Project three, Experimenting and taking risks

I’d like to think I’ve already done lots of experimenting, because I claim that as my thing, but in this project I will try and push it to extremes even for me. I’m excited to get started.

Lying awake last night when I should have been sleeping before work thinking about experimenting I could do:

-Very thick yarn with central white core and cloud of blue thread. Bulky enough that it could be displayed on its own. Maybe it could be arranged in a triangle like a shell. Maybe needle felted to turn back into a flat work

-nest of shredded fabric held together with stitch. Not too adventurous but maybe I’ll try it unbacked so it has light through.

-green rug pulled stitching thread and yarn.

-heavily worked and built up surface to look rusted. Maybe rust stained and then work the turtle surface around that

– manipulate fabric with heat

– resist lines crackle on cyanotype. Maybe I can create these simply by crushing the fabric before exposure. Layered cyanotype some sort of glue resist or wax resist

– hone in on super detail of one of the drawings

-build up imagery and texture with multiple layers of organza

– make cyanotype transparencies that could be layered and also allow repetition for more cyanotypes😀

Thread tangle substrate

The first of my experimental textiles. This is a substrate made from a crocheted thread tangle with the addition of further tangle stitching. It’s only very small because it took ages and I’m not sure this is the most effective way of achieving this sort of substrate. I have painted it with paint and textile medium and this keeps it together a bit and more like 2d substrate to work on.

Thread as substrate and fabric as thread

Here I have used stone paper as a stabiliser but then tried to build up a surface with thread. As this is just a tester I haven’t taken it as far as it could go. Then I’ve use torn fabric as my thread for stitching. Same sort of thing could be done on water soluble vilene to make it an entirely thread substrate.

Yarn as fabric

Here I have taken the tangle thread to a further extreme by repeatedly sewing sock wool over water soluble vilene and then washing away the vilene. This has produced quite a stable complex fabric that is easy to stitch into. More subtle colouring of the wool would be better so it was more about texture and less colour contrast.

Next I am looking at distressing fabric with the use of repeated cyanotype exposure, bleaching with washing powder, rusting and toning with tannins.

Photo here

Stitch will also be added in an attempt to reference the turtles back drawing.

Project Two Building a response

Colour palette

Can’t use the internet at present but reflecting on my drawings and their original source materials from the natural environment of Heron Island, I think I am going with:

Sky blue

Teal blue


Muted pink/orange


Darker brown

Green blue and brown will be the predominant with pinky orange as highlight.

The above is a starting point. I find that the CMYK numbers help me get proportions right for mixing colours or dyeing.

I don’t think the inks I have with me are true primaries, especially the red but we’ll see how I go creating some chips later.

This little turtle was found struggling towards the water on the beach. Sadly a seagull took him. I looked the colour palette because I was attracted to the blue gray and this colour palette makes me think of dulling down the palette for this collection a bit.

Inspired by an artist

Sue Hotchkis

I’ll have to wait until I’m back with internet access to include images and more information but I love the textural and colour elements of Sue’s work and I think it relates well to the direction I seem to be heading for this assignment. She includes lots of fine detail which is very effective and something I feel is often lacking in my work. I tend to rush the work and lose patience with the effort required to create the sort of complex work that I first envision. Viewed 21 June 2018 Viewed 21 June 2018

Susan works with an aesthetic of decay and the imperfect and is influenced by the Japanese wabi Sabi aesthetic. She is interested in the interaction between the natural and man made and how they both change each other. She also uses text in some of her work, which is something I have also been experimenting with.

I have also been working with degradation and rusting and enjoy the serendipity of results when some of the result is left up to the elements.

Betty Busby

This quilt is from a gallery on Betty’s website called macro.

It reflects the features of a macro photo. Lots of detail looked at closely to effectively abstract the imagery but it still retains a familiarity that is recognisable. Viewed 21 June 2018

I would like to incorporate some of these elements of semi abstracted imagery sourced from close detail of natural or unnatural objects.

Sue Reno

Uses cyanotype and moisture, calling it wet cyanotype. Like my starfish cyanotype. Then she makes art quilts. Need to research and write her up.

Lisa Walton

Australian quilt artist.

Here she has used traditional appliqué over traditional patchwork to wonderful effect. Something I would like to try. Viewed 10 July 2018

Reading the above I can see that this is not appliqué but instead is quilted then painted. I saw this in the work of Glad Howard at the Tasmanian art quilt prize and am also interested in incorporating that. I image that quilt lines would contain paint to some extent and maybe even contain thin dye. Am going to try soon.

Ann Johnston

Textile artist that works in quilts. Seems to focus on colour, texture and abstract pattern to create evocative works.

Balance 30: In Between

33” x 23”

Iron stained silk, whole cloth, machine and hand stitched Viewed 10 July 2018

Surface manipulation, stitch and yarn concepts

Preliminary ideas –

1. Grid creasing paper to create the sort of lit grid of the play of light over water ripples that I fairly unsuccessfully tried to draw. Maybe I could cut the tops off the creases to allow more light through. Creases could also be held in place with stitch.

2. Nest shape molded in paper with the use of glue and then fine loose stitching to outline

3. Coral shape drawing cut out as a silhouette and then cut into pieces and reassembled like a mosaic with spaces in between like the cell looking drawings.

4. Create translucent paper with textile medium and gentle colour

5. Shiny paper with Elmer’s school glue.

Moving on to some textile stitch and yarn explorations. Here I have cut silhouettes from paper and reconstituted using Joomchi. Then have stitched on silhouette yarn. This is referencing the layering of the silk organza cyanotype drawing and their silhouettes.

Sock wool yarn used to create a hairy green yarn and a paper manipulation also referencing my seaweed drawing.

I seem to have lost the hours of work I put in putting up all my textile and yarn concepts. OMG I can’t write all that again now. I’ll just put up all the photos and let them speak for themselves at the moment.

If I get time or motivation I’ll go back and write up all these photos like I did the other day but in the meantime I’ll just curse and move on I think.

Part Five Building a collection. Project one

Strengthening a theme:

I’m going to revisit tropical tourist. When I last did this theme I was on Hamilton Island. This is a commercial tourist resort island with some permanent residents, large hotels and an airport. I used garish items obtained from the local souvenir shop for my still life.

Insert photo here when I have access to my old photos again

This time I will be taking a slightly different slant on the theme. We are holidaying on Heron Island now. Heron is a remote coral cay on the barrier reef. It has a resort and a marine research station. It is a haven for birds, fish and turtles and is situated right on the coral of the Great Barrier Reef. I plan to use found items only for this still life. It will be a combination of natural and unnatural objects from the beach and the local environs I will need to return any natural material as it is a national park and no natural material can be removed.


I plan to use a range of drawing techniques and the first I am currently experimenting with is cyanotype. This involves using chemicals to sensitise fabric to UV light and produces a Prussian blue pigment in the exposed areas.

My first idea was to walk around the island regularly and collect any rubbish left behind on the beach after the high tide. Fortunately I guess this didn’t really result in much. Mostly small pieces of glass. My first attempt at a cyanotype drawing here with the found rubbish is above. I was using rubbish partly because I am allowed remove that from the beach to set up a still life. But I don’t think this will result in enough variation of texture and interest to create a still solely from this. There are so many wonderful nature colours and textures around that it would be a shame to ignore all that.

So I moved on to considering including natural objects.

I set up a couple of mini still lifes in situ on the beach and was quite pleased with the results.

Insert photo of result here

My next thought was to bring some of these objects back to the cabin and work with them there to create various still lifes that I could draw and then return the objects later.

Unfortunately once I had set this up I watched it for a while and noticed some of the shells moving. I realised that I had taken living creatures from the beach and felt I had to return them as quickly as possible. So this turned out to be a one shot only still life. I felt bad and hope I didn’t damage the creatures.

Here I am returning them to the beach.


I was excited when I saw an old rusty wreck beached off the island and immediately thought of documenting this through rusty fabric. I successfully snorkelled out and attached a piece of fabric to the boat at high tide.

This photo was taken at low tide when I discovered you could walk out to the boat.

It didn’t seem to be rusting much so I moved it to another spot. Unfortunately after 24 hours it was gone. I attached it tightly so I’m hoping someone simply removed it thinking it was rubbish. I chose silk in case it did come loose, thinking it would be biodegradable, but I’d hate to think that somewhere a sea creature was caught in it in the meantime. I seem to be having a run of endangering creatures in the name of art and I don’t like this.

I have tied silk in a couple of more accessible spots that I can check regularly, and where they are tied firmly through a loop so cannot come loose.

And yesterday I added a new spot just around the high tide mark. I had to change the position because when I came to check the high tide wasn’t quite reaching it.

It’s on a chain that is fixed to a block of concrete in the sand under those rocks which I placed to mark it.

These wonderful tide marks were present in the sand when I last checked the fabric.

And this is a 97 sec video on the tide just reaching my work in progress.

Ink and Watercolour

I’m going to move on to some ink and watercolour drawings from photographs of reef life. It’s not possible to include these in a still life as they are part of the living reef but they need to be included in a documentation of the island as they are such an integral part of this beautiful place.


I’m going to use adobe Capture to look at various colour palettes for the area.

This is the gentle palette I created from the sand water and sky at sunset. I loved this when I came out of the bush and saw it.

Sea star from the reef walk. I’m going to look at all the colour palettes and then create my own. Probably a blue green palette. In the meantime I’ll do some colour drawings in these palettes

Pisonia tree salt leaf. Apparently all the salt that builds up is directed to single leaves in order to sacrifice a few for the good of the tree.

Seaweed growing along the bunt wall


Purple coral

Plant printing

I’ve buried some paper and fabric under the Pisonia tree near our hut and I’m watering it and compressing it with my feet. Probably won’t get much but I’ll be able to augment with drawing.

These spiders and spider webs in the forest also make great imagery.

The drawings

I decided to take some small items from above the high tide mark that definitely don’t contain animals.

This drawing takes the colour and some of the linear elements and form from this little still life.

I have used textile medium primed silk and then watercolour and acrylic ink. The idea is to produce a washable drawing and I have had some success. Some of the watercolour did wash out but most stayed. That was only with handwashing though and it’s likely that more would come out with machine washing. Also the fabric has gone very translucent which is not fantastic. Next time I will try with watercolour diluted with textile medium and see how that goes.

This is an example of a cyanotype still life I did yesterday.

In progress

After processing

And this is a cyanotype on paper instead of fabric

Unfortunately it got a hole during processing. I guess I’ll repair with stitch or reverse appliqué

Silver eye birds nest made from Pandanus fibre

Ink on stone paper

Ink and a “nest” of tangled silk fibre from the edge of my fabric.

Ink, water and glue on stone paper. From a piece of dead coral.

Purple and fushia pink/orange coral. Unfortunately the color looks totally wrong in this photo. Only slightly better in real life.

This is watercolour and textile medium on silk. I am learning that textile medium will bind watercolour to fabric. An additional bonus is the effect of irregular colour where the dots of textile medium have been placed.

Clam in ink watercolour and textile medium on paper. These ones had to be from photos and on site observation.

Coral cells and seaweed. Ink on stone paper.

I have retrieved two of the rustings. Hardly any marks but the photos look ok.

This was the result of rusting around a chain, with the tides.

Those tide patterns in the sand are created by tiny balls of seaweed and the shadows. I have tried to use that idea to inform the mark I made for this drawing.

Textile medium on paper sensitised with cyanotype and exposed. The pale areas are areas of washout of chemical before they have been fixed with exposure.

Another cyanotype moved by pouring water along the base.