Category Archives: ACA assignment1

Assignment 1

Textiles 1 — A Creative Approach — Assignment 1
student name: Kathleen (Kath) O’Donnell
student number: 511607

Assignment 1 — Reflective Commentary
(based on assessment criteria points)
also available as a downloadable PDF file — 77Kb, 2 pages

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
Whilst working on the class exercises, I learnt many new techniques, including mark-making with various materials, hand embroidery stitches and how to do machine embroidery. I began to see patterns and marks whilst I walked around the city, and began to see shapes that could look interesting when stitched. Once I learnt a few embroidery stitches, I began to see them everywhere in the streets, in my hotel rooms and in in ordinary, pataphysical objects. I’m still working on my sketching, as I still don’t feel as confident doing this, but I enjoy taking photographs of different patterns instead. The class exercises did help in “freeing up” my drawing skills and ways of thinking.

Quality of Outcome content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas
I am happy with how some of the embroidery / stitching mark making exercises turned out, and the one’s I don’t think are very good I am treating as practice exercises in freeing up my thinking and work leading up to the final samples. In a couple of the exercises I couldn’t stop at the sample — I had to finish a piece as I wanted to see how it would look and if I could manage to translate the image in my head into a finished piece. I think I need to practice presentation of the work on my blog — in most cases I posted photographs or scans of them and often they are too large for the page, and there is little text describing them. I feel I need to work more on writing descriptions of the work and techniques.

Demonstration of Creativity imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice
I tried to experiment with some of the mark-making techniques in the exercises using paints, paper, and threads and stitches. I was following the guidelines of the exercises and some of the books and websites I’d visited, but these did lead to some experimentation that I thought of myself, such as the final embroidery exercises where I experimented with circles and stitches to create small art-samples.

Context reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log)
I enjoyed researching different artists and noticing the strokes in their paintings, such as the short lines that make up lines and swirls in Van Gogh’s Night Paintings series. Also I read about some of the female artists from the Bauhaus Weaving Workshop and some of Paul Klee’s work from the late 1930s – early 10490s which I think would be able to be represented in stitch as there are very pronounced lines and shapes attuned to stitches and blocks of colour in the background that could be represented by swatches of fabric layers. More recent embroidery artists I read about include Sue Stone, Junko Oki, Audrey Walker of the 62 Group in the UK. Once again, I feel I need to work more on writing up my ideas after reading about other artists’ work so I can note what catches my eye about their work.

Sketchbook — downloadable PDF version (up until November 2013 – 35Mb – 50 pages)

Class exercises
here are a couple of ways to view my class exercises:

1. View or Download PDF File of all my class exercises (blog pages) : Assignment1 – class exercises and blog sample work — downloadable PDF file (PDF file ::: 9Mb ::: 113 pages)

2. View directly on my blog via the following links:
Project 1 — Making marks

Stage 2 — Making marks in an expressive way
Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

Stage 3 — Using marks to create surface textures
Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Stage 4 — Working from your sketchbooks

Project 2 — Developing your marks

Stage 1 — Preparation

Stage 2 — Exploring marks and lines through stitch techniques

Stage 3 — A Sample

Stage 4 — Preparing to create textures

Stage 5 — Stitches which create texture

Stage 6 — Using thread and yarns to create textures

Using thread and yarns to create textures

A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 6 — Using thread and yarns to create textures

In this exercise we had to use different threads and yarns to create textures.

front side:

rear side:

I tried another – with different layers of fabric, different stitches and different/multiple threads of varying weights.

close ups:



rear side:

I had made some small sketches (finding I like the A5 size, small but handy to carry around), so the stitching above is based on some of the shapes in these sketches.



Can you begin to see the relationship between stitching and drawing?
yes, definitely. I can see it more and more since working on these exercises. I think I have even started to draw/sketch with stitching in mind.

Were you able to choose stitches which expressed the marks and lines of your drawings?
yes, I learnt a few stitches including running stitch, back stitch, blanket stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, cretan stitch, satin stitch and was able to adapt some of these to match the marks in some of my sketches.

Did you choose the right source material to work from?
I think I chose the correct sketches to work from. though they were new sketches that I’d drawn after doing some of the embroidery exercises previously. I’m not sure that most of my previous source material (mark making exercises) were suited to stitching — I can see how some of them might work well as stitched pieces, but not all of them.

Do you think your sample works well irrespective of the drawing? Or is your sample
merely a good interpretation of your drawing?

yes, I like my sample as a standalone piece even if it wasn’t based on some of the shapes in the mark making sketches. I think it has interesting shapes and styles. I tried a few different stitches and threads of varying weights and colours which I think adds interest to the piece and makes a person look more closely at it to see the detail and to see the mistakes/hand made properties of it.

Which did you prefer – working with stitch to create textures or working with yarns
to make textures? Which worked best for you and why?

I preferred working with stitches to create textures as I could layer the stitches and combine them in different shapes and patterns. I only had limited materials/threads with me (whilst traveling) so I felt my combinations of different yarn types was more limiting. also, some of the couching using gold foil paper was so delicate that the foil ripped easily which made it harder to work with.

Make some comments on individual techniques and sample pieces. Did you
experiment enough? Did you feel inhibited in any way? Fix them into your sketchbook
if you want to or start a separate book of sample references.

my favourite technique was using blanket stitch in circles (based on Junko Oki’s work — though mine ended up looking different to hers). it was fun to stitch circles and change the direction of the stitch rows slightly so they were more organically aligned. I think I experimented with a few new stitches (new to me), but I probably could have tried more materials and threads. it’s just I was enjoying making the circles so much I didn’t worry too much about trying more threads (plus, the limited supply of them in my travel case).

Do you prefer to work from a drawing or by playing with materials and yarns to
create effects? Which method produced the most interesting work?

I prefer to play with the materials, yarns and stitches and see what they lead me to rather than doing a sketch first. I think my casual experimentation worked best.

Are there other techniques you would like to try? Are there any samples you would
like to do in a different way?

I’d like to try more Japanese darning and creating netting. with the samples, I’d make them similar again, though I would try having some as they are and others with more overlapping layers. I didn’t add too many layers to the samples at this stage because I liked how they turned out. but this means that I missed out on seeing how they would look with layered stitches on top of each other.

Is there anything you would like to change in your work? If so, make notes for future

yes, add more layers, and try different sized circles. I’d like to try some netting also. and also a portrait, or image from a photo where I convert to greyscale/black&white and then enhance the outlines and try stitch that. ie something more realistic.

Stitches which create texture

A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 5 — Stitches which create texture

In this exercise I had to work stitches in different directions, initially using the same type of thread, and then introducing other weight threads. I used a single colour thread (or as close as possible) for each sample. Some threads are shiny and thin whilst others are thicker, multi-threaded and matte. when you mix them together you can see the difference in texture each creates, as well as different textures caused by the different amount of light the threads reflect.

I began with satin stitch in red shades, using different stitch lengths and shiny and matte thread. The rows of satin stitch sit nicely next to each other. Some of the threads look softer and others look rougher.

My favourite sample is the thin white triangle peaks. The stitches are fairly close together, thinner at the bottom of the upside down V and there’s a thicker gap at the top. I stitched different number of rows along the rows. I think this makes a nice pattern and it’s something I could use in a project. I’d tried he triangle peaks in thicker orange yarn too but I don’t think it’s as effective — it seems to soften the edges, whereas the thinner white thread is more precise so the lines are more defined and crisper to my eyes.

I also tried a few samples in red and whites for overlapping stitches that crossover each other, and are of different stitch lengths and thread weights.



02/09/2013 — After discovering Junko Oki’s work, I tried a few textured stitches that she uses to create circles, triangles and lines.


Preparing to create textures

A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 4 — Preparing to create textures

In this exercise I had to look through some of my previous work and think about them in terms of textiles and creating textures. I looked at some of my sketches, but one stood out the most is the Agapanthus root from stage 3, exercise 2 — it’s the ugliest topic and drawing but I think it does show a lot of texture. It’s both rough and shiny, lumpy and distorted, it has hard and soft parts, and chaotic stringy parts.

Here’s the drawing and original photo:



Whilst I started to embroider just a small part of the root, I was swept up by it and wanted to finish it so I embroidered the whole piece instead. I used a mixture of matte and shiny threads, thick and thin. Stitches included running stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, and a couple of crouched stitches. The colours closely match the original (well, as well as I could given the threads I have at home). I used a mixture of short and long stitch lengths and narrow and wider stitch widths to try capture some of the space & shape of the root. It doesn’t look exactly like the original though I think I have managed to capture some of the textures.

I’ve been reading through the book “Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery” by Leanne Prain, and there’s a chapter called “A Brief and Incomplete History of Embroidery” which mentions,
“Early embroideries were stitched to tell religious and social histories, and they depicted scenes not only of peaceful domestic life, but also the horrors of conquest.”

Agapanthus plants are a pest in the Australian native bush — they are an introduced plant, and whilst they might be OK for paths and lining highways, they are not meant to be planted in bushland. J tries to remove them as much as possible — he’d pulled this one out of the garden and was showing me how the shoots sprout all over the main root. So, whilst this isn’t a war of invading peoples, it is a smaller scale war with the Agapanthus to try remove them all. Once they flower and the wind spreads their pods and flowers, they spread quickly. So this picture reminds me of the horrors of the Agapanthus conquest of the garden and J’s hard, great work in trying to lessen their damage to the Australian bush.


A Sample

A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 3 — A Sample

For this exercise I chose one of my ink drawings which is mostly line based. I hand stitched in running stitch and stem stitch — in different directions and with a mixture of threads, some shiny, some matte, some thick, some sewing machine rayon so very thin. A couple of the diagonal sections turned out quite textural and layered. They have multiple threads and layers so are quite raised on the surface of the fabric. These probably would suit the following exercises. The stitches are all line based stitches though, so it shows how they can be used to create both line and texture.


Here’s the ink drawing which was used for inspiration. The top two diagonal / horizontal sections are a bit different — I was enjoying seeing the different light on the threads poke through as I stitched, so this is a bit of interpretation rather than accurate portrayal of the original picture.


The range of threads used in my sampler:
scansilk – colour # 1804 100% rayon
scansilk – colour # 1805 100% rayon
DMC #8 colour 321 coton perle
DMC #25 colour 915 mouline special
DMC #4 2346 coton retours mat
On the Surface – the second one on the card – Couture Red (CRT113)

The fabric is olive green linen from my fabric stash (this was my partner’s Mum’s fabric).


Exploring marks and lines through stitch techniques

A Creative Approach — Project 2 Developing your marks — Stage 2 — Exploring marks and lines through stitch techniques

For this exercise, I started with machine embroidery. I dropped the feed dogs and put the fabric into the hoop, but I had to remove the footer each time I had to start sewing. The first stitch I tried, the machine just sewed on the same spot — almost like satin stitch. I found it really hard to move the fabric around. So I ended up taking the fabric out of the embroidery hoop, lifting the feed dogs again and sewing normally. This time I used red thread so it’s easier to see the stitches (the first exercise was off-white on cream calico so is harder to see the stitches clearly). I didn’t have any other machine threads of different weight to try the hand wound bobbin.

I made some parallel lines, moving closer together until they made a solid area (albeit small solid area!)
and I tried some circles, though they’re a bit wonky. I also tried some “squaretooth” stitches as I liked the shape of these. I must have a tension issue as there’s a bit of puckering of the fabric where the stitches have pulled the fabric around the stitches. I did try different stitch lengths. When I did the test swatches I found that tension=3 was the best setting, so I kept this the same for all the stitchings

Front side of the fabric:


Underside of the fabric:


Next I tried some hand embroidery using different weight and colour threads.

The sample on the left (red thread) is a mix of running stitch – using different stitch lengths, stem stitch, back stitch and a short satin stitch.

The sample on the right (blue thread) is a pattern of horizontal and vertical running stitches, using similar colour range and slightly different thread weight. Horizontal threads are made with “mouliner special” DMC 25, colour way 796. The vertical threads are slightly thinner, DMC #8, colour way 820.

Front view:

Rear view:
Once again, I like the underside of the fabric, especially when viewed from a distance.


For the next sample, I used a piece of cotton I’d dyed at a Shibori workshop a few weeks ago. To make this piece, I’d put a coin in the centre of the fabric, then wrapped it in string. you can see the fine, lighter coloured string markings on the fabric. I sewed some straight lines, squaretooth lines and zigzag lines in red cotton. I also tried circular lines around the centre where the coin imprint is, and some diagonal lines too. The centre of the fabric puckered a bit, so it’s raised compared to the surrounding fabric. When I scanned it, it squashed down and covered some of the stitches


11/08: Today I tried some darning stitch (Sue Stone calls it needle weaving) — though I changed the width of the stitches so the first are further apart than the latter stitches. I also changed thread — from a thin cotton to a thicker embroidery thread. It was like weaving with the needle & thread. I think it could have been a bit neater, and now that I see it with varied stitches, I prefer the more uniform, loose weaving that Sue Stone does to my experiment. I will try another later to more closely match how she does hers.



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!

Using marks to create surface textures – exercise 2

A Creative Approach — Project 1 Marking marks — Stage 3 — Exercise 2 — Using marks to create surface textures

This exercise involved recreating the textured surfaces of objects.

This first page has a drawing trying to replicate the texture of patio tiles, and another showing the branches and remaining leaves of a tree that had lost its leaves during winter — as viewed from the patio whilst looking across the garden. I painted the watercolour wash over the ink drawing in the evening, and thought I was using a brownish grey colour but when I checked in the light of day the next day, I’d actually used a purple colour. Oops. So the colours are not 100% accurate but hopefully the feel of the texture shows through:



The second group of drawings are of the leaves on a pencil pine. At first I thought the segments of the leaves were like little nodules, so I drew the first one (top right) with drops of ink, but when I looked closer I noticed that there were small crosses along the leaves segmenting the sections. I thought this would suit cross-stitch, so tried to draw it in inks and then paint over the top. the problem I found is I couldn’t mix the correct lighter shade of green to draw the crosses. On the weekend I only had my inks and bamboo pens as I was away for the weekend. When I came home I painted the crosses on, though my technique isn’t that good — and probably the paintbrush I used wasn’t fine enough, so the crosses are a bit rough:



The last one is trying to replicate the textures on a root of an Agapanthus plant. These plants are a pest in the native garden so J pulls them out whenever possible. He was showing me the shoots coming out of the root. I thought it had a nice mixture of textures — smooth surfaces, hard and soft parts, fibrous, stringy parts and soft leaves. Also I liked the concentric ridges around the root — it reminded me of how I actually draw a cylindrical surface on paper.

Even though the Agapanthus root is quite ugly, I quite like how this textural drawing turned out.



Using marks to create surface textures – exercise 1

A Creative Approach — Project 1 Marking marks — Stage 3 — Exercise 1 — Using marks to create surface textures

This exercise involved using marks to create surface textures — working from visual sources.

For these exercises I used pages from a magazine – “belle” magazine, june/july 2013

This first one is trying to replicate the textured rug, using graphite and charcoal pencils:


For the second drawing I was trying to replicate the soft, blurred, smudged look of the glass. The blue definitely worked better than the yellow glass. The yellow paint was too wet and just came out as flat colour.


In the third one, I tried to replicate the curves. I didn’t have silver pens or paints so I used blue Copic pens for this attempt: