2.5: Recycled Papers, The Bigger Picture

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Note: There is more work to add in to this post.

Aim: To produce work on a bigger scale.

Intro: When I started this chapter I wanted to work on a larger scale, but it didn’t happen, so before reaching the end I’ve made an effort to do a few pieces that are A3 size (or even slightly larger), just to prove to myself that I can do it. As I’m still finding the big sketchbook awkward to work with I used pages from the Norman Rockwell book, wallpaper, newspaper, an OS map and an old star map calendar as backgrounds, and tried to create designs by enlarging on some of my small samples, and adding hand and machine stitching. Finally I sloshed paint or gesso over the surfaces so, hopefully, they will be suitable for adding printed letters in Chapter 6.

Additionally, for two of the pages I used some of the ‘waste’ paper where I’d tried stitches and tensions etc at the very beginning, and messed up. I stitched them to big sheets of paper, and added more stitching and papers and embellishments. And I’ve also created a piece for 2.5.2 tearing or cutting headlines and large letters from magazines, newspapers and other used papers, then pasting them on to a sheet of newspaper, leaving gaps to allow the smaller print to show through.

Record Making: I’ve tried to be better organised, because most of this chapter is a bit of a muddle, and I took photos and made notes as I went along, so I’ve got a record of my working methods, with the various stages and some close-ups. And I’ve numbered the pictures and notes. I’ve worked on the computer for these, with print-outs of the text and photographs stored in an envelope.

Observations: I found it needed a bit of thought on how I was going to fill all that space Just launching into a design and hoping it would be OK was no good – I really did need some kind of plan so I knew what I was using, where the pieces of paper would go, and whether it would all fit together and look OK. But it was nowhere near as scary as I feared. In fact, once I got going with the bigger pieces I really enjoyed myself, especially with repeat patterns where, much as I hate to admit it, it was nice to have more space!

Covering the work with paint/gesso took a bit of courage – I liked my creations the way they were, and I thought I might wreck them, but once I made a start it was OK. Some pieces look better painted than others, and I’ve still got my photos of the original work to look at. Having done the painting I’m quite happy to print over the surfaces for Chapter 6, though I’m not sure how well some of the surfaces will accept ptint – and I’m planning to paint the backs (the messy stitching looks quite interesting), or perhaps bond painted dressmaking tissue paper on, so I can print both sides – then I can chop the papers up to make small stitched books for Chapter 10.

Overall I was surprised at how much I enjoyed working on a bigger scale, and how easy it turned out to be, and I quite like the results, so I’m really glad I forced myself to do this!

1. Odds, Ends and Experiments

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Pic 1.1, Odds, Ends and Experiments (clockwise from top left), using page from old Norman Rockwell book as base (it is slightly bigger than A3). The free style stitching is done on the Pfaff machine and isn’t very neat, and these were all experiments and scraps.

  • Textured wallpaper scrap, stitched to bakground, plus Xpandaprint, which I spread too thick and tried to print into after heating (I’d never used it before  – next time I’ll scrape it on, scrape it off, put the excess back in the jar, then heat it). Anyway, I pressed a round rubber stamp into the warm, expanded Xpandaprint, then used the residue on the stamp to print four more circles. Not sure that adding texture to textured paper is ideal, but I’d like to experiment more with raising surfaces. Then more free machine stitching over paper and Xpandaprint to bond it to background with white and silver thread.
  • Torn silver paper from Christmas chocolates free machine zig zagged to textured wallpaper, working directly on to background paper. I quite like this, but if I’d glued the silver paper and pressed it all over, it might have shown the texture beneath, which would have been much nicer. You can see where I changed to a bigger needle on the right hand side, but I didn’t like the effect.
  • Handstitching on magazine papers with embroidery thread – this was the first thing I did for this chapter and it wasn’t very successful, but I kept it to remind myself of what not to do, so I’ve free machined it to the background.
  • Bondaweb and silver transfer foil (the gold is reflection from the light) on textured wallpaper. If I did this again I would paint the surface and the Bondaweb, and add tissue or something as well, but I like the way the foil sticks to the raised bits of the wallpaper.
  • Rubber stamp design on a paper bag, torn into circle, with torn edges, stitched to textured wallpaper, trying to get 3D effect. Not successful. Needs to be bigger and bolder – would stiffer paper be  better?
  • Torn magazine strips. No idea what glue I used. Free machine stitched to backing.Not very exciting, but does the job.
  • Centre – practising couching, using thick knitting wool and free machine zig zig to make a grid. Love this. It was fun, and I like the effect.. Must try it again with different threads in machine, to attach different cords/threads to different surfaces. I could have used this to link the different sections on this page together to try and get a more unified look.The stitching is a bit messy – I’m still having problems with tension and moving the paper at the right speed.
  • Pix 1.2 to 1.8 are close-ups of the individual sections.
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Pic 1.2

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Pic 1.3

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Pic 1.4

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Pic 1.5

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Pic 1.6

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Pic 1.7

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Pic 1.8

Pic 1.9, Painted with white emulsion:

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Pic 1.9, Painted with emulsion.

  • I have to admit my heart sank after I painted this with white emulsion, but I left it while I went to my mother, and when I came back two days later it looked OK. The paint dried more transparent than I expected, and the textured areas, especially the stitching, are great – better than before I think, because the paint-coated threads look thicker, and they contrast nicely with the smoother parts, and there are some areas of print which look good against the white. It looks better in reality than it does in the photo.
  • It doesn’t show well in the photo, but the textured wallpaper still looks good, quite a bit of the silver foil shines through, and the 4  Xpandaprint circular prints actually look better than they did before – more defined I think, so that’s a bonus.
  • A coating of paint seemed to improve the circle with the torn edges – it stiffened the paper a little. But if I were to pursue this idea it needs a lot more thought.
  • I was disappointed that the silver paper took the paint – I thought it would act as a resist and stay silver, but bits, especially along the torn edges, show quite well, as does the stitching between them, and I love the areas where I changed to a bigger needle – it looks much better than it did to start with, and the holes look like part of the design. Wish I’d left it in for everything!
  • The torn magazine strips didn’t take the paint particularly well. I’ve noticed before that coloured print on shiny magazine paper sometimes acts as a resist, and there was quite a bit of glue on parts of it, which may also have repelled the paint.
  • The couched wool threads have changed texture completely and are now much stiffer and kind of hairy. I think I liked them better as they were.
  • The silver threads have disappeared, and I liked them. Ah well, these things happen.
  • Would it have been better with patchier or thinner paint? Should I add some colour?
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Pic 1.10: Part of the other side. Messy, but too nice to ignore. The threads seem thicker, and the holes, which are smooth edged on the right side, have a small ridge around them where the needle punches through.

2. Branching Out:

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Pic 2.1: Branching Out.

Pic 2.1, Branching Out: This is a repeat pattern using the shape I made earlier on in Chapter 5 by cropping, enlarging and cut out from a photograph of trees.

  • Shapes  cut from  page of text from the Norman Rockwell book.
  • Pieces stitched on to  sample of thick, shiny, vinyl wallpaper, with a design of bricks.
  • Used some of the pre-set embroidery patterns on the Singer machine (I have two machines, both cheap). Tension continues to be a problem. There’s one place where the machine jammed up and the thread broke. so I left it with holes and glued it down.
  • I had problems stitching this initially, so I slackened the top tension, used a size 90 needle, and put horticultural fleece as a backing to stabilise things.
  • I like the contrast of the light shapes against the darker red/brown background, and between the more organic shapes and embroidery and the geometric background.
  • The stitching on the back should show up nicely if it’s painted or covered in tissue. So I’ll have two surfaces to print on, and can cut it up to make little stitched books.
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Pic 2.2: I had problems with tension. On this bit the machine jammed and the thread broke, so I carried on ‘stitching’ holes, because I liked them, and I’ve stuck it down with glue.

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Pic 2.3: I liked the satin stitch ‘leaves’ but they didn’t like me! Was fine on the straight, but couldn’t get it to change direction, so I abandoned it.

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Pic 2.4: The reverse. In theory this should look fine painted, or covered in tissue, or foiled.

Pic 2.5, Branching Out: Painting the surface.

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Pic 2.5: Left column painted with white gesso; middle, painted with pink and white acrylic paint; right, old brown dressmaking pattern bonded to work with gloss acrylic medium – the bottom shape had pink acrylic paint applied to the surface of the work before the tissue was applied, and I applied pink transfer foil to the shape above that before the tissue.

Pic 2.5, Branching Out, Painting the Surface:

  • I tried different paint techniques because I wanted to see how the wallpaper reacted. I was pleased it took the paint so well.
  • Gesso gives a good cover, but not as dense as emulsion (emulsion covers threads better).
  • Pink and white acrylic paints both dried quite transparent, so you can see the original pattern quite clearly.
  • Brown tissue dressmaking pattern bonded to surface with acrylic medium (from an idea in Fabulous Surfaces, by Lynda Monk). This is gorgeous, and I love it. I brushed the surface with gel, laid the tissue over the top, and rubbed it all over, really hard, and the tissue went transparent!!!!! I didn’t get this effect with a glue stick, or PVA, or Bondaweb. Tried it first with matt medium, which didn’t look anything special, then with gloss, which she says is better, and she’s right. So I applied pink acrylic paint to one little section, and the remnants of some pink transfer foil  to another bit (rubbing it with a metal spoon). And when it was all dry and I’d peeled off the backing sheet from the foil, I stuck tissue over the top with gloss gel medium. The photo doesn’t do justice to this, because the tissue lets lets the background shapes and colours show, and the pink acrylic and foil really glow, and the surface looks polished rather than glossy.
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Pic 2.6: Close-up showing dressmaking pattern bonded over paint and foil.

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Pic 2.7: Close-up showing pink and white acrylic.

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Pic 2.8: Close-up of gesso.

Pic 3, Wavy Weaving

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Pic 3.1, I drew wavy lines on two sheets of paper, then cut them out and wove them together. Originally I was going to use the other side of the piece as the right side, but I like the effect of my drawn lines, which are still visible, and the way the picture has been broken up. I’m pleased with this, although the outer edges went a bit haywire, and I’ve used blobs of glue to hold them together.

 

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About chrisharding53

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

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