Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles


Assignment 5 – A Final Piece – Stage 3 Sample making – Artists’ Books

To determine how to present my prints as a finished sample, the artists researched in this assignment were revisited.  My initial thoughts were to assemble a collage on a canvas or make an artist’s book.  However, once I revisited the artists whose work I’d admired, I quickly went off the idea of a canvas.  It seemed a bit two dimensional, perhaps dated and a three dimensional book was more tempting.  I had admired Ann Symes’s book art, Sophie Munns’ accordian books and Leslie Avon Miller’s small journals, so I looked for a few more examples, some of which are included below.

Thinking about the painted papers and collaged prints on tissue, I was also inspired by Linda Welch’s book art.

I had struggled to find examples of print from stitch and was delighted when an OCA peer recommended Annwyn Dean to me.  She is an embroiderer, printmaker and book artist.  I was interested to note that the “iconography” used in her design “evolves from the embroidery fragments that were made in India in the C18th for the export market” and was fascinated to see the lovely shapes and designs she has produced as a book artist.

I recall my inability to get excited with pleating in Assignment 1 and now see it holds much potential and very much look forward to exploring book forms in the future.

Referring to Alisa Golden’s book, Making Handmade books, some samples were made using papers from my ‘stash’, starting with the simpler folding techniques.

The following is ‘XBook’, made from a single sheet of A4 printed on one side which had been used to test/clean the roller whilst printing.


I was surprised and encouraged by how pleasing the structure was, it stood reasonably well, although one edge of the paper was deckled, a learning point for next time to cut all edges smoothly.  It was easy to to stand and would display prints or collaged papers well.

Moving on, I made ‘Pants Book/Simple Accordion’, again with a single sheet of A4 and similar sized pages to the above.

This too was quite a surprise, I could see it working, although had a slight preference for the XBook which less fussy and easier to stand.

Next was a Pants Book/Simple Accordion with Tunnel, made with a single sheet of khadi paper,  I was looking forward to this as I like the texture of hand made paper and was interested in the idea of the windows created by the ‘tunnel’.  I was disappointed.  It just did not have the appeal of the crisp finishes and sharp folds of the first two books.  It may have improved had it not been a plain sheet but I could not imagine it adding any value to my prints.


A ‘Snake Book’, also from a single sheet of A4 but with more folds, so additional, but smaller, pages:


This too was disappointing, it was difficult to display easily and didn’t stand as well as hoped.

The  finished ‘Guest Book’ below measures approximately 8.5 x 5.5 cm and was made from a sheet of A4.

This was quite pleasing, nice to hold and showed none of the blank side of the page.  It’s a lightweight cartridge paper with glued folded pages but not as neat or cleanly made as some of the others. I might make this style of book again as a gift for a friend or to display painted papers, but think neatly cut single layers of paper with the grain all in one direction is more suited to my purpose now.

The ‘Concertina with Tabs’ below was quite exciting, definitely competing with the favourite two so far.  One appealing characteristic was the fact that it was made with individual pages, in this case 14 x 21.5 cm, which were then joined with the tabs which would be more practical when printing.


A5 watercolour paper was used which gave it a quality feel and takes the tissue prints well, melting into the surface when adhered with Golden Soft Gel (matte).  The printed brown paper made a contrasting tab, with the similar texture of the black brayered ink unifying the prints and tabs.

A ‘Flag Book’ was constructed next.  Here I learned that the flags are better made from card or heavy weight paper, the top and bottom rows were painted 140gsm paper which was a little ‘floppy’ whereas the middle row was a heavy, maybe 220gsm, watercolour paper.  I like the design, it has impact as it is opened, but I think the printed design would need to be planned with the tabs in mind as it could be a bit busy.

Having found the diamond shape in the XBook appealing, I decided to make a ‘Back to Back Accordion Book’, to which I added hard covers.  It was made with good quality cartridge paper and stands well.  There is something simple and clean about the design, it is interesting but I can imagine the sharp folds and geometic shapes offsetting the soft prints well.

So this is my favourite so far, with the concertina in second place.

As a collection (without the khadi book), the samples complement one another,


but in this instance, I think it would be cleaner to use one style and change the scale if the final piece is to be a series. So my next step is to work with the back-to-back accordian book, experiment with scale and try the structure without covers. I may try the tab method from the concertina book to make the accordian book.

Golden A (2010) Making handmade books:100 bindings, structures & forms LARK New York



Assignment 5 – A final piece – Research

Ann Symes

In my search for prints from stitch, I came across Ann Symes’ Knitting Patterns, which are beautiful, delicate prints in limited palettes and resemble some of my initial trials with stitch, which I will relish developing further and recording later in this assignment.

In addition to the ‘knitting patterns’ I found her collagraphs, prints and graphite drawings captivating, a lovely combination of values, loose marks creating visual and actual texture.

The more I looked at her work, the more I admired, such delicate marks and a wide range of values to aspire to.  There are similarities (although slight) between her tea bowl collection and my vases, which I could develop to increase the values and layers inspired by her work.

In the context of developing my printing skills, her work is inspirational, but I also found much of her other work fascinating.

Ann Symes’ background is in graphic design which she says can still influence work but she is also inspired by her surroundings.

The oak and beech woodland that surrounds my home offers an endless source of inspiration through its textures, patterns, sounds, scents, shifting light and shadow, the opening and closing sequences of the seasons, the elements, decay and renewal, small details.  Rather than using specific subject matter I prefer the environment to be a subconscious influence.

Ann Symes 2014

I was also interested to read that, as we have been practicing throughout this course, her

“work evolves as a result of experimenting with different materials and techniques which leads to unexpected discoveries and a resonance”.

I assume her ‘resonance’ is the feeling of excitement when things come together as she states that

“when that stage is reached I can explore and develop it further”.

Leslie Avon Miller paints, draws, collages and makes artists’ books.  I am attracted to the looseness of the marks, the use of negative space, the simple palette, the repetition of marks and her book-making.  She says on her blog, that her work is “a means to honour the world around her”.  She uses collage to record her experiences and also states that

The compulsion for creating collage comes from experiencing life as beautifully wild, poignant, and fleeting. The process of creating collage clears space and light for experiencing the moments.

Sophie Munns is an australian painter who studied Fine Art and has since undertaken a number of artists’ residences at botanical gardens and research in ethnobotany and biocultural diversity. Her research informs her work in which she often abstracts the line and shape of seeds and creates strong repetitive patterns selecting three or four colours for the design.

Once I started to explore hand stitch for print, I was enthused by the patterns and textures achieved with rubbing, so investigated frottage and was particularly impressed by the work of Max Ernst, especially some of the marks which appeared similar to stitch.

Having created lots of rubbing samples and finding myself collaging them together,


I sought an artist who collaged similarly printed and weights of paper and was delighted to find Eva Isaksen’s printed and layered papers, with likeness in mark and the colour palette, I was beginning to explore.

Eva’s work is also inspired by her surroundings:

My work has always been inspired by nature: organic forms, cycles, seasons, land, water, sky, order, rhythm, repetition, growth, life, regeneration. The thin papers, which I print on, draw on, cut up, mix, are layered endlessly on the canvas. My work is about color, line, material, form, and space and about art as a process that always changes and grows.

I have such a fascination with the thin papers I have printed on using different techniques, together with the rubbings, that I am keen to find a way to use and layer them and will draw inspiration from all the artists I have researched in this section.

In my initial experimentation I was also excited by the ‘hole’ remaining having inked a small stitched sample for printing:


and was reminded of an instructional video on youtube uploaded by artist, Gerda Lipski, where she demonstrated monoprinting with a gelatine plate using a mask to create a similar ‘hole’ and produces beautifully textural prints with some subtle colour mixing. (accessed 4.11.16 & 9.11.16) (accessed 9.11.16)

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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)

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MMT 4 – Collagraph – Research

Brenda Hartill

There’s a real three-dimensional embossed feel to Brenda Hartill’s work below with lots of lively texture.  Natural materials are embedded in the plate with pva for some of the trees.

Also like the idea of stacking plates vertically as seen in ‘Variations’.

She is known for her method of using ‘rubs’, usually in primary colours to emphasise the nuances in the texture.  The plate is inked and excess ink removed with scrim, then burnished well with a clean pad of scrim.  Yellow and magenta inks are pulled out on a spare plate and a little applied to scrim.  Excess can be removed on newspaper.  Starting with the lighter colour, yellow, a thin layer is applied creating different tones rather than an even coverage.  The plate is wiped and burnished well and the same process is repeated with the red ink .  Another layer can be added with blue.  The rubs emphasise the three dimensional element.

Brenda Hartill also creates further depth of colour with carborundum which holds the ink well and produces deep velvety colours.  The following YouTube video is a useful demonstration in the method of applying carborundum.

In some of her earlier work, she used embedded plant forms, plaster, glue and carborundum and has more recently worked with blind embossing enhanced with charcoal and pastel rubbings.  She tends to dilute the ink with extender which she feels allows for maximum enhancement of a 3D plate.  Similar materials have different characters, fillers, pre-mixed or otherwise, matt, satin & gloss varnish, different grades of sandpaper or wire wool will create subtle differences in the printed texture.

Laurie Rudling

I am not often drawn to architecture as a subject but find the delicately burnished limited colour palette rather beautiful in Laurie Rudling’s work below.  ‘Les Vielles Tours’ really conveys the impression of old stone towers and the intense indigo, perhaps produced by a carborundum sky is a lovely contrast in ‘Factories’, where the tones gradually change in subtle bands across the print.  His work really illustrates the subtleties that can be achieved with one or two colours and careful burnishing.  The ‘Wanderer’, too has a delicate blend of tones and a deep, velvety indigo new moon shape with the simply cut texture and colour of the dark blue sea contrasting with the feathery lightness of the gull.

The following selection show several examples of stacking or combining plates on a related theme which interests me, I’m not sure if its the story that attracts me or just the careful use of dark and light tone and the many different textures achieved.   Looking at them again, its also the limited palette that appeals which is definitely a preference of mine, especially if there is a analogous element.  I like the soft, subtle quality that can be achieved with considered background textures and burnishing.


Hartill, B & Clarke, R (2005) Collagraphs & Mixed Media Printmaking, A&C Black Publishers Ltd.




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MMT4 – Monoprinting – Research

Degas’ monotypes show a range of techniques demonstrating the texture, tone and form than can be achieved by removing ink from the print plate.  I find the visual texture appealing in The Jet Earring and whilst monotype landscapes have interesting painterly qualities, it is the tone and texture in monochrome that I am keen to explore.

The simplicity of Paul Gauguin’s traced monotypes are attractive, the slightly fuzzy quality of the line and traces of paint transferred from the plate in addition to the drawn areas create an appealing patina. The realisation that watercolour and gouache can be used for monoprinting increases its versatility.

Matisse’s beautiful monotype’s illustrate the importance of identifying important features or characteristics which will enable the subject to be represented with a few carefully selected lines.

Although I found Paul Klee’s prints a little unusual, the combination of materials is interesting.  Several of the examples included are a combination of opaque and translucent watercolour over an oil transfer drawing. The colour combinations are subtle, adding to the line drawings rather than distracting and the brighter analgous orange combination is striking.  The loose wash with patches of colour sometimes overlapping adds visual texture which works well with the  oily smudges from the back drawing.

Sophie LeCuyer’s monotypes were the first to make me gasp, the ethereal beauty and movement particularly in the figure who appears to be floating in a starry background is breathtaking.  The backgrounds seem to be textured by a spray or drips of solvent removing specks or blobs of ink in different prints.  I think there may be a combination of techniques here, including etching, but the potential to wipe away, draw or scratch into ink and splatter the background with solvent is exciting.

Layering prints in an interesting area to explore and Anne Moore’s work offers a limited palette and several translucent layers.  I like the suggestion of text in the background and find the slightly bolder graphic shapes and selective palette calming.

Linda Germain’s prints are included to represent monoprinting from a gelatin plate.  As a Textile Artist, I relish the opportunity to add more tools to my toolkit and whilst I see the benefit and quality achieved by professional presses, printing inks and specialist paper, monoprinting is a tool that can be used very simply with acrylic paints and a printing or textile medium without a press in the home studio, making it a very versatile technique for the textile artist in the design process.   (accessed 17.7.16)   (accessed 17.7.16)  (accessed 17.7.16) (accessed 17.7.16)


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MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Plaster, Concrete, Alginate & Air-Drying Clay

(paper workbook p41-45)

A fabulous resource introducing casting materials.  So much information and temptation to try everything.  During my initial look, I was drawn to shredded paper captured in resin, layered resin, gel-coat, a very thick gel-like polyester resin used to draw in three dimensional space which can be piped from an icing bag.   Alginate caught my attention as a material for the capture of fine detail.

Over-excited at the thought of trying new materials, I had to reign myself in.  Much as I need to push boundaries, I also need to focus on the materials I can usefully explore at home, incorporating some samples from Assignments 1 and 2.

Contemplating a liquid material to capture texture and in preparation for part 2, plaster and concrete were considered.  Initial thoughts are that whilst my eye is drawn to the three dimensional pillows of colour and texture of Rebecca Fairley’s work below and I find them visually appealing,  I don’t feel compelled to touch or feel the material in the same way as I do with paper mache, paper clay and pulp-made products.

Looking at larger, detailed photographs in her online portfolio for a long time, trying to decipher my thoughts and interpret my feelings, there is no doubt that the softer curvaceous shapes are more attractive to me, the flatter, sharper edged pieces, some containing other materials are visually interesting and invite a closer look, those from a more knitted surface which have retained scraps of the cast material are absorbing, but the two that capture the soft, billowing folds of a textured cloth (images P1100371.jpg and P1100363) provoke a feeling not experienced with any of the other samples.  It is so elusive, I almost can’t get it, but it is there, I’m closing my eyes, trying to identify the feeling, a pleasure and warmth, a slight glow, causing a relaxing of my shoulders, maybe a comfort, a coming home?  Is that meaningful or a confirmation that I am comfortable with the familiar?!

When first researching for this Assignment, Ines Seidel’s work was so inspirational, different from anything I’d seen, loose and expressive and telling a story. I still find it so, but feel the ‘story’ is such an integral part of the work that without its title, each piece loses some of its meaning. The inclusion of plant material, strips of newsprint or text on slivers of paper contrast with the dense roughness of the concrete.  There is some capturing of surface texture but more capturing/containment of actual textural material.  I think it is the contrast of materials and textures and an appreciation for the subtle and descriptive humour of the titles of each piece that appeals to me.

Rachel Whiteread’s “sculptures subtly disturb the status quo” comments Charlotte Mullins in her book Rachel Whiteread, Tate Publishing.  The negative space cast certainly plays with my mind, in some cases, I really had to think to identify the space that had been ‘solidified’.  How does her work make me feel?  The mattress cast in rubber has a feeling of being alive, the texture of dental plaster untitled bed/mattress has captured texture like a wrinkled bed, a moment in time,  putting it into context.  I don’t feel the same about the casting of the ‘House’ or the Holocaust Monument which have less ‘life’, although this may be the point. This is art that needs to be seen in person, the size and desolate nature of some of the pieces cannot possibly be felt from a photograph.  Subesquent to this observation I came across an interesting article in The Guardian on a recent work from Whitehead, which reiterates my view.

Though the work photographs beautifully, it was made to be experienced in person. “You need to see it and be with it: the air, the weather, the sky, the ground, the piece and its relationships to all these other things,” Whiteread says. “It’s really quite something.”

The more organic, fluid shapes suggest a softer surface and the negative casts need careful thought as they’re not quite as I expect.   The casts from hot water bottles are the most interesting to me, the pillow-like shape, the rubber more alive than the plaster, the negative space immediately obvious, suggesting the fluid movement I expect from a hot-water bottle.

Rachel Dein’s method of casting plant forms helped me to better visualise the positive and negative aspects of casting. The idea of creating a mould of the negative space in a more flexible material which is then used to to achieve a detailed textural surface became clearer and quite tempting.  The following quote is taken from an article in Gardens Illustrated March 2014. Words Sorrel Everton.

Gathering plants, often from her own garden, Rachel lays them on to a rolled-out slab of clay and presses them in to transfer all their details, before carefully removing them. A wooden frame is then placed over and the plaster poured in. Once set, the clay is peeled away to reveal the ‘plants’ in relief. Yet it feels almost as if the real plants are still there, the casting is so accurate.

Here I am really taken by the detail of capturing nature ‘in the moment’, the composition, fluidity and movement created by the curling stems, the contrast in shapes, from the finest detail to the chunkier stalks.

Exploring alginate as a means of capturing detail, the following clip on pinterest was useful.

Additional inspiration for plaster casting:

Material: Plaster of Paris

  • made from the gypsum
  • when setting, it expands slightly so castings retain detail
  • strong and can be cut, carved, sanded, drilled.
  • works best in flexible moulds eg plastic, rubber, silicone and plasticine
  • gently sprinkle plaster into water, allowing it to sink and leave a few minutes for the powder to properly soak. Add plaster to any clear water.
  • mix slowly and pour gently to avoid creating air bubbles
  • immerse used tools and containers in water immediately to remove plaster and do not empty into sinks or drains.

Safety Considerations

  • When plaster is mixed with water, it is exothermic and can severely burn the skin. Although many tutorials show people mixing plaster with their hands, it is not recommended to do so, the exothermic reaction occurs as the mixed plaster is hardening and just after it would be possible to extract your hand!
  • Non-toxic
  • AVOID inhalation, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact.
  • Wear gloves and dust mask.


Material: Alginate

  • water-based gel, made from kelp, a type of seaweed
  • flexible mould/impression making material
  • produces very accurate impressions
  • clean and safe (used for dental impressions)
  • shrinks as it dries, detaching from non porous moulds.
  • sets quickly, 3-4 minutes
  • single-use product, use soon after forming, moulds deteriorate in 24-48 hours
  • not durable, skin moulds need supporting with, say, modroc

Safety Considerations

  • non-toxic
  • practice good hygiene, wear gloves
  • do not empty into sink or drains


Material: Air Drying Clay

  • soft & pliable
  • dries hard to a durable matt finish that can be painted and varnished

Safety Considerations

  • non-toxic
  • Avoid ingestion or eye contact.
  • Sensitive individuals may wish to wear gloves.


Project 1 – Molding from a surface

Sampling with Alginate, Plaster of Paris and Air-drying clay

My first attempts at capturing the texture of a natural wrapping from Assignment 2 worked to a degree but too much water in the alginate and insufficient plaster of paris powder to water affected results.  The alginate didn’t set well and the plaster cast is a little soft and has subsequently cracked. All the ingredients were prepared with separate disposable containers and spoons for each step with a large bucket of water in the sink to rinse off any remains of alginate and plaster to ensure the plaster didn’t get into the drain.  As soon as the grass was in the alginate, I started to mix the plaster of paris.  Once it was mixed and the alginate seemed set, the grass was removed and the plaster poured in.  The sides were tapped to encourage the air bubbles to the surface.  Once set it was easy to remove the plaster cast from the alginate. Inverting the plastic container to remove the cast, the alginate started to disintegrate.  If supported it may be possible to use it more than once, but better to assume it’s a single use material.  I was really encouraged by the detail of texture achieved from the central wrapped section and the movement created by the fine lines of grass.

Although a little scruffy, I was encouraged by the results.


Inspired by the negative cast of cauliflower found on Pinterest, I suspended a small cauliflower head over a plastic bowl and poured alginate into the vessel.  After two or three minutes, the alginate was set and the cauliflower easily and quite cleanly removed. The proportions of both were better than the first attempt but there were air bubbles in the alginate causing some extra little pimples in the cauliflower cast.  The results were still very satisfying.  There is something really impressive about the detail of textured and three-dimensional form achievable with this technique.



Not expecting to exceed such success, I was overjoyed with the texture achieved by rolling plantains into air drying clay and the resulting plaster cast.  Aquilegia seed heads were also effective but the plaster layer was a little thin and cracked.



The following was cast by pouring plaster directly onto cotton scrim.  The scrim was easily removed from the plaster. a lovely story of the soft undulating folds of the cloth and the loose weave.


Far less successful was the attempt at casting jute scrim direct from plaster.  The hairy-ness of the jute made it impossible to remove cleanly from the plaster.


Far better results were achieved by impressing it into air-drying clay to create a mold and casting from that. In both this and the plantain cast, the scraps of plant material and jute left behind in the cast remind me of the comment that some of Rachel Whiteread’s casts “captured traces of life” (Charlotte Mullins (2004)).  This record of a ‘moment in time’,  the thought of material evidence, a trace of human contact, perhaps in discarded clothing, is touching.


Attempting to cast the underside of a mushroom was a bit tricky, the alginate was difficult to remove from the mushroom and the plaster enveloped the smaller pieces, but the pieces that worked show promise.

The Plaster FAQ—Working With Plaster



MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Paper Clay

(paper workbook p36-40)

Material:  Paper clay

At the beginning of this assignment as I was gathering books for research, I came across Rosette Gault’s The New Ceramics Paperclay Art & Practice published in 2013 by Bloomsbury in my local library and was excited by the apparent properties and potential of paper clay.  I was hooked, read it from cover to cover and made more notes than was perhaps necessary!

When my friend gave me a crash course in paper making, she also made a clay-like substance with paper pulp, water and whiting, omitting to add the pva and sawdust from the recipe.  It wasn’t fit for purpose at the time but after four or five days, the water had evaporated off and she gave it to me to try out.  It was quite difficult to use and a bit crumbly when dry, but I was excited by the result, (previously posted 27th January 2016)

and couldn’t wait to try again, with more of a cook’s approach to the recipe!

Back to Rosette Gault’s book, she describes paperclay as follows:

Paperclay ceramic, as an artist’s medium, is a waterbased compound of clay minerals and cellulose fibre that hardens in the open air and/or can be fired and glazed in kilns”

Paperclay properties and potential:

  • Cellulose fibre and clay shrink at near equivalent rate.
  • Paperclay expands, contracts according to moisture content.
  • Dry or ‘green’ (unfired) paperclay feel harder and denser than cardboard but softer than wood.
  • Used soft, impressions of texture or contour can be taken.  Once hard, can be used as stamps.
  • Items can be dipped or coated.  Dry between layers. Dip string, papercuts, knitting, chicken wire.
  • Pipe from piping bag or squirt from syringe, cast slip or press leathersoft into moulds.
  • Cut leathersoft clay with scissors or blade, fold or drape to dry
  • Treat as fabric or paper, imprint texture, apply surface colour, cut, fold, stretch, drape.
  • Stable when bone dry.
  • Wet and dry combine easily so dry parts can be cut, joined, contoured, carved and altered.
  • Dry can also be worked with power and dremel tools, sawn or carved.
  • Can be collaged flat, dry, cut out, torn from slabs, layers combined to form relief.
  • Fold, pleat, pin, stretch, drape like fabric.
  • Any size can be finished without firing.

All information taken from The New Ceramic, Paperclay Art & Practice by Rosette Gault and published by Bloomsbury Publishing plc.

Excited by paperclay’s apparent versatility, I was delighted to come across Paola Paronetto’s work,  the quirky, characterful shapes, the matt texture, subtle, limited colour palette, the fragility of the fine edges, the tactile nature invites me to hold it and examine the texture with my fingertips, the simple but striking compositions remind me of Moretti.  The corrugated cardboard-like finish is fragile but somehow strong, I imagine their paper/porcelain lightness and wonder if they seem or feel strong in reality.  Paronetto’s pieces are fired during which the paper is burned away. Working at home, samples would be finished unfired.

Gizella Warburton’s work, below, appeals.  Although not paper clay, but referred to as mixed media or paper cloth and thread, the properties are similar and I feel drawn to the tactility of of her work and the materials.  I imagine the lightness and warmth of unfired paper clay would be replicated in the combination of paper cloth, paint and thread used in her pieces. Once again, the limited palette, the simple but highly textured surfaces, both visual and actual beg to be examined, delicately traced with the finger tips, the bowl like shapes cupped in the hands.

Within her artist statement, she explains:

My work explores an intuitive response to linear, textural and light detail within landscape and surface. Abstract compositions evolve through the tactile and contemplative process of drawing with paper cloth and thread. Mark making is an intrinsic part of my practice: shadowed, scratched, stained, scarred, pierced, wrapped and stitched…

Sara Ransford‘s paperclay work (above) is so detailed,  a myriad of finely rolled sheets or tiny formed pieces, with repetition bringing unity to her work.

Safety Considerations:

Paperclay is non-toxic but as with all art materials, those with skin allergies may want to wear gloves and test a small sample first.

IMG_3535 (24 North Street, Clapham)

The above caught my eye in North Street Potters, Clapham.  They are perhaps porcelain rather than paper clay porcelain but their delicate, fine nature allowing a tealight to highlight the impressed pattern inspired me to try impressing thinly rolled paper clay.

Further inspiration for paperclay samples:


Sampling with bought paper clay

Using small pieces, the clay was easy to roll out directly onto the kitchen worktop. Wrapped natural samples from Assignment 2 were impressed into the clay.


A spatula eased the clay off the kitchen worktop and into some left over packaging to create shallow saucer like shapes.  It took three days to dry fully and the result is some lightweight, thinly rolled, textured and fairly robust pieces.  It was an easy, clean process, successful in capturing texture.

Graphite and oil pastels were used to highlight the surface.


They were light enough to be joined with stitch, a needle pierces the paper clay but thinking of  Assignment 2’s experiments with staples and Jane Neal’s hanging pierced paper led me to try staples which would show the versatility of paper  versus air-drying clay. The shallow disks were easily joined with staples, a combination of materials worthy of further exploration.

Exploring the surfaces by drawing helped me to understand the nature of the marks.


The structure is lightweight and quite delicate.  So much so that the initial linen thread used to hang the stapled piece seemed a bit heavy and was replaced with a fine wire which disappeared into the background.

I enjoyed working with the paper clay.  When wet, it was pliable but not sticky, relatively easy to roll thinly, to tear and to impress with texture.  The dried clay is still slightly flexible and durable.  It may tear if forced, but not readily.  Finer feathered edges might be possible.  The lightness and warmth of the material is appealing.

Mark making into the clay was quite absorbing and the fossil-like flower shape produced by the free machined stitching suggests drawing with sewing machine on soluble materials offers lots of possibility for creating texture.


The graphite and shades of grey oil pastels rubbed into the surface harmonised with the thin, lightweight shapes.  The torn edges and negative space added to the interest and could be developed.


Whilst stapling, I realised the shallow saucer like shapes could be joined to form a bowl-like structure and both sides of the clay could be textured.


I am still very keen to make my own paper clay or paper-mache clay but time constraints limited me on this occasion.  Refining recipes for my own clay, whilst developing ideas and techniques,  I could happily lose myself in this material.

Just before submitting this assignment, I decadently attended a paper clay workshop run by Claire Ireland at West Dean College.  (what a beautiful location and fabulous day experience)

Experimenting with Paper Clay – Taster Day – West Dean College – 3rd July, 2016

The day concentrated on experimenting with porcelain paper clay pouring slip.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and informative and I left 23 pieces there for firing.  End results to follow in due course.


Added 26th September, 2016, fired paper clay, what exciting results!  So fine and delicate, if I had a kiln, I’d explore this further.

Hessian and scrim, good texture, but not as exiting as leaves.


and the potential to pipe lacy designs:

Paper clay doesn’t need to be fired, but is transformed into such beautiful, delicate porcelain like pieces.




Gault, Rosette (2013) The New Ceramics Paperclay Art & Practice, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London