Tag Archive | how to

Sketching for stitching

This isn’t about making pretty pics but about reducing the landscape into a manageable form and language ready to take to the sewing machine. I work in pen for these- it gives an even line, more like a sewn line than pencil does.

And just for fun I’ll put the process in reverse.

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Spot the differences. OK some are sloppy draughtsmanship, but others are intentional modifications.  The foreground hedge is sharper to give more umph to the composition,  the spaces between the horizontal hedges are greater – I’ve given the Vale of York a new hill!  but I want these hedges to be seen separately so something had to give. The heavy dark of the foreground  is reduced – it shifts focus to the middle ground. The foreground shadows are omitted as clutter but some may make come back as colour. Some areas I don’t like (trees to the left) so they will be edited further when stitching. Doing the sketch highlights problem areas, lets me work out, or at least work towards, solutions. Beats taking photos.

Five minutes earlier –

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All the main areas are there but the image is unbalanced. The background is more solid and clearer than it should be, where the hatching is lighter, has fewer directional changes, it is more successful.  Will add lines last to give definition and emphasis where needed.

 

 

 

5 minutes before

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Established the middle ground. Using smaller marks to help sense of distance – just the major lines at the present, no outlines (they would  fix the shapes too soon) Mixing areas of diagonal hatching with the vertical to create shadings of tone and texture.

 

 

After the first 5 minutes.

P1060713I like strong bone structure  for my landscapes – single point perspectives,  bold masses and spaces  contrasting with lines.  Tiny detail will get lost in stitch, so I don’t bother. Let areas fade in and out, it isn’t a tracing.  The mark making is important, it is experimenting with creating the different textures and tone. Most are variations of cross hatching, tight, scribbly short blocks  on the tree in the foreground, looser and smoother in the middle distance or directional hatching, such as the vertical lines starting to describe the front face of the hedge.  These first layers set the  shape and form of the image so I  leave them incomplete. As the image builds more density and definition can be added. This is how the sewing will start, working onto a very loose frame and working lightly until the whole is established and then getting more intensive. I have already  filtered out fussy bits or annoying things. I don’t want the image to get congested,   as the image is built I will see where to simplify.

Preparation. – Clear the head. You can not go out worrying about the washing. This can be helped by the acquisition of jelly babies or fruit pastilles. I also like to walk or cycle even a little way, I guess it is part of that separation process. Take time to stand and stare, we are not cameras, it takes a time to absorb detail, understand  relationships, to get beyond mere recognition. ‘Ooo it’s a tree’ just won’t do.  Move about, see how slight shifts in angle or eye level give different emphasis. You have control, exaggerate or edit at will.

And yes, it did take 20 minutes. Didn’t even have time to open the pastilles.

 

The textile piece will happen next week. Will be interesting to see how alike they end up. Usually the same reduction and simplification process will happen again during stitching, especially in the distance,  but the basic ideas will remain true. Wonder how many trees will magically disappear?

 

 

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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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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https://www.yorkopenstudios.co.uk/

 

Machine Embroidery Big Beast 2

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This is the life cycle of a large piece of machine embroidery. It began early last year. But only got going in the autumn, therefore has no oilseed rape. And the hills have grown, and the farm buildings were taken down by the developers, and……

Sketched in situ – should have taken a rubber. Under painting  with dye and ink, trying it wrapped around the stretcher (120 x 40 cm! ),then happy sloshing time in the garden – dilute ink/dye and coffee/tea stain and lots of water. Left it out for a day or two.  Lastly, drying on the hall floor, so completely in the way.

 

Can’t find the early textile photos. Layers of gauze and stitched lines suggest the landscape. The trees are more complex –  ( last week’s slideshow!)

At this point it is nearly finished, but not quite p1060369near enough. There is balancing to do, adding, and taking away. Hard to stop this becoming fiddling.

Tweaking is fine, but no one likes a fiddler.

Spot the new (deliberate) holes!  Might even see the extra orange by the trees, and the deeper tones in the landscape.  I do like this section the best, but it does make the rest look out of focus. Might be a good thing! The two on the right are the back. Again really like the tree section.

And the finished article – not yet stretched onto the frame but at least it is pressed.

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Haven’t settled on a title yet, so is known to its friends as The Big Beast 2.

Updating my mailing list – if you would like notices about my own workshops and exhibitions please send me a line – franbramm@gmail.com

Upcoming events-

Exhibition at Blossom Street Gallery, York. Til 15th March 2017.

Stitchy Day. 8th March. A day workshop exploring and experimenting with freehand machining,  held in my workroom, York.

York Open Studios 2017- last 2 weekends in April.

 

 

 

 

video traumas and stitch techniques.

Camp Hands!   Camp Hands!       Aargh…… what happened to Mrs I Like Power Tools and Ohhh, Always Wanted To Do More Welding?  It seems that when I am not watching them, they have a worrying personality of their own!

I found a video editing download that I wanted to try, so  set up my dinky camera and filmed myself working. I find it very funny but at least the software seems fairly straightforward at this very basic level.

TECHNICAL HITCH ALERT – can only upload if I pay more money…….so please use imagination……or on my textiles page on facebook     What a palaver .-https://www.facebook.com/Frantextiles/

These are the end result – part of a season series.

But is it better than a slideshow?  This of a the on going large piece  which nearing completion at last!

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Answers on a postcard please.

Either way it takes longer to record then to do the actual work.

Hopefully the Stitchy Day  workshop on Wednesday will be easier  –  no cameras or admin involved – just me, and the pupils of course.

colour experiments II

Carrying on from last week’s experiments-  I really enjoy working in this way, almost an accumulation of colour rather than finding the one perfect match. It is more labour intensive and less predictable but it does add to the excitement.

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Perhaps it adds to the frustration.  The slideshow shows the layers, the different directions and densities of stitch.  The bottom image is the  end result. The shifting surface of the colours are quite intriguing , it does look different from different  angles, and depending on the context different colours become more dominant.

OK, so quite fun –  but how to use?  I usually select a group of colours to work with, picking them to match the overall feel of the final effect, whether light, bright, mute, sombre. There would be key colours, contrasts, shading tones, a  vibrant and a calm.  By balancing the amount and density different shadings of the main colour  can be built up. But having done these experiments I wanted something more direct. I wanted to achieve more while using less, so…..

task – to complete a sketch started last Winter and abandoned, experimented with and abandoned again. This relied on cross hatching with a deep purple brown thread  and was more about mass than colour. Odd choice.

The colours were laid on,  bright yellow for sharp notes, warm mid orange for  vibrancy ( less aggressive than the red) and blue on top to bind the whole together. Over that a layer or two of crosshatch scribble in the  purple/brown to do the drawing work and to tie this to the earlier style. The stitches are longer and less dense to imply a shift in scale and to try to create a sense of perspective.

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Unfortunately I rather like it!  Now I’ll have to go back and sort the day-glo bush on the left.

A stitcher’s work is never done…….  well, coffee first perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

Which colour is this then?

This is a very simple experiment layering the 3 primary colours,  very simplistic and pretty crude, no subtlety employed at all. The sequence of the layers is the same, cycling between blue, yellow and red, with  the amount of each roughly similar. I usually work intuitively, thinking from the bottom layer up to the achieve the tone and hue desired but thought it was time to try the basic mixing exercises I get my painting pupils to do.  Threads do not mix physically like paints,  the layering  means  it is a visual mixing a bit like pointillism, so it adds the extra complication of texture. Joy.

This first set is just 2 colours layered. img_20161024_0001

The first is yellow on blue, they have ‘blended’ so it is hard to tell which is on top and do give the idea of green quite well. The yellow even looks greenish, which is cheating. The second is red on yellow. It should be orange but perhaps there is too much tonal difference. The red has lost its brightness and the yellow its sharpness but I still see the colours as separate entities. As for the third…. blue on red. Where has the red gone? I expected it to dominate! Certainly the blue looks  darker but not really purple.

With paint mixing in the remaining primary should give varieties of  brown, usually ranging from mud to slimy-greeny brown.  Would anything like this happen with layered thread?

No.

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On the first the red thread does look brown but not because of blending with the colours underneath. Colours are never seen in isolation, they influence each other significantly, in this case the  colours are muddier and less distinct. The middle one I read as blue-with-bits-in. The red and blue have blended a little better.  And the end one? Again the joker in the pack, the blue and yellow have not blended as before and the flecks of red break it up further. By standing a long way away and squinting fit to get a headache the first did look slightly brown, the middle purple, and the last no known colour at all (okay maybe a mid beigey greeny grub).

So much for standard colour theory!

What it does illustrate is the vast range of colour  and effect that can be obtained from the most basic starting point. The next logical step is to stick to those 3 threads but play around with them more. Might be fun, may end up with lots of shades of beigey greeny grub. Watch this space!

If you are interested in trying, extending existing skills or just stitching with me, please check my facebook textiles page  for formal and informal dates.