Stitching with my eyes closed 

Some of you will know that I have been participating in the #365handstitch2017 challenge where people are asked to stitch a minimum of a thread a day for a year. I thought it was time to show you the progress so far.

The ‘front’ of the piece 

As you can see I’ve already added several pieces of cloth together and am working on melding them together.  I made the decision up front to ‘stitch with my eyes closed’, (a process I have been using since I first started this blog). Working this way has meant that I do not visually self-censor. This choice has removed from me the necessity of neatness. I also find the process of leaving the decision about which thread and which stitch to use, until the moment I pick up the work, really freeing.  

Other people online have asked some very pertinent questions about the direction the work is taking. This has made me think about a number of issues, in particular whether I have a specific end in sight – no; and how much bigger the piece might become. 

So I have decided that the current size is where I will leave it (at present). The obvious question of what to do when I run out of space to stitch, was equally quickly answered -work on ‘the back’. I have started this process and not looking while I stitch has helped a lot. It is so hard not to be precious with my work.

The ‘back’, with two new areas of work in cretan stitch and herringbone stitch.

You can see from the photo above that the reverse side of the stitches predominantly resembles small running stitches. That’s why I’m currently adding some strongly coloured lines of stitching. You can see from the following photos that the reverse of even strong colours is not very intrusive. 

Blue herringbone stitch is quite strong when looking at the face of the stitch

The reverse of the stitch is quite unobtrusive

The ongoing challenge will be to stick with the process. It may be difficult to ‘spoil’ this work, but working against an established aesthetic is hard.

New stitches

At last back to stitching. I was not happy with the first version of this piece which was blind stitched ‘lazy daisy’, so pulling the thread out and re-stitching was the way to go.

I didn’t take a photo of the first version, but I’ll leave you to imagine the blue diasies that were pulled out at the top.

Here in sequence is the piece as it was undone and re-sewn.

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The final version …

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Intense print – 8 June 2011

Three days into an intensive session of printing at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery. Preparation for a group exhibition later this year.

The blind stitching I’ve been doing onto cardboard has proved a valuable source material for my explorations.

 

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This is a monoprint using some of my blind stitching works.

The same pieces of work can also be used to make a texture on a screen, using techniques from a workshop I recently took with American textile artist Kerr Grabowski on deconstructed screen printing.

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Irregular Exercises

Earlier this year I took a class with Ruth Hadlow, an artist now working across many media, but someone whose practice is based in textiles. One of the themes we discussed in that class was strengthening our ‘artistic muscles’ by regular practice. It was acknowledged that textile practice can be extremely time consuming, often due to the labour intensive nature of the work. In exploring some other options Ruth showed us some examples of artists who have worked in what can be described as ‘diaristic’ terms. Some of the points I got from this discussion are as follows:

  • Rather than overburdening one or two pieces of art with all your ideas make lots of work.
  • An adjunct to creative practices that are detailed and time consuming – make a work in a day – a ‘light weight’ practice.
  • A diaristic practice doesn’t have to be your main work but it keeps the creative line going through the rest of what you do.

I decided that one practice that I could instigate was blind stitching – or what I’ve called ‘a stitch in the dark’. In my previous post I explained the origin of this concept. Here is how I do it:

A STITCH IN THE DARK
Take a piece of cloth. Thread a needle and sew without looking at the cloth. You can stitch in the dark, close your eyes, look away. Do not look at the work until the thread has run out.

I’ve been using cuffs, collars and pockets from clothing I’ve dismantled for other work and random embroidery or other threads. While I have lots of these pieces around I’ve realised that I’m not always in a position to have my stitching to hand. For those situations I’ve developed an alternative:

MARKS IN THE DARK
Take a piece of paper and pen, pencil whatever. Make marks on the paper. You can make your marks in the dark, close your eyes, look away. Do not look at the work until you have ‘finished’. Or perhaps I should say once you look at the work do not start working on it again.

From time to time on this blog you will see examples from this series. Here’s one I did earlier.

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