Continuing with Drawing

I’ve decided to continue with drawing throughout this project, as opposed to finishing it before moving on to the experimentation. This is something that worked well for me during the consultancy module, and means that I can carry on developing these if I need to.

I was looking at my brittle star fish samples on my wall and realised that they don’t reflect the movement in the real thing, so I went back to drawing to try to capture this.

I think I have been successful in this, and am looking forward to now taking these into stitch.
I am also thinking that the ‘hairs’ would be really effective in hand embroidery, much more so than the french knots that I tried before. Looking at these next to my previous drawings, I can see that I’ve definitely made progress here.

Helen mentioned in my tutorial last week that my bird drawings needed working on and I absolutely agreed, so I was happy to go back to these. I started with the herring gulls, which seem to be my favourite to draw at the moment, I think just because their shape is easily recognisable.

I then moved onto ringed a ringed plover. I found these quite difficult because their shape and colour is quite generic for British birds, so is hard to get it to look specifically like a plover.

I also had a go at sketching out some oyster catchers, which I think have a really interesting and aesthetically pleasing shape and colour. I like the idea of their long pointed beaks pointing down to feed on mussels.

I feel better after a day of drawing and am really looking forward to taking these into stitch, which I think will probably be on Friday.


Barnacle Obsessed…

I spent today in the stitch room, I’m beginning to think I may as well sleep there!

I started with some barnacles stitched onto dissolvable fabric. I was worried that this may not work because of the linear design but I was pleasantly surprised.

At the moment I am as of yet undecided what to do with this finished sample, whether to leave it free hanging or to stitch it on to some backing fabric.
I forgot to change the bobbin colour from white so this was unfortunately showing through, however this didn’t result in a bad effect, making it look almost two tone.

One thing that I’ve been meaning to try again was organza under the needle punch machine, since the sample I created during the stitch ‘speed dating’ a few weeks ago. I asked Maggie if I specifically needed to use a wide weave fabric, or if I could use my chosen linen background, and she told me to just give it a go!
I’m so pleased I did because I achieved some really nice effects and ended up spending most of the day on the machine.
I did also try some other thin fabrics but the needles seemed to be unable to bind them together, I think because the fibres were too close together.

Once I finished this one I decided it was much too bare on its own, so appliqued some calico barnacles on top (of course!), which I think really finishes it off nicely. This can be seen as a stylistic interpretation of seaweed found on the beach with things growing on it.

I then tried the needle puncher and organza again, this time adding some felting fibres in, which I think looked really organic, especially when appliqued with some (more) barnacles.

I carried on making samples like this, adding brittle star fish to one of them.

I appliqued these with a soft upholstery fabric, which frayed a lot – at first this was frustrating but did actually work to my advantage, in adding texture to the stars.

I did one last sample with the needle puncher, this time just using the brown organza, and then added some hand embroidery on top for texture. I did a combination of french knots and the limpet shapes, which I think are really successful. They may look better when combined together.


I appliqued some more brittle stars, this time onto the linen in order to perfect the shape. I recently came across a video ( of a brittle star fish moving in an aquarium, and it was described as dancing. I was really inspired by the way it shifted along the tank, and now really want to capture that movement in my interpretations. Here I also added some french knots to the stars to try to capture the texture of them, however I’m not sure if this is really working.

Following one of Helen’s comments in the tutorial last Thursday, I’ve had a think about the idea of including text in my pieces, presenting the scientific names. I do like this concept, and today had a quick go at some lettering on the sewing machine.

Automatically, first I tried the font which I have been using in my sketchbook. Initially, I thought it looked a little informal for my customer, however looking back at it, the letters do look quite effective. I also had a little try at some joined up wording, which I also like. This is something that I need to experiment more with, but it was useful to make a start.

I think tomorrow I am going to do some more wet felting, and possibly go back into stitch (again..!).

Rest Bay

I’m all for being ‘at one’ with my work, but falling over in a rock pool today wasn’t my finest moment…

But despite a soggy start, my sodden behind and I had a really good day of taking photographs and exploring Rest Bay, near Porthcawl.


This beach was full of rocks completely covered in barnacles, which was really useful to see after drawing and stitching them this week. Looking at them, I’m still really happy with my interpretations, as I think they capture the shape and texture well.



The beach was mostly sandy, but higher up there were pebbles, which were beautiful colours. These reminded me a little of my colour scheme, especially the hints of pinks and mustard-y yellows. It is really nice to see me colour scheme out on a beach, because I feel it confirms that I made the right decisions when identifying my palette.



I’ve got lots to do this week but am happy with my plan, and looking forward to making some good progress in my experimentation.

Hand Embroidery Practice

I’ve had a little practice of my hand embroidery mark making over the last couple of evenings. After having another go at french knots, I was eager to do more hand sewing, which is unusual for me as I am usually far too impatient, and much prefer the effects of the machine. I am starting to think that a combination of the two could be really effective in my pieces, and result in a much more sophisticated look.

I’ve tried a few different shapes, including more french knots, some crosses, linear patterns and stars.

I really like the french knots in a big bunch together, which create an effective texture. I also am happy with the star shape, which ended up looking a lot like a limpet.

I think I am going to continue adding to this sample, just when I get a bit of time in the evenings, in order to practice and get back in the habit of hand embroidery.

Another Day in Stitch!

I had a very slow start in the stitch room, but it was nothing a bit of chocolate couldn’t fix! I began with a little go at some seaweed applique.

I started with two strands but this just looked so unfinished and empty, so I continued to layer over it and was much happier with the result. I’m still thinking that this sample needs a little more to it, so I need to decide what exactly this is.

Today I mainly focused on recreating the barnacle drawing from yesterday.

I began free embroidering the shapes in black onto a plain white cotton. This was really useful for me to perfect the shapes and I love this motif in stitch.

I then tried the same sort of thing but on a piece of felt that I made. The colour of this isn’t great for my palette but was fine for this purpose. I love the effect of stitching into felt and I think these came out really effective. I am really liking the barnacle imagery and will definitely be using them in one or more of my final pieces.

I also had a go at applique of the barnacles, using small, circular pieces of calico. I think these work well if adding them onto colour…

I then had the idea of including the barnacles in the other imagery that I’ve been working with. I sewed out some more mussels, using mostly felt for the applique, but also one without applique and one with a ‘velvety’ blue fabric. I don’t think these two were as effective as the felt.

I love the barnacle applique on this mussel, and it came out so much better and more realistic than I was expecting. This is definitely a motif that I will be sticking with.

This weekend I am going to pay another research trip to a beach, hopefully one where I haven’t been before, to gain some more inspiration and photography.

French Knot Practice

After re-learning how to create French knots on Monday, I had more of a practice last night and love the effect it created.

I think the texture is beautiful and am definitely going to be creating more.

Tutorial with Irene, Helen and Keireine

Today I had a tutorial with all three tutors, in preparation for the interim crits next week. I didn’t really prepare an exact presentation but did have a think before about what I wanted to say. I think this really helped me because I wasn’t too nervous, and managed to say most things quite smoothly.

One thing that they did say was that I lingered for a little too long on my market competitors. I think this was because I was going through each of my mood boards, but I realise now that it was unnecessary and this time could have been used talking about something more relevant.

I also forgot to mention about where the pieces would be intended to be sold, but spoke about this afterwards. I need to remember to include this next week and the next with Dr. Melanie Miller.

Helen mentioned that my illustrations of the birds need work, and I definitely agree with this. Irene did ask whether or not I definitely wanted to include the birds in my collection, and after some thought I definitely do. I think it would be a shame to lose this part of my project, because it is a subject that I have really become to enjoy. So for now I’m going to continue refining my drawings of the birds.

Irene was sure to keep reminding me to work to my strengths, which was really useful to hear. I think it is quite easy here to go off on a tangent, forgetting what my skills are, so I am going to now try to remember to keep to them, for example my embroidery and stitch skills.

We also talked about the possibility of having cards/postcards printed with images of my work on them, in the hope that people who don’t want to buy a whole piece or can’t necessarily afford it, can purchase one of these instead.

The biggest comment and change which was made during the tutorial was that, rather than 3 large pieces, it was suggest that I made a series of smaller pieces instead. I absolutely love this idea and am so happy that it was brought up. I was really struggling with ideas for what the final pieces will actually look like and how they were going to be displayed so was honest and mentioned this in the tutorial. Admittedly, the idea of working ‘big’ was worrying me and I felt quite intimidated by the fact that I was unsure about it, so I’m really happy with this new idea. I do enjoy working small so in hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before!
This idea also means that my pieces will be more feasible for repeat purchases, due to the inevitable lower price, and also because they may look a little lost on their own.

I spent the afternoon rearranging my desk and getting together a ‘to do’ list for the next couple of weeks. My next step is to make some decisions about the theme and contents of each of the small pieces, while still continuing experimentation in stitch.

I also spent some time on a pencil drawing of some barnacles, concentrating on the texture, and am looking forward to taking this into stitch.