Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

Leave a comment

Drawing in the Gardens – Pattern and place – Short Course at West Dean College

Over the August Bank holiday I took a short course at West Dean College with Rosie MacCurrach.  It was a fabulous experience, West Dean College is a peaceful creative haven in the midst of glorious sussex countryside.

Rosie MacCurrach is a lovely person, quietly spoken, encouraging, positive and talented.  It was an intermediate course so I felt a little out of my depth but forced myself to raise my game.

We started with mark-making using ink and found objects from the garden.


We discussed the work of Samuel Palmer, Ravillious, Van Gogh and others, supported with beautifully illustrated books.

Out in the garden we drew with charcoal.  My first 20 minute sketch:


We discussed composition, looking first at other artists, then making quick diagrams of areas in the gardens.

An hour or two’s drawing in the rain, with Rosie passing by every now and again to encourage me to be bolder:


It was an excellent course for me, all stages of everyone’s work was displayed and discussed constructively.  Eventually I forced myself to be less tentative and the weekend helped me to see that I need lots of practice in situations like this in the company of others, with the friendly support of a tutor  and no distractions to take me away from the act of ‘live’ drawing.


Leave a comment

The Padstow Mussel Co. – Gyotaku by Susie Ray

Some of my OCA peers brought this artist to my attention.  A tutorial was also repeated on BBC2’s Countryfile on 18th September, 2016.  I love the mottled quality of the prints, the added texture of the cloth used for printing and the blue black ink.  I believe the prints on cloth are then scanned and printed on paper.  Delightful. (accessed 19/9/16)

Cornish Fish Rubbing Pictures – Gyotaku

Cornish Fish Rubbing Pictures – Gyotaku by Susie Ray. A stunning range of beautiful prints from the original artwork. Gyotaku is a 18th/19th century technique used by Japanese Fishermen to visually record new species of fish they would catch.

The original method was to use edible ink and rice paper, Susie looking to create a more precise finish uses oil paints and cotton cloth, on locally caught Cornish fish from Padstow to Newlyn. The texture of the cloth gives each image a wonderful depth and really makes the ‘Fish’ stand out.  (accessed 19/9/16)

Leave a comment

MMT 4 – Stage 4 – Reflection

Building on my printing  skills has been a stimulating experience resulting in a better understanding of materials and improved quality of outcome.

I have explored a variety of items for printing and made great advances in the use of oil based inks, printing presses, the application, mixing and burnishing of inks.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Lots of samples and careful observation has resulted in good technical skills in mono and collatype printing with oil based inks and a printing press.  An understanding of the effects of different papers used both damp and dry has also been gained.   A variety of materials have been used effectively throughout the exercises.  Visual awareness, design and compositional skills have been demonstrated.

Quality of outcome

This has been a thorough exploration into mono and collatype printing, backed with research of artists and their work, craft books, online videos and attendance at practical workshops and a local print studio. Throughout the learning process, adjustments to technique have been made to build on the knowledge gained.  I have been discerning in my choices, presentation of work, conceptualisation of thoughts and communication of ideas.

Demonstration of Creativity

There is evidence of experimentation and risk taking and some development of personal voice.


Coursework has been based on a variety of research and developed with considered self-reflection and critical thinking.


Printing encourages me to be more playful and inventive and improved skills and knowledge will definitely inform my practice and form part of my sketchbook development.

The most exciting area for further progression is the use of stitch combined with other materials to add to collatype plates.


Referring back to my formative feedback for Assignment 3 and relating it to this assignment


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

I think I have continued to be adventurous and pushed myself.


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

I am disappointed not to have drawn more outside the minimum required for the printing exercises.

Acutely aware that drawing is a vital component of this course and my progress as an artist, not just to deepen understanding of my work and that of others, but to develop visual skills and original work, I feel I have reached a point where my mental block around drawing will hamper my progress if I don’t find a way to make it a habit.  In a workshop/classroom situation I can force myself, albeit tentatively, but alone as a distance learner, the motivation to draw eludes me.


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

As much of the research this time was into the process of printing, I think my analytical skills into the work of others are probably on a level with the last assignment but that the extended research into areas I choose to develop in part 5 will enable me to develop them further.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

I have attempted to add reflection about my prints and made links to my own work and research material.

I would like my feedback for this assignment by video please.

AIMS for Part 5

To find a local group or class to draw with to develop my confidence and skills.

To be adventurous and thorough in developing ideas to reach an informed and creative final piece.





1 Comment

MMT 4 – Stage 4 – Sorting

During the exercises, I thoroughly explored the processes and gained valuable experience with printing inks, papers and using two different presses.  These techniques will all help with developing ideas in future.

Printing on tissue or fine hand made paper, with the following colour palette, gives a lovely aged feel to the prints and the qualities produced by spraying the inked plate with a solvent such as white spirit or brush thinners are very appealing and be useful to know.




Mark-making onto an acrylic, acetate or gelli plate to create a print combined with back drawing is useful technique which I would expect to use again. The loose, slightly quirky nature is very appealing.


The combination of lightweight paper, solvent splashes on the ink and the intricate detail of the grass highlights the potential for using printing as a means to develop ideas with plant materials. I love the gossamer like effect of printing fine detail with dilute inks on tissue.


The round print blocks were very effective and I’m keen to develop this form.  With a love of visual and actual texture, collagraph has great potential for me, from acrylic media, embedded plant material, stitch, fabric and found items.  The 3d effect, mixed colours, embossed and visual texture are visually exciting.


The simple glued circles sprinkled with carborundum are very effective in similar tones, with uneven character and a lovely deep, matt blue contrasting with the gently burnished background.


The quality and velvety finish to the paint is somehow rich and tactile in the following ribbon and lace print, I think its the cloudy, mottled look of the paint that is attractive to me rather than the plate, although the clarity and contrast of texture in a linear arrangement is effective.


The emphasis of the three-dimensional nature of the print is enhanced by the use of primary colour rubs in the following polyfilla plate. I am keen to continue building skills in the application and mixing of inks on the collagraph blocks.


I am very excited at the potential for using stitch with various materials to produce original designs for print from my own drawings as experienced below with thermogauze stabiliser and free machine stitch.

Continuing on the theme of developing ideas with stitch, the print from stitched acetate suggests great potential with firm grounds that can be punctured


and more flexible grounds that can be stitched or collaged as with the Tyvek below.  This too is inspiration to work on subtle colour rubs.


The following is a favourite for the range of value and a reminder to explore different methods to achieve this.



MMT4 – Collatype Printing – Using Stitch & Exercise 3 Collatype Collage prints

MMT4 Workbook 2 Pages 208-209 

Inspired to print from stitch by Val Holmes’ book, Collage Print Stitch, a branch design was free-stitched onto Thermogauze, a stabiliser which is removed by ironing.  The gauze was placed between two sheets of baking paper and ironed.  I wasn’t sure how the thermogauze would react, not having used it before.  Initially, nothing appeared to happen but when touched, the ironed gauze could be crumbled away.  I chose to leave some around the edge of the stitching and didn’t stick it to something to make a more rigid structure.


The stitched branch was laid  onto an inked plate and put through the press.


I was a little surprised not to see more detail as the gauze was quite a loose weave, but the stitching was carefully lifted off the plate and a ghost print taken. The lovely delicate detail of the machine stitch and supporting gauze stabiliser was revealed.  The pale  yellow residue of paint and white halo offsets the the detail of the branch beautifully.


The inked, stitched material was quite difficult to control and when trying to ink it, it rolled around the brayer causing a little frustration, producing the following, slightly scruffy, but energetic image,


which has been stitched into.


Laying the stitching onto an inked plate, running it through the press, then removing the stitching and placing it onto a clean plate ink side up produced a successful positive image with a stronger form and 3D appearance, aided by the accidental specks of magenta ink.


putting the prints together and laying the original stitch piece onto the first print made an interesting series.


MMT4 Workbook 2 pages 197a-207

Continuing the with exploration of stitch, using inspiration from a quick A2 sketch of mine from West Dean Gardens,


an A4 acetate sheet  was machine-stitched with two different weights of cotton thread, a little hastily – I see now that pre-drawing the scene would have been advisable, but for the purpose of seeing how the stitch prints , it has been very successful.


Some areas were ‘stitched’ without thread with the needle (100/16 Jeans needle) piercing the acetate.  The sheet buckled as more stitch was added, so was sewn to a piece of card for the first print run.  Although hastily sewn, with questionable application of ink and poor burnishing in places, the result was exciting with definite potential for further development.  Using different weights of thread, hand and machine stitch, so many individual patterns and textures could be produced.

The stitched lines with quite tight top tension make the holes in the acetate more prominent giving quite a different look to the thicker thread layered and the ink well burnished in the bottom right creating a knobbly leaf and stalk.  The machine thread used for the grass at the bottom of the plate produced finer quality marks when compared with the heavier thread used for some of the plants.  The over-inking has created a slightly sinister jungle effect.



Thinking about different materials which could easily be machine stitched for the next block, an A4 sheet of tyvek was used based on the same sketch as above, but taking a little more time to prepare the design.



The burgundy branches are a combination of hemp thread glued to the tyvek with some added machine stitch.  The right hand tree is glued silk habotai.  All the black stitch is free machined.  the grey is hand sewn and the bottom left is some sisal and retted linen.  A sprinkling of carborundum was used for the path.


I learnt a lot with this plate.  The Tyvek was thin enough for the hand stitches from the front and back to show through, giving quite a lively sketched look which was  quite unintended.   I didn’t seal the plate as I wanted the surface texture of the thread and silk to influence the print.  This was effective but hadn’t appreciated that excess PVA would affect the application of ink or that the Tyvek would absorb ink making it difficult determine what had been burnished.

The first print was over-inked, but the materials needed to absorb the ink to improve following prints and the result was quite moody.


The combination of black stay open ink and linseed reducing jelly, burnished well and rubbed with blue is delightfully moody, atmospheric and moonlit.


In the following, the plate was inked and burnished, then rolled with a brayer giving denser tone to the raised areas and the pva path which by this, the fifth print, was picking up more ink.  The variety in values gives the print more interest .


A ghost print on hand dyed muslin is fine, but a little dull and could be improved with some stitching.


Lovely tones and textures were achieved below by inking an acrylic plate, putting the Tyvek collagraph face down, running through the press to transfer the ink to the Tyvek, then printing from the Tyvek onto the paper through the press. The detail of the texture is enhanced, heightening the contrast between the marks, but some darker marks, perhaps with stitch, would add value.


The following ghost of the above plate has the added texture of the warp and weft of the cotton fabric, is beautifully tactile, with even more detail in the delicate marks.


The loose sketchiness of the printing is very appealing although the arrangement of materials in the centre of the print could be improved upon.

Using stitch combined with different materials to create collagraph plates was a rich learning experience which I look forward to developing in the future.  There wasn’t time to explore soluble material, would soluble film or thread act like breakdown printing?   How many textures could be effectively printed from materials cut with a soldering iron, plastics joined with an iron, part disintegrated with a heat gun?   Laurie Rudling’s delicate use of colour and layered cardboard method’s weren’t explored.  I wanted to print with procion dye paste and print a collagraph plate with discharge paste onto fabric, pierce plates with different sized needles by hand, with the sewing machine, needle punch, print from fabric couched and embedded with fibres using the embellisher, cut and peel mountboard and more.



MMT4 – Collatype Printing- Exercise 2 – Polyfilla Block & Exercise 3 Collagraph Collage Blocks

MMT4 Workbook 2 pages 174-183

Polyfilla fix and grout was used for this plate.  It was a bit stiff to spread and difficult to burnish as the scrim caught on the scratchy surface although it had been sealed with acrylic gel.  A more substantial material like varnish would probably be better than acrylic gel as a sealant in future.

Marks were made into the polyfilla with a grouting tool, a credit card and various natural plant material.

Trying Brenda Hartill’s rub method with yellow, then magenta then cyan was successful, producing lots of texture and a 3D effect.

Print 1 of 2


Print 2 of 2




To experiment with other materials and revisit media used to create texture in Assignment 3, a block was constructed with Pebeo molding paste, Pebeo texture paste and Liquitex molding paste.  To ’embed natural items’ a technique used by Brenda Hartill, echinops seeds were adhered with Evostick wood glue.  The plate was sealed with acrylic gel.

The first print was on Arches 88 paper which is very absorbent using yellow and magenta ink, causing a quickening of my pulse as the embossed reverse, then vibrant, textural print was revealed.


Although the plate could have been burnished a little more to avoid thick patches of ink, the different materials have created some interesting textures.  A second print was taken onto the less absorbent Pink Pig 270g watercolour paper using yellow, then magenta then blue.  The resulting colour combination was a little strange but more attention to burnishing improved the result and detail achieved particularly the stippled effect of the full circle and the speckled surround.  There was still a little too much paint around some of the seeds.

dscf6071 The plate.