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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I then copied the design onto some freezer paper (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.
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.
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 12.36 – I used some of the dyed string to create rounded shapes which I couched in place using buttonhole stitch and a matching cotton thread.
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.
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.
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 12.41 – I cut along the gridlines to create a set of wadded cushions.
Image 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 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.
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.
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)
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)
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 12.51 – 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.