Saturday, 15 February 2014

Resolution 3

Having completed the 1/4 scale models for panels 1 and 2, I now decided to drop back and experiment with ideas for panel 3 using the fabrics that I'd dyed with the walnut husks.

At this point I realised that I hadn't documented the reasons for using this idea for a coloured ground on the 3rd panel, which is something I think I would have had justify if I had been doing an MA course.

There are many colours to be found on the beach at Dungeness, ranging from the gaudy graffiti images sprayed onto the sides of containers, to the dark sepia colour of the wooden sleepers used as walkways along the beach.

It was these darker colours that I felt would express the power of the environment against which these ladies lived their lives on a daily basis.  

Also I felt that a darker and sombre panel behind the first 2 would provide a good graduation from the  delicate lace in the first panel, through the dark stitching of the strong portrait panel to the end stop of the ladies in silhouette.

I recorded the dye process for the above sample, for use later on the final piece.

This is a very early stage of the final panel and will probably go though many changes.

The embroidery was worked from the paperwork design above.

Once I had all 3 panels completed I was then able to experiment with lighting effects.

The 2 above were very basic tests, just using a set of small LED lights to test how the panels would show themselves behind each other. With such a strong light the colour has been washed out of the rear panel.

The 2 images above show the light source, an angle poise lamp (non LED) coming from below the piece. The bottom image shows a different format for the pieces, but I don't think this is comfortable.

These last 2 images show the piece lit from behind with an LED strip , which I think gives the best atmospheric lighting. In the bottom image you'll see that the final panel has been worked on dyed calico, giving a very definite solid back to the piece, however it doesn't look as good as the organza when there is no illumination.  Also it does adversely effect the transparency of the portrait panel.

Having decided that more work was needed on the final panel I went back to the original photo of the ladies hauling the boat for a photo shoot and tried various ideas to loosen up the design.

Part of the problem in working this design is that the idea has been taken from the piece worked at the top of the above image, which is in landscape format, but the panel is in portrait format and requires the the ladies to be sketched diagonally from corner to corner. This seemed to work well in the 1\4 scale but needs a lot more adjustment at full size.

I have also added bleach to the sketch on the right and this has worked well on the calico, but not so well on the silk organza.

In the left hand sketch I have tried adding detail, sleepers, grasses, pebbles and the suggestion of a light house, but I think it's overcomplicated and I really wanted this panel to be more abstract.

More experiments followed...

The suggestion of the sleepers used to guide the lifeboat along the beach and a beached fishing vessel in the distance. I also added red to the rope to give it more significance, but this still didn't feel comfortable.

Despite my first experiments with thick toilet bleach on the dyed silk organza having proved disappointing, I decided to have another try with thin domestic bleach and found it took out more of the colour. I then reworked the design on paper, using sepia intense water colour as a background wash.

Having established a design that would incorporate  an abstract background detail, I made a template on which to lay the silk and sketched the design with a mapping pen an bleach.

The resulting bleaching out was still a little disappointing, and at the moment the effect seems to disappear when the panel is illuminated.

I have put a second layer of silk under the first and this helps to bring out  the bleached figures. I have also outlined the first figure in the row with running stitch using hand dyed silk that has been dyed with logwood, which gives an intense blue/black colour.

I decided that the figures themselves still didn't feel right so I started sketching the ladies again to see if I could catch the essence of their movement in pulling on the rope.

The row of ladies along the bottom of the page above feels much closer to the abstract feeling I was hoping for. It was achieved by using watercolour pens and then flooding the sketch with water.

I tried a couple of very small samples on organza to see if the idea would work.

What I did find interesting about these 2 samples was, that as I had no organza left, I had to paint these on the edge of another sample and I do like the addition of the stitching combined with the figures. I think there is much food for thought here for the final panel.   


  1. Fascinating to read your thought process on this Sharon. I understand how the more you think and alter things the more confused it can become. I hate to add more suggestions but have you thought of screenprinting your ladies with a devore effect on velvet/rayon? If it was at the back of the arrangement (like your calico) you might get lovely shadows.
    Looking lovely.

  2. document, evidence, justify....I know those words so well. Your investigation is, as ever, so thorough it takes my breath the sensitive stitching in the lower images....

  3. It takes my breath away too. I would have been delighted to have been able to achieve just your first attempts! I really liked the row of women in your first sail shape, and I love the effect in the very last examples too. Such a lot of work!

  4. Thanks for your encouraging comments .I love what is happening here.I think the figures are better left abstract as you say.Looking at the strokes of overlapping colour could you bond,appliqué some layers of organza to mimic the paint effects and bleach into the layers?

  5. Sharon I have only just seen your latest post and love what you are doing.

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