Ideas for designing a functional 3-dimensional embroidered item
Stage 1 – Three dimensional shapes
In order to explore the development of 3-D embroidered pieces I created some small 3-D shapes as shown below. I had some of my decorated fabrics left and so used these.
Image – 12.1
Image 12.1 shows three shapes – a sphere, a cone and a triangular based pyramid. As can be seen in the photograph, the sphere was not quite spherical! It was made from 8 sections and would have been better made from more, say 16 sections, to get a more gently rounded shape.
Image 12.2 – a cube and a cylinder.
I have a design idea for my 3-D assessed sample which involves coils of wire. To explore this idea further I attempted to create a 3-D coil from fabric as shown in image 12.3.
Stage 2 – developing ideas for the 3-D assessed sample
Throughout the module I have been thinking about what sort of 3-D item I would like to make. I decided that I wanted to create something that I will use within the home and I had been particularly drawn to the butterfly and moth patterns in the earlier chapters. I developed an idea for a lampshade which would represent the way in which moths gather around a flame.
Image 12.4 – idea development of ‘moths around a flame’ from my sketchbook.
Having decided that I wanted to create a ‘moths around a flame’ lamp shade I started working on how this could be designed.
My first idea was to create a conical shaped shade
Image 12.5 – Sketchbook page
I thought about making the conical shade using three tiers.
Strips of monoprinted silk wound over a wire frame
Printing to be darker at the top fading towards the bottom. This tonal change would represent a more concentrated cluster of moths closer to the flame.
Hand printed silk moths stitched on to the silk strips.
More moths at the top of the shade i.e. closer to the bulb, again to create tonal change.
My second idea was to have a cascading swarm of moths.
Image 12.6 – Sketchbook page
This would be constructed using:
a wire frame with 3 concentric rings
moths made from hand printed silk
‘invisible thread’ in varying lengths to attach the moths
the central ring would have the shortest threads, middle ring would have medium length threads and the outer ring would have the longest threads to create the effect of a cluster of moths closest to the bulb.
My third idea was based on the patterns that are seen when moths are caught on a slow shutter camera i.e. the tracks of their flight. I was attracted to the random, scribble- like appearance and thought this could produce an interesting basis for a light shade.
Image 12.7 – Sketchbook page
My thoughts on this design was to use a ready-made wire frame as the base for a wire construction with hand-printed silk moths attached to it. Again my idea was to have a greater concentration of moths closer to the bulb i.e. a swarm of moths going towards the light. I also thought that I would use darker printed moths close to the bulb and lighter ones away from the bulb to help build the impression of a more concentrated mass of moths near the bulb.
I discussed my design ideas with Sian and decided to go with Design Three. Whilst I had always liked this design best as it allowed me to be more creative, I was concerned about whether it used enough of the techniques used in this Module. Sian assured me that this would be acceptable as it would develop the ideas of tonal changes and hand-printing fabrics to make the moths.
Ideas for constructing Design Three
The wire frame
I started thinking about ways to construct the wire frame.
Images 12.8, 12.9 and 12.10 show some wire structures on display at the Knit and Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace in October 2015. These were beautiful large scale sculptures which showed the shapes and interesting lines that can be created. The structure in image 12.8 and 12.9 was suspended from the ceiling and so didn’t need to support itself. As can be seen in image 12.9 it was made from hundreds of pieces of curved wire, about 5 inches long connected with a loop on each end.
The structure in 12.10 was more rigid and self-supporting. It was made with a thick wire as the rim and different thicknesses of wire bent into interesting curves, almost like arteries with thinner wires connecting to make a network of wires.
Type of wire
I decided to explore a range of types of wire. My main criteria are that it is the right thickness to be flexible enough to bend in to shape, but rigid enough to keep its shape.
Some ideas included:
Metal guitar strings – the thick bass ones which have a core with wire coiled around it. These would be flexible enough to shape but would not be rigid enough to hold the shape.
Industrial wire…possibly rusted. This could give an interesting finish to the lampshade but I liked the idea of a shiny finish and thought that rust would not blend in with the monochrome tones of the piece.
Florists wire – this is easily obtainable in various thicknesses, colours and so would be suitable for shaping and would be rigid enough.
Garden wire – either coated or galvanised
Decorating the wire – ideas included:
Having tried various types of wire I found that a galvanised 1mm garden wire was the best fit. I decided not to decorate the wire because I liked the silver colour as it gave a good representation of the moths flight trails which look bright when captured by camera.
The structure that I wanted to create needed to be light enough to hand from a light fitting and rigid enough to keep its shape and support the silk moths. I also wanted to be able to create the swirling shapes created by moth’s flight trails. I started playing with wire to work out ways of creating the structure. Image 12.11 shows two of the samples I made. The bottom sample was made by creating individual rings and then joining them together. The top sample was created by making coils of wire, splaying them out, raising some of them and then joining them to each other. I was pleased with this approach as it has the potential to create depth when a number of the coils are joined together but felt that it wouldn’t give the random swirling pattern of the moths flight trails that I wanted to create . I therefore decided to explore wire coils as the basis for creating the wire structure. (see images 12.12 and 12.13 below)
I found a plastic pot with a circumference of the size that I wanted for the coil and wound the wire around it tightly. Once released from the pot it created a long coil.
Image 12.12 – coiling wire around a plastic pot.
Image 12.13 – wire coil created. when removed from the plastic pot.
I decided that I would create a number of coils in this way in different sizes i.e. using different sized tubes to wind the wire around. These would then be joined together and attached to the lampshade.
Ideas for constructing the lampshade
As a starting point the frame would be constructed using a lampshade frame such as that shown in 12.13.
Image 12.15 below shows a page from my sketchbook where I further developed an idea for the construction of the shade. In order for the shade to serve its purpose (i.e. shade the light) I wanted to have some sort of solid structure beneath the wire structure. This could be made using a band of firm fabric such as heavy Vilene or buckram attached to the lampshade frame (shown as number 1 in the sketchbook page below). I found a lampshade kit online which had an adhesive band onto which I could stick my own fabric and so decided to use this.
This band would then be decorated as shown in 2 in the sketchbook page below, using printed or painted silk organza. The image below shows ideas of covering the whole band in one piece of fabric, or using torn strips of various lengths to create a more organic appearance. I decided that a more interesting effect could be achieved by creating a patterned band using the mosaic technique for piecing used in chapter 11.
The wire structure would then be fixed on top of the fabric band, and silk moths would be attached to the wire frame as shown in 3 in the sketchbook page below.
As a starting point I used black and white silk organza fabric and patterned it using a variety of methods as shown below:
Image 12.16 – Black silk patterned with white fabric paint printed with a grooved lipstick tube.
Image 12.17 – Black silk patterned with white fabric paint printed with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.
Image 12.18 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.
Image 12.19 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with finger prints.
Image 12.20 – White silk patterned with black fabric paint printed with a splayed brush.
Image 12.21 – White silk mono-printed with black fabric paint patterned with the hollow end of a glue stick lid.
Image 12.22 – White silk patterned monoprinted with black fabric paint. This was the first monoprint that I did in this batch using a gelli plate and the paint didn’t apply smoothly but instead it separated and caused this interesting cracked-earth effect.
I pieced together pieces of my printed silk fabrics and cut and stitched them numerous times to create the mosaic-looking piece below.
Image 12.23 – mosaic pieced printed silk organza
Image 12.24 – close up of section of mosaic pieced printed silk organza
Image 12.25 – close up of section of mosaic pieced printed silk organza
I stitched the piece with some front facing and some back facing seams in order to add textural differences. I added a strip of lighter toned fabrics along the bottom edge as I wanted the shade to be darker at the top as if there are more moths at the top cutting out more of the light.
I then covered the lampshade as shown below.
Image 12.26 – the shade prior to trimming
Image 12.27 – the trimmed shade
Ideas for creating the silk moths
My next step was to work out how to create the silk moths that will sit on the wire frame surrounding the lampshade.
I attended a short workshop in October run by textile artist Amanda Clayton which was about creating interesting edges on sheer fabrics. This was very helpful in exploring ways of creating the silk moths.
Images 12.28 and 12.29 show the effect created by cutting a piece of silk organza on the bias then stitching pin tucks into it in various directions. Using this very simple technique I was able to create quite sculptural pieces of stitching which could work well as moths. I like the ethereal, ghost-like appearance of these pieces. The silk moths could be strengthened in places using thin cotton-covered wire (used by cake decorators for flower stems).
Image 12.28 Image 12.29
Images 12.30 and 12.31 below show some of the ideas I developed for the moths. These included using silk organza as a base and:
- add other fabrics hand stitched in place
- stitching beyond the added pieces
- cording i.e. adding a thicker thread and cording it in place to add structure
- adding a second layer of silk organza and hand stitching over it in places.
I was pleased with the effect of using two layers of silk organza as it created interesting areas of shade and light as well as adding more body to the structure.
Image 12.31 – sketchbook page
I then thought about how I would attach the moths to the wire frame and decided that each individual moth should be individually wired so that it could be attached. I decided to try to design a silk moth with wire as part of its structure. As a starting point a painted some cake decorators’ wire as shown below.
Image 12.32 – cake decorators’ wire painted in places using black fabric paint to create a patchy effect.
Image 12.33 – painted cake decorators’ wire
I then worked on constructing some wired silk moths as shown below.
Image 12.34 – two layers of printed organza approximately 1 inch by 1.5 inches.
Image 12.35 – I cut the organza into a rough moth shape and made a row of running stitch down the centre
Image 12.36 – I gathered the running stitch and fixed it in place by winding a piece of wire around the middle.
Image 12.37 – completed moths
Image 12.38 – completed moths close up Image 12.39 – completed moths close up
Image 12.40 – completed moths close up
Images 12.41 and 12.42 – silk moth on coiled wire next to a photo of moths trails to illustrate that my silk and wire construction will produce a good representation of the moth ‘flight trails’ discussed earlier in this chapter.
Constructing and attaching the wire coils
Image 12.43 – attaching the wire coils to the shade.
I used short pieces of florists wire to attach the wire coils to the shade as shown in image 12.43.
Image 12.44 – wire coils attached to the lampshade
As can be seen in image 12.44 I surrounded the shade with a tangle of coils which were attached at several points to make it secure.
Image 12.45 – verification photograph of me attaching moths to the coils.
Image 12.46 – the completed shade with moths attached
Image 12.47 – ‘Like moths round a flame’ – completed shade
Image 12.48 – completed shade – close up