I wonder if I’m the only one to be disappointed to discover, perhaps belatedly, that the Procion Pearl Grey dye is no longer available. I’m told that it was withdrawn because it was unstable but that was exactly why I liked it. Having dyed my Terracotta Tiles piece with it (see previous blog) and been very pleased with the result, I then had to find another way to mount the piece as the replacement Neutral Grey is a “real” grey, which didn’t work at all with the rest of the piece.

On the positive side, I’m having great fun with the Turquoise, Cerulean and Medium Blue Procion to dye natural fabrics and yarns for my Central Asian Tiles series, entitled Koshi/Samarkand. Here are some photos of these beautiful tiles :

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These photos are all from

Soustiel, Jean and Porter, Yves (2003)

Tombs of Paradise : The Shah-e-Zende in Samarkand and architectural ceramics of Central Asia

Chateau de Saint Remy-en-l’Eau, France : Editions Monelle Hayot

(pages 89, 143 and 194 respectively)

I’d love to go to Samarkand again one day.

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I’ve also been experimenting with linen yarn on the loom and am very excited by the possibilities, including for dyeing and colouring before weaving, and afterwards. This are a couple of sections from one of the samples :

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It’s led me to decide that the first Tiles piece will be hand woven in mainly in linen, with the addition of some simple hand stitch.

Here’s the flyer for the forthcoming exhibition of the King’s Lynn and Peterborough branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild, to be held at Oxburgh Hall during September. I do hope you can get to see it if you’re in the area! My exhibit is Terracotta Tiles.

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In case it’s hard to read the details :

National Trust Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham, Norfolk PE33 9PS

2nd-28th September 2016

“As part of the 300th anniversary celebrations of the birth of “Capability” Brown, the Embroiderers’ Guild is holding the largest exhibition it has ever produced, across the country. Using the landscapes and architecture of Oxburgh as their inspiration,members have produced unique pieces of work which will be on display in the Chapel.”

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall

www.embroiderersguild.com/capabilitybrown

I’ve now got two clear strands to my creative endeavours – the development of a series based on the blue and turquoise tiles of Central Asia, and an ongoing exploration of double weave with a particular focus on colour. Will post some examples next time of the Central Asian tiles, but for now I’ve been concentrating on my piece for the Embroiderers’ Guild King’s Lynn branch exhibition entitled The Spirit of Oxburgh, to be held in the family chapel at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk during the month of September – more detail on the exhibition to come in due course, but I have now completed the piece which is called Terracotta Tiles.

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Details : Stitched area 9” x 6.5”; hand dyed silk fabrics on hand dyed cotton muslin ground; layering of silk fibres and cotton scrim; free machine zigzag stitch and French knots with hand dyed and purchased threads

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The work still needs to be mounted and framed

On the weaving side, I’ve recently completed a couple of two-block, eight-shaft double cloth samples, in four colours of a lovely 10/2 mercerised cotton yarn; sample 8” wide. This is my first work on eight shafts and my first experimentation with these beautiful colours – there is already a tile effect and I can see how I could achieve a staggered-brick appearance with rectangles to evoke the monochrome Central Asian tiles and glazed bricks, most of which are rectangular rather than square. I think this exploration alone could last for years because of the infinite possibilities with both the weave structure and the colour combinations!

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With the Oxburgh piece completed, I will now be starting for real on my Tiles series which will be called Koshi/Samarkand. Koshi is Farsi for tiles, and my main inspiration source will be the tiles on various historic buildings in Samarkand, as well as flowers and motifs from Central Asian suzanis. I’m planning to include both weave and stitch in these pieces, and need at least six items for our Quintessential exhibition next May – a challenge in itself as I like to work slowly and intensively. More details on our exhibition to follow soon.

This is the first time that I’ve used my blog for anything other than submission of coursework, but now the story’s moving on…..

I’ve just decided to discontinue with my Distant Stitch diploma in Design and Stitch, despite having only one module left to complete. However, in large part it is the success of the course that’s brought me to this point in that for several months now I’ve felt an increasingly irresistible need to get on with my own body of work. I was never aiming for the qualification as such but rather saw the course as the means of developing my skills to underpin my creative journey and my overall Paradise project. There is always more to learn and so completion of the full course would still only have been a starting point for what I want to do.

The course itself and the support of Sian Martin has been superb throughout, and I cannot thank her enough for getting me to a stage where I feel ready to move on with my own work, which is inspired and informed by the Islamic Garden, public and private space, and Central Asia, all of which are very close to my heart, as well as Islamic textiles, arts and architecture more broadly. I also want focus much more on developing my weaving and exploring possibilities for weave-and-stitch together. I am now in a group of five – we call ourselves Quintessential – with a view to holding our first exhibition next year, inspired by tiles.

If anyone is considering doing a course, I can highly recommend Distant Stitch www.distantstitch.co.uk I really enjoyed it and have learned so much that I now want to put into practice and embed in my “own” body – I certainly couldn’t have done that without the course.

I’m still considering how I would like to use this blog – my journey is essentially a very personal one based on creative and spiritual development. For now I can say that I will be working on a series inspired by the plain coloured glazed tiles and bricks of Central Asia – in beautiful blues, turquoises and neutrals. Before that though, I’m developing a piece for the King’s Lynn Embroiderer’s Guild exhibition to be held at Oxburgh Hall in September. I found some beautiful old terracotta tiles in the Bedingfield Chapel of the parish church as my inspiration source.

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I definitely need to work out how to include these clover leaves!

Distant Stitch Diploma ( www.distantstitch.co.uk )

Module 5, Chapter 10 : Resolved Samples

This chapter required the creation of at least three samples based on any previous designs developed during the coursework, and to include the techniques of silk paper making, hand-made paper making, and use of soluble materials. The samples could use the techniques separately or in combination.

I chose a set of four abstract designs, based loosely on the wavy-edged leaves of the tulips I have been studying during this course, and developed during Module Three which looked at Edges. Each layer is described from the back upwards to the top layer, with a mix-and-match approach to the utilisation of the three required techniques

The worked area of each sample is approx. 6” square

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The original section of design was cut into quarters and the shapes were then re-arranged on the sketchbook page, but the lower photo shows how they started as one design

Sample 1

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Handmade “lacy” paper coloured with Procion dye and bonded to undyed silk organza for stability – the paper was rather friable with so many holes

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Hand dyed oval shapes in silk satin, organza or silk rods edged in silk yarn and free machine zigzag stitch, and suspended in a loose lacy structure using water soluble film and free machine stitch

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Addition of top layer of mesh in copper beading wire

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Held up against the window :

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A couple of lessons were learned from this sample in particular – the terracotta colour on the paper was very flat, so I added the copper wire mesh for both shine and more depth

Also, I used some hand made silk paper for a couple of the oval motifs, completely forgetting that this had been formed using CMC paste, so when I used warm water to dissolve the soluble stabiliser, of course the two ovals started to disappear as well! I halted the dissolving process earlier as a result, so the stitched mesh is actually quite stiff, but the knock-on benefit if this is that I managed to save the oval shapes, and they now have an unexpected but welcome texture to them from the silk fibres that remain.

Sample 2

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Handmade “lacy” paper coloured with ScolaBrush

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Undyed silk organza with free machine stitch on water soluble film, and cut areas folded back to create windows that reveal the coloured paper

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Additional circular/oval shapes created with wire-like metallic threads

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Held up against the window :

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Sample 3

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Layers of silk rods ironed together create a “paper” or surface for stitch; coloured using orange-rust silk paint; hand stitched using open chain and running stitches

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Pale blue layer of synthetic organza, turquoise free machine of main shape lines, bottom left section removed and free machine lacy pattern created; some other sections of organza removed to fully reveal contrasting colour of layer underneath

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Dissolvable paper stitched with lines of main shapes; most areas in-between voided using water and a stiff paintbrush; a few open circular holes created bottom right; surface coloured with royal blue acrylic paint and then sponged with copper metallic acrylic paint

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Held up against the window :

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I enjoyed the use of the dissolvable paper to create organic shaped windows to look through the layers, and the paper takes acrylic paint well. I was also pleased with the contrast of matte and shiny surfaces – the synthetic organza is virtually colourless but really catches the light

Sample 4

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Thin layer of silk paper, using silk fibres and floss threads, and CMC paste

Organza circles free machine stitched to turquoise dress net; the inner net circles were then cut out from the back to leave organza “windows”

Free machine small circles directly onto the net, centres then cut out to create tiny holes

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Backing of plain silk organza behind silk paper to give strength and stability for hand stitch

Additional hand stitch to silk paper

Held up against the window :

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Reflections

I had some difficulty in getting going on the work for this chapter, probably because there was so much choice when it came to choosing a design source from previous course work. In fact my first two choices just did not seem to resonate with me, and yet when I looked again and found these more abstract designs linked to the wavy-edged tulip leaves, I could immediately see what I wanted to do to resolve them into samples. Given that one of my personal objectives for the course was to be able to work in a more abstract way – having tended very much towards the representational – I am very pleased with this development. I enjoyed using a combination of techniques because they dovetail so well with my love of layers and textures. I have not used any “plastic” or burning techniques as I am not a great fan of these, but opted instead to work with colours, materials and techniques that I can envisage using long-term.

The papermaking in particular has been something of a revelation – I was less sure about the use of pulp on wired and threaded frames in an earlier chapter, but now want to do much much with regard to making sheets of paper which can create layers, texture and a base for colour, upon which stitch can be added.

End of Module 5, Chapter 10

Distant Stitch Diploma in Design and Stitch

Module 5, Chapter 9 : Designing with Layers – Option C – Drawing with Wire for Laminated Layers

This chapter required the selection of a design method from a choice of three, relating to the transparency and layers theme of the module. I chose Option C which required the assembly of a small “still life” of some glass vessels; drawing of this without lifting the pen from the paper; the creation of wire tracings; lamination of layers of translucent materials; and the addition of some stitch

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Sketchbook pages

1 + 2 : line drawings of separate vessels using black gel pen, without lifting pen from paper

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3 : black gel pen, but lifted from paper

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4 : black calligraphy pen, without lifting pen from paper

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5 : soft pencil without lifting pencil from paper

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6 : line drawing of still life composition with black gel pen, lifted from paper

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7: line drawing with black gel pen, lifted from paper

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8 : line drawing with dark grey Sharpie, lifted from paper

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9 : reverse of Page 8 – Sharpie pens penetrate the sketchbook pages, which can be useful or annoying!

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Wire tracing

Two wire tracings were made from craft wire; the shapes were secured between the sticky surfaces of two layers of Aquabond so they can be retained for possible future use

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Samples : CMC paste used throughout; although the original still life was photographed in orange, I opted for blues and greens for the samples

Sample 1 : 8” square

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Base of fine calico to support machine stitch, part outline of square glass vase shape

Tile of green painted paper

Edge-dyed abaca tissue

Cut out vase shape of wire tracing on turquoise tissue paper using grey oil pastel

Blue synthetic organza shape

Tile of dark turquoise net

Strip of light blue synthetic organza selvedge

Green synthetic organza

Light blue synthetic organza

Free machine straight stitch to highlight shapes on main motif

Free machine zigzag stitch to create more coloured tiles

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Against the window :

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Sample 2 : 7” x 10”

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Base plain silk organza

Wire tracing on green tissue paper behind organza

Blue tissue paper block behind

Another wire tracing on green tissue paper on top of background

Wire tracing on paper with blue wax crayon (reverse of paper coloured with Koh-i-Noor paints)

Blue synthetic net shape

Green hand dyed scrim

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The reverse of this piece is also interesting

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Against the window :

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Sample 3 : 10” square

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Base of edge-dyed abaca tissue with irregular shape of dressmaking tissue behind

Strips of synthetic organza and tissue paper

Blocks of hand dyed scrim

Tracing of still life on cream mulberry silk paper

Hand stitch to highlight shapes

Hand stitch

Colouring with Inktense blocks to highlight shapes and stitching

Acrylic wax on overall mulberry silk paper shape, with some intentional “running” of the colours

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Against the window :

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The dress-making tissue pattern on the back becomes visible against the light

Sample 4 : 8” square

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Strips of stiff scrim to white tissue paper

Still life collection traced with grey oil pastel – areas of scrim give textured and much less distinct lines

Piece cut into nine smaller tiles

Laminated to backing of plain calico

Strips of synthetic organza to form weave-like grid

Simple hand running stitch to highlight some of the lines

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Against the window :

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Sample 5 : 11” x 8”

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Tiles of coloured tissue paper behind ground of white tissue paper, giving faded aged look on front

Fragments of wire tracing of small barrel-shaped vase on torn pieces of coloured tissue paper, in grey and blue oil pastels – the grey is not easily seen in the photos

Three full wire tracings of same vase directly added to back

Full piece mounted on silk organza

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Reverse side :

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Against the window, front side facing :

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Against the window, reverse side facing :

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I really enjoyed the work in this chapter, with the building of the layers and with some consideration of the reverse side – i.e. layer do not necessarily always have to be developed from the bottom layer upwards but can be added to back and front

Sample 5 does not have any stitch on it, not least because I could not work out would might suit it best! In the longer run, I think it could be one that is further cut up and repositioned onto another surface

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End of Module 5, Chapter 9

Module 5, Chapter 8 : Making Lace with Wrapped Frames and Paper Pulp

This chapter required the development of a series of lace structures by wrapping frames with threads and fabric strips, perhaps trapping items within and creating pieces that remain on or could be removed from the frame; also the use of paper pulp to create lacy structures

Earlier in the module I looked at Indian chikan white work (chikankari) which involves fine white embroidery on equally fine white cotton muslin, and drawn thread work where the threads in the fabric are teased apart but not actually removed.

I also had a brief look at Carrickmacross work which involves a lower layer of net and an upper layer of fine linen – the motifs are stitched in white and then the top layer is cut away to give the impression of the solid motifs floating in the air. In Ayrshire work, there is also white embroidery on a white background but the lacy areas are cut out and filled with needle lace.

I kept these techniques in mind whilst developing the following set of samples

Sample 1 : 6” square – cotton chainette, linen yarn and a cotton muslin selvedge strip muslin were wrapped and woven onto a temporary frame made from kebab sticks; they were then secured with wide free machine granite stitch onto some dress net. Sample then added to Sample 8 below

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Sample 2 : 4” x 5” – mixture of natural undyed fibre yarns wrapped and inter-woven on hand made frame of fine dowel, in a tulip shape; whole piece then dyed with Procion in Rust Orange

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It is not particularly obvious in the photos but there is a subtle difference of colour in the various fibres which adds interest; the wooden kebab sticks took some dye but not as much as expected

Sample 3 : 6” square – warps of cotton boucle yarn on dowel frame; squares of synthetic organza trapped between two woven layers – wefts are cotton/linen mix on one side and rayon on the other, organza pieces secured with simple running stitch (in orange); sample very delicate, lacy and “floppy” when it was removed from the frame

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Sample 4 : 6.5” x 6” – hand made copper wire frame wrapped with strips of calico; multiple natural threads wrapped and inter-woven, trapping three silvery leaf shapes from a charity shop necklace; some additional wrapping of threads, use of linear buttonhole stitch and also buttonhole stitch to emphasise some of the holes. The interwoven threads secure the leaf shapes without the need for any additional stitch

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Sample 5 : 5” x 8” – fancy craft mesh with lurex threads running through, dipped in paper pulp and then a little surface chain stitch added. I like the way in which the paper pulp transforms the mesh from being a uniform regular structure to something much more organic where many of the square holes have become rounded or filled-in

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Sample 6 : 8.5” x 8” – coat hanger frame holding strips of muslin and some cotton yarn, dipped in paper pulp; two lacy inserts added – knotted and woven. I was deliberately heavy-handed with the paper pulp here to take full advantage of the “purchase” offered by the strips of muslin. The texture of the paper pulp evokes tree bark or even rock formations

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Sample 7 : 9” square – upcycled plastic garden mesh attached to coat hanger frame and dipped in paper pulp; this was allowed to dry and it was not surprising to see that not much of the pulp had adhered to the plastic mesh. However, cotton chainette warps and chunky cotton/linen boucle yarn wefts were woven in and then more paper pulp was added, this time with much more adhesion both in the areas of the yarns and also on top of the existing paper pulp; herringbone stitch on the new paper “fabric”, detached buttonhole mesh and strip of herringbone “in the air”

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There is quite a 3D effect on the back from the second round of paper pulp, as the frame was laid down horizontally for drying

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Sample 8 : 9” square : wire coat hanger frame with hook retained to create square on point, holding sparse network of cotton yarns, piece then dipped in paper pulp; Sample 1 then added to create a double-layered lacy effect, with net being secured to the frame around all edges but left free in the middle

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End of Chapter 8, Module 5

Module 5, Chapter 7 : Trapped and Pocket Features using Transparent Materials

This chapter required some simple drawings of pocket ideas and then the development of a series of experimental pockets using transparent material

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Sample 1 : 4.5” x 3.5” – florist’s cellophane punched and threaded with ribbon to enclose flower shapes within – a kind of non-scented synthetic pot pourri sachet

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Sample 2 : 3” x 8” – two layers of tissue paper bonded at edges with Supamend, with coloured tag to show the subtle muting of colour underneath the tissue layer; the grains of the bonding powder are still visible in places but the overall effect is of no fixings

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Sample 3 : 4” square – two layers of plain silk organza bonded at left and right edges with MistyFuse ultra-fine bonding web to create a pocket; this time the bonding is not visible

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Sample 4 : 7” square – two layers of tissue paper bonded on all sides with strips of MistyFuse to trap a shape within

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Sample 5 : 7” x 5” – two layers of synthetic netting joined with zigzag machine stitch over strips of synthetic organza to create an “air pocket”

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Sample 6 : 6” diameter approx. – thread off-cuts sandwiched between two layers of a flimsy plastic document file and secured with slash-like marks made with a heated copper wire set into a cork handle

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Sample 7 : 4.5” x 6” – two layers of thicker acetate sheets machine stitched together, filled with salt to evoke a namakdan (Afghan/Central Asian embroidered bag for carrying salt) – the long neck is folded over to protect the contents

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Sample 8 : 7” square approx. – hand dyed calico sandwiched between two layers of cotton organdie and secured with soya wax brushed over the top half. The wax did not entirely secure the layers together but additional stitch could be added and there is an obvious change in the translucency of the surface where the wax is; first two photos show cloth brushed with wax before being ironed, second two are after ironing

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Sample 9 : 4.5” square – a layer each of undyed muslin, hand dyed muslin and stiff cotton scrim were dipped in molten soya wax; this time the layers are well secured by the wax which again creates added translucency; first two photos show unwaxed state, second two after being dipped in wax

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From this collection of samples, I have developed some ideas which I will explore further when creating the resolved samples, including the use of wax and the almost-invisible MistyFuse.

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End of Chapter 7, Module 5