lid and handle to carry around easily to where I am working
Frequently used fabrics in a storage unit with three deep drawers.  Less often used ones in a large deep lidded plastic box under the bed
Machine sewing threads in custom storage boxes, frequently used hand sewing threads on rings hung on wall, less frequently used in a drawer
Beads, metal threads etc
In custom storage boxes
Dyes, paints etc
In large lidded plastic boxes in a storage unit
Sewing machines
Upright on floor under work table.  Ideally I’d have an extra table so the machine could be set up at all times, but not enough space.
Other electrical equipment
In a lidded plastic box in storage unit

Certificate Module 4: Costing Materials and Recording Time


5  A4 sheets of acetate          £1.84
Printing four A4 sheets         £0.39
0.25m jute scrim                   £0.50
Thread                                   £1.70
Glue sticks for glue gun        £0.34
Matte medium                       £0.60

Total cost of materials          £5.37


Date when design work was started              29.03.2017
                                        completed              14.06.2017

Date when embroidered item was started     29.03.2017
                                                 completed     14.03 2017

Total number of hours spent working on the design work 18 hours

Total number of hours spent working on the embroidery   34 hours

Certificate Module 4: Evaluation


The completed embroidered assessment piece for Module Four is a concertina book based on the design topic of the North East of Scotland herring industry.

How do you feel about the resultant conclusion?

This has not been the easiest of projects for me, with an abortive false start and difficulties in motivating myself as well as a crisis of self-confidence.  It has raised, and shone a light on, the shortcomings in my approach to design.  I have, in almost every creative project I have undertaken, had difficulty in progressing from the initial, exciting ideas stage, through a gradual process of simplifying and selecting, to reach the final conclusion.  

My tutor's kindly and tactful, if firm, advice made me realise the mistake that I had been making - that I had been so anxious about whether the assessed conclusion would be good enough, that I was rushing from the initial ideas stage to the conclusion without giving enough time and energy to the development and selection stage - my work was end-led and I just wanted to finish it quickly.  

When I realised that I was missing out the most important part of the design process, and managed to change my thinking to consider it a chance to play with my initial ideas, honing them gradually until the conclusion happened naturally, in an unrushed way, I felt an immediate feeling of relaxation - a letting go of the stress that my rushing to the conclusion had produced in me.  When I adopted this new approach, I found that I was really happy with my finished book.  I found that it said what I wanted to say in a way that expressed my personality.  

I am extremely happy with the resultant conclusion to this piece, both because I like how it looks and because it has enabled me to solve a problem which has dogged me for years.  Although I have never had children, the experience: emotional, sometimes difficult and often painful, makes me think of a pregnancy, with the resulting birth of my own artistic voice.  My task now is to nurture and care for it.

Is it fit for purpose?  Give reasons.

The purpose of this book was to illustrate, in an attractive way, some features of a now-vanished way of life and to pay tribute to all the people, including my husband's late grandfather, who were involved in the herring industry.  I am satisfied that it does this and so is thus fit for purpose.

If you were asked to make  it again, what changes would you make to the way you designed it and the way you made it?

I would not make any changes in how I designed and made it, since during both processes I felt a feeling of utter certainty - almost as though the resulting conclusion already existed and I was merely uncovering it.

Where I would make changes, in the light of my experience during this module, is in my working method, taking time for the crucial development and selection process.  I would also try to worry less!!