Project 8: Stage 2: Experimenting with structures – Exercises 1 – 4

Please note I have added two photographs to Exercise 2  exploring a suggestion made by my tutor in his feedback.

The purpose of this stage is to understand and appreciate the construction of textile surfaces and effectively turn line into area by using yarns in various ways.  The course material states that the object is not to think about functional applications of samples but merely to explore different possibilities through experimentation.

Exercise 1

This seemingly simple exercise consisted of using paper or thin card cut or torn into strips to create simple woven samples.  The vertical strips become the weft of the sample and the horizontal the warp. Instead of gluing the edges I chose to use tape as I went along in part due to speed but mostly due to ease and long term security.

img_2084I fully confess to not expecting to enjoy this exercise as thought it might in truth be a little boring but in the end I found it the opposite – the chance to play with different combinations of papers,freely with colours and patterns was inevitably exciting.

My first two samples consisted of a map and some patterned paper in harmonious colours and then some faux leather and lilac tissue paper.  As the course material instructed I initially started with evenly cut strips and then started to vary the widths.

I love the map/patterned paper sample due to the illusion of texture but also the creation of new patterns but I also like the highly contrasting textures of the faux leather and tissue paper along with the more striking colours.

img_2085As I looked in my paper collection I discovered some very slightly textured glitter paper which worked well with the smooth taupe coloured paper of an old envelope – the colours gently harmonised but also created a defined pattern.

The bottom sample was comprised of a magazine page with thin black card – strong colours and illusion of texture and depth were created and I find this is one of my favourite ‘woven’ samples.

As I got ‘into the swing’ of this exercise I started to really enjoy the endless possibilities available.

Please be aware that this photograph is upside down due to problems with the wordpress imaging editing – for some reason at the time of writing it has refused to save changes regarding orientation of the image despite trying several times and trying with later images which worked perfectly!

The orange and blue woven sample comprises of a plastic filing insert cut into uneven strips as the warp with the weft a blue disposable dishcloth.  I like the complimentary colours in this sample and also the fact that the firm warp enabled me to scrunch the dishcloth up to create added texture.

The lilac satin paper of the other sample combined well with the city-scape themed wallpaper with strong contrasts – I like the fact that the coloured paper  broke the black lines up of the wallpaper and also the different textures of both papers.

img_2087A further sample combined a plastic bag with a padded envelope – not something I thought I would like but something that really worked! The neutral colours of the materials work well together with the different textures and also the mistakes in the weaving at the bottom of the piece – those mistakes however give new ideas which I can take forward.

img_2088My next sample was using a simple paper bag with a red satin paper and do like the slightly contrasting textures – similar but different too.  I did not intend to scrunch up the papers and tearing did happen on the red warp paper but I like the patterns created – the red paper was torn and the paper bag was cut which added further variation.

img_2089For my final experiment I went back to my map pages and decided to weave 2 together and then added strips of papers left over from other projects diagonally through them along with some raffia.

This is another of my personal favourites due to the new patterns and textures created and can really see this could be taken further with fabrics and yarns.

I have used ribbons to weave together in a personal project a few years ago – simple black and green wide ribbons that were used to create the front of a very simple bag so understand the ideas behind this exercise as well as appreciating now much better how a woven structure is created.



As I have thought about my tutor report I have worked on 3 further samples although despite my tutor’s suggestion my imagine seemed to have deserted me!





I have used a combination of the maps with the addition of tin foil and also crumpled one of the maps before cutting it although this cannot be seen in my photograph. I do understand however the unlimited possibilities of this exercise and how it can be developed in different ways.


Exercise 2

For this exercise the idea was to create a collection of hand twisted ropes or 3/4 strand plaits using different yarns, fabrics, leather or plastic or other materials.  Firstly the course material suggests decided on a word such as soft, smooth or shiny and choosing appropriate materials to interpret the quality with a further suggestion of using contrasting textures within one construction.

img_2091Now I will freely admit that I am not a huge fan of plaiting but I did enjoy this exercise.

I chose the word soft and using a variety of yarns I was able to create some plaits that I am happy with and which give me inspiration for future work.

I also combined strips of plastic bags, faux leather or fabrics and also raffia to create some plaits with contrasting textures – I particularly like one with a very soft yarn and raffia in a simple 3 strand plait or one which used a plastic bag and fabric in a 4 strand plait.

I am aware that I could have continued with many more experiments with plaiting but as I state I am not a huge fan and as is noted in my sketchbook alongside the samples many became twisted which I found frustrating.

Exercise 3

img_2101The first part of the exercise was to create a shape using rigid materials and joining the ends so the shape is firm and stable and for this I chose a square made with elderflower twigs secured with garden jute twine.

The instructions say to think of the effect of light and space between the yarns and other materials with also looking at the qualities when placed against the light so I deliberately chose a light coloured fabric, raffia and also voiles and an iridescent sheer fabric which contrasted well with darker yarns and also one sparkly yarn.

The photographs show both back and front views of the structure.

img_2100I decided to weave the yarns across each other with simple ties to the frame – although instructed to pay attention to where the  materials met I was happy to continue the weaving so that it resulted in what I feel are interesting junctions.  I wanted to let the fabrics and yarns create their own light and dark areas with deliberate gaps rather than filling in the frame totally and  I have taken inspiration from my trips out in Derbyshire looking at the way the light filters through hedgerows and trees and this also influenced my colour choices as there were patches of summer flowers amongst the greens and the browns of the foliage.

img_2093The second part of the exercise involved twisting yarns together to  create new yarns.

This I admit I enjoyed much more as I have done this frequently for other personal projects and was happy with the technique.

I concentrated mainly on mixing the yarns that I have in my collection as I had the necessary lengths required but can see how this will worth if other materials are used too – thinking of long strips of voiles or fabrics or where possible raffia, jute, hemp etc.

One of the yarns twists I used two green yarns which were twisted with a long strip  of voile and this is one I particularly like (fifth from left in the photograph) as it gave a lovely muted soft effect to the greens.  I also found I could create different textures and get an increased range of colours using my collection with different tones and mixes that could prove to be incredibly useful.

img_2092As an extra small section I did 3 kumihimo braids – kumihimo is a Japanese braiding technique which uses interlaced threads and kumihimo literally means ‘gathered threads’,  Traditionally the technique is done on a marudai (round stand) with the top surface disc known as a Kagami (mirror) with a hole in the centre and this is supported by 4 legs.  The threads are placed at intervals around the disc and the braid is made by moving the threads to different positions – it is effectively weaving with the braid often having a weight attached to gain the correct tension and the threads wound on small wooden bobbins which also act as counterweights.

I use a round foam kumihimo disc with slots for the different threads and often make small bracelets with beads so it was fascinating to try some braids using different materials not associated with the technique including raffia, plastic bag strips, voile strips and also some fluffy yarns, Round or flat braids can be made with either round or square discs – I am more familiar with a round disc so have concentrated on these braids made with 8 strands.

Exercise 4

img_2097For the last part of the exercise again I used elderflower twigs but this time to make a grid and I initially secured with masking tape before binding with garden jute twine.  My grid is approximately 9.5 inches by 8 inches (24 x 20 cm).

The instructions then suggest various ways of filling in the grid and I chose to diagonally weave across the structure using a selection of coloured yarns and materials in a chosen theme of purples and lilacs before winding across all the twigs with voile.  I chose a variety of materials including a pink plastic bag, voiles, grey velvet, red string and a soft yarn which created different light effects. Unlike the previous structure this sample has worked out to have similar front and backs which I like.  Where the yarns crossed the twigs I wrapped the material once around to secure before continuing to an outside edge.

As said there were various possibilities suggested and I could easily have added some small constructions of my own to either some of the squares on on top of the woven structure and this is something I can see working as a future idea – thinking small objects added and even possibly some stumpwork leaves or flowers or again flowers or leaves made of fabrics.



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