Category Archives: playing

string making

at the “Second Skin” workshop with India Flint (held at Beautiful Silks in November), we learned how to make string from strips of fabric. then we used these as measuring tape measures for our body measurements. it was so relaxing to twist and turn the fabric into string, even though part of mine did unravel a bit when I lost concentration and must have twisted or flipped in the wrong direction – serves me right for trying to speed up.

these are the strings from everyone in the workshop – mine’s at the bottom left – I put it down too quickly at the end, so it’s not in a perfect circle like some of the others, though I like the colours, and since the photo I’ve fixed the unraveling and added red stitching to keep that section in place.


I bought a bundle of silk sari strips and started making more string during the evenings whilst on our gypsy caravan ride in the country (thanks Pixie – miss you! & Colonial Way). will post some pics soon. I also dyed some silk in India’s dye bath on the last day of the workshop – still deciding what to make with that.

Coded Cloth – reSkin Wearable Technology Lab

reSkin Wearable Technology Lab & Coded Cloth was a lab + exhibition showing wearable technology projects in 2007/8. It was curated by Melinda Rackham. (PDF) describes the background of the events and has examples of the work.

“In summer 2007, in order to facilitate such interdisciplinary experimentation in Australia,
Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) initiated the reSkin Wearable Technol-
ogy Lab in collaboration with Craft Australia and the Australian National University School of
Art. Twenty-one media and sound artists; programmers; jewelers; and object, textile and fash-
ion designers immersed themselves into an intensive three-week research and development
environment with six facilitators .”

“One of the many outcomes of reSkin was a physical exhibition titled Coded Cloth, held
at the Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia, in Adelaide (29 October–
19 December 2008). The exhibition drew from artists and designers who attended reSkin
along with practitioners whose work combined age-old craftsmanship with innovation. In
this Leonardo Gallery, we see a sample of that exhibition, wherein artists used traditional
textile practices such as weaving, stitching, embroidery, printing and dyeing. However, the
different electro-mechanical or biological properties of their materials produce aesthetically
charming and complex works that have both practical properties and surprising functionality.”

below was the callout for submissions/participation (2006 emails) – I remember reading about it:

For immediate release 1 September 2006

ANAT Media Lab on Wearable Computing

January 15 – February 4, 2007
Australian National University, Canberra

About reSkin
The Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) is pleased to
announceits Summer Media Lab. reSkin will be facilitated by renowned
media artistsincluding ELISE CO (USA), JOANNA BERZOWSKA (Canada) and
ALISTAIR RIDDELL (Australia). reSkin will be an intensive three-week
workshop focussing on wearable technology, embracing the skill-based
practices of object, jewellery, fashion design and media art.

Stephen Barass (Australia)
Nikita Pashenkov (USA)

reSkin facilitators will be working with artists including jewellers,
object designers, textile artists, fashion designers and media
practitioners. Together they will research, develop and rapid
prototype sensor, time based and reactive clothing, jewellery, shoes,
bags, personal environmental and device designs – anything wearable
and technologically integrated. The Lab will focus on research and
development, experimentation, collaboration and project development.

reSkin will end with WearNow a one-day forum of critical dialogue
looking at our wearable futures, and a special publication examining
emerging practices in depth. An exhibition of wearables that will
include outcomes from the lab is scheduled for 2008.

Who Can Apply
reSkin is open to Australian and International artists and designers
with at least 3 years of practice in the fields of jewellery and
object design, textile design, fashion design, media arts, hybrid art
and other related disciplines.

How to Apply
ANAT is currently calling for applications for reSkin. Application
guidelines including further details on the Lab, facilitators, and
public outcomes can be downloaded from the reSkin website at:

Further information
Alexandra Gillespie
Project Manager reSkin
ANAT Media Arts Lab 2006

Dr Melinda Rackham
ANAT Executive Director

The ANAT New Media Lab 2006 reSkin is supported by the Visual Arts
and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and
Territory Governments. reSkin project partners are Australian
National University School of Art, Centre for New Media Arts (ANU),
Australian National Museum and Craft Australia.

Stitching off the Page (fancy edgings) class

last saturday (31st jan) I went along to Alex Falkiner‘s “Stitching off the Page (fancy edgings)” class in marrickville. it was a lovely afternoon learning new stitches and techniques for the edges of fabric. I really wanted to learn her “netting” stitch and just block out a few hours to spend stitching. great to speak to others too

some photos of the “in progress” parts of the stitches for future reference. I felt I was having a bad day stitching – extra slow and making lots of mistakes (which given my state that week after the recent surgery/recovery wasn’t too surprising), but I’ll try these again when feeling better.

the netting stitch is like blanket stitch but you stitch into the air / where the loops join instead of into the fabric

solace – sunlight falls, my wings open wide

“Solace” project: India Flint is doing a residency in South Australia in June this year, and has invited people to make flags to hang.

“Make a triangular flag or pennon [meaning a personal ensign, derived from the Latin penna meaning a wing or a feather] preferably using a piece of pre-loved cloth. Stitch on it a word or a phrase or a sentence that might act as a wish for peace or an acknowledgement of beauty, imply a sense of stillness or simply something that gives you solace. It can be as brief or as long as you like. A haiku, a snatch of song, a word that takes you where you want to be. Attach ties to the tethering end of your flag”

& then post it to the address on the page. she’ll dye them, and photos will go into a book/online. has the details.

I made one tonight using a song snippet:

“sunlight falls, my wings open wide” from orpheus by david sylvian, on the secrets of the beehive album, because it always gives me solace when i play it.
japanese cotton with wool thread


some others in the Sketchbooks and Experiments for Textiles facebook group are going to make one too

David Sylvian – Orpheus lyrics:

Standing firm on this stony ground
The wind blows hard
Pulls these clothes around
I harbour all the same worries as most
The temptations to leave or to give up the ghost
I wrestle with an outlook on life
That shifts between darkness and shadowy light
I struggle with words for fear that they’ll hear
But orpheus sleeps on his back still dead to the world

Sunlight falls, my wings open wide
There’s a beauty here I cannot deny
And bottles that tumble and crash on the stairs
Are just so many people I knew never cared
Down below on the wreck of the ship
Are a stronghold of pleasures I couldn’t regret
But the baggage is swallowed up by the tide
As orpheus keeps to his promise and stays by my side

Tell me, I’ve still a lot to learn
Understand, these fires never stop
Believe me, when this joke is tired of laughing
I will hear the promise of my orpheus sing

Sleepers sleep as we row the boat
Just you the weather and I gave up hope
But all of the hurdles that fell in our laps
Was fuel for the fire and straw for our backs
Still the voices have stories to tell
Of the power struggles in heaven and hell
But we feel secure against such mighty dreams
As orpheus sings of the promise tomorrow may bring

Tell me, I’ve still a lot to learn
Understand, these fires never stop
Please believe, when this joke is tired of laughing
I will hear the promise of my orpheus sing

playing with tyvek

for assignment 3 they suggest we try working with tyvek. I tried one experiment a couple of weeks ago, based on a tutorial I saw on December 2014’s workshop on the web issue. it said to iron the tyvek then paint it with acrylics afterwards. well, I tried it and didn’t like how the painted version turned out. at all. I really liked the plain, white ironed tyvek – the shapes are amazing. very organic. like pebbles in a stream, or cells in the body. I like the ridges on the reverse side also. but I must have painted too thickly with the acrylic paint so I think I ruined them. then last night Hanna posted her watercolour painted versions on the textiles facebook page and they looked amazing. she’d made them look so fluid. she said she painted with really watery watercolour, then used a heat gun to shape the tyvek. so I tried again last night using watercolour, ink, charcoal, brusho, coloured pencils, pastels – this time painting them first, then ironing to get the shapes. much better! I like these attempts much better than the initial ones. Barbara mentioned you can use silk dyes too (setasilk) and stitch them before heating too. that makes more sense as the tyvek I have is soft like paper originally but once heated becomes like hard plastic, so I’m not sure how stitching it afterwards would work. Hannah mentioned there are also different types of tyvek. I’d just ordered a sampler kit so I’m not sure what gauge mine is, but it sounds thicker than what she’s using.

more photos uploaded to

Fujimoto’s twists – shadowfolds

making some geometric fabric folds on cotton since my copy of “Shadowfolds” book by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K Palmer arrived. this one is called “Fujimoto’s twists” — it’s a mixture of stitched squares, triangles and lines, and is a bit like smocking. I need to iron the front side flatter, but happy with how it turned out. I’d drawn the pattern shapes freehand instead of tracing the pattern as the book suggested, so the shapes are slightly uneven compared to the examples in the book, but I’m OK with that. makes it a bit more organic.

they don’t take too long to make either — I made this sample over a couple of hours whilst watching tv.

front side:

back side: (actually I like this also as a front side — might do another)

Shadowfolds book:

finding a line

I sat down again to my stitch noodling frame today to relax and play and tried some thinner cotton. this time double stranded sewing thread. tried some button hole stitch — still my favourite ever since discovering Junko Oki’s work — especially her circles, last year. the first row is a row of straight edged button hole stitch. for the second row, I noticed the thread was settling into the fabric in a more organic way, not wanting to stick to the straight line. so I let it go, and it made this really nice organic, jagged line which I really like. it’s a bit closer to an open (loose) cretan stitch, but also looks more like a heartbeat, or simple audio waveform. sometimes it’s worth letting go of your plans to find the better line.

velvet folds

I’m trying techniques for the fabric manipulation part of assignment 3 and came across this note called gorgeous fabric manipulation (velvet) so I tried it. I only used very small fabric samples to make initial tests, and I should have used a heavier weight fusing/interfacing as the velvet is heavier fabric than the light fusing I tried. apparently this works well for silk too

Use a cooling rack that has both horizontal and vertical grids. place velvet upside down and with a pencil push little bunches of fabric through. Take a fusible interfacing and then place on top of tufted velvet (wrong side) and iron. The grid should have little feet on sides so that the velvet is not crushed.

at first I couldn’t understand what she meant by using the pencil — I thought she meant to put holes in the velvet, so I only tried this on a very small piece, in case it didn’t work out. which it didn’t. but I did like the grid indentations in the velvet, so the experiment wasn’t all lost. I was going to try a metal collander also but the holes were too small for the velvet — perhaps silk would be better for this as it’s lighter fabric, though it would also be a hard surface to iron.

I didn’t have a metal rack with squares/vertical and horizontal grids, only horizontal rows, so I had to hold two racks together to form the squares. next time I might try buy another rack. or use small pegs/bulldog clips to hold the velvet through the holes, as it was hard to get it to stay in them. I had to iron it first to try hold the velvet into shape, and then iron the fusing over it to seal / hold it permanently.


I also tried a small metal egg cup, though it was harder to iron due to the irregular (non-flat) shape

drawing with thread workshop

today I went to a workshop called “drawing with thread” at the Art Gallery of NSW where we played and tinkered with stitches and coloured threads. it was taught by Alex Falkiner and was lots of fun. Alex showed us how to use different stitches to recreate drawing marks, different lines and block colour techniques, and to ask ourselves “what would happen if …”, and to find the whimsy, playfulness and randomness in making. there were a mix of fluoro colours which I hadn’t used before, so it was fun to try. very relaxing. Alex also spoke of making things that don’t *have* to be functional. this is something I need to practice – previously I’ve don’t mostly functional craft making over the years

it was great to see fellow OCA textiles classmates Judy and Eva at the workshop too — Judy wrote a post about the day at…

lots of great discussions also, and names of other artists to check out – recommended by Alex plus others in the workshop.

stitches & tips:
– spring stitch (stem stitch) – transitions between shapes
– scribble on the fabric with your non-dominant hand in pencil then backstitch over it to draw the lines
– threading needles – bring the needle to the thread to make it easier
– button hole stitch for the loose netting
— —> | —> | —> | then back the other way | <— | <— | <—
– french knots – olives: if loose, then come back to the side with another colours and tack it down
– linen thread is loopy / rounded by nature so good for the curved netting shapes (gutermann linen thread)

artists to consider:
Tilleke Schwartz
Gwen Hedley
Allison Watkins ::: closet studies
Dorothy Caldwell ::: tactile writing and the written word. walking with stitch workshop
Demelza Sherwood ::: portraits
Ruth Hadlow ::: patternbook & working with threads and nails & translating the textiles university world
textile fibre forum in geelong
Natasza Niedziolka ::: colouring in shapes, like aerial landscapes, tacks down knots amongst the lines
Marian Bijilenga ::: objects
Nick Cave ::: sound suits
my stitching
the whole class’ stitching

cloth memory – initial thoughts

folding. like origami paper folds memory
memory of clothes and sheets and other home linen as you grow up with it
the article about newborn baby cloth wrapping
memories of clothes, the feel of fabric. comfort. protection

expand later. initial notes

created to collect info about these ideas