ATV5- Develop textile concepts – Adventures in Cyanotype


Cyanatope is a photographic process that ivolves soaking paper or fabric in a chemical mix and drying in a dark place, placing objects on the surface and exposing to sunlight that. I have mentioned now and again my love of shadows and creating marks using the shadow of an object has been on my to do list for a while . My tutor suggested researching the work of Hannah Lamb . Hannah has used the technique really effectively so I just had to experiment.

I will research the chemicals used more fully , but for now ashamedly  I just dove in with the reassurance that they are not too bad. ( on my last post I promised to research more effectively – I’ve already forgotten where I read this- really must do better)


The dry chemicals arrive in two lightproof bottles that have to be topped up with water and then left 24 hours, apparently the shelf life is quite good.

Equal amounts of each chemical solution are mixed and immediately applied to my selection of paper and fabrics, then dried in a dark place.


Nettles were placed on the fabric under a perspex sheet – I really like the reflections in this photo – may come back to this kind of composition.


The fabric starts off a light green


Quickly turning slate grey – different fabrics at different rates.


When a bronze colour is achieved the plant is removed and the fabric rinsed in water immediately to stop the development of the chemicals.



Then you feel really pleased and excited – what a magical process!

Clearly variables need to be experimented with, fabric type, exposure time, sunlight levels all have an impact on the results. I washed my fabric before treating it , the surface of the fabrics are very varied, i’m guessing the chemicals were not applied evenly.



The process is very effective on paper

In the top right of this photo you can see where the  shadow of  the muslin sample lay over the cotton. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this technique and stitching into the results.




Bauhaus archive visit June 2016

The Bauhaus Archiv was designed by Walter Gropius and it was a joy to behold!

Afairly small space and unfortunately photos not allowed but the audio guide was really informative and also raised some interesting questions for me.

I sketched some of the objects on show and made copious notes.

I particularly liked the  Wall hangings by Anne Albers  here and  Gertrud Arndt  -tones of red ( I cannot find a clear image but this is similar and I like it too)

Painting Horizontal Vertical by Itten ( this is way more Jewel like in real life)and African chair by Marcel Breuer and  Gunta Stulzl

There was a very interesting description of the teaching philosophies of Johannes Itten and and Joseph Albers that has given me food for thought and bought me back to this book – now heavily bookmarked with drawing techniques and approaches I’m interested in exploring.

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My sketches of this series of paintings were pants!! They were produced for the birthday of Gropius (which was a holiday at the Bauhuas school) they were all based on the same photo of a political broadcast from a gramaphone placed on a stage.The Kandinsky on bottom right is a visual representation of audio process whilst Paul Klee bottom left considered What is said? What is understood?

a little more information here








From the woods…


I have just spent the most amazing day on a natural cordage course, beautifully delivered by the very talented Ruby Taylor . Ruby makes vessels amongst other things and the baskets and pots that she displayed for us to have a look at were so inspiring in the way that they had such a powerful presence. I wrote a word steam to try to express the emotive quality of her work. Seeing them in nature, surrounded by their ingredients was an important part of their aura, I wrote ; integrity, alive, connection, delicate, powerful honest.

My interest in natural cordage stems from a need to tread lightly, my magpie eyes are constantly alert for materials with a small footptint, I definetly came to the right place in this magical forest clearing.

Ruby has created an incredible space in the woodland of Sussex and respectfully requested keeping phone turned off and photos to a minimum.

After a beautiful welcoming meditation I was more than happy to immerse myself in nature and leave technology behind. So not many photos, this is what I wrote when I floated back and gives quite a good snapshot of the day…


By the end of the day I felt so strongly connected to our ancestors, the first cord discovered by archaeologists is 90000 years old and we have being using it varying ways ever since. It felt so natural to be working in nature,  I couldn’t help but reflect that our 21st century discoveries in technology – polluting and political aren’t perhaps advances at all.
During the workshop I focused on preparing materials so that I can make more, low impact natural cordage at a later date and perhaps experiment with it in different ways.

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Thank you Ruby for such an inspiring day.


ATV 4 – Yarn and linear exploration – Research point 1 -Yarns

Yarns  –  Properties, aesthetics, handle and performance

I will produce a physical file of yarns as handling a physical yarn will tell different information than looking at images. Having said that , likewise, the internet is an excellent source of information, as long as you remember to edit carefully.  Is a website that promotes cotton. It has some excellent information about cotton, uses, properties , composition etc. The section on environment does not explain the darker side of the cotton industry,  Huge amounts of dangerous chemicals can be produced in the cotton manufacturing, There is plenty of information on the soil association website. The politics of fibre production must also be considered, for example the harrowing number of cotton farmers in India committing suicide due to huge debts related to being tied into contracts with GM seed companies. The Fairtrade association supports  the people producing the raw material.

The wool lab is a great resource about all things wool, from properties and raw material, to the wide range of products that be manufactured from it

Pitti Immagine Filati  Have a great website. There are some fabulous descriptions of yarns in the style section of this site. Check out Mister Joe

Mister Joe


A journey into nature that blooms in this magnificent season is the inspiration for the new SS 2017 collection. Six themes alternate yarns with various counts, each one representing a different aspect of nature: ESSENTIAL yarns, fine, barely there, slightly textured with micro structures; light patterns in melange colours enhanced by NATURAL fibres like cotton and linen brightened by the insertion of viscose or polyamide for glassy, crystalline looks; yarns with bigger counts for Fashion knits where creativity explodes in a bouquets of structures such as flat cotton ribbons wrapped in shiny viscose or spiralled with polyamide, super-matt to create fluid, iridescent effects; towelling, ribbons, interwoven knots and chains in melange linen create 3D aspects. The palette of lively colours, rich in plains and melanges, is enriched by shiny and matt effects and many different kinds of prints, all vying to pay homage to the nature that surrounds us.

Without looking at the yarns,the words alone have given me a plethora of ideas to explore and I’m pretty sure they won’t resemble the finely developed and completed products that have reached production.



ATV3 – Colour studies – research point 1 – contemporary designs

Cole and son wall coverings don’t inspire me on the whole, the colour palate could be described as subtle or sophisticated, I find it very bland. I was quite excited by their range of Natural wall coverings though, using sisal ,jute and woven paper in beautiful natural tones. I realise this is a little contradictory, I like the natural colours when they are natural, but not when they are interpretations of the subtle natural tones.


This print is from the Fornasetti range, I’m not a fan of pinks at all but really like the clash with the red against the very neutral background.

The contemporary Restyled range also uses very safe neutral shades, but a couple of designs caught my eye, Wood and Pears uses some interesting simple marks to represent the bark.

Woods & Pears

Summer lily is quite surreal!Summer Lily


ATV3- colour studies – research point 2 – digital resources for colourwork

I have had a little inspect of the suggested programmes to support colour work. The one I found immediately useful was   Adobe  colour CC . This programme is brilliant in some ways. I like that you can choose a theme for the colour selection; colourful, bright,muted, deep, dark or custom. I can see that it is useful to get an overall idea of the colour palette of an image. I may use it to help with the yarn wrap and collage exercises.

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Colour halipixel

Colour hunter


All distracting to play with and hyperlinked so that I don’t forget them. I will revisit to update soon.


Critical thinking skills

My tutor suggested reading –  Cottrell, S. (2011) Critical thinking skills: Developing effective analysis and argument. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. It seems quite a heavy read, it’s actually made me feel like a more academic student just looking at it.  I’m really excited. I don’t currently feel able to order my thoughts and express ideas effectively. I become whimsical and fly off at tangents or sometimes just time warp completely. I completely understand the skills that applying the content of this book will give me. ( a terrible sentence there for example! I know what I’m on about and someday you will too!!!)

Cottrell suggests that to gain maximum benefit from the book it is a good idea ” as you work through the book, pause to consider from time to time how that aspect of critical awareness would benefit your own study, writing or professional work.

Without making this a massive task, I intend to use this blog as a reflection space to embed the ideas in the book more deeply in my thinking. 

This could take some time…

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 Surface and Stitch research point 1 – Used materials

Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary
Research point 1
Stitching to mend or darning could be another consideration in your translation from paper to textile. You may find that your drawings and stitched paper pieces suggest a feeling of mending or repairing and refining. Is this something you can introduce into your textile preparation and stitch work? As already suggested, you may decide to use imperfect textiles or found/recycled materials as your basetextiles rather than employing brand new unused
or virgin materials. Consider how you can work with the characteristics,imperfections or  patinas of the textiles you’re using as base materials. An element of repair may give another layer to your work.
Many textile designers and artists choose to work with found, recycled, worn or even discarded textiles and materials. Try to find an example of one such designer or artist and analyse how they select, apply and alter their chosen materials. Make some notes on this research in your learning log

Some thoughts on environmental concerns – just a few of many….

Used materials sounds so harsh! reuse, reduce, recycle,  is like a mantra in schools and society but there still seems to be a little stigma attatched, a late twentieth century mill stone around our planets neck. something that I feel very passionate about.

I would like to live in a world re-appropriating materials into something else was such a natural thing that no body would notice the difference.

Environmental expressions used as a marketing tool – a disgraceful hypocrisy.




little ghost butons

Tom of Holland


Soft Monuments exhibition, KODE, Bergen.

So  I’m trying a new approach to this exhibition , I want to see if  putting the artworks as a gallery sames time and adds clarity. I will edit the photos using my notes from the exhibition as and when I find time. I think that this is the sort of task that I will be able to do from my phone app while I am out and about.

KODE Bergen is spread over several buildings, I thought that KODE contemporary seemed a good starting point. I was delighted with this bonus exhibition that I was not expecting.

First gallery was an exhibition of Norwegian and international artists, work was grouped in rooms with specific themes.

Of particular intrest to me was the gallery face off between Heidi Kennedy Skjeve and Thomas Pihl. these two pieces would look almost identical in a book, but close up couldn’t be more texturally different. Heidi’s work was about surface detail and the gallery information emphasised that it being made of textile was secondary , it is art made of textile rather than a textile art work. Interesting.