Mixed media textiles inspired by rebellion and the natural world
I haven’t posted in ages. Not because I have stopped working, but more because of an excessive amount of ideas all competing with eachother. This makes me confused and disorganised!
One of the themes I have been working on is hearts and their symbolism for love. This is in combination with a continuing fascination for erosion, deterioration and the ensuing potential for rebirth and renewal.
In my last post I blogged about a little stuffed heart I had made which had been covered with holey fabric. As it was made from tattered denim I felt it evoked the grunge clothing and music vibe in the nineties, as the title of the blog ‘grunge heart’ describes.
It also seemed appropriate as the spirit of grunge is so much about being ravaged, and a defiance that nevertheless survives.
I was really touched when one of my friends on Facebook saw the textile heart and asked if she could have it. She felt it was the only object she had seen that captured the pain she feels, due to tragic events in her life.
I had made the heart to express my own experiences in love; both sublime and from hell… and the journey it takes me through. Likewise the heart in this post speaks simply of the same.
The silver fabric was heated until it melted. The quality of melting, as often used to describe the surrender to love from another eg to melt in someone’s arms, to melt in a loving gaze, and so on…was something I wanted to refer to.
In addition the idea of melting suggests heat and fire which brings to mind more challenging elements, such as incineration, burning and purging by fire, providing apt metaphors for the more painful experiences of heartbreak and torment that the path of love likes to take us through.
Sometimes the pursuit of love feels too perilous. Much like in the Greek myth, where Icarus in his exhiliration, uses his wax and feather wings to fly him too close to the sun, we can fear that the longing may well lead us to a place too powerful and we too will have our wings melted and will be left to fall to drown!
Oh well, hopefully all of our little melted hearts although threadbare, are still just about beating to love another day or two!!
I bought these purple tulips mainly to see how they would dry and I wasn’t disappointed in their performance! I like the delicate colour scheme very much and the inclusion of complementary colours, purple and yellow brings a vibrancy.
The papery texture is also pleasing and as the petals have shrunk they have been pulled into tiny ripples.
Infact they are quite similar to little watercolour paintings. I find that the subtle characteristics are often the most inspiring.
When translating some of these qualities into textile design, I would look at ways in which I could recreate the colour scheme. I find that dyed silk and merino fibres as used in feltmaking are really good for providing organic and sensitive colour palettes. Also fabric paint could be used to recreate the colours, particularly silk paints and silk habutai would be an ideal fabric to work with as it is similar in weight and translucency to the tulip petals.
Thanks for visiting!
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am at the point in my project where I am having to consider how to bring my visual research and development to some point of culmination. I have been looking through all of my samples to see what jumps out for more in-depth exploration and potential for some kind of eventual conclusion.
I have also been thinking about concept and how my visual work could suggest ideas, as these I have found are always interwoven with my visual sources of inspiration and chosen route of investigation. I don’t want to be too definite in describing the ideas I have, as I know how these grow and change, but I would say that I am interested in analysing the relationship we can cultivate with nature through acknowledgment of it’s cycles.
In addition I am also interested in the meaning of beauty and what happens to many of our ideas of what constitutes beauty as we get older.
I began this project with the idea of a secret garden where unexpected treasures can be found and would now extend that to include inner secrets and mysteries particularly as relates to femininity and how they can be revealed. So, in summary I am curious about nature, cycles, beauty and feminine mysteries and possibly how our awareness of these things could be improved.
Healing is always of fascination to me and I am also curious about how healing can take place. The challenge is how to incorporate these ideas and questions into the physical act of constructing textiles and clothing.
In terms of textile work I have decided to focus on freeform crochet which is very effective at describing an organic, but also pretty quality.
When a really large crochet hook is used with a fine thread, a very loose and ‘irregular’ fabric is formed, which is great for distorting as well as creating a very open work material like a net. It is even reminiscent of the veining on the wing of an insect.
I love using tiny hand stitching and when combined with fabric scraps and patchwork suggest repair, patience and healing as well as also having an organic feel. I will also continue to explore ways to create form and texture with bias-stitched tucks which are perfect for creating again very pretty flounces, ripples and ruffles.
After looking through all my samples so far I have decided to look again at this idea of combining crochet with fabrics and stitching the crochet in places to create a corded lace effect.
At this stage I am thinking that this could work well as a detail on a corset or bra top. I have begun by looking at different threads and yarn and how they look when covered with machine zigzag stitch, I need to research ready-made cords too.
Here, torn satin strips have been handspun and then covered in zigzag stitch and crocheted. Although an ‘open’ material has been formed, it is rather bulky and stiff.
Tags: Art, Craft, Crochet, Design, Embroidery, Fabric, Fabric Manipulation, Fabrics, Freeform Crochet, Garment Design, Handspinning, Inspiration, Sewing on the Bias, stitching, Textile Design, Textiles
Just a short post today.
Here I have included more attempts to combine crochet with fabric scraps. I like the use of transparent fabrics as a delicate, dreamy quality is created.
May your day be filled with happiness!
I really was delighted to come across a set of withered stems crowned with these little pods of wonder as I walked our dog in the very water-logged and bedraggled garden the other day. Such is the obsession of the textiles designer! Anyone who knows me well has seen me with handfuls of seaweed, skeletonised leaves, dried ferns… If it’s from nature I’ve collected it! And people don’t always understand where I’m coming from, but that’s ok, I don’t mind being insane in a textiles kind of way! If you are a textiles person or infact anyone inspired by nature you may relate to what I am saying! Somehow just a single petal, feather or pebble suggests a universe of possibilities and these flower seed heads were no exception!
Spring is on it’s way and I guess that these tightly-packed ‘cushions’ of seeds are ready to burst out into the breeze where they will be carried to many different spots in the garden to create new plant life for the coming summer.
This is a photo of the flowers they come from taken last summer.
What is of great interest to me is the contrast between the seeds when they are squeezed together into a ball, reminding me of a congested pin cushion and the fluffy, fibres peppered with green black dots as they separate themselves.
So much comes to mind in terms of stitch , form and material! For example I would be tempted to interpret the wispy fibres and suspended thread-like seeds with stitches and the tiniest french knots, perhaps even using plant fibres as a ‘fabric’. The effect is incredibly delicate.
When looking at the more closely packed seeds, a thicker fabric is suggested and the surface has a bumpy quality. This brings to mind velvet as a material, perhaps again with french knots worked within the pile as the velvet nap will separate and appear ‘tufty’ much as the fibres do once the fabric is rounded.
Straight away exciting ideas emerge and I am particularly looking forward to taking some of these characteristics into the medium of textiles!
I wanted to further explore ways that patches of fabric could be joined to make a background surface for crochet and other forms of embellishment. In keeping with the spirit of my experiments up to now, I also wanted them to look somewhat bedraggled. The above piece is comprised of small crinkled pieces of fabric held together with lines of machine stitching.
In these samples I wanted to look at the different results created by varying the stitch type and experimenting with textural effects achieved by layering and combining the fabrics.
Creased fabrics have been stitched down with criss-crossed lines of zigzag stitch. The stitching forms a prominent feature when used this way.
Hand stitches secure small crinkled patches of fabric to a foundation fabric.
Delicate hand stitches are used to very gently hold small scraps of fabric together. This forms an extremely light and fragile fabric.
Different fabrics are scrunched together and secured with machine straight stitch. I think that this is suggestive of dramatic, ‘blousey’ blossoms. This effect would look best in small amounts, perhaps as an edging or trimming.
Hope you all have a great week!
I must say that I have really enjoyed working on these samples. Initially I intended to combine crochet pieces with fabric by using appliqué and experimenting with both machine-stitched and hand-stitched methods of application. However once I started to play around with the materials, other possibilities presented themselves. As I am researching different ways of contorting fabric, loosely-worked crochet is ideal to experiment with as it can easily be pulled into different shapes and when the yarn used contains wool, it has elastic qualities. After stretching and stitching on to fabric, it springs back to close to it’s original size taking the fabric with it and forming ripples and puckers. It’s quite subtle, but it is most obvious on the white satin in the following photo. The more elastic the yarn, the more pronounced the effect would be.
During these experiments, I have been most intrigued by the potential created by attaching crochet to fabric using the zigzag-covered tucks I have been using on my bias-stitched samples. The crochet adds another dimension in terms of pattern and texture and a pleasing corded lace appearance is created when the crochet is left in areas without fabric underneath.
Another way I experimented with zigzag stitch and crochet was to use open-worked crochet as a support for fabric patches and threads to be machine-stitched on. The result was reminiscent of debris caught in a net, which is an idea I really like. Zigzag-stitched tucks along both the crochet and the fabric pieces were then added. Very interesting contrasts were formed between the zigzagged crochet and the unstitched areas, and I feel excited about the many ways this idea could be experimented with and developed further. Somehow, I also feel that this look is suggestive of insect wings too, dare I add yet another influence to this project?
For this final sample, I stitched strips of fabric to a long piece of crochet before adding some zigzag stitched tucks.
The pale blue organza had been melted with a heat gun, which created more texture and also affects the translucency of the fabric, although this is quite hard to show through a photo.
Now I would like to try incorporating some hand-stitching into combinations of crochet and fabric, probably by treating crochet pieces as patches to repair damaged fabric and using darning to further explore the idea of repair and symbolically that of healing. Until next week!
I remember the time I first encountered freeform crochet and knitting and how liberating and dare I say it? exhilirating it was! I reprimanded myself for not thinking of it myself as really it’s a simple idea to crochet, making up the shapes and textures as you go along.
I particularly like the feeling of being very much in control of how it evolves, but also that there is a surprise element when something new is tried. Freeform crochet and knitting is an excellent method for producing textiles with a distinctly organic character.
Similarly spinning and other textile crafts can be approached in a more unconventional way and I find it very exciting to break the rules and try something unexpected. I am particularly intrigued with how conformity and rebellion can be contrasted in textiles. For example, perhaps something very formal like counted cross stitch could be combined with something unpredictable like wet felting or melting fabric. Or a highly-textured handspun yarn could be used in a perfectly balanced Fair Isle knitting pattern.
I think that it was during my foundation course in Art and Design that I first learned to question the application of materials and to push back the supposed boundaries when possible. So, why not stitch through clay or knit barbed wire – ouch! Through experimenting with what at first may seem impossible, new opportunities definitely open up. Perhaps the barbed wire does prove too inflexible, so a more supple wire is used and then maybe it is left outside for a few weeks to rust and you have a whole new approach to knitting and ‘yarns’ to investigate. This is the sort of thing I love and I guess it encourages a childlike mentality of play and experimentation which I think is healthy for the soul and it’s happiness!
To return to my project which is inspired amongst other things by the idea of a secret garden and the effect time has on nature and other materials, I am now at the point where I need to find ways to combine freeform crochet with fabric manipulated by stitch.
Although I was pleased with my freeform crochet results so far, I think that I need to make them more delicate and perhaps lace-like as I am aiming for an ethereal and fey quality. I would like to at least partly use handspun yarn as it is easy to create an irregular thickness and also use a combination of different fibres.
One of the reasons why freeform crochet is so suitable for the theme I’m working around is that a very irregular and organic shape can be created very spontaneously.
The blue fibre in this photo is silk noil that has been handspun and has a weather worn and fragile appearance.
Although this is knitting here, I have included it because after being washed on a hot wash in the washing machine, it has distorted and looks worn. I was really pleased with the result which is a very weathered look as I suppose it has literally been exposed to the elements! I think that it may be worth experimenting with different ways to achieve an aged look for applying to crochet.
Ready made crochet cotton looks good juxtaposed with thick wool fibres as the wool has a floaty, cloudy quality whereas the cotton has more definition.
I particularly like the way this combines with the twisting fabric shapes.
The next step to be explored in next week’s blog is methods of attaching crochet to fabric; it may be best to leave the crochet sections to hang freely or perhaps they could be appliquéd on with hand stitches? As always there are so many, maybe too many possibilities to explore 🙂
I decided that I would like to explore the possibilities of distorting fabric further, as it could be interesting to combine different fabrics and compare their reaction to the bias-stitching (for those who don’t know, ‘bias’ refers to the diagonal direction of the fabric, as opposed to the straight grain which runs along the lengthwise weave of the fabric or the crosswise grain which runs horizontally)
I was pleased with the results because they have a weathered appearance, which I was hoping to create. I included some silk fabric which had been deliberately creased, to contribute to the distressed look. It’s not that noticeable on the photo above, so I have added the following photos to illustrate how distinctly textured, silk can become when purposefully creased.
These pieces of silk were washed and then twisted, tied and left to dry.
This crinkled effect is in keeping with some of the textures displayed on the plant matter I collected.
More experiments of bias-stitched patchwork, including some hand stitching to suggest that the fabric has been repaired. To salvage, to repair and to heal are qualities I am also looking for ways of expressing, particularly in relation to the meaning of beauty and femininity.
As well as developing ideas for fabrics suitable for clothing, I am also experimenting with ideas for accessories and also embellishments (I love the word embellishment!) to use as decorations for garments. I added some gathers to this piece of patchwork, which helped to create a three-dimensional floral shape.
I am really excited by the potential of combining different fabrics and investigating their response to bias-stitching. I feel that the ability to control the distortion and therefore the form of the material, suggests many applications. I am also happy that this technique is suitable for suggesting the ravages of time.
I would like to explore other textile techniques, also in relation to this theme; such as crochet and hand embroidery and perhaps some felt making too. Therefore, I will need to consider how these other crafts can combine with the twisting and meandering of the bias-stitched fabric to create materials and ultimately garments and accessories.