Sunday, 27 April 2014

Experimental Journey

In the beginning: either an actual map, or a printed scan
(this is the latter as it means I can re-use my limited supply of 
specific areas)
Whenever I have occasion to create a new piece, or series of paper/textile pieces, I spend time working through a self-determined series of trial pieces to weed out what does not work. Discarding these allows me to discover those techniques that 'speak' to me, from what I have created. I rarely trial something completely new if I am working on a feature article; usually my focus is on a new topic for which I adapt - and move on from - past successes.

Coming up in a couple of months I have two exhibitions. I was invited to participate (a great honour for me as a non-artist). I have to make a number of stitched paper/textile booklets and know that to achieve the required quantity in time, I must use tried and tested practices. As is my wont, notes are scattered everywhere, but I spent this last week whilst away in Wales sorting everything into folders, allocating images and word-whispers to same, creating a 'base' experimental piece - all finished pieces will be different but based on what I completed today; only the subject matter will vary. (This piece was made a few years ago, experimental in its own way at the time: an actual map plus on this page mounted photo-prints fused and stitched to cheesecloth.)

A print of the map above, onto which I have 'waxed' paper napkin motifs
(this now constitutes the 'base' upon which further experiments will be conducted)
So here is what I trialled whilst away last week. Base of each finished 'book' is likely to be an old map, or to allow replication in different formats, a map scan printed onto the special paper I use. To each base map, I will fuse relevant napkins or photo images mounted on cheesecloth. N.B. The scan of this first stage is then printed, ready for stage two which follows.

I 'monigami' the print shown above - an extra stage but the one I guess
from past experience I may well opt for.
Now comes my first 'Summer Project' decision. If I opt for a printed map-scan, do I immediately fuse it to muslin, once the wax is dry, or do I 'monogami' it? (Monigami is a technique I discovered in 'The Found Object in Textile Art'  by Cas Holmes). 

Smoothing out the monogamy print, ready for ironing and fusing to muslin
I love the results, but if I go for this, at what point do I add hand-written words and free-machine stitching? Of course I trial both! 

Remembering that each map-page is to be folded and cut into either a zig-zag or conventional book-form, I took both the 'plain' sheet and the 'monigami' sheet and fused both to muslin, using Bondaweb (wunder-under I think it is called in the USA). If you look closely (click on the image) you will just about see where I have machine-stitched around the top flowers, and then hand-written the words - very badly; it would have been a good idea if I had sat down for the calligraphy part!

A subtle difference between the first version and the second.
This one is the monigami sheet. If only 
you could feel the texture.
I did the same exercise with the fused monigami sheet, though was most unhappy with the slithery nature of the paper-on-muslin when it came to stitching. I've done this before and it worked perfectly but fear that what with arthritis and a deteriorating brain, I just could not manipulate the cloth in the machine sufficiently quickly. 

Final experiment. Need to do the writing using my magnifying lamp.
What to do? I re-fused the monigami sheet to a piece of calico and stitched through that. Much more controllable though it would make the pages rather thick for folding. Should be OK if I fuse the paper print straight to calico and omit the muslin. I found that with care I could write direct on the textured surface, and the added thickness of the sheet allowed the stitches to sink into the fabric. This will be my chosen process (but then I guessed it would be!) - it does mean extra time and thus would make each piece more expensive to purchase. As yet, I have no idea how to cost my creative work - a feature article, no problem, but I am on new territory here. Very scary.


  1. Really enjoyed following your thought process with this.

  2. Thankyou, Maggi. I will probably handle the text in a different way, but otherwise am all set to start creating the actual pieces.