Sunday, 5 January 2014

Resolution 1

I have finally reached a point in this project where I feel I have enough information to begin the production of the final piece.

As mentioned in a previous post I have decided to use sail shapes as a structure on which to base the the piece

I have also finalised the design elements in the form of portraits, lace/fishing net and abstract figure forms.

With the above structure in place I started design ideas in my sketchbook, looking at the possibility of combining the portraits with the lace.

In this first image I have placed the faces on a  sail shape inspired by the Tequiquest building in Cardiff,

at this point I was looking at the idea of having the portraits on one layer and the lace embroidery on another, giving the piece a floating dreamlike quality.

In the above image I've tried the traditional shape of a sail, with a possible wooden support on the side and at the bottom. This would allow the left hand side to be fixed loosely to the bottom bar and be able to move gently like a sail. There would only be one layer in this version with the lace shapes being embroidered over the top of the faces, fully integrating the design.

The last experiment involved a return to the Techniquest inspired shape, with the faces being sketched onto the pages of the sketchbook and then another 2 layers of tea bag weight paper, both covered in fishing net inspired grids. These were laid over the faces at different angles and stuck down with acrylic matt medium.

From these initial trials I decided that the shape of the sails in the fist experiment were right, but I needed to have separate layers for the lace/ fishing net, and the portraits. There will also be a third layer that involves the abstracted figures of the ladies pulling the rope, suggested in an earlier piece.

With this part of the design decided I moved onto the possible template for the lace/fishing net layer.

This design is a meter on its longest side.

The designs are based on delicate lace structures studied at the Musee des Beaux-arts et de la Dentelle, Alencon, in France. I have also incorporated fishing net structures in this design. 

This panel will be kept to one side while the portrait panel is designed.

I decided to refine the portraits again, for aesthetic reasons and I was also looking for a way to simplify the digitising process.

I have names for 4 of the lady launchers, so I decided to rework the portraits of these ladies, as having a name, and in some cases a very small knowledge of their history made me feel more connected to them. The following lady seemed to resonate with me and as her portrait developed I found that I connected more strongly with her.

For each of these ladies I felt there was some special connection and this portrait felt as if it was all about the head scarf, anchored into place with a striped knitted scarf against the amazing force of the Dungeness wind.

This lady was more difficult to connect with, I have sketched her many times and I think this is as close as I will get to imagining her. For me this portrait is all about the beret, it seems to be part of her personality, but I can only guess.

If I am correct this lady featured in several of the photos that I explored and in each one she was smiling and this is what makes this portrait special for me.

And lastly, I could only see the top half of this ladie's face in the photograph I was using, so a large amount guesswork has been necessary on this one, but I hope I may have captured something of her personality. I researched her hairstyle for the period of the photograph and guessed that it might have been inspired by Bette Davis or Ann Sheridan. Predictably this portrait is all about the hair and the glasses for me.

Having refined the portraits I was now ready to start the first digital stitched portrait. For this I chose my favourite portrait, the top one, and stitched it onto silk organza with a water-soluble backing. To save fabric and stabiliser these were mounted onto calico and then the backing was cut away.

The whole mounted piece was then washed to remove the stabiliser, and pinned out to dry flat.

And this is how the portrait looks after the stabiliser was removed, with small trial lights shining behind it.

Having established the method of creating the portraits in a textile context, I will now drop back to the method of my choice for the lace panel and create sample/s for the production.

This will be followed by the design for the third panel and sample/s for the method of construction.

I will then start work on the framework for the piece.

The above stages can be worked concurrently, where appropriate.


  1. this is looking great Sharon. I love the personalities of the portraits and how they are all quite different. I think your plan to separate the faces and the lace in layers will work well and increase the depth. Have you a site planned for your 'sails'?

  2. Your portraits are fabulous, and I can see that you have connected with them, and that they each have a personality. I also love the abstract version of the women pulling the rope.
    If you have names for your women, and a rough estimate of their ages, have you considered looking on the census returns to find out more about their family sizes? If they were old enough to be on the 1911 census you should be able to get information about them as long as they don't have very common names. (I have an ancestry subscription and can look for you if you like).

  3. This is a really fascinating project Sharon. Love the portraits especially. I was given a book on Derek Jarman's sketchbooks recently in which there are sketches of his Dungeness gearden.

  4. The sketches are outstanding,sweetie, as is the piece you are currently developing, it is probably the finest yet

  5. love your layering plans...and the pen drawings above, (directly above the ladies) are fabulous. There is so much attention to detail in everything you do....

  6. what a talented lady you are Sharon......stunning work!