Tag Archives: straight line stitching

I found my ‘voice’ but where is the volume dial?

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

Over the last couple of years I have definitely found my ‘voice’. Or my ‘visual style’. Or whatever you want to call that sense of confidence that comes from developing a set of processes (or studio practice) that transforms ideas into finished pieces that are recognisably ‘me’. I can point to three things that helped – making a conscious decision to work in series, attending a Colour Studies course with Leslie Morgan and moving into my purpose built studio.

I currently have two ‘active’ series. The Ruins series which has given me so much success and the Still / Storm series which still feels in it’s infancy. In both cases I started by developing a colour palette then developed a set of printed and / or dyed fabrics. I collage and stitch samples during which ideas for ‘full sized’ pieces start to flow. Some ideas are very vague and require more sampling. Other ideas pop up fully formed. And demanding attention. Like the piece I am working on now.

I keep a list of potential ‘calls for entry’, particularly those without a theme or size restrictions. But I let the work itself dictate what size and even what form my finished pieces will take. And I no longer give in to the temptation to create ‘one-offs’ to fit a specific call for entry. This limits where I might place my work but sometimes there is a really good match between my work and a particular call. Such as the current SAQA ‘Layered Voices’ call. The piece is going to be 4 metre long strip hung such that the bottom section is draped and partially hidden on the floor. It will be double sided. And stitched with hundreds and hundreds of parallel lines. And every end of thread will be carefully sewn in. So shouted my voice!

Unfortunately my voice does not care that the call ends on 30th September and that I start a new day job on the 12th. Or that we are hanging the next Etcetera exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery this week. Ho hum. Better get back to my sewing machine!

Being brave

A word of warning before I start – those you know me might want to sit down.

Ruins 7 - work in progress

Ruins 7 – work in progress

I have now finished the background stitching on Ruins 7. It is big; a massive 5 square metres. Which equates to hundreds of parallel lines of stitching achieved by spending hours and hours at my sewing machine. And it looks great – well worth the investment I have made in it so far.

I wanted to do something a little different with this piece and had, in my mind, stitched silhouettes of ruined, bombed out buildings. I went on-line to get some images to work from. Sadly there are far too many images out there – from London and Dresden in the second World War to Aleppo today. I started by sketching in a notebook but could get no sense of scale. So I decided to draw out the full sized design. Cue lots of hours drawing, tearing up paper and drawing again until I was sort of happy. I draw onto blank newsprint paper as I know it tears easily and thought I could pin it to the quilt and stitch through.

I thought wrong. Trying to manhandle the quilt and paper on my sewing machine was horrendous. If I had a swear box in the studio I could have paid my mortgage off!! I thought long and hard about my options …. And decided to draw the design directly onto the quilt. And not with a pencil (which wouldn’t really show up) or with a water soluble marker pen (as I have no intention of letting the piece near water). I decided to use a black permanent marker pen. Yeaks!!

I am using free machine quilting in a black thread to ‘etch’ over the lines so most of the marks should be hidden. Assuming I don’t make a mistake …… Is that brave or really stupid?

Storm 2 (Dark)

7 February 2016

Storm 2 (Dark) detail

Here’s a sneak preview of Storm 2 (Dark). I didn’t start with the intention of stitching lots and lots of black lines but that is where I ended up. It makes the piece darker than intended, hence the title, and reflects my mood as I stitched.