I wanted to handle the joins that spanned a gap a little more loosely that I perhaps would have in the past. My first sample involved creating a rouleaux and joining it with straight, parallel stitches of equal length.
It would seem that the sample is fairly even and controlled but as I drew it, I noticed the threads do create a slight sense of movement. In the past this imperfection would have really bothered me, now however, I feel it adds a touch of character, a celebration of hand over machine. This difference maybe imperceivable to someone unfamiliar with my earlier work but it feels like a huge progression to me.
I looked closely at the freedom of Jane Bowler’s designs, where the inclusion of fringing really extenuates any movement. I felt her early collections from 2011/12, with their cascading strands of plastic, were particularly were reminiscent of textile thread installations. My organised brain was not ready to tackle anything quite so ambitious but the lightness and ‘swishy’ elegance certainly inspired the next samples I produced.
I reviewed an earlier attempt to join a flush edge with machine stitching and could clearly see why it didn’t work. It is unsympathetic, it doesn’t work either with or against the join, which might as well not be there. By creating a gap between the sides, I hoped to use a similar arrangement of stitching but in much a freer manner:
I sketched my ideas for traversing a gap between two pieces of felt. I realised that the first design was reminiscent of the Meredith Woolnough inspired stitching I did for Part 5 of ATV: a web of dense stitches that support one another after the temporary stabiliser is washed away. The second drawing made with ink on a very dry paint brush promised to be much looser and freer. Since I already knew what the first would look like it seemed unnecessary to spend hours stitching it. The process of sampling is to experiment and inform so decided to work on the latter.
The resulting sample was useful because it was not a repetition of what I already knew. I really like the way machine stitching sits in the felt. The lines are wonderfully fine and slightly embed themselves into the deep pile of the felt which has a thick lumpy texture. In contrast to these smooth, delicate lines the threads that cross the gap are barbed and loopy. The shapes become more disorganised but remain recognisable.
One area I was unhappy with is the loop photographed here. I had to alter the shape of the right hand curve mid-stitch to make it reach the edge (if not it would have collapsed). The additional density of stitching and uncertain path of the threads spoils the delicacy I was seeking.
Drawing the sample helped me to appreciate that the shape itself is also a distraction. I don’t like the area that looks like an ‘&’ sign or a pretzel, if I stitched this again I would keep the design more simple (back and forth loops, without a tangle). I made the second drawing on the right by scratching into oil pastel over black paper because I found it difficult to record the fine lines of stitching in pencil.
The drawings made me consider the quality of the stitched lines also, this sparked an investigation into other methods of stitching across the gap. I found using different techniques created different effects. This discovery inspired the next sample:
I used yarns of different thickness to join two twigs looping them in reference to the Jane Bowler designs I looked at. It made a lot of sense to join three-dimensional objects rather than flat sheets but I struggled to understand why.
My final sample exploring these multiple parallel lines of stitching was made in plastic.
I used drawing to plan out how the strips would interact as they overlapped mid way across the gap. In this instance I found drawing as a planning tool incredibly useful, unfortunately this is not always the case which I will discuss in my next post.
The decision to simplify the strips was made because I had identified the distraction of the knot in the previous sample. This simplification has created a more dynamic composition that demonstrates the sense of movement I was looking for. I pinned the sample to the dummy because I felt I could see the influence of my earlier corsetry research, even though this was not actually my intention. I find it is often the case that previous themes and topics resurface when I’m not expecting them.