Posts Tagged ‘hand stitch’

This One’s Going To Take A While …

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Now, at last I feel mentally free to start a work I’ve had in mind for a few weeks since finding a photo I posted previously as an inspiring colour scheme. Stitching this will balance the hectic colours I’ve just been working with, and as surface stitch is so important in my designs these days, it is going to be a serious undertaking in stitch. As each of the expected 169 squares currently takes about 45-50 minutes each, from cutting the strips to the last stitch, I have plenty of time ūüôā to think about the title. I may speed up a little as I get the hang of managing the fabric+hoop needing to be draped over the ironing board – a fabulous sewing table which I’ll blog about a bit later.

Sample strip – pieces of different sheers I plan to use in this work fused/bonded onto some of the fabric background piece. The square in a square on the left end is my plan – a repeat block design of this, one of my all time favourite traditional blocks.

It’s not just the colours – greys, beiges and just a touch of soft apricot-gold, but this photo has so much reflected light shimmering off wet sand and the water’s surface, that in that earlier post I referred to ‘shimmer’ as a key word. That is what I’ll be aiming to present in what might be titled ‘Shimmer’ once I’m done.

The first four blocks of ‘Shimmer’, are shown here in process, from fusing the strip placement to completed square within a square. I used Misty Fuse, and an unbranded yellow gold thread from China. The metallic thread used will vary with the different fabric strips being oversewn. I have some coppery metallic which I think will give just the right touch of peach pink ….

Adding Pattern Layers With Quilting

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021
Hand quilting pattern derived from carved patterns in rocks, petroglyphs, made by ancient people in the 4 Corners area of the SW USA, in “Ancient Expressions 1” , 1989

One thing I keep an eye open for on when browsing on Pinterest is sets of marks and patterns, made by any means, that I think could look interesting interpreted in stitch. Of course, a stroke with a pencil makes the same kind of mark as that most basic of all stitches, the straight stitch.

In much of my textile art, I stitch through two or three layers of fabric to keep them all properly positioned in relation to each other, so that nothing sags with hanging or shifts with use as bed covering. I call this construction quilting, which is often quilting in the ditch (sewn along a seam line between two pieces of fabric) The stitches themselves either don’t show or they’re not really noticeable – they do this construction job in such a way as to add only a low relief element to the visual impact of my design.

Between each square is machine quilting in the ditch; hand quilting is both visible (green) and tone-on-tone invisible.
All machine quilted, but in the background with black machine thread it adds texture only. Along the edge of the inserts in a thread strongly contrasting with the black background, it adds to the relative importance of those lines.

Other quilting is meant to be seen, and I think of this quilting as like a fishing net, cast over the whole surface, adding another layer of decoration and meaning to the work as it settles into place…

Intense hand quilting all over with fine thread – the stitches themselves hardly show; it is the linear pattern of texture that is important.

A recent post by a fellow textile artist on an art quilt FB page offered a workshop on combining hand and machine quilting in the same work. That’s not a new idea, I’ve been doing that for years, but there are always people taking their first steps from traditional quilt making towards designing their own original art quilts, so there’ll probably be students around who’ll get a lot from that class. Traditional makers tend to have rigid rules about about what a quiltmaker should/should not do with her needle and thread, and it can take a sustained effort over time to break out of that mould.

Pandemic Pattern #2, 2020; upper level – the scattered black stars I machine quilted, lower section – some of the fmq shape auditions along one edge.
“Gift Of The Nile”, 2008. Layered sheers ~1.2m x ~1m.
Using a free machine quilting pattern I devised from all the five pointed stars painted on the ceilings of the pyramids we visited in Egypt 2007.

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.


Mark Making And Mending

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

On textile artist Maeve Coulter’s¬†textile art¬†page is a brief paragraph on her techniques, another on the themes and ideas in her art, plus this single line:¬†“I was raised in a household where fabric was revered, rescued and reused.”¬† This comment is a common thread running through statements by many textile artists, fabric artists, art quilters, whatever each of us calls ourselves.¬† The presence of fabric or cloth in our lives is acknowledged, and we tend to revere it at some level for its importance from cradle to grave. It’s frequently expressed in terms of saving, rescuing, repurposing, upcycling, reusing and recycling garments and other cloth items.¬† The western world has lost a lot of the ‘make do and mend’ concept, and our garbage tips and landfills bulge as¬† huge environmental problem grows daily.

I’m a classic Baby Boomer, and all the mothers of other kids I knew used fabrics carefully, sewing garments with generous seam and hem allowances that allowed them to be handed down and along to other families where they could be taken up, let out, lengthened or shortened.¬† ¬†For a garment to successfully endure all these phases, the fabric needed to be the best quality¬† possible, and in home sewing for kids especially it has always been false economy to go for cheap fabric.¬† Our mothers were stay at home mums, as even though they might have worked during the men’s absence fighting WWII, most of those jobs were handed back to men as they returned home.¬† Clothes rationing lasted in Australia until the early 50s, so our mothers had the motivation and the time to invest in the whole process of sewing, mending and repurposing fabric things.¬† Plus they mended things to make them last longer.

Straight stitches commonly feature in mending – for example a 3-corner tear

I’ve noticed artists who can claim their work uses all recycled materials enjoy a subtle extra merit, eco brownie points,¬†making the work somehow more worthy because only recycled materials were used.¬† Google “recycled clothes” for example, you’ll find many pics of inspiring projects from recycled materials, it’s big business.¬† I guess I might be part way there, as I don’t cut into new fabric if I have suitable coloured/printed/textured scraps or offcuts I can use in my improvisational constructions.¬† Occasionally I cut up an old garment, but I tend to give away intact clothes I’ve worn a lot or outgrown that still have some use in them.¬† To go all the way would be to scour op shops and markets, but, to be honest, I have no inclination to regularly do those rounds or hoard bundles of fabrics from used clothes.¬† I have a close friend who acquires mended fabric whatevers by various means – clothes, sheets, blankets, you name it, she has it somewhere.¬† The interior of her house has all this wonderful fabric stuff, much of it backed by interesting stories, but you can barely find a place to sit down.¬† I just do not want to get on that bandwagon¬† ūüôā


Looking Back a Bit …

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

To rediscover this excellent scan of what is my first intentionally made ‘art quilt’ last week was a thrill (the original is a 2×2 transparency, back in the filing cabinet in Perth – remember those?).¬† This is¬†‘Ancient Expressions’, so named because I¬† thought¬† that would help it be juried into an exhibition,”Expressions in Quilting”, Barrington IL 1989.¬† Whether it would have made it without that little push, I don’t know, but it did get in and sold from the exhibition.¬†¬†If anyone knows who has this quilt I’d love to hear where it is.¬† I was never informed of the buyer, and didn’t think to press for that detail at the time ūüôā

Ancient Expressions I,  1988.      114cm x 102cm

This success really focused me on making my own designs in layered textiles; and further, it led to a series which became the Ancient Expressions series (I- XIV)¬† Each quilt has an element of landscape in the design, and all celebrate the ancients’ connection with their landscapes, expressed in the patterns they painted or carved on those surfaces. Two or three were OMG flops, but on the whole they are still works I’m proud of.

Detail of the hands – it’s not a grainy photo, I sprayed paint over ironed-on freezer paper cut-outs of my own hand shapes. But the paint seeped under the edges in places, and my initial reaction was that my experiment failed, as I had been going to embroider using the hands and paint as kind of templates (which on reflection would have been boring probably) but when a fellow embroiderer said¬† ‘You could put it in a quilt …’ I looked with fresh eyes and realised its potential, made the quilt and went on exploring the potential of this theme in the series, some of which are¬† pictured below:

L РR    #XII                       # I                          #X                        #IX

 L РR     #XII                 #XIV                         #VI                         #II

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