I had no idea what to expect when coming into this workshop. We started this 2 week technical block with an introduction into stitch; it can be anything we want it to be. 3D, multi-media, tubing etc… it’s all about creating a technique and using it to represent our drawing.
Our first session of the stitch workshop was with Isabell, she looked through each of our drawings, one at a time, to give us a techniques to try. This was very helpful as we were able to see how each drawing was interpreted into a stitch technique. We were also able to see other peoples techniques and use them, applying them to our own drawings. The technique Isabel used for my drawings was stretching a Lycra fabric on an embroidery hoop and stitching foam on top of it (using free machine embroidery) in the shapes of my objects – shown in the drawings. These were mainly oval shapes and leaves. Then she cut away the taut fabric, releasing the little foam structures which created small, curled bits of material. I took a few photos of the samples created by Isabel so that I could refer back to them, if I was ever stuck or needed some inspiration.
The next part of the day involved us getting on the sewing machine and going over how to use/ thread up the machine. I was already quite experienced on the sewing machine so I took the opportunity just to get used to being on the machine again.
The next day we had a heat press induction; we were shown how to safely use the press and things we could do with it. E.g. heat transfer paper, flocking and bondaweb. We then had some time for independent working. I started by creating a foam tube (where I layered foam as the centre and wrapped green and brown felt around it. I also included a layer of cream / brown printed sheer fabric which frayed.) I cut the tube into slices and used the circles to form a structure. I also created some little curls of material ; using the technique Isabel and thought out for me. These I felt worked quite well. Isabel did suggest to stitch onto the felt before sewing it down onto the Lycra so that it seemed more personal to me and my drawings (and so that it wasn’t just a generic piece of felt). I also experimented with few other samples; none of which I thought were very successful. (they all looked a bit messy, and didn’t relate very well to my drawings)
In the latter half of the week we had tutorials with Yemi, this was very helpful for me as we discussed all the samples I had already done and which ones she felt were strongest. From this I had a clear direction of how to develop my samples. Some of the ideas that came out of the tutorial;
- creating a long twisted length of the circles (I cut into the tube but not all the way and then twisted the circles around; leaving the material to settle in the shape it wanted it – very organic). I had done a small section but Yemi suggested extending it and seeing what that looked like.
- we also thought about altering the shape of the individual circles which made up the structure. Maybe creating a lollipop shape.
- I could also change the form of the individual circles by adding a stitch to the centre of the shape thus creating a dent in the middle.
- Add yarns to the centre of the tube, cut to reveal a more detailed and interesting centre.
- I could use more sheer fabrics and embroider into it (leaves)
- I could sandwich real leaves in between the layers of fabric and stitch the veins
- Use other materials to sandwich between the fabrics and stitch the veins
I reacted on this feedback to make sure that I had some developed work to show Isabel on Monday for our next tutorial. I created more tubes, altered the shapes and hand-stitched into sheer fabric.
The next week of the stitch workshop started with a tutorial with Isabel. We discussed all of my work so far and came up with a couple rough designs for my final samples. She liked the little structures I had made and suggested making more that I could combine together to make an ever bigger sample. Isabel mentioned that the samples could be similar but to make sure that I varied each one slightly – even if it was just changing the tone of colour used. She also liked the fraying fabric that I used inside each of the tubes; as it linked well with the drawing I was using as my inspiration for the samples. She said to definitely keep the fabric element and maybe add more layers of the fabric to create even more fraying.
Some of the designs I came up with:
After this tutorial and for the rest of the week it was independent learning. I made lots more of the foam tubes and cut them up to create my layered foam circles. I then stitched each one to change the shape of it. I used PVA glue to stick each of the tiny pieces together as this seemed like the easier and most effective way to do it – each time tried to stitch them they just fell apart.
I found stitch to be quite freeing; there were no boundaries. we could do anything. On the one hand I liked this but I also liked the rigid structure that you get in weave / knit. I enjoyed the workshop and thought that the samples came out quite well. I liked the colours and thought that overall the techniques produced some interesting results.
I made sure to vary the colours so that each sample looked a little different. The four main designs were; lollipop shape x3, dented middle shape x2, repeat pattern of the lollipop shape in three rows and the small, brown, Lycra structures I formed into a mound.