Posts Tagged ‘grids’

Working With Wool After All …

Sunday, April 9th, 2023

The project I referred to in my previous post continues. I had already decided to make this a 100% recycling of materials project because the gifted materials make it possible – but it is challenging.

Many who use recycled garments in their art include details like belt loops, button holes, pockets and collars, showing the work’s made from a recycled garment, with clues to its former life. Because I don’t want my wool art quilt to say ‘garment;’ or ‘coat’ to the viewer, I laboriously deconstructed the two coats. I’ve been making samples on the small bits, but for the moment I’m not cutting up the larger areas until I’m more sure of the composition.

The entry rules require the wool composition on both the back and the front to be at least 60%. The red fabric is 50% wool, and the black 70%, so I’m considering some kind of red/black checkerboard grid, but I might put that on the back, because I also have a 65% wool cape which I might use for the front if I further develop a radial design that I’m considering, too.

Whatever I do, though, there will be added woolly elements, so time to show some of the things I’ve been playing with:

Some of the stitched element possibilities I’m considering


Wool wound around my fingers and stitched down.
Overcoming my hesitation, today I cut into one of the knitted samples for a section of rib knit, which frayed wonderfully.
Some more possibilities…

Primal Patterns, 2

Monday, August 22nd, 2022

In a recent post,, I wrote of my interest in the basic symbols, among them + x and o, that humans anywhere on every continent come up with when mark making on any surface, regardless of cultural background, age and level of education. Here I’ve doodled a cross over a circular shape.

I sketched this idea with a couple of quick notes just to mentally keep hold of it until I had time to play with it, knowing that (1) I wanted to audition sheer fabrics, the half cut word ‘transparency’ reminding me to explore overlapping sheers to create pattern shapes (2) I noted the bronze nylon organza which I used bit in the previous work, of which I still have plenty (3) ?white? referring to potential background fabric, but no, not this time anyway. (4) the words ‘repeat pattern’ and ‘blocks’ signal I was thinking about some kind of grid layout.

But grids are not necessarily rigidly linear and square; they can wobble, be intermittent, and there are different types and shapes. And different sizes of grid can appear on the same piece of work.

There’s a lot to think about just there, and to help me clarify my plans for this work I’ll be looking a bit closer this afternoon at the numerous images on my Pinterest ‘grids’ board

The fabrics are the same pale grey, BUT the centre piece was tea dyed, since I decided I’d prefer a putty coloured fabric rather than grey to go against the beige-off white wall where it might go when it’s done.

Taking just a few minutes each, these small (4cm-7cm) samples were done over a couple of days recently. What they tell me is that I need to follow on with this idea, and that the background probably needs to be stitched and quilted with metallic threads. I do love a bit, or a lot, of glitter! Again, going for the shimmer effect.

I googled “cross shape imposed over circle” and found lots of varied images ranging from religious symbols to those of political and social movements. One of my sisters commented “Bandaids?” when she saw the first of these, and that offers a possible line of thought…. also they suggest some kind of road or rail crossing signs, or maybe whirling helicopter or drone blades! As I began writing this, I was listening to one of the leading scientists on the Webb telescope project that recently began sending fabulous photos from Outer Space, and when I next looked at it I was reminded of those satellites we see pictures of that have ‘arms’ I’m not blessed with engineering or scientific mind, and don’t know my way around a diagram of one of those things, so this is just a general impression.

More cross-over-circle shapes, ~7-8cm across. I didn’t stitch them because I know by now how they’ll look!

Grids: My Go-to Design Layout

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Landscape shapes and textures feature in my art in repeated units of abstract patterns in fabric, thread and other materials, and grids remain an enduring influence of my early, but brief period of making traditional patchwork quilts when I first went to the USA in 1987.

In early 2021, I made this small 60cm x 40cm piece, Sunburnt Country, which was selected into Australia Wide 7 and is currently in Paducah, KY with that touring collection.

Sunburnt Country 60cm x 40xm 2022. Australia Wide 7 collection.

This work seemed to bring my focus back to grids, which I’ve used since as the framework for several recent small works, including this tiny little 6″ x 8″ piece for the Spotlight Auction at the forthcoming SAQA virtual conference. April 27th to May 7th.

2022 Spotlight Auction. ~1.5cm sq. Myla squares, neon yellow nylon thread
Detail, Untitled. Triangles encased in plastic 5cm plastic squares, on grey, hand quilting,
Detail, untitled, 9 Patch; fused squares ~1.5cm

I have in mind something much larger now, of between 1.5 m- 1.75m, but I’m not really sure how large it will turn out. Anyway, I’m currently auditioning treatments for the surface design:

Fused squares ~1.5cm, metallic gold thread in several configurations.

I feel this work will be about restoring order (grid) and calm through colour (soft, earthy shades) and precious values as represented by the metallic glitter always denotes ‘preciousness’ to me, though of course, “…all that glitters is not gold”.

After The 100 Day Thing

Saturday, November 13th, 2021

It ended on Wednesday 10th, though I had made and posted my final 3 samples the weekend before, so essentially, by the monday I was free and keen to start something new. This photo shows the whole collection of 100 mis-matched ‘drink coasters’ ūüôā

The whole 100 drink coasters collection – stored in great recycled food boxes.

I have quite a bit of sheer fabric that has always lured me to experiment, but I’ve made only a handful of sheer/transparent works. My stash of sheers is mostly black, white, cream and taupe nylon organzas, but there are some coloured silk organzas, too, left over from a Chungie Lee workshop I took at Fibreswest years ago.

Many modern watercolour paintings (eg Laura Crane) have struck me with their likeness to layered organza, so I fused a few bits of nylon organza, fiddling with that concept, and I like the idea of thread trapped under or between layers of sheer fabrics. I’ll play more with that sometime, but it didn’t all gel enough to take me into a new work using it, not just yet, anyway.

A bit grainy, but fiddling with layering sheer fabric and some thread trapped under it.
A few of my personal favourites

Sifting through my sample collection just decidng where to focus, I realised that the little square surrounded by stitch with a cross stitch in the middle was something that made quite a few appearances in the last couple of weeks of the challenge. I have always had a thing for grids, rigid or more informal; and repeat motifs laid out in grids are the stuff of traditional patchwork. I carry them forward in the way that every artist is influenced by everything they’re seen, done and made before. I only had a short time in the world of traditional quilt making, but that influence is very strong to me. The little repeated square made less plain with added stitched borders and a cross in the middle has become something of a personal motif, and it was telling me ‘do something with it, so I began this new work yesterday.

Detail of new work in progress – fused silk on cream cotton, polyester thread.

These squares are rhythmic and fairly quick to do, and I’m sure I won’t run out of the thread I’m using, as there must still be at least 1400+m on the cone. They’re about ~1.5cm, and at this scale on cream, the metallic thread I thought I’d use just wasn’t powerful enough. I auditioned all my neon threads, and I’m happy with this orange, which is adding a gorgeous cast where I’ve sewn, and that will increase when I get into the quilting. I’m liking how it adds texture that doesn’t flatten down even when ironed – it’s a thick thread, of the kind of gauge used for heavy duty outdoor upholstery, back packs and luggage – and being polyester it’s quite springy. Of course, I bought it for being neon orange.

When I’m further along, I’ll show some detail of what I plan to go with these groups of squares. I never show full views of works in progress, nor of finished ones, either, until they’ve been exhibited and/or sold. I’m feeling very excited about this new direction – an interesting development from the last 3+ months spent in exploring through sample making.

Eye-Opening Grids

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Browsing online recently, I discovered the beautiful textile art of Canadian artist Chung-Im Kim .

Born in South Korea, and for nearly three decades resident in Canada, Chung-Im’s art interestingly and successfully blends her cultural past with her cultural present. Traditional Korean bojagi are some of the cultural roots to which Chung-Im periodically returns for inspirational refreshment; and in one body of work these well-known traditional textiles have become canvases for print and stitch compositions.¬† But it is her dimensional, sculptural work with felt that blew me away, with alluring titles of groups of work in her portfolio – pre-grids, grids, free grids, living geometry and miniatures.

Felt is made from a large variety of natural, synthetic fibres and blended fibres, with wool felt considered to be one of the oldest textiles in human history.¬† Late last year I wrote of¬†an interesting exhibition¬†by some international feltmakers in the textile biennial here in Montevideo, and though I have found and bought some beautifully crafted felt things down the years, I’ve still never seen anyone actually making felt, and have never seriously considered it as a ‘raw material’ for my own art, though I am aware of artists such as Rebecca Howdeshell¬†US,¬† Siv Goransson¬†UY and Australian Nancy Ballesteros.

Chung-Im describes her materials and process as industrial felt screen printed with digitally engineered images, which she presumably cuts into, and then assembles¬†the remaining pieces by hand, for which see this image.¬† So I googled ‘industrial’ felt, and now understand ‘felt’ to be a huge field, more varied than I’d ever thought about, and of large scale manufacturing of felted fibres of various kinds and blends with industrial applications including carpet underlays and gaskets for use in some machinery. The most interesting site I spent time on provides sizes of pre-cut and rolled felt from small custom shapes, various page-sized sheets up to huge rolls of various widths and thicknesses, depending on the buyer’s requirements.¬† I immediately began developing a mental list of ‘buyer’s requirements’ to ask about, and it almost makes me want to ditch my woven fabrics and clear studio space for some industrial felt supplies … No, I doubt I’d take such a radical step, but some ideas a percolating, and as I do have some small pieces of craft felt around, some time I might paint, monoprint or stencil something on it of my own design, or look into getting something printed, as a canvas for embroidery, perhaps.¬† Felt as a non-fraying material with some body or stiffness is inspiring…but I digress.

These works really opened my eyes to the potential of ‘grids’, and to the realisation that I may have been interpreting ‘grids’ too narrowly, despite several posts on the subject,¬†like this one¬†.¬† ¬†Isohyets, topographical maps, aerial photos, erosion patterns, in fact all kinds of contour lines associated with diagrams, maps and charts all come flooding into my mind when viewing these works.

Chung-Im Kim, dawn,  2012,   71 x 60 x 6 inches.  Image artist supplied.

Chung-Im Kim, nalgae,  2012,  43 x 44 x 5 inches.  Image artist supplied.
Chung-Im Kim,  baekya,  2009, 46 x 47 x 4 inches.  Image artist supplied.

These and many more works on her website show inspiration from landscape shapes and patterns of surface textures.

Another interesting group of work is titled¬†‘living geometry’¬†, containing pieces which I initially thought could have been filed with ‘free grids’, because all their grids are certainly irregular.¬† However, on further reflection, I realised the difference in concept is that¬†these¬†pieces appear to be growing right out of a surface in a very organic way, suggesting they are alive.

The combination of smooth, printable surface and stiffness that lends itself to sculptural goals, reminded me of the wool felt sculpture/garment exhibited by heather Brezo Alcoceba of Spain, which I mentioned in the post of 14/11/2017 last.  (scroll well down)  In this pop-over shoulder cape kind of garment, the wearability of which was not immediately obvious, it now occurs to me that that very 3D surface has a strong connection to the idea of irregular grids.

I’d like to thank Chung-Im Kim for supplying images and giving permission to use them in this article.


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