A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 1 — Preparation

The first stage of this exercise was to sort my fabric stash into bags. I chose to separate them by colour. There are a couple of crossovers with the greens/browns.










Machine embroidery
I’m using my boyfriend’s mother’s sewing machine — a Globe Cub 7. So to start with I had to read the manual, learn how to thread it, load the bobbin and position it correctly. I did have a little Singer sewing machine years ago but I had given it to a friend who was using it more than me. So it had been many years since I had last used a sewing machine.





I tried some practice stitches on a piece of folded calico. I wrote the tension, width, height settings on each stitch row. I worked the calico from right to left. Sometimes the machine thread broke, especially when I tried the synthetic thread. When I switched to cotton thread it was better.

The Globe seems to have a built in glitch — I noticed that the machine seems to skip some stitches, especially when length < 4. when doing straight stitching it irregularly misses a stitch so the stitch lengths are varied. I tried different settings to see if it was the tension & it improved a bit but still has this. Purists would call this a fault, but I love it — it means there’s always a surprise! I think this is perfect for fibre/textiles art. For sewing dresses it might cause a few issues, but I don’t do that often & prefer the textiles art anyway. It’s a bit like those old synths with quirks that make it sound special. It has a character of its own. Lovely!

08/09 Update: I’ve since had the sewing machine serviced as my sister had told me the missed stitches were due to a timing issue with the machine. Now it stitches correctly. Whilst I miss the glitches sometimes, it is nice to have a machine that stitches properly again.




Front side:

Rear side of fabric:

Front side:

Rear side of fabric:

08/09/2013 — I retried some of this exercise after the sewing machine service and had better results. Even the machine embroidery worked now!



Hand embroidery
I also tried some hand embroidery on linen, but I am much slower at this! so didn’t get too many stitches done. The stitches I tried were:


  • running stitch — 2 rows, offset from each other;
  • stem stitch — 3 rows close together;
  • satin stitch — a couple of varying width sections;
  • half Cretan stitch — I hadn’t tried this stitch before so it didn’t quite work out. I’ll need to practice it more. The light was fading as I was doing it also so it was hard to see. 



    Close up – front side:

    close up – rear side – actually I like the different size stitches of the stem stitches on the underside (wrong side of the fabric), so I’ll try some others like this with different length running stitch on the front side of the fabric:


    Chain stitch is new to me, so I tried it first. Initially I did a straight line, but then I added a curve/circle at the end of the line. This was using DMC #5, Perle colourway 842. I’ve used blanket stitch in grass woven baskets, but I didn’t know how to start it on fabric, so I watched the video tutorial. I did a couple of rows of blanket (button hole) stitch — the first was using DMC #3 Perle colourway 740. The second row was using DMC #25, colourway 608 — a thinner, darker shade of orange. Both of these stitches were done on black hessian using a hoop. I made different length stitches and different widths, and placed the two orange colours adjacent to each other. I think this creates a nice texture for the blanket stitch sample. The orange doesn’t go that well next to the cream coloured chain stitch, but I think both look good against the black hessian if you look at them separately.


    When I practiced whipped stem stitch, I made some notes, samples and added thread cuttings to my journal


Working from your sketchbooks – review

A Creative Approach — Project 1 Marking marks — Stage 4 — Working from your sketchbooks — review

Review questions

Review of my work so far.
I took a while to get started with the exercises. I collected materials but then wasn’t sure what mark making really involved, as I hadn’t studied art for a long time (one year in grade 10 in high school, approaching 30 years ago). I felt blocked for a while. Finally I met up with a class mate and we had an afternoon working on the first exercise. Then I began to see what was involved. I still didn’t get very far following this, but later I watched some videos of mark making and different techniques which helped. Flipping through some of the books I’d purchased helped also. I also signed up for a Studio Journal online class, and some of the exercises were similar. It was good to have some feedback during the exercises, as we had to upload as we progressed. Once I began, and was in the rhythm of working on exercises each night, or every second night I found it easier. I even began to like some of the marks that I made! There were a lot that didn’t really turn out how I would have liked, but I was happy with a few. I think I’m still very much a beginner at drawing and collage and mark-making, but I’m less worried about doing it now. I even find myself doodling and making marks whilst thinking about things at work. It does seem to free up my mind. I found if I did a few practice exercises to just get started, then working on the real exercises came easier.

Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
No, I’d never thought about drawing in this way before — all the exercises were new to me. I hadn’t used most of these materials before either. I had done some pencil drawings in high school. I do have a collection of notebooks that I write in regularly, and make notes at seminars and at work, but I hadn’t drawn in them before. I’m still getting used to drawing regularly — this is something I need to continue to work on.

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
I think I tried a few inventive techniques whilst playing with the materials and marks, but I’m not sure how inventive they really were. I think I was influenced by examples in the classes, books and videos as I wasn’t really sure how to start when I began.

Did you explore a wide range of media?
Yes, I think I tried a wide range of materials — many pens, pencils, different paints. I should have tried more types of paper, but I only had a limited supply.

Are you pleased with what you’ve done? Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?
Yes, after a rough, slow start I am now happy with how some of the techniques worked out. Yes, I think it will help me explore more ideas.

Which exercise did you most enjoy? Why?
Stage 2 — exercise 4 was my favourite exercise as I could try many different materials and combinations of the materials. It was good to see the interaction of the materials and how they would look together, eg paint + ink, brusho powder paints and water. I was also surprised at the effect of adding water.

Which media did you most enjoy working with? Why?
My favourite material was the Inks and the Bamboo Stick Pens. I really liked the lines that the bamboo made, and I liked having to dip the pen/stick into the ink and see the different amounts of ink on the paper depending on how much I dipped it into the ink bottle. I also liked the colours — they were quite vibrant, and if I added water, it made a nice wash too. I liked the marks / lines the bamboo made — some were like scratchings, some were thicker on one end and thinned out when the ink started to run out. So I could layer the marks and ink and control the marks quite well. The bamboo pen just felt nice in my hand too — it’s thicker than a pencil.

What other forms of mark-making could you try?
I’d like to try some more mark making using ink pens. I should try more collage, as I didn’t think mine worked out that well, so need to practice it. I’d like to do some collage with scraps of fabric also, and perhaps paint or make marks in ink over the fabric.

How will these exercises enrich your textile work in future?
I think the mark making exercises will help me with my sketchbook work and doing preliminary sketches when making textiles. I just need to keep practicing regularly!