Thursday, 16 November 2017

Diploma Chapter 4 - Decorative Features of an Indian Stitched Textile...continued

Discharged Wax Resist on Tissue

MM110-112 are larger pieces - 35cmWx25cmH and were made in the order given.  As I worked I realised that I needed to use a finer tjanting tool to obtain the detail necessary.  MM110 and 111 were very blobby as too much wax was flowing onto the tissue.

Drawn and Stitch Study Combined

Initially I tried discharging used tea bags that I had bonded to small sketchbook pages (11cmWx15cmH) using thin bleach - MM113-115.  In order to get a mark the teabag needed to be quite wet with bleach so I used a cotton bud.  The finer detail was added with a rubber-tipped paint brush.  When the bleach had discharged I gave the teabags two coats of acrylic wax.  Though I had some marks I decided to wax batik and then discharge a piece of  black linen to use as a background for my stitch study.

MM116 - wax batik on linen discharged with thin bleach.

MM117 - Stitch Study (18.5cmWx27cmH)
  • shisha three ways - Methods 1 and 2 as given.  Method 3 uses a plastic ring with four holes.  The ring was covered with blanket stitch and then sewn over the mirror.  This is a method I've seen in contemporary work
  • herringbone stitch
  • chain and open chain stitch
  • Romanian stitch
  • Cretan stitch over a base thread
  • Laid work
  • Blanket stitch

Friday, 3 November 2017

Diploma Chapter 4 - Decorative Features of an Indian Stitched Textile

I will be looking at a piece of shisha embroidery from a child's waistcoat from Pakistan (I hope the fact this is not Indian isn't a problem as it does contain shisha work).  It is a contemporary piece, about ten years old, probably factory-made in Lahore for the fashion industry and bears a label 'Jawed Garments, Made in Pakistan'.  The ground is black cotton velvet lined with woven silk and it is both machine and hand stitched (more details below).

One of my most treasured books on embroidery is The Techniques of Indian Embroidery by Anne Morrell.  I find it particularly useful that she shows the reverse of the piece, which, in many instances, really helps clarify how it was stitched.  I found that it was only by studying the reverse of this waistcoat that I was able to identify how this piece had been worked.  Images of the reverse are also included here for clarity.

  • MM76 - front
  • MM77 - back
  • MM78 - close up of stitching on back
  • MM79 - reverse of front
  • MM80 - close up of reverse of front
  • MM81 - close up of reverse of stitching on back

MM82 is a simple line drawing of the placement of the design on the front of the waistcoat.  This has been adapted to fit the pattern pieces of the waistcoat and is not the usual rectilinear design structure of the region.  Both the front and back of the waistcoat bear the characteristic betel leaf shape.  The stitching appears to have been executed by eye rather than a fixed pattern due to differences in symmetry.  The left front of the waistcoat has 10 mirrors in the betel outline and the right front 11. Similarly the vertical section down the left side has 5 mirrors and the right has 6. This lack of symmetry is also apparent in other places on the garment.  If this was factory-made, different people could have made individual sections.

Regarding the attachment of the shisha mirrors, these have been handstitched through four holes in the metal rings holding the mirrors in place.  Traditionally the mirror would have been held by a network of stitches, but using these rings obviously speeds up the manufacturing process.  I have also seen stitch-coverered rings performing the same function.  The shishas themselves are lead-backed glass rather than the traditional mica. The faceted beads are also handstitched.

It was only on looking at the back of the waistcoat that I realised the flowers were stitched using a variegated thread which gave the changes in colour.  Initially I thought the flowers were worked in overlapping rounds of blanket stitch (probably the tailor's buttonhole working of the stitch with a knot at the base), but these would not have produced the circles formed on the reverse...they would have produced lines radiating from the centre of the flower.  Due to the uniformity of the stitches on the reverse, I must assume the flowers were worked on a machine, though I am not familiar with one that would have produced this result on the front, given the appearance of the reverse. (I did stitch samples to satisfy myself that it couldn't have been handstitched.) I am puzzled.  The copper centres to the flowers must have been handstitched using either blanket or whip stitch.

Rather than the normal chain stitch one would anticipate on this work, the gold work is formed using a plaited braid which has been attached by a chain stitch machine (again concluded from the appearance of the stitching on the reverse).  It has been attached in a continuous length as shown in the diagram.

Extension Drawing Studies

To interpret the surface of the textile I made a stitched relief block on calico using DMC #20 Cébélia and cardboard in the betel leaf shape, using blanket and chain stitch and French knots (MM84 and MM85).


From this relief block I made rubbings on various papers and then coloured them with Koh-i-Noor dyes in blue, sometimes adding orange.

MM86/7 - Markal light gold on copy paper - not too successful as the paper is too thick to pick up detail from the block.

MM88/9 - Markal light gold on Lutradur -  shows more detail but the Markal tends to snag on the Lutradur and loosen some of the fibres.

MM90/1 - Markal light gold on unused teabag paper (hence the small fragments and bits of tea!) - deliciously tasty detail and colour.

MM92/3 - Markal light gold on tissue paper - good marks though tissue rather delicate and needs careful handling.

MM94/95 - Gold metallic rub-ons on lens tissue - good marks and interesting shading though this is a little lost when colour is added.

MM96/7 - PlayArt metallics gold wax rayon on lens tissue - good marks which are retained on colouring.

MM98/9 - Stabilo tone 810 on lens tissue - good marks which are retained on colouring.

MM100/101 - Markal light gold on lens tissue - good marks which are retained on colouring.


Again using the relief block I made some monoprints on various papers using Seawhite blue water-based printing ink and Golden Retarder (about 50/50) which enabled me to roll the ink thinly without the risk of it drying out.  I placed various papers over the stitched block and using a roller carefully took a print from the block.

MM102 - gold tissue paper

MM103 - tissue paper

MM104 - teabag paper

MM105 - teabag paper printed and coloured with Koh-i-Noor dyes

MM106 - lens tissue

MM107 - layout paper printed and coloured with Neocolor II.

MM108 - overprinting on tissue

MM109 - overprinting on tissue - detail

To be continued...

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Diploma - Chapter 4 - Relief Paper Surfaces with Starch Paste

I chose to use the ancient method of decorating papers with starch paste using the recipe in the notes (made from wholemeal flour, hence the added texture) rather than a more contemporary medium, as I'd used many of these in Module 1.  Designs were based on the both the patterns observed in Opus Anglicanum embroideries and those from medieval manuscripts. All the samples show are about postcard size and have a base of either cereal box card or Amazon envelope card to give some stability to the layers of paste.  Then,

  • each surface was given an initial coating of white matt emulsion to both seal the card before the starch paste was applied and also to give a medieval look,
  • brusho was used to colour the paste in all but the last sample, ultramarine for the first layer and gamboge for the second, 
  • the paste was spread with a small squeegee and marks were made with mini bamboo skewers - both the sharp and blunt ends, cardboard edges with shapes cut and cocktail sticks. Metallic layers were added as detailed below.  
Better marks were obtained when the paste was spread less thickly. This also had the advantage that the paste dried quicker.  Letting the paste dry naturally lessened the curling of the edges of the card.

Sample 1

Metallic - PlayArt silver wax crayon and copper metallic rub-on on right hand side only

Sample 2

Metallic - gold acrylic applied with dry sponge and then wiped off in places with wet cloth

Sample 3

Metallic - graphite stick

Sample 4

Metallic - copper Neocolour2 

Sample 5

Metallic - PlayArt silver wax crayon

Sample 6

Metallic - copper and silver Derwent metallic crayons

Sample 7

Metallic - PlayArt copper wax crayon

Sample 8

Metallic - Stabilo gold crayon, green and red metallic rub-ons