Developing Stitched Text – practice

Lisa provided all the materials and resources we needed. She suggested we take the exhibition Transience as our theme, where the artists were given the words: Silence, Stillness, Presence, Absence, Tranquil, Transience to work with.

P1000681Lisa also recommended we limited our colour palette to red, black and cream and to use a heavy duty sewing thread rather than embroidery yarn as it gives a crisper finish. I was reminded of my grandmother’s sewing box where she had reels of cotton in different weights.P1000680We worked on A4 pieces of calico and transferred the text onto the fabric. I chose to use a friction pen – wish I’d known about such a thing when I was working on my Mothers as I spent hours experimenting how to place the names onto the material. I decided to use  the same word throughout STILLNESS and stick to one colour, cream, in order for me to concentrate on the technique. The top right hand corner was stitched in running stitch – as I’m not skilled in running stitch the result is not good – the font too small for me to work neatly.
In the middle I used stem stitch with a small piece of wadding sandwiched between two pieces of calico. This gave the best definition.
The incomplete word at the bottom was done in back stitch – all the years I’ve worked this stitch I’ve been doing it wrong – the correct way has produced a far more satisfactory result.
I was too hasty in pressing my work and ironed away my unstitched inked text.P1000682

Then I remembered someone saying it reappears if put in the freezer – saved! I’ve still the stencilled STILLNESS to complete.  P1000679

Using the stencils again the text was transferred onto bondawab – remembering to reverse the letters so they read the right way when ironed onto the black fabric. I cut them out to appliqué onto the calico – the positive and negative. P1000678

Time to free machine. I placed a piece of paper with the printed words on then stitched over – about three of four times before removing the paper. Just as successful but much cheaper than stitch & tear. The disadvantage is that the printing ink discoloured the cream thread.P1000677

The last piece I did was on printers scrim – a lovely firm fabric but with a translucent quality.

photo 4 The ‘show and tell’ board
photo 5

My workshop colleagues.

I came away with a sense of achievement. I liked the fact that composition, subject matter, colour palette and form didn’t get in the way – I was able to think about stitch. My next step is to select some text to take along to my printing workshop on collagraphy.


Developing Stitched Text – context

I think it’s important to keep in touch with what other artists are doing to keep myself fresh and for that reason I enjoy attending workshops but the last couple I’ve taken have left me with a slight feeling of disappointment, I think it equally important that the tutors also keep themselves fresh and not simply regurgitate their teachings.

I was not disappointed with Developing Stitched Text taken by Lisa Porch at Craft in the Bay.

We started the morning thinking about where text is seen, the fonts, the shape of the letters and that sometimes it is illegible or even meaningless, asemic writing.


This is an example by Lukasz Grabun

Then we had an introduction to contemporary textiles artists – this gave the workshop a strong foundation by showing us that stitch has as much validity to be in the art world as other media.

Cornelia Parker has combined the old with the new, To commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta  prisoners, artists, lawyers, M.P.s  and many others stitched a huge work, 13 meters long by 1.5 meters. The text was taken from the Wikipedia entry, which can be and is edited by anyone, so is in a state of change, unlike the original charter.

13 July Eye of the Needle - Cornelia Parker 15 June - Cornelia Parker at work on Magna Carta An Embroidery  Photograph by Joseph Turp

The work is currently on display at the British Library. A video of the making of the piece is here.


Then we went back in time to look at an example of a sampler worked by Elizabeth Laidman – finished in 1760168_1000 Back to a contemporary artist Aya HaiderThe Stitch is lost unless the thread is knotted.

 I’d not heard about signature quilts before.


Here’s a detail from a piece stitched by Fanny Minard in 1857.

Lise Bjorne Linnett is conducting an on-going project DESCONOCIDA UNKNOWN UKJENT  which she started in 2006 and is ongoing.




This is to commemorate the huge number of women who disappear from Ciudad Juaréz, Mexico. Lise writes about her work here.

Lisa showed us some of her own work.

lp_5_ shroud_ detail_sq600

Shroud  – Stitched textile inspired by a christening gown


Miss Willmott’s Garden

Images taken at the Exposed – Textiles in the Open  2010

Loraine Bulwer had been put into the workhouse  in 1907 at the age of 55 by her brother until her death in 1912.

lorina-sampler1536LSThis 12 ft letter shows Loraine’s state of mind – she’s filled it with angst and accusations.

I was reminded of Donna Rumble-Smith‘s work and my previous blog entry where I looked at her stitching.


An example of Donna’s books – as seen at Books of the Unexpected.

Ghadar Amer an Egyptian born resident of New York and uses text in her work.

barbie_aime_ken (1)

Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie, 1995/2002. Embroidery on cotton. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Paddy Hartley has honoured the skilled needle work of  Ralf Lumley who was a pioneering plastic surgeon.

Lumley+09 Lumley+07

Gunvor Nervold Antonsen is a Norwegian artist who stitches on large hangings – I’m surprised I’ve not come across her work before.


Entangled, Entrapped, Absorbed.
Installation view. Each object sized 300x300cm. Text embroidery on silk formed in half circles.

The last artist we looked at was Caren Garfen, An interview with is here.


Don’t make a meal of it (detail), 2011

At this point there are a few crumbs in my note book – time for a break.