Personal project, Stage 5, Translating ideas into textile samples

28 June 2016


Considering the outcome of my first stage of sampling, and as a result of making the storyboard, I have decided to concentrate on an idea of an artwork based on the following samples: 

SAMPLES FP1 (below top) combined with sample FP16 (below bottom) – i.e. The lamination to be used as the source of “cut pieces” in the yarn.



Sample FP5 (below) to be considered too, to provide contrast.


Sample FP20 (below) to be considered as a background to the piece.


Incorporation of sample FP7 (below), not to be completely ruled out at this stage.


So my thought is to combine these samples and make an artwork piece which reflects the delicacy and spacing of tree leaves and the light and shadow created as sun passes across them.


Next steps:

My starting point was to make a series of further samples investigating different constructions of “yarn” and to test the theory that lamination would be a suitable technique to make the “cut pieces”.


SAMPLE FP21: Revisiting FP5 – paper bows strung on handspun yarn

I started by making some coloured newspaper, painting both sides with acrylic paint.

I tore and twisted pieces of newspaper as before:


However, this time it was not possible to ply them between two sun singles. By painting the newspaper, it had become very brittle and simply crumpled and broke as it went through the spinning wheel orifice. Instead, I simply tied the pieces of paper along the length of the handspun yarn. I used a canvas stretched frame (9″x12″) as the support. This enabled me to assess how the yarn would look when strung vertically, and when placed against different backgrounds.

The first configuration (above is in front of a plain light blue wall). I also tried placing the sample in front of a dark blue  background (below)

And in front of sample FP20:

Although I liked the depth effect of placing in front of FP20, I felt that the yarn was lost because the background was too dominant and the colour schemes too similar.


SAMPLE FP22: Revisiting FP1 and FP16 – Laminated paper and fibre strung on fishing line

I started by made a laminate in the style of FP15, using woollen fibre, and handmade turquoise tissue. 

I then cut out small pieces to use in my sample. This time I chose to not to thread them onto handspun yarn, but fishing line instead. It had occurred to me that the handspun wool was very stretchy (not particularly desirable), and in the way it was being used, had no particular advantage over commercial-spun yarn. I chose to use fishing line because I knew it would give the impression of the pieces being suspended in space, and I thought that this might add interest and intrigue to the finished piece. I used the same sized stretcher frame as before. 

I am really pleased with the outcome of this sample, particularly how the pieces hang in space and the interesting negative spaces which are produced. Of particular appeal were laminated pieces which only contained strands of fibre, or an area of clear laminate, leading to a degree of transparency. 

Technically, I did notice that the laminate tended to separate In regions where a large amount of fibre was used (although this didn’t really matter, as it didn’t spoil the visual outcome).

I photographed it in different configurations. Firstly against a white wall:


Then against my patio doors:

And finally against FR20:

Again I felt that using FR20 as a background confused and muddled the piece. 

I particularly like the effect of holding the sample up against a window. It gave me the idea that this would be an ideal piece to customise for a site-specific installation (thinking of the work of Sheila Hicks), and as Sheila Hicks does with her installations, it could be viewed in different settings with very different outcomes.

I also placed the two samples (FR21 and FR22) side-by side (see below). The resulting contrast of shape and negative space was very pleasing.


SAMPLE FR23: A step forward from sample FR22

Whilst I liked the effect of sample FR22, I thought it could probably be made more interesting by using more varied colour and material, so I made a very similar sample but starting with a different sheet of laminate:

This time I included torn pieces of the double-sided paper I had made for FR21, hand-dyed fleece, pieces of chopped up commercially-dyed and spun fluorescent yarn, and chopped up pieces of hand-spun/yarn which had gone wrong and become tangled during plying. (see below):

From the laminate sheet, I cut pieces and threaded them onto fishing line. When I strung my length of yarn vertically from the stretcher frame, I spaced them more closely together, allowing the to overlap slightly.

The image above shows the sample placed against a white wall, and below, against sample FP20.

It is at that point that I conceded that placing the samples against FP20 does not work, being just too confused. Either I will have to rework FR20 and tone down the colours and pattern, or decide not to use a backing (the latter being my favoured approach at present).

Finally I looked at all three samples FR21, 22 and 23 placed next to each other. The two photos below show them viewed from different angles:



The second photo, in particular shows up the beauty and three-dimensionality of the pieces.

Looking at SAMPLE FR7 again

I did investigate briefly how FR7 might look incorporated into the final piece (i.e. against a large frame)

Whilst I love the three-dimensionality and negative spaces I can’t see how this sample fits in with FR21-23, so regrettably I have decided to leave it out of my finished piece. Maybe it can be developed in a later project.


Combining FR22 and FR23

Finally I looked at putting FR23 in front of FR22:

Whilst the effect is interesting, I feel it is slightly muddled. It would probably be better just to place the vertically strung yarns closer together for a more overlapped effect.

Still to investigate:

In samples FR22-23 The frames have not been large enough for me to investigate the effect spacing the cut pieces differently along the fishing line, and placing the vertical lengths of yarn different distances apart. I feel that this can only be done on the large frame (30″x42″), as I work the finished piece.

In thinking about outcome, Swedish designer Johan Carpner’s print “Utsikt”, has read across. However, I would like my work to by more 3-dimensional and play with light effects through semi-transparency. I am thinking in particular about a drawing I made in my sketchbook (below), and the possibility of replicating depth and shadow by incorporating light and dark groupings of leaves by similar groupings of my “cut pieces”.


Further thoughts: 

As I went on a morning walk I passed many oak trees and noticed that some leaves were damaged. It got me thinking that maybe it would be worth considering a more representative approach to the “cut pieces”. I decided to collect some leaves so that I could study their shapes. As I did so, I noticed that almost all were “imperfect”.

I started to think about the significance of the oak as a symbol of England, and parallels between the leaves and the people of England came into my mind. I thought about the work of Polish artist Magdalena Abankanowicz, which references populations, identities, similarities and differences. Leaves make good analogies – they all have the same basic shape, but like people there are differences and most have some sort if imperfection, just as most people carry physical damage (e.g as a result if accident, illness or disability) or personality flaws. 

I decided to do a further sample using oak leaf shapes from my collection.


SAMPLE FR24: SAMPLE FR23 but using the oak leaf shapes

Using the oak-leaf photo as a template, I cut leaf shapes out of my laminate sheets and used fishing wire to string them vertically on a small frame.

The result (shown above) is somewhat disappointing. I can explain why by comparing FR23 and FR22:

FR22 (right) has simple, bold shapes with sharp straight edges and points. In contrast, sample FR23 (left) has rounded and more ambiguous outlines and the result in more confused. Also (it is difficult to see on the photo), the weight distribution of the oak leaf-shaped pieces meant that when tied and strung, they do not hang in such a varied an interesting way.

I am reluctant to ‘clarify’ the shapes in FR23 by making them green because I feel that this would be too representational, so I have decided to proceed with my final piece using the angular, somewhat abstract leaf shapes of FR22. 


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