Thursday 1 December 2022

Chapter 8 : Paper Relief into Fabric Relief

Little by little we're been edging towards using fabric, and there's the hint of using stitch on the horizon.

I had been rather disappointed with my Chapter 3 paper samples, feeling that I'd somehow missed the point.  However, rather than redo them I've pressed on and am writing up my responses to the first three.  I'm thinking that in doing this I'll be able to work out my thinking more clearly and spot the gaps in my ideas.

Sample 1:

8:1 shows my paper relief of the stalks left from last year's crop: a collection of torn papers rolled and simply tossed onto the background then glued in place.

My first fabric relief uses a technique I like very much indeed and have used in a number of modules.  Firs,t I created tubes in small pieces of crisp cotton organdie and I threaded them with a number of strands of thick knitting yarn.  The wool and stitched ends have just been left.  Then I pieced the fabric scraps together.



 8:3 uses a piece of towelling onto which various lengths of sari silk have been stitched using a wide wing needle. The sari silk almost appears to be embedded in the towelling. The tension setting and variegated thread add to its unfinished appearance.


Sample 2:

8:4 shows my paper relief of a dandelion plant.  This was created using straws and tissue paper and is based on a drawing I made in my field.


8:5 below uses a single template from the same drawing.  The individual leaves are cut from cotton organza.  The vein is slightly gathered then a piece of wire couched in two directions to create rough crosses.  The combination of crisp fabric, gathering and wire gives each leaf a nice spring and twist reflecting the barbed and somewhat aggressive nature of the plant.  As yet these are only pinned onto a piece of black foam core.


8:6 below uses five different templates taken from the same drawing.  This time the leaf is cut from silk velvet and layered with fine calico stiffened with iron-on interlining.  The vein is machine stitched and threaded with thick wool.  This combination allowed me to shape the leaves so there's a sense of movement.  In choosing velvet for this sample I was trying to reflect the plant's growth and the way from the centre it extends across the ground.  Again, these individual leaves are pinned into position on a piece of black foam core.


The two dandelion fabric reliefs are only partially successful.  Although the fabrics and techniques used contrast with each other I need to think more about making a surface.  Perhaps the answer is to think about looking at the negative spaces.

Sample 3:


So, above in image 8:7 is a paper relief of my field's hedgerow. This time I've created more of a surface. It was made with tissue paper manipulated on a sheet of black card painted with PVA glue.  This is a section of that complete sheet.


For 8:8 I chose silk netting.  The fabric was pleated forwards and backwards, sometimes rolled to produce branch-like features of the width and density I required.  These features are held in place with an invented couching stitch.  The thread isn't firmly fixed but the tension allowed the fabric to relax and hold itself.  Threads are left hanging.


For 8:9 I used white tights fabric pulled really tightly over an embroidery frame.  Small strips of thick calico were stitched with Coats Duet thread using back stitch to create the hedgerow branches using both the paper sample and one of my charcoal drawings as references.   I had hoped when the fabric was released from the frame that it would spring back into shape allowing tucks, gathers and undulations between the various calico shape.  I was disappointed, as for the most part the fabric remained relaxed.  However, the reverse side is more interesting and effective.


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As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I needed to add further examples to my Paper Reliefs and here is the first of them.  I've included the original photographs as well.

Sample 4:



This Paper Relief shows the background hedgerow entanglement drawn with a white crayon, tufts of grasses are in front and these are made from various lengths of narrow folded tissue paper which are tapered at the ends.  I like the layering of the mass of irregular shapes created by the hand drawn branches with the straighter grasses.  These are partially glued on along the fold so that there's variable opacity and some movement too.


8:13 shows the white crayon background drawing interpreted in paper string and couched with brown thread.  It's worked in a frame on reused silk organza.  It has a light and open almost lace-like quality.


8:14 interprets the paper grasses in the foreground.  Here pleated silk organza is hand stitched in trapeze shapes and applied at angles then slashed.  The photograph doesn't really do the technique justice.  What I like are the variations in opacity and translucence.

Sample 5:

8:15 is a photograph of a small clump of stems emerging from stony ground and the second addition to the original Chapter 3 work.  The tissue paper is a free interpretation which make it seem less clump-like.  It's made with twisted paper stems and both individual and pairs of leaves manipulated by crumpling and folding.  After a number of attempts I found tearing the leaves gave the best edge and I felt really pleased with the result.



Interpreting these fragile and wayward stems in fabric was another level of challenge.  I chose fine scrim and stitched a vein in brown linen along the centre of each leaf.  On its own the scrim was too floppy and so I ironed on some Bondaweb sandwiching it between two layers of scrim initially, but finally settling on a single layer: it creases and can be manipulated and easily stitched in place. Cutting the scrim on the cross was another idea I had, thinking the leaf edges would look rougher, however the fabric became unstable.  The stems are linen cordadage (handmade) and paper string.  The variety of scale gives interest.


Below is a much more abstract interpretation.  Felt leaf-type shapes have been stitched onto rough nettle linen and padded with wadding.  I liked the fragmentary nature of this idea, its dappled sunshine and shadows effect.  I considered stitching veins on each leaf shape, but dismissed the idea preferring the designs stark simplicity.


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