Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Transformation 2


Following on from my previous post where I concentrated on developing the direction of this project, I have now refined it with the addition of digital embroidery.

It has been a long term goal of mine to fuse my interest in digital art, which started with an introduction to Photoshop in 1993 on my degree course, with the crafting of my textile art. With the acquisition of  Bernina's Designer Plus version 6 in 2009, ( a very generous gift from my husband) I have been gradually incorporating pieces of digital embroidery into my work.

I think this form of machine embroidery has a lot to offer textile artists, as it allows for the designing of custom artwork/embroidery which has limitless repeatable opportunities. The subject does of course have to be treated with individuality and sensitivity in order not to arrive at a predictable outcome.


Also discussed in the previous post was the idea of layering portraits of the lady launchers with net or fine lace as a way of portraying their strength versus the fragility, of the environment the ladies worked in and the delicacy of managing to balance family life and work life.

This image is part of a study where I am looking at possible ways to obscure the face in lace like structures. I sketched a study of the head scarved woman and then overlaid  it with patterns of this Burano lace.

Another reference to the previous post, is my awareness of my daughter's lives that are also spent in the juggling act of home and work. I decided to sketch some portraits of them and see what emotionts and inspiration came from the exercise.

I started with my eldest daughter.

I put this sketch into the embroidery software and performed an automatic digitising effect, Photosnap.

I liked this effect, especially on the black background which gives a good silhouette. I didn't like the background stitch so decided to try a freehand digitising technique for the next sample, taken from a sketch of my second eldest daughter.

I added a grunge filter to this portrait for future work.

I scanned the top version of the portrait into the embroidery software and digitised manually with the freehand tool this time.

This was only the second attempt at this technique but I like the look and will continue to practice.

The grunged portrait above inspired the idea of using a free machine embroidery sample and the tablecloth to push the portrait into the background.

These experiments gave rise to the following sketch.

The sketch was copied from the above sample with the lace overlay pattern taken from the tablecloth and the free machine embroidery sample. As a result of this sketching exercise I came to the following conclusion.

notes from my sketchbook 

Unfortunately I didn't have suitable images of my youngest daughter and my daughter in law to use for this experiment.

Working within the parameters set down in the previous post I decided to go back to the images of the Dungeness ladies. This project started with its foundation in Dungeness, a place my daughters have no connection with, so they cannot therefore be included in this particular story. But the exercises were very valuable and I would certainly like to return to this topic, which is so close to my heart, in the future.

With this in mind I began sketching the lady launchers again.

This portrait was put into the embroidery software using the same technique as I used for my eldest daughter. It has been stitched with varying threads to see how a tiny element of colour works with varying shades of grey as mentioned in my sketchbook notes.

As this was only a sample to look at colour and tone it's not finished, but it may have relevance, in that  the mouth is missing, suggesting that their story has not been told to a wider audience.

And here is my working area showing all three samples.

I have also been studying lace patterns that may help in designing the layer of lace that will cover the portraits.

I like the order and containment in these sketches, but also the looseness of finding my way around the designs, I'd like to incorporate that into the final textile layer. 


  1. Fascinating development in your research Sharon. I've not done much work with digitising but I agree with you that it offers so much along with conventional embroidery. I love your layering effects.

  2. This is fascinating.I love the absence of parts of the digitizing,a metaphor for the facelessness of domestic drudgery perhaps.

  3. I am in awe, Sharon! Not being educated in art, I have never had the opportunity to witness all this deep thought and connection-making that goes into a project like this. It is fascinating. Good luck, too, as you progress with the digital embroidery. My machine does straight and zigzag... and even that scares me! :)

  4. wow Sharon, you have some amazing process going on here. I have to say that the marks, the lines in the second image visible through the lace made my heart skip a beat....just beautiful. I was thinking of you the other day...I was reading an article about a guy who has transformed an old railway carriage into a home and it is on Dungeness beach...have you seen it??? Unfortunately there weren't any exterior shots.....