Melted Organza Leaf with Gold Threads

I enclosed cut-up gold threads when this leaf was stitched. The lines created by the cut threads echo the lines of the ‘jaggedy’ machine-embroidery, I think that it actually looks quite like a mineral.

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More Colours

The stitching emphasizes the ‘bubble’ texture of the organza after melting.

More colours were added to the embroidery on this organza leaf. I particularly like the yellow thread used on the bobbin which creates an accent and appears as dots on the right side.

When the organza is melted it becomes distorted and it’s surface is ‘wavy’ and ‘bubbly’, this is very similar to the way leaves change shape as they dry. The holes that form, if the organza is held closer to the heat from the candle, creates a different texture and gives a deteriorated quality.

Leaf Purse

I have often struggled when it comes to creating finished things. Sometimes it can feel forced to make something finished from my ideas. However I also really want to have conclusions. Recently I have been changing my approach in order to feel more authentic in developing my ideas towards something completed. Instead of enforcing the idea of an object, I am rather allowing things to emerge.

Sometimes this feels scary as I wonder if anything will ever happen and it can feel like an endless stream of experiments. Not that I mind as I love to experiment more than anything! And actually that has been the key for me…I decided that I wont differentiate between experiments and finished pieces and that has helped me to let go of feelings I didn’t like that came from creating boundaries that felt imposed and unnatural.

So, my approach now is to keep experimenting, allowing ideas of finished objects to present themselves rather than me dictating things and also to remember that they are all experiments.

In relation to these new ways of seeing things, while playing around with the textile leaves I was making, I felt attracted to the idea of folding and compartments naturally made by leaves as they begin to die and change form. This led to the possibility of a leaf becoming a vessel or a purse.

I experimented with paper leaf shapes being folded in different ways and then made some in textiles as the above photo shows.

In the first photo above you can see that there are hand stitches as well as machine stitiching. It was immensely satisfying to join the edges of the leaf with these stitches to create the seam in the purse as it seem so unintrusive and natural.

Because the fabric is made from layers of scraps enclosed within pieces of organza, there is a lovely varying thickness that makes the purse very irregular which was just what I wanted.

Melted and Stitched

Looking at some other ways of creating a delicate appearance. Melting the fabric creates a really organic quality and there is a contrast between the decayed look of the melting and the decorative appearance of the stitching. I feel that this tells a story and suggests some kind of history.

Fragile Textile Leaf

I love lacey textures in nature and I often try to emulate them. Here watersoluble fabric was used to enable an openwork fabric to be made into a leaf shape with machine embroidery as well as fabric scraps and threads. I am very tempted to make an entire shawl from this fabric, but it would be very fragile…

Details of the above leaf. Jagged scribbles were stitched around the outside, but the appearance has changed after the watersoluble fabric was dissolved and they are ‘softer’ although still desirably ‘scraggly’!

Layered Leaf

Textile leaf with more detailed stitching, using layers of organza to enclose fabric pieces before working freestyle machine embroidery. The leaf was then melted with a candle flame.

I am pleased with the varying thickness that results from the different layers of fabrics and the stitches. These textures both remind me of something that is withered and old but actually it is also like something newborn; appearing silky and moist, like an emerging moth or butterfly.

Dishevelled Leaf

I wanted to use scribbling lines to convey an unruly and wild character. By melting the organza, a deteriorated quality has been created.

The first image shows the underside and the white top thread is showing as white dots which I like a lot!

Crumpled Papers

As I love textures and qualities that evoke ageing and deterioration, I often find myself using both crumpled papers and fabrics in my work.  What is interesting is that there are lots of different subtle variations that can be created.  I remember in uni, my textile tutor suggesting that I explore a whole range of papers being crumpled  a varying number of times.  She explained that the fibres in the papers begin to soften the more they are broken down and she was right, indeed when even a thick paper is repeatedly crumpled, it becomes soft and velvety,  like fabric.

In the following examples, I wanted to create surfaces inspired by dry blackberry leaves, but only as a starting point.

If you would like a selection of surfaces to use in collage, mixed-media textiles or even as interesting wrapping paper, I would suggest collecting a range of papers, including tissue paper, cartridge paper, brown paper and something metallic would definitely be in there to add some shine. Crumple them both lightly and repeatedly and see the differences that can be achieved.  Also try crumpling them when they are wet and see how this creates a much more fragile and deteriorated quality.  If you then iron them (under another sheet of paper) you will change the character again.

My favourite papers to crumple are tracing papers.  This is because it combines 2 of my favourite qualities to work with: crumpling and transparency.  I often iron the crumpled paper to create very interesting patterns. This paper has a sturdiness and brittleness to it.

I have been working with greaseproof paper a lot recently and this sample has been made of 2 sheets glued together.  The glue has created the crumpled look here.

Ahhh, metallics! I can’t resist including them! This is the underside of something like a chocolate wrapper that has been crumpled, ironed and painted with metallic ink.

This is another type of tracing paper that is almost as fine as tissue paper, I have added a very pale wash of watercolour paint and it has been ironed.  I love the subtle quality that is very organic and actually very similar in quality to the wing of an insect.

This is cartridge paper which has been crumpled, I think, once and ironed.  The crumples are pronounced and distinct.  The addition of diluted gouache paint, adds to an aged appearance.

It would be truly amazing to see any experiments you do after reading this blog, feel free to message me or reply here and we can exchange notes!

Inspiration From Last Summer

Blackberries were my main source of inspiration this last summer.

In the last couple of years I have been drawn to wild plants and flowers.  There just seems to be a mystery as well as a vitality about them.  They belong in fairytales and they have an ancient quality.  I believe in totems; plant, animal and even mineral.  To me this means that we can resonate with different natural beings or objects all through our lives or at a particular time.  Therefore plants are very special to me as they are not only beautiful and consisting of physical benefits such as food and medicine, but they also have a magical significance.

So more and more I have found myself wanting to work visually with them.  What I find appealing about blackberry plants is their sprawling, vigorous nature; the wildness, the fact that the berries grow through a range of beautiful colours and I like the shape that the groups of leaves grow in as well as the fact that they are strong.

Usually I work with a range of subjects for inspiration; within some kind of theme… However I recently have found that just 1 type of flower or plant can provide plenty of qualities to explore further, in fact sometimes a quality alone, for example the edge of a leaf or the transparency of the petal of a flower is enough to work with. I find more and more that whatever I use as research inevitably leads to very similar areas or personal themes of interest, I guess every creative person finds the same thing… that curiosity follows patterns and defines one’s unique story.

Blackberry Leaf Prunings

The leaves start to fold, and form interesting and irregular shapes as they die. They become more 3 dimensional and like packages or envelopes that perhaps conceal something. I like this characteristic and I think that I would like to explore things that contain, hold and protect…

Pockets, pouches and purses come to mind as well paper wrappers. I love the fact that pockets were once external accessories that were separate objects from garments… I think that sachets and cloth pouches like lavender bags are interesting too.

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