Cornish Cliffs

I fancied seeing how far these patterned and transparent collages on top of images could go. I had this elderly left over canvas from a Cornish holiday – elderly painting -Cornwall coast dodgy paint techniques, over thinned colour, uninspired composition.  Not an ideal choice, too big, cheap thin canvas. Nevermind….  Planning involved more dithering than doing, selecting pattern and colour, fabric types and threads.   Did remember to do one important cheat – traced the big tonal areas onto the back.- more later.

Cornish Cliffs -planning  The Cliffs are 2 different patterned silks – big bold patterned stripes and a coarser faded floral for the headland. The proposals for the sea were layers of sheers – to be decided later.

Back cliffs first- vertical patterning to mimic the rock formations, working from the back the first stitching anchored the fabric and then roughly blocked in the shadow areas. I would recommend working from the back – you just roughly place/pin the fabric on the front, flip over, stitch the lines drawn on the back, flip back and trim the excess away.  No worries about placement or accuracy.

The fabrics were build up block by block – already much more vivid than the paint. The stitching from the back worked well to establish the shapes and masses. The decision to use purple as a shade colour didn’t, it was to clean and strong against the fabric, it was removed or adapted immediately.

I got too excited by the sea to manage to record the sequence. (Lie – didn’t expect it to work so didn’t bother to photograph) It is strips and pieces of 2  tone organzas, purple orange, green red, blue orange, sari strips with frayed edges . Stitching was in one colour using a less regular utility stitch ( think its for sewing elastic) A sheer was over laid and  ripped into.  Was hoping the frays and uneven edges will create a sense of depth and movement.    Did remember to record the beach/surf!

And the sky happened. All as one piece of metallic sheer  with an offcut  underneath to ease the bland flatness. The front bit off cliff was the last piece to do – purple orange organza over the dark areas and a fine metallic green yellow as a wrinkly top dressing.  I ripped the green and stitched areas open  to reveal the purple to give shading.

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bit of top stitching and…..

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This felt like a rough and ready process. The stitching isn’t beautiful, even, or using exotic thread. The fabrics are recycled clothing, donations or synthetic, but it does seem to work. Where I had started doing more controlled stitch I have removed it. It drew attention to itself, too self conscious too fit in with the wrinkles and tears. The whole is very sketchy, but it has so much more life than the original. Perhaps the years of painting were just a way of getting over the need for technical perfection. The  patterned fabrics give so much into the mix. The way the patterns fall is  at best a happy compromise, it really makes me respond, to orchestrate rather than dictate what is happening. And as for colour theory – in practice it is best guess.Cornish Cliffs close ups

So what are the essentials for free hand machine work?  an obliging machine who doesn’t know any better, an appropriate foot that lets you see what you are doing, a seam ripper that doesn’t hide, and really sharp scissors. Only trouble is I now appear to have more scrap fabric than before!

Come and see my work , may be even see some others as well, April 22,23 & 29,30. Click on pic for link to the website.

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