Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

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Project 2 Tearing & Cutting – Exercises 4 & 5, cutting holes and creating flaps

Sharon Arnold

During my research, Sharon Arnold’s Nixe and Chimaera, from her Nixe, Chimaera, Muff series, enthralled me.

Chimaera, in greek mythology is a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail (, 2015),  

The piece is cut from a Strathmore drawing roll (130gsm)  4 feet high, 8 1/2 feet wide and curling flames lick, flit and dance across the paper in whorls, the shadows created by the paper flaps adding to the energy and movement.


Quick sketch of Sharon Arnold’s ‘Chimaera 2010’


My version, cut from 150gsm cartridge paper, photographed on a flat red surface, against the window and on white.  Cutting this was really enjoyable, reminiscent of the pleasure I get from carving into easy-cut lino.  I love the sweep of the scalpel as it creates curves.  Although quite pleased with the outcome, I think more texture and movement could be achieved with added, finer cuts and would definitely develop this further to incorporate my own style.


Quick Sketch of  Sharon Arnold’s ‘Nixe 2010’

Nixe, defined as ‘a water fairy, usually one who is at least party human’
(,2015) cascades down the wall like a waterfall, tumbling in all directions and splashing onto the floor below.  Nixe, also cut from a Strathmore drawing roll, is 8 feet tall


My attempt at a similar style, photographed on a white background above and from different angles on a grey background below.

As before, I enjoyed cutting this and am quite pleased with the texture achieved and the flexibility of being able to manipulate the paper to curl up the ends. In Sharon Arnold’s piece, the paper falls to the floor in generously curled ribbons, which I didn’t achieve on this occasion.  I found it a comfortable and enjoyable technique which I would happily develop.

Jaq Belcher

Jaq Belcher’s FIELDS series include a myriad of tiny, identical leaf shape flaps hand cut in different directions which catch the light, creating a delightful, almost whimsical texture.


Cutting holes and creating flaps in the style of Jaq Belcher on white 150gsm cartridge paper: Photographed on a hand-dyed fabric, red and blue paper.

This was interesting.  I enjoyed looking at Jak’s work and its uniformity, the delicate cuts and effect of light falling on the varying angles of the flaps.   I found it tedious to cut the small leaf-shaped holes and almost gave up, enjoying cutting the larger leaves more.  To achieve the same sense of cohesion and fragility as the artist, needs more precision than I have offered and I wonder if her shapes are printed by computer before hand cutting.   Contributing to the success of her pieces, I also see that the precision extends beyond the uniform shape of the cuts to the careful angling of leaves.   Looking at the cuts on a white background is more effective in creating delicacy and my preference:


although I also like it on grey:



Lorenzo M. Durán

Fabulous, delicate, detailed work, cutting into leaves. (accessed 29.12.15) (accessed 2.1.16)   (accessed 29.12.15)   (accessed 28.12.15) (accessed 29.12.15) 


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Project 2 – Tearing & Cutting – Exercise 4 Cutting holes & Exercise 5 creating Flaps

For the first sample, we are asked to start with a group of rectangles cut using a craft knife. This was a bit dull, but improved when laid on a piece of hand dyed fabric and became a little more interesting when a second sheet was cut and the two layered and backed with a piece of blue paper.

Inspired by the work of Kristiina Lahde, I cut into an old envelope using straight lines.  My cutting was unplanned, I didn’t work out the best spacing for maximum impact so it was largely unsuccessful. Laid on red fabric, photographed and two small sections cropped from the whole, it was somewhat redeemed.

Thinking about exploring the effect of light by creating shadows and holding up to window, a piece of packaging illustrated how the same cuts could produce different shadows depending on the angle of the light.

Cutting into another used envelope, I used more curved cuts and cut some holes and some flaps working intuitively.  With more thought given to design, this would be interesting to develop.  Contrast of the white inside of the envelope against the black sugar paper is striking and energetic although the black flaps are a little lost in the background.  The white on the red fabric gives an idea of how the flaps could be used as part of the design.

Added to that the curvaceous lines created lovely shadows.

Changing the shape of the cut to a triangle, I attempted to cut into the balsa wood of a cheese box, intending to create flaps.  The flaps snapped off on bending, but even the simplest design can be enhanced by lighting and it produced delicate flower shaped shadow.

Continuing with the triangle theme, flaps were cut into a small piece of origami paper and the shadow photographed. This bore resemblance to Mark Fornes & THEVERYMANY‘ structures, which create lacy patterns on the ground below, and could be developed by joining a series of squares cut with the same pattern.  The origami paper was too lightweight and needed a bulldog clip to help it stand up, but a heavier paper or light card would work well.

The square of paper was rolled into a cylinder and held with masking tape and lit from inside creating patterns.  The flaps enhance the interest by adding texture and the reflecting light off the white reverse of the paper.


To make a comparison the flaps were removed and the paper re-photographed. I prefer the cuts with the flaps as they add more detail.

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Project 2 – Tearing & Cutting – Research Exercises 4 & 5, cutting holes and creating flaps

Researching Tearing and Cutting I was fascinated by the variety of work achieved by cutting holes & creating flaps:

Marc Fornes

I was enthralled by Marc Fornes installations, in particular the colourful outdoor pavillions created with ‘perforated metal shingles’, in consideration with this exercise.   The structures are huge organic shapes in bright colours, wonderful for an area used by children.  The holes are cut into metal tiles and assembled, creating lovely repetitive patterns when looking through them to the sky above or area behind, but the added delight is the beautiful shadows created on the ground below, ever changing with the light.

Meredith Woolnough

Although Meredith Woolnough doesn’t cut holes she creates them with her incredibly detailed lacy embroideries and I was reminded of her work when looking at the ‘lacy shadows’ of Marc Fornes’ installations.

Peter Callesen

A paper cut artist who has created many pieces from a white sheet of A4 paper, whose cuts transform the paper into 3d art forms.

Can a plain A4 sheet of paper animate tragedies and comedies? Peter Callesen’s hands can. With his technical brilliance and his subtle instinct for the fragility and bewitching potential of human life as well as of the material, he carves meaningful stories out of something as ordinary as the white paper from the printer tray. (Mørch, 2015) (accessed 9.11.15)


Project 1 – Folding & Crumpling – Exercise 2 – Rotational accordion pleats

Referring to the course notes and Paul Jackson’s Folding techniques for designers: from Sheet to Form, rotational accordion pleats were explored. The red origami paper is cut into a circle approximately 14cm diameter, the orange, an A4 sheet of copier paper. The pleating gives the paper strength and shape, the folds hold their structure well and the paper is transformed into a more dynamic form.

Following the above tutorial, the tree on the left below was folded from origami paper 15cm x 15cm and a second tree from a sheet of printer paper 21.5cm x 21.5cm

Thinking about how Paul Jackson colours his paper with dry pastels, starting with a square of rice paper 46cm x46cm, a further tree was folded, then crumpled, unravelled and coloured with green pastels, fixed with three sprays of Sennelier fixative for soft pastels:

and refolded and torn to finish the design. The rice paper is softer to work with than the origami and printer paper and is more difficult to crease sharply before it has been crumpled, but after crumpling the creases are softer.  The rice paper tree is less stable than the other two and whilst I prefer the crumpled texture and the potential for personalising with added colour, it hasn’t worked as well as I’d hoped.  It may be better in a smoother paper.


Quite interesting lit from within, even more so in real life, photography skills slightly lacking!



For interest, a piece of crumpled gold tissue from an earlier exercise was also folded in the same way.  It had lost more body than the rice paper and tore easily so was even less successful than the rice paper tree, but interesting to compare the forms.


V-Pleats demonstrated in the folding techniques video are illustrated below.  These were very satisfying to make and the lightweight origami paper was transformed into a striking structure with the ability to open and close.  Quite enlightened for a girl who was previously unattracted to pleats…





Jackson, P. (2011) Folding techniques for designers: From Sheet to Form. London: Laurence King

Japanese Rice paper



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Project 1 – Folding & Crumpling – Exercise 1 – Linear accordion pleats

I’m having to eat my words here – having rejected any form of geometric precision  and folding in favour of other exercises, I have realised that the process can help inform working with crumpled paper, so here I am creating accordion pleats.


I’m a bit impatient precisely folding from edge to fold, eager to move on to something less formal.  The paper is uninteresting in feel, look and colour.


The feel of the old music is warmer, softer, more pleasing.

Taking an idea from the Paper Sculpture scoring section of Paul Jackson’s book, an A4 sheet of copier paper was folded into accordion pleats, cut in half diagonally, glued and pinched at one end to create half leaf shapes.


I like the way a rectangle can be transformed into a curved shape with pleating and the play of light and shadow on folds.


The leaf shape above is pleasing but the contrast placing the second half the opposite way around is more lively.


A happy accident on the right, glued on one side at the base, on the way to a leaf shape, makes a lovely sculptural shape.  The music adds visual texture to the pieces.

The same technique was applied to the gold tissue paper used in the linear crumpling exercise in the previous post with fabulous results.



I love the texture and scale; the light reflecting off the multitude of ridges; the shadows in the depth of the creases; the strong lines and form in the previously fragile tissue; the papery rustle as you pick it up.

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Project 1 – Folding & Crumpling – Exercises 5 Crumpling, 6 & 7 Linear & Rotational Crumpling Techniques

Crumpling has captured my imagination so I have chosen to work on the other exercises to improve my understanding of the technique and different media.


Inspired by two items in Paul Jackson’s The Encyclopedia of origami and papercraft techniques and his suggestion that layout paper can be used, an A4 sheet of paper was glued to form a cylinder and crumpled. The intention was to add rib creases to create a spiral effect (centre bottom) but the crumpled cylinder was a bit small and difficult to crease.  I preferred the look of the right hand shaping.

The above are created with plain white layout paper.

In the ‘Organic Abstracts’ section of Paul Jackson’s website, he comments

… Controversially for many origami purists, the paper is coloured with charcoal or dry pastel and sealed to create a surface with a matt lustre. I do this because the simple truth is that for me, untreated paper doesn’t have the ‘presence’ of paper customised with pastel. This customisation of the surface somehow changes a model or a craft object into an art object.

Interested to investigate colouring the paper to make any outcome more personal to me, the following were coloured with oil pastels after the paper was crumpled. Although done quickly just for experimental purposes, I think this method emphasises the visual texture and has potential.

I wondered what he had ‘sealed’ his charcoal/dry pastel with and tried Winsor & Newton soft matt gel, which gave a matt lustre but smudged the charcoal.

Fixing the pastel with spray fixative before creasing proved to be a possibility.


However, the delicacy and nuance of colour achieved by Paul Jackson is far superior to my attempts and needs further investigation.

Another attempt at crumpling a cylinder and adding rib creases with an A2 gold metallic tissue showed potential as a technique but lacked the finesse and beauty of Paul Jackson’s sample.


It was interesting to compare scale, suggesting that a series of crumpled forms could be grouped to good effect.

Using the technique recommend in the course notes, Exercise 6 Linear crumpling technique, the paper was rolled into a narrow cylinder 4cm in diameter and the cylinder crushed in up an down movement.  This definitely increased and improved the vertical creases.

Gold tissue paper, linear crumpling long ribs and short scattered ribs.

Exercise 7 Rotational crumpling technique

Using silver tissue and drawing the creases downwards from a central point and then adding a ribbed spiral was reasonably successful but bore little resemblance to Paul Jackson’s sample.  I got a bit hot and bothered trying to persuade the paper into sharper ribs and a more conical form.  I’m not sure if the tissue paper or technique were to blame, but suspect both.

Whilst working on the above silver form, some of my frustration was eased when I realised that a good valley crease improved a peak crease, so in spite of my rather vehement opposition to pleats, I can see that an understanding of folding would increase the possibilities and success of crumpling samples.  So, I may have to consider doing the pleating exercises….

Jackson,  Paul (1991). The Encyclopedia of origami and papercraft techniques. London: Headline Book Publishing PLC pp136-137 5/12/15)

Thackeray, Beata (1997) Paper Making Decorating Designing Conran Octopus Limited


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Drawing classes – Autumn term 2015

A2 still life, standing at an easel.


A string of raffia woven lights draped down the wall onto a table and a glass bottle.  Exploring light, tone and reflection. A bit tentative. Understood that half closing eyes exaggerates the light and dark, a good way to compare the tone across the whole of the still life.  Used a combination of water soluble  graphite, charcoal, white oil stick, pencil.   Felt uncomfortable and a bit overwhelmed at the time but the overall effect was reasonable.  Like the effect of soluble graphite on the rear wall and the darkest raffia ball drawn with a 6B, then moistened with a damp brush.


Charcoal.  Comfortable medium, soft, responds well to my light, layered, tentative mark making.  Good for variations in tone.  Love the mark making in the protea and the potential of the marks in the other natural materials.  The smudged charcoal resembled the surface of the pewter mug but its not very well observed.  The protea head is definitely the highlight.


Started very tentatively (as usual) and probably spent 3 hours on it, but really pleased with the mark making which accurately conveys the form of the objects and the texture.  There is an uneven, crusty look to the top of the loaf and smooth lines to the jug and rounded edge of the board, form to the apple quarter and a hint of the tablecloth.


Less happy wth this.  Tried to be quicker and bolder.  Marks were bigger and bolder, but not much!   Slightly more success with the organic shapes of the vegetables than the candle stick, but not a very rewarding session.


This is my favourite of the term’s work.  I love the pine cones and delicacy of the fine twigs, suggestion of the pattern on the jug and sweeping movement of the leaves.   I like the leeway that plant material offers where incorrect placement is less noticeable and a suggestion of the form is more achievable (for me).

However, having confessed to that to my Art Tutor, she set up still life for the following two weeks encouraging me to look at placement and the relationship of each item compared to another and the negative space, which I find much more difficult.


I take a long time to get going with this type of still life, just not confident to get started and worrying if my drawing doesn’t resemble the subject.  At times like this, I forget that drawing is mark-making and regress to drawing outlines.  I am much more successful if I remind myself to make marks and start within a subject rather than on the edge.  There were lessons learned, with measuring and placement.


This too was tricky for me and the angle was difficult, but I persevered to place the items in relation to each other and the pattern on the cloth, constantly adjusting them until I was happy.  So, whilst the outcome isn’t as pleasing as I’d like, the learning experience was a really valuable exercise in placement.

A slight change for Christmas, we were encouraged to be bold, thinking about the light and creating an ‘ethereal northern lights’ feel.

Being bold is a little out of my comfort zone! but I enjoyed a more playful approach and used pastels, worked into with coloured pencils on pastel paper in the bottom right and pastels on smooth white paper top right. Loved the reindeer made by students at a local special needs school.

I am making progress with drawing and find it more enjoyable, although still aspiring to confident daily sketches.  “Just do it!” I hear some say, easier said than done, but I am working on it….