Tuesday, 3 March 2015

3D Bridge

For sometime now, I've been working towards a 3D piece based on photographs of shadows on a bridge in Pennsylvania - mentioned several times before on this blog (particularly here and here).

It has reached this stage so far ... a maquette in paper of photographs and random monoprint cut into strips ...

Now to realise in stitch ... and more cloth from Fingerprint?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Water soluble graphite pencils

I recently bought three water soluble graphite pencils, 8B, 6B, and 4B, and have been trying them out.

Here in these samples, I've worked on an enlarged and cropped section from a photo of a metal suspension bridge structure. It had printed out in unexpected and unrepeatable colours thanks to the fact that I had ignored the warning on my printer that an ink cartridge need replacing ... just shows it doesn't always pay to heed warnings!

I then added simple extended lines to the image and filled in some of the negative spaces with the graphite pencils where I felt something might be gained.

I'm interested in the way the extra lines and graphite shading around the central circle seem to give added perspective and depth. They bring forward the black bridge structure and throw the fine lines of the bridge cable back.

I then cropped further, rotated and altered the colour in Photoshop.

... Some ideas to use in my stitching?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Evening Stitching

I always like to handstitch in the evenings- but I almost never pick up a needle for a prolonged session during the day. There seems to me to be something guilt-inducing about sitting down in the relaxed way necessary for enjoyment when there are things to be done, be they experimenting with new ideas for textile work, or drawing ... or (unfortunately and as infrequently as I can get away with) household chores. Stitch is a meditative business. The repetitive in and out of the needle and the gradual generating of pattern and line seem particularly suited to the end of the day.

I always have at least a couple of small pieces in progress, sometimes working out stitch ideas and sometimes stitching intuitively on a random ground. I often have two levels of thought going on in my mind: the main reason I had for stitching at the beginning and other thoughts that may surface during the piece as it develops.

In a couple of posts since Christmas, I've posted some of these little pieces and this week, I've been working on another. I've repeated the 8 inch square format of many recent smaller pieces as I find this size very manageable as I experiment - not so big that it takes ages to complete and not so small that it becomes fiddly and limits me in exploring ideas.

When I began this time, I had few preconceived ideas except to explore the length, spacing and intensity of stitch, and also some possible stitch combinations and how they relate to one another. I was responding intuitively to a random, abstract mono printed ground, developing stitch as mark.

I made just a very few rules for myself, feeling the need for something to prevent the piece getting totally out of control. These were around how to treat edges (which threads to extend from the stitched surface at the beginnings and ends of rows) and the interplay between the stitch and the ground (stitching mainly into the light areas on the cloth).

I also gave myself a high horizon - much higher than I would usually choose. I was exploring the limits of what is possible while still maintaining some balance within the piece.

The thoughts in the back of my mind have been to do with exploring ways of creating contrast, movement and tension within the piece. I've also experimented with which areas to leave completely unstitched.

... and to relieve the monochrome, there is just a hint of red in the stitching ...!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Printed fabric from Fingerprint

For some time, I've been dissatisfied with the quality of the print outs of my images using a standard inkjet printer. The crispness of the image and the colour reproduction are often very disappointing and I'm pretty sure the finished work would fade if hung in strong light, although I have yet to experience that personally.

I've considered many other printing methods and, while each has its appeal, they are not ideal for the digital images I generate from my own photographs. I find the methods at best slow to execute and it's difficult to try out different effects and make changes quickly as I experiment. Some ways of preparing the fabric to improve printing, waterproofing and lasting qualities leave it stiff and unpleasant in the hand for stitching.

One line of thought I've pursued is to send off the images for commercial printing to Laura Kemshall's company Fingerprint, following a recommendation from Olga Norris. Two weeks ago I ordered two fat quarters of fabric to be printed with my own bridge shadow photographs onto plain cotton.

The parcel containing the fabric arrived on Friday and I am delighted with the results. The images have come up crisp and clear and the colours are very true to the original. The cloth is soft in the hand and will be a pleasure to stitch I feel sure.

Fingerprint seems to offer an excellent service. On the website, it is very easy to upload and organise images to make best use of the space allowed.

The charge was extremely reasonable - £6.00 per fat quarter, including postage. I could have ordered long lengths as well as the small fat quarters I chose for my experiment, also very reasonably priced.  

My only warning would be that my order took two weeks to arrive. Had I been in a hurry, this could have been a problem. It is certainly necessary to plan ahead when using this service but maybe this is only to be expected. I will surely use Fingerprint again. It was a personal and considerate service producing high quality printing.

Indeed, an extra fat quarter with my images was accidentally printed onto a light weight cotton as well as the plain cotton I'd ordered and this was sent to me free of charge.

What more could I ask?

PS Following this post, Laura Kemshall has kindly sent me details of the turnround times for Fingerprint to help with planning the timing of orders.

She says:  'We usually give a guideline on turnaround for printing of approximately 10-12 working days although this can be a little longer at busy times. The actual custom printing and finishing process takes on average four days depending on quantity. If you’re working to a deadline just let us know and we will always do our best to fit in with your schedule.' 

I hope this will be helpful for anyone planning to use this excellent service.