This is the part of my site where I share my current work in progress as a series of posts and visuals. For me I love to see the journey an artist takes to arrive at finished works. Here you can share in my journey of connecting the threads, telling my story whether its about exploring concepts, learning new techniques, creating visual research, experimental and more resolved sampling, critical analysis of where to next.
My first blog post for a while. I have been busy sampling and refining techniques in print and stitch: in particular re-learning the Bernina embroidery software and the workings of my digital sewing machine now that it is finally up and running again.
Experimental samples learning how far I can push my Bernina…not counting the broken needles! Stitching through layers of block printed scrim on the one hand and finding ways of stabalising the new generation of lightweight fibres such as Lutrador or adding patches of hand made silk papers or fibrous surfaces originally intended for papermaking!
2016 I made three small pieces of work almost as an after thought for the Imagined Landscapes exhibition. It was here that all the elements of my work seemed to work one with each other…layers of hand made silk papers, hand printed from laser etched wood blocks enhanced with handstitching…stitch as drawing. Here the concept of hand made digitally-digitally handmade began to make sense…something I had been working on for a while.
The small samples shown here challenged not only me but the machine, in particular how to stitch through layers of hand made surfaces without creating havoc with the fine tuning of a digital sewing computer. Something my older, work horse non digital bernina wouldnt have batted an eyelid at.
Boundaries, pathways, grids in my imaginery landscapes. Developed from street maps. Stitching onto interfacing and other non wovens. Checking the stitching sequences. Visually needs fine tuning, in particular the weight of the stitching is too uniform and mechanical in appearance.
Digital Sketch books. Looking at samples through the lense of a camera is a great way to review work, isolating the images in question for a dispassionate assessment of the work thus far. My camera is an invaluable tool in the development process.
Continueing with thoughts about Imagined Landscapes I have been making a series of small, experimental silk paper samples experimenting with various weights of silk papers, painting and printing onto the surfaces. The print is taken from a small, laser etched wood block (20cms square) and handprinted with a Japanese baren.
To make the top layer I wanted to experiment with silk cocoon strippings combined with silk waste from the spinning process to create a wispy, delicate and ultra lightweight surface with varying degrees of transparency and open spaces. I was interested in how the print would react to this mixture of opaque and semi trasnparent areas, and how the gaps in the surface would interrupt the flow of the image.
I wasn’t sure whether this surface would take to being block printed without falling apart. A fine balance between damping the surface so that the printing inks would take and the surface disingrating involved several test prints and some sideways thinking. Eventually I found using a damped sheet of paper on top of the surface to be printed worked well.
The images below show how I arrived at the finished sample which by accident took on a look of rock strata. The previous week I had been in southern Portugal taking copious amounts of photos of rather beautifully coloured cliffs and rocks which I think will be great for inspiration.
As a postscript I love the contrast of the shadows in the background with the pale colours. For me the sampling process always seems to reveal another potential direction to explore. One of the things I love about living here in Portugal is the quality of the light. Today the clear blue sky and the low autumn sun, which is still really strong here brought out the best in the pale coloured buildings of Coimbra and the interplay of crisp shadows.