Category Archives: Assignment 5

Assignment 5 – tutor reports and comments

1 August 2016

Textiles 1: Exploring ideas, Assignment 5: Personal project

Tutor report:

My tutor Report for Assignment 5: Personal project can be found by clicking on the link, which will direct you to a .pdf document located in Dropbox.


My response:

I worked hard to demonstrate progression of my ideas through sketchbook and sampling to finished piece, so I’m glad that my tutor recognised this in my submission. Once again, she also commented on my developing creative voice, which I am delighted is apparent within my work.

The main learning point from my final assignment is not to be frightened about working intuitively. My tutor recognised it as having the advantage of making sure my piece was not too tight or fixed in expectations. Although I naturally tend to find uncertainty unsettling, I need learn to be more relaxed and see the strengths and benefits of a flexible, intuitive approach.

My tutor correctly identified the importance of sketchbooks to me as part of the creative process and suggested that I draw regularly. She also highlighted some particularly effective stitched samples within the sketchbook which have possibilities for further development using different materials and layering.

There was a suggestion that I should present my samples in a presentation box for assessment. I am in the process of making a presentation frame/box for this purpose.



Personal project – Reflective commentary

9 July 2016


Textiles 1: Exploring ideas, Assignment 5 – Personal project

Reflective commentary


Working through this assignment has been an extremely positive experience. I started by  reviewing my sketchbook work and sampling, looking for successful techniques and outcomes, and seeking those with the greatest potential for development. Seeing all my work together helped to pinpoint which are the most fruitful approaches to developing ideas.

I find that sketchbook work is an especially effective way of stimulating my creativity. Drawing using different media, making models and abstracting ideas, establishing links with other artist’s work and my own work from previous assignments. For this assignment, I made a dedicated sketchbook on the theme of ‘trees’ which references and expands on the concepts of assignment 4 (reveal and conceal). It gave me a firm foundation and point of reference as I worked through my personal project. As a consequence, I felt much more secure in the process and confident in my selections as I moved through each stage of sampling.

I have been surprised by the amount of synergy between the work which I have done to date (both practical and contextual), and this project. It feels as if the visual vocabulary which I have been developing is finally starting to behave like pieces in a jigsaw and coming together to form an overall picture. 

At no time in the assignment did I feel ‘lost’ or ‘lacking direction’. This is in measured contrast with a year ago when I was completing my personal project for Textiles 1: A creative approach. Then (I now realise), I was experimenting rather than sampling, concentrating on technique and technical skills rather than visual outcomes. Consequently, I had not done enough sampling to lead and focus my attention towards a finished piece.

The biggest difficulty I encountered with this assignment was having to make the final piece without being able to test all my ideas thoroughly through sampling. This was because my early samples were comparatively small, so it was not possible to test the colour interactions and composition due to difference of scale. In the event, I used a combination of sketching, further sampling and informed trial and error (i.e. I drew from my knowledge and experience to determine approaches which might improve the rhythm, tension and dynamics). I am pleased with the outcome of the project, if not somewhat surprised that it works better against a black background under natural outdoor lighting than against a white background under artificial lighting (i.e. in a gallery setting), as I had originally envisaged.

On 25 June, I attended a study visit at the Sainsbury’s centre for the visual arts. The exhibition: “Giacometti: A line through time” charted the life, art and influences of Giacometti and also, interestingly, work by artists who were influenced by him, including Elizabeth Frink, Francis Bacon, and William Turnbull. A particular aspect of his work which I am keen to read across into my own practice is the use of asymmetric placement and negative space to suggest tension.


Personal project, Assignment 5 questions

10 July 2016

This blog entry records my responses to the following course note questions: 


1. Can you see a clear line of progression from source material through to finished piece? Was there enough information in your source material to stimulate your imagination and sustain your enthusiasm?

This experience has been so much better than the final project I did for Textiles 1: A creative approach. I have understood and followed a process which has given me a firm foundation, confidence, and a series of samples to draw from and fall back on when work didn’t go to plan. I can actually see a clear line of progression and I am very pleased with how much easier it has been for me to made decisions at each stage.

I elected to make a new sketchbook for this assignment. This was because although I wanted to use ideas from ‘reveal and conceal’, I felt that my assignment 4 sketchbooks were not sufficiently targeted. By developing a new sketchbook dedicated to the theme of trees, I was able to make a truly coherent set of related drawings, analogies, experiments and samples. Unlike samples I had made in assignment 4, I felt able to pick from, and use them together because they were all related to theme. This gave me plenty of source material.



2. Do you feel you made the right choices and decisions when selecting at each stage of the project? If not what would you change and how would it alter the outcome?


I do feel that I made the correct decisions. However, it was difficult to have to put aside promising samples at stage 3 because they didn’t fit with the focus of the work that I wanted to take forward. In particular I am thinking about the core-spun wire (sample FP7 below).


The only decision that I might wish to reconsider is the colour that I painted the frame. In my initial thinking the frame was to be insignificant (merely a support to hold the fishing line vertical threads, which I envisaged being attached floor to ceiling in and art gallery installation). However, as I was making the piece and photographing it in different settings it became apparent that it worked best against a dark (black) background. In this case, to make the frame ‘disappear’ (or blend into the background) it would have been better to paint in matt black. In the event, I quite like the framed piece and the fact that it has analogies with a window pane and broken glass. It would be easy to cut out pieces of coloured card to ‘test’ the effect of different coloured frames, or ‘crop’ out the frame using photo-editing software to simulate the effect of no frame. 


3. Are there more ideas you would like to pursue that have come out of this project? Are they similar in feeling to the direction you took, or different? Note them down for future reference


There are several ideas which I would like to follow up as a result of work done on this project. Some are early in the project, for example sketchbook work in which I designed a fabric pattern (see below)

I would like to make this design suitable into a repeating pattern and then obtain samples printed onto sheer fabric. The idea, if successful would be to make scarves which I could sell. Perhaps a soft pink and orange colour-way could be explored as an alternative too?

I have already done more work on sample FP7, by making my own batt and core-spinning a longer length of wire.


The photos below show the sample arranged in different configurations on white card:

I find the shadows and negative spaces very appealing, as are the different forms into which the sample can be arranged. It would be interesting to take the idea further by contrasting with thin or smooth threads, and exploring how the sample could be wrapped around objects, so as to interact and form a visual relationship with them. 

Finally, from the idea of using oak leaf shapes. Although these shapes did not give the best visual outcome for my final project, I feel that there is merit in taking the concept further and in a slightly different direction.

My photograph reminds me of botanical specimens, or taxidermy (such a Damien Hirst’s ‘Last Kingdom‘), in which superficially identical (but subtly different) animate or botanical objects are arranged in rows or columns of the the same species.

There is scope for developing the idea of a ‘display case’, drawing on the idea of how each object is subtly different and none are perfect. It could be referenced to topics such as identity, how disability is viewed by society, and stereotyping based on gender, race or nationality.


4. Which stage did you find the most exciting? Which stage was the most arduous and difficult to get through?


Although demanding, I find sketchbook work the most exciting. It is at this stage where I feel the most freedom and a huge amount of excitement as ideas often generate unexpected results and a completely new direction.

For this project I found stage 6 ‘planning and making the final piece’ the most demanding and stressful. Although I had made several small samples, because these were only 9″x12″, it was not possible to test how my idea would work on a large scale other than just trying it out on the large frame (30″x42″). In the event, I had to supplement my work with more sampling and think long and hard about the best way to introduce excitement, tension and rhythm. Not knowing if I was going to be able to achieve a good outcome was stressful.


5. Do you like your finished textile? What are it’s strengths and weaknesses?


I do like my finished piece. I think it’s strengths are it’s feeling of depth and three-dimensionality. It’s weakness is that it’s visual effectiveness is very dependant upon the configuration (light and background) in which it is viewed. Whilst this might not be a disadvantage if it were a fixed installation, as a student it is difficult knowing that assessors will not be able to view my work in the conditions that I would like it to be presented.

Personal project, Stage 6 – Planning and making a finished piece

9 July 2016

The idea that I chose to take forward from stage 5 was sample FP23. I envisage it being worked into a large floor to ceiling installation, several metres wide, either against the white wall of a gallery, or perhaps with a floor-ceiling glass wall (for example, the Longside gallery at the Yorkshire sculpture park). I consider it as a conceptual piece of abstract art drawing very much on the work of the impressionist painters, in particular Monet and his oil on canvess painting “View of the lilypond with willow” (c. 1917-19). My aim was to capture the vibrancy of their colour pallete, the suggestion of leaves; curled, rolled surfaces being struck at different angles by light and reflecting it back.

As it is not possible to submit a site-specific installation for my final piece, I decided to make a large sample, similar to one which I would present to a gallery if I were being asked to pitch for a space to display my work. My samples from stage 5 (being only 9″x12″) are not large enough to convincingly “sell” such an idea. I need a large sample to allow me to explore distinct areas of depth, shadow and light, and to investigate how colours could me made to move and transition across a large surface. I decided to use a 30″x42″ a large canvass stretcher frame. 

The frame was natural pine, and considering what colour to paint it was tricky. Ideally, I would want it to ‘blend’ into the background as much as possible, because I don’t envisage it being part of the finished conceptual piece. Assuming that gallery walls are usually white, I painted it a flat matt white.

I started to produce my laminate sheets which I would use to make my ‘cut pieces’. As before I used combinations of different papers (newspaper painted with acrylic, handmade tissue or various colours and weight), commercial yarn, handspun yarn and fibre. The fibre was Southdown and Teesdale tops which I had previously hand-dyed.

I produce different ‘colour families’ of laminated pieces:

I then started to string them onto fishing line and built up patches of colour (this time clear fishing line, to give an even better impression of the pieces being suspended in space). As well as the glossy laminate cut-outs, I used similarly shaped pieces of charcoal-grey felt to give a contrast of texture (the felt being very matt, not reflective and completely opaque).

When I reached the stage shown in the photo below, I felt that I had gone as far as I could with the materials I was using. The piece lacked excitement. It lacked rhythm and tension. It was altogether rather bland. 

Had I not been studying for a textile degree I might have been tempted to bin the idea and give up, but that was not an option. The investment I had made in sketchbook work and sampling led me to believe that this idea could be made to work. 

Firstly, I thought about how I could inject some excitement into the piece. I was pleased with the way that the dark areas were starting to look like leaves in shadow, but there were no attention-grabbing accents.

I thought about using bright turquoise feathers (see below). Although the colour accent worked. I did not feel they were right because they were easily recognisable as feathers, and did not fit with the theme.


My next thought was that the piece might need a more radical contrast of texture and shape. I had purchased some coarse woven tape, which I planned on painting with acrylic paint and cutting into pieces.


SAMPLE FP25: Painted and stitched tape samples

Painting the fabric tape with acrylic paint had the additional desirable effect of stiffening the fabric, making it formable. I introduced some interesting folds and curves. I also stitched along the crease of one of the pieces with fluorescent yellow yarn to give it added impact.



You will see in the photo below how I initially places samples FP25 in the piece to test their effectiveness. I also tried a ball shape made of out scrunched newspaper wrapped with the fluorescent yellow yarn (bottom right).

I definately didn’t like the ball shape. I was less certain about samples FP25. 

My next thought was to look at the bright (fluorescent) yellow commercial yarn that I had used together with other fibres and paper. This time I made a gloss laminate purely consisting of pieces of this yarn (below).

SAMPLE FP26: Gloss laminate of fluorescent yellow commercial yarn


I also thought about how I might use small pieces of this laminate to introduce rhymn, unity and movement. I printed out a photo of my work and marked it up using yellow felt-tip. I felt that I diagonal sweep from bottom right to left might work (see below):


So next I introduced small pieces of fluorescent yellow laminate using my plan.

My inital feeling was that the small yellow pieces added depth, movement, and unity across the piece, which I really liked.


I then thought about contrasts of scale. Using sample FP26 I cut out much larger pieces in similar shapes to the small ones. I tried these in combination with the painted fabric tape and strips of paper, in many different combinations, one of which is shown below (clothes pegs used as a temporary means of attachment):

I felt that the piece was at last starting to work, but I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the strips. I hoped they might be analogous to shafts of light dissecting through the leaf canopy, but in the event they somehow seemed to disrupt the pattern and confuse and interrupt the rythmn. I decided to disgard samples FP25.

I did, however like the contrast between the larger and smaller pieces, so decided to pursue this idea. I found some fluorescent yellow lace in the fabric shop, so decided to laminate this, together with the flourescent yellow yarns using both glossy and matt laminating pouches:


SAMPLE FP27, FP28, FP29: Flourescent yellow laminated samples


Compared with the gloss laminating pouches, the matt ones attenuated the brightness of the yellow, making it appear softer and more gentle on the eye. The same can be said of the laminated lace compared with the laminated yarn. These samples gave me four graduations of brightness of the same colour.

I then also used my painted paper strips with the matt laminating pouches:


SAMPLE FP30: Painted paper strips, matt laminating pouch


I particularly like this sample because the pouch itself provides a degree of opacity which the gloss pouches do not, so they add to the feeling of filtered light and looking through shadow.

You will note from the matt laminated samples, that most bear concertina-type folds due to getting jammed in the laminating machine. I actually quite like this effect, however eventually, repeated use of fabric which melted onto the rollers caused the laminator to become unserviceable and unrepairable. I have since discovered on Facebook OCA forums that other textile students simply use an iron to fuse the pouches, with protection of baking parchment.

Finally, I also made cut large pieces from laminated Southdown hand-dyed fibre and incorporated these.


My final piece: 

Below is the configuration which I finally settled on, photographed indoors against a white wall. I feel that the picure does not do the piece justice because it does not capture the brightness of the flourescent yellow colour, nor it’s depth and three-dimensionality.


Disappointed with this image, I took my piece outdoor and photographed it in different settings in natural light.


1. From indoors looking out against patio glass door


The shapes are very clear, but there is some loss of colour differentiation between the more opaque pieces. Although the backdrop is rather busy, I actually quite like it. There is intrigue about looking at a view which is partially obscured.

2. With a white bathroom towel behind, outdoors in sunlight

The shadows are lovely but the white background does not show off the flourescent yellow to best advantage.


3. Outdoors, I n bright sunlight against a brick wall

I really like this setting because the shadows are lovely (although the brickwork is rather ugly). They colours and shapes show up very well against this background.


4. Outdoors, against a backdrop of red flowers

I like this setting. I feel that the flowers somewhat confuse the piece. There is a lot of intrigue and depth and the red colour of the busy lizzies adds an interesting new dimension.


5. Outdoor, against a backdrop of foliage and a black fence

This final configuration is my favourite. It shows depth, empathy with it’s surroundings, and the colours are well represented photographically. Although there are no shadows, I feel that the influence of the background on the overall visual success is stronger.


The matt laminate paper pieces look like shards of stained glass and the yellow and blue appear vibrant and lively against the black background. The flourescent yellow is neither over dominant nor too harsh. There is an interesting interplay between negative space and the shapes, some of which are transparent or semi transparent. It almost looks like a shattered pain of coloured glass.

From garden design I know that painting a fence black helps to make it feel as though it is receding into the background, making the garden space seem bigger. Had I known that my piece woud look best in this setting I would may have chosen to paint the my wooden frame a different colour. 

By cropping the photo with editing software it is possible to get an impression of what the work might look like without a frame (see below)

However, the act of cropping actually frames the image too! In the event I quite like the fact that the image is framed because it reminds me of a window pane. It is worth noting that a frame or cropped image will exert an influence on the viewers expectations of ‘composition’.



1. Initially, I thought that this piece would work well scaled up as a floor to ceiling installation against a white gallery wall. The process of my making and photographing the piece has made my think of it differently. 

2. My piece really comes to life when viewed outdoors, adjacent to foliage, in natural light and with a dark backdrop.

3. The piece would make excellent a temporary outdoor site specific installation (it may need some protection from rain).





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. 

Personal project, Stage 4, Making a storyboard

26 June 2016

Having finished my first stage of sampling, I moved onto making a storyboard, thinking about what materials I might use and influences.

My board includes pieces of coloured paper, tissue, hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn and laminate, which I might used in my finished piece. It also includes an idea of how the components might be arranged. Alongside, is the inspirational oil painting “View of the lilypond with willow” (1917-19) By Claude Monet.

Unfortunately, I have not been unable to include a photograph of the storyboard in my blog because it contains images which would, if displayed, be in breech of copyright.


Personal project, Stage 3, Developing design ideas

20 June 2016

Since I wrote about by thoughts for the personal project in stage 2, I have completed a whole sketchbook on the theme of “trees”. In many areas I have been able to draw on the experience of assignments 1-3 and where appropriate, I have referenced successful samples where there is read-across. 

The core idea which I have decided to develop further for my personal project is that on page 3-4. It is centred around the inclusion of small “cut pieces” to make an art yarn which can cast beautiful shadows when suspended (see sketchbook extract below):


It reminded me very much of the vertical strands of “bead curtains”, and I produced a Pintrest board to investigate possible variations. I thought that this could become the basis for my project.

There are several possibilities for the direction which the project could take. The choice of material for the “cut pieces” for example – could be opaque or transparent, made from fabric, plastic, paper or other material (or a mixture). They might be embellished with paint, stitch or collage. They might be identical each side, or different, and how might they be attached to the carrying thread, and how thick, textured, coloured might it be? Once this has been decided and the “yarn” has been made, what might it be used for and how might it be displayed? (i.e. as a hanging in the configuration of a bead curtain, maybe In another configuration). 

In order to answer these questions, and to narrow my choices down, I set about making a set of basic samples. In this blog entry I will explain how I have gone about making each, and my thoughts regarding their suitability.

First, I looked at a series of yarns using different “add-ins”. I explored how these would look wrapped around a card (similar to a weaving warp), and knitted up in a garter stitch swatch (similar to being used as a weft).


SAMPLE FP1: Card pieces stung onto dressmakers’ polyester thread and plied with Handspun merino

I started with some simple card, coloured on one side, plain on the other. I cut randomly shaped triangles or quadrangle a and used a crewel needle to thread them onto some polyester cotton.

Using the Ashford Country-spinner II, I plied the cardboard pieces with some merino handspun yarn. The size of the cardboard pieces were about as large as they could be (because they only just fit through the spinning wheel orifice). An alternative might be to simply tie the pieces, as I did in my sketchbook sample (although this might leave an undesirable bulky knot with anything much thicker than ordinary sewing thread)

Below is my sample yarn, threaded onto a card and lit with bright natural sunlight from the window.

I am very pleased with this first sample. The card, being stiff, stuck out at different angles around the yarn creating interesting shadows. The shadows from the bumpiness of the plied merino also gave added interest.


SAMPLE FP2: Sample FP1 knitted on 19mm needles into a garter stitch swatch


Because the yarn was fine and the needles large, this sample knitted up to an interesting net. The card pieces were light enough in weight not to distort the stitches and fell interestingly in different directions across the body of the sample.


SAMPLE FP3:Pieces of polyester voile incorporated into handspun merino single

Using a method described in reference 3., I inserted strips of cut polyester voile into small sections of drafted merino top (see below) before incorporating it into a spun single.

The finished yarn is shown below, again lit by strong natural light from the window.

I didn’t find the yarn (or the shadows) as interesting as sample FP1, although it would be possible to embellish the voile inserts, maybe by printing or machine stitching, to give additional pattern and surface interest.


SAMPLE FP4: Sample FP1 knitted on 19mm needles into a garter stitch swatch

I found that the voile pieces tended to slip/drift out of the yarn when I knitted with them, so I tied them with a knot. As it turned out it made little difference to the finished appearance/feel when I tied some additional insert onto the yarn after it was spun, during the knitting process (see darker areas of this sample). Again, I preferred sample FP2 – I don’t think polyester voile pieces were as striking as the cardboard inserts.


SAMPLE FP5: Strips of newspaper integrated into handspun merino single

I used the same method as FP3 and the sample is photographed in the same lighting conditions.

This sample didn’t cast such interesting shadows as FP1 and FP3. The newspaper also needs to be secured more carefully too (maybe by the addition of a “twist” where it is spun into the yarn), as it tended to slip out.


SAMPLE FP6: Sample FP5 knitted on 19mm needles into a garter stitch swatch

I was really surprised how effective this yarn was when knitted – see below (viewed from above)

The pieces of newspaper (of which more could be added to increase the effect), looked like textured outgrowths and reminded me of my sketch of an oak tree trunk (see below)

The texture of the sample is fabulous, especially when viewed from an oblique angle:

I can imagine it might be enhanced further by colouring/patterning the newspaper strips. I would probably keep the patterned newsprint instead of using plain paper because I like the added random effect of the newsprint and photos.


SAMPLE FP7: 0.6mm wire, core-spun with hand dyed merino

I decided to make this sample because I thought it might be useful in conjunction with FP1, 3, or 5, to give form and structure to an open weave woven piece, and as an alternative to bare wire. 

I had never spun with wire before, but I found it remarkable easy, and very effective. I like the thick and thin sections, and the coiled and twisted shape which it naturally made, reminding me of tree roots in the Marais Poitevin region of France.

The image above is an example of root grown into the canal (which unfortunately I had to omit from my sketchbook work due to lack of time).

My main interest in this sample is that it can be bent, twisted or formed into interesting shapes, and the structural nature of the wire means it could be used to define a 3-D shape.


SAMPLE FP8: Fishing line knitted in garter stitch on 12mm needles with bead inserts

I decided to make this sample because nylon line was a very effective medium for sampling in assignment 3. I thought that it might add a contrast to the other samples I had made – possibly to be used in conjunction with them? I was also keen to capture the feeling of light reflecting off leaves (see inspiration photo below)

Although interesting, I can’t see Immediately how this sample might be combined with the others.

I  also think that some of the textural qualities of the sample have been lost because it was knitted on larger needles than the one I made for assignment 3.


At this point I decided that I would make a series of samples to experiment with different materials and techniques for making the “cut pieces”, and to explore transparency.

SAMPLE FP9: Lamifix gloss, single-sided onto Japanese tissue with trapped threads and fibres

I chose the Lamifix gloss in preference to matt, based on my sketchbook experimentation. Lamifix needs to be ironed onto a surface, and I chose Japanese tissue because of it’s relative transparency and because it’s strength means that it could be coloured/dyed (if desired)


The Lamifix adhered well, although the sample remained soft and pliable (more than I would have liked). The tissue was more opaque than I had hoped and the threads didn’t really show through on the opposite side.


SAMPLE FP10: Lamifix gloss, single-sided onto polyester voile with trapped threads and fibres

This time I used the same method as for FP9, except I used polyester voile as the backing instead of Japanese tissue.

Although more transparent, the voile was less satisfactory because the Lamifix it did not adhere as well and also curled at the edges. Like sample FP10, the handle was soft and floppy. 

SAMPLE FP11: Lamifix gloss, double-sided onto polyester voile with trapped threads and fibres

Finally, I tried using the Lamifx double-sided (first one side of the fabric, then the other, not both at once). I used solely black thread on one side and solely green coloured thread/fibre on the other so that I could assess the transparency.

The photo above shows the side to which the black threads were adhered. The green thread and fibres are easily visible.

And visa versa, the black threads show through nicely on the other side. The handle of the sample is also improved (being stiffer), although there is some “rippling” in the Lamifix film, which I don’t really want for this application.


I then thought I would experiment with a lamination machine. I had not tried this workshop in assignment 3, so it was a new experience. I ruled out paper lamination, because I knew from the workshop results that the samples would not be stiff enough for my intended application.


SAMPLE FP12: Lamination of threads and fabric pieces

This was the first time I had ever used a lamination machine and my sample got stuck! (hence the concertina crinkles). I’m still not sure why, because I only used very fine fabrics and threads, and I have used more bulky materials since without a problem. I can only think it may have been because of the unevenness of distribution of trapped material.


SAMPLE FP13: Magazine cutting laminated with trapped threads

After the disaster of my first attempt, I chose to laminate a cut-out from a magazine and laid very fine threads on top to add texture and disrupt the image.

I was very pleased with the results – now to push the boundaries a bit more.


SAMPLE FP14: Lamination of larger pieces of fabric and Japanese tissue

I used polyester voile, heat set-creased polyester, metallic net and strips of Japanese tissue.

This sample looks uninspiring because there is very little colour, however the aim was to see whether larger pieces of fabric and paper laminated well and to see if I could successfully introduce a thicker sample. The first success was that I did not cause a jam in the lamination machine. However, the larger pieces (particularly where the tissue overlapped the voile) did not adhere well to the laminate. The heat-creased synthetic was disappointing because the lamination process effectively removed the creases and texture.


SAMPLE FP15: Lamination of Procion dyed Japanese tissue, commercially-dyed tissue, inkjet printed design and trapped threads

For my next sample I tore pieces of dyed Japanese tissue, regular tissue and inkjet printed paper with some threads thrown in for good measure. The inkjet printed paper was one of the designs from my sketchbook.

I was delighted with this lamination. Technically it was perfect and I like he overlapping colours of the tissue and the fact that the threads could be seen from both sides and through the tissue.

The inkjet printout was single-sided so the back it white. I would make sure I printed double-sided if I was making the lamination to use in my final project.


SAMPLE FP16: Lamination of magazine cuttings, origami paper and trapped threads/fibres

For my final lamination I tried to pull together the knowledge from my previous experiments and I am really pleased that I have produced a sample which is visually and technical exactly what I had been hoping for.

The photo above shows one side, the photo below the reverse.


I purposely chose origami paper because it is double-sided, but the magazine cutting works well too (the reverse by chance being a gardening advertisement) The get trapped fibres and threads add a lovely 3-dimensional feel. For this lamination I used a pouch which was thicker and gave better results in terms of both adherence and reduced curling. It was one I’d purchased, whereas in previous experiments the pouches were those provided as free samples with the laminator. 


SAMPLE FP17: Handspun merino plied with paper and acetate metallic ribbon

Exploring the theme of reflected light on leaves and inclusions in yarn, I decided to ply some metallic ribbon with  merino single.

I had to split the ribbon lengthways, and it kept breaking. I’m not especially taken with the sample, so don’t think I’ll be using it. I feel that the metallic is too overpowering.


SAMPLE FP18: 1mm basket cane knitted in garter stitch using 19mm needles

I had wanted to try this material for assignment 3, but hadn’t managed to buy any in time. Thinking about sample FP7 being analogous to large tree roots, I thought this might be analogies to finer, thread roots and could possible be used to add a contrast of texture to my piece.

Shown below is the undyed sample:

This would need to be dyed if I decided to use it in my final piece (which I understand can be done simply using Procion dye).


SAMPLE FP19: Scored and painted acetate sheet

As an alternative to samples FP9-16, I also considered using acetate for my yarn “cut-outs”. Firstly, I took a projector-weight sheet and scored different marks using dry-point tools. I rubbed black acrylic paint into The scored areas to highlight the marks. I then turned the sheet over and painted the reverse side thinly using green acrylic paint, and a credit card in places to disperse the paint and create textured marks.

The effect is bold but still transparent. The black marks show similarly on the scored side and the reverse. It is an effective yet simple technique which I found in reference 4.

Review of progress:

At this stage of experimentation and sampling, I had decided that my preferred technique for making the “cut pieces” for inclusion in the yarn was the laminating machine (FP16), the next stage being to try out different patterned and coloured papers and the inclusion of threads and yarn and see which I liked best.

I was also really keen to incorporate samples FP2, FP6 and FP7 (and maybe FP18) if possible, because they complemented the laminate samples by adding a contrast of texture.

At this point it was necessary to give consideration to the form and scale of the finished piece. Because my sketchbook work had initially conjured up thoughts of bead curtains, this seemed the natural way to proceed with developing the piece.

I had a large wooden art canvas frame which reminded me of a window frame (a fitting place to hang/display a bead curtain).

Holding samples up against this frame seemed like a good way of testing how they might be used in a woven piece of this size. I had intended that the yarn would be strung vertically in the frame, then viewed against a plain (probably white) background. I therefore had in mind that my leaf-like “cut pieces” would be coloured and patterned.

SAMPLE FP20: Patterned newspaper

I patterned some newspaper ready for laminating and cutting out for use in my yarn (also referenced from my sketchbook sampling). I had intended to leave this to dry before painting and patterning the reverse side. However, when I pinned the paper up against me frame I realised that the paper had real depth and movement and that I felt reluctant to cut it.

The photograph below shows a close up of an area of the paper, the one below of the paper pinned onto the frame.

There are many aspects of this paper that I really like, and It got me thinking as to whether it could be used as a backdrop for vertically-hung yarn with plain “cut pieces” rather than patterned ones?

The features of the patterned paper that I like are:

  1. The colour scheme really works!
  2. The turquoise accents are like shafts of rain and give movement and excitement.
  3. There are subtle yellow accents in the green background – like tints that are visible in leaves, especially when they overlap and have sunlight pass through them.
  4. The brown and ultramarine textured sponge roller paint marks remind me of glimpses of twigs seem through leaves, or shady areas in the canopy.

There are differences I would make compositionally if I were to use this paper for my finished piece:

  1. I would use the patterned roller/brown marks to emphasise the vertical more than the horizontal.
  2. I would extend the patterned paper down to cover two-third of the frame.
  3. I would probably make the marks more dense towards the bottom of the piece, and more spaced out towards the top.


Ideas for extended sampling and resolving/consolidating the work:


1. To string lengths of sample FP1 vertically on a small frame, and hold it up against my backdrop to see how it looks and to check proportion and scale. (see photo below). To determine whether this simple idea gives sufficient interest, or whether it would be enhanced by the incorporation of one or more of samples FP2, FP6, FP7, FP18.


2. Layering really interests me, and in particular I am inspired by this photograph:

I thought that maybe I could explore making small swatches (FP2, FP6, FP18) and layering them. In particular being able to hand-spin, I could explore the differences between very thick, bulky yarns and extremely fine lacy yarns, but unite them by using identical fibre. I also really like the idea of “patchwork” (or joining small swatches to make an overall visually interesting piece).

A further thought was that I might use the same backdrop paper (FP20) for making laminated pieces which I could also incorporate into different areas of the finished project.

I am aware that combining too many of these ideas might produce a muddled, over complicated or confused result, so I would need to experiment.


3. Weaving 

I particularly like this analogy from my assignment 3 sketchbook, especially the use of a transparent warp or weft.

I could imagine sample FP20 being woven in an area of the work – maybe using some laminate, or semi-transparent coloured tissue.


4. Colour palette 

I am really pleased with the colour palette in sample FP20, which I intend to carry on using.



One of the stated aims of this stage in the course is to identify the core of an idea and try out variations on that theme and I feel satisfied that I had done so through my experimentation and sampling. My work is united by the theme of trees and in particular the core idea of using cut pieces strung onto a thread or yarn to represent leaves, their different colours, shapes, movement and shadows. Unlike the samples I made for assignment 3, this work feels coherent and purposeful. I can see relationships between samples and the whole process is making sense and helping to move my ideas forward.

Another aim of stage 3 is to develop ideas of size of the scale and clarify whether the interest is in a repeating pattern or a single unit. I have looked at my samples in the context of the frame on which I plan to make my weaving/piece. I will have to do more sampling and experimentation to find a composition which gives balance yet excitement. I now feel ready to move to stage 4 and make a storyboard.



  1. Walsh, P. (2006) The yarn book: how to understand, design and use yarn. London. A&C Black publishers Ltd.
  2. Fisch, A. (1997) Textile techniques in metal. London. Robert Hale Ltd.
  3. Martineau, A. (2013) Spinning and dyeing yarn: The home spinner’s guide to creating traditional and art yarns. London. Jacqui Small (an imprint of Aurum Press).
  4. Thorne, D. (2009) Transparency in textiles. London. Batsford.