Sunday, 9 March 2014

Whitchurch Silk Mill


Visit to Whitchurch Silk Mill

Yesterday my friend and I went for a walk and a coffee. We went striding along the Wayfarers' Way from where there are good views and interesting things to look at.

A lot of people take this walk, with dogs and children in tow, or they cycle or ride. What ever their chosen means of transport they leave their mark.

We were really on our way to Whitchurch Silk Mill to see a small textile exhibition of works by an embroiderer, Janet Steer, whose work was about walking and travelling in mountains and other places. She had cut up maps and re-assembled them into weavings, added some embroidery on this textile base, or added some printing.

Whitchurch Silk Mill is a fine place. It is mainly run by volunteers, but some silk weaving takes place there on some old looms. It was originally a water mill and the river Test runs clear and fast outside. We had our coffee and cake, a good old chat and then went exploring around the mill, both inside and outside. Here are a few impressions of what we saw:

The room where they fill bobbins and prepare the loom displays some samples of silk that they have woven alongside the filled bobbins of silk.

The old bobbins are sometimes made of fruit woods, such as apple so that the wood will not stain the silk thread should there be some dampness touching it.

In another room the working looms are visible and a prepared old loom demonstrates the assembly of warp on the frame. Suspended weights look quite delicate.

Outside the mill there is quite a bit of duck-life on the river. One duck, having been spurned by his colleagues who were resting for the night, went ahead and plunged for his late dinner.

Tex1 Project 1- drawn marks



Welcome to my blog which will cover some of the work I will be doing for the OCA course, Textiles 1 - A creative approach in 2014.

The first project asks students to think about mark making. I have always feared drawing, as I can never really get my drawing to look like any object I am observing, but the mark making exercises allows you to have a go and think about what the feeling, or mood is behind an observed thing, so that gives me a bit of hope.

Now, onto some of my first attempts (the experiments here were made in the last three weeks).

Project 1


In the past I have attended a few classes on creative drawing and the mark making exercises were similar in many ways.  The idea of making marks that evoke feeling, sensation or inner senses I had tried before. I think this time, because of the small area for drawing – 8x8 cm square – there was not a lot of space to expand and experiment. But then again constraints can allow you to think about your tools and choices in different ways. Some of the marks I quite liked, others I thought looked a bit weak or a bit conventional somehow.

I suppose inventiveness comes with trying things out, just playing, and I need time to loosen up, so weekends may be the best time for large playful experiments, rather than the end of the day after I have been working.

Exercise 1
The first exercises were to express marks inspired by words, drawn in pencil:

Loose slashy, whiplash lines for speed and more elaborate lines and loops drawn slowly

Hardness from working the pencil hard into the paper of stabbing the paper, softness of line and softness of pencil leads laid flattish on the paper.
More marks from words

Exercise 2

Another exercise asked us to consider tone

I quite liked this one, the dark notes are particularly good.

Exercise 3
The next exercise used the same words but now the choice of media was much wider.

In this exercise I tried a few different media, from pen, ink, pencil, charcoal, ink, paints – and gouache I liked very much – it has a fluid feel to it, but has a good strong colour, I will be using that again.


The charcoal study with rubbed away areas worked well (centre), as did the scraped silver acrylic (far right)

Again, I do like the silver acrylic, when used on its own with a textured surface it produced subtle effects, soft relief lines and punctuations; the thick squashy acrylic/PVA is also quite strong (bottom right)
A close of the silver acrylic here
The watercolour pencils I have not used before and so I was a bit cautious in what to do with them. For this exercise I quickly tried out some suggested techniques form the flyer in the pencil tin:
Later I came to use these a lot, and now like them very much (27.04.14)

I also had a go at doing a sort of (but pretty conventional) flower motif using felt tip pens with lines framing them created by a loose, less controlled movement.

Exercise 4

The exercises then moved on to experiments in various media, using different tools for mark making

This is an acrylic splosh of paint,
scraped with the end of a paint brush
More scraped paint, this time gouache onto cheap white children's paint on top of some yellowish acrylic and coloured paper

Some techniques I had tried before  - but I think there are many possibilities with rubbing, stamping, stencilling and making washes – I have still to stretch myself with collage. I like the way ink can be painted, stamped, dragged, used on other surfaces. The work I did on sheet music, yellow background (cheap children’s paint mixed with acrylic made a transparentish background) with thin lines of dragged India ink I liked – this was a bit like extending the idea of the note into something else, and still being rhythmic with the marks so it evoked something musical.
Stamped acrylic using the end of a polystyrene packaging element, and tissue-dabbed paint

Painted black squares with disturbed edges made by dabbing the wet paint with tissue

More stamping, this time using rubbers that had been gauged using a lino knife which makes interesting surface textures

More stamps on paper prepared with tea stains

Here I painted on sheet music, the top shows ink over wax resist with paint drips, the second is paint with dragged ink lines:

You could say that some of my stencils were clumsily executed – I made stencils of soft plastic that rolled up when they got wet. So, when I used them with crayon the results were fine, but with gouache the plastic could not stop the wettish paint from creeping under the stencil so the marks became messy around the edges. Never mind, it still looked interesting, and I discovered that ridges on the plastic stencil made fine stamps, so I used them for that as well.
Crayons used on stencils over water colour or diluted acrylic washes
Gouache stencilling:
These were the outcomes of the clumsily executed gouache stencils. I think cropping the photographs can focus elements from the experimental work that can be useful for other work to come.

Stage 4

Drawing texture from objects
I had a go at doing line drawings of shells with fine liner pens - this I had done before, but a long time ago, so I did this for fun for this exercise:

The exercise called for drawings of textures from objects. This I liked when I found some good things to draw from. First a cone - I started with a graphite drawing which ended up being quite representational:

What was nice about this cone was that its surface had a solid integrity. There was a good relief pattern and lines running all over it in an organic, yet organised system. So, I then went on to trying out various media - graphite, coloured pencil, watercolour pencil:

Watercolour pencil and water-soluble pens:

I do like water soluble pens and pencils. They add depth and effects to the surface that you can draw over and integrate with other marks. I practiced this a little bit with a picture of a snowy field as well:

The one below was done with cheap supermarket colour pencils. They are really not good. I did a drawing course with Richard Box last August, at which he frowned deeply at these things and I can see why. They are hard, some leave only faint colour, and don't mix very well. They are dull and the pigment is uninspiring and greyish. I have turned to much better coloured pencils now and will be giving my cheap pencils to the charity shop.

Water-soluble pens (this is one of the pictures I went on to use as a source for creating a textile sample):

A couple of loosely drawn sketches of a plate with white crackled glaze: