I know I haven’t. I read an article by Sarah Ross Thompson in which she spoke about “excitables.” I am an “excitable” – she explained – “some people are naturally excitable and explode with ideas…. they find it hard to know which path to follow when so many things rock their boat. That’s me!
So, I have enrolled on an online course with Sue Stone, Chair of the 62 Group of textile artists, care of www.textileartist.org. I had done one online course before which I did not enjoy as it was very pressured with new videos arriving every day. This one, however, I would recommend. You are given a year to complete the course and can work at your own pace. Participants are set a series of projects and the choice is yours as to how much time you spend on each module, creating as many or as few samples as you wish. The first challenge is to work only using running stitch and only using horizontal lines. Each sample contains a block of four pieces 5cm square and I have so far created five.
Even though this course is obviously about stitch, I can already see how useful it will be in other areas in that the message is to take an idea and push the boundaries of what you can do with it. Setting a limitation, either in terms of media, or by reducing the option for a methodology of working, is in fact helping you to think more creatively within set parameters. Although I am a very organised person in everyday life (where would I be without my lists?!), in my Art practice I like to work intuitively responding to each moment. So, with the exception of the rigid patterns above, I did not think. I chose my thread, put my needle in and started without knowing what I was going to do with it. This way will not suit everyone I know but it suits my loose style of working – I have always said that I can’t sew and I can’t create beautiful embroidery or make clothes but luckily I don’t want or need to be able to do those things. What I do want to do is to make interesting “marks” whether that be by using a pencil, pen, inks or stitch and I am already learning loads about how I can do that. Thank you Sue, Jo and Sam at http://www.textileartist.org!
So, why don’t you think of something you would like to do, set yourself some strong boundaries, and play. And, carry on playing until you really feel exhausted – I can’t tell you when that will be but maybe you need to spend at least a month on that one project. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you have done this!
One day last year I found an intriguing piece of rubber on the beach at Seatown, Dorset. I can’t be sure what it started out as but it had obviously been patched numerous times and the sea had distressed the surface beautifully.
My initial thought was to keep it intact as I loved it so much, but, on reflection I felt that there was so much going, it would be better to view it in bite sized chunks. So I tore it into five pieces. This was a brave decision because, unlike with art that you have made, you will never be able to replicate a found object – once you’ve alterered it, it stays altered!
Next, I considered how I could add to the surface without distracting from the wonderful texture that the sea had created. I chose some found pieces of paper and a little more rubber from another find and added them with stitch. The original piece of found rubber was quite contorted and I considered laying the pieces under a heavy weight to flatten them before mounting – I have rejected that option because I think the twists and turns add interest to the piece but I will see what my framer has to say about it!
It is always a case of being careful to add just the right amount of stitch – too little or too much makes a deal of difference. The aspect is also important and I will play with some variations in due course.
Here they are before I visit him:
Once they are framed, I will update you with how they look!
Well I think so anyway! I fully appreciate that these pieces will appeal to a minority audience but I have enjoyed using my found pieces in a way that pleases me. Here are two of the three final objects in their original state – an anorak cuff and a rolled up piece of rubber, original purpose unknown:
Found rubber “Vessel”
I knew that I could see potential in both of these items – lots of lovely texture – but knew also that they needed more. I decided to construct a third piece using some found black plastic, made interesting by the sea. I then played about with different additions until I found what I wanted, and added stitch.
Vessel in progress
I wanted to make each piece interesting on the outside and the inside and felt that they worked best as a trio. I plan to sit them on a piece of found wood (yet to be retrieved from my stash in a nearby garage!) and hope to source something like a vintage taxidermist glass dome to go over the top. Here are the three pieces now:
Vesssel made from found objects and stitch
These images do not show what is going inside the three vessels – you’ll just have to come along and see them during the Chichester Art Trail to see the full effect – Chichester Art Trail 2018