Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Starting to consolidate the project

I've reached the stage now where I’m working on all 3 panels of the Lady launchers project, which is quite a satisfying place to be.

The second panel is now finished and just waiting for the stabiliser to be removed. I was very pleased that the border stitch worked well and provides an unobtrusive frame for the embroidery. I'm also very pleased at how the eyelets have worked and am looking forward to making and attaching the hanging device.

The third panel is now ready for the hand embroidery to be completed using running stitch with hand dyed silk thread. The most time consuming part of this process is starting and finishing with a concealed knot. As the organza is transparent and is the end panel of the three, it will be seen from behind when it is displayed.

You may notice that the original figure drawings have been replaced with the new paired down outlines. 

It was quite difficult to make sure that the figures were correctly posed, so I decided the best way to do it was to line the whole design up on a central line that could be matched to a line on the cutting board. As you can see the second figure in the row needed a small amount of tweaking

First figure completed 

By way of a distraction from the intensity of this project I decided to create a small piece with some vibrant colour. The idea for the design has been derived from a fabric wall hanging that I noticed when I was visiting the  Weald and Downland Living Museum  in Sussex.

I started by copying a photo of the design and then importing it into the sketching app Sketchbook Pro. I was then able  to add colour which could  be removed instantly if it wasn't right.

Once I was happy with the 2 colour pallets I then changed the original grey background to a cream as I intend to use calico for the background fabric. I think the technique I use for this piece will be digital appliqué and digital embroidery for the smaller details. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Alternative thinking

I've recently been away from my studio for a couple of weeks, so in order to keep up my progress on the Dungeness Lady Launchers piece I decided to try some experimentation.

Last year I had an interview with Professor Lesley Millar  with a view to applying for a place on the MA textile course at the UCA in Farnham Surrey. She was extremely helpful and selected one sketch in particular as her favourite amongst the content of my sketchbook.

It's the bottom sketch on the LH page.

I was successful in gaining a place on the course, but sadly had to decline the offer as I could not raise the funding for it.

My original idea was to show the ladies pulling on the launching rope in a literal representation.

Being separated from my sewing machine I decided to try a more contemporary approach and revisited some of my earlier sketches.

The hand embroidered sample below caught my attention and I decided to use it for a trial.

The proportions were much smaller than I needed so I had to size up each figure, keeping it in proportion so that the figures would be smaller as they receded into the distance.

I worked all the sketches in running stitch on silk organza, which is my fabric of choice for all three panels.

This is a very quick trial, but already I can see the benefit of thinking beyond the obvious. 
I also used the time away from my familiar surroundings to think about how I would support each sail in the ‘window frames’ that will be used to display each piece individually.

In the above image you will see my favourite sample, using fine twine, doubling each strand, which was then plaited, passed through the eyelet and then whipped into place.

It was quite a fiddly process and it took several attempts to find the best way to support the twine.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Moving towards the finished project

After a great deal of difficulty I finally managed to remove the stabiliser from the lace panel. As there were so many layers involved there were places on the design that took a great deal of persuasion to dissolve. 

There were several areas, as seen in the image above, that had been stitched over 3 or 4 times and each one had to have the registration threads tied so they didn't fall out, which resulted in a very tangled mess.
As I have mentioned several times during this project, it has been a very steep learning curve and there are many things I would change about the process in the future.

The above images are a small preview of the design where the stabiliser has been removed.

Having soaked the lace in tepid water in the bath I then used various methods for removing the reaming glue like substance. There is still some work to be done before the panel is as clean as possible, so I decided to move on to the portraits for a diversion.

From the beginning of this project I decided I wanted to partly cover the faces, as I felt that although the women who launched the life boats were a vital part of the process, there had been very little documentation about the role they played. It took a while to discover how to achieve this until I remembered how many women wore head scarves. After a great deal of experimentation I designed a facsimile of the scarves flying in the wind, which is almost a continuous feature on the Dungeness peninsular.

The image above shows a possible placement of the three portraits I decided to use, 2 of which have been stitched and the final one on the right hand corner is a printout of the third. 

In the above image you can see that the portrait arrangement has been changed as I felt it was more comfortable reading from left to right diagonally.

In order to place each image in the correct place a copy of the portrait was printed showing the centre point and 6 other reference points.

The paper guide is placed under the embroidered portrait (on top of the calico) and lined up. There is a very slight discrepancy as the silk organza and thread shrink by a small amount when the stabiliser is washed off.

The embroidered portrait can now be removed and the reference points are stitched onto the calico.

In order to make placing the hoop easier I decided to tack the stabiliser to the calico first.

The grid was then placed in the hoop and the reference marks were lined up.

The process was repeated on all three portraits. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Eyelets and presentation

Having arrived at a point where I needed to make a decision on how I would hang the 3 sails of the completed project, I started to explore some ideas.

I had always had in mind to hang the sails from pieces of driftwood, but I discovered that although the idea worked with the velum sketches, it proved very difficult to achieve a suitable amount of tension on the organza.

I tried using a flat piece of wood (my wooden meter rule) to see if that was more stable and easier to use, but this wasn’t giving me the tension I wanted.

I was also concerned that this arrangement where each hanging cord would need to be attached to a ceiling when I am in a position to exhibit the piece, could prove problematic.

Another idea that I had been thinking about at the beginning of the project was to make a window frame for each sail, which would connect to the sheds and some of the historic dwellings found on the Dungeness peninsular.

                                                     Early inspiration for the window frame idea

I decided to make a trial window frame using mount board and masking tape, rather than starting with wood, as I thought it would be easier than going straight into lengths of timber. I started by cutting eight pieces of mount board, 2” wide by 32” long as they would be the shortest lengths.

Then I tackled the longest side which measures 43” and required a joining piece to make them long enough as the mount board was only 32” in length. All these pieces were stuck together with masking tape to create the equivalent of 4 lengths of 2”x 2” timber. 

I am delighted with the finished mount board frame and have definitely decided that this will be the final form that the presentation will take.

The frames will stand on a plinth that will have holes drilled into the top allowing a light source, placed inside, to illuminate the sails.

The embroidered eyelets for hanging the sails have now been completed and I will be able to wash off the stabiliser on the completed lace sail.

I have begun to experiment with forms of rope knotting which will be used to attach the sails to the frame.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Decorative hand stiches and a border

Decorative hand stitches and a border 

I’ve spent an enjoyable few weeks adding hand stitch to this piece in limited colours that reflect the environment of the Dungeness  peninsular…

It’s quite difficult to know when to stop embellishing the work as it would be very easy to overpower the digital embroidery.

The next step was to decide on a border stitch for the piece, which proved to be quite difficult.

I tried various different patterns on my embroidery machine, using the stitch size facility to make variations in length while  stitching.

I also tried hand stitching, which you can see in the image below (on the upper RHS), after the stabiliser has been washed away and each design has been cut ready for auditioning.

Having found a couple of very good trims in my local fabric /haberdashery shop I decided to see if they would work free standing on the stabiliser and stay complete when it was washed away, and they did, much to my surprise.

But after offering them up I decided that the two I liked were too heavy.

I finally settled on the design below.

I am now in the process of working out how close I can put the border to the design and how to make a neat turn at the corners.