Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Beginning with the Plan

As it is so important to work to a theme for one's own stitched textile journey, I thought it might be good to begin with the choices we make from the start. We all come from different stitch or art backgrounds with varying years of experience, so perhaps before starting a new project it might be a good idea to list all the techniques that you already know. Those skills that you are most familiar with and enjoy, will be at the top of the list.
      This might include patchwork and quilting, embroidery or surface design techniques accumulated over the years, or perhaps art training with drawing, painting and mixed media.   Stitched textile and art practise go ‘hand-in-hand’, as there is such a cross-over these days.  Dyeing, painting fabrics, discharge, stamping, screen printing, image transfer, as well as stitch techniques both hand and machine, layering, cutting back, applique, piecing –  the list is endless, might be included.  
      Then, with a special theme in mind we can ‘fine-tune’ that list, making choices that would fit the subject perfectly.
      Occasionally, there will be something new you have seen, that would really work well and you need to learn more. It may be time to investigate further with a new book or some experimentation in a class.  However, it could become confusing to just continue exploring these new products and techniques, (and there are so many at the moment), without concentrating on which ones would be appropriate for what you have in mind.  
      Here is an example to illustrate this....
"Some years ago I wanted to do several textile pieces on the subject of Alzheimers.  I knew about the condition and read about the physical changes in the brain as the disease progressed.  So, I decided to work with layers and sheers...., undefined and confused images.... faded pictures of the past that come in and out of focus.  Or perhaps the mesh of nerve endings that don't quite meet up, ... the spaces and the void... in the brain.
Deciding on several stitch and surface techniques was the next step.
  • Photo image transfer on background fabrics like cotton could include words and writing - this would be with heat or acrylic medium transfer methods.
  • Image transfer could also be on sheers - perhaps by printing the stabilized sheers through an inkjet printer.
  • Screen printing an image on both base fabric (cotton) or sheers using an original screen made with the ‘thermofax’ screen process.
  • Creating an open mesh with machine threads - stitching on cold water soluble materials could mimic loose unstructured nerve endings
  • Or, burning big holes through a layer of lutradur to create the void space might work as a layer to 'look through'.
  • All of these could be incorporated with sheer layers that lay together or perhaps have space between them.
      These were my thoughts at the time…..I even had a picture in my mind of how these layers could work and done some preliminary sketches for a series of pieces.   In the end, I didn't need to make the final pieces, but the journey for me, was necessary.
      Planning in advance is such an important part of the process.  
There can be occasional happy accidents, and these new skills have to be explored before we can put them on our list…..but all the new products and techniques are just tools in the end. The ideas and the choices we make are more important to a successful final outcome.
                                                                                                            Thameside 2009
In future posts - I will be reviewing the importance of Design and Composition when we begin.  New ideas will be worked through in sketchbook form, with drawings and collage.  

Stay tuned.....and thanks for reading..


  1. Thanks Sandra - important insights for me to remember

  2. Sandra, what a wonderful sharing of your experience and expertise. Thank you. I will be trying to incorporate some of your advice.