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:


AR quilt

tonight I was reading through class notes again and just realised I have more to do for assignment one than I thought. I’d totally missed a whole section – project 2. I was thinking project 1 = assignment 1 🙁

in other news, I came across this article / project tonight which I thought might fit with my theme of code/encryption (perhaps not glitch). Anti-loneliness augmented quilt comforts children in hospital. from Joshua Barnes’ site:

“As a means to combat symptoms of loneliness experienced by children staying long periods of time in hospital, the Augmented Quilt opens up an additional line of communication between the child and their loved ones. Each animal illustration on the quilt can be linked to a friend or family member, who can in turn leave digital messages for the child to read using a smart device. This highly personal form of communication is more meaningful to the child than anything a facebook message alone is capable of. Simultaneously the intimate tactile nature of the quilt also serves as a physical source of comfort which, when combined with the personal messages, provides a greater sense of security to the child in what is a potentially distressing time.”

this sounds like a great idea – he’s using the Aurasma’s Augmented Reality (AR) system. the child / person can point their phone camera over the quilt square – ie the fiducial marker – and a message from their family would be shown. I will check into Aurasma – I’ve used Layar, GE AR, and ARToolKit a few years ago when I was playing with augmented reality to see how it worked. I imagine the technology has advanced more now than when I last used it. once I had knitted a black fiducial marker, but I ended up using it to line my bike basket.

Zandra Rhodes’ sketchbook + indigo + Adam Curtis

tonight I watched videos on Zandra Rhodes’ tutorial page on her website. the first video about Sketchbooks was great. I liked how she speaks on photographs vs drawing in sketchbooks: “to me, i never get to know something unless I’ve drawn it & suffered it”
there’s also some great videos on screenprinting and making the prints for some of her fabrics. it’s interesting that she uses layout paper for her sketchbooks too – I might have to try that for the pens

Tutorial 1 Zandra Rhodes: Using sketchbooks from UCA Learning Technologists on Vimeo.also I started reading through “Indigo – The Colour that Changed the World” by Catherine Legrand, after finding it at Potts Point bookstore yesterday. I’ve almost bought this book a few times online, but hadn’t quite pressed submit on the order. it’s a visual feast – interesting to learn more about indigo following the shibori class I did a few weeks ago.

and, a non-art-textiles related article to read is, “In Conversation with Adam Curtis, Part I” by (one of my favourite curators) Hans Ulrich Obrist – they do speak about art in the article

colour music … in textiles?

today I went to the Art Gallery of NSW and saw “The Sydney Moderns” exhibition. I loved the “colour music” works of Roy de Maistre – I think these would translate well to textiles. like weaving sounds and colour. he did a lot of work based on synaesthesia. I was at the gallery with my sister and 10 month old niece, who was very excited – singing and dancing in the gallery – so we walked quickly through the exhibition so as not to disturb others viewing the works. I hope to go back and see it again and spend some more time looking at the paintings. De Maistre also did some paintings based on the colour wheel.

from Roy de Maistre’s wikipedia page:
“He developed an interest in “colour-music”, the relationship of colour harmony to musical harmony. With his ordered, analytical mind, he applied the theory of music to painting. He worked with Adrian Verbrugghen, and then Roland Wakelin to devise a “colour-music” theory. In 1919 he held a joint exhibition with Roland Wakelin titled Colour in Art to expound his theories. In this, at the time controversial. art exhibition the musician-turned-painter had chosen colours to harmonise like the notes in music. This “colour-music” exhibition became part of Australia’s art-folklore as “pictures you could whistle”. Influenced by earlier exponents of “colour-music” theory in Europe and America, this exhibition has since been identified as the earliest experiment in pure abstractionism in Australia. His colour charts, showing musical notes corresponding to different hues, are now owned by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with “colour music” gaining a permanent place in Australian art history.”

reading ahead, I think some of his works might be useful for inspiration for some of the forthcoming assignments. I could try make a painting inspired by his colour wheel & paintings also, as well as some textiles based on the paintings and studies.

also reading about Anne Dangar and Grace Crowley and their geometric works………

roy de maistre
anne dangar
grace crowley
roland wakelin

describing lines and marks

I’ve been reading and browsing through the book, “Drawn to stitch – Line, drawing and mark-making in textile art” by Gwen Hedley. she has some great examples and suggestions for mark-making, which I hope to try. the first part of the book talks about how to describe lines and mark-making. adding the info here so I remember to use it when describing some of my explorations – so far I’ve only uploaded the pictures, not written much about them.

from pages 9-11. “Drawn to stitch – Line, drawing and mark-making in textile art” by Gwen Hedley
think about characteristics and qualities of lines
are the lines:
– straight, curved, varied?
– geometric or contoured?
– man-made or organic?
– continuous or broken?
– jagged or even?
– dotted, dashed or both?
– thick, thin or varied?
– raised or recessed?

surface colour
are the colours:
– pure or blended?
– muted or grey and dusty?
– bright or subdued?
– solid or broken?
– are the edges soft or hard?
– are there layers of colour? if so, what is the colour order?

textural qualities
is the surface texture:
– smooth or rough?
– varied?
– shiny or dull and matte?
– flat or knobbly?
– complete or eroded?
– rigid, gritty, or sleek?
– opaque, transparent or translucent?

another resource I came across via the OCA forums is this Developing Reflective Writing Skills presentation. there’s another on sketchbooks which is good too.

Hedley, Gwen. 2010. Drawn to Stitch – Line, Drawing and Mark-Making in Textile Art. Loveland: Interweave Press.

books and old classes on Colour

I’ve started reading a book by Victoria Finlay called “Colour: A Natural History of the Palette” where she travels and describes how some colours in art have been lost, beginning with a memory of her father telling her how the blue used in the stained glass windows in Chartres is no longer available. (some other sites now say it hasn’t been lost). I found an audio interview with Finlay on the ABC website.

yesterday I saw an article called “The Colorful Stories of 5 Obsolete Art Pigments” which describes five pigments which have disappeared from art: Maya Blue, Tyrian Purple, White Lead, Lapis Lazuli, Dragon’s Blood with an update of another three: Mummy Brown, Indian Yellow, Scheele’s Green. the article is continued in another article, “More Vibrant Tales of Obsolete Pigments”.

I’ve only done a short class on colour theory for knitting and yarn/fibres a few years ago (end of 2010) with Shannon Oakey / knitgrrl, but as I am a slow knitter, I didn’t get it finished within the timeframe of the class – I shall have to dig up the notes and take another look. it’s been interesting and fun to explore colours. as part of the surface embroidery class exercises, I even tried painting my own colour wheel of primary and secondary colours to experiment with mixing colours and to make it easier to remember which colours are used. I am used to television (analog and digital) signals and colours which are different – we use RGB (red-green-blue) as the “primary” colours for pixels and screen colours, rather than red-yellow-blue as is used in art / paint mixing, so I keep having to remind myself of this “new” (different) colour scheme.

for one of the knitgrrl exercises we had to look at our yarn stash, select images of those colours from the Multicolr site and then arrange the yarn skeins into colour tone. then select a colour I like (I chose red for this exercise) + a colour I didn’t like (I chose green for this exercise) from my yarn stash and put them together, then knit a small colour swatch of the two. at that time I had mostly red and pink yarns as I was making some toys for friends’ children. my stash has since expanded in colour range. as Shannon said, “isn’t it amazing to see how even a color you don’t like can suddenly become interesting when it’s combined with one you DO like?”

>> multicolr : 1 colour – dark red

>> multicolr : 2 colours – dark red & lime green

>> 1. Arrange balls of your favorite color from left to right value-wise (light to dark) and snap a photo.

>> 2. Arrange balls of your favorite color from left to right tone-wise (based on saturation of color) and snap a photo.

>> 3. Find something (could be yarn, could be something else if you don’t have any yarn in this color) that’s the color you DON’T like very much and pick one ball of your favorite color yarn. Take a picture of them together.

> knit the yarns intothis pattern (I didn’t knit the swatch pattern correctly though – one day I will try this again)


Finlay, Victoria. 2002. Colour: A Natural History of the Palette. Random House.

Making marks in an expressive way – exercise 4

A Creative Approach — Project 1 Marking marks — Stage 2 — Exercise 4

This exercise involved making marks with many other types of materials.

Block printing — a wine bottle box + softdrink bottle cap with ink stamp pad:

Layers of coloured water based oil pastel crayons with scratchings using a bamboo pen:
I like this one – the colours peeking through seem quite electric – almost neon. I think it’s because of the surrounding black colour making them ‘pop’

Watercolours and acrylics with vinegar:
I think I used too much vinegar. there’s a few nice artefacts from the vinegar but overall I don’t think these worked out how I was expecting them to.

Brusho paint powders mixed with vinegar instead of water, brusho powder dropped onto the page, ink pen lines using a bamboo pen:
there’s a few splotches where the colour was lifted by the vinegar. I don’t mind the ink lines over the paint, but I think I need to practice the vinegar effects more.

Crayons (Text zoom windup crayons) with a watercolour paint wash over the top.
I liked the top one, so I made another full size picture of it – see the next picture:


Combing: black acrylic paint with scratchings using a dressmaking pin:
I like this one – the black acrylic reminds me of black satin. I like how shiny it looks.

I retried some of the exercise 3 exercises – ie placing salt on the wet paint, placing plastic wrap over the paint, as well as some of the suggested exercises for exercise 4:

Inks with plastic wrap – this one didn’t really work. I think the ink dried too quickly:
I preferred the pre-plastic for this one. I should have kept it aside and tried another — though I did take a “before” and “after” photo.


Acrylic paint + bleach:

Acrylic paint + salt:

Acrylic paint + scratchings using a seed pod:

Ink + bleach:

Watercolour paints + salt:

Ink + salt:

Acrylic + scratchings using a sewing pin:

Cutout stencil – simple shapes:

Stencil – stippling and sponging paint onto the stencil:

Frottage / rubbings:
I made quite a few rubbings — with different results. Some didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. Plus I realized that my apartment is full of smooth surfaces! I had to do some at J’s Mum’s place where there were many textures to be found.

















explorations in textiles, mark making, drawing, sketchbooks, art school & uni art work