Module 5 – Chapter 12

Working towards my resolved sample…

I have thoroughly enjoyed this module because of the techniques explored in each chapter, but also because of the connection to a landscape that I love, the West Somerset coastline.  The images below show some of the pages from my sketchbook when I was thinking about the landscape, and how I wanted to portray it in my resolved sample.

image Image 12.1 – sketch of local cliff face and rubbings of fossils found on the beach at Doniford.

I did some research into the geology of the coastline in order to better understand how, and when, it was formed.  Somerset is fortunate to have the studies of a local geologist, Hugh Prudden (see excerpt below).  Whilst I am certainly no expert on geology, I was fascinated to read of the numerous different types of rock, from many different eras, present on Doniford beach.


Image 12.2 – excerpt about Doniford coastline from ‘The Geology of Somerset’ by Hugh Prudden

image Image 12.3 – sketchbook page.  I found many of the geological words and phrases very pleasing and considered adding some of them into the resolved sample.

image Image 12.4

Image 12.4 shows a sketchbook page showing the supercontinent called Pangea before it split into the continents we have today.  The Triassic and Jurassic rocks that we can see today at Doniford beach were once in the middle of the supercontinent, and not coastal at all.  I am intrigued by the thought that the rocks and fossils that I see at Doniford are millions of years old and, when looking at a section which is visible due to recent erosion, I am the first person in the world to see that particular fossil or rock.

I do a lot of my about my creative thinking whilst I am driving.  One morning whilst I was driving to work, I heard an item about a new fossil found on the Dorset coast.   The geologist interviewed for the report said that the rocks were ‘constantly revealing new secrets’.  This resonated with me as it summed up my thoughts on the coastline at Doniford…as each high tide withdraws, the coastline is changed and new rocks and fossils are revealed.  I decided I would like to use this quote in my resolved sample.

 Stitch trial samples

Image 12.5 below revisits the design that from chapter 11 that I decided to use for my resolved sample.

image Image 12.5 – my design for the resolved sample

I identified one of my decorated papers to use to represent each of the four areas in my design, and names them A, B, C and D.

Section A

image Image 12.6 – paper relief for section A.


Image 12.7 – stitch trial using buttonhole stitch.  This didn’t provide the height that I wanted to achieve.  For the next trial I used buttonhole stitch again, but used it to couch some string in place to make a more raised surface, see image 12.8.


Image 12.8 – couching using buttonhole stitch


Image 12.9 – couching using sewing machine


Image 12.10 – my various stitch trials and relief paper.  Image 12.11 below shows the stitch that I decided to use for section A.

imageImage 12.11

Section B

image Image 12.12 – paper relief for section B


Image 12.13 – stitch trial using strips of different natural and synthetic fabrics roughly stitched on to calico backing.   The edges curled up in places thus representing the paper relief quite well.


Stitch trial 12.14 – I used several layers of synthetic and natural fabrics which I then stitched in lines and slashed through to the base.  In one area on the base fabric I embroidered some lettering which was revealed when I cut away the top fabrics. 


Image 12.15 – the trial samples and relief paper together.  I decided to use sample 12.14 in the resolved sample as I thought it showed the linear strips well, and created a high pile which would contrast well with the flatter texture of section A.

Section C

imageImage 12.16 – paper relief sample for section C


Image 12.17 – stitch trial using a piece of linen that had been gathered and the gathers were stitched in place.  This was then used as the top layer for some shaped quilting i.e. block shapes were sandwiched between the top and base layer, and then stitched around with free machine stitch to create the raised blocks.  This technique didn’t create the sharp edges that I wanted for this section.


Image 12.18 – this stitch trial was created using a piece of muslin which had folds and tucks stitched in place.  This was then attached to several layers of wadding to give some height and cut into blocks.  The blocks were attached to a piece of synthetic organza which I had treated with a hot air gun to create wrinkles.


12.19 – various trials – using folds, tucks and small ‘cushions’ made with wadding, calico and linen.  I decided to use the ‘cushions’ in Section C as they had the sharp edges that I was looking for which would contrast well with section B and D either side, but also because they could be stacked on top of each other to create variety in the height of the surface.

Section D

image Image 12.20 – paper relief for section D


Image 12.20 – ‘book stacks’ made from cotton.  These were created by making a series of small booklets which were stitched along the spine and attached to a calico backing.  They were stitched very close together which caused the ‘pages’ to stand upright.  This technique created quite a high surface, but not the irregular folds that are present in image 12.20

image Image 12.21 – cotton lawn, gathered and then hand stitched.  This technique created the folds and flat areas that I was looking for.

image Image 12.22 – cotton lawn; cord applied using a twin needle.  This technique produced too flat a surface, without the irregular folds that are present in image 12.20

I decided to use the technique in 12.12, but to add more stitching to it as shown below in image 12.23, as this created more contrasts between the flat areas and the ripples.

image Image 12.23


Choice of fabrics

I decided the majority of my fabrics would be made of natural fibres, as this would allow me to colour them using natural methods.  To create another connection between my resolved sample, and the original inspiration, I decided to rust die the fabrics using metal objects that I had collected from Doniford Beach over recent years.  My chosen colour palette was grey tones and rust.  I knew from previous experiments that if I used tea to wet the fabrics before rusting, the tannin would react with the iron to create a grey colour on the areas not directly touching the rusted metal.

Synthetic fabrics would be used for some of the layers beneath the natural fabrics so that they can be melted or distorted as required.image

Image 12.24 – my fabrics during the rusting process


Image 12.25 – the dyed fabrics.  I used a variety of fabrics e.g. scrim, muslin, lawn, calico, linen of different weights.  I was very pleased with the variety of shades produced.


Image 12.26 – some of the rust marks created,


Image 12.27 – the string used to bind the fabric to the rusty objects also took the dye colours.  I planned to use this for the couching in Section A.

 Creating the resolved sample

I selected some medium weight calico as the backing for the piece, and marked the design outlines onto it , see image 12.28 below.


Image 12.28

I then copied the design onto some freezer paper (image 12.29)


Image 12.29

The first section I created was section B.  I decided that I would used this section to incorporate the quote ‘Constantly revealing new secrets’ and so hand embroidered this on to the base layer first.  I tacked around the edge of the embroidered quote so that I would know where it was from the reverse.  I placed the freezer paper for section B onto the reverse of the base fabric and drew around it.  I then placed layers of fabric on the right side of the backing fabric and pinned them in place.  Working from the reverse, I stitched lines through the layers of fabric, and along the edge of the embroidered quote.  I then turned the fabric over and slashed through the channels between the stitch lines.

image Image 12.30

image Image 12.31


Image 12.32

Finally, I used a soldering iron to run along the slashed edges to melt some of the synthetic layers in order to create additional textures in the slashes.

Section A

I ironed the freezer paper template onto some rusted linen, and then onto a piece of wool felt.  I bonded the linen and wool together using Bondaweb.


Image 12.33

image Image 12.34 – the base pieces of section A placed on the backing to check their fit.

imageImage 12.35 – I stitched small pieces of scrim to the backing to create a more textured surface.


Image 12.36 – I used some of the dyed string to create rounded shapes which I couched in place using buttonhole stitch and a matching cotton thread.

Section D

I used the freezer paper template to create a backing piece of calico.  I then used several pieces of my dyed fabrics, gathered them, and stitched them to the backing as shown in image 12.37 below.

imageImage 12.37


Image 12.38 – I added some areas of machine stitch to flatten out some areas in contrast to the folds.


Image 12.39 – I then added some Fly Stitch using a grey linen thread, to accentuate the fold shapes.

Section C

I layered some linen, cotton wadding, and a dyed piece of fine linen and stitched a grid as shown in image 12.40. I chose one of the pieces that had the strongest rust colouring as I wanted this to contrast with the greys in the other sections.


Image 12.40


Image 12.41 – I cut along the gridlines to create a set of wadded cushions.

imageImage 12.42 – I added some torn pieces of scrim to the backing for this section, to create a textured background before attaching the cushions.

imageImage  12.43 – an early assemblage of the sections.  The cushions for section C were just pinned in place at this point.  I realised that section A faded into the background and so added some more stitch to it as shown below in image 12.44.

image Image 12.44 – additional buttonhole stitch on the couched areas in different shades of grey and rust.  This provided more definition to the shapes as shown in image 12.45 below.

image Image 12.45 

Image 12.46 shows the piece with all of the sections added.  At this point I was quite happy with the effect, but felt that it needed more work to really accentuate the differences between each section.  I spent a lot of time with the sample pinned to a wall in my workroom just thinking about what was needed.

image Image 12.46

I decided to add some heavy stitching to section A to accentuate the boulder shapes as well as flattening the texture more in order to increase the contrast with Section B.  I used multiple levels of Fly Stitch in a grey linen thread.


Image 12.47

Next I added some Bullion Stitches in a thick grey yarn into the chenille of Section B.  This served to highlight the linear aspect of the section, as well as pushing the fabric in each chenille ‘chanel’ to stand up more thus giving greater height (see image 12.48 below)


Image 12.48

I felt that the blocks in Section C didn’t quite work.  Whilst I wanted them to provide a strong contrast to the other sections, I also needed them to look part of the piece.  I decided to add some stitch in a rust colour behind the blocks to tie them to the base better.  I used loose rows of French Knots (see image 12.49)


Image 12.49

Finally, I wanted section D to have greater definition between the high and low areas.  I added some very heavy areas of stitching following the lines of the folds, again in grey linen thread with elongated Fly Stitches.  This helped, but didn’t completely give the effect that I wanted.  I then decided to stuff some of the raised areas which produced the effect that I required.  See image 12.50 below.


Image 12.50


Image 12.51 – the final piece!

I am really pleased with my final piece.  Whilst it has different shapes and textures between each section, it also has a cohesiveness due to the use of the same palette of colours and fabrics.  I found it interesting to look back to my source photograph (below) and think about how the numerous iterations in paper, stitch, and fabric manipulations have led me to produce a piece which, I think, represents the landscape textures in the photograph very well.


12.52 source photograph.


Module 5 – Chapter 11b


Using some of my decorated papers and source images, I looked at different ways of dividing the images into a series of shapes.

2018-01-04 14.08.40 Image 11.1b – source image


Image 11.2b


Image 11.3b

 image Image 11.4b – source image


Image 11.5b


Image 11.6b


Image 11.7b – source image


Image 11.8b


Image 11.9b


Image 11.10b – source image

Image 11.11b below, shows the design that I decided to use for my resolved sample.

image Image 11.11b – design for resolved sample

The brief for the resolved sample says that a maximum of four techniques should be used when creating the sample, and I felt that this design was simple enough to showcase just four techniques, but also would produce a balanced composition.

Module 5 – Chapter 11a

In preparation for making my design for the final assessed piece, I decorated some papers.  My first batch were flat and were made using inks, bleach,monoprints, and printing using cardboard shapes.  Image 11a.1 below shows the flat papers.

I had decided that my colour scheme would be shades of gray and rust, as these are the colours present in my original source images of the coastal rocks.  I therefore made my papers using this same limited colour palette.

image Image 11a.1 – flat decorated papers.

When designing the papers I referenced the shapes in my source materials, and interpretations of the shapes made in earlier chapters of this module.  Consequently, they are variations on two main themes; the linear rock strata shapes and the rounded cobble type shapes.  By using layers of techniques on each design e.g. ink and bleach, monoprint using a gelli plate, printing using cardboard shapes with acrylic paint,  I produced some papers which I think are lively and have interesting depths.

I then made some textured papers, again, using the same colour palette.

image Image 11a.2 – torn strips of brown parcel paper, curled around a pencil, and then partially stuck down to allow some parts to curl up.  Gesso applied roughly to accentuate shapes.

image Image 11.3a – card torn into block shapes and glued down.  Brushed with dry Brusho ink in rust colour to accentuate the edges.  I felt that this paper was still too flat and so added some torn pieces of scrim as seen below in 11.4a. image Image 11.4a – as above, with scrim added.  I was pleased that when I applied glue to attach the scrim, the moist glue reacted with the dry Brusho ink and created stronger rusty looking areas.

imageImage 11.5a – parcel paper applied to glued backing and pushed into folds.  Roughly painted over with Gesso to accentuate the shapes.  I find this paper really attractive; whilst it is made of scrap paper with very dry textures, it resembles the flowing folds in a sumptuous silk garment.

imageImage 11.6a – strips of torn paper glued to background to create creased texture.  Circles made with glue from a hot glue gun.  Roughly painted over with gesso, then a rust coloured oil pastel was scraped over to accentuate the raised shapes.


Image 11.7a – blocks of foam board were glued to the background. Creased tissue paper was glued over the top and encouraged to create folds.  Painted over with gesso and scraped over with rust coloured oil pastel to accentuate creases.  This created a strongly textured surface with about 8mm height.


Image 11.8a – tissue paper creased and glued to background.  Oil pastel scraped over when dry. I was very pleased with this marble-like texture.

imageImage 11.9a – lines and blobs made with hot glue.  This didn’t really work as it still looks too flat.  Using a creased background would have been more effective.


Image 11.10a – patches of pleated tissue paper glued to background.  Rubbed over with rust coloured pastel when dry.  This created a very subtly textured surface.

Module 5 – Chapter 10

Stitch to translate

Using the rubbings made in chapter 9, I made some stitch samples, shown below.

imageImage 10.1  – rubbing from paper relief.  I chose this rubbing because of the strong horizontal lines with knot marks which I thought would be interesting to interpret in stitch.


Image 10.2

For sample 10.2 I used Feather Stitch in three different threads.  Using stitches in different sizes, I created horizontal lines with very small stitches in places to represent the knot marks on the paper rubbing.  The threads I used were a linen thread, a tasselled cotton yarn and mohair yarn.  I was particularly pleased with the fractured effect that the tasselled yarn produced.

image   Image 10.3 – from left, clockwise; stitched sample, paper relief, rubbing.

image Image 10.4 – paper rubbing.  The main element that I wanted to recreate in this sample was the rows of upright lines of different lengths image 10.5 – stitched sample.  I chose to use a linen thread as it gives strong clean lines, and used Buttonhole Stitch.  I was pleased with the way in which this sample, inadvertently, strongly represented the original source photo from Chapter 1,  i.e.  row of blocks of stone.


Image 10.6 – from top, clockwise:  stitched sample, rubbing, paper relief.



Image 10.7 – rubbing from fabric sample. I decided to try making some rubbings from some of my fabric relief samples as well as the paper ones.  I was very pleased with this one as it produced very clean shapes.


Image 10.8 – I used large Detached Chain Stitches in a cotton thread and used some tiny stitches to attach the sides of the stitches to the backing fabric to create these strong circular shapes.


Image 10.9 – from left clockwise: stitch sample, fabric relief, rubbing.


Image 10.10 – for my final sample I chose this rubbing as it offered a contrast to the previous ones.  This was also taken from one of my fabric samples, and produced these clusters of small lines fanning out from a point.


Image 10.11 – I used Fly Stitch in a very fine cotton thread and created these clusters of stitches.


Image 10.12 – from left: stitch sample, fabric sample, paper rubbing.

I very much enjoyed this chapter.  The process of moving away from the original source material has been fascinating i.e. by creating a paper relief, then a fabric relief, then a rubbing, then a stitched sample.  Following these steps away from the original source using these techniques has helped me to create some stitched marks which I would never have thought of originally, and yet which relate strongly to the original source photographs. 

Module 5 – Chapter 9

Threads and stitchery

In this chapter I explored the effects that can be achieved by using stitches for mark making.  To begin with I used Mary Thomas’s  “Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches” to practice  some familiar stitches, and learn a few new ones.  Image 9.1 below shows a key to the stitches that I learned, which are shown in image 9.2.


Image 9.1 – key to stitches


Image 9.2 – stitch sampler

I chose to use fly stitch to try some formal and informal ways of mark making.  I used a long strip of black cotton fabric and a variety of white threads, shown in image 9.3 below


Image 9.3

image Image 9.4 – fly stitch worked as individual stitches, in a linear pattern. in different directions, in different sizes.


Image 9.5 – fly stitch in alternate directions and lengths to create stripes, in groups, loose and overlapping, small and overlapping


Image 9.6 – Fly stitch dovetailed together in different threads and in blocks, couching  a cord, in twisted cord.

I then tried some less formal ways of using Fly stitch.


Image 9.7 – Fly stitch – loose and overlapping in two different threads

image Image 9.8 – the stitch on the left was left very loose to create pebble like shapes, and on the right a variety of stitch sizes was used in alternate directions which created this chevron effect.


Image 9.9- a less formal version of 9.5 – fly stitch in alternate directions and lengths to create stripes with two threads on top of each other


Image 9.10 – informal couching fly stitch.  I was very pleased with the way that this could be used to look like cracks and fissures in a rock.


Image 9.11 – I had some scraps of silk selvedge and tried a couple of stitches with that, creating these marks that look a little like sycamore keys.


Image 9.12 – mohair wool created a pleasingly blurred effect


Rubbings from relief surfaces

Going back to the paper relief samples I made earlier, and some of the fabric relief samples, I experimented in making rubbings to identify some marks that could be used as a design source for stitching in chapter 10.  The images below show some of the most effective rubbings.  These were made with oil pastels on black tissue paper.


Image 9.13


Image 9.14

Images 9.15 – 18 below show the samples that I will use in chapter 10 for stitching.


Image 9.15


Image 9.16


Image 9.17


Image 9.18

I am pleased with the samples that I have selected to take forward to stitching as they offer the opportunity to use a range of size and type of stitches.

Module 5 – Chapter 8

 Paper relief into fabric relief

In this chapter, I translated five of the paper relief samples that I made in chapter 3, into fabric; two fabric samples of each paper relief sample.

image Image 8.1

Image 8.1 shows a paper relief sample that I made to represent some cobble-like rocks.

image Image 8.2

Image 8.2 shows my first fabric relief sample.  This was made from cotton lawn which I gathered using a grid of machine stitches.  The grid had irregular sized sections i.e. some rows of stitching were closer than others.  I pulled the gathering threads and then pushed the resulting puffed-up sections through to one side with my finger.  I then placed some cotton wadding behind the lawn fabric and used free embroidery to stitch around the gathered sections.   This technique created some beautifully creased raised areas which I felt represented the cobbles well.  If I were to use this technique again, I would try to make the gathered sections more varied in size and shape i.e. fewer straight lines, to create more natural cobble shapes.  I would also make the black stitching around the rocks much heavier.


Image 8.3

In my second sample, in image 8.3, I cut some rounded pieces of Lutradur and then heated them with a hot-air gun until they curled at the edges and contracted.  I then stitched these pieces on to a black cotton background.  Whilst I think that this technique created some interesting stone-shaped pieces, I don’t think the overall result was as effective as 8.2 as the black negative shape around the ‘rocks’ looks less like the paper relief sample.


Image 8.4 – both samples in a frame made with prints of my source photograph and paper relief sample.


Image 8.5 – From top left, clockwise:  paper relief; source photo of rocks; Lutradur sample; gathered sample.


Image 8.6 – paper relief

Image 8.6 shows a paper relief sample that I made to represent the same cobble-like rocks as in 8.1. 


Image 8.7

Image 8.7 shows my first fabric interpretation of 8.6.  I used a synthetic organza fabric and cut out several rounded shapes.  I layered these shapes on to a black background so that they weren’t directly on top of each other in order to create some variation in the shades of white i.e. a stronger white where there are more layers.   I then applied a top layer of the same fabric and hand-stitched around each of the shapes.


Image 8.8

Image 8.8 shows my second interpretation.  For this I cut rounded shapes out of a loosely woven linen-type fabric and frayed the edges.  I saved the withdrawn threads and sprinkled these on to a black cotton background and then placed the frayed shapes on top.  I then placed a layer of wonderweb and ironed the pieces in place.  Finally I ironed a layer of synthetic organza on top.

imageImage 8.9

Image 8.9 shows the two samples in a frame made with prints of my source photograph and paper relief sample.

image Image 8.10 – From top left, clockwise:  source photo of rocks; paper relief; frayed sample; layered sample. 

Of the two samples, I think that the frayed version (bottom right in 8.10) most closely represents the paper relief sample as the loose threads give the impression of the creases in the paper version.

image Image 8.11

Image 8.11 shows a paper relief sample that I made to represent some layers of block-like rock strata

image Image 8.12

The sample in 8.12 was created by using reverse appliqué by layering five different types of fabric (synthetic organza, cotton lawn, nylon toile, scrim and linen) and machine stitching a series of lines all in the same direction to create stripes.  I then cut away various layers of the fabric to reveal the different fabrics, and then cut the piece into strips and attached them to a black fabric background.   I was pleased with the different textures and depths of tone created by this method.  However, I wasn’t so pleased with the sharp edges where the strips were cut; a more organic appearance could have been created by using a looser weave fabric on the base and fraying the edges more.

image Image 8.13

In sample 8.13, I created a series of different sized tucks on a piece of synthetic organza.  I then cut strips of various widths across the piece, and attached them to a black fabric background.  Whilst this was a very simple technique, I was pleased with the 3D effect achieved due to the stiffness of the fabric causing the tucks to stand proud.


Image 8.14 – shows the two samples in a frame made with prints of my source photograph and paper relief sample.

image Image 8.15 – From top left, clockwise:  source photo of rocks; paper relief; reverse appliqué sample; tuck sample

image Image 8.16 – my paper relief sample of the same rocks shown top left in 8.15 above.

image Image 8.17 – I used a loose weave synthetic fabric and stitched some curved tucks which varied in width along their length.  I then hand stitched them in various ways to create a bumpy texture.  The most effective way I found was to make a series of backstitches with the thread mainly inside the tuck. By pulling the stitches tight as I went along I created small gathers in the tucks.

image Image 8.18 – in this sample I created a background using cotton scrim onto which I stitched a series of curved pin tucks, and adhered it to a black piece of card. I then took some long strips of the scrim, twisted and knotted them and painted them with gesso to give them a harder texture.   I tried covering this whole sample with a piece of organza as I thought it might unify the different elements, but a lot of the detail was lost and so I decided to leave it as it was.

image Image 8.19 – shows the two samples in a frame made with prints of my source photograph and paper relief sample.

image Image 8.20 – From top left, clockwise:  source photo of rocks; paper relief; tuck sample; twisted and knotted sample.

image Image 8.21- paper relief of some shale rock


Image 8.22- I used a backing of wadding and machine stitched slithers of various fabrics to it.  The slithers overlapped each other and twisted in places.  I was pleased with the irregular horizontal stripes that this technique produced.

image Image 8.23- I used slashed reverse appliqué for this sample.  I used six layers of fabrics, all of which were woven so that they would fray and some of which were synthetic so that they could be melted.  After stitching curved lines on top of the layers, I cut through and created a chenille effect by roughly brushing the edges.  I then used a soldering iron to melt some of the synthetic edges to add some more interest to the textures.  I was very pleased with this sample as it had some depth as well as the horizontal stripes that I was trying to achieve.

image Image 8.24 – shows the two samples in a frame made with prints of my source photograph and paper relief sample.

image  Image 8.25 – from top left clockwise; original source photo of shale rock; paper relief; chenille sample, stitched layers sample.

Module 5 – Chapter 7

 Tactile contrasts

In this chapter I made an experimental sampler using different fabrics in different manipulative ways. The aim was to produce  a range of textures that looked, but more importantly, felt very different to each other.

I cut some foam board into 2in squares and mounted my samples on to them.


Image 7.1

Top row:

  • Left:  Cotton lawn, gathered around small buttons.
  • Centre:  lightweight calico, gathered with narrow bands of machine stitching, gathered.
  • Right:  synthetic organza stitched into tucks,  gathered, melted in places with a soldering iron, and then drips of hot glue added.

Bottom row:

  • Left:  calico back, nylon tulle top, stitched into circles, padded from back with synthetic wadding.
  • Centre: Rolls of cotton lawn, twisted tight until they twisted into loops.
  • Right: cotton lawn with cord quilting.

image Image 7.2

Top row:

  • Left:  synthetic course weave fabric, twisted and stitched into peaks.
  • Centre: buttons gathered into fabric as before, but this is the rear of the fabric.
  • Right:  wool felt, folded into 1 inch high pleats, snipped and some of the sections were opened out whilst others were kept folded.

Bottom row:

  • Left:  synthetic organza stitched with grid of gathering threads
  • Centre:  synthetic course weave fabric, stitched with firm tucks and loops of cotton stitched in to the tucks.
  • Right:  strips of cotton scrim with threads withdrawn along length to create soft frayed edges, gathered and stitched to base fabric to create fluffy soft texture.

image Image 7.3

  • Left:  calico pleated at one corner
  • Centre: cotton scrim with synthetic wadding gathered into balls
  • Right:  cotton lawn hand quilted using cotton wadding and calico base.

This chapter was great fun, and I was pleased to have created a range of textures by using different weights of fabric, different types of fabrics, and different manipulations to create a variety of surfaces.