Assignment 3 Project 6 Stage 3

This stage is about applied fabric techniques.  For the first part I did some test samples on the sewing machine to test different stitches and variations in length and width, noting the machine settings for each sample.

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Then I sampled hand stitching in herringbone stitch, blanket stitch, stab stitch, needle turn applique, reverse applique, backstitch and applying sheet fabric over a bar of thread.  The fabric for these samples was positioned with Vliesofix (a type of Bondaweb) before stitching.

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I experimented with bonding by trapping pieces of fabric, metallic papers and thread between layers of fabric with the top layer being sheer.  I used torn scraps of Gossamer Fuse (a very fine bonding material) to secure the materials.

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The red sample on the left is has not had any further work, but with the sample on the right I added some stitching to the top section.  I layered fly stitch in a number of colours and then added some needlelace rings in orange as highlights. I think this addition of stitching is very effective, the layering adds extra depth and the colours reflect the colours trapped under the top layer.  I feel the orange rings are very succesful as they really add focus points to a piece that could be quite bland.

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Underneath this I worked some chain stitch just to pick out the green and red threads trapped under the top layer.

The next suggestion in the course notes was to try using Tyvek.  I had to order some of this as I have not used it before.  My first experiments were pretty standard, I painted the Tyvek on one side and then used a hot air gun to distort the paper, noting different temperature settings and whether I used the gun on the front or back of the work.

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For the next two samples I concentrated heat more int he middle of the paper, which produced a great texture, and then for the last one (purple below) I used a straight nozzle and drew grid lines up and across the paper which produced an interesting checkered effect.

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After these first tries with Tyvek I was interested to go a stage further and see if I could incorporate it into a piece of work rather than just have pieces of Tyvek on their own.  So I painted a piece of Tyvek with copper and gold acrylic paint.  Once dry I stitched into half of this using the sewing machine with a couple of decorative stitches and zig zag stitch and using bronze and green metallic threads.  Then I flipped the Tyvek and painted the back with green and gold paints.  Painting the back after the stitching worked really well as tiny drops of the green paint went through the holes from the sewing and added some great colour to the front.

I chopped the Tyvek up randomly and then used the heat gun on different sides and in different quantities.  Then I started joining the pieces together.  I used the freeform knitting idea from the workshop I did in April and some needle lace techniques and joined the Tyvek pieces using two colours of fine wire.

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The finished piece can be seen here against a background of black velvet which shows up the metallic colours well.  I am very pleased with this piece although it did take a long time to make.  The green Tyvek pieces look like lichen and the green stitching on some of the pieces pull the colours together.  I managed to curl up the edges of some pieces to show the contrasting colours and I really enjoyed using wire as a joining medium instead of thread.

After digressing into Tyvek for a while I came back to the final sample for stage 3.  I decided not to use one of my stage 2 drawings but to do some work based on a recent sketchbook piece.  I had seen a short documentary on Nanjing brocade in China and the different factions with one faction wanting to keep the traditional design methods alive and the other faction wanting to modernise and computerise the process.  This led me to look at some of the brocade designs and do some simple sketchbook work just focussing on a couple of design elements.  There are a lot of design features where an element is outlined to show up the shape, as in the samples below right.

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Nanjing brocade is also known as Cloud Brocade so I looked at images of clouds.  I like images of items in space (I used a photo from the Hubble telescope for the pastels workshop I did in March) and found a number of pictures of the clouds of Jupiter.  I traced and enlarged these cloud designs then cut them out of the fabric I marbled in the recent marbling experiments.

For the outlining I chose two colours of silk dupion.  I use Vliesofix on the back of all pieces and attached them to a surface of rayon that I dyed a few years back.  Blanket stitch was used to stitch on the inside and outline of all pieces, using different coloured threads for the outlines and gold metallic for the inner pieces to pick up on the gold paint used on the marbled fabric.

Interestingly, although I was inspired by the clouds of Jupiter I had not intended to produce a planet, but when considering the guidelines to work no more than 30cm square or use a rectangle I decided to use a circle to match the soft edges of my shapes.  So it became a planet!

After stitching on the shapes I added some surface stitching to link the circle to the background and also to carry on with the idea of clouds extending either side of the “planet”.

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I enjoyed using the fabrics that I had dyed myself and also developing an idea that had its origins in a documentary.  If I really wanted to get the feel of clouds more I could enhance this with strips of chiffon.

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