Final Post and Note to Assessment Team

I have now completed packing up my course material, and will be submitting for formal assessment in July.

Reviewing completed material is a useful exercise.  It allows consideration of the growth of knowledge, opportunities to remember things to try again and a reflection of the effort expended.

I am submitting all material as directed by my tutor, Neil.  He did suggest rather than try to send the end products of molding and casting that high resolution photos would be sufficient.  I have done so, and added the actual work when it was small and flat enough to attach.

Most material is held within workbooks- each is labeled with the course section and pertinent exercises for ease of review.  The second box of the two has some dimensional pieces that I wanted to add rather than photograph.

The contents list for these boxes is as follows:

Box 1 contains sketch or workbooks for the course material, and pertinent other work.  Each part of the course has a book or multiple books.  All are prominently labelled on the front with the course section, whether there is more than one book to the course section and the course material (as listed in the study package) within that particular workbook.  There is also a separate “Ancillary Work” sketchbook with other sketches and samples done alongside the course work.

Box 2 contains a selection of three dimensional pieces I wished to include.

They include the following:

  • further work with molded paper clay leaves for Part 3 (to be reviewed with the workbook for that course section)
  • a box containing three shaped trial pieces for Part 5
  • Part 5 final example- please note that this piece does have battery powered LED lights.  The batteries have been encased in sealed plastic bags to protect them during transit.

I have also submitted a digital photograph sketchbook which I have collected over the year- this is now located in the Google drive assigned to me by the Open College of the Arts.  This will be made available to the assessment team at the time of assessment.

I look forward to reviewing the team’s feedback, and working on my next course.

My next course is Textiles 2- Contemporary Practice.  The learning blog address for this next course is:


Thank you for your interest in my learning.

Tutor feedback and Response

Connie Kadey Tex 1 MM ass 5

Neil and I chatted again over Skype to discuss my Part 5 work.  Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to forward my course material to him.  He was able to review this online.

It seems that this section appears weak in the Reflection and Sorting areas.  Neil stressed my need to evidence and record the process for my work.  He felt that my blog did not adequately demonstrate my thought process.  While reviewing this discussion, I also was reviewing my new course package: Textiles Level 2: Contemporary Practice.

This course material clearly indicates the expectation that the learning log is to house research, discussion and images.  The sketchbook is a physical repository of experimentation, samples, drawings and collections.  Work is not to be considered final- unless there is specific direction to do so.  I can see that the sketchbook principle here will be useful when preparing my Mixed Media course material for assessment.  I can also use this principle to demonstrate Reflection and Sorting more strongly for the Assessment Team.

As I explained to Neil, I do not tend to plan everything out before starting a project.  I generally start out with an idea or image in mind.  I will think about, read on, research and gather further specifics.  Once I have materials to hand, I will start.  If I come across an unexpected situation, I will consider options.  I will then choose an option and move forward.  I had not really thought about how I work in the past- I simply did it.  I rarely spent time making samples or trial pieces- I simply went ahead and made things.  I am a bit leery of shifting to this sketchbook process, but I do see the importance of “showing my work”.  Just as in taking a math class, I need to be able to demonstrate that not only can I reach the final answer, I understand and can articulate the process I took to get there.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills- Neil notes that I have not effectively demonstrated this in my blog.  I will aim to improve this with my assessment materials.  I would score myself 19/40, as I have the materials to hand but have not used them as well as I could at this time.

Quality of outcome- I quite liked how the final piece came out.  It was very unexpected though- my initial consideration for this section was a felted bag!  I think the piece shows greater ingenuity than my original concept, and I appreciated how being open to possibility could really change one’s direction.  The piece is unfinished, but has potential to grow.  I would score myself 12/20, as there is a distinct and considerable change from the initial idea to the final piece.

Demonstration of creativity- I feel that I was able to draw from many parts of the course for the final piece.  I used a work method that I had not worked with significantly (felting), used that method to manipulate other processes (heating of fabric to change its surface) and then put those pieces together into an unexpected whole.  I would score myself 11/20, as I myself can see that process.  I need now to be able to present that progression to the Assessment Team.

Context- I found that there was little material available regarding the ideas I was contemplating.  I did review other material for technique ideas, however the majority of the work was done without much reference.  This section therefore must be represented more by reflection than research.  I would score myself 8/20- realistically, I have not successfully demonstrated that reflection within my blog and must now expand on it in a different way.

4- Further work with collatype prints

As noted previously, my fiance had suggested I try switching the “sky” and “wheatfield” sections of the two different prints.

stitch-on-overlay-trial-1 applique-on-overlay-trial-2

I started by seaming the sky element to the field element of the opposite fabric print.  Returning to the photo image, I considered the most significant elements.

These elements would include:

  • horizontal bands of texture
  • vertical lines of similar color, both within the horizontal areas and crossing different areas
  • emphasis on the main colors: gold, green and blue
  • emphasis on the wheat field rather than the sky

I chose to work each piece separately, and to trial both machine and hand stitch.  I did decide to weight the stitch method differently- one image was more machine stitch, and the other more hand stitch.


The first piece was more heavily machine stitched.  I found this also created a ruffling effect in the fabric, which heightened the horizontal textural bands.

final-overlay-trial-1 closeup-overlay-trial-1

The final piece also has hand stitching with a variety of thread weights.  I attempted to capture the image’s difference between left and right- there is a sense of movement away which comes from a change in focus.

final-overlay-trial-2 closeup-overlay-trial-2

The second trial had more handstitching, and also included beading.  I opted for greener threadwork in this image, to intensify the effect of the blue fabric background.  The biggest challenge with this trial was the seamline- this was much more blatant on this piece.  I have attempted to blend it by both an irregular chain stitch line as well as the bead work.

I also wanted to work further with one of my night sky prints.


I liked how clearly the stitch lines had printed on this trial, and I preferred the white fabric effect.

final-stitch-trial-3 closeup-stitch-strial-3

The original photo was actually quite out of focus, but I did want to try and both maintain that quality yet clarify the image structure a bit more.

I focused on the following:

  • adding a bit more detail to the grass stem on the right, to strengthen that element
  • stitching the power poles in the image to strengthen and make them more cohesive as a group
  • adding stitch to the grass at the bottom, to “clean up” the horizon line and create a sense of movement.

Once I had done the stitching, I still found the blotchy color in the sky to be distracting.  I therefore went over that field with further paint (an iridescent, to be exact).  This helped to move the emphasis to the foreground, added some depth to the field and strengthened the more delicate lines done in black.

2- Bibliography and References

  1. Campbell-Harding, V. and Grey, M. (2007).  Embellish and Stitch.  d4Daisy and Fox Print (location not listed).
  2. Fiedler, N. (ed.) (2010).  Creative Sewing Techniques by Machine.  Paducah, KY: American Quilter’s Society.
  3. Hammons, C. (ed.) (2016).  Altered Couture, Volume 11, Issue 4.  Laguna Hills, CA: Stampington and Company.
  4. Hammons, C. (ed.) (2016).  Art Quilting Studio, Volume 8, Issue 3.  Laguna Hills, CA: Stampington and Company.
  5. Lombard, R. & Triston, J. (2011).  How to be Creative in Textile Art.  United Kingdom: Batsford.
  6. Hansen DeNegre, V. (ed.) (2016).  Quilting Arts Magazine, Issue 74, December 2016/January 2017.  Fort Collins, CO: F+W Media Inc.
  7. Mackay, M. (2012).  Art in Felt and Stitch.  Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Search Press Ltd.
  8. Mcfarland, S. (ed.) (2016).  Threads Magazine, Number 188, December 2016/January 2017.  Newtown, CT: The Taunton Press, Inc.
  9. Wellesley-Smith, C. (2015).  Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art.  United Kingdom: Batsford.


I was very uncertain as I started this section.

I know what I want to explore, and where my interests lay.  I have a strong desire to sew, especially by hand, and to create more sculptural pieces if I can.  I find that nature is my greatest source of inspiration.  I tend to create more abstract than realistic pieces, and appreciate deep texture.  I prefer colors in strong tones, particularly the jewel tones, and appreciate how black can be a great contrast to those colors.

My initial ideas for this section were initially to work on the felting process, using multiple different materials.  I even thought I would like to create a felted bag.  I discussed this with my tutor, and he encouraged me to consider pushing felting in a different direction.  He suggested exploring the use of synthetic materials, pushing the product to an extreme (for instance, how wispy could I create something?) and to not get tied into creating any specific object.

I thought about what I had enjoyed most about this course- the section on heating and fusing, creating images from unusual sources (printing, stitching to “push” an image) and combining unusual materials.

As I tried different things, I compared the outcomes with my other work.  I re-read a few books on felting, and threw some ideas out to my on-line classmates.

I was surprised by how easily the final piece came together at the end.

I had thought by creating geometric shapes that I could construct something- sculpture? vessels? but my love of the natural world came out very strongly when I looked at all these little, curled shapes.  They looked much like a pile of autumn leaves, familiar yet not- curved, angled, shadowed and fragile.

At that point, pulling out background fabric and creating a layout was simply following what the shapes asked me to do.  The idea for the lights came from working at a bright, sunny window and remembering the use of light in a previous exercise.  Again, that step flowed very naturally.

I’m pleased with this piece.

I have not finished the edges, as it is not intended at this time to hang anywhere in particular.  If I were, I would create a deep frame, perhaps with a narrow border to simulate a picture frame.  I would shorten the bottom edge so that the top empty space is deeper in comparison, to visually bring the flower to the bottom of the picture.  Perhaps I will in future.

Would I try this technique again?  Yes, I would.  It would be interesting to see what type of vessels could be created.  Perhaps a hat?  How about incorporating this into a larger, printed and stitched piece? Using the lights with the organza intensified the shadows and shapes, adding more texture and depth to the shapes.  What about lights within that hat?  A hanging sculpture, perhaps of ocean creatures or leaves- the lights incorporated into the elements to bring a night world to life.  There is a great deal of opportunity, especially to make something in a larger scale, in this concept.

Reviewing the course assessment criteria:

  1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills- from what I could gather, there has not been many similar construction techniques published either in print or online.  The materials I chose were not in themselves unusual, simply the juxtaposition.  The final flower maquette resembles a typical botanical plate, and a fairly simple one at that.  I would therefore suggest 22/40 for a mark in this section.
  2. Quality of outcome- again, the final maquette is fairly basic- the materials are the unusual factor.  I attempted to outline both my processes and thoughts in a straightforward manner, and demonstrate how I moved through this section.  Considering the clarity of presentation, I would suggest 12/20 for this section.
  3. Demonstration of creativity- my personal voice is starting to become recognizable to me.  Throughout this course, any of the more “finished” pieces show a strong abstract realism, with generally limited color palettes and a broader range of textures.  Most of my work focuses on the natural world and organic subjects.  My experimentation in this section revolved mostly around manipulating synthetic fabrics using multiple techniques.  With that consideration, I would suggest 14/20 for a mark within this sphere.
  4. Context- I find I struggle with connecting my work to the greater community.  I am not certain how I compare- what have I missed? what opportunities should I explore? are there details that could be omitted or added? I worry about those details, and as a consequence have a tendency to not stretch myself as far as I potentially could.  Perhaps it is because I am worried about the outcome.  I struggle with obtaining relevant feedback, and particularly in face to face interactions (which I prefer).  Because of this, I would suggest 8/20 as a mark for this section.


Sorting and Prototype

At this point, I had a reasonable number of shapes and pieces to look at.  I kept going back to the organic feel of the resulting pieces, despite their synthetic basis.  Many of the triangular and arm-like structures resembled plant material- leaves and petals.

As I held them, I noticed the light shining through them and thought about one of my trials in an earlier exercise.

Trial 10 backlit

This is part of my wrapping exercise, where I had inserted a flashlight into the construct to emphasize the fabric.

I had seen pictures of wall hangings with small lights inserted into the fabric and it all came together.


I considered a number of different potential backing fabrics before choosing this piece of upholstery weight ultrasuede.  I played with laying the different shapes and pieces out onto the fabric, and realized that I could create a flower in bloom.


I marked the backing with fabric pencil, and used both machine and hand stitching to attach the shapes.  The felted strips were also useful in this phase, as the shapes no longer required edge finishing, and the strips hid the stitching very effectively.


The “petals” were held in place with horsehair braid handstitched to the inside curves.


Once the stitching was complete, I then added lights.


This was an intriguing step, as I simply cut very small holes into the backing and inserted the LEDs through toward the organza shapes.  I started on the top, and simply placed the lights as I went, considering how the effect was shaping up and where it needed to be strengthened.

final-piece-lit final-lit-top final-lit-base

It becomes even more effective in the dark, where the shadows and shapes change further.

Needle felting outcomes

I was much more impressed with the outcomes of the needle felted pieces.  As noted previously, the wet felted and heat gun modified pieces did not appear to have much promise.


This is a selection of the various shapes and results of steaming.  They all develop a very interesting plasticity, due to the permanent pleating and folding.  Some of them had difficulty staying flat, as indicated in the need for weights on the bottom piece.

trial-orange-blob trial-red-spiral red-spiral-inverted

I had initially looked  at these larger individual pieces, to see how their new shapes could be strengthened and/or manipulated.  They both developed a very pleasant flowing tendency, so I opted to enhance that with wire.

The orange piece was shaped by adding a circle of wire into the middle opening, and securing the points to that base with more wire.

The red piece was edged with a fine, silk wrapped wire in crochet.  This served to weigh the edges down, and intensify the torus shape.

triangle-pair-pinned three-armed-construct-pinned steam-shape-triangle-leaf

I pinned multiple shapes together, to see what would occur.  While the resulting construction was interesting, there was not enough internal structural integrity to work with.  The third piece is a triangle that I stitched along its fold lines, to curve the edges back inward and create a leaf shape.

grey-spiral-box-formed grey-spiral-box-formed-top

While the wire in the red and orange trials was effective, it was not very forgiving.  Either it was strong enough to force a shape change, or it was too light to effect the fabric very much.  I wanted a more intermediate product, and one that could be stitched into the fabric more simply.  I purchased some boning, horsehair braid and other products that I thought might be helpful.  I tried to choose a variety of stiffness levels, to have options when I started piecing.  This vessel was created from an organza square, with felted radial lines moving out from a centre circle.  The upward shape was formed by stitching boning in a spiral along the inside.

2- Needle felted trials

I then moved to an alternate felting technique- needle felting.

I had done a bit of this experimentally prior to starting this course, and felt comfortable with how the wool should react.

I chose the organza and light weight synthetic fabrics, as I realized that the needle felting would be a more delicate process than the wet felting.

steam-shape-knit-synthetic steam-shape-red-blob-set-up

I started with two different approaches- a random pattern and a more structured one.  I knew that I would not be using the heat gun to modify the synthetic, and chose to try steam instead with these shapes.




I purchased and dug out a number of different clips and clamps, and manipulated the pieces to shape them.


I discovered once the pieces were cooled that the knit piece did not maintain the clamped folds- only the woven organza would.  The wool did prevent the background fabric from being altered, and therefore created a secondary shaping in the piece.

I opted to follow the geometric patterning on the organza, to optimize and strategically create three dimensional shapes.

grey-spiral-box-layout orange-radial red-spiral

I dug out some recycled sari fabric “yarn”, to help delineate and control the felting process.  I also tried twisting the wool roving with wool yarn to see how this effect would look and behave with felting.

grey-spiral-box-prepped orange-radial-prepped red-spiral-prepped

All three shapes were folded and/or twisted, clamped and then steamed.



shapes-layout-3 shapes-layout-2 shapes-layout-1 shapes-felted-2 shapes-felted-1

I then decided to move toward creating shapes further but using the felted organza as “building blocks”.

yellow-gridded-rectangle-prepped shapes-prepped-2 shapes-prepped-1

Folding and clipping were followed by steaming.

grey-painted-triangle black-oblong diagonal-grid-rectangle painted-yellow-rectangle

I then painted some shapes, and again folded and steamed them for some more visually interesting options.  I was also curious to see how the paint lines would be affected by the folding process.






1-Wet felted initial trials

I had initially considered using a heat gun to modify my synthetics for this section.  I also wanted to use wet felting, as I had not tried this technique in the past.

I gathered a number of different materials such as:

  • different wools, including wool yarn and unspun wool
  • different synthetic fabrics including both woven and knit
  • materials to incorporate into the surface.


My first trial was using a tulle structural support, synthetic yarn bars and white wool roving.  I also included some paper that I had dyed earlier in the course, to see how it would respond to the process. Wet felting is an amazingly strenuous technique, and I had a cast on my wrist from a fracture incurred during vacation.  It was not a positive experience.


The end result, while pleasing was not really very exciting.  Wet felting simply created structural integrity, and I enjoyed the structure too much the way it was to apply heat to it.


I had enjoyed using the gold lame material in my previous exercises, and wondered how it would handle with the wool felting and then being heated.  I incorporated some natural materials include feathers, thinking that they would provide some contrast.


Again, wet felting really wasn’t the answer here either. The feathers could not stand up to the process and ended up being obscured by the rest of the fibres.

My final sample in this series used a more widely woven synthetic woven as its core.


I used a polyester woven band and wet felted both wool roving and wool yarn to it.

As my aim was to manipulate the synthetic materials with heat, I thought I should at least push in that direction with the last two trials, to see how that would affect the surfaces.  I didn’t initially consider the first one, as I liked how it had turned out and wanted to see what could be achieved with the heat gun.

gold-lame-heated gold-lame-heated-reversed

The gold lame trial simply matted down and smelled terribly.  I was dismayed to see the wool fibres burning while I was heating the structure.

orange-dried-and-heated orange-dried-and-heated-turned

The orange trial didn’t really respond to the heat gun, except to burn the wool fibres again.  The structure was so dense because of the large openings of the synthetic base fabric that the wool dispersed the heat completely.

Having seen the aftereffects of the heat gun on these two trials, I abandoned that technique.





Project research

I was very interested in learning about whether anyone else had used natural fibres to alter how a synthetic textile’s shape would change under heat.

I considered  artists I had researched for an earlier part of the course, such as Jule Waibel and Pippa Andrews.  Both use surface manipulation to create the third dimension, but neither of them appeared to use natural fibres to help direct that surface change.

I did a basic Google search using a variety of terms and combinations, but none of the searches turned up anything similar to what I was considering.

I also sent out a request through the OCA Textiles Facebook page.   The only response I received with any information was to check out the book “Embellish and Stitch” by Valerie Campbell-Harding and Maggie Grey (2007).  This text examines using a mechanical felter (embellisher) to create textile art.  While the use of synthetic and natural fibres was reviewed, there was no mention of further surface manipulation after the felting had been completed.  Furthermore, the fabrics created were thoroughly blended synthetic/natural fibres without clear divisions.

Ultimately my best resource was my course material for the first section.  The use of heat on synthetic materials was reviewed and considered throughout this work.