Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles


Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles – Course reflection

This course has been hugely beneficial, it has successfully facilitated my development as an artist and increased my confidence.

My tutor and formative feedback via Skype have been instrumental in my success.  Verbal feedback has been clear with no room for misinterpretation or overly negative perception of comments as was my tendency during my first course.

I will, however, take some credit for my success, distance learning is difficult, it is sometimes lonely and frustrating.  To make it work for me, I had to adjust my thinking.  I took heed of the Formative Feedback, regarding it as pointers for development rather than criticism of my ability.  I tried to stop fretting about the negative such as not drawing enough or not visiting galleries on a regular basis and identified my areas of weakness.   I have no previous art education apart from an O-Level.   I can manage an online learning log but I’m a tactile being and a child of the 60’s and 70’s – a pencil in my hand is more creative for my thinking than a keyboard.

I followed the learning logs of those on the newly developed ATV course and was envious of their skills and wanted to emulate them.  So, I tried to identify some of the things that restricted my creativity, (apart from my fear of drawing), I took steps to join or attend groups and devoured books which explored practical creativity.  I struggled with thinking visually and a sketchbook/workbook bursting with colour and texture was my aim.  So where possible I joined local groups or workshops, some prohibitively expensive, others easily accessible.  I made a note of anything of interest, nothing highbrow, just a useful method or tip. Whatever the age or make-up of the group, there is always something to be learnt.

I hover on the periphery of online forums and social media, I don’t turn to it naturally.  It may look as if I don’t participate but I’m happy to share my learning log with anyone who’s interested.   I’m grateful to those of my peers who share theirs, I’m inspired by them, occasionally reassured, sometimes challenged to do something different, often in awe.

With my change of attitude and immersion in the subject, I have enjoyed the Mixed Media Course to the full.

I started tentatively in Assignment 1 questioning ‘Surface Distortion’, particularly folding, never imagining I would be ‘pleating’ my prints to form an artists’ book in the final piece. Gathering momentum in Assignment 2, I felt more able to take risks, although I’m not sure I understood why I was joining or wrapping.  However I became more ‘experimental’ as the course progressed.  By the review at the beginning of assignment 5, I could see how each part had informed the next, I understood how drawing my samples and reflecting on my work and that of others taught me more about what I like or dislike and developed my visual language and understanding of the creative process.

I have enjoyed the less prescriptive approach far more than the style of my first course.  I like to learn and explore new materials, so the course content has suited me.   It has met its professed aims and outcomes, but one of the biggest benefits to me is that it has helped me to develop independent thinking. I have always been inclined to conform and follow rules, it has been liberating to find my voice and express myself, although there is plenty of room to grow.






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Assignment 5 – A Final Piece – Stage 7 Reflection

Before making any decisions regarding the final piece, all of my course work from Mixed Media for Textiles was reviewed.  I looked in detail at everything I had enjoyed and that had created a spark.  Listening to my ‘gut reaction’, I decided to develop printing with stitch.   I felt some conflict as I could see that casting into stitched vessels had potential and had to fight the feeling that I ‘ought’ to follow that lead.   I tested the theory by pinning pages from that workbook on my pinboard and displaying cast samples but could not feel enthusiastic at the prospect.  In the meantime, I was stitching and printing and jotting down ideas at every opportunity, so the decision was made, and it is very satisfying to feel to my core that I have been true to myself and developed areas that are most dear to me.

Reflecting on the final piece against the assessment criteria:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Selecting quality inks, papers and equipment suited to purpose and analysing the skill of other artists has helped me hone my methods and improve my practice to demonstrate good technical skills.  Using my observational skills to examine and reflect on mine and others art work has helped me to identify how line, space, shape, colour, texture and value has been used by others and how to use those elements to best effect in my own work. This is demonstrated having looked at the work of Sophie Munns & Leslie Avon Miller

and then experimenting playfully with collage, screenprinting and layering.

This coupled with reminding myself to consider materials, colour, placement, texture and finish as recommended in the course notes, has resulted in increased competence in visual awareness, design and compositional skills, illustrated in the harmony, variety, balance, rhythm, pattern and movement shown in the final series of artists’ books.


Quality of Outcome

The workbook and online learning log are presented in a logical and consistent manner, clearly indicating my thoughts and actions.  I am particularly discerning in the choice of materials and colour palette in the workbook, keeping a consistency in presentation throughout.  I have practiced with printing tools and materials regularly, immersing myself in the subject to build on the skills developed in Assignment 4’s mono and collatype printing, enabling me to apply the knowledge gained and communicate ideas. The emphasis on studying my own work and making considered choices, as recommended by my tutor, has without doubt resulted in a higher quality of outcome.

Demonstration of Creativity

I have used my imagination to stitch creatively onto a variety of materials to prepare components for printing and experimented with different methods of applying ink to create a variety of values.   My personal voice is developing, enabling me to communicate my ideas, but I would suggest that identifying what lies behind my ideas and using my personal voice to express deeper feelings is an area for development.


As recommended in my last formative feedback, I have paid particular attention to my critical and reflective thinking skills which has been beneficial.  I repeatedly reviewed and reflected on aspects of my work enabling me to make effective judgements about what to take forward and what to leave.  In particular I think that analysing the work of contemporary artists has helped keep my work experimental and current.




Assignment 5 – A Final Piece – an impasse – more reflection & sorting

I started to consider the prints on paper and tissue and how to introduce colour.  Wash the pages? Printing ink?  I quickly learnt it was better to ink wash or paint the paper before folding and to colour the background and papers before sticking as both Matte Gel and PVA resist water and oil based ink when dry.

My progress was disheartening, the results were not as good as the test samples.  (I omitted to photograph them).  I went back to the drawing board, reviewed my work so far.  I felt I could raise my game and returned to printing, overprinting earlier dark samples with white.  Labelled ‘opaque’, ‘opaque’ the ink was, almost impossible to thin, obliterating the earlier print.

I felt a bit overwhelmed and spent too long placing and rearranging printed material on pages for a folded book.  A single print on a white page was dull, definitely not enough impact when set on concertina pages.

Putting the prints to one side, I tried layering the screen printed fine fabrics and tissue.

This was better, more interesting, but would it fold well?  The appeal of the books was the clean folds with the textured prints.  I was still floundering.   Could I get more interest if the background of pages were lightly printed with scrim, stitch or rollered?  Would an all over visual texture in contrasting or complementary colour help?  Yes, more visual texture would make the prints more dynamic.

To work out how many printed pages I would need, I questioned the structure again, thinking I had misinterpreted the instruction.  Although starting with 2 x 8 concertina pages two of the eight were lost at each end when adding the cover.  I adjusted  the design when I realised that if I sewed the third and fifth fold instead of the 2nd, 4th and 6th I got more ‘diamonds’ in the structure, and more visible surfaces for the same amount of paper.

Also, using previously decorated or old print scraps and quickly decorating with inks or acrylic and a roller produced a looser more expressive look that is preferable to me at this stage and brings together the loose, expressive, lively combination of layering colour and texture that I enjoy about printing.

I  sorted rigorously  through my prints to date, retaining only the best. Reviewing the final selection again, I compared them with the samples in my workbook considering materials, colour, placement, texture and finish. I felt the existing prints could be improved, they needed more difference in value, contrast in line and shape to increase the visual texture. Back to the workbook again to identify stitch samples with potential: big loopy chain stitch, lines of chain stitch and textured fabrics had worked well, as had using double thread.   With this in mind, some more stitched pieces were prepared.


Whilst assessing and reassessing my work, I saw the connections between the areas I had been exploring

  • layering printed and painted fine fabrics
  • decorated paper layered collage
  • collagraph prints.

They all use the same principle, ‘play’, add colour, visual texture, make connections in shape and line, contrast shape and line, arrange and rearrange until visually appealing.  If I used a similar approach to the collagraphs, I could definitely ‘raise my game’.

I hadn’t really lost focus, but the choice was too wide, there were so many potential paths. By reflecting, I was succeeding in narrowing my focus.  By re-examining and reminding myself of the skills practiced in earlier assignments and identified as having potential for the final piece, I was excited to get back to print.

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Assignment 5 – A final piece – Coursework Review

As instructed, the course work was carefully reviewed to identify ideas or techniques found particularly stimulating

Assignment 1 – Folding & Crumpling

Wax resist & black acrylic


Why?  The visual texture created by black acrylic settling into the gaps in the wax crayon marks.   The loose, quick marks are energetic, complementary colours of orange and blue, with the addition of yellow are bold and the traces of white from original paper colour add to the visual texture.

Charcoal and graphite on textured paper


Why? The achromatic colour scheme, visual texture and slight metallic sheen of the graphite.  The softness and fluidity of charcoal and graphite to draw with.

Drawing by scraping into wet acrylic paint

Why? The smooth, soft path of the tool drawing into the wet paint is freeing and expressive.

Looking into the centre of linear crumpled tissue


Why? Actual and visual texture and the shadows in the centre draw the eye in.

Cutting holes and adding a light source, static or moving to create shadows

Why?  The soft patterns differing in value, created in light and shadow and the ability to manipulate them by moving the light source.

Assignment 2 – Joining & Wrapping

Natural wrapped pieces in the style of Tim Johnson


Why? The simple palette, the natural texture and matt finish, curves and line of the collected matter, the tactility of the various tying materials, linen, silk noil, cotton, jute thread, dry grasses and plant stuff.  The peaceful feeling working with natural materials causes.

Wrapped Jugs


Why? The contrasting texture of the wrapping material and the shiny ceramic of the jug together with the shapes created by the placement and line of the thread.

Assignment 2 – Joining & Wrapping

Pot coiling

Why? Tactile texture, quirky, characterful shapes, rhythmic, slow stitch making, palette of burgundy, rust and white, re-use of materials.  Once I had grasped the method in each case, these pots were a delight to make and hold, small, tactile, the stitch and materials an enjoyable experience.

Needle felting open weave fabrics


Why? Texture, the tiny burgundy loops in the above sample, the soft melding of fabrics achievable with needle felting.

Loose handstitch in joining


Why? Characterful, textural, pleasure to stitch, lovely contrast of black linen thread against wool.


Why? Produces beautiful translucent quality of fine paper, enhances marks.  Waxed linen scrim, emphasises texture, captures frayed edges, gives 3d potential to fabrics.

Using soluble fabric/film to enable free-machining of dried hydrangea petals

Why? Pleasure of working with natural materials, fragility of dried petals, beautiful veins especially when photographed against the light.

Assignment 3 – Molding & Casting

Creating texture with molding paste, colouring with sprayed ink and Sennelier oil pastels

Why? Fine texture captured with paste, lustrous colour. Sennelier oil pastels, deliciously soft and creamy glide over the surface and blend with fingertips.  Speckled ink adding to visual texture.

Casting paper pulp


Why?  home-made paper, warm, tactile to the touch.  Captured subtle undulating curves of cotton scrim fibres and folds well, slight lustre from graphite.

Casting from Paperclay

Why? So versatile, clay easy to use and warm and light to the touch when green (unfired) but potential maximised with firing, only possible with kiln.  Using paper clay slip, beautifully delicate, fragile casting and even monoprinting possible.

Alginate & plaster of paris


Why? Amazed by quality of texture captured.  Alginate easy to use with quick results.  The pleasure was from achieving such pleasing results from unfamiliar materials, rather than using the materials.


Casting in plaster from stitched bags and soluble film


Why?  I’m finding it difficult to interpret my feelings, they are complex and need unravelling.  It was very satisfying to control the casting material with interesting results, offering potential for further development, but I was more excited by the stitching element and soluble fabrics than the casting materials. The pleasure was the satisfaction of using stitch and being innovative, the samples laid out to entice me into further development are less exciting.  Is this something I need to try again to determine how I feel?

My inclination is that the methods adopted have the potential to produce exciting work, but can I engage myself in the process?

The artex plaster and linen scrim produced great texture, the gathered stitch in the linen scrim bag added interest.  Using the bag with the seams on the outside produced a neater sample.

The orange net sewn to the soluble film created a fabulous texture as the film dissolved, leaving the white machine stitch on the surface and ‘gathers’ in the plaster.

The cast from the stitched plastic envelope was so cushion like, it was immensely satisfying.  An added bonus was the delicate scalloped edge to the ‘stitched’ holes.

Assignment 4 – Mono and collatype printing

Mark making into the ink on the print plate

Why? Loosely drawn marks are so appealing, soft or sharp, fine or chunky, energetic or relaxing, such a fluid way of working by scraping into the wet ink and printed by hand or enriched by the use of a press.

Back drawing

Why? The quality of the line is gorgeous, fuzzy, textural, characterful.

Printing with finish dishwasher liquid as a discharge agent onto corduroy


DIFFICULTY – product appears to have been discontinued – experiment with Finish Liquid gel to see if similar results can be obtained.

Why do I like this?  The marks are delicately textured and ghostly, enhanced by the addition of tiny stitches in a soft palette.

Monoprinting with masks (1)


Why?  The use of the blue and orange complementary colour is effective, the gradation of the darker orange to to a lighter shade as it travels up the page, the texture of the orange created with the roller.  The speckles created with brush thinners, the slightly offset printing of the vase creating the white outline.  The central positioning and cropping of the image.

Monoprinting with masks (2)


Why? The palette, the subtle nature of the marks on the tissue paper print on the right and the speckles created by white spirit allowing the background colour through the black on the left.

Collatype printing 

Why? Fabulous detail achieved with good quality ink, paper and press, vibrant, deep colours, some embossing, 3d effect.

Layers and blocks of colour – mono and collatype hand print, roller counterprinting


Why? Energetic mark making, lots of visual texture, effective layering, complementary orange and blue with addition of yellow, striking use of colour.  White negative space of paper offsetting print well, giving an airy, ‘less is more’ impression.

Printing from stitched materials

Why? huge potential for mark making with hand and machine stitch on numerous materials.  Loose, energetic marks, variety of values, the thread from the back of the hand stitch adds to the character of the marks.   Bottom left blue/black grey moody atmospheric palette.  Added dimension when printed onto different cloth, bottom left loose weave cotton.

Stitch & print with thermogauze

Why? Leaving a little of the Thermogauze stabilizer behind creates additional loose weave texture.  Simple palette, green, black & white, striking effect.


Careful, detached reflection has identified some common preferences and stimulating techniques.

  • working with a limited palette – subtle or complementary
  • loose expressive mark making
  • delicate lightweight papers, detailed visual texture
  • working with natural materials is peaceful
  • print – both mono & collatype, by hand or press with inexpensive or high quality ink
  • stitch – for print, to enhance print, pot coiling

However, the detailed review has also identified many different techniques which could easily distract, so it is important to be discerning.  What is really interesting and how could it be developed to demonstrate good technical and visual skills, creativity, taking risks with imaginative and successful outcomes?

1. Cast, stitched bags & soluble materials could be exciting, exploring how different approaches to stitched solubles will react with different casting materials.

2. Printing with stitch – ideas are flooding into my mind, printing onto fine papers, colour washing the paper first, waxing it after.  Layering papers.  Printing from hand stitch, couching, machine stitch, natural threads vs synthetics, stitch on paper, card, silk, netting.  I feel driven and excited and can’t stop stitching little samples and printing them, taking rubbings, collaging …..

I have felt torn here, I can see potential in the outcome of casting from stitched bags, but the inclination to explore is slight, I would have to make myself whereas I can’t stop myself printing and stitching.   So, I am going with my gut reaction to develop printing with stitch, endeavouring to be imaginative and take risks.






Assignment 4 – Mono & Collatype Printing – Formative Feedback – Reflection

As previously, I enjoyed and found my formative feedback via video useful as I approach assignment 5.   We discussed the work submitted for assignment 4 in general, with Rebecca pointing out the stronger and weaker areas and providing lots of positive comments.

I was reassured that I am doing enough drawing for the course, that it is improving and was encouraged to keep up the practice, perhaps join a life class and ignore any negative voices in my head.

My next step is to expand the critical thinking and reflection of my own work using the same process that I apply to researching other artists.  When reviewing parts 1-4 to determine what to develop during part 5, I will endeavour to be analytical, step back and look at everything dispassionately to decide the best ideas to take forward.

Rebecca also suggested I make a plan, be strict and work to a deadline.

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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.





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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.