Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

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Supplementary Work to Assignments 1 & 2 in response to Tutor Report

Assignment 1 Tutor Report Nina O’Conner 513049 (1)

Assignment 2 Tutor Report Nina O’Conner 513049 (1)

To improve both the presentation of both assignments 1 & 2, the pages were bound into book form in response to the Tutor’s suggestions.


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Textiles 1 A Creative Approach – Assignment 2 Feedback – Reflection & Comment

Overall Comments – Tutor

Well done, you have created a good body of work for this assignment that shows understanding and application of colour theory and some very nice and successful experimentation using paper based and textile printing processes. Some nice sampling of different techniques, your hand stitch samples are lovely but there is a lack of development of your drawings through to designs. I’d like to see you developing your drawings and designs further through the process of experimentation, reflecting on a work/samples and using this to inform decisions. Good development of your sketchbook work and much clearer organization and presentation. Lots here to develop and build on; feedback below indicates areas to improve and gives suggestions on how you might develop this through later assignments.

I’m pleased with the overall comments.  Following receipt of the feedback, I revisited Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists by Kay Greenlees and looked at the link recommended at the end of this document. I agree that there is a lack of development of my drawings through to designs.  I don’t think I fully understood the creative process and have a better idea now.

Feedback on assignment. Project 3. Stage 1-3:

Some lovely work in this early section, you have succeeded in accurately matching the colours of your fabric samples, lovely preparation, observation, testing and mixing of colours. Some good attempts at exercise 4 but I would like to have seen you explore the grouping of objects and making more observation through colour rather than form and to take this observational part of the exercise further.

I find it difficult to explain why I couldn’t and still can’t grasp how to record the colours as brushstokes of colour without painting the objects as things, and in relation to the comment about exploring the grouping of objects, why is the grouping of objects important if I’m not painting them as objects.  I spent a long time reading and re-reading this section and missing the point so I think it would have be useful to me if a picture had illustrated what was required.  

Stage 4: It would have been useful to bring this section together. I think your exploration of word opposites, through mark-making and colour could have been taken further.

I note that I could have taken this section further, although I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘bring this section together’.  I find expressing feeling with marks difficult and think I spent the suggested half hour on it and moved on as quickly as possible!

Stage 5/6: Very nice exploration of colour through hand stitch. This must have taken a lot of time but really worthwhile as you have developed some really interesting and bold samples. Consider the fabric ground: how this affects the design and the stitches effect and change the ground. Consider the placement of the stitch, how does it arrive on (doesn’t have to be place centrally) and travel across the fabric.

I note the above comments and will enjoy exploring hand stitch further.   

Project 4: Stage 2: project 1-4.

It would have been better to present your sources of inspiration alongside this developmental stage of your work so the journey of your designs was more evident. Looking at the initial viewfinder drawings and then the postcard in you colour book, the colours in your paintings are not as well matched or the drawings/marks as considered as your earlier work. Some nice moments but this section of your work appears to be a little rushed. I would have liked to see more exploration, decision making and development of both the black and white and colour studies drawings within task/exercises 2-4 and throughout stages 3 and 4.

Noted.  This is the area where I don’t think I fully understood the creative process and the need to really focus on a small area and develop that particular drawing in different ways.  I can see it is explained in the course manual, but at the time the angst surrounding the drawing interfered with my understanding.

Experiments with printing and painting

Some lovely exploration and application of paper based and textile printing processes, different papers, processes and medias. It looks like you have enjoyed exploring these processes. Try to get this same playful experimentation into the earlier stages of your work, developing your drawings and designs. How you could begin to use these works to inform more development? Try working on larger paper and fabric, explore scale, composition and placement through the layering marks, drawings, designs and printing techniques. I’d like to have seen more focused experimentation, development and thinking around an idea creating more connection between the samples rather than seeing each work as separate.

Thank you and note comments regarding developing ideas and connecting samples.

Developing a larger design.

Some lovely textures in this printed samples and a good attempt at embellishing the design with machine stitch but they feel a little separate and are not quite working together as design. There needed more experimentation, possible exploring an additional abstract design from one of your drawing to compliment of offset the background. Colour could also have been explored further and layering.

Agree.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the final piece and it was rushed to meet the deadline.

I’m also taking on your sketchbook cover of your large sample book as a larger design as it has it show good use of colour and the layering printed marks to create texture. To build on this, you could extend the printed design with stitch and used this to join the two half’s of the design/fabric in a more creative way than just a zig-zag, e.g. the black crosses could move across the different sides of the work so the two pieces feel more connected. Think about proportion, space, composition (project 4) and the cut line between the shapes of fabric: how might you have used this design or drawn on earlier samples/experiments to inform this shape? As you have joined three samples, you could consider using applique to balance the overall work e.g. cutting some of the yellow or orange circles to apply to the pink side and in doing so creating a hole which reveals the pink fabric or another beneath. Some lovely earlier hand-stitch work, these techniques might be used to create areas of more focus and detail.

Noted with interest.  This piece was quickly put together with scraps to cover the cardboard and although considered, it didn’t occur to me to give it more thought and attention at the time.  I can see now that the potential for exploring this is more exciting to me than the ‘Developing a larger design’ sample in Stage 4.


Good use of your sketchbook, you’ve developed your work here and have started to make these a helpful resource for you. Some nice drawing, mark-making and stitch work and exploration of collage. When working on the sewing machine, try developing your use of the different stitches and feet rather than just free-hand embroidery, explore what happens when you change the width or length of the stitch, loosen or tighten the tension on the top of the machine or bobbin underneath.

I’d like to see you developing your research of an area to help create more focus to your work and development of your designs. Gather research inspired by your theme: work by artists, designers, historical and present day, writing, poetry, sketches, drawing, photos etc. Refer back to my previous feedback here.


Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Research point: Interesting story around the embroidered work but I would liked to have seen more in depth research here. Nice study, a colour photo and a close up would have been helpful.

Some good ongoing refection of your work, start to apply this evaluation as you are actually creating the work, thinking and reflecting as you work and using this to inform decisions on where you might go next with a process or design.

Suggested reading/viewing

Machine stitch perspectives. – Jane McKeating, Alice Kettle Matthew Harris:

Thank you for the suggestions.  Machine and Hand stitch Perspectives are on my Christmas list so look forward to reading them.  I enjoyed Penni Redding’s work.  I have seen it before but the fact that it was illustrating a point relevant to me made it more meaningful this time. Matthew Harris’s work was interesting.

Pointers for the next assignment

Thinking through process: more experimentation and process led development. More decision making and considered reflection and refinement of drawing through to designs. Develop your theme and be more ambitious with your choices of inspiration, start to create more meaning and depth to your work.

Thank you for the constructive feedback.  I found it interesting to note that the areas highlighted for further exploration were  aspects I didn’t feel comfortable with at the time and wished I was in a classroom situation to clarify what was required.  However, as mentioned, I think I have a better idea now and should be able to act on your pointers.

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Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Project 5 – Stage 4 – A larger sample

I chose to make a an extended version of a repeating pattern which could continue beyond the edges of the sample and is not a complete unit in itself.

I was inspired by the sentence from Jane Dunnewold’s book Art Cloth: A guide to surface design for fabric

“Art cloth features a series of dyed and printed layers, each contributing to the intricacy, beauty, and interest of the fabric, transforming cloth into a work of art”

The first step in her layering process is to dye the fabric.

Earlier this year I attended a workshop by Helen Deighan who has published two books on the subject of dyeing, Dyeing in Plastic Bags and Magic Dyeing Made Easy.  Using her method in Magic Dyeing made easy and starting with a washed piece of an old white bed valance, I scrunched the fabric into a ball and bound it tightly with string. Using her plastic bag method I mixed magenta and acid lemon and a drip of turquoise and added the dry scrunched up ball of fabric to the bag.  The book indicated that if the fabric is completely dry, the tied-up piece will act like a sponge and pull the dye right into the centre giving an all-over pattern.  The fabric produced was interesting but quite light in colour. (I omitted to take a photograph at the time but also used it below left with added printed leaves).


Continuing with one of  Jane Dunnewold’s 0ptional layers, I overdyed the fabric with olive green, using a dye recipe from Tray Dyeing by Lesley Morgan & Claire Benn and Helen Deighan’s plastic bag method.  I didn’t manipulate the fabric on this occasion.

For the next layer,  I used two easy cut lino blocks to print all over the fabric as a background with Jacquard lumiere metallic copper.  The colour of the fabric is not accurately depicted in the photograph.


Jane Dunnewold suggests that if a busy background texture has been created consider adding a simple layer next.  With this in mind, I tried various leaf shapes to overprint and agreed that a stronger simpler shape would suit the background and drew two examples on acetate and laid them on the fabric.  I felt the upper leaf below (the simpler of the two) was better and could be used quite large to best effect. I auditioned various colours by laying ribbons and tapes on the fabric and decided on a bright bronzy colour.


I considered the pattern by drawing it on tracing paper and realised there was a hole in the middle.


I tried various arrangements until I came up with the following, although my 40cm x 40cm square would only have three leaves on it, as the pattern is quite big.


I was feeling confident, even a little excited about my sample.  The last step was to cut a stencil to over-print the cloth.

The stencil I cut wasn’t really compatible with the background leaf, it was too solid, not expressive, and impossible to stencil through without the fabric paint seeping under the stencil.


I cut an easy cut lino block but that wasn’t bold enough, partly because the shape was a little thin, but also because the Jacquard lumiere fabric paint  (which was the right colour) was a bit too transparent when used with a block.


I could buy more paint if the block was right.  So far the best option is a Neopaque II watersoluble wax crayon but I don’t have quite the right colour and I was concerned it would look amateurish.


I thought perhaps it would be improved with some free-stitching and tried out various ideas on another piece of fabric.

DSCN2896 DSCN2895 DSCN2892

The final sample:

DSCN2900 DSCN2899 DSCN2898

It is difficult to see from the photographs the true colour of all the tie dyed fabric in this post.  It is closer to the following pictures taking during the project.


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Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Project 5 – Stage 4 – A larger sample – REFLECTION

I am pleased with my efforts but think there are many ways the sample could be improved.

Do you feel you made a good selection from your drawings to use as source material from your design ideas?  Which interpretations worked best? Why?

I do feel I made a good selection from my drawings to use as source material for my design ideas.  Although simple, because the leaf shape was easier to draw I was able to use it more expressively, rearrange the shapes and scale with ease.  The idea began with a drawing from a magazine photograph of autumn coloured leaves that truly inspired me and the theme was followed throughout this section.  The element that work best for me was the curved lines down the centre of the leaf, I liked the way they could direct the eye around the piece.  However, in my sample, I think the background should have had more depth, following the same design but maybe with more contrast in the shades of paint or by discharging with the leaf stamp first in some areas and then adding colour back in.  I was a little disappointed with the larger leaf.  I think the final decision to draw with water-soluble crayons and over stitch wasn’t a bad one, but there is insufficient contrast between the leaf and the background.  Also the fabric was distorted with the stitching.  So more consideration should be been given to all or some of the following, the fabric weight, the quantity of free-machining, the tension or stablising the fabric before stitching.

Which fabrics did you choose?  What particular qualities appealed to you?

I chose to use the recycled cotton from the valence.  I preferred the smooth surface for printing.  I love the texture of other fabrics like silk noil, linen scrim, rough linen and cotton velvet but in this case aimed to provide the texture with the printing.  (Although as mentioned above it puckered a little with the free machining)

Is the scale of marks and shapes on  your samples appropriate to the fabric?  Would any of your ideas work better on a different type of fabric, for example, sheer, textured, heavyweight?  Why?  Do the marks and shapes seem well placed, too crowded or too far apart?  Were you aware of the negative shapes that were forming in between the positive shapes?  What elements are contrasting and what elements are harmonising in the sample?  Is there a balance between the two that produces an interesting tension?

I think the scale of marks and shapes are appropriate to the fabric although to get the full impact of the design, it would need to be produced on a bigger piece of cloth.  I don’t think the ideas would work better on a different type of fabric but think a very similar approach would work well on a sheer because the surface is smooth enough to take a detailed print.  The detail of the smaller printed leaves would not have worked on a textured fabric.  I think the marks and shapes are well placed.  I am not sure I was aware of the negative shapes forming in between the positive ones, but I was definitely considering the negative space in the placement of the larger leaves.  The size of the background leaf print and the larger leaf contrast, the leaf shapes harmonise, the analogous colours harmonise.  I think there is a balance between the larger and smaller leaf design but that a much more interesting tension could have been created by introducing more colour contrast and texture in the background.   The subtle but intricate detail of the scrunched cloth in the first dyeing (illustrated in the photograph of the cover of the ‘Samples – printing on Fabric’ booklet)  was lost in the overdyeing and the background small leaf print was a bit too subtle and ‘safe’.   This is more evident when viewing the actual sample, the photograph suggests greater texture.   There also needed to be more contrast between the stitched leaf and the background.  It it better close up  but from a distance the stitched leaf is lost.  The burgundy bobbin thread on the reverse of the fabric may have been bolder and appeared more expressive than the right side.

The following left is a sponged and printed page from my sketchbook which shows more contrast than the over-dyed cloth below right.

How successful do you think your larger sample is?  Do you like the design?  Have you recreated or extended your ideas from the smaller samples so that there is a visible development between the two?  Does your repeating design flow across the surface without obvious internal edges?  Do they make an interesting composition on this larger scale?

I am pleased with my efforts and think there is some success in the larger sample, I like the design but think it could be exploited to much greater effect.  I think there is a visible development from the initial drawing, through the printing experiments to this point. The repeating design of the background flows without obvious internal edges and considering the tracing paper sketch of the larger pattern alongside the sample think the larger leaves would flow if the design was printed on a larger piece of fabric.  I think further development would add interest to the composition.


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Books referred to during Assignment 2

Bautistia, T. (2006) Collaged Unleashed North Light Books

This is a craft book encouraging a playful, messy, let-go approach to collage which I bought on-line, on impulse.  It is full of fun, scruffy, colourful approaches to decorating paper, printing, transparencies, doodling, binding hand made journals.  It was enjoyable to flick through and inspired me to play and to experiment with making books from found papers.

Beaney J Littlejohn J (2000) A Complete Guide to Creative Embroidery Batsford

Mentioned before, this is a comprehensive, informative book containing a wealth of information on designing to embroider and stitched images.

Caprara J (008) Exploring Colour d4Daisy

Also referred to in an earlier post, this is an inspirational book to me, full of vibrant colour and inspiring experimental approaches to hand stitch and colour.

Deighan, H. (2001) Dyeing in Plastic Bags  Crossways Patch

A well explained and clearly illustrated method of dyeing in plastic bags, making hand dyeing possible in the kitchen at home.

Deighan, H.  (2003) Magic Dyeing Made Easy  Crossways Patch

More experimental, progression from the above.  Accessible method of tye-dyeing.

Dunnewold, J. (2010) Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Printing. Interweave Press

A really useful contribution to this assignment, a newer publication than the Helen Deighan books including more advanced instruction on dyeing and other methods of producing layered art cloth, clearly explained with good  illustrations.

Hornung, D. (2004) Colour, A Workshop for Artists and Designers

A comprehensive book which can be used as a reference manual intended as a guide to a practical workshop.   I found it very useful but not an easy read.  As I am very interested and excited by colour, I will probably refer back to it as I increase my experience of colour and become more experimental in future.  It includes a wealth of information for professional artists but lacks the visual excitement of newer more vibrantly illustrated publications. 

Morgan L. & Benn C. (2006) Tray Dyeing 4-Print Ltd

An amazing book on tray dyeing fabric from two masters of their craft, referred to for a dye recipe on this occasion but one of the gems of my library.

Stein, Susan (2010) The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art

A well presented book covering easy to follow methods for simple surface design techniques with numerous photographs to cover each technique.   Perfect to prompt consideration of many printing possibilities.


I also discovered ‘kindle unlimited’ available on Amazon, where books in their kindle unlimited library can be ‘borrowed’.  I found this a really useful service.  I was faced with a long train journey, searched the craft section (there were more books here of interest to me during this assignment than in the art section)  and downloaded 10 books which I flicked through during my journey.   Using kindle through the ipad app, I was able to bookmark pages of interest to me and then return to them later to take notes. A valuable resource.

I enjoyed the following in this way, there were interesting points to note in each book and I would consider purchasing the Jane Dunnewold book.

Dunnewold, J. (2010) Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Printing.  Interweave Press

Delaney Barbara (2011 The Cloth Paper Scissors Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art. Interweave Press LLC

Walker, Chris (2014) How to Draw Anything for Absolute Beginners:  How to Start Drawing like a Pro Even if You Have No Drawing Experience. Chris Walker

McDonald, Quinn, (2011) Raw Art Journaling. North Light Books

Burke, Alisa (2011)    Sew Wild Creating with Stitch and Mixed Media. Interweave Press LLC

Leland, Nita (2011)   New Creative Collage Techniques: A step-by-step guide to making original art using paper. North Light Books

Dorit, Elisha (2009)  Printmaking + mixed media : simple techniques and projects for paper and fabric. Interweave Press LLC

Wakley, Dina (2013)  Art Journal Freedom. North Light Books



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Part two Building a visual vocabulary – colour, design, printing and painting – ASSIGNMENT 2 – Reflection

I feel I have made progress during this assignment, I can successfully mix colours in an informed way, rather than by chance.  I notice colour much more in my surroundings, but have not developed the habit of recording my observations on a regular basis.

I have a much wider understanding of paints, soft pastels and oil pastels, markal paint sticks, water soluble pencils and crayons.  I have developed my knowledge of printing using a variety of materials.

I can see there is a process to developing visual ideas and that I am capable of using a number of techniques to generate ideas.

I am beginning to acknowledge the things which are more visually exciting to me, am more aware of negative space and visual energy.

I had a brief ‘epiphany’ moment when making a drawing in Project 4, Stage 2, Exercise 2 when we were asked to decide what it is that it important to us, colours, textures or shapes and that we need to have an emphasis,  a point of view, or attitude when drawing, to be aware of a particular quality we want to emphasise and be selective about what is included and what is left out.  I felt an emotional connection for the first time, a pleasure at recording something visually exciting and a glimpse of how good that can feel and how selecting imagery exciting to me will positively influence my drawing.

My work is in order, presented in a way that I will be able to refer back to easily.  It was a new experience to make the junk books, by taking an idea and experimenting until it worked for me.  In the past I would have looked for strict instructions on how to make a book and followed them precisely.  I was encouraged to be more creative and work more freely.

I am overall pleased with the quality of my practical work in this section, have worked consistently with commitment, a little more freely and with more expression.

I have not developed my sketchbook work sufficiently and, although more confident, need to develop a habit to work on it regularly.

I have gathered more source material, researched the presentation of work, subscribed to and read Selvedge & Embroidery Magazines and visited a textile fair locally and The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace but have not been disciplined in recording these effectively.

I am disappointed with my application to reading research material not related to practical work.  I usually enjoy reading and am particularly inspired by books by artists illustrating their work and discussing techniques.  I previously attempted to read Textiles Today A Global survey of Trends and Traditions and recently The Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings which I have picked up numerous times but failed to read.  I will join the library at UCA Farnham in the next few weeks to address this aspect of the course.

I have immersed myself in the subject, but need to work on the balance between coursework and the more self-driven aspects of the course.

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Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Stage 4 – Developing Design Ideas – Experiments with printing & painting – PRINTING ON FABRIC


Left: top three Silk cotton printed with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium with a make up sponge.

On this fabric, the texture from the printing plate is as clear as printing on paper and gives interest.

Left: bottom. Bondaweb painted with acrylic paint, allowed to dry and ironed to calico.

Right: photograph of soft pastels printed on heat transfer paper for light fabrics (red grid) and ironed onto muslin.

I think the heat transfer paper is effective and could prove useful in future.


The spirals were produced by using thickened procion dye, thinned to be used through a needle nosed bottle.  The spiral was ‘drawn’ onto an acrylic circular plate and stamped onto dry soda soaked cotton.  It was batched, washed and dried and then painted.  The left was painted with Jacquard Dye-na-flow, heat set, washed and dried.  I didn’t think to use a water-based resist or to dry each colour between applications so the colours have spread.  I quite like the effect but would like to try dye-na-flow with water-based gutta to see how effective it is.  I like the Dye-na-flow, the colours are vibrant and the fabric has a soft handle.  The right hand side was painted with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium, heat set, washed and dried.  I like the colours which I was trying to replicate from my previous work, but the fabric is stiff and this method would not suit something that needed a soft handle.


Left on cotton and right on cotton poplin.  Both Markal paintsticks applied to masking tape then lifted with stencil brush and applied through acetate stencil.  The brush was moistened with zest it solvent, which was a serendipitous discovery.  I learned from Susan Stein’s book that Markal paintstick brushes can be cleaned with zest-it solvent (I had been wondering how to clean the brushes and it hadn’t occured to me that a solvent would be required!).  Having cleaned my brush before starting, I realised that the trace of solvent left on the brush transformed the paintstick into something that could be applied with subtlety and really like the effects created through the above stencils.   I already appreciated the lovely creamy texture and pigment of the paintstick when used on paper and although I could draw with it on fabric, didn’t find it very flexible.  I am now convinced that they are a very versatile addition to my toolbox!


The above cotton poplin is printed with procion dye thickened with manutex pasted applied to dry soda soaked cotton poplin, patterned with the end of some corrogated plastic on the left and with the edge of a credit card on the right.   Because the fabric is soda soaked, the dye takes quickly.  The paler orange was then scraped across the surface with a credit card. The fabric then needs to be wrapped whilst damp without touching other pieces and left overnight.  Then rinsed and washed as normal, resulting in fabulous colours and a soft handle.

This is a really versatile technique, although potentially messy to set up if working in your spare bedroom!


Left: Washed linen scrim painted through stencils with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.  Unsuccessful Neocolour II crayons top right.

I love the washed linen scrim and like the leaf print because it seems right for the fabric.

Right: Tussah silk top half marked with neocolour II and aquarelle pencils moistened with textile medium and acrylic black and white paint.  This sample was produced as suggested where colour is less important.   The marks have added texture but I love the Tussah silk as it is and think I could have better demonstrated embellishing/extending the surface quality of the fibre and structure of the cloth had I chosen differently.


Left: Further example of cotton poplin printed with procion dye thickened with manutex pasted  & applied to dry soda soaked cotton poplin.  This was patterned with the end of a cotton bud.

Right: Unwashed linen scrim painted with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.  Unsuccessful lino print bottom left.

Love the linen scrim washed and unwashed, although unwashed it has a lot of sizing and its shrinks and changes considerable on washing.  Love the leaf prints as they work well with the scrim and in those colours.  The lino prints didn’t work well as the fabric was too textured.


Left: Cotton poplin printed with two easycut lino blocks.  Acrylic paint and textile medium applied with coarse brush. Jacquard lumiere in metallic copper also applied.

Like the pattern, texture and colours.  The fabric paint was more transparent than the acrylic paint and textile medium and when heat set and washed doesn’t show up as much as the other paint.  The material has a reasonable handle but not as soft as it could be with other methods.

Right:  Lightweight cotton.  Pink and metallic copper Jacquard textile paint applied with brush through acetate stencils.  Less successful print in top right corner.   Not enough paint used and stencil turned and used twice which didn’t work well.

Quite like the magenta flowers against the white and the texture of the leaf .


Left: Cotton poplin decorated wit Staedler karat aquarell watersoluble pencils moistened with textile medium.

Right: Neocolour II watersoluble wax crayons moistened with textile medium.

Both heat set with iron and machine washed.

Both the pencils and crayons work on smooth fabric but neither are very exciting to me in this example.


Left: Cotton scrim & nylon tulle printed with acrylic paint mixed with textile medium using make up sponge.

Both worked well and would have potential for layering.

Right: Markal paintstick rubbed over textured wallpaper plate on weakly hand dyed cotton sheeting.  Heat set with iron, washed and dried.

Although tricky to use initially, Markal paintsticks are very versatile.  I found it best to remove the skin with a sharp scalpel which was much less wasteful than using a paper towel which is often recommended.  It was helpful to know brushes could be cleaned and colours mixed using a solvent.


The fabric used for the cover was a mixture of samples combined.  The right hand strip of cotton poplin is printed with easy cut lino blocks cut to represent footprint textures, using watersoluble block printing ink.  the central piece uses similar blocks and is hand dyed calico bandage.   The left hand is a piece of hand dyed fabric printed with jacquard textile paint brushed onto an easy lino cut block.

All hand dyed fabric used in all the samples has been dyed by me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed printing and look forward to developing my knowledge and experience further.

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Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Stage 4 Developing Design ideas – Experiments with Printing & Painting – DISCHARGING FABRIC

This section is all about experimenting with Printing and Painting and we are encouraged to supplement the notes provided by consulting the reading list.  I read Jane Dunnewold’s book, A Guide to Surface Design for Printing.  I found it to be very clear and explanatory with chapters covering adding colour with dyes and textile paints, removing colour with discharge methods, stamps and stencils, print and pattern with water-based resists, screen printing, foiling and leafing.  Whilst I could happily have spent several weeks working through the book making numerous samples, I chose to experiment with discharging fabric which is new to me.

I used formusol which is bought in powder form and can be added to water to use through a spray or to print paste.  Once applied it is left to dry and then ironed to activate the discharge process.  After I had ironed a few I realised that you can choose the amount of discharge by adjusting the length of time you apply the iron.


Left: Commerical cotton discharged with formusol and manutex paste applied with brush at the bottom of the page and sprayed through cotton lace at the top.  The application through lace was not very successful although I think I used too much spray which continued to soak into the material losing the potential for a more delicate pattern from the lace.  I like the texture achieved by applying with a brush but think it would have been more obvious if I had ironed it for a little less time.

Right: Machine dyed (at home) recycled curtain discharged with formusol and water sprayed over cotton daisy chain at the bottom of page.  Unsuccessful attempt at top when sprayed through gauze bandage.


Left:  Commercial cotton velvet discharged with formusol and manutex paste.  Handpainted on top and stamped with cork on bottom.

Right: Cotton denim discharged with formusol and manutex paste hand painted with fine brush.

Cotton velvet discharged beautifully.  Also like the denim.  Tried another denim sample from some old jeans but the formusol had no effect whatsoever.


Left: Own hand dyed (twice) calico bandage dishcharged with formusol and manutex paste applied with flat paintbrush. Not very interesting.

Right: Own double dyed old cotton sheet discharged with formusol and manutex paste applied with credit card edge. Like the contrast been the dark red and white and the patterns created on the left by scraping the paste with the credit card.


Left: Commercial cotton discharged with formusol and manutex paste hand painted with a fine paintbrush.  This commercial fabric didn’t discharge much colour.

Right: Own hand dyed cotton sheet discharged with formusol and manutex paste applied with cardboard cylinder at bottom and wire egg cup on top.  Really like the effect on the mottled fabric on top right.


Both hand dyed lightweight cotton on left, calico on right, discharged with formusol and manutex paste using an acrylic stencil and the cut out.  Left hand fabric has unsuccessful blobs where paste was applied with a natural sponge.  I particularly like the mottled effect on the right hand page on the thicker calico.


Both hand dyed with masks applied as left hand picture and formusol and water lightly sprayed onto the cloth.

The top left yellow fruit bag was unsuccessful.  I like the subtlety of the alphabet stencil which was very lightly sprayed and ironed.


Hand dyed cotton sheeting.  I love the way this fabric has discharged back to the pale turquoise.  The colour of the fabric is truer on the right.  The textured wallpaper plate (bottom middle right hand picture)  did have an acetate leaf mask on it which didn’t work well, but I love the texture created by the rest of the print. Also the elastic bands under the label created an interesting effect.

The label on the front cover is printed on heat transfer paper for dark fabrics, cut out and ironed on. It has a matt, slightly plasticky feel, I think there are better quality makes with a softer hand but it is simple and easy to use and I will add it to my resources.

I also used formusol on some black cotton drill which appeared to have worked when I ironed the fabric:


but the following day the effects had disappeared and the fabric returned to black.  I managed to discharge it with household bleach but it needed such a thick application to have any effect that any subtlely in the pattern was lost.

I really enjoyed experimenting with discharging fabric.  I think the effects on hand dyed fabric are the most interesting with the cotton velvet also being very successful.  The potential for using formusol to create really complex cloth adding and subtracting colour is an exciting prospect to explore in future.


Part 2 – Building a Visual Vocabulary – Stage 4 Developing Design Ideas – Experiments with Printing & Painting – Stage 2 Experimenting with techniques – PRINTING ON PAPER

Much experimentation has taken place on paper and fabric since my last entry, making very good use of my extended deadline from 1st to 17th November.

Having spent a happy morning experimenting with various tools and materials in my possession, I realised there was the potential for heaps of paper, so I considered how I was going to present my printing samples.  I made a junk book from used envelopes from an idea by Cindy Shepard on YouTube  (Smash & Stash Journal ideas designoriginals123).  This really enhanced my learning experience as I every time I returned to my work table I reviewed the printing and added a layer or a technique which encouraged me to be more creative.


Craft acrylic & block printing medium sponged through an acetate stencil.

Cutting a stencil from acetate was new to me and extremely versatile.  Really easy to draw on, cut with a scalpel or craft knife on a mat and rinse under the tap after use.  Will definitely use this technique again.  I started this with the cut out from the stencil, (where the lime green is evident on the right hand page).  I realised straight away that it was not a very interesting shape and wouldn’t work well in simple layers so decided to use the stencil and a natural sponge.  I like the way the layers add depth.


Craft acrylic and block printing medium rollered onto beech leaves (left hand side)

Craft acrylic brushed onto glass, dense make up sponge stamped into paint and printed on paper (right hand side)

I love the texture produced by the beech leaves.  I worked quickly thinking of a previous drawing (below)


and think this technique has potential.  Some leaves don’t have such prominent veins, the beech is particularly good.

Referring to the make-up sponge flower shapes on the right hand side, (above two), I like the texture produced by the sponge and how it can be varied by applying the paint to the glass in different ways (eg. with a brush or roller).


Easy cut lino prints onto brown paper and brown tissue paper with block printing ink applied with a brayer.

These easy cut lino prints were my first foray into cutting a block, produced on the Inspiration to Stitch course I took last year which introduced me to printing.  I included them to show the benefit of adding background texture.  I was happy with them at the time and particularly like the leaf vein markings on the leaf to the right of the envelope window, although am less keen on the background lines.


Two leaf blocks cut in easy cut lino, in relation to my theme.  Craft acrylic paint & block printing medium applied with a brayer to the two red prints on the left hand side and applied with a brush for all other prints on the page.  Background texture in turquoise sponged with natural sponge and red applied with brayer.

I like the painterly effect of applying the paint with a coarse brush around the leaf shape and the softer edge than the block effect of applying the paint to the whole block with the brayer.


Stencil cut from acetate with acrylic paint mixed with block printing medium, applied with a brush, the image is stencilled onto acetate, 320gsm khadi paper, a lighter weight hand made paper with petals and another heavyweight paper.

This is one of my favourite pages.  I like the colours and shadow effect created by printing a second image alongside the first print.  I really like printing on the hand made paper, it takes the ink well and can give good texture as on bottom right.  the background was printed with bubble wrap and textile paint.


left  – Acetate stencil, paint applied with a brush and background sponged, printed onto abaca tissue.

right – Acrylic paint and block printing ink brushed through plastic alphabet stencil, background sponged

Not my favourite page.  Left hand print messy and amateurish but abaca tissue has been on my wishlist since reading Ruth Issett’s book, A Passion for Colour.    I found it at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace and it was worth the wait.  It takes the dye well and has wet strength.  I like the alphabet stencil, it could be used to add letters subtly to a background.


Left – white acrylic paint brayered onto leaves & stalk and stamped onto pre-decorated paper.

Right – Easy cut lino print layered

Like the leaf print on the left.  Right didn’t work well.


Made a stencil from stencil card for petals, rotated and used twice on right, cut-out used on left, another acetate stencil for centre of flower using markal paintsticks applied to edge of stencil and brushed onto paper.  Background painted and sponged stencil.  Left hand made paper, right, packing paper.

Like the effect of rotating the stencil and using markal paintstiks.  Prefer right hand flower.  Like the centre stencil.


Acetate stencil with acrylic paint and block printing medium applied with brush.  Background applied with rough texture sponge.  Faint pink on right, textured wallpaper print.

Like the leaf prints.  Texture sponge didn’t work well.  Works better on more absorbent paper.


Easy cut lino prints. Paint applied with brayer.  Too much block printing medium on left created great texture, took ages to dry.

Loved the ‘Tea bag paper’ used for red print, it took the dye well, is light and has wet strength.


Easy cut lino prints.  Paint applied with brayer. Trying different papers.  Lens tissue on left, lighter weight than abaca tissue, also takes dye well and has wet strength.   Approx 150 gsm khadi paper on left, love the textural look.


Monotype prints from acrylic paint and textile medium applied to glass with brayer,  paint removed with colour shaper.  two prints layered on left and three on right.   Both printed on 50gsm layout paper.

Excited by the effect produced by removing paint with colour shaper and the potential of layering monotype prints.


Left – Print off used alphabet stencil.  Two daisy monoprints onto lens tissue from home-made gelatin plate.

Right – monoprint onto hand- made fibrous, light weight paper top and brown tissue paper bottom.

Really don’t like this page, messy and mono-prints difficult to read, but could see the potential of gelatin plate.  My home-made efforts were poor and with further research and hindsight, I would use more gelatin in future and think it is worthy of further exploration in future.


Monotype prints from acrylic paint and textile medium applied to glass with brayer,  paint removed with colour shaper. Left one print on 150gsm WHS drawing pad, right –  two different prints on 150gsm coloured khadi paper.   Some energy and texture in both.  Will definitely return to this technique.


Trying different papers and relief plates.  Above left, orange khadi paper, nylon cord stuck in an oak leaf shape on cardboard. Bottom left – a hand-made paper with seeds, printed with corks, bottle tops, silicone disks.  Right – textured wallpaper print background in orange, carved polystyrene pizza base in black onto brown tissue paper.


Left – textured wallpaper block on tissue paper

Right- tile spacers stuck to cardboard.


Left – Wire egg cup

Right – photograph from sketchbook of soft pastel experiment printed on heat transfer paper for light fabrics cut out and ironed onto 135gsm paper.


Markal paintsticks brushed off the edge of torn cardboard.  Interesting effect.


Left – easy cut lino print, paint applied with brush, on textured paper.

Right – Monotype print from easy cut lino stamped onto glass,

Liked the effect of the right hand print.


Acrylic paint and textile medium applied to glass with brush and stamped with make-up sponge.  Really like the texture of the brush lines and dense sponge.  Would like to experiment more with creating patterns in this way.


More monotype prints from glass.  Left – First print on blue tissue paper.  Right – Ghost print on 150gsm paper.


Cover of junk book.

Left- various prints stuck to envelope, covered with ironed on painted bondaweb, then covered with fine chiffon scarf to prevent bondaweb or prints coming loose.

Right- Paper used to protect surface whilst decorating papers and practice printing with credit card edge.

Although I spent quite some time on this exercise, I learned a lot about varying the paper, the pressure, the amount and type of paint and the means of applying paint and how all of these things affect the outcome of the print.   Printing in this way has immense potential not just to decorate and embellish fabric but also a very good way for me to develop design ideas as I feel comfortable experimenting in this medium.

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Part 2 Building a visual Vocabulary – Project 4 Developing Design Ideas – Review & Reflection

Did you manage to make space move?


What are your thoughts about the drawings you did in Stage 3?

It was interesting selecting fragments of drawings with a viewing window as some were obviously more dynamic than others and it was easy to edit out less interesting areas.

Were you able to use your drawings successfully as a basis for further work.  Are there any other things you would like to try?

I felt I was able to use my drawings successfully as a basis for further work and it was quite exciting to identify something which I thought could be developed further.  In the process, I did feel ignorant of some materials and followed a brief online guide to the use of soft pastels which was very useful.  I think I would benefit from looking into the use of the different media I have been introduced to recently and increasing my knowledge of their potential for individual and combined use.

Now that you have a good working method, do you feel confident that you can carry on working in this way independently?

I feel much more confident that however I feel about my drawing ability, I am perfectly capable of looking and recording things and then using that information to develop other ideas in a number of ways.