For my final major project I decided to continue to focus within the pathway of surface pattern and textiles as it has allowed me to experiment across a wide range of processes such as embroidery, fabric manipulation and felting with the combined use of materials such as vanishing fabric and procion dyes. I chose to base my subject area on marine life due to the fact that there are some very interesting and unique textures and patterning on coral reefs and more so within other aspects of marine biology such as fish, turtles etc. Personally, I felt that choosing something with such a broad base would prevent me from limiting myself in any way. Referring back to my proposal and my workplan during this project has ensured that I have fulfilled the targets I set myself.


Despite the fact that I didn’t dive into this project with a strict set of intentions I knew that I wanted to push myself to experiment within the processes that this pathway has to offer as previously transgressing from an illustration background I have occasionally found myself limiting my work to two dimensional outcomes. I feel that throughout my final major project I have achieved this goal because a lot of the work I have created has been done with the use of embroidery and fabrics that I have layered in order to create a textured look. Furthermore, the artists that I have researched during this project such as Margaret Werthiem and Christine Werthiem have helped to give me new insights into just how much can be achieved through the use of these processes and this in turn has pushed me to create a final outcome that combines vibrant and colourful three dimensional aspects within surface pattern and textiles.


During my final major project I feel that there has been a slight change in direction with the way in which I have developed my final outcome due to the fact when I was presenting my pitch I discussed a lot about an industry based outcome given that I am soon to start an apprenticeship in a fabric printing company. However, I drove myself away from this initial idea and created a wall hanging that combined a range of processes in order to create a unique and built up textured piece. I feel that this change took place after viewing the installations that the artists I researched had produced. For example, Courtney Mattison, despite the fact she used clay for her three dimensional installations it gave me the idea to research into fabric manipulation techniques to see how I could create outcomes similar to her work.


I feel that there has been many strengths and weaknesses throughout the duration of my final major project. The weaknesses that I have encountered have helped me to learn new ways in which I could overcome and improve my work which has also led to my strengths. One of the problems I encountered was the fact that there isn’t any coral reefs on the shorelines of the UK to gather primary resource photography therefore I have had to visit sea life centres and fish mongers in order to gather images. I felt that although these photographs were fantastic to base my work upon they didn’t do the real view of a coral reef justice. Therefore, I used photographers such as David Doubilet to help inform me and refresh my memory on the previous snorkelling expeditions I have been on. Furthermore, I have found that my lack in knowledge on different fabrics and materials has sometimes impeded my practice as there has been occasions in which I have made the wrong choices and things haven’t gone to plan. However, all these decisions have helped me to learn and through experimentation and discussion with fellow students I have been able overcome these weaknesses. I do feel that I have improved with my knowledge on the use of sewing machines and embroidery work as I have done an extensive amount of this with my final outcome.


If I was to have more time I feel that I would have produced more fragmented pieces for the wall hanging so they could have been exhibited on a larger scale, perhaps with a variation of colour to create contrast. Furthermore, I would have like to have added some different additional pieces with the use of fabric manipulation techniques to create more built up texture.


Overall, I am very happy with my final outcome as I feel that considering I hadn’t had much time in surface pattern and textiles before I started my final major project I have successfully managed to combine embroidery, felting and fabric manipulation processes to create a bright and colourful wall hanging that is noticeable to viewers as an under the sea representation. Furthermore, I feel that this has been a fantastic opportunity to be creative before I go into my technical role as a colour separation artist.


Preparing For The Show

In order to prepare for the exhibition we have collectively as a group sanded the walls and painted the room to ensure it is in pristine condition to show our work. We have each been given an allocated space in which we can display our work.

To hang my piece I experimented with different compositions in my space and came to the conclusion that it would be better for each fragmented piece to be hung at different levels and with different layers to create a more built up effect. To do so I used two thin pieces of wood and filament wire to hook them onto the wood. This was very difficult and fiddly to do due to the fact that it was hard to get them into an organised composition. With some of the pieces I really like the way in which they have natural twisted and curved and I want to bring this look into some of the other pieces. Furthermore, I need to use more of the filament wire to tack the pieces to the board to stop them from twisting. I think as an additional way to add more texture to it would be to add a light that will project onto the piece from the floor to cast the shadows on to the white background.

Below are some of the images I have taken of the wallhanging;

Final Piece- Adding The Beads

I purchased some small pearly beads to sew onto the wall hanging and I have considered the placement of these. I chose to put them in certain areas in which they will stand out but will also compliment various features. I found that they look effective in clusters around the felted pieces and trailing around. I chose to use a small size so that they didn’t over ride the piece due to the fact that at the stage now that could be very easily done with everything that is already on the hanging. I feel that this will be the final stage of my wall hanging now before it will be hung for exhibition.

Final Piece- Vanishing Fabric

Looking back on all the previous techniques and development within my sketchbook it gave me inspiration to include the the use of vanishing fabric on my wall hanging. I chose to do the exact same design I had done previously that was based upon my primary research of octopus suckers as this was a simple yet effective design that I knew would compliment the other features of the wallhanging well without ‘taking over’ it.

I carefully considered the colours of the threads I chose as I needed something that would be bold and stand out against the dyed up background, therefore, I chose an orange and a red. One problem I did encounter with this was that it was time consuming and after consulting with a technician they suggested putting my machine on a different setting in order to speed up the process. This proved to be very successful and as a result of this I was able to then complete these pieces within the time constraint. However, with one of the pieces I accidentally used the wrong type of fabric and when I went to wash it away I came to the realisation it wasn’t vanishing fabric. To overcome this problem I carefully tore the pieces of fabric away from the embroidery and used some red and orange procium dyes which matched up the colours to the other pieces I created.

When pinning these onto the wallhanging I chose to place them within the felted balls so they looked as if they were spilling out and taking over certain the piece much alike to how things in the natural world grow. I have also decided to have them coming off the wall hanging and they can be pinned to the wall so that the viewer can see the finer details of the piece.

Final Piece- Changing the Colours

After much consideration I decided to go against the idea of bringing  angelina fibres onto my final piece due to the fact I felt that the metallic aspect of this particular material would create to much of a distraction from the embroidery and therefore would override it. Therefore, I came across a few difficulties as I knew that the piece needed a lot more to it in order for it to have a built up texture and show the natural growth that takes hold of a coral reef, furthermore I also wanted to show the techniques I have learnt over the past year within surface pattern and textiles and on my piece.

To do so I pinned my piece up on a wall to view it in its final light and see what needed adding to it. There was a number of things that I have changed since doing this and one of which was the protium dyes.

As I explained on a previous blog post I felt that I had been too careful with the colours I had added within the embroidery as they were too subtle and didn’t stand out. Therefore, I decided to choose bold colours that were reflective of the embroidery threads I had used e.g. purples,pinks, reds. This certainly made the piece stand out more however I felt that these colours looked unnatural and after watching Blue Planet for research it became obvious to me that I needed to use more natural colours as when you view things through the aquariums and cameras the water and the lenses magnifies everything and creates slight alterations to the colours. I feel that this may have mislead me a little. So experimented with shades of blues and greens and used bleach to ease off some of the more bold and natural colours that I had previously added, I chose to cover the entire piece due to the fact that there is no ‘blank spaces’ under the ocean and these colours would bounce off the white walls profoundly when my piece is being exhibited. By soaking the wall- haning with water before adding these colours when I dropped the inks onto the fabric they bled into one another and created some really interesting natural textures. After this stage of adding the inks I felt that I had a more clear idea of where my piece was going and what the next stages of improvement would be.

Final Piece- Fragmented Pieces

Whilst I was considering the next stages of my final piece I had the idea to cut the hanging up into sections so that I could hang them collectively but in fragmented pieces. This in turn means that I can create a natural looking edge on every section as planned whilst I was developing final outcomes. Despite this not being part of the original plan I feel that this was an the right turn for me to take which has added a new dimension to my final piece. This means that the pieces can have something that could contrast to one another making the overall textures more interesting. Once I have moved further along with the development of the wall hanging I’m going to cut some more natural curves into the edges.

Final Piece- Starting Process

I have made a start on my final piece which is going to be a wall hanging. I have used a metre of fabric folded in half with wadding inside to add some depth into the piece. Out of the two white fabrics that I had to choose from I decided to use the unbleached version as it was a slightly off coloured white and it had a more natural feel to it which I felt was more suited to a coral scene. I have selected a very specific set of colours for my embroidery threads (shown below) as I didn’t want there to be too many different colours, and particularly like the dark purple for the thick lines as I feel they look bold and stand out significantly. So far I have only made progress on the embroidery due to the fact this has been a long process with different factors that slow the making of it down such as re- filling the spool, the only problems that I have had so far has been the occasional needle snapping, however this hasn’t been a huge issue. Furthermore, I have been taking regular short breaks whilst sewing as sitting at a machine for a long period of time can be quite tedious and I feel that it is important to occasionally come away from the piece and keep thinking about the ways I can add to it and improve.

I feel that I need to add more layers and bring some more techniques into the piece to add more depth onto it and show the skill set that I have improved upon over this past year, I’m possibly considering using some vanishing fabric to create more octopus suckers, as I have experimented with this before (shown previously in past blogs) and I really like the results of this.