Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

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Part one Surface Distortion – SORTING & Reflection

Having made samples in response to research and noted the outcomes, the most interesting or effective pieces and those with potential are identified for further development.  These observations are to be recorded and the outcomes and assignment reflected upon.

Project 4 – Scratching and Embossing

During this exercise I explored scraping into wet paint.  This suited me, with limited time available before the paint dried, I was forced to draw quickly and not spend too much time deliberating over my mark making, creating stronger, more confident lines.  As blogged at the time, I enjoyed the speed of drawing into the wet paint and felt freer and more expressive with a scraping or monoprint tool in my hand, than a pencil.  There is energy and movement in the lines and the contrast of the black paint against the silvery blue mottled background enhances the marks.  The two samples below were in response to Angie Lewin’s drawings, but a combination of the technique used and my own observational drawings of agapanthus seed heads has potential for development, if only as a method for recording observations.



I think this is my favourite outcome for further development.  Before choosing the hessian to emboss, I didn’t feel any connection or inspiration with my efforts but felt rewarded when the results of the hessian were revealed.  I love the organic nature of the marks and embossed texture, the way it can be faded out at the edges or highlighted with more pressure as in the centre square.  I am very keen to explore this further and to try embossing with a printing press and other found materials.  I also intend to emboss into paper pulp which I didn’t find time for during this assignment.  Paper making isn’t something I have tried before, but the potential textures, inclusions and feel of hand-made paper is so enticing, I shall have to experiment.



Project 1 – Folding and Crumpling

Surprised by the excitement crumpling of tissue created convinced me that this media has potential for further development.  The texture captivated me, the delicate lines and crevices, the play of light on the surface, creating different tones of colour.  The bronze tissue with a metallic but matt surface was delicious on early ‘crumples’ but lost its lustre with repeated use.  I only had one sheet, which was disappointing and haven’t found it since, but will continue to look.  The work using pink tissue was dramatic in A2 sheets and the rich pink increased the drama.  I could envisage huge flower shapes or multi cones joined to create a ball decorating a party venue with good impact.  The green and white was very effective too, with the shiny cellophane creating contrast to the white waxed tissue, with colours reflecting from the cellophane onto the tissue. The waxed tissue had a little more body and spikier forms held their shape well making it easier to create interesting placements by combining different forms.

Limiting the crumpling to linear was very effective, making strong lines in the gold tissue and lots of stretch, giving the single ribs below good height and shape. I absolutely loved the simplicity of cutting a rectangle across the diagonal, pinching the bottom and creating a beautifully curved organic leaf shape.  It was appealing in linear pleats, but using linear crumpled tissue took it to a whole new level for me. The leaf below is almost A3 sized but variations in scale are just as appealing.

The potential for colouring and crumpling or crumpling and colour is great and the following sample is included as a reminder that with consideration, crumpled or folded work could be greatly enhanced and personalised with the use of colour.


The music paper was so pleasing to use, the soft, creaminess of the paper, the added visual texture provided by the notes and is included as a reminder of the joy and pleasure that working with some papers give me and that found papers have lots to offer with the added patina of age.


Project 2 – Cutting and Tearing

During my research, I was truly enchanted by the shadows created by Marc Fornes’ installations and think there is potential in cutting holes or flaps with a view to creating shadows to present with a controlled or changing light source.


Interestingly, I think I produced less unsuccessful work during this assignment and feel I was more considered, benefitting from better research and stopping myself from developing things that seemed uninteresting from the outset.

I had more potential ideas than usual and ran out of time in some areas.  I was hoping to tie-dye and try some shibori techniques on paper, to emboss into paper pulp, make paper; explore puncturing and stitching, make holes in abaca tissue with a soldering iron, develop a crumpling idea that could be filmed and so on.

My working practice was more organised and focused, although, my time management could be improved upon.  I tried to record how long I worked to identify less productive behaviour which was useful.

I don’t think I was very adventurous at the beginning, when starting with scratching and embossing, but became more discerning as I got into crumpling, thinking more about the quality and visual appeal of the materials as I progressed through the other exercises.

One of my main achievements has been cementing my understanding of the context of research in relation to my studies.   I started to grasp this at the very end of A Creative Approach but feel I have really put in into practice during this assignment.

The course has been really enjoyable, much less prescriptive than A Creative Approach, during which I fretted and worried if I had interpreted the instructions correctly.   I feel I was able to be more creative, far less concerned with the outcome and more engaged in the process and following instinct.  I have developed my photography skills in considering how to  present the work and discovered the pleasures of grouping items.

I feel much more comfortable about the whole process of study and developing my creative side.  My mindset is different.  Previously I was concerned about proving what I could do in the eyes of others and sensitive to criticism, whereas this time, as I developed a way of working through the course, it became more about exploring creativity.  Also seeing feedback as a pointer for improved development, as constructive rather than personal criticism.

Thinking about the course in relation to the Assessment criteria:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills I think I have shown competent technical and visual skills.

Quality of Outcome I have continued to show competent exploration of ideas in this context, presenting samples well with discernment.

Demonstration of Creativity I think there has been a little more evidence of creativity and risk-taking, although I was so engaged in working with paper, I see I could have explored more unusual materials and taken more risks in that respect.  There has also been more evidence of the development of a personal voice.

Context  I have benefitted hugely from much wider research and have a much better understanding of the value and context of considered investigation of the work of others.  I am working on increasing my vocabulary for more effective analysis and reflection, trying to consider texture, colour, scale, line, placement and structure.

Comments from my first Assessment (A Creative Approach) indicate that one of my main strengths is the variety of potential ideas explored in research but that the outcomes are not as strong as the supporting work I produce.   Although I’m not really sure how to address this, overall, I have greater confidence in my ability to study to degree level and feel that the style of this course, better quality research and drawing from observation will help improve development and resolution of ideas.


I continue to be astounded by the resistance I encounter to draw.   Whilst I am aware that quick, loose sketches will suffice in many instances, I am still compelled to produce a ‘finished product’ and don’t naturally turn to sketching to record visual information.    When I’m not forcing/training myself to work digitally, I like to study with a pen in my hand and keep a notebook .  I think it would help my cause if I could convert my note taking habit to quick sketches and will add this to my strategy to make drawing habitual.

Future Aims

  • more drawing
  • more risk taking
  • increase analysis skills.





Project 4 – Scratching & Embossing – Exercise 1 Embossing


Earlier in November I visited The Masters|Relief Prints exhibition at Bankside Gallery 3-15th November, 2015.

The exhibition was dedicated to relief printmaking (woodcut, metalcut, linocut, wood engraving, relief etching and block press), curated by Angie Lewin RE.

I was particularly drawn to  Lines exploring space outside the [Building] B(l)o(cks)x (xii), relief embossing using dust and stitch by Sumi Perera RE

The piece was an assemblage of white square paper sheets embossed to form tray-like shapes with a gentle curved lip on three sides and an undulation in one corner. Each ‘tray’ held two or three smaller rectangular pieces of paper, heavily embossed with a variety of lines and shapes, mostly straight edged, presumably by relief printing.  There was also some stitching, the pierced paper creating lines of tiny raised peaks, adding to the texture, and the loose uncut thread ends causing whispy shadows, both of which contrasted with the embossed lines.

Each tray was about 25cm x 25cm and they were displayed horizontally to be looked down upon.  The modules were arranged differently at The Bankside Gallery, than the example from Saatchi Art (link below) and on Pinterest, above, which was exhibited at the Barbican Centre 2015.  The installation probably covered approximately 1 metre square.

The paper was white and although I can’t be certain, it appeared that the dust had been used in the flat areas of the printing, introducing a very pale grey, accentuating the areas in relief. The thread was off white and cream just contrasting with the background and the overall piece, delicate neutral tones, added to by the subtle effect of shadow from the embossed areas. Most of the modules also had a circular embossed design including Sumi’s name.

I found the piece successful, enjoying the combination of raised textures, the cohesion created by the use of limited materials and palette and the interest created by the actual texture of the embossing and stitch, accentuated by the dust and shadows.  The similar but different combination of embossed shapes and paper size within each identically sized tray added to the uniformity.  It was also interesting to note the flexibility of having a number of modules which can be installed differently on each occasion.


My first thought was that embossing is raised pattern but Sarah Taylor, Derwent refers to indented pattern as ’embossing’, although the definition is ‘debossing’.

Embossing in this way was quite straightforward on cartridge paper, although embossing tools were easier to use and more efficient than some of my found objects.




There is potential for some quite original marks, but not very exciting at this point.

Moving on to look at my original concept of embossing, a key was stuck to the cutting mat with double sided tape and some khadi paper taped on top and the outline of the key embossed with various sized embossing tools. The technique requires patience, too much force results in holes, better results are achieved by gradually increasing pressure as the paper fibres are softened.


Cartridge paper was less successful but experimenting with different papers proved that blotting, Fabriano 5 watercolour paper and khadi were easier to emboss. Slightly different results were achieved  by trying dry, damp and soaked paper.


The paper lightly sprayed on each side was most effective with Khadi and watercolour paper.  The blotting paper was a little more inclined to hole and produced a softer edge.

Using the same papers, it was possible to emboss a scallop shell.

Although encouraged that I had a reasonable idea of embossing, I wasn’t very inspired, apart from the possibility of enhancing a coloured pencil drawing with texture created by an embossing tool.

An alphabet stencil and some biscuit packaging were reasonably successful.

Trying a more organic form, in some different weights of hessian, I was rewarded for persevering, more interesting lines, more energy, more potential.


All four examples of embossed fabric have more potential than all the previous samples, but my preference is for the loosest weave, then the sacking and lastly the denser weave which has less texture and movement than the others. Varying the pressure when embossing and working some areas more heavily than others influences the texture.


The above sample is the most interesting as the central square, more heavily embossed, contrasts with the surrounding weave which fades towards the edges.  The gentle curves and uneven units create texture and lend movement to the sample.


Plowman, John (2007) Papermaking Techniques Quantum Books Ltd

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



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Project 4 – Scratching and Embossing – Exercise 2 Scratching


Starting at the bottom of the recommended links for research in this assignment, I opened Dezeen, an online architecture, interiors design magazine, which according to The Times, Jan 2013, “curates a selection of the best design and interiors from around the world.”

My immediate response to the website was a sinking heart that it was not my thing – a rash and incorrect assessment.  I was quickly introduced to cutting edge design, transporting me from my bedroom workspace to the modern world, somewhere I need to visit more often!  I was particularly inspired by Itay Ohaly’s scratchable vases which reveal hidden colours.  Investigating his work further, I was led to his Colored Memories installation at Israel’s Design Museum Holon in 2014 where visitors scratch walls and furniture to create coloured etchings.

The black vases have been designed for the consumer to etch into the surface to reveal glimpses of colour beneath (Dezeen, 2015).  Ohaly created the surface using several layers of paint, separated by an oil layer and has engraved the vases to demonstrate how they would look when etched. (Dezeen, 2015)

‘In this project I continue with my exploration into the colour etching technique,” Ohaly told Dezeen. I wanted to apply this technique to objects and I was interested in bringing this kind of aesthetics into peoples home. Furthermore, By using manual etching, I am trying to play and explore a kind of irregular, ongoing and evolving doodles which create unique overall patterns.’ (Dezeen, 2015)

I was drawn to the visual texture of the vases etched by Ohaly.  The limited palette of three colours, yellow, blue and pale pink against the matt black bring the simple doodles together to create coherence in the overall design.  Whether the proportion of colour underneath the black would be sufficient to create the same effect with a less informed engraver is questionable. I wonder if the vases come with tips on how to doodle effectively! My interpretation of Ohaly’s doodling:



A livelier interpretation using wax crayon and acrylic paint

The three angular shaped vases sit well together, each with a square neck at the top and the angle from the neck to the flat sides mirroring the angle to the base.


However, I do think their overall success is significantly affected by Ohaly’s doodles, the similar size of the marks and the difference in tone achieved by varying the thickness and angle of lines has created an overall pattern.  Displayed together against a plain, pale background, the vases could look very appealing.

Referring back to the Colored Memories  installation, I was struck how effectively the technique could be used for community projects or children’s workshops.  I have worked with a friend for the last three years on a summer workshop combining music and art for children between the ages of 5 and 10.  The day culminates in a display of their artwork and a concert.  In addition to an individual art project, we aim to produce at least one group piece with maximum impact. This technique could be adapted for future use.


The exercise is to use scratching methods to distort a material’s surface, creating texture and form, starting with paper.


Using the above tools, 150gsm cartridge paper was difficult to scratch, it had a very smooth surface.  I added pencil to make the marks more evident, but they are more like slight indentations than scratches so little actual texture was created and overall it was flat, not very interesting and therefore not very successful.


150gsm coloured khadi paper was more satisfying.  The khadi paper, which is hand-made already has a texture, the surface is warm and tactile, scratching with the same tools as above produced more distortion in the surface than the cartridge paper. The more pressure the greater the indentation.  It was difficult to break through the material which had potential for a variety of marks and tools and an interesting energetic outcome.


I attempted to scratch into a coated card:


It was difficult to make much impression as the surface was shiny and hard.  I shaded over some of the scratches with oil pastel to try to make them more visible.  Perhaps more aggression is required although it was possible with sharp points to make smooth curves. The scratched surface lacked impact, although in the bottom left, the bradawl pulled hard down across the surface created some bumpy texture and the japanese screw punch left clear circular indentations in the card.

The following board from a photo mount, which seems to be covered with a textured black paper was more successful with the sharper tools creating visual and actual texture.  Scratching in one direction produced a smoother line than scrubbing in both, scribbling in curves was more difficult because the surface was uneven.


The next was the most rewarding so far for me, a piece of Scraperboard from a set given to me about 40 years ago!  I’ve no idea how I came to keep it as I don’t have anything else similar from my childhood.  The potential for a variety of marks and tones was evident and it bore more similarity to the appearance of the surface of Itay Ohaly’s work, which inspired me to chose this exercise.


Plastic packaging:


and another go with the most successful tools, two serrated knives, a lemon zester and a corn on the cob prong.  This has been one of the better examples of actual texture so far.


Kitchen foil, the photographs suggesting more success than was actually achieved. The surface was too thin and easily torn if too much pressure was applied.

The inside of a drink can which was difficult to make an impression on.


A piece of terracotta flower pot, scratched with terracotta, although the scratches are removing moss rather than distorting much of the surface of the pot:


A laurel and rhododendron leaf half painted with gesso and scratched with a pin.


Considering Itay Ohaly’s scratched works, I prepared various samples of scratch board using wax crayons, oil pastels or an oil stick as the base and acrylic paint, acrylic and india ink as the upper surface.

Whilst waiting for them to dry, I covered an area of dry acrylic paint with black oil pastel and scratched into that:


The original paint was a bit uneven with scrapes evident from credit card application but the results were quite exciting as a good variety of tones and marks was possible.

Motivated to continue I tried out one of my prepared boards, a slightly shiny white covered cardboard covered with a thick layer of sennelier oil pastels and a layer of indian ink, which had been left to dry for several hours.  I could scratch into it but felt it was a bit soft so left it overnight.  It was firmer, allowing a greater variety of marks.  The photo is slightly enlarged. The thicker white lines were carved when the card was still damp.  Once I got going the marks were in response to a memory of some animal fur drawn during my previous course creating a ridged texture and energetic movement.


Conscious that my mark making should be responding to something rather than just invented, in response to a birthday card designed by Angie Lewin, I scratched into this gesso-painted textured photo mount cardboard.  Although it was difficult to get a smooth line and the paper covering scraped away in places, I was very encouraged by this sample. Having enjoyed my experience of printing so far, cutting lino and eco board for collagraphy, I could sense growing excitement of a connection here worthy of greater experimentation.


I copied some of Angie Lewin’s seedheads trying out coloured pencils, water soluble coloured pencils, a dip pen and a fineliner.

Still waiting for my painted scraper board to dry, I experimented with the blue and silver paper used earlier, painting it with black acrylic paint and ‘scratching’ into the wet paint. (Sgraffito), continuing with marks in response to Angie Lewin’s design.

The paint dried quite quickly. The thicker marks were produced with a rubber tipped colour shaper and the finer lines with a pinboard tack as the paint dried. I was getting a bit over-excited at this point, I enjoyed the speed of drawing into the wet paint and felt freer and more expressive with a scratching/monoprint tool in my hand, than a pencil.

I drew some agapanthus seed heads from still life.

and tried out the wax & oil pastel scraperboard:


I was a little disappointed with the above, the three on the right hand side had a top coating of acrylic paint which didn’t work well.  Painted onto oil stick and pastels the surface was thick and rubbery, peeling off as I scratched.  The acrylic paint on acrylic paint separated with vegetable oil, similar to Ohaly’s approach was too hard, difficult to scratch into and scratched off both layers of paint back to the card.  India ink and acrylic ink on oil pastels on the shinier side of the card was more successful but all samples could be improved upon.

Searching for a better combination, I tried gouache paint mixed with a drop of washing up liquid on top of oil pastels, below top left.  This was more successful for colour and control of scratching.  The under colour was applied in stripes which was also quite effective for the grass and seed heads.   Below right, black gouache and washing up liquid onto acrylic paint was difficult to scratch into.   Below bottom, white acrylic ink on blue and grey oil pastels had something about it, perhaps the watery look of the thinly applied ink or the subtle colour palette.  It had some energy and a calmness at the same time and could be developed and improved.


Still keen to find the perfect clean, non-sticky surface for scratching into like Ohaly’s vases, the following samples were produced using the best of the above combinations.  Oil pastels and gouache on the left, white acrylic ink in the centre and black acrylic ink on the right.  The top right cheaper but more vibrantly coloured oil pastels and black acrylic ink with a drop of washing up liquid resulted in the best surface for mark making, but a drier, more durable surface is still eluding me.


This first exercise has taken much longer than anticipated as I attempted to apply all the pointers I had gathered from my refresher of the OCA website, study guides and the course manual, but I was excited and inspired by the process.  My head is full of ‘what if?’ ideas, which is unusual for me (I aspire to such an immediate flow of thoughts rather than a slow realisation that I could try this or that!) – my growing excitement and enjoyment of mark making by scratching into wet paint in particular and the other surfaces connects with the enthusiasm I have felt for the basic mono-printing and lino-printing and strengthens the thought that these techniques are valuable to me. (accessed 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) (DIY Scratch Art with Sea Lemon – HGTV Handmade)(accessed 8/11/15)