2nd Group Crit and evaluation of my work in progress

Although the Textile Pathway members have regular meetings over lunch to discuss our work with the tutor today was the 2nd group crit we had with all pathways together. Instead of the usual ‘going round the room’ we were split up into multi-disciplinary groups, I was with 3 fine artists, and the tight format worked well for me. Person 1 had five minutes to present her/his work; the other three had to remain silent. The next five minutes person 1 remained silent as the other three discussed the work. Person 1 then had a further five minutes to clarify any points the others had queried. Finally five minutes were spent by person 1 feeding back to the whole group what they had learnt.  The energy levels stayed high – there was none of the usual mid-afternoon flagging, in fact we were done by lunch time yet we all had spoken about our work and had the chance to learn about other artists, authors, exhibitions etc.

I learnt that I have to be clearer and conciser in my explanations. What I thought was obvious confused others. I also gained some excellent suggestions about how I should present my work. At the moment I envisage it to be displayed with the names at the top clearly visible but then the fabric puddling onto the  floor – the folds obscuring some of the names to represent the  fading memory but it may all change.

My piece – working title Mothers – is taking a a great deal of preparation and things are still very fluid at this stage.

My fabric has arrived and it wasn’t the size I expected but that’s to my advantage as it’s narrower but longer – measuring about 2 by 3.60 metres – a bargain at £6.20 as it’s cotton. I have chosen it for the simplistic quality, undyed and quite a coarse weave which is a characteristic I like to think my foremothers would recognise.

I’ve digitalised my hand writing – a top tip I read is that in order to have uniformity in your work it’s necessary to have precise text and, as my handwriting wouldn’t stand up to being consistently neat, it was simple enough to use an on line font making programme. This means I can easily alter the size of my text. However it’s crucial for me to hand stitch the names as I want that whole body experience of making. Also it will give me time to ponder about the women and the lives they may have led as mothers.

I’ve decided to embroider this statement at the top (or it may be at the bottom)

In honour of my twenty-three named mothers and the hundreds of unknown ones.
Without them I would not be the mother I am.

The names of the mothers will then be embroidered down (up) the fabric in their generational positions. Initially I was going to make the names smaller the further away they are to me but have decided that they are just as important so need the same acknowledgement. However even as I type this I know this not to be true as their dna and mothering skills have been diluted by the time they reach me, Still time to mull over this.

I ordered the wrong marker pen – it is a water soluble one instead of one that fades over a couple of days. But after playing with transferring the names onto the fabric I’ve moved on.

I wrote on tracing paper then embroidered over it – no good as the paper was too thick and I didn’t like the intervention between the stitch and the fabric.
Tissue paper was too thin and torn easily.
I taped the text onto the window pane and traced directly onto the fabric. Although this worked for my sample it would be impossible to do for a piece of fabric 2 x 3 metres.
Hopefully my latest intention will work – I’ve ordered a heat transfer pencil. On the reverse side of the paper which has the text printed on it I’ll trace the letters then iron the marks onto the fabric.

It was suggested by one of the tutors that I use an OHP to project the text onto the fabric then scribe it but after a couple of hours working in photoshop I abandoned the idea. There is too much information to be placed onto a huge image – I wish it was the case of making it small then simply enlarging it.

I’m working on a sample a fifth of the final size. The group crit has solved the problem of how to acknowledge the mothers who are nameless. Originally I thought of question marks ????? but was concerned it would look like a wizard’s cape so I’ve decided to use one single stitch. Also it was suggested I embroidered the year the woman became a mother as well as her age.


Samples of line stitches.


After using a couple of different stitches I’m favouring the Hungarian Braid as it’s very textural but it is no good for the smaller text – the first 3 letters of Irene have been worked in this stitch and the detail of the e is lost. However I think it’ll be perfect for the statement. On the sample below I’ve used back stitch which is adequate but I can’t work it neatly enough. I think it’s a choice between chain stitch as in Pennyfather Troth and stem stitch as in Ellen Harriet Pennyfather.


Time now to position the women on the fabric but in the meantime I am reading Tim Ingold’s book LINES A Brief History. One chapter is on genealogical lines. More food for thought!


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