Thursday, 19 March 2015


These are some of the prints I did at the weekend... there is one I love as is (for now and not shown). There are 4 that have potential within a collection (of what I'm not sure/worrying about) with more work; i.e. more layers of print, perhaps some overdying and some embroidery. There are also two that are awful and unresolvable. They are all loosely connected to my concept in terms of distressed surfaces, negative space, a 'void', part or age worn objects. 
Trace left by an object
Faded and worn detail
But as I am itching to get started on some design work I am just flinging out initial ideas using 'materials', I'm sure whatever they finally turn into in another 18 months or so will be a million miles away from these samples. In a way it's quite nice not to have a definitive end use in mind but I'll probably get into trouble about that! Since September I have swung from creating haute couture level fashion fabrics (my ambition) to making huge 3D sculptural embroidered light pieces (not my usual thing but a challenge) to producing an installation for exhibition (as that is not commercial so it must be art must it not?!), and this is looking like the beginning of a furnishing fabric collection. My own suggestion to myself is that I aim for a collection of just beautiful fabrics for now and worry about that or see where it goes in about a year.  (That's a must...I MUST think they are beautiful)

Discharge on Indigo, screenprint
I will be writing an essay this week and I must include my intentions (so I had better decide what they are). My journey through the process of reading, research and thinking has led me now to some fairly specific, narrowed down and in depth, conceptual yet vague, ideas of what my 'subject' will be but not necessarily of my practical outcomes.

I think this has got something

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Peer Presentations...

(and learning outcomes)

I was *lucky* with my group 'No.9'. Me, Jacek, Darryl & Ulysses. I went first, this is an excerpt from my introduction;

'I am a textile and surface designer specialising in fabrics for fashion, embellished surfaces and embroidery, now leaning towards textile art. I want to create work that has meaning and more depth, and as a vehicle for raising awareness of issues for international exhibition.'
Working Title(s):
1.     The Presence of Absence 
2.     The Trace of Heterotopia 
3.     Motherland  

I showed 3 examples of artwork, a flick through this blog and my bibliography to illustrate that I understood and was achieving the learning outcomes (!). It went well, I appeared organised and thorough, it didn't matter that I had done the preparation in order to reduce my nerves and help me remember what I wanted to say! The feedback was very positive for which I am grateful. It was more interesting and exciting for me to see what the others, from different disciplines i.e. photography and graphic design, were working on. Then we had to post one image and 20 words on a Tumblr page. (Have a look!) This is primarily for other (and prospective) students to get an idea of what we, as current MA students are all working on.
After that we had to find a partner who was not in that group or from our discipline to dissect the feedback and rewrite our original presentations. I was with Javier, we didn't really do that, but we did talk about our work and he invited me to be in his magazine about 'Memory', I accepted of course. So I now have a 'collaborator'.

Aside: I am rather disappointed in myself for not taking any photographs of today's activities.

Alice Kettle: Pause (detail)

Then a late lecture about her work by the Alice Kettle who is a research fellow at MMU. Interestingly she said there would possibly be an opportunity to work with her on some unknown future project. I'm up for that! Wow.

P.S. I may have to change over to Wordpress, I'm having trouble with my formatting.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Great Digital Stitch Off

I'm on the train with a choice of work to do (no internet connection)...
a. Evaluate my progress with, and results of, digital embroidery 
b. Practice my presentation for tomorrow (in my head)
c. Start my reflective essay (2,500 words)
d. Watch a download of 'The Great Comic Relief Bake Off', Series 2, Ep.1 (not strictly work)

I might as well start at the top of the list as I would like to put off b and c for a good while.
I now have some experience (though not mastery) of;
  • The industrial Brother 12 head embroidery machine at MMU: frame size = 30 x 40 cms (?)
  • The Ethos embroidery program and the 5D Pfaff programs 
  • The domestic Brother 1 head embroidery machine in the fashion dept at CCAD: frame size = 10 x 15 cms plus PE Design Plus program
Most of my samples have been produced on No.3 to date as this is more accessible (during lunchtimes and straight after work on a Tuesday), and the program much simpler but it is limited in size and doesn't really do what you want it to do (yet). There are somewhat haphazard options and a few ways of tweaking things but overall, very little flexibility. I find it surprising that in this digital age all this software is a total nightmare. None of these programs are very intuitive even though I have used Ethos for laser cutting for a few years now, so it is somewhat disappointing to find it's not the same. I do feel it should be easier and wish Adobe would design one. OR that someone would design a computerised machine that would just stitch directly from Photoshop or Illustrator. Am not sure how many different programs I can fit inside my brain. 
However, I still  want to  explore it as a technique, I have some ideas in my head and if they work out I will be happier and much more inclined to persevere and see what can be done. If they don't I shall be rather disappointed. Something Jane McKeating said in my tutorial still resonates with me -  that my artwork is very flat-looking. And it is. So I would like to translate and emphasise that flatness through digital embroidery (free machine embroidery would not be flat enough). It's  the opposite of what I love about hand I'm quite excited to mix it up.

So, the samples; 
On No.3: 
See last post...(Textural) cross stitch works so perfectly it's untrue, I especially like the double stitched areas although the thread does then snap rather a lot. Eventually, I would like to see how high I can build it up but better not do that on someone else's machine. 

Intention: To play with gradient colour and avoid it looking too chocolate boxy. Explore/use the reverse of the work, with the anchor threads.

  • Import an image and this program generates the stitches for you, like it or lump it, (although there are 9 versions to choose from with very slight differences- a bit like the filters on a phone camera). What I do like is that you can select your colours and change them easily. All the other samples I have done are ok but remind me greatly of embroidered patches for jeans (still available in Boyes Stores) or logos on school uniforms, that's a size issue.

  • It has given me a feel for the technique and generated ideas for at least 3 further samples I want to do on this machine before I commit fully to the big guns.

No's.1 + 2 worry me. I have had my inductions, producing a sample, but there is no way I can remember how to use these programs or the machine. I have popped onto the computers and played with some files on a few occasions in-between lectures but have forgotten the most basic instructions AND that is with referring to the manual. However, I have still booked a slot on it for 2 weeks time.  And I will annoy the technicians. A lot. I know this. I apologise in advance.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

A question... or 4

digital cross stitch

the reverse


Whole negative space sample

                     More negative space - before ink

Remainders of laser cutting - space
found box - 'memory'
placed collage (not there now!)
I'm at the crisis point of Practice 1: the written element is almost upon us and I think its time I started thinking about it, seriously, and not least because I've belatedly discovered that it happens to be more important than the actual practical work. This MA is actually not (just) about doing a project and some beautiful (!) work;  researching, making visual studies, on through the experimentation and design (and make) process until the culmination of a final collection of 'whatever'. That which I had previously thought I was doing... it's ALL about what is behind that.
I was at this point thinking I would evaluate the digital embroidery I have started investigating. BUT I need to really think about where it's come from and why I am doing it. 
There are other, pressing questions I keep asking myself (because I know I have to) but I still can't answer them. And I need to answer them, in order to write this work - so:

1. What is it I need to find out (through my practice)?

2. How is the theory I have done imbricated in my practice?

3. What makes my work meaningful? and finally the hardest question of all...

4. What is the wider NEED (for my work)? Is there one?!

I may just have to come back to the evaluation of my digital embroidery samples. sigh. Meanwhile, above is some sketchbook stuff... next post will be what it's all about (Alfie).