Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Costing and Time Recording; Health and Safety; References

Costing and Time Recording

[Note: Most of the following materials I already owned, so these figures are estimates based on amount used.]
Papers, including cartridge, tissue, tracing paper, abaca paper– E3
Inks, paints, dyes – E5
Fabrics, threads (machine and hand) – E5
Soluble fabric – E2
Ribbons, beads – E4

Date when design work was started:  February 2013           completed: June 2013
Date when embroidered item was started:   November 2013            completed: December 2013
Total hours spent working on design work:  40 hours         embroidery:  20 hours


*Avoid inhaling dye powder or dye vapours. Work in a well-ventilated area.
*Keep all dye stuffs in secure, well labelled containers. Keep away from children.
*Keep dye equipment separate from cooking utensils. Use only for dyeing.
*Don’t eat or drink when dyeing.
*Wear old clothes and/or an apron when dyeing. Also use rubber gloves.

*Use in well-lit area. Table and chair should be correct size to ensure comfortable working height and ease of access.
*Socket should be close by to avoid trailing cables and flexes.

*Ideally you should be able to work close to a source of daylight, but failing this try and use daylight bulbs in your lamps. Ensure working area is well-lit to avoid eye strain.


*STITCHES: NEW APPROACHES, Jan Beaney (Batsford, 2004)
*STITCH, DISSOLVE,DISTORT WITH MACHINE EMBROIDERY, Valerie Campbell-Harding & Maggie Grey (Batsford, 2006)
*FRAGILE FABRICS, Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn (Double Trouble Enterprises, 2009)
*GRIDS TO STITCH, Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn (Double Trouble Enterprises, 2006)
*BLACKWORK, Becky Hogg (RSN Essential Guide Stitch, Search Press, 2010)


The completed embroidered assessment piece for Module One is a Resolved Sample based on the idea of ‘Growth and Disintegration’.

How do you feel about the resulting conclusion?
-          I thoroughly enjoyed creating my Resolved Sample. I especially enjoyed rising to the challenge of sampling new-to-me techniques, including using ‘sticky’ soluble fabric, laying grids in place before stitching, hand stitching on soluble fabric, and beading on soluble fabric. Soluble fabric seems to me to be an ideal medium to use in a piece based on the theme of ‘growth and disintegration’.

Is it fit for its purpose? Give reasons.
-          I believe that my Resolved Sample fulfilled the criteria. Having laid down a basic grid I then free machined everything in place ensuring that all stitching connected at some point in order to ensure that the piece didn’t completely disintegrate! Then the real fun began – using a combination of hand stitching and beading to build up certain areas making these small sections ‘grow’, while leaving other areas less stitched and more open in order to suggest ‘disintegration’. The use of herringbone in the background sections worked particularly well, especially as some areas were left un-stitched which created an open, lacey appearance. The edges we left raggy to emphasise the ‘disintegration’ aspect.

If you were asked to make it again, what changes would you make to the way you designed it, and the way you made it?

-          If I was to design and make this again I would devote more time to the pre-planning which areas to leave more open (‘disintegration’) and which to build up with stitch and beading (‘growth’). Even though I thought I had planned it all thoroughly, I could have done more at the designing stage. Possibly is I had worked an initial sample of my Resolved Sample first, before embarking on the actual Resolved Sample, I might have produced a more dramatic example of the theme of ‘Growth and Disintegration’. Certainly a lesson to bear in mind for the next module!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Artist of my choice - Yvonne Morton

Yvonne Morton has long been a heroine of mine. Indeed it was on first seeing images of her work in the Embroiderers Guild magazine ‘Embroidery’ many, many years ago, that first inspired me to try my hand at an activity I hadn’t attempted since I was a young teenager. I have chosen Yvonne as my third artist  because of her use of the technique of reverse appliqué. Yvonne combines her cutback technique with striking images drawn from religious and mythic symbolism.
Yvonne’s opus is noticeably theme based. I first became acquainted with her work when she was developing her series of embroideries based the theme of ‘Icons, Angels and Fools’, exhibited from 1994 – 1996.

In more recent years her work was based upon her research into African cultural identities, especially that of the Kuba tribes of the Congo. While ill she became worried that her work was becoming “too cozy”. Then she discovered Kuba cloths in an art catalogue, which inspired her to new research and experimentation.

The Kuba people are famous for their intricate cut-pile raffia cloth, known as ‘Kasai’ velvet. The designs echo the patterns on the wood engravings, basket work and scarifications on their bodies.

Yvonne makes her hand made fabric using felt-making processes, and which consists of raphia, silk, flax and muslin with the addition of surface mark making using hand and machine stitch. Patches often reference the protective symbols used in other cultures. Yvonne now prefers a restrained colour palette, loose pattern contrasts with large areas of rest.

Surface Design Journal, Winter, 2008]]
Yvonne was mentored by Constance Howard, of whom she remembers fondly.
Yvonne’s most recent exhibition was based around research conducted at the Foundling Museum in London. She explained that 'given  up' babies were renamed but their admittance was marked by the handing over of a  piece of cloth so that the mother could identify the child if she was able to  reclaim it. Sadly out of some 16,000 babies admitted only 142 were ever reclaimed.  Yvonne’s subsequently went on to exhibit her work “Fragments for a Foundling” in a gallery at West Bay, Dorset. [Source: http://www.marlboroughembroiderers.org/1/post/2013/06/a-foolish-vision-part-3-by-yvonne-morton-june-2013.html]

Trained at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (now Arts University College) 1977-92        
Tutor and Assessor/Verifier City & Guilds of London Institute 1988 - Present       
Freelance tutor/lecturer in Stitched Textiles 1999-2001        
OPUS Degree Course in Embroidered Textiles

Work in Private and Public Collections, including:
§   Salisbury District Hospital, Wiltshire; 
     Highcliffe Castle Trust, Dorset; 
     Hampshire County Council Museum Collection.  

Selected Publications/Reviews 
     'Byzantine Embroideries by Yvonne Morton' – Ian White, Needlecraft Magazine 1995. 
§     'A Passion for Fabric' – Lynda Burgess, Workbox Magazine 1996 
§     'Gallery of Embroiderers - Yvonne Morton' – Maggie Grey, Editor Embroidery Magazine 1998 
§     'Yvonne Morton: A Dorset/Congo Connection' – Ian Wilson, Surface Design Journal USA 2008 
§     'Wessex Artists: Yvonne Morton' – Fiona Robinson, 'Evolver' 2009 
§     'Yvonne Morton - Fibre Artist’ – Catalogue 2010
Solo Exhibitions 
1990        'Eastern Images' – Salisbury Library Galleries 
1992        Bettles Gallery, Ringwood, Hampshire 
1993        'Icons, Angels and Fools' – Salisbury Library Galleries 1994-96        'Travelling Threads' – Touring exhibition with Hampshire County Council Museums 
1995        Needlecraft Fair, Olympia, – Courtesy of Future Events, Bath 
1996        'Cloths of Light' – Salisbury Library Galleries 
1996        'Shadows of Light' – The Artist's Gallery, Bournemouth 1997        Church House Designs, Congresbury, Bristol 
1999        The Artist's Gallery, Bournemouth 
2000        Bettles Gallery, Ringwood, Hampshire 2002        Church House Designs, Congresbury, Bristol 
2003        Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne, Dorset 2005        The Slade Centre, Gillingham, Dorset 
2007        Atrium Gallery, Bournemouth University 
2009        Dorset County Hospital 
2010        Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne, Dorset

Surface Design Journal, Winter, 2008

KANDINSKY (1866-1944)


Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian avant-garde artist and one of the principle exponents of expressionism. He concentrated on working in the realm of abstraction from 1911 to 1922 when he joined the Bauhaus school of art and design. He was especially interested in exploring the properties of colour, line and composition, basing his work on theories espoused by Goethe as well as Rudolf Steiner’s theosophy, among others. 

In 1912 he published his book ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’, which over-turned the established ideas about art, and became the first theoretical foundation of what came to be known as abstractionism. Kandinsky believed that the creative process incorporated “self-expression and self-development of spirit”. In the text he distinguished between the “purely physical effect” of colour, which he deemed superficial, and the deeper “psychological effect”, which was not open to the “average man”. He also explored the relationships between colour and the other senses, especially sound, taste and touch.

While working at the Bauhaus in Weimar, he developed many of his controversial ideas, beginning with an analytical study of the separate elements in a picture, emphasizing point and line. He also experimented further with colour and various colour harmonies. He saw the circle as a ‘sensual symbol of perfect form’. “Composition VIII”, painted in 1923 is the culmination of his work during this period. Later he lectured and exhibited with Klee.
'Composition VIII'

His late Parisian works were filled with Egyptian images and symbolism. The Nazis declared Kandinsky’s paintings to be “degenerate”.

In his final period of painting Kandinsky worked with a soft palette of colours. The forms featured on the foreground of his paintings appeared to be floating in space over the surface of the canvas.

’Silent’ 1937

Kandinsky on his abstract art: "Abstract art places a new world, which on the surface has nothing to do with "reality," next to the "real" world. Deeper down, it is subject to the common laws of the "cosmic world." And so a "new world of art" is juxtaposed to the "world of nature." This "world of art" is just as real, just as concrete. For this reason I prefer to call so-called "abstract art" "concrete art."
’Gentle Ascent, 1934

Kandinsky on colour: “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one or another purposefully, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

Kandinsky never doubted his ‘inner world’, the world of images where the abstraction was not an end in itself, and the language of forms arose from the will to vitality. 


The Color Compendium, Augustine Hope and Margaret Walch, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990

Chapter 12 - Study Three Artists


Herta Puls is best known for her association with the mola textiles of the Kuna Indians which she first began researching in the late 1960’s when she began collecting textiles from the region and exploring the techniques of reverse appliqué as worked by the Kuna Indians of the Sans Blas Islands in the Panama Canal. Her book on the subject, ‘The Art of Cutwork and Appliqué – Historic, Modern and Kuna Indian’ was published to wide acclaim and interest in 1978. 

The word ‘mola’ means blouse or clothing in the Kuna language. It also refers to the embroidered panels created by the Kuna women of Panama. These stitched panels are attached to the front and back of women’s blouses, and are part of the traditional dress of the Kuna women.
A mola is made by layering between two and seven pieces of coloured cotton fabric on top of one another, tacking them loosely together. Next a design is drawn on the top layer with a pencil, then some of the shapes are cut through exposing the different layers of coloured fabrics beneath. The raw edges are turned under and stitched to the layers blow. This process is known as ‘reverse appliqué’. Some molas are embroidered on the top layer.

Herta Puls studied embroidery in England in the 1960’s and was awarded the City and Guilds Certificate in Advanced Embroidery in 1970. She taught many workshops on the mola technique, and was a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and the Practical Study Group of embroidery teachers.

The following is a description given by the artist herself on the Craft Council web site:

 My work
Inspiration from drawings of objects in nature and on travel is interpreted by layered appliqué (mola-work). Layered threads and embroidery, hand or machine stitched; using 100% cotton-poplin, thai-silk, hand made paper, embroidery threads, fabric-paints and dyes.

Bibliography and References:

“What is a Mola?”  [Hood Museum of Art, Teacher Resources]

The Art of Cutwork and Applique Herta Puls ISBN 0 7134 0476 0

Textiles of the Kuna Indians of Panama Herta Puls ISBN 0 85263 942 2