Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

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Supplementary work to Assignment 4 in response to Tutor Report

Tutor Report Assignment 4

Nina O’Connor 513049 (2)

I was frustrated that I hadn’t identified that the blue and grey yarns used in my final piece were too similar, didn’t provided the contrast I sought and didn’t match my painted paper sample. In addition, I found some shapes difficult to produce.

My tutor’s comments:  “I think you sensed you had some issues with achieving the colours and proportions you wanted here (page 36). I think this is because surface texture will change how a colour is perceived, so although a colour/tone may look right in the paper collages, you have to make adjustments when working with fibre based materials. One issue with weaving is that it is such a slow process, that often you might see something is wrong, but you haven’t got time to put it right. This is why both wool windings are so useful, to explore both texture and proportion of colour. (It would have been useful to see one at this stage – don’t think of them as simply analysis tools).

You would have also solved your problems by sampling in fibre based materials for the final collages, rather than confining yourself to paper. (You might want to re-visit this in the period after assignment 5 and assessment – improve your assignment by adding some alternative designs in fabric or wools on a small scale. )

In response to the above comments, the following small windings and samples were produced.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think to do either at the time as both windings and a small sample would have solved my problems before I started.    The windings give a very quick indication if the colours work well together and the samples are ideal for trying out designs.  This has been a useful exercise.



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Soon Yul Kang

I came across the work of Soon Yul Kang in Tapestry A Woven Narrative, a book from the reading list for A Creative Approach, Assignment 4.  I particularly liked her tapestries of landscapes and the subtle tones achieved in the weaving which invoke a a feeling of calm and tranquility.  Examples of my favourite works are included in the following galleries:

and also here:

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Assignment 4 – Textile Structures – Reflective Commentary & Self Assessment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills: I think I have demonstrated reasonable technical skills throughout the assignment, am working on my observational skills for drawing and have shown an improvement in design and compositional skills.

Quality of Outcome: I have been disciplined in completing workbooks during this assignment which I think are presented in a coherent manner. Research work was more thorough and considered. I might have missed an opportunity to experiment more with structures and materials. I continue to be discerning and have shown more evidence of the conceptualisation of my thoughts and attempted to communicate my ideas more visually.

Demonstration of Creativity: I enjoyed working through the assignment and think I demonstrated creativity. Whilst I was interested to experiment and develop a new skill and used a variety of materials, I wasn’t inspired by unusual materials such as plastics & polythene and this perhaps limited my imagination, experimentation and invention. A careful review of my work identified preferences and strengths, which will contribute to the development of my personal voice

Context: I think I have a much better understanding of Graduate Textile Art in context, having investigated the research points more thoroughly, visited a comprehensive local textile exhibition and the UCA Farnham Graduate show, enabling me to make some valuable comparisons. I think reflection and critical thinking continue to be amongst my strengths.

My new regular weekly three hour art class has introduced me to the work of more artists and I can clearly see that regular drawing is an essential part of my development and success as an artist rather than a desirable skill.

I feel I need a more relaxed, experimental approach but am finding it difficult to let go of a ‘school’ mentality of being set a task, completing it and moving on to the next thing.   This tendency to ‘follow rules’ ie coursework instructions, means that the allocation of my time is still in favour of coursework to the detriment of independent work such as research, exhibition visits, sketchbook work and in this assignment, the Theme Book. I’m very frustrated that I didn’t spend more time on the Theme book as it was an exciting prospect at the start of this assignment and I kept putting it off in favour of finishing coursework, which still took me a week over my deadline.

Strengths include identifying areas for improvement, working with colour, clear presentation.

Weaknesses: allocating time effectively across all course requirements, a lack of confidence in pushing boundaries, experimentation and invention, particularly in 3d.

Areas for continued attention: observational drawing, sketchbook, research artists and exhibitions.

Immediate requirement to continue work on theme.

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Assignment 4 – Books

Books that have supported this section include:

Jefferies J & Quinn B, Monem N (ed) (2008) Contemporary Textiles: The Fabric of Fine Art  (Black Dog Publishing)

Very useful for the Research point at the beginning of Assignment 4

Lee R. (2010) Three Dimensional Textiles, Coils, Loops, Knots and Nets Batsford

Colourful book, lots of photographs of ‘Three Dimensional Textiles, Coils, Loops, Knots and Nets’!

Maslen, Mick & Southern, Jack (2014) Drawing Projects an exploration of the language of drawing (Black Dog Publishing)

A book, reviewed by Rebecca Fairley, which claims to contain ‘a set of aims and objectives within an established framework that collectively assemble into what might be called “a Foundation Course in Drawing”.  I have tried some of the exercises and have found it very interesting so far.

Monaghan, Kathleen & Joyner, Hermon (2000)  You Can Weave  Davis Publications Inc

A book containing ‘Projects for Young Weavers’, well photographed and useful for the beginner.

Sheehan & Tebley S (2003) Ann Sutton Lund Humphries

Walsh P (2006) The YarnBook A&C Black

Lots of information about the history, production, fibre content and construction of yarn 

Wilcox T & Penny C (2011) Tapestry A Woven Narrative, Black Dog Publishing

Big reference book containing a little history and lots of colour pics and profiles of contemporary weaving & artists


Improving Observational drawing

Following the recommendation to try to find some tutorials online or local classes to help develop my observational drawing, I have been attending a local drawing class.  Prior to this I did purchase and undertake parts of two online classes but I have found the experience of attending a class much more useful.

At the first class we warmed up by putting our hand into a bag to feel an item and draw the texture without looking.

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Then we chose to draw an aspect of a still life which included a mirror, top hat and tail coat.  I was very tentative, struggling to make my mark on an A1 piece of paper with a pencil or charcoal and the teacher recommended I try working with a piece of card, some white acrylic paint and some quink.  I felt more comfortable and freer with this approach and whilst I didn’t achieve much, I made some progress.  I neglected to take a picture of the still life set-up.


The following week, we warmed up by choosing an item for inspiration and creating texture with acrylic paint, quink and a piece of card.  I looked at a feather and some spherical wicker string lights.


The still life was an urn and some spherical wicker string lights.  The lights cast a shadow on the wall behind.  Although still tentative, I was comfortable working with the card and less inhibited.


Later, I can see the importance of grounding your subject, one area that could be improved upon.

Inspired by Rebecca Fairley’s book review of 27th April, 2015, I purchased Drawing Projects an explanation of the language of drawing and discussed the possibility of working through some of the exercises with my art teacher, Ruth.  In the following week’s class on 7th May, we warmed up by drawing with the pencil secured to the end of a stick.  The still life was set up as follows and I concentrated on the left hand sculpture.  The exercise was “essentially about making marks with varying amounts of control over your drawing implement.  The further away you hold your pencil from the point, the less control you will have.”


Initially, it was difficult to control the pencil but after a while I began to enjoy the process and then moved on to draw the bust again with graphite and charcoal.

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Ruth is a very, positive and relaxed teacher who helpfully points out areas to work on to give the piece better balance.  I left this class feeling pleased with the results and more confident for my third week’s attendance.

The last week before half term we started with two pencils joined together, another exercise from the newly purchased book which indicates “by using two pencils bound together, you will produce a range of dense and sometimes, unpredictable marks that will provide you with a surface to adjust, restructure, and work, both with, and against.  This drawing provides you with an opportunity to start by making marks inside the form and there-by breaking the habit of using line to draw the outer contour edge first”.

This was interesting, first we worked with the two pencils one HB and one softer and then worked into the picture with a putty rubber and a single pencil.  Later I reverted to the two pencils as I enjoyed the slightly ‘Giacometti’ effect.

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Our next project was based on the following exercise but adjusted to suit the class.  “The aim of the next exercise is to create a direct route of communication between your two hands.  … touch and feel an object with one hand and respond with pencil touch marks made by the other.  What is important is that the hand that makes the mark with the pencil, moves simultaneously, is in sync with, and responds to, the hand that is exploring your chosen object.  Tactile information is being transferred and made visible.  You will begin to make and recognise interesting marks that are made in response to haptic sensation”   (haptic = Relating to the sense of touch in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception.)    In our case we were handed a plastic carrier bag containing half a cut pepper.  The photo on the left is drawn with the left hand in sync with the right hand which was feeling the pepper.  The right hand drawing was done with the right hand whilst looking at the pepper.  I could draw whilst simultaneously ‘feeling’ the pepper but found it hard to think of making a variety of marks at the same time.  The pepper is approximately 12 x 10cm in these drawings


The above was a warm-up exercise after which we could draw from a still life or continue with the pepper.  The following is approximately 35 x 25cm and drawn with card and indian ink, acrylic paint, graphite, pencil and oil paint stick.


I think this was rather overworked by the time I finished and the left hand side needed more work to darken some areas after I obliterated some marks with an oil paint stick.  I was pleased to have tried different media and worked quite confidently (for me).  I explored a range of marks and like those for the flesh on the right hand side (and below) but feel a bit frustrated by the some of the added acrylic and oil stick on the left.


However, it was a very interesting exercise and one that I shall repeat.

My art teacher is interested to try some of the exercises too and we spend a couple of hours together this week trying ‘A Tactile Self Portrait’.  The aim of this exercise is to create a direct route of communication between the two hands as above. With the drawing paper attached to a board and pencils accessible, we taped an area approx 40 x 50 cm and placed our drawing hand and pencil on the place on the paper where our mouth might be.  We closed our eyes and began feeling our mouth, trying to describe in marks, the range of sensations that the touching hand was feeling and continued to explore and draw our face.  It was quite a strange experience, a bit intense and we started talking to each other and talked thoughout the drawing.  Then tried again without talking.   I found I could work in sync and definitely thought about the texture as I was making marks. I couldn’t think to change pencils or media as I was working and stuck with a soft piece of graphite.  The first attempt is on the left.  It is not meant to look like a face but be a collection of marks.  Ruth, who is a trained sculptor, found it hard to concentrate on the texture and not try to draw her features. Her picture (not shown) showed a greater variety of marks than mine.

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Not talking to each other produced a greater variety of marks but we couldn’t make it to 10 minutes, stopping just after 8.  It was interesting, quite freeing, not to be worrying about what it looked like but just be concentrating on making marks.  I will definitely be trying this again, at least with a pepper, if not my face.

In one of the conversations in the book Jack Southern comments that “the process in the early projects is one in which you are able to ‘unlearn’ and feel less self conscious of how your drawing should look.  Freeing yourself from the bounds of representation can be very liberating, and lead to more interesting descriptive drawings.  We are pulling everything apart, in order to make all these new discoveries about mark-making.”  In the book the students undertake the exercises during an intensive two week workshop and draw more than one drawing in each project.   He continues the conversation saying “in a week’s time you could make a well-observed drawing, with all these new aspects of drawing language to refer to.  It is simply like you are constructing an alphabet; a vocabulary of marks from which to draw on”

Although I have only touched on the exercises, I am definitely expanding my mark making vocabulary and confidence.

Maslen, Mick & Southern, Jack (2014) Drawing Projects an exploration of the language of drawing (Black Dog Publishing)

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Part 4 – Textile Structures – Project 9 Woven Structures – Further Review

Did you have enough variety in your collection of yarns and other materials?  Which kind of yarns, etc., did you use most? How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?

I felt I had enough variety or yarns and other materials to explore as a first time weaver.  I preferred the natural yarns, cotton boucle, silk tussah, cotton tape, linen, shetland and worsted wool.  I liked the subtle tactile and visual textural changes they produced.

How did you find weaving in comparison to the other techniques you’ve tried?  Did you find it slow or too limiting?

I did find it very slow, but this was only frustrating because I was too close to my deadline.  I don’t think it is limiting, I’m really not sure sure how I find weaving in comparison to other techniques.  I don’t think I like it as much but I found learning a new technique absorbing and I am interested in texture and can see the versatility of weaving in developing designs in response to investigating texture.

How do you feel about your finished sample?  Are you happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size?  Is there any part that you would want to change?  If so, try to identify exactly how and why you would change it.

Although I felt it had potential, I wasn’t very happy with my final sample.  I felt it looked amateurish.  I was quite pleased with the type of texture, and the relationship of textures, proportions and pattern of the lower portion of the weave from the upper cream to the bottom brown section, but the quality of the weaving could be improved upon and the colours more finely tuned.  I would improve on the shape of the second (grey) and third section (brown) from the top by making them more flowing and more in keeping with the lower segments, I would adjust the colours to match the hand painted papers more closely and practice weaving to produce consistently more flowing lines and subtly combined colours.

Was their any stage in the whole design process that you felt went wrong?  How would you tackle this process differently another time?  

As previously mentioned, the second cartoon was carelessly reproduced as the 2nd and 3rd shapes were distorted and the colours rearranged with insufficient review.  As I wove from this cartoon, this error directly affected the final sample.    In addition, my yarns didn’t precisely match the painted papers which I would also rectify by hand dying if necessary.

Belatedly I realise that for an ‘intuitive’ piece, I ignored my intuition and slavishly worked from the cartoon although I wasn’t happy.  I became stressed and rushed as I was working past my deadline into time I had set aside for my Theme book and this is reflected in my work.

Which did you enjoy more – working from the source material of putting colours together intuitively? Why?

I enjoy putting colours together intuitively.  I love colour and found it very enjoyable combining different yarns to produce different tones.   I can have strong opinions about the nuances of combining certain colours and might find working from source material inhibiting.


Part 4 – Textile Structures – Project 9 – Woven structures – Stage 4 developing design ideas into weaving

Ref: Assignment 4 A3 workbook pages 23-26

The aim of this section is to develop some of my visual ideas into a large sample, making use of work from stages 1 and 2, so I started by reviewing my samples and identifying the materials and shapes I would like to explore further.   and chose to work with the second approach listed.  This involved choosing a word and making a storyboard around the word.


What I wanted to capture was the sense of inner peace the landscape gives me.  I found it difficult to select a single word and explored a few words and defintions before deciding on ‘Calming’.  ‘Serene’ was a close second, but the rural landscape isn’t always serene but looking at it has a calming effect for me.

I selected colours from some areas of the images and added windings.  I find the colours calming and the shapes large and flowing.

Overall the storyboard reflects scenes which make me breathe more deeply, more slowly and relaxes me.  The blues of the sea and the sky steady my emotions and have a calming effect.

I reviewed my work on page 24 and 25 of the workbook and concluded that I was keen to explore combining neutral colours and colour mixing to achieve different tones and movement with lines of weaving creating curves.


The Wild Silk 4 from Texere Yarns (100%Tussah Silk Noil) was a good choice for the warp as it is strong, natural in colour and soft.

To help plan out what I expected to happen, I drew out lines of the landscape on page 28 and using hand made papers experimented with some collage on page 23 and between pages 23 and 24.  This helped to identify the types of shapes I was hoping to create and the possibility of using a limited palette.


On pages 29 & 30, I used some hand painted papers, in colours extracted from the storyboard, in different combinations to determine which colours I might use.   I narrowed it down to three choices, preferring option 3 and converted it to black an white to compare the values.  In this case option 3 showed the most contrast/interest in values.


I went on to consider colour proportions on page 34


and decided that an approximate balance of 25% grey, blue, tan and cream with a slight change of width would give the most interest.

I scaled it up to A4 on page 35.


but thought some of the bands were a bit wide, so reduced them and produced another cartoon using recycled envelopes which I could use whilst weaving.


I was unhappy with aspects of the end result which I will cover below and when I looked back at this cartoon, I couldn’t believe I had gone ahead with the second and third band as they seemed less appealing in the revised cartoon than the original!  This error was reflected in the final weave.



The requirement of the course notes was to create an expressive mood through my use of yarns, materials, colour and the proportions in which I use them.

I think the sample achieved this to some degree.  The colour choice and gentle curves were calming and the proportions helped the restfulness, with the exception of the dominant brown section approx a third down and a third across the piece.

The lines of the lower portion from the middle cream section were pleasing and tones and texture promising.  My first disappointment came in the blue section, fourth from the bottom.  I quickly realised that although there was contrast in the hand painted papers selected for my design, which were extracted from the storyboard, my blue collection of yarns couldn’t really match it and alongside the grey provided little difference.  I contemplated unpicking but decided to carry on and was reasonably pleased with the resulting compromise (the lower grey-blue section) and the cream above it.

I really ran into difficulty in the upper section.  Firstly,  I don’t think the curves on my planned cartoon were as aesthetically pleasing at the top of the design when compared with the bottom and there was something about the ellipse like shape on the right hand side of the brown section and the top of the grey section that I found difficult to weave.   Added to that, my colour and yarn combinations were less subtle.

I think my process of design was more thorough than in previous work, and the process itself was reasonably sound, but my attention to detail when preparing papers and considering yarns was lacking.  I was focusing on using materials in my possession, with more time and consideration, I could have dyed yarns to suit the project more closely.  In addition I would produce more samples to improve my weaving of curves, particularly an ellipse type shape and adjust the lines of the upper portion of the design.

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Part 4 – Textile Structures – Project 9 Woven Structures – Stage 3 Experimenting with different materials

Ref: Assignment 4 A3 Workbook pages 20-22

Having conducted my earlier experiments with weaving on a small loom with a rigid heddle, I bought a wooden tapestry frame as suggested in the course notes so that I could compare the two.   I liked the rigid heddle loom and found it easy to use, it was much quicker to warp up than the tapestry frame.  My frame is a little large at 20″ x 20″ but that was all that was available on the day.  I found it cumbersome to warp up and more difficult to maintain an even tension than the small loom. Initially, I also found it more awkward to bring forward the back layer of threads but when using bulky materials, it is definitely easier to use than the smaller rigid heddle loom.

The frame was marked in inches, four either side of the central point and I wound a total of 34 ends in Tussah Silk Noil ll 3/4nm and made a heading cord.  This was quite fiddly and time consuming so next time I will try weaving two or three picks of warp thread across the warp.


From the left, materials used include acrylic yarn for a firm base, cotton cord, sari silk strips, some fibrous matter used in floristry, strips of nylon shower curtain, natural raffia and hand dyed muslin.  The white area including some curved weft uses synthetic lace, a variety of sheers some metallic polyester, satin ribbon, cotton lawn, silver thread and nylon net.  The first mauve pick is plastic packaging, then some metallic synthetics, a firmer net, more plastic then some fibrous floristry wrapping and some rug yarn to finish with a firmer weft.

It has shrunk from 8″ to 7 1/2″ showing that I need to concentrate more on keeping a looser tension.  Most materials worked well.  The sari silk might have been improved by being narrower and I really liked the soft but knobbly texture of the the hand dyed muslin and fine lawn.  The four bands of stiff net, matt plastic and floristry wrapping between the fluorescent pink and the black on the right had an interesting coarse texture .  I like the way the warp shows through the stiff net.

This was an interesting exploration of materials but as the section suggests working in a freer and more experimental way exploring different effects and concentrating more “on the quality of the materials in visual terms and being as experimental as I dare”, I have also prepared the following sample.


Some of the materials were more interesting to me than others like the yellow fruit net in the bottom right hand corner and the large holed yellow net, the brown paper with the pink pompoms above, the burgundy gift ribbon, bronze beads and green woven plastic sack at the top.  Also included was some bubble wrap, bandage and plastic wrapping.

Having selected some of my preferred material, I chose a ‘Carnival’ mix of colour and produced the following although I’m not sure I like it as much as the experimental weave above.  There are elements of that piece that work better, the contrast provided by the burgundy shiny gift tie and the dark red wool, the pink pompoms tumbling down the brown tissue paper slope.  The weave below is a bit dull, doesn’t flow, the curves aren’t pronounced enough there is less textural contrast as well as colour contrast.  The pompoms are slightly bigger and less effective.


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Part 4 – Textile Structures – Project 9 Woven Structures

Ref: Assignment 4 – A3 Workbook page 18

Using the small loom I received as part of my Introduction to weaving workshop, I enthusiastically warped up with white linen to continue my experimentation.  I didn’t read the course notes first or understand the concept of ‘ends per inch’.  Warped in the manner shown at the workshop, the piece has 108 ends whereas the manual suggests 40 ends!  I had completed the piece before I read the instructions more carefully.  However, I did practice a number of techniques.


Materials used include various bits of acrylic yarn, an 80%nylon, 20% wool rug yarn and some double knitting shetland wool.

From the left, I experimented with a curved weft, Ghiordes knot, knotted continuously, using a piece of wooden dowel as a guide rod, creating triangles, pick on pick giving an interrupted line of colour extending part way across the weave, the soumak technique to produce a change in the surface structure, creating a ‘valley’ for the lighter blue by weaving the ‘cradle (outside area) first, some more ghiordes knot, knotting continuosly, using a ruler as a guide rod.  The lilac area to the right of large ghiordes loops is woven with a crocheted chain which only had the effect of a slightly rougher texture and wasn’t really noticeable once woven.  The cut ghiordes knots were woven with individual pieces of rug wool mixing different proportions of colour.  Obscured by the cut knots is another area of soumak and some ‘mock tapestry’ or ‘clasped weft’.

I enjoyed experimenting with the different techniques and particularly like the curved weft and the continuously knotted ghiordes knots  and the subtle interrupted lines of dark purple in the lilac in the bottom left quadrant.