Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A steep learning curve

Digitising and multi hooping are definitely not for the faint hearted. Between now and my last post, I've been struggling to make the second lace panel seamlessly join the first panel, seen on the left of the image below.


However it's not all doom and gloom, I did work out a way to stop having so many floating threads that I ended up with a 'bird's nest', quite a common problem with beginner digitisers apparently.


Having copied the next part of the design to fit the shape of the hoop, and follow on from the first panel, I then decided to break it down into sections and digitise (drawing over the design with the freehand tool on screen using Bernina Designer Plus version 6 software) and using a different colour for each section.


I used the method of drawing where you don't take the pencil off the paper until you've finished the drawing. This meant that there were no breaks in the whole section therefore no float thread as the machine moves from one section to another. It also meant that the start and end points of each section could be placed close to the next section and therefore creating a very short float thread.

It was pure joy to watch the machine stitch each section as a whole with no breaks.

Unfortunately my joy was short lived as I started to work out how I could multi hoop both lace panels together to achieve the first part of the design.


The first surprised was that the software decided that the hooping sequence need to be horizontal, I think it has something to do with the fact that there are several areas where the pattern of the lace is horizontal, and it can be matched up more easily if the hoops are placed in the same direction. 

This is just a guess on my part, if the hooping is good the colour will change to green.

Sometimes more tweaking is required as the software tries to organise a good match and this is when another tool has to be used (the splitting tool) to break up the design and move it slightly to get a better match, I think.

So far this is all experimental as you might have gathered, but I did get the design to go green in the end.


The pink lines are where the software has split the design.

So now I thought I was ready for the first part of the design to be stitched in the correct place, marked out for the sail shape, the blue part of the design.


So far so good, but when it to came to matching up for the second hooping that's where it all went pear shaped. Not only did I hoop up the wrong way round, i.e. the design should stitch from left to right and I hooped up from right to left! I then started with another colour so it would cover over my false start, but I still didn't have a perfect join horizontally for both hoopings.

  
Finally I managed to stitch the two panels but there is a lot of mismatch here. However the good news is that I've worked out that you have to be scrupulously accurate when butting up each hoop to the previous one, using the registration marks that the software provides.

For me it's definitely worth pursuing because it means I can accurately copy quite loose designs and they will stitch out exactly as I've drawn them. I can't do this with Free machine embroidery as there is always a variation of the design unless you have extreme control over the needle placement. Also there is no need to copy the design onto the fabric, which could be detrimental on silk organza, my choice for the final piece.

There is also the other advantage that the designs are repeatable, which does prove very useful in some elements of my design work.

   




Monday, 4 April 2016

Dungeness revisited at last

At last we found a break in the weather that combined with a window of nothing to do, (surprisingly difficult to find even though we are retired), so we headed off last Wednesday and have enjoyed a lovely mix of sunshine, light showers and temperatures up to 24 degrees in our motorhome.

We hadn't had the chance to visit for eighteen months, so I was incredibly pleased to be able to update my source photos.



I found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with the washing flapping on the lines, with the bulk of the power station in the background, it just seemed so incongruous. 

Having been using a drier for the past 5 years as we now live in an apartment, I'd forgotten how satisfying that sound is. That coupled with the simplicity of the houses and their setting gave me a great feeling of nostalgia. 


I stayed a while sitting in the sun enjoying the opportunity to sketch this lovely home with its original railway carriage on the left of the building.

I finally managed to tear myself away and look for more textural inspiration, which is never in short supply along the beach.


I loved the contrast of the colours of this discarded carpet against the rust of the roof of a shed that had finally given itself up to the winds.


This one has been a favourite of mine ever since my first visit, but now it has almost lost its roof and most of the panels are gone.


But what remains has provided this wonderful texture that time and weather have created.



This too is a beautiful pattern I found on a concrete shed wall, the five leaf shaped patterns look almost like a lino print, making the whole wall look like a work of art.


I love the contrast of this next image, the netting looks fragile against the metal and the composition (as found) is perfect.


And this next one reminds me of a framed piece of work by a contemporary artist.


I took this just for fun because it was there, and I knew I couldn't take it home with me, in fact the next day only the tail was left.


A little bit of art photography for a change, as I'm not a photographer.


The last 2 images are fairly random, just taken for their pattern and colour qualities. 





It was a lovely visit, and has reaffirmed my connection with Dungeness and has made me determined to finish the 'Lady Launchers' project. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Lace panel 1

Having finished editing all the portraits I have now started preparing for the digitising of the lace sail.


So far I have only created a very small sample for this piece so I had no idea how it would look in reality.


First of all I selected an area in the top left corner of the design and working to the shape of my Mega Hoop digital embroidery frame I traced out the first panel using a light box.


The next stage was to import the image into the software and digitise the design, which basically involves drawing over it with a Bamboo tablet and stylus, which is a lot easier to control than a mouse.

Then came my favourite task (not) of removing as many connecting threads as possible.


I stitched the design out onto calico, the final piece will be on silk organza, and in the interest of saving money (and keeping the design colour thread back for the real thing), I used a yellow thread to stitch it and couldn't see it! So I decided to outline the whole piece with a fine liner pen.

I quite like the result against the yellow stitching. You might also see that the top half of the design has been stitched in triple running stitch and the rest in single. Somehow I must have gone back to the default stitch, there's such a lot to learn when you want to push the software to the limit and don't yet have quite enough knowledge. Something I'm very familiar with.




Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Digital bird's nests

Never imagine that digital embroidery is a quick fix for free machine embroidery. I seem to have spent hours understanding how to plan a design so I don't end up with a bird's nest of connecting threads between each stitched element of the piece.

However, I think my brain is slowly becoming more conversant with the software and every connecting thread I manage to get rid of is a bonus.


This was my best effort so far, but a professional designer would have a finished design looking something like this.


There would only be 2 threads showing, one for the start of the design and one for the end.


This is the third portrait that I've edited, which I did today and I think it's the best so far.


And how it should look.

Only 2 more portraits to go and then I'll be ready for the stitch out at last..

Monday, 29 February 2016

Study Break

After a long period of studying the  Practical Anatomy for Artist by Peter Simpson and working through a very in-depth course on digital embroidery with a superb tutor Carol Undy, I am now back to working on some unfinished work.

I've now finished one of the pieces I started way back here.





I'm hoping this will give me the impetus to finish the Dungeness Project started here, after putting so much effort into the research it would be a real shame not to finish it.


I recently found some beautiful driftwood pieces on the beach, whitened to perfection, which I think will make the perfect hanging device.



Sunday, 15 June 2014

Resolution 7 (rest and evaluation)

As with most projects there comes a time when the next step seems unclear and often the only way forward is to take a break from it, and allow yourself time to evaluate what you've done so far and see what might work and what doesn't.

I decided to trace all the portrait embroideries and the figures pulling on the rope onto velum, (the front layer of lace having already been completed), which although not transparent like the organza, the proposed final fabric,  does give some idea of how the final piece might look.






These panels have been hanging in my summerhouse/studio for several weeks, and I think I am now happy that the concept will work. I like the natural light playing on these sheets and I now need to find out how the effect will look on organza, as it will be very different.

There are still some technical details to sort out with the digital embroidery, but hopefully these will be resolved fairly easily.

During this break from the project I have continued with my skeletal/muscle studies and am finding the challenge irresistible, there is considerable satisfaction in achieving a close copy of the poses in the book that I'm working from, Practical Anatomy for Artists Peter M Simpson. I have also started to use his methods in a several studies of the work of different sculptors, plus some life modelling.





A sketch of a sculpture at Petworth House

A whole skeleton studied at Haslemere Museum


Although this body of work has little direct connection to the project, I do feel that without the direction that it has taken I would not have been lead down this path, so as long as I have the luxury of time I am happy to pursue it for as long as it pleases me to do so. It could easily develop into a new direction as I find the shapes of the muscles and the bones often quite beautiful.

There is a comforting rhythm in the shapes and the connection they make with each other in order to form the whole.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Resolution 6 (tangential experimentation)

Carrying on from the  last post  where I was experimenting with reworking a couple of portraits,  I finally reached a version of this lady........


that I was happier with...


I think so anyway, there is a danger that the more you refine something the less spontaneous it becomes.  Although there are faults in the sketching of the first one, I think it may show more character, just by not being symmetrical.


The more I work on this project, the more issues it seems to uncover. 

For instance, does having an open-ended time limit for completing a project take that energy away from it when the deadline approaches and there is a need to finish it, before the artist has time to reflect on and adjust the outcome?

The only thing to be said in regard to the above, in this particular case, is that it has enabled me to see what would happen if I reworked the portraits and which version I like best. I'm definitely leaning towards both originals, but the test will be to see how they look when they are stitched.

I've been able to work on the digital embroidery again lately and have finally resolved the design for the ladies pulling the rope.


This has been worked on a nylon sheer, not organza, as it's too expensive to experiment with on a full size piece. As you can see the rope isn't in quite the right place between the first and second lady, I need to rework the digital design and resolve the registering issues when multi hooping the work.

As I can only fit 3 ladies into the width of the panel, and retain the scale, I returned to the idea of mixing loose hand stitched figures with the machine embroidered ones. Janice very kindly suggested a mix of different styles on a comment she left on one of my posts.


I'm not sure if they work, or considering that this panel will be behind 2 others it may be able to sustain the void at the top.




Or maybe the hand stitched figures need more attention, they were very roughly done as an experiment.

Which brings round to the tangential experiments I have been working through as a result of trying to get the pose of the 3'rd lady launcher in the rope line up correct.

I discovered a brilliant book in the library Practical Anatomy for Artists Peter M Simpson  in which he refers  to " The inside out approach....."  to figure drawing. This involves drawing the skeleton first, then the muscles and finally the body contour.

I've found it really reassuring to have the that 'scaffolding' in place before sketching the figure and it will be very useful in the future for drawing figures from memory or from imagination, something I've always wanted to do.




The above sketches are taken from the book, and the one below is an experiment using the technique on a photograph of my son.




I'm looking forward to working my way through the muscle section....



I appreciate that this is a tenuous link to the work I'm doing on this project, but it did come about as a result of difficulties in getting the shape of the figures correct. This is an avenue I wouldn't have had the luxury of exploring If I'd been working to a deadline.