Posted by Agnes Iley , Sunday, April 17, 2011 11:12 PM


I think I may have written earlier that although I am attracted to abstract art, my own work always has strong roots in reality.
But after the assignments I’ve done so far and reading through the chapters of this one I kept thinking about shapes and moving space.
In particular with regards to this sample I did for the fabric dying exercises.

I was wondering about how the squares in the middle could be 3 dimensional cubes. Then circles came to mind and before I knew it I spent the next 2 weeks working with shapes.
Now I must tell you that my favorite answer to “what are you making?” is “oh….nothing”. And I’ll stick to that answer until I am finished.

However now……for the first time ever I can stick to that answer….after 2 weeks of trying, sampling and working I made absolutely nothing……
I know the execution could be better. If I would make this again the ball would be constructed differently. But I was very much working out how to construct whilst going along.

All the fabric has been tied and then bleached, the whole thing started out as black fabric. I made the outer frame from wood and covered this in felt and then I hand sewed the fabric around it, trying to keep the edges sharp.

The ball is suspended in mid-air by a framework of threads.
And the cubes were first sewn and then stuffed with little cardboard boxes for rigidity.

I know this “thing” doesn’t fit the brief of any of the exercises, that doesn’t matter.
I am happy with it and just wanted to show what effect this course has had on my way of “seeing things” already.
1 March 2011

Posted by Agnes Iley , Friday, April 15, 2011 10:12 PM

Assignment 4 A piece of your own

Project 7

Black pearls

For this project I didn’t have to think twice where my inspiration would come from. Throughout these assignments I have been fascinated by these two pictures, of a collar by Penny Fisher, in the course book:
I must start by saying that I love black pearls. And although the pearls in these pictures are not black, the anthracite fabric with it’s gentle sheen has the look and feel of black pearls.
I also love the way the way the fabric “embraces” the pearl, very much like the pearl inside a shell.

So for the subject of this assignment I was thinking shells, pearls and marine life in general.
As for the material…
I’ve always been fascinated by 3dimensional structures in fabric and for me the “holy grail” in 3D fabric structures would be to create a transparent structure in silk voile.
Of course this sounds like impossibility without some kind of support structure, but the support would spoil the transparency. I’ve tried various ways of stiffening the fabric over the past few years, but as most (all?) stiffeners are glue based, they will leave the fabric looking and feeling like plastic.
So at the moment the way I try to create structure and shape is by pleating folding and sewing. Which I know works for smaller shapes.

When I start thinking about how to create a certain shape, I often look at paper craft.
After all people who are working with paper are also trying to create shapes from something that started life as a flat sheet and as they benefit from the stiffness of the paper,  I benefit from the pliability  of fabric.

For this piece I needed to look at shells and luckily for me I discovered there is a lot of variety in oysters, mussels, scallops and even snails that can create pearls.
So this gave me some freedom in the shape of the shell I was going to create.

Here is an example of a scallop shell. Which has got quite a wavy “design”, I figured that I could sew narrow pleats to create the wavy feel, which at the same time would create structure.

I thought for a while about adding colour, but decided to pleat the bands going across the shell instead of colouring them.
The only colour in this piece was going to come from the “black pearls”.
 The pearls are made from fabric that was free motion embroidered with a metallic thread.
And to finish of the “necklace” I created some seaweed from the same silk voile that was give structure and rigidity by stitching.