Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Resolution 4

Having carried out various experiments for panel 3 as discussed in the last post, I decided to have one more attempt to use bleach on the walnut dyed silk. This time I used a baby's newborn bottle, acquired on a visit to see our newest granddaughter.

 The pressure of the teat seems to be just the right amount to let out enough bleach and leave a solid line of fluid, standing proud of the silk. The concentration of this quantity of bleach seems to take out enough of the dye. This bottle is of course stored safely in a high cupboard away from any small children who might come to visit.

The other idea I worked through was that of combining machine embroidery with the bleached outline of the figures.

I used a pen sketch of the lady launchers in a row,  featured in the Pathe News photo that I'd used for inspiration, and digitised it ready for the digital embroidery software to stitch the design.

You can also see that I have experimented with bleaching the embroidery threads to see what effect that had, and I discovered that the red I had used for the rope turned yellow and the brown thread turned orange. This may have a use at a later stage, but that remains to be seen.

I tried the digitised design again double the size, which has a much greater impact, I also used a thread colour that is closer to the slate colour that I've used for the portraits. I still feel the the figure is too complicated and I need to work at simplifying it, but I do like the juxtaposition of the embroidery with the bleached figures.

In the top image you can just see where I have also experimented with attaching a calico frame around the silk organza. I thought this would work as calico is similar in its appearance to sail canvas.

I have also tried screen printing line drawings on deveore as suggested by Helenbut found that although the effect was quite pleasing with the light behind it, without light it appeared too heavy.

I have spent some time trying to find the right balance of loose line drawing and a detailed representation of the Lady Launchers at work. I've done this by having several sketching sessions using different materials and  approaches.

Concentrating on one figure 

In the image above I've worked with the group of figures seen on the bottom row, reworked them and cut them out so I can place them later on the shape of the sail (panel 3)

The top samples are freestyle figures painted onto silk organza using a Seta Skrib fabric marker for the blue figures and a Tombo watercolour pen for the black figure, both media have been washed over with clear water to give the effect achieved on paper in the above image, lower row.

My final attempt has been to sketch the ladies using a biro pen in order to create the type of marks that it's possible to create with the digital embroidery software.

This last attempt is about as close as I think I can get to creating an impression of the individual ladies lined up pulling the rope for a photoshoot. I may return to the simplicity of the hand stitch outline that I had in the first 1/4 scale trial, as there is a lot of stitch content in the first 2 panels, so it might be a good foil.

In order to take a step away from the 3rd panel, which has become a small sticking point at the moment, I have started to think about how this piece will be mounted for display, by considering the following options.

My apologies for the poor formatting of this post, but I have no idea why it looks completely different when it goes live.


  1. This is a huge and worthwhile project. Keep going - I want to see more.

  2. investigate, investigate, sample, sample...to the nth degree! and boy does it pay off. The fifth image down gave me goose bumps. This post was more than worth the wait.

  3. Fascinating thought process, I love the embroidery on the organza but can see that you want a simpler line which I think the biro drawing gives.. they are stunning.

  4. Your figures are awesome Sharon....wonderful!
    V x

  5. I love your figures ,especially the cut outs.I don't mind the blank faces as the figures are powerful enough on their own.Looking forward to seeing the driftwood etc.Keep going.

  6. I love all your different figure styles, Sharon. I could even imagine a place for more than one version, in different media - since after all this is something they did regularly. Like an echo. I really love the bare outline sketch, in which I think you have achieved the tension and unity of the effort of the bodies, but I can see why your final biro version is perfect for the digital embroidery.