Sunday, 9 July 2017

Working Away

I was very disappointed with the run of samples 4:2:9 - 4:2:12, feeling they were hardly worth posting.  I'm not quite sure why this works but tidying my stuff, dusting and hoovering my workroom has helped me start again.  Maybe it was also having firm words with myself. Anyhow, today I set about producing a new set of samples.

So what I've done is review last session's work and pick out what I liked, which were the very angular letters and look for a different tool to work with.  I found a bag of corrugated card in various grades and used both cut and torn edges to apply black ink.  I found quite a lot to like:  the double line, both with a crinkly edge and more appealing still a sort of stitched mark.  Example 7 was just a single tube of the card.  My favourite was example 6, printed with a curved piece of card, forming each letter needed careful thought.

And now for bleach marks on Brusho, using the same tool, possibly there's some potential here though I'm not sure.

In 4:2:21 I've used the print sample 6 and created an allover pattern by working it continuously.

Below are examples of  lettering which has been layered onto 4:2:21.  Immediately below strips of crisp white tissue paper, which were first written on repeatedly with brush pen, allowing the ink to run out, have been cut and placed diagonally across the first layer. The first layer can be seen through the tissue.


In the following two examples a crayon rubbing of an individual PVA word has been cut in half lengthways and overlaid on the first layer.  This time the paper used was 40g Mitsumata Washi which as well as being transparent is closer in colour to the first layer.  The abstract marks also seem to have something in common so that accents and areas of density are created.



Reviewing today's work, I feel better pleased.  It is a relief to feel I have a sense of direction, but these results seem too rigid. I'd like to apply layers more directly.  The samples below show layers of rubbings on black tissue which is thin and soft and takes rubbings well.  On it I've used a variety of materials: wax crayon, pastels, chalk, Woody etc.

Two sorts of rubbing boards have been used for the three samples below: the word "encoded" stitched in string on canvas -- different thicknesses of string for different sized lettering.  I also wrote the word encoded in thick PVA glue.  These letters became very blurred as they dried but were an ideal when applied in black wax.  I particularly liked the black on black effect as it breaks up some of the uniform and opaque appearance of the black tissue.  It also adds depth.

In sample 4:2:27 the tissue was marked with bleached first with chalk and pastel string rubbings on top.




Now for two samples, 4:2:28 and 4:2:29.  In these white candle wax has been used as a resist.  The paper has then been flooded with dilute Brusho, revealing the letters and creating a patchy background.  Finally handwriting has been applied with a thick graphitint.  A final black wax rubbing has been applied to 4:2:29.



In sample 4:2:30 a Brushoed sheet has been printed all over with a corrugated card edge, then turned at right angles and "encode" written on it in gold Woody.  An attempt to add gold rubbings is disappointing.  The thicker paper does not respond to the technique as well as tissue.

Back to thin paper in 4:2:31, his time the Mitsumata Washi.  Whilst it takes rubbings it's really not strong enough and the addition of a wash causes it to tear.  In 4:2;32 two rubbings have been applied over each other on thicker paper.


I like the delicate markings of 4:2:31 so I take a PVC rubbing board with the word "encode" on it, cut it vertically and then reassemble it.  The delicate marks are made in candle wax over-painted with dilute Brusho.


A return to the ideas in 4:2:17, but this time black ink and bleach have been applied to a Brusho wash.  Further writing has been applied at right angles.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Experimenting and Just a Few Glimpses of Delight

Further experiments and I'm still thrashing about producing little that I really like.  This is a familiar feeling and I've learned not to take it too seriously, but to let my imagination play with the ideas and apply some patience.  I'm also looking for a colour scheme.  As I said in the previous post I was particularly taken with 4:2:8, a bleach and Brusho sample which is blue-black, deep turquoise with greens and rich creams.  Many of the successful samples below are created with Brusho.

Lettering Techniques:

4:2:9 shows writing samples using black ink following the suggestions given in Chapter 2.   The final two examples use a cork and a stick.

4:2:10 and 4:2:11 show bleach on Brusho experiments.  4:2:12 rubbing with wax candle on canvas, paintstick writing, glue applied with a card strip and finally glue writing using a pipette. These four samples are all painted over with Brusho.


At last a glimpse of  a technique that appeals -- glue printing. The card printed shapes remind me of an embroidered piece based on the shipping forecast which I did last year (4:2:13).  The letter shapes are angular, reduced to simple unembellished lines.

The rubbing idea also seems to have potential but the canvas surface here is too regular, something rougher and less uniform would be better.  Below in samples 4:2:13 and 4:2:14 I've tried the techniques again.



And what is it I like about this rather rough and ready piece?  Well, the Brusho covers the glue rather than sliding off it and that surprised me. What I'm seeing here are letters subtley gleaming, the slightest hint of a change in texture on the surface.

Now a candle wax rubbing, lettering done on a curved and rough textured fossil.  This time the writing is distorted by the surface, the Brusho runs off to reveal white marks.

Blocks of Writing:

Creating these blocks of writing are the most delightful way to spend time.  They are experiments using a range of writing implements: fine to thick felt tips, some with chisel ends, soft pencils and a water pen. Again the word written is "encoded", sometimes in capitals, mostly lower case and joined.  The paper has been turned, sometimes frequently so that the words run in opposite directions or at right angles to the first layer of text.  A variety of networks are created.  On the two middle samples only part of the square is covered by a second layer.  Tonal effects result. All these samples hark back to 4:2:4 and 4:2:5 in an earlier blog, but this more recent group shows greater intensity.  Each square has been worked into again and again.  None of these though have the appeal of 4:2:5 and 4:2:6.


Below, in sample 4:2:17 the words have been written repeatedly in wax, then flooded with Brusho and further worked into.  I was very taken with this piece, so much so that I printed it out on a piece of silk organza and stitched into it.



This is as you can see is only a start. I like the variegated stitching using the same shaped letters as on sample 4:2: 14.  In the navy markings I tried to hark back to the Alice Fox piece I talked about in Chapter 1 (4:1:26). Each stitch shows the first marks of each letter, resulting in a series of curved and straight lines.  I took this idea a step further and in the ecru markings only an acute accent and line are made.  The thread's too heavy creating a sinuous breaking with the angularity of the whole and part letters. What is attractive is the shadow of the thread beneath, something I remember noticing in Sarah Burgess' workshop.  Overall I think the ideas I'm grasping at here have merit, but the selection of threads and stitch execution need much more careful consideration.

Jewels in my Pocket:

We always talk at home about those facts, insights, stories, memories that you squirrel away as points of reference.  What are mine from this chapter so far?
  • Glue Writing and Rubbings densely worked
  • Angular Lettering with its potential for further reduction
  • The Colour of Brusho which will provide a Colour Scheme

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Grasping the Illusive

Trying to grasp the illusive, isn't that what we often try to do?  Fleeting thoughts, connections, glimpses of something that could be profound and that really is why I'm trying to explain my choice of words for these exercises.

"Encode, encoding" to me they have a meaning for then and now: the past, that world of cyphers and spying, the mysterious world of John Dee; it is also part of the present with its computer resonances.  But the idea of using the word wasn't linked to either of these things, instead it occured when watching a short interview of an elderly couple on television.  Though long retired he had been a fisherman and she throughout her life had knitted his ganseys, those densely patterned, navy or cream close fitted pullovers designed to fit snugly, to protect and keep the cold at bay.

Herring Girls knitting, filling the time 'til the catch comes in.

So where is the link between ganseys and encoding?  Well, she explained how the many patterns knitted into these pullovers had names: Marriage Lines, Tree of Life, Fishnet.  They were in fact a form of abstract art connected to families and to places. passed down the generations.  It also occured to me that encoded in each gansey were similar messages to those I found in the envelopes arriving from my family, messages of an enduring connection that goes well beyond surface meaning.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Chapter 2 : Lettering Designs

I'm feeling rather muddle-headed about these activities, in spite of working through them twice.  I think I expected instant success, though I'm not sure quite how I'd define that: liking the results, I suppose, is the bottom line and many of them seem contrived without the flow and naturalness that I'd expected to be the case.

Using handwriting is a curious thing, it's such an intrinsic part of self.  Therefore it seems to me my samples work when my writing flows, slopes, is semi-joined.  For the other samples (those for example using a card edge) seem to push me towards an upright hand, the chalk board one with its precision and legibility, but little comfort.  Also, the sloping hand self is attached to the self that jumps ahead seeing the next phase of experiments, their untried nature being the very thing that attracts me.

So, if I discuss the story so far I'll be able to decide where the gaps are so that I can fill them in, decide what I should try again.  These samples are from my very first session.


Some warming up handwriting exercises on a piece of printing paper leftover from a dressmaking pattern download: testing out a range of felt tips -- thick permanent marker, fine super colour marker, the brush and felt tip ends of an Art and Graphic Twin.

Now with Brusho: a waterbrush, feather, piece of metal tubing, then my Grandmother's dip pen.


On the inside of an envelope: a 5.0 calligraphy pen with Brusho.


A metal calligraphy pen with Brusho allowing it to partially run out.


Now much more exciting results using two directional writing. 4: 2:5 is achieved with a water brush, 4:2:6 with a calligraphy chisel ended felt tip.  Both samples use Brusho,

I particularly like the impression of entanglements and knots.  In 4:2:5 there is a sense of disorder, the very opposite in 4:2:6.  The pressure of my hand on the pen is noticeable in 4:2:6.  Both have energy and have started me thinking about how they can be achieved in stitch.


The final experiment of this session where I try out different pens.  The lines of writing in samples 4:2:5 and 4:2:6 used the same pen for each direction.  In 4:2:7 I have used a dip pen horizontally and a waterbrush for the vertical writing.  Interestingly the sample is upside down. Clearly legibility is a thing of the past!  I can see there's scope for plenty of permutations.

And below an example using bleach, which I like very much indeed.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Ones that Charm my Eye:

I have gathered together an interesting collection of lettering.  Although it seems a random lot, I know it's not --  I chose it.  So I've devised a sort of game to help me understand what it is I'm seeing. I have a collection of small slips of paper and as I look at each example I write one or two words down, separate words for separate ideas, on separate pieces of paper.  Though I now have twenty slips of paper it's surprising I don't have more. Of course the images are suggesting the same thoughts, the lettering conjuring in my mind similar things.  And though the materials and tools used are not the same, and the artist and purpose is different too, there are common threads.  So much so that the dealing of images and words can happily make a match many times.

The first two images I've chosen are an inscription from The Trajan Column and a single letter from a tomb in Wighton Church, one elegant and triumphant, the other ornate, speaking of longevity, and success.  They are both public endorsements, though what I admire is the design, the finish, the workmanship,  The way each letter is perfectly made, the inscription beautifully balance. And that single letter "B", lines etched in the stone leaving matte surfaces, the domed top polished, together a monochrome gem of past thinking.



Yet more incised pieces: stone in the case of the Rosetta Stone and cuneiform marked into clay. It's almost possible to feel the stones demanding our attention, wanting us to understand their repetitive marks and rhythms.  The carvings written on the Rosetta Stone in 196 BC were in three languages used by the Egyptian elite in praise of their Pharaoh.  Cuneiform is a writing system from a disappeared world several thousand years old and we are aware of those times only because this clay tablet has survived.


A more recent survivor is Leonado da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.  What I like here, beyond the used of space, is the combination of drawing and text. One informs the other, neither drawing nor text informs so well alone. Leonardo's ingenious back to front writing adds a layer of mystery waiting to be unravelled.


Here below is another individual's hand.  Lorina Bulwer, incarcerated in a workhouse, has let fly in stitch to tell her story.  Her feelings are expressed in bold capitals, the thread and fabric cobbled together from what she had to hand.


And here Rosalind Wyatt stitches a love letter, capturing in thread the feelings of yet another individual, living in another time connecting us to him and his love in a way the original may not.  Is it the time taken, or the artist's engagement, that makes this a work of art?  Or the fact that it's made for us all to gaze at?


It's the rhythms across this work by Alice Fox that appeal to me.  I'm not sure that they are anything to do with lettering, but they have the look of a skeleton language, possibly runes.


Cecil Touchon takes individual letters apart and uses elements of them to create this novel collage. Our brains work as we look at it to reconstitute the original letter forms.


Now, at a Distant Stitch workshop some years ago Louise Baldwin recommended "Calligraphy: A Book of Contemporary Inspiration" by Denise Lach.  Here is an absolute feast of examples any of which I might have included here.  What I have chosen reflect two ideas -- rhythm and layering.

First of all the images which illustrate rhythm.  The first two were created with a pen, the third with a pointed brush.  So many aspects of calligraphy affect the finished work: the tool and the pressure on it, the ink's tone and colour, the paper's weight and structure, letter spacing and its direction, the intention of the artist.  Any imperfections on the writing edge or paper makes changes to individual letters, frequently the look of the whole piece. The examples below illustrate just that.  They also show the way the stroke quality and its direction influence the end result..




The image below illustrates the power of thick and thin.  A cola pen is used on a rough surface, a good combination for expressive work.  It  is fascinating to compare the rhythms in these four images (28-31).

I've included image 32 below as an example of layering.  The artist has used a pen and dilute ink to write in lines across the page.  This has then been superimposed with dark splashy markings.The artist wants to convey the shadows of grass on a wooden fence, two contrasting textures and two different treatments to convey them.


Both the image above and that below (32 and 33) show calligraphy in an interpretive light.  They are both attempting to express textures which have caught the artist's eye.  I've included example 33 because it's loosely connected with themes I'm considering for my resolved sample. It captures in lines and words the patterns in sand after the tide's gone out, as shown in image 34.



Finally, what a neat summery of success this phrase is.