Assignment Five (Option 1): Project 3: Sample Making: Scale play, Alternative approaches and subsequent research with ‘lost scarf knotted hem’ (taken from archive):

Drawing from my archive material and focusing in on the knotted hem pattern of my lost scarf, I began to draw from it.  Small wispy drawings; yet I feel that there could be more investigations…scale?

I used both hand cut stencil making and drawing fluid, to bring this idea into fruition.

Taking the designs, along with the inspiration and colour choices from my archive material, such as the red to symbolise the Red Riding Hood story and the decolourant medium to symbolise a bleaching out of my grandmothers eyesight, I began to make screens up for Screen Printing in a number of sizes:

These range from A4 to A2 in size.

Printed onto my hand dyed fabrics, made with my own hand mixed colour of rust red:

Above:  From fabric swatch material / colour samples, to prints.  At the very back you can see the largest piece I have made to date; on a disused sheet.  Then we come to my initial planning drawings to get a feel for the pattern and enlargement.  Then the pieces themselves, showcasing a range of sizes.  To push the technique further, I also tried out other ways of using the patterns:

  • Screen printing to connect the patterns and create repeats.
  • Overprinting the design
  • Letting the decolourant “flood” a stencil so that a blurred edge was shown
  • Liquidising the decolourant paste, so that it flowed quicker over my fabric and soaked into my fabrics at a faster rate, allowing for a more one off blurry print.
  • Making literal “knotted hems” (see images below)

I couldn’t really see where to take this large knotted hem, made from the edges of a fitted sheet!  But I enjoyed making it as it took me away from my usual way of working.  The scale of it is a couple of feet either way.  Hand dyed with the same colours as my decolourant samples.  Sometimes I guess we create work which we don’t continue to develop, yet it picks out in our brains and makes us more certain the way we do want to take our development.

Using the pattern as a starting point, I also tried it out in a variety of alternate techniques, here are a few examples:

  1. Batik – Hand drawn interpretations of the knotted hem on both paper and fabric.  Some samples have been left with wax to give texture and form:

2. Foil Transfer – This is achieved by hand drawing designs in a tacky glue, waiting until the glue nearly dries and then using fabric foils over the top.  The result in outline, is that the foil sticks to the tacky glue.  However timing is key; too wet or too dry a glue and it will not hold the foil:

IMG_5284Above:  The foil technique.  As you can see, I have chosen to try my ‘Red Ties’ collar shape out as well as the knotted hem.

Fabric Types

Another way of experimenting, could be to not just think about dying “fabric” as it were, but what fabric?

Reading the book Digital Textile Design, I came across Nicky Gearing and Debbie Stack, who both collaborated on a project experimenting with vintage materials and digital print.  You will see from my previous portfolios of work that working with vintage fabrics was not a new concept to myself.  However I wondered how other artists had implemented it?

Again, this use of vintage fabric within the printing sector is something I could explore.

In retrospect, what do I think of my sample making for this selection? 

I chose to concentrate on a few methods and see how far I could push them, as regards scale etc.  In a small way, there are methods I tried to see if they would be ones I would like to develop; in other words I allowed myself “tasters” like the foil sample above.

Out of the three mentioned within this post:

-Decolourant -Foil -Batik

I deduced that the decolourant had the post potential.

The foil seemed too “tacky” or “gaudy” in this context and didn’t merge in well with my archive style.

The batik can be temperamental.  It is a lovely technique to produce one off pieces, but there are aspects which didn’t work well in this context; for example it is very difficult to get the absolute pre-wax texture back into the fabric and drips happen easily, thus repeat designs are not always possible.

The decolourant paste when used along with the correct dyed fabric (dye tests must be done to gather whether the fabric is dye fast or will allow the decolourant to lift out and bleach selected areas) allows for stark colour contrast, which I like.  It ties in well with my archive and the concept of something being lost, which has been a focus of mine through my work.  This could be said to embody two areas of my archive:

  1. My grandmothers loss of sight – “bleached out” – lost.
  2. The lost scarf – I am using the knotted hem from it here as my design inspiration point, thus the fact it has been bleached out could emulate the fact that I no longer have the scarf.

This is the method I feel strongly about and in fact we could say that that in itself is a feature, as the best art work can come from strongly made decisions and being definite about why we are using a certain technique.

This was the method I explored the most scale within, which was something I needed to showcase.

Selected samples from the above explorations have been carefully labelled and included within my work.  Initial drawing work and plans can be observed within my sketchbooks.

Were there any artists who inspired me?

Researching patterns, I came across the artist Yakari Napaltjarri.  I related to this piece of her work in particular:

 I found it to be reminiscent of my own knotted hem pattern, especially if I simplified it even further.

I wanted to find out more surrounding the piece.  Apparently it has been inspired by her native country and the rock faces within.   It has strong cultural context and is said to be likened to a dance which was traditional to her part of her country.

Her paintings often take on a map format, tracing a certain pattern.

Born in Western Australia to a certain tribe, this has obviously been an influence of hers.

Her material choice is interesting, taking in a Belgian linen base with polymer clay paint, which is something I have not come across before.  I did a little research on this and found that in definition it is:  ‘Acrylic: A synthetic polymer used in high-performance latex or water-based paints. As the paint’s binder, acrylic resins enable the coating to last longer and retain its colour.’  In other words, it means Acrylic paint and is often the wording used by galleries. 

Looking at scale within this context and Screen Printing sector, I found the artist Emily Nachison

Below:  Her ‘Megafauna’ Series Series of large scale prints and paintings on fabric. Hand painting and screen-printing on azeta-poly cotton with MX dye and devore resist. Photography by Dan Meyers.

The way she uses this technique and how she branches out within the printing realm to include hand painting is inspiring.  This is not something that I myself have not tried in the past….harking back to my previous course:

Above:  Various recycled clothing fabrics, self portrait screen prints with MX dye and silk thickner.

Thus when I observed Nachison’s work, I did not feel sad to have not tried something similar, as in fact I already had.  What I don’t want to do, is simply reproduce what I have previously produced as this does not convey progression; more regression.  However learned techniques can be used again; if developed in a new manner, as in the case of my use of my new designs here with the decolourant.

What I liked about this artist, was that she tests scale in very different formats and staging appearance.  Sculpture features heavily too:

Thus she proves to be a valuable artist to remember, when I need to take courage.


Another artist who proved inspirational was Pauline Burbidge.  I have previously seen her work exhibited at The Bowes Museum:

Above:  Image taken at The Bowes Museum at her exhibition.  Not many artists exhibit their equipment and tools in juxtaposition to the finished textiles; this was something I was drawn to, as it provided a clear line of visualisation.

She is a well known quilter, yet her work far surpasses the traditional quilt and becomes more of a wall mounted art item.

In a similar way to myself working with the medium of decolourant, she looks at the use of Cyno Type, which produces a like effect:

Note her use of scale too; through the exhibition I observed small sketchbooks, in contrast to ceiling high fabric pieces like this one above.

She states that her inspiration point came from traditional antique quilting,  such as those seen within the museum collection itself:

 Thus she well merged into my own development path here, especially within this project and the idea of working from an Archive.

Will this be a chosen idea to take through to my final project in this section, Project Four?

This will be further broached in a separate post, once I have come to the end of my sample making for this project three.

Looking at my decolourant technique, I wondered about other methods or artists who have produced work with that similar look that I get from my own samples with this area.

Rebecca Earley 

Her approach surrounds print design, but with a scientific context.  She researches and pushes new concepts.  I wanted to learn more surrounding her processes.

The term exhaust printing is often used.  But what does this mean?

Like exhaust dyeing, exhaust printing reuses the original dye solution for every garment in the production run. It recycles the chemicals, minimising water pollution and chemical waste.  Thus her work fashions the sustainable as well as the new.

More can be found out about her practice through a profile in Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles.

Within her work she links herself to another artist with similar ethos:

Kate Goldsworthy

She especially associates herself with the concept of Zero Waste.  However it is her printing outcomes I am interested in:

It is difficult to find out more about her methods, all that I can find is that the pieces have been made through laser technology.  So no, I wont be able to reproduce this method, but I can try to create similar results using alternatives.

In a way, her work outputs like the pieces above, reflect a Cyanotype print feel, where the sun is used in a print making way.

This viewing shows to myself how many possible methods there are for producing similar results.  Could I try some of them?

Due to financial costs, after research I find that the materials I need for Cyanotype are costly.  However this is a method I do want to try, thus through my Level 3 work I can think about this again, if not before.

Thinking about other ways to embellish or explore with my decolourised fabric, what about embroidery and embellishment?


I found this page inspiring in the book Digital Textile Design.  However on researching the artists mentioned, I could not find out anymore.  Thus the posting of the scan from the book.  Here we can view how artists have combined knitting, embroidery over aspects of their prints and embellishment.

I wonder if this is something I could try, in a way that feels right to my own work at this stage?

To recap, if possible through the last part of this course or as I approach Level 3, I would like to try these methods within my work context:

  • Cyanotype or Sun printing
  • Embellishing and Embroidering my designs

I will use my knotted hem design when experimenting with these options, given the capacity of time…

I may even simplify my knotted hem design.

It is my hope that investigating the above, whether this comes in under Project three or Four, will satisfy myself that I have played with variety in my last assignment.  However I must also balance this with being able to push one strong idea too, thus I must make strong and careful decisions through my planning.  This is seen as a risk on my part, as I do not have much time left to complete this assignment, yet I want to explore as much as possible.





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