Very Small Pieces, 9

September 19th, 2021

I can hardly believe we’re nearly half way through the SAQA 100 Days Reboot project, in which participants undertake to produce a small part of an over all project (of their own design) and post a daily pic with/without information on it. My goal is exploring textures in fabric and hand stitch, so far meaning mostly short to very long straight stitches, plus one or two samples with Y, stem, back and a few french knots.

That we are half way along is evidenced by my growing bunch of small mounted samples resembling a collection of mismatched drink coasters 🙂 Rather than having trouble coming up with ideas, I’m finding each one generates at least one more idea or variation. Also, as usual, sample making teaches the maker various things: some have showed there’s an easier way to do something than my original approach. Some will/should make interesting larger works, and others clearly have no future at all.

Stencil making done 2+ weeks back gave some reasonably blah results, partly because the paint was a bit watery and bled before drying:

I didn’t ditch them, but I did just turn my attention elsewhere. I must have been thinking about them, though, because this past week I came back to these with some interesting results:

Result of cut away and roughly oversewing the raw edges of this group from the upper right sector of the above pic.
Hand stitching over shapeless blobs resulting too watery paint – lower right sector.
Stitch patterning over blobs (upper left) was so fiddly at this scale that I felt free to abandon it before completion as this particular sample was going nowhere.

I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the 4th stencil, but might re-use it on the same fabric with variations in colour, or something. There’s no rush.

Inspiration In The Art Of Others

September 12th, 2021

Being a stitcher, I see stitch ideas in many places, and sometimes those inspirations are in the work of other artists working in different media to any of the ones I use. Here are a couple of my favourite examples:

If I were a weaver, I’d definitely want to do a workshop with Sara Brennan, because, as I wrote back in 2014 her work was focused on the meeting points of shapes, the lines and edges formed between zones of colour and texture in nature, and where these are complex they are interesting and she incorporates those into her weaving. It’s not that I want to learn to weave, it is that from what she writes I’m sure I’d find a lot to take away in how she draws and makes marks in thread.

Left – My sample of fused organza over machine sewn seam.
Right – an image of a SARA BRENNAN work from her Horizons series.

Sara Brennan wrote in 2017 “I work from a series of drawings and paintings, often repeatedly exploring the translation of a surface or mark into tapestry….”

Another artist whose art prompts me to consider areas of colour and texture in them is the Australian watercolourist Laura Horn. Many of her water colour pieces feature patterns of lines and tiny shapes applied with a fine brush or marker pen:

Laura Horn – watercoloured shapes with applied lines and texture patterns.

Laura used this wonderful example to publicise one of her many online tutorials and classes in painting with water colours. To me they suggest fused organza with over stitched patterns OR pieces of organza marked with permanent pen which are then fused to the background.

This week Shelley Rhodes’ Stitch Club workshop project is requiring us to look at shapes in Nature and Landscape very carefully with view to incorporating such lines and shapes into our stitched homework, and I’ll be trying the potential of both possibilities in my next group of samples.

SAQA Benefit Auction Starts 2pm EDT Tomorrow, September 10th.

September 9th, 2021

The annual SAQA Benefit online auction kicks off tomorrow at 2pm EDT (USA) This year’s 470 pieces made and donated by members can be seen here Every one of these 470 12″ sq pieces will be on sale for $1000 from 2pm on Friday 10th through the Diamond Days up until 1.00pm EDT Monday 13th. After that, at 2pm that day, the first 1/3 of the unsold quilts will go up for bids starting at $750, with the price falling each day until the end of the week. If my work, #69, is not sold in the Diamond Days, it will be up in Group 3, from Sept.27th -Oct.3rd. At any time during the 3 week auction, any quilt can be bought for $1000, you don’t need to wait for its group to come up.

To find how this all works, and see the FAQs about the process go to this link

You do not need to be a member of SAQA to bid – our collectors include many people who are not makers themselves. Anyone anywhere in the world can bid in real time once you have registered with the Handbid auction platform. Registering does not commit you to bid on anything, but it does mean that if you do see something you want, your bid can go straight in – and it’s first in best dressed on Diamond Days! But also, every day as the price comes down there’s a rush on popular pieces from people who’ve gambled on getting away with waiting until that new price takes effect …

“Pandemic Pattern #2” is my contribution to the 2021 SAQA Benefit Auction.

Holes And Lace

September 6th, 2021

One of my Pinterest collections is titled ‘Holes’, and in contemporary textile art, especially embroidery and mixed media collage, there appear many lace-like effects featuring holes in both organised and highly random patterns.

Back in 2013, I wrote musing on the character of lace – what is the defining characteristic of lace – is it the actual holes themselves, or the material that is punctuated by those holes? After thinking about ‘lace’ for a long time, I’m certain that the patterning of the holes decrees ‘lace’, not the material.

We think of ‘lace’ as a textile made from fabric and thread using a wide variety of needle-crafts like crochet, knitting and needle weaving that produce lace incorporating fabric and threads. Lace effects can be produced in any medium really, with an unlimited variety of techniques. Mum owned a couple of delicate little lacy edged porcelain dishes, and delicate glassware often has lacy edges. But I also think the carving of wood, metal, and drilling into or cutting into any material, or welding even, can produce patterns said to be ‘lace’. For holes to give the effect of ‘lace’, though, I think those holes do need to be relatively close together… but I have more thinking to do on that.

Detail from untitled piece: lace effect in punched leather + hand stitch, ~8cm area.
Various pre-Columbian artefacts, Bogota, Colombia.

I’ve used a heat tool in several works having nylon organza layers:

Detail from “Post Apocalyptic Lace” 2009

While browsing in Pinterest this morning, I came across the art of South Australian artist Giles Bettison. I must confess total ignorance up until now of this amazing artist, but in the world of contemporary art glass of which I’m not well informed, Bettison is the acknowledged master of the traditional Venetian “Murrini” technique, of which Millifiore is the well known floral form. Rods of different coloured glass, sometimes including colourless, are bundled into groups and fused together in extreme heat. Those bundles are then finely sliced, set edge to edge and fused again. I found several demos of Bettison’s process online, but the very best was at and strongly recommend you spend the 15or 20 minutes watching him work.

Giles Bettison glass vessels, each showing strong connection to lace and stitch

These two are typical of his beautiful patterned vessels. On the left, the clear glass centres create a ‘hole’ through which we see into the vase, or out through the sides – note the pattern of holes the light makes on the surface it stands on. The holes all have a coloured edge as if they were buttonhole or satin stitch bound, and then what looks like another type of ‘stitching’ spreading from that border to the edge of the square it’s in…. except that fine, delicate, stripe pattern must have been built up using very thin layers of glass in alternating colours. The one on the right I chose because of the pattern of hand stitching it suggests – boro, sashiko, mending and darning, or what many people today somewhat faddily term slow stitching.

Several years ago I fiddled with the idea of exploring patterns left in the sand by the receding tide, altered some photos, cut and stitched, but maybe I wasn’t crazy with the results or perhaps a health issue intervened – whatever it was, it didn’t seem very exciting and I didn’t pursue it.

But now that I have Mistyfuse bonding web in my life, cutting holes and fusing the resulting lace to a background fabric and adding stitch is a possibility for surface design:

Sheer Overlays, 4

September 5th, 2021

Many of the shapes I love in repeat patterns are rooted in traditional patchwork, along with the the arrangement of variations into grids. They’re big influences in what I often do.

These two pieces of overlaid sheer fabric shapes with machine overstitching in metallic threads are now finished and mounted on 20cm artist canvases, ready for either framing or hanging on the the wall as is…. And yes, they are available for sale – contact me directly.

I keep saying I’ve been doing these ‘while waiting for my large floor standing frame to enable me to hand stitch or quilt larger pieces’, actually I do now have that frame, and it’s great; but I’m not yet ready to start that large piece. I am still fairly absorbed in experimenting with surface textures just now, and as I plan to use paint on the background of the work but the weather’s still a bit cold to paint outside, I’ll continue with my experimental Very Small Pieces series in recent posts, some of which are also on my instagram page Fused burgundy silk organza, variegated metallic thread.

The following little piece pattern came from sprayed paint, not fused sheer fabric. Both these little pieces reflect my interest in ‘holes’, one of my Pinterest collection themes. Not all those pins are of actual holes; some are a shorthand way of saying ‘this is an interesting possibility for using holes in my work’. Sprayed metallic using circular resists; metallic thread.

On October 25th 2013, I wrote “I’ve just realized that I’ve had a love of ‘holes’ for some time, and of course they are the essence of ‘lace’ which I see as patterns of holes, though others might see ‘lace’ as patterns of threads.

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