I started my exploration of applied fabric techniques here, with small samples of a range of methods. I continued here with more extended work on two larger samples. The final sample for the Stage has specific requirements, which I interpreted as:
* working from drawings(s) in my sketchbook
* a background of a firm fabric like calico, no more than 30 cm square
* applique the cut shapes by pinning then stitching unobtrusively
* do surface stitching if desired.
After reviewing all the work in my “sketchbook” (which other people might think looks remarkably like a plastic tub) I chose this photo – first seen in my sketchbook in April here, an initial exploration of some shapes in May here, then more versions in Stage 2 of this project, Developing Ideas, here.
I did consider changing the colours a bit, based on this sketch in May (sketchbook here), but in the end the original black background really called to me.
I wanted to go for a more free-flowing development approach – purposeful but loose. This worked well for me I think, especially as the shiny overall, black background, texture and colour pops combination was challenging. I won’t go through all the many, many variants I auditioned – and photos of the total tip I made of my workroom are right out! Instead, straight to the result:
The base is a black mystery fabric from the back of a cupboard – I suspect largely polyester – overlaid with a shiny black synthetic organza. Most of the shapes are a sandwich – base of synthetic organza, then misty-fuse to hold it together, then glitz (sparkly trilobal nylon) in swirls, snippets and strands, topped with tulle. A couple of the smaller pieces have tulle both top and bottom instead of the organza.
A particular dislike is the stitching. I used a fine black cotton but it is anything but unobtrusive. At one stage I was intending to do something like machine cable stitch or couch yarn over the edges, but I currently feel that would be too visually intrusive. I considered bonding the shapes down then doing just a little supporting stitching more unobtrusively, which I think would generally be reasonable depending on the end use, but that didn’t meet the exercise requirements. With hindsight I think the best result would be to control the placement of the glitz then leave a small edging all around of just organza and tulle to stitch through. I also don’t like some places where I cut the glitz and it sits in jarring clumps. I got better at handling it as the work progressed. Finally I’m not totally decided on the final size. I’ve cropped the photo, but could perhaps pull out just slightly on the bottom right for a bit more breathing space before it becomes boring.
On the plus side, I think I was able to experiment and improvise while keeping my points of focus – in fact to achieve them. It’s hard to photograph, but there’s a nice shine from the organza, while the tulle acts to both hold in the glitz and modify colours (eg the strawberry is red organza and green tulle, while the reflection on its left is magenta organza and black tulle). I’ve put in a thumbnail of another photo, trying to give the idea of the variation in colour and shine depending on the angle of viewing. There are also lots of curves and I think some interesting negative shapes.
I don’t know if it’s apparent in the result, but I did feel I was working more smoothly and spontaneously, identifying problems and opportunities as I was going and adapting to suit. For example when I started looking at my stash of synthetic sheers I found many of them too dense in coverage and rather “loud”, but without them I didn’t have the colours I wanted. I was able use disperse dyes to get a range of colours all based on the same white organza so with similar levels of transparency and shine. Overall a very enjoyable and absorbing process and I am moderately pleased with the result.