Tag Archive | fabrics

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.


bit of top stitching and…..


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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Applique Day

Had a wonderful day yesterday  hosting a workshop at the loom. I only took medium course chaosshopping bag of stuff and within minutes reduced the massive work table to my usual chaos!!  The purpose of the day was to explore the less ‘conventional’ styles of plonking one piece of fabric on top of another – sorry, positioning with exquisite skill and aesthetic regard.  My main problem is the understanding that my ‘conventional’ and ‘normal’ can be quite extreme for some well brought up souls.



Samples of the ‘neat’ – a safe start point-

And then it got hairier and more aggressive as I shared the  ‘other’

processes.. the ones that use sharp, pointy things, ripping open, stitch and snipping. It is always a bit of a shock to see what a complex of  messy looking  stages go into creating a controlled outcome…  My kind of normal.

I still have places on the next Stitchy Day on April 5th.  Please contact if interested.

Also will be doing a  Sketch to Stitch Day on  a Wednesday  and then the following Sunday in May.  This is a new venture, I can show people techniques but you never really understand a process until you try to bend and stretch  it to your own purposes. The day will start with an optional sketching adventure, then back to my work room and we will work at translating  this into a textile piece. I will be developing my own piece, using wet media as well as fabric and stitch to create a landscape


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Reverse work tree – what not to do to expensive fabrics!

Couldn’t resist this.  Recreational violence – textile style.  This was about 1/2 hour stitching, 5 minutes pressing, and hours in between ripping, tearing, snipping, tugging and twisting. Bliss.


It began as solid layers of golden organza, green chiffon, a piece of orange silk and heavy weight shot silk sandwiched onto some vintage linen. The simple tree was freehand stitched through all of them. Then the fun time. In the second image you can see the layers being cut away, and then the thinning and picking at the layers to leave the contrasts of fibres, colours and textures. Another brief session of freehand work just to anchor the bits and it is done.


autumn tree making

Easy! Straightforward! Love this reverse technique.

Did take a whole day though. And I have drifts of fibre and fabric bits everywhere.

Never mind – they are the raw materials for the next one. And it is impossible to hoover until they are all safely gathered in! Hurrah!

One thing is certain – need to take better photos – the colours are so much richer than this! The base layer is actually a sandy acidy green, the chiffon a mid grass green, and there is a bright burnt orange in there too.

Dancing Trees – the final story, may be not…….

It is done – this was the state of it this morning- It lacked finesse and coherence. The canopies seemed flat and too simplistic, the trunks did not seem to support them, and as for the background…….

dancing trees 5

To work  – canopies, undid some scraps and repositioned, shadow shades were added as strips and then mauled to break up the hard edges. The two canopies kept merging and not able to find the right colour  I  dyed some scrim in the microwave, so wasn’t held up for long. Then a splurge of ripping and snipping to lift the texture. Navy blue stitching deepened the transitions from wood to leaf, (a flatter greener blue on the back tree).

And then the background. All it needed to be was an anchor, to give some kind of context. It is two layers of sheers and then horizontal stitching. The difficulty was keeping the variation and imperfections to soften the line and isuggest distance.

Confession – at this point I did photograph it  but then  hit ‘delete’  in a mad fit of enthusiasm.  Just imagine it………Done?

Now for the paint – this is usually done  as the sewing develops but for some reason I was reluctant to commit to  colour and composition so left it till later.Dancing Trees final

The paint is subtle, suggesting a surface to set the trees into the landscape, and then giving a bit of variation to the sky as well. A little bit of dry brush work on the back tree to dampen the shininess and it is done.  At least for now.

It is pinned to the wall for the moment, I will live with it for a while and see which bits annoy me and need adjustment. There is always something, colours not quite right, too little contrast, awkward shapes. It takes a while to get the idea of what is done out of the head to allow me to see what I have really achieved. Already spotting some tweaks!

Is it like the initial sketch – it shouldn’t be a copy but does it have that quality of life and movement?, of response to something seen? Not yet.

the dancing trees sketch.

the dancing trees sketch.

Time for a coffee break and lots and lots of biscuits.