Continuing on through this project, I have been doing some more design work based on my sketches. For my themed sketchbook I have been sketching flowering teas, and liked this simple design from the central stem in the tea. I did lots of work with the simplified ink drawing by photocopying it 8 times, cutting it out and developing patterns by re-orientating and tessellating them. Rather than sticking down the designs, I photographed each pattern and reused the same pieces.
I also played with taking the individual shapes in different scales to create two more organic, less orderly pieces. The first used the long petals as masks painted over with acrylic ink, then oil pastels drawing the rounder large petals on top. The second is a collage of tissue and photocopies of the original ink drawing.
I then moved onto making fabric collages. Again I began by laying out strips and squares of fabric and photographing them to see what was working. I used the colours from my green/blue and red bark sketches for this.
Although I liked the bright light blues and greens with the dark red and orange in the sketches. I was having trouble uniting all the colours in small samples without it looking cluttered. Saying that, looking back at the photo above it didn’t look too bad!
I tried a few different things here, the blue against orange in strong lines for maximum impact, using coloured nets to conceal and reveal in turn. My favourite piece is top left. The fine sheer burgaundy fabric was pulled and stretched to distort the weave, and although I omitted any blue from the design, the dark red on blue/green does look slightly blue in places. I like the idea of simple manipulation of the light sheer by adding a loose knot. It gives a focal point and varies the opacity through the fabric in one move. In the lower left piece I looked purely at the qualities of different fabric compositions and really liked the torn and stretched satin strip to the left. Centre bottom I wanted to look at how patterned fabric could be successfully used without looking too cluttered. Keeping the cut shapes and design as simple as possible worked best. Top right I was playing with using the left over threads from other pieces with sheers to make a new fabric. Bottom left was looking at slash and reveal – random uneven cuts over a very regularly woven sheer beneath (synthetic net), and more ordered regular cuts over an unevenly woven sheer.
Relating back to the sketches, I think the top left piece was most in tune with the original colour inspiration, but I think I have successfully moved each sample on from the sketches to explore different aspects – colour, textures, the fibrous peeling of the bark.
Now to the applique samples! For the hand applique I wanted to do a sampler of different fabrics and techniques. I took the simple petal shapes from the tea drawing for this. I used printed cotton with a seam allowance and slip stitched edges, satin with bondaweb and blanket stitch, felt with running stitch following the contours of the shape, cordouroy with running stitch along the grooves of the fabric (minor fraying allowed), a matt sheer with bondaweb and blanket stitch, and printed cotton with bondaweb and blanket stitch. The net shapes were sewn on top with black thread in a stitch line outlining the positive shapes of the net and negative shapes around the applique pieces beneath. I found the applique with a seam allowance a bit bulky and difficult to get a sharp point at the top without showing any raw edge. This would be better with shapes with no points, and for padding bases for stumpwork. The bondaweb under the very light matt sheer didn’t really work as you could see the glue. In the design, I like the way the overlapping nets create new shapes that echo the positive shapes.
For my machine sample I used this simple outline sketch of the shapes of things on my bookshelf. Yes – my shelves are rather cluttered!
I used all neutral fabrics of differing weights and weaves to make this piece, and overlayed areas with a semi-opaque tulle. This looked really good up against the window. I used a combination of satin stitch with concealed edges, and straight stitching with fraying. I finished the piece with a few lines of zig zag and straight stitch as suggested in the original sketch.