Project 6 Stage 3 – part 2

In earlier work on Stage 3 (post here) I did lots of small samples. I wanted to do some more extended work before moving on to the final sample (which has specific requirements).

The original idea of more synthetic organza + soldering iron didn’t go ahead. Anything that involves major mess or fumes I do in the garage, and it’s unpleasantly dark, cold and damp in Sydney’s current weather.

This is bonded layers of silk – shot dupion mostly so it looks quite different from different directions.

It’s based on a photo of Nancy’s husband. I used gimp to posterise it to around 9 levels of values, then created separate versions for each value which I printed out.

The thumbnail photos show the idea – slightly different because of changes when scaling.

I traced over solid areas of each colour to use as patterns in cutting fabric – lots of little decisions about where to draw the boundaries.

I used Misty Fuse on the back of the silk. It’s a fusible web, but it doesn’t come on paper – just the sheer web. I use baking paper or a teflon sheet to protect surfaces. I’ve found that the glue on some fusible webs will come through finer silks and create a blotchy effect and I think Misty Fuse gives a better result.

In my last tutor report Pat commented that I tend to be rather tight and controlled, working things out in an academic way, and I need to challenge myself and allow for a more intuitive, fluid approach. Obviously this is extremely tight and controlled – even without Pat’s comments I felt this method doesn’t really fit with the approach of the course, development of one’s own designs from one’s own mark-making etc.

I consciously chose to go ahead anyway. The idea interested me (it’s definitely not original but something I’ve seen in the past – I didn’t look up references because I don’t think I’ve got it from one particular source). Plus a small copy of this photo is one of the few personal items that Nancy has in her room at the nursing home, so the image feels very important to me. I’ve put some more information about it on my theme page – standard disclaimer, please don’t click through if my exploration of the theme Ageing could cause distress or offence, otherwise if you wish to read more click here.

All the bonding work is done, but I haven’t finished the piece. It needs stitching to add detail, especially in the eyes. At the moment I want to leave my options open, in case I decide to use it as an element in my Theme work in some way.

I’m quite pleased with the result in terms of the technique I chose, but I think as it stands it’s not a creative use of appliqué.

So for my next attempt I tried very hard to throw any tightness or control out of the window, and to work in a free and spontaneous way.

This piece makes me smile. It’s messy and exuberant. I keep thinking it doesn’t make sense in design or compositional terms, but I still find it interesting to look at and somehow satisfying. There are things about it that aren’t right, but it’s still fun.
It started when a friend (blogless 😦 ) suggested tifaifai, a Tahitian appliqué technique. I have a copy of Tifaifai Renaissance by Dijanne Cevaal, so took that out – very tight and controlled (her current work shows a lot of change – her blog is However I was interested in the idea of a pierced layer of fabric bonded onto a background.

Maybe I could combine that with my scribble “design” (now I think about it, I need to be sure I move beyond this as my “spontaneous safe place”). I didn’t actually look at the original or the interpretation I did in Project 5.

I put some fusible web (the standard stuff) on the back of some black hessian and attacked it with scissors. Next step was considering backgrounds.

The mottled background looked a bit busy while the plain orange has some texture which I think helps it hold its own against the black.

With the black fused onto the background, I went through all my tubs and drawers of thread and yarn, pulling out blacks, whites and variants of orange. I wanted a range of weights and textures, preferably in each of the colours (so a bouclé in black, in white and … well, orange-ish). Referencing information in Bonding and Beyond by Beaney & Littlejohn I sprinkled bonding powder over my base, then started layering on yarns. There are wools, cottons, silks, rayon and glittery threads. I tried to focus on using them for mark-making, just going with what looked good to me as I worked. After a small final sprinkling with bonding powder I put some fine black tulle over everything and fused it all together.

The final step was to free-machine over everything to supplement the bonding, which was pretty patchy. I went for simple, swirly scribbles in black. I didn’t check my tension – I was working hard at just following one idea after another, just as fluid as I could manage – and (again!) I rather like the back of the work, where there’s some nice feathering.

I don’t know if this is finished. I thought of doing some cable machine stitching on the top, but can’t see what that would add. Maybe some appliqué that would provide some coherence and movement across it. The four people I’ve shown it to (non-textile and non-arty family and friends) all mentioned Jackson Pollock – Blue Poles was a highly controversial purchase by the Australian government, so is widely known and I think with the passing of time people think the government was pretty clever and not duped after all.



Beaney, J. & Littlejohn, J. (1999) Bonding and Beyond, Double Trouble Enterprises.

Cevaal, D. (2002) Tifaifai Renaissance, Rozelle, Pride Publishing.

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June 2012

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