Posted by Agnes Iley , Tuesday, October 26, 2010 7:41 AM

Resolving a sample

imageMy first test was appliqueing the figures.
There are some issues to resolve here. First of all the silk is to light as a background fabric, it needs stabilizing and the blue fabric shines through the faces.
I used a regular tension setting on top and the bobbin was still set for a whip stitch. And although this gives a loose, sketchy effect, maybe it will look to messy if it was used for the whole piece?

I like the tonal difference between the background and the faces in the foreground. This happened by accident, I grabbed a piece of black fabric that was next to my machine to stabilize the silk. It gives the background a greyish tone, which makes the faces pop out a bit more.
Overall I am quite happy with this little sample, all the issues can be easily resolved. But the question remains if this will show enough stitch to suit the assignment.
My second test was to machine embroider the figures. For this I gave my fab-u-motion (stitch regulator) a trial run.
I still appliqued the figures to create that tonal difference between fore- and background. There are some issues to resolve here as well.
I started by making the darker folds in the fabric and embroidered around them.
I dont like the effect, I much prefer the loose, sketchy outlines of the first test.
I need to use a finer needle in the machine, this one leaves holes which are very visible on the outer right figure.
I played a bit with the density of the stitch and although I like the lighter feel of the figure on the right, I feel this is not the most suitable for my sketch.
In my sketch the crowd is lined up shoulder to shoulder, like a solid block, quite regimented. To recreate this I think I need solid fills for the clothes.
To outline the figures I used a silk thread, I picked this because its a little heavier then the rayon I used for the clothes. Ill have to up this a notch and go for an even heavier thread, maybe a buttonhole or jeans thread. So the outline wont disappear into the background.

So what I am going to do? I like the painterly effect of the first sample a lot.
The second sample undoubtedly fits in better with the assignmentdecisions, decisions

Posted by Agnes Iley , Sunday, October 24, 2010 7:37 AM

A sample

For my first sample I need to choose a drawing with strong lines or linear qualities.
This simple statement has been occupying my mind, long before I actually got to this stage. All my usual drawing inhibitions surfaced which led to a number of useless scribbles. This morning, totally out of the blue, I came up with this..
Well maybe not totally out of the blue, I was angry. I was reading an online newspaper about a proposal to extent freedom of speech in such a way that certain groups could be lawfully insulted. Now I am all for freedom of speech, in equal measures for everyone, but I think that weve got enough words in our language to make a point without having to result to insults. I was most angry about the unbelievable comments left by other readers all anonymous and all by people who would never have the courage to voice those opinions when you looked them in the face.
The faceless crowd can be a force of incredible strength in countries where people cant voice their opinions. imageUnfortunately over here its now a source of hate.

This drawing was literally made in 5 minutes and I hope it has got enough strong lines and linear qualities to serve as a sketch for my first sample.
I have been thinking about how to translate it to textile.
One option would be to applique each person separately to the background.
A benefit of this method would be that this would create additional texture and depth.
Another idea is to just use a piece of background fabric and embroider the whole picture. Maybe this is more in keeping with the assignment?
Hmmm.I think Ill have to do some samples and then decide.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Saturday, October 23, 2010 7:35 AM

Machine stitching

imageThis weekend I spent some time on machine stitching.
First started practicing whip stitch, this stitch has got interesting textural qualities, but I found it hard to control. To get a cording type effect I had to go down to my smallest stitch length of 0,5 mm. Free motion it was most interesting in a circular movement, which created a flowery type effect.
Next to the whip stitch I did some free motion work and even though Ive got a fab-u-motion with my machine I decided that would be cheating
I discovered Ive got serious wobbly hands.and there was me thinking I was such a stable person.
Anyway things got better after a while and I guess free motion work just takes lots of practice. I will do some more work with the regulator installed, I havent had much chance to practice with it yet and the moving table will definitely make for a smoother movement.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Thursday, October 21, 2010 7:31 AM

Whip stitch on the machine

Its a very busy week at work, so I havent had time to sew. But I did manage to rummage through some issues of Workshop on the Web, a quarterly online magazine published by Maggie Grey. I knew there was an article somewhere on machine embroidery and creating a whip stitch.

Its an article by Ken Smith, a fantastic machine embroiderer from Australia, and shows how different tensions and threads will alter your whip stitch. My hands are itching to give it a go now.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Monday, October 18, 2010 7:17 AM

What have you achieved?

Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
Drawing is definitely not one of my finer qualities. So my drawing never goes past a quick sketch that doesnt make sense to anyone but me. Which is fine, its usually just a reference for an idea I dont want to forget, so it serves a purpose. At the same time I am a notorious doodler so I guess mark making in itself is not alien to me.
Where you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
It took me some time to leave some inhibitions behind. I didnt start to feel inventive until I moved on from the graphite pencils to the paints, crayons and different tools to make marks with.
Where you able to explore a wide range of media?
Yes, I think so. Although there are some other media I would like to try.
I am thinking about the fluidity of inks and the softness of cream pastels.

Are you pleased with what youve done? Do you think it will help you to approach drawing more confidently?
Yes, I think I managed to shake off some of my worst inhibitions about drawing and see it as a purpose to a means. This made me loosen up a bit.
I like to work with digital media and often use this as a substitute for drawing.
I feel I can use both now.

Which way of working did you enjoy most?
Making marks with words?
I was doing alright with the making marks with words relating to texture (e.g. soft, hard, etc.) when it came to making marks with regards to emotion I started doubting. Is it the mark that portrays the emotion, or the association with the mark I got in my head, or the colour? I got a bit stuck on this until I decided I was trying to split hairs and just did what felt right.
Making marks in response to an image?
This, for me, was the easiest way of working. Like I mentioned before I love working with digital media. So I work often with pictures.
Although I never worked with a viewing frame before, I felt its very similar to the way I work digitally.  I always crop or enlarge areas to get a real focus on that part of the picture I really want to use

Making marks in relation to real objects?
I found it harder to focus on the texture of real objects. More difficult to pick up on the light and shade. I actually felt like picking up the camera and taking a picture and working from that.

Did you find each of them very different?
See above.
Which media did you most enjoy working with? And why?
One of the things I most enjoyed was when I unfolded the tissues I had used to stamp paint onto paper and mob up spillages. I love happy accidents and I guess tissue is as close to fabric as I could get with these exercises.
I also really enjoyed the effect of bleach on the tissue paper. The result felt like batik.
Another one that I was really happy with and that needs more exploration is my discovery of oil pastels.

Have I fully explored the possibilities of mark making? If not what else would you like to try?
Can you ever fully explore the possibilities of mark making?
There is definitely a lot more to explore, different materials, mark making in combination with traditional fabrics and the zap-able and dissolvable techno textiles, different threads, paints, inks and a combinations of all of these.

Do you have any ideas about how this work will enrich your textile work in the future?
Well its given me new ideas for experimentation; its of course hard to predict where it will lead to. But I do feel more confident.  I realize now that I dont have to draw or paint a masterwork, but that its just a design-tool. Its not my drawing that will be on show after all.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Sunday, October 17, 2010 7:30 AM

Bobbin arrived!
The creative bobbin for my Pfaff arrived yesterday.
So today I did a little trial run. I thought I make it give it a proper test run by winding some thick-ish crochet cotton on the bobbin. And it worked very well!
Of course its not the brightest idea in the world to start with a circle!
But after some little adjustments to the tension I was actually quite pleased with the result.

Posted by Agnes Iley 7:14 AM

Breaking it down

Time for another experiment. When I was looking for textural pictures.
I found this picture of a flower. It left me a little dumbfounded. How would I recreate this texture?

So I figured I needed a little help.
I used my computer software to turn this picture into a sketch.
This gave me a far better idea of how to recreate the imagetexture.

I got the oil pastels out and instead of trying to make a precise drawing I just tried to recreate the blocks of colour in the picture. The marks I made where quite loose.

Then I got out some cotton buds and dipped them in white spirits. Instead of covering the whole area I gently dragged the buds over the paper in the direction of the petals.
After this I emphasized the petals with some very light pencil markings.
A bit of black oil pastel was added to make the flower pop.
Not a masterwork, but I was very happy with it.
The oil pastels did get my imagination going.
I wonder if similar effects can be achieved on fabric. Cotton might be to absorbent for the white spirits to work, but maybe silks???
Definitely something I need to experiment with!

Posted by Agnes Iley , Saturday, October 16, 2010 7:09 AM

Found some oil pastels and love them!

Whilst rummaging through my hobby materials I found a small box of oil pastels.
imageI had never used them before. So I thought I give them a go.
I started by just using them like normal crayons and found that they dont give of colour that easily. Then I had a light bulb moment, seeing as they were oil would they blend more easily if I used white spirits?
Here is my first experiment.  Blending white and black oil pastel with a tissue dipped in white spirits. I know its pretty dark, but deep down I guess I always have some remains of the goth I was as a teenager.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Tuesday, October 12, 2010 7:02 AM

Logs, blogs and sketchbooks

Yesterday I got access to the student website.
And after reading the messages one thing was clear. Almost everyone struggles with the concept of logs, blogs and sketchbooks.
Of course I am no different.
I started with a blog, but then realized they are not the handiest things to print.
And I did think I wanted to print my log. Not just to send to my tutor, but also to keep with my course (sketch)books.
So I had to rethink.  Tinkered about a bit with a Word-document, but that wasn't ideal either.
In the end I found a journaling program on the internet. I think I'll give that a go and just copy and paste my entries into the blog.
As for using the logs, blogs and sketchbooks the right way.....guess I'll just do what I think is right and wait for the feedback after I sent in my first assignment.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Monday, October 11, 2010 7:27 AM

Still having fun with hand embroidery...image

I've been trying out some new stitches, making marks and varying lines and threads.
Never realized hand embroidery could be so much fun!
I can see a whole world of possibilities opening up.
I always associated hand embroidery with those cross stitch kits you always see in the shops.
They never appealed to me.
I guess it's the same with quilting, I can admire the incredibleimage craftsmanship that goes into traditional quilting. I would just never make one.
I guess I don't like to play by the rules!

I do have to keep telling myself that creating textures is not coming along until the next chapter.
I'm so used to work 3 dimensionally on my dolls that my brain keeps rushing of and wants to "raise the surface" a little.image

Love the little sample of French knots that I did. Although I am only working in white on a black background at the moment, I can see anything from a field of flowers to a cosmic explosion in it.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Saturday, October 9, 2010 7:20 AM

Project 2- Developing marks into stitching and making textures

WooHoo I'm sewing!

I still want to do some more textures, but seeing as the flue has hit me pretty hard I wanted something to do while sitting on the sofa under a blanket.
So I started practicing some embroidery stitches.
Funny I never thought that I had to practice these, but despite all the hand sewing I do, it's been a long time since I've used the various embroidery stitches.
Gosh...I still feel so much better with needle and thread in my hand then with a pencil and sketchbook!
imageReading through the chapters about stitching, I also realized I needed to order an extra bobbin case holder for my sewing machine. (Actually it's not a necessity but I like to keep one intact and have one to play with.) I only bought this machine 2 months ago and haven't got all the extra bits yet that I had with my previous one. Hadn't thought about the extra bobbin case holder yet!
The good news is that when I went looking for one online, I found out that Pfaff has got a special creative bobbin holder designed to work with heavier thread on the bobbin. Sounds great, my Janome was never very keen on bobbin work. Bad news it's on back order everywhere, so it could take a week or 2 before it gets here. Ah well.... more time to practice hand stitching and drawing texture

Posted by Agnes Iley , Wednesday, October 6, 2010 7:00 AM


I've moved on to textures now. Easy peasy you might think. Just use the marks you created earlier and create textures.
Hmm... that's not how my brain works. So looking at pictures and trying to extract the textures from them, turned into a pathetic attempt to draw what's in the picture. And as I said before, I can't draw to save my life.

So I needed to outsmart myself...I decided to take a picture of something I would never ever be able to draw. Now that worked!
Since I didn't have a hope of actually drawing the sea in serious stormy weather, I managed to recreate the texture.
No one will ever figure out this drawing is a swirling wave, but I was pleased as punch with the result! I'll need to do few more, let's see if I can keep fooling myself.....

Posted by Agnes Iley , Sunday, October 3, 2010 6:54 AM

More marks.....

Today I worked a bit more on the mark making.
It still all feels a bit random to me.... so far removed from the way I usually work.
When I design a doll for example, in my head I know exactly what the doll looks like, right down to the tiniest detail. From that finalized picture in my head, I start breaking it down and create my design.
The mark making did make me think of Picasso though, I really like "Girl before a mirror" and I think it's a great example of mark making.
Now this got me thinking…. I found a great drawing by Picasso and decided to create a little exercis of my own, trying to identify the marks he used.

Posted by Agnes Iley , Friday, October 1, 2010 6:48 AM

Assignment 1 – Building a visual vocabulary

Project 1- Making marks

Mark making

First exercise mark making. Now I can't draw to save my life, but I can doodle with the best of them.
Just check out my notes from long boring need a sharp eye to find the notes in between all the doodling.
But I quickly discovered that aimless doodling is maybe related, but definitely not the same as purposeful mark making.
So I got my little sketch book out and..........stared at the blank page. This is my first sketch book since I was a small child and even then the first page always had to be perfect. It took me a few minutes to convince myself that sketch books are not suppose the be neat and that they are not the most expensive thing in the world. So I started doodling and over the next few pages slowly tried to be less aimless.
Assignment 1-1
Some questions came to mind. Like what determines the feeling of the marks, is it the shape or direction of the line. Or is it the weight of the line.
I finally decided that I can't really split the two. For instance when it came to difference between "fast" and "slow" it was definitely the direction of the line. But when it came to "hard" and "soft" it was more about the weight of the line.
When it came to the feelings "happy" and "sad", I wondered if the marks I made where actually portraying these moods or of it just was a personal connection that I have with a certain mark.
Would someone who didn't know the story behind it understand the mood I was trying to portray?
Hmmm.....only the first exercise and already so much to think about....