Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

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MMT Part 3 – Molding & Casting – Heat ‘n’ Form Re-usable Print Block

(paper workbook pages 27-34)

Material: Heat ‘n’ Form Re-usable Print Block

The course notes refer to moldable polymers like ThermoMorph and InstaMorph and both of which start as pellets which can be molded once warmed in hot water and set hard when cooled.

Whilst the Heat ‘n’ Form print block is neither product, it has some similar properties. Reasonably priced at £1.75 for two blocks with 4 useable surfaces, the surface can be warmed with a heat gun, iron or hotplate (no naked flame) and imprinted with texture.  The texture can be printed using water-based media and then the surface can be reheated, whereupon it returns to a smooth block ready to be used again.

Safety Considerations:

The blocks don’t required any specific safety considerations, although care should be taken with the method of heating the block and any materials used for printing.


What a surprise!  These little blocks proved to be an efficient and easy to use addition to the home-based, bedroom studio!


It wasn’t clear how long the block should be heated, but research suggested that the surface cools very quickly and therefore needs imprinting with speed.  Initially, I heated the block and pressed it into the texture I was trying to capture, rather than pressing the texture into the block.  It took a couple of attempts before I had a good imprint.   I started with bottle tops but found it was difficult to capture the crinkly edge.  A handful of screws were very satisfying. The detail achieved was quite unexpected.  Using water-soluble block printing ink, cheap roller and chinese rice paper produced some quite appealing textural prints.  The paper was a little absorbent but reproduced the impression well.

Paper clips, Cocktail sticks, bottle caps, drill bits and screws.

So encouraged by the results, I looked back to some of Assignment 2’s samples.  Working the other way this time, the block was heated and the texture pressed immediately into the surface.  This was more effective, just the time taken to put the heat gun down, pick the block up and push it into the paper clips etc., seems to have been enough for it to cool. Although the black & white results were pleasing, more detail was captured by pushing the textured item into the block.  The paper was some newsprint (plain) which had been used to protect the table when painting some fabric with dilute dyes and the paint, Georgian water-mixable oil in Alazarin crimson.

I was very pleased with the results, the packing paper around the orange wool made a chrysanthemum like shape and the jute containing bubble wrap impression picked up the circles and the criss-cross lines of both materials.  Added to the mottled dyes in the paper, the prints made quite a complex surface.  I was really quite excited and spurred on.

One of the advantages of this method of capturing texture is that the original item need not get messy.  With that in mind, I decided to try using my little pots from Assignment 2. I started by using the side of the pot below.  The results were ok, but not very exciting.


Using a different pot, I felt I’d struck gold!  The delicate texture picked up by the impression has a fossil like pattern which was really enhanced by using a very light roller-ing of paint.

Although I have an understanding of the theory of the creative process, there was a lovely realisation that this was truly personal work in practice.  I am inexplicably fond of my little pots and absolutely delighted with the print.  It has resulted from attempting pot coiling as a method of joining following research, enjoying the potential textures at the time and experimenting with similar but different materials.  Adding knowledge gained from a recent workshop where I was introduced to the Georgian paint and produced the background.  A coming together of lots of little factors and a special moment.

Continuing to explore with the other pots produced very pleasing results but none quite as exciting as the first!

The favourite:



Grey M & Wild J (2004) Paper Metal & Stitch, Batsford, London.






MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Paper Pulp

(paper workbook pages 21-26)

Project 1 Molding from a surface

Sampling Paper Pulp

Moving on from papier mâché but before exploring paper clay, paper making and couching sheets to capture texture seemed a logical step, all helping to familiarise me with some of the properties of paper.

I have made paper once before under the supervision of a friend which I blogged in January, 2016 here, so it was fairly new territory to attempt home alone.  A good teacher and some comprehensive notes helped, as the results were very encouraging.   Using an embroidery hoop with some net curtain as a mold, the paper was couched onto various surfaces, recycled plastic netting, hessian and jute scrim.  Texture was captured from all the surfaces with the most successful being the top left and right pictures of the front and back of a sheet couched onto a fairly substantial nylon net bag.

I experimented with adding colour on some less textured pieces. As the paper is unsized, it is very absorbent and most paint or ink soaked in immediately.  The most effective below was the last sample where oil pastels and markal sticks gently applied and rubbed with fingertips really highlighted the texture.


The following is a cast of a piece of scrunched cotton scrim, where the surface texture is quite subtle.  A new addition to my materials, ArtGraf watercolour graphite was perfect for enhancing the texture using a dry brush technique.

Attempting to capture the texture of some heavier surfaces had good results. The following is taken from a bamboo mat with a small square of cartridge paper laid onto the mat before couching the paper.  The contrast of the smooth and bumpy surface is effective.


Two sink mats (which would never have found their way to my sink) were put to good use for this exercise:

My attempt to cast the inside of a scallop shell was less successful.  It had been drying for three days and was considerably lighter in weight suggesting it was ready.  The mold had been greased and the paper came away easily where it was fully dry but broke up in the middle where it was still damp.  Had I been more patient, I think it would have made a good casting.


One of the most effective surfaces to cast so far was a Viburnum rhytidophyllum leaf.

The topside cast in soluble paper, top image, middle right in four layers of lokta tissue, second left in four layers of 9gm abaca tissue, third left  and bottom two, the underside cast in paper pulp with the last images coloured with sennelier oil pastels.


I love the warmth and feel of handmade paper and would be interested in developing my paper making skills to see if I could produce finer, tissue like samples and experiment with different ways of using paper pulp. I was particularly inspired by the work of Raija Jokinen who makes fabulous lightweight, durable sculptural pieces with hand made paper pulp, paper yarn, flax and stitch.

Her Paperart gallery is particularly appealing to me.  Within her artist statement, she describes her work:

My art works are made of flax and the working method can be compared to painting and drawing, but the “paint” is the fiber that is normally used e.g. as a base material for oil paintings. In addition, I use stitching to form “drawn” lines and rice starch as a binder. My methods and materials are also related with handmade paper techniques: A sheet of paper is formed of pulp consisting short bast fibres and water. Handmade paper sheets are used e.g. to print graphic art. Beside the short fibers I also use long fibers, which are normally used for example in spinning the yarn for fabric weaving. The technique I’ve developed could therefore be located in the meeting point of the techniques in painting, graphic art and textile.

Joshua Monroe prints with wood blocks and paper pulp.  They are simple prints and interesting colour studies, with the feathered edge of home-made paper.  A recent post on discusses his work and includes an artist’s statement describing the process.

My work focuses on using handmade paper and carved wood blocks to produce cast pulp prints. Instead of creating my images using only the raised surface of the block, I place pulp on and into the block in order to draw out information from the negative space. Movement and direction occur from the channels, cuts, and gouges dug out of the wood’s surface, as well as the direction of grain revealed from tearing pieces of wood away. Using this technique I explore the relationships between color, texture, and movement while allowing my own interior, fundamental landscape to resonate within the work.

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MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Papier Mache

(paper workbook pages 15-23)

Materials – Papier mâché

Papier mâché can be made by pulping or layering paper with adhesive.  Consider materials for different effects.

  • Use mulberry tissue, lokta or other long fibres to make more distinctive papier mâché.
  • blotting paper and acrylic gel medium, seal with varnish when dry, matt, satin or gloss will all give different results
  • embed free stitching on water soluble paper, or threads into paper pulp by lining mold with lokta tissue, then stitched cold water soluble film, press wet formed paper sheet or pulp firmly on top.
  • Use water soluble paper a quick easy option, results can be fine and delicate. Use a wooden block to make a cast.
  • Colour pulp with watered down paints, acrylics, inks, tea coffee, walnut ink dripped from brush or pipette.
  • Magie Hollingsworth suggests greaseproof paper is great for thin forms “shrinks amazingly, more so than other papers”
  • Collage papers could also be used, decorative, but less suited to textural casts.
  • Long fibres for large areas or ‘strong’ constructions
  • Heavier papers (brown wrapping & cartridge) good for large pieces of work
  • Fine papers (tissue, papers towels and crepe paper) ideal for creasing & adding fine features.
  • Organic  materials such as leaves, stems, crumbled or ground, onion skins, tea, dried herbs, fibres, threads, sawdust can be added to pulp to produce a subtle range of shades as it dries.
  • set fine wire into layers of fine tissue so the piece can be shaped.

Safety Considerations

  • Avoid contact with eyes and mouth
  • wash hands after use
  • do not eat or drink whilst using


Magie Hollingworth – I was introduced to the work of Magie Hollingworth by a friend who had attended a vessel making workshop with her at West Dean College in 2010.  Magie takes papier mâché far beyond the level we might be familiar with from our school days!  The Pinterest selection below illustrates the variety of her work.   Her cast vintage spoons show the capacity for lightweight papers to capture texture.  The matt black lokta tissue is a lovely choice to define the beauty of the spoon.  The use of decorated papers and dressmaking tissue on the conical vase add interest and contrast with the roughness of the paper pulp on the inner surface. The unadorned paper pulp offers a fragility that I enjoy.

I am drawn to vessels so small curving bowls I can cup in my hands and run my fingers gently over the textured surface appeal.   Some artisan mugs have the same effect.  Pinterest offered a wealth of beautiful, delicate, translucent bowls for inspiration, although I must remember to focus on capturing texture, not making bowls!

Ines Seidel – I looked at Ines’ work in  Assignment 2 Joining & Wrapping,  but was particularly drawn to her beautifully delicate, translucent bowls using papier mâché techniques, examples of which are included in the pinterest selection above.  Petra Poolen –  produces similarly ethereal, gossamer, diaphanous bowls.  The appeal is in the combination of simple materials in a neutral or pale colour scheme, allowing the beauty of texture and natural material to shine through.  A translucency allowing the fibres or inclusions to be outlined adds to the aesthetic.


I started with layered papiermâché, using old book pages torn into strips and a 50/50 mix of pva and wallpaper paste using recycled packaging as the mold.  It took a couple of days to dry.

Whilst I like the effect of the paper used, the texture of the packaging was not captured and I found the technique of using lots of strips of paper a bit tedious and sticky.  The surface had a ‘satin’ finish and was pleasing.


Far more appealing was the idea of using fine papers in whole layers like Magie Holingworth’s black lokta paper spoons, trying to capture the translucency of Ines Seidel and Petra Poolen’s work or experimenting with water soluble paper. The following were quite successful.  Top left water soluble paper, moistened and pushed into the crevices with a paint brush, good texture, slightly crunchy finish.  Top right, nice feel to it, three or four layers of tea bag paper, some texture captured but only noticeable once highlighted with an oil pastel.  Middle right, four layers of natural lokta tissue, good texture, quite stiff and opaque, two layers might be more translucent and delicate.  Bottom, two to three layers of lokta tissue. Good texture both sides, nice feel, matt, warm surface.

Trying the water soluble paper a little thinner produced an effective cast of a leaf, with some almost transparent areas.  Using the same method to push pulp into an indian wood block produced interesting results.  The paper absorbed old colour from the block giving an aged look and the pieces were sturdy but very lightweight with a  delicate look.


The most successful papers were the very lightweight hand made lokta and mulberry tissues, which captured texture well and dried quickly if only two or three layers were used.  It was helpful to press kitchen tissue against the piece to absorb excess moisture before leaving it to dry.  The soluble paper was quick to use but slow to dry.  9gm lens/abaca tissue was effective and had a lovely feel and finish, although heavier 21gm abaca tissue didn’t work for me at all, nor did a heavier lokta tissue.  Some texture was just about discernible on the natural coloured tissue but none were as effective as those used above.


Bawden, J (1990) The Art & Craft of Papier Mâché Mitchell Beazley International Ltd London

Campbell-Harding, Valerie & Grey, Maggie (2006) Stitch, Dissolve Distort with Machine Embroidery, Batsford, London

Grey, Maggie, Wild, Jane (2007)  Paper Metal Stitch, Batsford, London

Holmes, C (2010) The Found Object in Textile Art, Batsford, London.


MMT Part 3 Moulding & Casting – Molding Paste & Gesso

(paper workbook page 5 – 12)

Materials:  Molding paste and Gesso

Inspired by several books, I looked at gesso and molding/modeling paste. Both  can be used in similar ways but modeling paste remains more flexible than gesso, which makes it easier for stamping and stencilling and suggests it might be the better choice for capturing texture.

I was drawn to the fine textural surfaces that could be achieved on paper or fabric, the effects of colour media and the potential to enhance with stitch.  The possibilities for collagraph printing were also appealing.

Examples of Lynda Monk’s work (aka Purple Missus):

Safety Considerations

This product has been certified by ACMI (Artists Craft Material Institute, Inc.) to carry the AP (Approved Product) Seal, meaning this product bears no chronic or acute human health hazards. (SAFETY DATA SHEET LIQUITEX MODELLING PASTE According to Appendix D, OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR §1910.1200)

As this product is not a hazard to human health, normal safety considerations apply.

  • Avoid contact with skin and eyes
  • keep in original container
  • store at moderate temperature in well ventilated area
  • wash hands after use
  • do not eat, drink or smoke whilst using



My initial experiments were mixed in their success.  Pebeo modelling paste was applied to cardboard with a palette knife and textural materials pressed into the surface. It was soon apparent that removing too early when the paste is wet leaves an indistinct impression and leave it too late and it sets hard, making it difficult to remove the object cast.


It was difficult to see the textures but highlighting them with a graphite stick was visually pleasing.  When removed, the paper flower in the top right left behind traces of glitter which catches the light and combines effectively with the graphite, the grey area bottom right created with towelling removed when the modeling paste was still quite wet has an appealing mass of little indentations, which responded well to the addition of graphite. Drawing and enlarging areas helped me to explore mark-making and the detail of the texture produced.

I had another go, spreading a thin layer onto watercolour paper and impressing jute scrim, flower lace and towelling into the surface.  This wasn’t very effective either:


Without the addition of wax crayon, the texture was barely visible.  Not to be deterred I tried Liquitex modeling paste onto tyvek which had been coloured earlier with procion dye ink.   The towelling produced a nice texture but mostly I learned that if the medium is too wet the impression is less effective and an interesting aside was the way the molding paste absorbed the colour from the previously inked tyvek.

DSCF5958Having seen much better samples in Linda Monk’s books, Liquitex modeling paste and gesso were spread onto a heat mat, waiting for the paste to partially dry before impressing with an indian block, some cotton lace and crumpled paper.

These samples were sprayed with indigo navy procion dye ink and Brusho charcoal spray ink respectively.  The right hand sample was also rubbed with Sennelier silver oil pastel to highlight the texture.  The samples were easily removed from the heat mat.  The gesso was more prone to cracking than the modeling paste and the sample made with half acrylic soft gel and half modelling paste was the most flexible. The samples below were left to dry and then different shades of oil pastel were applied and rubbed in with the finger tips.  Left shows crumpled tissue paper texture and right, cotton lace.  These samples of ‘modelling paste fabric’ were more successful at capturing texture but required a guessing game to work out when the paste was dry enough to make a good impression. The detail achieved on the right hand piece was a good contrast of smooth and bumpy and varying the tones of the oil pastels emphasising some areas more than others increased the visual interest.

Impatient with the need to wait for the paste to dry, a much thinner layer of gesso or modeling paste was applied to watercolour paper.  Below is a gesso sample which was sprayed whilst wet with Brusho Acrylic Mist Spray in Burnt Sienna. The gesso immediately absorbed the ink and turned a rather nondescript puce.  To improve the look and highlight the texture, I added oil pastel, markel paint sticks and a little graphite and rubbed them into the surface.  This was effective and rewarding to enhance the surface in this way.


A thin layer of modelling paste was applied to some more Fabriano 5 watercolour paper (the choice of paper was a good one, there was less distortion than with cartridge paper or cardboard).  This was coloured with Brusho Acrylic Mist Spray in Charcoal which was absorbed to a lesser degree than the gesso and became a satin (rather than matt) blue. The surface was enhanced with a combination of blues, greys and metallic oil sticks. This too was a pleasure to colour.


Lastly another layer of gesso on watercolour paper sprayed with indigo navy procion dye ink which was absorbed into the gesso to produce a matt paler blue.


Using Tyvek, a very thin layer of both modelling paste and gesso were spread onto tyvek coloured with red brown procion ink and lightly sprayed with other inks when wet.  The textured surface was barely noticeable but it was useful to know it could easily be machine stitched into and slightly distorted with an iron.


Pleased to have a better understanding of the effect of sprayed ink onto wet gesso and modelling paste, to see the possibility of creating texture and the delights of adding colour to emphasise that texture, Lynda Monk and d4daisy books have introduced me to a technique I will definitely use in the future.

To push this a little further, calico was primed with gesso and three sample patches of gesso, modelling paste and Unibond Quick Fix and Grout were added and textured.  They behaved in similar ways.  The Fix and Grout dried quickly, the gesso next and lastly the modelling paste, they all took the ink well but the modelling paste was the easiest to stitch into, although I wouldn’t confidently machine stitch into any of them at this thickness. The gessoed cloth was very receptive to stitch and colour.  The wet surface was dripped with black quink ink and sprinkled with fine and coarse salt to create more visual texture.  The Quink ink separated into some lovely tones, particularly on the back.  With a timely Machine Embroidery Workshop at the end of the same week, the piece was embellished with free machine stitch with careful consideration to top and bottom thread colour to replicate the inked textures. I thoroughly enjoyed this process and was pleased with the outcome, but will admit to being ‘in my comfort zone’.  Both front and back views are shown below, the back view showing beautiful contrasts of colour where the Quink ink has separated to reveal a rusty colour.  There is something more subtle about the back, with the stitching easier to examine without the texture of the molding material to distract.





Detail from front view:

On hand indigo dipped khadi paper, using a variety of media and blind continuous drawing with the occasional look, the stitched piece was closely examined revealing a multitude of marks and intricate detail.


Hall, Isobel & Grey Maggie (2010) Mixed Media: New Studio Techniques, d4daisy Books Ltd

Monk, Lynda, McFee Carol (2009) Stitching the Textured Surface, d4daisy Books Ltd.

Monk, Lynda (2012)  Exploring creative surfaces, d4daisy Books Ltd

Monk, Lynda (2011) Fabulous surfaces, d4daisy Books Ltd



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Adding reflection on Ted Talks following Tutor Formative Feedback Assignment 1

Within the Formative Feedback received at the end of Assignment 1, it was recommended I look at TED Talks.  I did so at the time, but neglected to reflect on the experience.

There are more than 2200 short videos of speakers talking on a multitude of subjects.  I found many of the talks fascinating and felt the need to discipline myself to targeting the talks that seem the most relevant to my practice.  It is possible to select a topic and I found the most applicable talks under Arts.  Here there many presentations, often under ten minutes, on various aspects of the arts.

TED Talks are an invaluable source of information but the ease with which I could while away hours watching and listening to them is alarming.  So for me, TED Talks are a leisure activity to be enjoyed when time allows, or approached with discipline if using them as a resource for specific research.