Research – additions to Sally Blake and Dorothy Caldwell research notes

Following feedback from my Tutor on Assignment Five I have added to my analysis of a piece of work by Sally Blake Research: Sally Blake Australian Artist – and to my analysis of a piece of work by Dorothy Caldwell Research: Dorothy Caldwell Textile Artist.

In undertaking this further analysis I understand how this approach to researching a piece of an Artists work can help me to see the work more clearly and assist me to take elements into my own creative process.

Written Reflection – New Textile Capsule Collection

Taking my Tutor’s advice I have produced a new Textile Capsule collection with the aim of creating some innovative and playful work.

Why did I chose the particular approach to the new Textile Capsule Collection?

My new collection relates to my interest in sustainable textiles as referred to at the beginning of my blog post on my new Revised Capsule Collection – Part Five including the depletion of natural resources and the filling of landfills with used clothing.  This means that I wanted to consider the environmental and social costs of designing textile items in my new work.  I therefore included two up cycled shirts purchased from an “Op- Shop”.  In addition I was motivated as indicated in the earlier blog post by the need to respond to the fast disposable approach now taking hold for textiles and to adopt a more individual and slower approach to valuing textiles in the more thoughtful production of textiles by creating individual textile clothing pieces.

Why did I chose certain techniques like printing, cutwork, embroidery?

I was aiming to redesign the up cycled shirts into exciting one of a kind garments so I chose techniques like dyeing, printing and cutwork embroidery to add design to the originally white shirts (piece one and piece six).  As indicated in my analysis I think I achieved this aim with these two pieces.  Work in the future can go much further with a collection of up cycled shirts with added design and embellishment.

For the remaining four items(Pieces two, three, four and five) in the Collection I was aiming to create individual pieces which in some ways were playful and innovative.  I used the shape of the pattern piece for the top of a shirt for these items.  I used similar techniques to Pieces One and Six with the addition of using more innovative materials like the tracing paper and the actual flower petals.

Why it worked or not?

As mentioned earlier I reflected that the two up cycled shirts (piece one and piece six)achieved my aim of repurposing the two shirts in a playful way which created more interesting colour, interest with cutwork embroidery, and hand printing.

In terms of the other four top shapes (Piece two, three, four and five) as commented on in my analysis I think I responded better in this collection to actual garments than to flat shapes. I liked the way the petals were captured between the two layers of silk organza in Piece five creating the “floatiness” or fragility of the petals.

Piece two with the silk organza overlay was disappointing due to the way the silk scrunched with the one piece of cutwork stitching and the printed petals under leaf were not as visible.  If I reworked this piece taking more care with the silk organza cutwork would this work better? Or should I have used shadow work type embroidery?  On reflection I think the shadow work may have achieved my aim of creating an interesting piece but would it have been innovative?  I don’t think the shadow work would have been innovative but it would have been a safe option.

As an overall collection I used colour and purpose (i.e. clothing ideas) to unite the six pieces.  Techniques overall are another uniting feature.  The relationship to the Tropical Tourist theme from Part One and the Christening Robe in the Archive collection are also an underlying connection.  Did this work?  Yes but I think if I had used all up cycled clothes my collection would have demonstrated more cohesiveness.

I understand now more fully, but I am still learning, how to reflect regularly on my work as it is progressing and to write down my thoughts and ideas in my sketchbook and on my blog as opposed to carrying them around in my head which I so much do.  I can see how this form of reflection will assist me to develop in my textile practice.




Revised New Capsule Collection – Part Five


Following feedback from my Tutor I have taken my underdeveloped Capsule Collection work and revised 5.3 samples and undertaken further work to produce a new Capsule Collection.

In reviewing my work in Part 5 again I have thought about the direction the new Capsule should take given I want to express myself more experimentally and innovatively.  I have been reading articles in newspapers and magazines about sustainability in clothing.  About how our landfill is being inundated with used clothing and how we should consider localised solutions for recycling(“Fabricate”, NZ, autumn 2017).  Slow fashion will assist and the idea that one should have a small number of clothes.

I wander into K Mart recently and see new shirts/blouses for less than $10 and see how this must be attractive to customers. To me this devalues textiles and encourages the throw away mentality. Pondering on this I think that individually designed clothes of a small number is the way of the future.  Obviously for our planet and secondly, for individuality /offer the wearer the chance to express themselves.

So I decided to use my new Capsule Collection work to incorporate experimentation with clothes.  I chose natural fabrics as the base next to the skin including cotton, linen, lawn, muslin as these suit our hot climate here in Northern Australia.

Based on my above thoughts I chose to use “Op – Shop” find shirts as a base and to use a pattern type for the front piece of a sleeveless top for my other experimental pieces.  I also wanted to use a limited colour palette based on the colours of the bougainvillea and hibiscus flowers from Tropical Tourist and the Christening Gown from the Archive collection so apricot, orange, pinky shades.  I referred back to my revised 5.3 samples to build on these works in my development of the new Capsule Collection.

New Capsule Collection Piece One

I chose an “op shop” find of a white cotton shirt to be the base for my first Capsule Piece.  I did not like the starkness of the white so procion dyed it using a quarter teaspoon of dye powder in two containers one orange and the other scarlett.  I scoured the shirt first in hot water and then placed in soda ash solution.  I removed from the solution and placed in a bucket prior to pouring over the dye mixture.  The mixture is very watered down as I wanted to achieve I light shading.  The outcome was satisfying the shirt was crumpled in the dye bath to achieve slightly uneven dyeing which was the intent.

Looking over my new revised samples for 5.3 I was drawn to the cutout embroidery on the linen.  I cutout and embroidered four more petals in the thick variegated embroidery thread and after experimenting I put a piece of hand dyed cotton with colour variation behind the cutwork not just the shirt.  It looked bland with just the fabric from the shirt showing through.  I hung up the shirt with the cutwork attached by pins and thought the shirt looked unbalanced with just one side with the medium weight linen work.

I decided to further experiment with my gelli plate but this time I decided to make my own plate using a vegetable gelatine and glycerine.  I was very pleased with this plate not perfect but interesting and as it is vegetable gelatine it does not need to be refrigerated so I left it outside on my work table in the alfresco and it continues to work perfectly so much cheaper than buying a gelli plate and you can chose your own size.  See photographs below.

I printed a number of new orange/scarlett/red textile ink veggiplate samples.  Looking at my shirt again I auditioned one of my new samples and decided to try it on the other half of the shirt but higher up nearer the top.  I was pleased with this and to me it was more balanced.




New Capsule Collection Piece Two

I decided to use a piece of light white muslin cut in the shape of the front of a sleeveless summer top for Capsule Piece Two.  I did not scour this top shape but placed in soda ash and then squished into small container and poured over diluted red procion dye.  This fabric is light delicate and floaty like the bougainvillaea flower petals.  I took some of my new veggiplate samples and decided to roughly cut out some petals and leaves printed as a second layer on the plate.  I used wonder under to adhere the petals/leaves to the muslin.  Mindful that I had silk organza to audition as an overlay I cut the silk out and pinned over the top of the muslin.  As the silk is fairly transparent the petals/leaves shine through.  But I was not satisfied as the silk looked plonked on top and did not relate well to the story.  So I decided to do some insertion/cutout lacy embroidered bougainvillea flower petals on the organza.   This was difficult to do on the silk and the effect was not flat which was disappointing. Overall the concept has potential but with more investigation on how to ensure the silk does not pucker. I think this piece links my Tropical Tourist theme (part 1) with my archive piece the Christening Robe which also has overlay lace.




New Capsule Collection Piece Three

I chose a white cotton lawn which I cutout as a top of a summer blouse as my base for Piece Three.  Once again I procion dyed using diluted dye using the same technique as Piece Two.  I decided to use the gocco/thermafax screen I had made for the Christening Gown (reference) and to make another gocco/thermafax screen using a sketch I made of the bougainvillea flower.  I printed these screens which use Japanese riso screen and bulbs (redundant now not for sale anymore) using red textile ink.  The effect was pretty I think but not interesting.  I looked back through my stitched samples for the revised 5.3 and decided to use a more experimental substrate tracing paper like in Sample 5.3.  with cutout shapes of the bougainvillea petals and lacy embroidery.  I thought this contrasted with the pretty but predictable second layer (screened).  The result is interesting but needs further development as the tracing paper looks a little placed rather than integrated into the piece.  I think I was experimental but my design is not so good.






New Capsule Collection Piece Four

I cut out a top shape for a summer linen blouse.  I procion dyed the same as Piece Three. To add interest I placed textile ink in blobs on my veggiplate and rubbed the top shape in it – this produced some interesting marks but was not enough.  So using a section of my veggiplate I used real leaves to veggiprint leaves on to the top in a random fashion.  I could have used a leaf printing technique but this is very predictable and I wanted the leaf shape but not in a totally controlled way.  The veggiprints came out all a little different with more texture.  A netting top was added over the linen fabric to make the printing more subtle.  The top has an organic random effect with interesting pattern and shapes.  This approach forced me to break away from an organised overall pattern and to be more free and interesting in the work.





New Capsule Collection Piece Five

For this piece I sought multi dyed organza and decided to fuse two pieces together with legacy fusible with real bougainvillea and hibiscus petals sandwiched between the layers.  The new fabric is quite firm and plastic like but was very easy to cut and work with.  The petals were placed randomly with the larger hibiscus petals at the bottom to balance the flowers.  This resulted in a pleasing arrangement which is experimental but I could see being used for a special costume top or as wearable art.  The petals may eventually lose their colour I will have to wait and see.






New Capsule Collection Piece Six

For the final new capsule collection piece I took another ‘op shop’  white cotton shirt and after soaking in soda ash I procion fibre reactive dyed using  diluted yellow and an orange dye.  The dye was applied randomly.  I decided I wanted to see how the shirt could be used for cutout work.




IMG_8939I decided to apply iron on stabiliser to a section of the shirt and to see what effect I could achieve by cutting out the petal shapes but in a more elongated way to assist with successful hand stitching.  I then removed the stabiliser after I had hand stitched around the hole I had cut.  Next I selected some netting and adhered this to the back of the shirt using fusible to achieve the effect I was after.  I might add I am not a real sewer so if the garment was going to be worn often I would need to design a more robust method to attach the netting.  I could have done further work with more holes but time is running out so I have used the above to enable the effect to be seen.  I am happy with this work as a prototype experimental piece but would like to see the idea taken further into a completed garment.


I have been very challenged in completing these pieces because my father passed away early last month and then my stepdaughter last week.  It has been very hard to focus but I remain determined to finish my revisions and submit to assessment.

I feel that in these six new pieces I have been innovative in my approach to the collection.  I have used a variety of techniques in my attempt to be experimental.  Some pieces are more successful than others.  I think piece 2 is rather bland and could have benefited from having the petal pieces appliquéd to the organza as opposed to the background fabric I think this would have created a more interesting and successful piece.  Piece One is balanced and wearable and the cut work adds interest to the shirt because of the texture and shape and the subtle dyed fabric underneath.  I also think that Piece 6 has lots of potential for a wearable garment and I like the interest created by the cutwork and netting combination.  On reflection I think I responded best when I was working with a real garment and that is something for me to remember as I go forward with my overall course.

I have taken my design ideas which are reflected in my sketchbook to be submitted for Assessment in an  experimental way.  It would be so possible to take this work much further and add designs to existing clothes and to create stand alone art pieces.  I have attended the World of Wearable Art Show in Wellington, New Zealand on a number of occasions when I was living there and the works are amazing and cover a huge range of materials and techniques.