Tuesday, 15 October 2013

My blog is moving.....


Hanging By A Thread's blog is moving!!! Be sure to follow my latest work and escapades here on wordpress....

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ridiculously Tiny Goldwork Couching

Well, as the days start getting shorter, it's the time to make the most of all that natural daylight we've got left. Especially when I'm taking my goldwork or nue to new and somewhat ridiculous levels. As I blogged previously, I drew out the Budweiser beer label to start couching, only to find that two strands held together proved too thick. To get the detail I wanted, the only way was to re-commence the embroidery using ONE starnd of the red metallic thread to couch over at a time.

Considering that the red metallic thread is less than a mm wide, this took a LOT of patience. One inch high has 29 parallell rows. Yes, 29 rows covered vastly by tiny white couching stitches. Keep your hands clean (white's a pain to work with on such a scale as this) and stop every so often to put your eyes back in their sockets.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Whitework Gone Wierd #2

Some more experiments subverting the traditional technique of whitework and doing it in my own way. I have a whole pin-board of these samples just waiting for 'something more' to happen with. Maybe integrate them into something to wear...

Whitework shouldn't just be about pretty cotton tablecloths and motifs worked into the edge of hankies. Surely it's time for something new?
White trailing experiments on cotton organdie, cotton a broder thread. Yes, I've perfected the technical technique, but this is... well, a bit boring.....

White PVC with organdie inserts (left) and black + white organdie combined with trailing and eyelets added over the top (right).

I like the addition of the black in the right hand one - personally, I really don't like plain white (I painted my bedroom black as a teenager) and it's an interesting contrast. As for the PVC, well, if I'm going to wear white it's going to be PVC.

White PVC wedding dress, anyone? Exquisitely embroidered with surface detailing, trailing and cutwork eyelets, of course....

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Budweiser WIP: some reconsiderations

Another alcohol bottle label has been started, but alas, I have been forced to stop and reconsider this particular piece. The label is 'Budweiser' beer, and began well as usual: the original design traced out onto fabric, ready for the lines of metal thread to be couched over.

Now, the red metallic thread I'm using is exceptionally thin (much more so than the gold and silver passing I usually couch over.) So, I thought I could 'get away' with using two strands held down together. The result is below - yes, it works, and the logo is still legible: however, I'm just not happy about the (lack of) detail achieved. The solution would be to enlarge the logo, but as the labels must remain their original size in order to be glued back onto the bottles at a later stage, this isn't an option.
My decision? To start the entire thing again - this time using only one strand per line - hopefully the smoothness in the curves of the lettering will justify the extra time!

The very lowest two rows were done in this way, with only one strand, to prove my point to myself that it did indeed look far better.

Monday, 5 August 2013

'Bulmer's' cider logo completed

Actual size of the real label ( I plan to cut 'em out and glue 'em back onto their original bottles)
After far too long languishing unfinished in my studio, it was time to crack on and get this next goldwork illustration completed. My personal life has faced some setbacks and as such, my stitch found itself a little neglected (try having the entire contents of your bag / car stolen and the time you don't spend on the phone to the police is definitely not a mindset I can calmly sit and stitch with.)

However, that episode behind me, a renewed determination to complete this 'alcohol labels' collection has set in. The goldwork 'or nue' technique is definitely my favourite at the moment, and as such, want to use it as much as possible.

Here's the original for those of you who aren't familiar with Bulmer's cider:

As for my subtle re-wording, well, I find it mildly amusing. If I can't laugh at it, what can I do? 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Pirate's Life For Me

Ahoy there..... a little unusual for me, to be mentioning the work of other artists here, but here's someone so amazing I couldn't pass by the oportunity to share his work.

Last weekend was Hastings Pirate Weekend on the south coast of England (last year they gained the Guinness world Record for most Pirates in a single location.) Obviously, this needed attending, in suitable swashbuckling attire (oh, how I do like to dress the part!) What can I say ... thousands of Pirates, several parrots, and a LOT of rum. Which is all gone now (''why is the rum gone??'') For once, this was a day NOT to engage with embroidery...

You get the picture. (The suitcase had rum reinforcements in. As for the cat-O-nine tails, well, we won't detail that here.....) But what I really want to show you is the artwork of 'The Roving Artist', aka Charles Burns, who was cutting out silhouette portraits by eye alone. Basically, we stood there in profile and in a matter of minutes he had snipped his way through what looked like an indeterminable tangle of paper to produce a perfectly proportioned full-scale likeness. I was amazed......

Friday, 5 July 2013

Don't play with your food

Alphabetti spaghetti. Mindless procrastination? Or subtle integration of new lettering into my illustration? I don't know. Either way, 'edible art' is definitely a new one for me.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Goldork Or Nue Cider label WIP

More new or nue.... I haven't been doing any of this for quite a while. But 3 months of hell are coming to an end and I have to work out how to re-engage with myself and my stitch practice. I go back to work tomorrow after 6 weeks of being signed off and you know what? It's absolutely vital, now, that I get my portfolio processed and complete enough to start presenting. I don't want to be trapped in corporate retail any longer. Neither do I want to be trapped skiring the edges of depression again being entirely un-creative, because it's a vicious circle.

So this is the latest instalment of fiddly, obsessively intricate goldwork couching  -still inspired by the labels I absent-mindedly peel of bottles in the pub, but with the wording twisted around a little. (Look closely.) Work in Progress, of course (both the embroidery and the subject matter).

Monday, 3 June 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Patchwork

The progress of the patchwork quilt...... me being me, I wasn't going to let other life events interfere with its progress. Namely, Saturday 1st June, when I camped out overnight at Emirates Stadium, London, to see my favourite band and idols Green Day.
I got there about midday on the Friday, sat down with similarly like-minded fans also clamouring for the front row of the gig, and therefore had 28.5 hours to kill before the doors even opened.

So this is me, having had very few hours sleep, and right in front space in the queue.........
F*ck yeah!!

Needless to say, we made it to the barrier in the mad scramble of doors opening, and had a lovely view right from the very front row. Just what I needed to cheer me up. Thankyou Mr Armstrong and co. for a fantastic 2 1/2 hours of pure Green-Day bliss.


Friday, 24 May 2013

'Safety is Six-Sided': Patchwork As Therapy

Hello again, real world. I’ve been away for a while. Not-so-good things have been going on, and because of these, let me tell you about my latest stitch project.

 Unlike the majority of what I would consider my ‘work’, here is something entirely to do with the stitch process itself with any aesthetic value being secondary. In other words, it’s the act of stitch itself, the tactile qualities of holding and working with the fabric....the end result, whatever that may be, is almost irrelevant to the process of producing.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, clawing myself back from a minor nervous breakdown and a month signed off work, I present to you..... more patchwork as therapy. I fell in love, and my partner went to prison: a bullying campaign against me also reared its ugly head, and I found both my creativity and ability to function in general severely compromised. This project was not so much inspired by awful events as insisted by them: I needed something to calm me down besides Valium, and previous patchwork experiences led me blindly back to the one thing I could start ‘re-engaging with myself’ through. ‘Safety is six sided.’

The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote: If you will, persevere with my rambling, my perspective on this should hopefully prevail......

 My passion for embroidery extends beyond the purely professional, recognising its highly therapeutic and emotionally beneficial nature.  A number of years ago, alongside my professional practice and my subsequent degree, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and as such fell prey to a circumstance of seven shades of hell. It was during this dark period that I was unable to get out of bed, to function normally: trapped in my own ‘mental prison’ of clinical depression and an eating disorder, I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. Gradually, unconsciously constructed self-condemnations of worthlessness gave way to utter personal conviction that there was no hope and as such I became suicidal.

 It was at this point that I discovered patchwork. It became my therapy, a reason not to despise consciousness, and a method with which to start reclaiming my sense of self-worth. Mundane as it sounds, rhythmically preparing paper hexagons with fabric and combining them into the beginnings of a quilt became my highlight of the darkness I was lost adrift in. I would find myself able to engage mentally with an activity that then progressed into long periods of time, hours on end, happily immersed in something other than my own apathy. Patchwork completed for me what Prozac couldn’t, and as my quilt grew, so did I: eventually, I was able to go back to ‘the real world’ and my quilt was displayed at the 2011 NEC Festival of Quilts.

 But what really inspired me to start this project is events of recent months. My partner was in court six weeks ago and sentenced to prison. This event alone, along with a subsequent bullying campaign from those around me and other events prompting a severe emotional fallout, had put me in a bad place yet again. Unable to eat, losing weight, sick with worry, running on no sleep and awake at every hour of the night was showing warning signs of another depressive episode. So somehow, without even thinking about it, I found myself in my studio at 3am beginning another quilt. Just the repetitive, rhythmic action of sewing – of engaging with the fabric, of the tactile qualities, of having something to hold when I was wide awake in an empty bed – helped.  Using the English traditional method of piecing over papers, the back of every piece has a thought or an emotion – mostly about my boyfriend – written into them, thus I am quite literally ‘stitching my thoughts together’.

The pieces are a sensible size, 6cms from tip to tip, and it’s extraordinary not to care about the colour arrangement or any such sense of ‘outcome’. Hopefully it’s the first step into re-engaging with my craft, and hopefully something a little less ‘robotic’ and more spontaneously creative should emerge next.....
Urgh. Spilt my guts yet again....


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Plastic tubing couching

More or nue, but me being me, I'm still eskewing traditional metal threads and trying something new within the spectrum of 'goldwork'. This time it's the turn of thin plastic tubing as a base thread with which I can then couch over in stranded embroidery cotton.

The red 'escape' measures 5cms by 2cms:

And another interesting use with the transparent plastic is that you can have stitches beneath it, worked directly onto the background fabric, which still show through: this way, part of the background can be given a 'shine' (I think it looks a little like the shadow on the 'A'is underwater). Solid metal threads obviously do not have this potential. And in the right direct light, the plastic really shines, 'illuminating' it.
Blue stitched area 2.5cm by 2.3cms:

The next one was worked onto cotton organza (which is the most transparent fabric I could find). Unfortunately, unlike the organdie I've been sticking to as of late, it's just too fine for this sort of stitch: the slightest pull, the slightest over-tensioning of the stitch as it's worked, and the organza will just rip. I got away with it here due to excessive patience but practically, it could 'run' and spoil far too easily.

But feeling inspired by my persistently patient approach to the sample above, I took an A4 plastic wallet, chopped a section out and started stitching onto that too. It spells out 'nothing' but didn't especially need to be done to completion:

There's some even stranger stuff following shortly in another post.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Whitework eyelets re-worked

As I've already briefly explained on a previous post, whitework currently has my interest. But before I can start 'creating' anything out of it, I need to fully explore the technique and just what its specific potential holds for me and my work. So I've embarked on a sampling spree to become better acquainted with the technicalities of what works, how to do it and what effects can be achieved. Nothing especially 'final' at this point, more of a space to play....

No white thread on white cotton, that really doesn't inspire me - so surely I should be working with materials that do? Hence the 'less traditional' fabrics I'm embracing (although cotton-a-broder is still my favourite thread of choice.) As for the name 'whitework', it refers more to the traditional techniques encompassed by that name rather than a specified colour scheme.

Black PVC - it's easy enough to sew onto: the shiny surface has a stretchy nylon-like backing, which means the plastic won't rip apart or tear without considerable force. Just don't overly tighten the hoop or the tension will leave a mark.

'Shark fin' -  some form of rubbery synthetic that still has a woven base so, just like the PVC, it can be stitched without ripping. It's a matt surface but it was the closest thing I could find to latex (the craft shop didn't sell that, sadly). The interesting thing is that it doesn't fray. Technically, the oversewing of the cut eyelets is therefore redundant, but as an aesthetic function I still like it - you can introduce other colours, eg red, and even the black oversewn edge stands out slightly.

And then I got hold of some black latex.... and proved it is actually possible to stitch on, much to my surprise. The key is patience, to go very gently, and remember that one little rip whilst working it will destroy the entire sample. I'm still not sure as to its stretchability post-embroidering: the sample can stretch a bit, assuming you'd need sufficient 'give' to get a garment on, but I doubt there'd be a great deal of stretch without distorting the stitching.
Nobody else really seems to be embroidering into latex, at least as far as I've seen: probably for good reason, but it's an area I want to consider playing with. How to embellish it, and what to do with it afterwards.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Anti Valentine's Day

Have been experimenting a lot with the technique of whitework. Now, back at the Royal School of Needlework, we had a whole module in it. Which was a brilliant technical grounding that I now consider absolutely essential to have done.

But I don't particularly find white thread on white fabric very inspiring. The techniques, yes: broderie anglaise, cut and oversewn eyelets, trailing lines .... But producing traditional tablecloths and suchlike? Not so.

I've been compiling a whole book of samples entitled 'Whitework Gone Wierd'. In this I'm using all the traditional techniques but on things like latex (I do love my latex) and transparent PVC. Partly for the simple reason of whether or not it's technically feasible, and partly because it's something new I've not really seen before. Text still features a large amount in my current practice, alongside the corporate logos I'm still completing in goldwork, and seeing that it's currently Feb 14th..... happy Anti-Valentine's Day:

Worked on cotton organdie in the technique of trailing - a form of couching where the entire of the base thread is covered with the oversewing one on top. The black letters are about half a cm tall and the red ones about 2cms tall.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Goldwork Rizla logo WIP

Still working along the theme of commercial / corporate logos, the next to fall prey to my stitch curiosity is the Rizla cigarette paper. I started it last month, thinking: 'I'm fed up with Christmas. Let's do something totally unfestive.'

It took longer than average because of all the solid blue area - yes, that all had to be filled in with adjacent rows of stitches, close enough together to stop the gold showing through underneath, and all in one strand of embroidery cotton (any thicker would have covered ground quicker but been bulkier.) Patience perciveres:

However, in the last I don't know how long, Rizla themselves decided to relaunch the design of all their papers - meaning that the version I've started is technically out of date  now. The text slopes the other way, the drop shadow is on entirely the wrong side, and most of all -  the precise blue has changed. Gone is that lovely Mediterranean-pool blue to be replaced with something darker and duller (my camera doesn't really do it justice but trust me.) It's strange how you only really notice such things when you've been staring at something for a disproportionately higher than average amount of you time.....

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hanging By A Thread's blog is back

Apologies for the delay. I have been taking some time out to readjust etc and can now say I am back with new vigour. For those unaware, I have moved to Brighton, have my own studio and am exceedingly excited about the future potential of my (relatively) new set-up.

Hanging By A Thread has left university and is now 'out there' in the 'real world' as an independent and unique embroidery practitioner, trailing a large debt but with equal determination to make this career a success.

Things inspiring me at the moment:

1. Corporate logos - especially the Rizzla cigarette paper
2. The Goldwork technique of or nue
3. Latex
4. Traditional whitework broderie-anglaise worked onto said latex
5. The skull on my shelf
6. Experimentation with French seams
7. The illustrative potential of stitch
8. Tubes of toothpaste
9. The Golden Syrup tin
10. Plans for my next tattoo

Seemingly ecclectic? Things will make sense. (Possibly.)  Pictures and the contents of my innermost creative mind to follow shortly.