Saturday, December 1, 2012

Part Four: Project 8 - Stage 2. Ex 4

Exercise 4
This was the exercise that I was not really sure where I would go or what I planned to do in it.
The instructions were to make a grid with rigid materials  and then to experiment by:
  • fill in some of the spaces in the grid - some areas will be open, others will be more solid.
  • work diagonally across the grid, weaving in and out of the structure with various materials.
  • use part of the grid as a frame to enclose more intricate constructions.
  • use the grid as a base structure to weave other yarns and materials.
I was going to revisit some of the techniques that I had used in exercise 3 when I looked through Gwen Hedley's book "Surfaces for Stitch".
This is a wonderful book that encourages you to experiment and try out new surfaces such as: plastics, films and fabrics in your textile work.
Although it gives you some direction on how to complete each technique - it is not a simple 'to do' book. I felt it inspired me to experiment rather than simply following a set instructions.

Using the section on 'Creating the Surfaces' for inspiration, I started my experiment for exercise 4.

I used a square copper frame bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show a few years ago:
Copper frame approx 13cm square

and then wrapped stranded cotton embroidery thread around the frame - both horizontally and vertically:
Creating the warp threads

I prepared a painted sheet of 'Tyvek' paper.
One side was painted with red acrylic paint, the other side painted with blue.
The painted sheet of Tyvek

Once the first coat of paint was dry, I added a layer of gold paint over the red.
I then printed with black acrylic paint - adding 'dots' with the lid of a paint tube, lines with the edge of the handle of a toothbrush. Finally adding marks made with gold acrylic and the bristles of a toothbrush.
Adding gold and black acrylic paint

Once it was dry I added dots of gold.
I liked the way the design looked with the added gold dots - I know I am going to cut the paper into strips, but I thought it was important that the design was 'exciting' and dynamic at this stage
Going dotty

Having cut the sheet of Tyvek paper into strips, I wove them in and out of the thread grid on the copper frame.
The blue strips were woven first, then the frame turned 90 degrees; the red strips were woven over and under the blue strips and the thread.
Weaving with strips of Tyvek paper

I started to machine stitch on the woven surface.
Loosening the tension on the machine and dropping the feed-dogs, I stitched red metallic thread on the red areas and blue metallic thread on the blue areas.
I stitched horizontally and vertically creating grids of metallic thread.

I then added areas and shapes of stitching with the gold thread, followed by lines of black thread which mimicked the marks that were made on the paint.
I was happy with the surface that had been created - but knew I was about to heat the surface and possibly destroy all the evidence of my work.
Machine stitching on the woven paper sample

I have heated Tyvek with an iron and achieved a surface which shrank and 'bubbled'. This time I used a heat gun
Holding the heat source several inches away from the Tyvek I achieved a surface which blistered, shrank and went into holes. After my initial panic I decided to burn away different areas - the thread seemed to 'melt' with the heat - the original grid of stranded cotton stayed intact.

Directing the heat gun towards the painted surface took some of the colour away - leaving the grid of metallic threads against a whitish background - heat it too much and you are left with just the threads, heat it more than this and you are left with holes.
I also decided to melt and shrink the edges, this left a rough and fragile looking finish to the piece

This is a photograph of the woven, stitched and burned sample against a white background.
Although you can see the detail - you do not see the fragility of the piece - the shadows fill the gaps that have been made.
Having used a heat gun on the woven surface

This is a close up image of the piece:
Close up

Holding the piece away from a surface allows the light to shine through.
To me, this has started to resemble a map - the burned areas look like streets and shapes of populated town areas.
The grid of threads - the lines drawn to show the scale of a map.
Finished piece held away from a surface

In silhouette against the light.
This has started to look like rusted metal - reminding me of a piece I bought from White House Arts by the artist Rachel Merrington.
Finished piece held up against the window

Rachel Merrington: information can be found about this artist on the website for White House Arts, Rachel's portfolio can be seen here
Her "work is based on the landscape and the objects found in it. The eroding of surfaces and the way artefacts become part of their surroundings is the starting point for the work. Using maps and text reminiscent of the place, she works in steel using etching techniques to erode spaces in the metal."
Ely: Rachel Merrington
This piece hangs against a wall in my house, it would be ideal to have it hanging up against the window so that the light could shine through.
It shows a double sided map of Ely and the cathedral. the piece is quite small and fragile in places. I love the lines of the piece and the lettering that is contained within the frame.

Link to my theme: Discarded
The idea of removing areas and including letters, may be one taken into my final piece "discarded". The idea of moving (away) and discarding the areas, places and people who you have come across throughout your life - memories that are now distant and faded versus the current life you lead in its full glorious technicolour.

I have been surprised by my reaction to this exercise, I feel inspired by the techniques that I have used. I started by looking at reflections in the windows of a skyscraper :
Tall buildings near the Gulf Hotel, Bahrain

This is a close up of the reflections. Here you can see the 'grid' formed by the windows, the irregular lines of the reflections and the subtle colour changes.
At this point it started to resemble a woven surface.
Close-up of the reflections in the windows

This is a repeat pattern using this image:
Repeat pattern of the reflections in the window

Although my sample didn't resemble the repeat pattern, or the reflections in the window it inspired the way I chose to fill the grid on the frame and also the use of the colour blue.... after that it took on a life of its own.

While we were in Bahrain that weekend, we visited the Bahrain National Museum - this is situated in Manama and contains modern art and sculpture alongside the ancient artefacts of Bahrain - according to wikipedia the museum covers 6000 years of Bahrain's history.
One of the parts of the museum that caught my eye was the floor - maps of Bahrain, from the ancient to the modern.
Here is one of the (many) photo's that I took of the floor - this links back to the piece I made for this exercise; I find the lines and shapes that appear in these large scale maps interesting and inspiring.
Map of Bahrain: floor design in the National Museum

This is the end of project 8, I will write up "What have I achieved" before moving on to Project 9 which covers weaving.


  1. Thank you for showing us your progress on this project. The Tyvek work looks like you had a lot of fun. I have stalled again and need to get on with my weaving samples. :)

  2. a very inspiring post - i shall definitely be trying the tyvek and stitch technique for myself! Enjoy your final project, i am very excited to see what you produce for it :)

  3. Thanks for the positive comments - must get on with my weaving samples too, too much to do, too little time. Just want to do the final project now - have so many ideas to try out.

  4. Hi Jackie
    I'm just starting on my final piece and as part of my development work would like to reference this as possible way of making a container/trap. Would you allow me to use your images - with a link to this post of course?


    1. You're most welcome to use my images Judy (with a link) - thank you for asking. Can't wait to see what you come up with.