Exercise 4.5 (Option 1): Samples with paper clay

Following on from my prior research into pottery, with special attention on the Ancient Greeks, I wondered how I could develop the idea of using the medium of clay.  Can it be used in a textile manner?  Could it be even incorporated into fabric in some way?  It is not a medium I have any experience with previously.

I researched widely in order to discover if it had been tried before.

Here are a few of my findings:

clay.jpgThis was the one and only example I could find, clearly showing the marriage of both mediums.  This has been pinned before firing in order to be still able to weave the thread through.  It harks my mind back to the concept of the “Sampler” and how symbols like these are used.  I see the above as a modern interpretation of the ancient Geek vases I have observed in museums recently.   This is a modern way of presenting symbolism, within the age old craft of pottery.

Other samples found were of fabric based pieces, with a clay piece attached, such as a dolls head.  I wondered about types of clay and pottery, was their a thinner medium to use which could be air dried?


The piece above illustrates an example of paper clay.  Apparently it can be moulded quite easily and used as a flat medium as well as 3D.  The piece above has no stitching, purely clay.  But as it can be made thin, I wonder if I could chancel stitches through it, even with a sewing machine, before it dries?

I have discovered that it can be painted and dyed; so if I discover that I can stitch through it, I could further experiment with a development of idea concepts.

This is the medium I have used:

clay1Instructions for this medium have been printed into my Techniques File.

Here are my results:

What you see above, is my very fist few experiments.  It has been a successful experiment.  I used a few different natural fabrics, cottons and scrim.  I took a small piece of the paper clay, wet my hands and began to paint it onto the material surface with my fingers.  The clay is white and so is my material, thus it doesn’t show up well which areas are clay.  The stitched area is where the clay is.


Above:  Changing the surface, or is it challenging the surface?  Three fabrics used, all will a variance in thread count.  I was surprised to find the scrim the hardest to merge with the clay.  All three stitch through on my sewing machine.  Once dry, they do not provide a crumbling texture; rather one which I can imagine dyeing and painting.  I as yet do not have a preference as to material choice with the clay marriage.

I will make more samples, some with dye and paint and others with no fabric, just clay.  Will it still stitch?  Does the time difference make it harder to stitch?  i.e. what would happen if I stitched the clay once dry, as so far I have only tried it when wet.

One example of stitching through once dry:

Image (217)Left:  Close up image of machine stitching in white thread on the air dried clay.

The only thing I note, is that although it didn’t feel any different stitching, certainly not harder, I do observe bigger stitching holes, which would suggest my machine had a harder job to get through the clay at a pace.

The above is worth further exploration.


8 thoughts on “Exercise 4.5 (Option 1): Samples with paper clay

  1. Thank you for sharing this Ailish and also for being so honest regarding your last assessment, I was really disheartened with my mark for MMT especially as my tutor had praised my work.
    I’m on developing textiles level two at the moment so I shall give my self a firm shake up and revisit some of my work, and see where maybe I’ve been too safe. At the moment I’m working on the research unit 4, your idea of stitching into Clay is an area I have been researching as I am focusing on the change in embroidery and it’s use in fine art as a surface decoration and I have also seen embroidered ceramics. I had never heard of paper clay so I think I will investigate the use of this medium. Thank you again and good luck with your unit.


      1. I will post photos of my embroidered paper clay. I am ordering the clay tomorrow, I have stitched paper mache bowls and copper tiles so I am looking forward to exploring another medium. I have researched so many different techniques and artists taking the simple art of embroidery and breaking the boundaries., I now have to get my notes into some form of chronilogical order!!!


  2. You will be fine your work is interesting and unique are you aiming for November assessment? I have decided to wait for the March as I lost time, my grandson was rushed to St Thomas the day after he was born and has had five trips to hospital since, he is much improved now but I’m still catching up with my work. I’d love to keep in contact ,would messenger be easy?

    Liked by 1 person

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