ATV 2 – Assessment feedback and response

Overall Comments

Linda you have submitted a lovely body of work for this assignment.  There is evidence you have used your research material and drawing to come up with some considered textile samples.  The work is well organised and feels coherent.  Your learning log is easy to navigate with lots of imagery and commentary that maps out your creative journey.  Your next step here is to become more analytical of the work you are looking at; this includes your research and your own output.  This will encourage you to have a deeper understanding of what ‘works’ and how to develop this in your own practice.  I have outlined how to go about this below.


Assignment 2 and 4 Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Well that’s a lovely feeling of relief!  I have potential,  I’m on the right lines. I need to channel this thought and work with more confidence. The comment about commitment is very pertinent, I need to commit more quality time to my studies. Time management is key here. I’m considering a clearer timetable with written down tasks and tick boxes to track my progress. I have already broken down the next assignment into small tasks. My biggest problem is most of my time is little pockets , rather than long stretches, I think that I will try colour coding tasks by time, and focus needed, to easily see what I can fit into little spaces, then use longer blocks of time for focussed tasks instead of doing lots of smaller ones and realising that precious time has disappeared.


Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You appear to have worked conscientiously and methodically through out this assignment producing a good number of experimental textile samples.  Your stitch work and handling of the materials has been carried out with sensitivity and skill.  There is an understanding of how to use placement to create a pleasing imagery.  Throughout the assignment you have used a wide number of materials to create texture and form.  You have been willing to take risks and be broad-minded in your expectations.  This is evident in your origami bird with its stitched surface.  There is sense that you have developed ideas through repetition of styles and forms until you have arrived at the right place.   This has enabled you to take risks and learn from your results.  I particularly like the stitched paper sample of the sleeve that has become a self contained abstract composition.

I suggest you continue to work in the way you have for this assignment.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, failures and mistakes are very much part of the creative process.  Be experimental in the materials you use and how you use your drawing to support your creativity.

“conscientiously and methodically”

Isn’t the same as excitingly, I need to take more risks and find time to experiment. My reflections need to be voiced in order to fully explore both learning outcomes and process.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

The drawing and mark making you have produced for this assignment is accomplished and works well with the stitch.  You have used a wide range of mediums and experimented with mixing mediums and using different drawing surfaces.  You have not been afraid to draw and redraw objects using methods like collage to learn more about what you are creating.  There is a good use of scale that you could probably push further.  Try using a role of wallpaper liner – you can cut off lengths and use it on a table or the floor.  Think about using larger movements to add marks to the paper and putting your pencil or charcoal on the end of a long stick.  Use methods like continues line drawing and blind line drawing to create a larger range of marks and compositions.

I like the idea of working large, like Alice down the rabbit hole! I am inquisitive and observant, I shall push my lines of inquiry in more directions. Getting messy on a large scale is very appealing – maybe not appropriate as part of the next assignment,  but I have put this idea on the back burner.



Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have continued to gather some excellent research material and collated it carefully in your learning log.  You appear to be finding it very inspirational both aesthetically and technically to look at the work of others. This is very important when working towards a degree as it enables you to learn about the context with in which you are working.  I am pleased to see you have looked at work in the flesh at exhibitions – this really helps your understanding particularly of texture and scale.  I suggest you also look outside the textile discipline to find influence and insights.  This could be as varied as painting, architecture and music, all these areas can provide stimulus.  When you have your research imagery and made the basic notes about it really look at it carefully, picking apart why it works as an artwork.  This could be to do with colour palette, shape and arrangement of forms or use of materials.  Note your judgments down in your learning log, there are no right or wrong ways of seeing visual art so don’t feel concerned you are not knowledgeable enough.  This process will help you develop a deep understanding of how pleasing and meaningful artwork is created.


Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

In your learning log you have been careful to map out your progress during this assignment writing articulately and clearly.  Including your emotional ups and downs and the decisions about your work.  All this stuff is really important, particularly the emotional part.  Making and creating is so personal and cannot happen successfully without the emotional investment of the artist.  The only room for improvement is the continued development of a critical reflective voice.  Critical here means to make judgments and decisions about your work.  As I have said above, pick a part your work thinking about what has worked and why.  You are probably doing this to some extent already whilst you are making decisions about developing your drawing and sample making.  I suggest you be more conscious of these thoughts and add them to your learning log.

I must make a concerted effort to express myself outwardly , more. I think that I’m too used to being inside my own head! In the same way as noting something down , or making a quick sketch clarifies things, I expect that this blog will clarify my thoughts and judgements when I find my written voice.


Suggested reading/viewing


Blind continuous line drawing


Critical Thinking Skills: Developing effective analysis and argument.  Written by Stella Cottrell, part of the Palgrave study skills series, published by Palgrave MacMillan. Critical thinking skills book

This book looks excellent, just flicking through it made me feel more professional! I have started reading it and have set up a blog post to  reflect on findings and record my progress.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative by Austin Kleon published by Workman, is an excellent book about how creative people explore the work of others to influence their own output. Steal like an artist

This is on my bookshelf and due a revisit. So what is research?

Oh the irony! Research is not just looking at things, but recording and  analysing and reflecting. I copied this when I first read it, it made such sense – this is something I must apply not just read…


Look at the oca Pinterest site to see what tutors and other students are looking at.

Love Pinterest – ‘though it is a dangerous place when you’ve not much time. Often not good use of research time for me….


Pointers for the next assignment

  • Reflect on this feedback in your learning log
  • Maintain your excellent working practices
  • Continue to take risks and experiment
  • Draw regularly in a range of mediums, on different surfaces and at different scales
  • Develop your critical thinking and analytical skills

ATV Assignment two – Surface and Stitch – Project review

My reflections on Part two – Surface and stitch

 To prepare my Surface and Stitch unit of work for assessment I went right back to the beginning of my blog and sketch work to remind me of what I have done.
What a journey! (and its only just begun!) I can safely say  with relief and a bit of pride that I have definitely progressed.
I did not realise at the start of my journey that it would be at least as psychological as it was creative. Without the support of the various OCA student groups it would have been difficult to overcome the emotional blocks, the constant self questioning and the small demon on my shoulder that says no. It was a surprise to find that my creative journey is to be so emotionally challenging, this module has taken me way longer than I wanted it to but I feel that  I now understand far more about myself and my working processes. I love that this course is awakening my creativity and pushing me forward.
At the start of ex2.2 the Paper manipulation library, I’m not sure that I fully absorbed the importance of the sentence  –
By working to select, manipulate and transform paper first, you can carry out an initial translation of your drawings’ qualities into something more malleable and tactile. This will allow you to move gently from drawings on paper to working with paper as a substrate.
 I was so focussed on my difficulty of choosing drawings that I started manipulating paper surfaces without a specific drawing translation in mind – so no surprises , my transition from drawing to stitch was not as smooth as it could be!! I’m terribly stubborn about doing things in order – I think in this case, I could have progressed more smoothly by manipulating paper and stitching from one drawing first, then working on other manipulations and translations using what I learnt from the first one. My final two manipulations made a sideways leap and I think that stitching on to bark, and an origami model worked really well.
I feel that I successfully achieved variety of stitch across my paper
samples, I have also filled my mind with other techniques that I’d like to try.
The nature of paper made it difficult to achieve dense stitching as the paper tore easily, particularly the tracing paper. I overcame this by laminating the tracing paper and chose stitch work that kept the structural integrity of the substrate.
I can definitely observe the Improvement of my technical and visual skills. I experimented with different media, used a good range of materials and techniques and discovered many more that I haven’t had time to use yet. I now realise how important it is to draw from life rather than relying on photographs, the camera certainly has its place in research but photos definitely don’t capture the entire essence of an object, time , place. This was really evident in the drawings of archive textiles, the drawings of the pieces I own were far more expressive than the Kachin outfit that I drew in the museum. The developments from these drawings were not as richly detailed as the work based on the Akha jacket.
My use of sketch books can certainly improve, I am still using my note book effectively to record ideas and observations but would like to develop my visual drawings.
I started little book of compositions to develop my understanding. It is tiny and I think a really accessible way of  developing good sketch book habits by giving myself a focus with pages that I can create quite quickly during my terribly short work lunch breaks. Its already come in useful – I used golden ratio and rule of thirds really effectively in my stitched fabric pieces.
I feel that my fabric pieces have undoubtedly benefited from the process of researching and experimenting. I struggle with discernment! I find it very difficult to choose drawings to develop, I know that this will improve with more experience. I think that having developed textiles from drawings, this will in turn feed into how I draw and record my initial observations. A growing understanding of composition, form, texture, colour will also support the flow of work, enabling me to present work in a more coherent manner. It was interesting to work in my A3 sketch book but I probably won’t choose this method again. Apart from the paper turning out to be a bit shoddy, flipping backwards and forwards between drawings isn’t useful. Rediscovering my little handmade books has reminded me how much more joyful and personal presenting a body of work could be.

ATV assignment 2 Stitching: Placed and spaced – stitched piece 3 mug

I’ve heard mention in the music world of the difficult third album. In stitching terms this is it! I really like my two previous outcomes, they were my strong ideas. I have several more but which to choose??

I worked through a few ideas in my sketchbook, then had a flick through my assessment one drawings and found my little Dartmoor mug scraffito/back drawing. I like the way that I developed form through shading and wondered if I could achieve this with layers of fabric.




My tissue paper mock up is really effective  – so a plan was formed…


I did a two day machine embroidery course with Rosie James and thought that machine stitch would work really well to define the outline of the mug . The course was a while back so I dug out Rosie’s book Drawn to Stitch to recap the basics , and had a practice on some scrap fabric to get my sewing machine settings right.

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Playing around with background fabric colour, the layers stand out much more clearly on black than white, and interestingly more definition with the smallest layer on the top than the bottom.



To make the ground darker (to stand the mug on rather than have it floating in air), I decided to make the air lighter by adding an extra layer. The plain fabric was to clean so I distressed it in a similar way to some of my paper samples by bashing it between two stones (handily gathered somewhere along the way!).

This was really effective , I also used a scraping technique to make the curved lines that I observed in my print.


I used some tiny bits of glue peeled from that iron on paper for applique, this was to hold the layers in place while stitching, without making a solid lump of glued layers.


Air erasable pen was used to define a couple of the less obvious edges. I do hope it disappears! The first round of stitching seems to have gone quite well! Yay!

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Coming back to the piece after a good sleep I decided a bit more trimming would show graduations more clearly, I also observed the black stitching on the black base layer looks rather lovely.

I did some experimenting on some spare fabric and discovered four tones;

white bobbin and white thread is lightest

black bobbin and white thread gives tiny dots of black

white bobbin and black thread gives broken black lines

black bobbin and black thread is darkest.

Also direction of stitching reflects light in different ways.


I used this to start to give form to the mug, I especially like the subtle marks of white thread with black bobbin, this gave lovely subtle shading around the waist of the mug. ( still loving the reverse)


I machine stitched a thick thread on the shadow side , where the decorative line had disappeared and started to try to develop some texture in the back ground – the thick thread was successful, the background I’m not so sure about…


French knots were perfect to complete the mug, I’m really pleased with the form and texture.


I started cutting through the background to add some texture as the stone hammered marks were a bit lost under the foreground fabric. I’m really not sure where that was going so I stopped. The course notes do state that we are not making completed works for this excercise.


Hurrah!!! third piece ready to go.



ATV assignment 2 Stitching: Placed and spaced -stitched piece 2 

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I picked up the worn linen tea towel some time ago, It is deliciously used, soft and subtly faded. It is lighter than the actual fabric of the Akha jacket, but close enough to my drawings to be suitable and exact match for some other textiles I have from the same area, I’m guessing that it is indigo dyed. The binding is part of a linen towel that I have worn to holes so it seemed time to repurpose it, it has the same aged feel. The Jacket is fabulously asymmetric, so it gave me an opportunity to play with details without feeling that I was being untrue to the Akha style. All the jacket seams are sewn by hand with beautiful caring stitches, but thread colour, or whether or not a binding finishes under or over is of the moment I think.

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The binding is worn and faded. Rather than choosing three colours of fabric I used toning threads and different lengths of stitch to give a rippled worn effect. I stitched the yellow band first using lighter and darker threads to emphasise worn or stained areas, I then decided that weaving under varying numbers of weft threads and leaving long or short gaps is really effective.

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I used different sized paper circles to develop the placement of the buttons, the little blue circle represents the little ghost button that I went with as my final idea. A darn has appeared on the binding where I hit the fabric between two bricks to distress it a little more and it disintegrated.

The meditative nature of stitching took me right inside my idea. As I reflected on my research of the Akha people I wondered about what the garment details represent – perhaps the yellow is the earth and blue the sky. Red often represents blood or people. The faded colours are a culture under threat from a changing world and political and environmental changes. My little ghost button represents the vanishing forever.


The piece as it is, good old rule of thirds helped with placement. The centre of the trio of triangles and the centre of the ghost button are on the intersections of the thirds lines. I’m pleased with the composition. Each button uses a different technique (same but different) The heaviest buttons are earthed they get lighter as they rise then disappear.

I did not add the button thread or holes where the thread has been in the ghost button. I used pages by 53 on my ipad to represent  the crosses, and a darkened patch to show how the less faded area of the ghost button may look.


I have not yet resolved this detail.

Hanging from the little tea towel tag , that I left to hang it by .

ATV assignment 2 – Stitching: Placed and spaced – stitched piece 1


Birch Bark – the eyes have it

I love the fabric as it is really…

My drawing has a rust coloured eye so I added a base layer of inktense then started to raise the texture of the bands around the tree and define the eyes by stitching sisal behind the fabric. I was delighted that this gives structure like a whale-boned under skirt. the base layer is bouncy and three dimensional.

However the proportions of the fabric have changed and the eye is no longer at my fibonacci point of focus so i added some strips of silk to extend the length. the result is like the very delicate bark layer that can be easily peeled away.


I used techniques that I experimented with on my samples to build up a variety of textures. This was easier by far as fabric is so much more flexible to work with, and less brittle so stitches can be really close together. I wasn’t too concerned about making it look exactly like any one drawing, there are elements from several of my tree drawings and an essence of my love of trees. This drawing was the main inspiration.


I think that I used really appropriate colours and textures.
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I almost like the reverse more in places, particularly the woven sari silk and the stitch s that hold the sisal twine in place. The eyes from the back look like the darns on the old Scandinavian tunic that I drew in the summer.






A little book of compositions


I was looking for some-thing and found another.

A box of books I made on an evening course ages ago. They are delightful and so much more interesting than shop bought ones. So it will be a thing that I do, when appropriate , to make my own books.

Inspired by an exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen (a favourite place to visit on my Dartmoor adventures) Sketchbooks – Life Illustrated. I am going to use this book to explore composition.

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The exhibition by the way was liberating! Lots of artists allowed their sketchbooks to be on show, with white gloves to protect the pages, you could flick through and properly realise that shiney work on gallery walls started somewhere, and most sketch books are not works of art. Brilliant.

ATV assignment 2 Stitching: Placed and spaced Preparation

ATV assignment 2 Stitching: Placed and spaced Preparation

I pulled the nails one by one from our ceiling joists, they were such a pretty shape that I saved them in case they came in useful…

… Then I discovered the idea of rust dying and managed to find the little nails again!  Apparently green tea contains more tannins, as I fancied a cup and wanted the fabric to stay quite light I made a brew , drank a cup and left the rolled and tied fabric to soak.

I could quite quickly see the marks develop so after a few hours I took the fabric out and left it to dry while I popped to Devon for a few days.


It is very evocative of birch bark, hurrah!

I have sorted through my threads looking for suitable tones and textures, apparently I have quite a selection. Thank you my magpie tendencies.

I have started investigating composition, much helped by the book Connecting Design to Stitch by Sandra Meech.




My first thoughts on compositions to use were jotted in my on the go sketch book.

I developed ideas in my A3 sketch book, I need to carefully consider use of sketch books- it think that it impedes fluid thinking , I wi would do better to work on loose sheets and bind them later.


I found using collage to experiment with placement really useful,  quicker and gives a more realistic view than my flimsy water colour sketches.

I found a box of tangled vintage threads at a local market, there are some lovely faded threads that I think will work really well.

Assignment2 – Ex2.4 – Developed and composed samples on paper

I thought that the woven papers worked really well visually as a base substrate. I’ve  been thinking of  patchwork birch trees since my summer holiday so it was lovely to follow this idea through. Some of the paper strips were not very absorbent so the glue has separated and the paper is a little fragile – exactly like peeled birch bark. I had to handle the paper carefully and be careful about closeness of stitch holes to each other. I’m really pleased with the outcome.

The second sample is based on the Kachin skirt from Burma. During my visit to Brighton and Hove museum to draw the piece I had a chat with one of the  curators about tradition British dress and learnt of Whitework ( which needs further investigation by me) I like that the creases in the paper cast subtle shadows and that the little shell buttons are all similar but different . Not so much work in this sample but to be honest I was very very keen to move on to the fabric samples.

ATV Assessment 2 – 2.3 Drawing with stitch

When choosing drawings to work from, I was very unsure where to go with developing stitch marks from my drawings of textiles. For example stitches based on drawings of embroidery  on the huipil, without copying them badly, where can you take them? While reviewing the exercise it occurred to me that stitching on a folded paper substrate, could be this!

I made an origami bird and embroidered it based on the stitch marks I made!

It was an impulsive idea that I needed to see through. Clumsily executed but quite an important hatching of thought process .

ATV assignment two – Drawing with stitch part 3

Continuing with the last of my paper stitched samples

I am very much enjoying the process of stitching into paper. Common sense is telling me to avoid stitches that are so close together that they act as ‘tear here’ marks. The whole process must be approached with delicacy, thicker threads have to be pulled slowly, thin paper held firmly by the needle to avoid ripping.

Here is the latest batch, and the final for now.



I glued the tracing paper substrate to a scrap of my handmade paper stash             ( bargain 5 rolls for £2  – knew it would come in handy!) The drawing that I used is of fabric that is faded, so that the tops of the weave are light and worn, the dips are darker and shadowed. In another sample I used blue stitches to represent the shadow of the weave, in this sample I used a  blue background, with white stitches to represent the faded raised part of the cloth. I could call this sample buttons three ways but its sounds like a strange TV food programme. I experimented with different stitches to make the circles, I prefer the middle one, the slightly cream thread forming a shadow under the bright white.

Back to the bark – experimenting with thread textures with simple running stitches for the bark marks. From top to bottom the threads are; Raffia, fluffy knitting yarn, an assortment of cream threads, sari silk, jute garden twine. For the purpose of the sample I think they are all suitable and interesting in different ways.


I couched one of each thread and blanket stitched another column, I really like the way that the blanket stitch forms a small shadow, this adds a sense of depth and added texture.



I like that on the reverse the couching stitches form a subtle continuation of the lines.


Using stitch to join paper, simple but effective representation of the birch bark texture.


Stretching the seams apart, I like that the stitches just peep through.


My final sample. I have been observing and interpreting the bark marks, It occurred that as birch bark has so many traditional craft uses, that I could stitch on to it. The white paper bark birch sews beautifully! The red bark was quite brittle and unforgiving. It will be interesting to see what happens as the bark dries out.