Monday 2 November 2009

Plasticine Flowers and Cushions

My cushions have gone to Kuala Lumpur!! My eldest daughter, Ruth,  was was here from KL over the weekend, took one look at these cushions in the sitting room and said  'Where did you get those?' and then, when I explained that I had woven them, said 'Can I have them?'. They have gone to her new garden room where I think they will be happy. They are 20 inches square and have a central opening at the back with Velcro as a closure.

They were woven earlier this year on eight shafts with a green/brown warp in 2/10 cotton and the genesis is interesting. It is a work based on a photograph.

The Kennet Valley Guild did this first in 2008. We asked an artistic member (Ros Wilson) of the Guild to provide a photograph, her choice, which we could all use as inspiration for a textile work. In 2008 it was  a mediaeval brick wall. That caused some fun. This year, it was the artwork of plasticine flowers seen above.

I started by weaving rows of different colours of flowers using the draft shown. The pattern was woven in odds and ends of yarn, all thicker than the warp and it was okay but  a bit dull. So I added petals cut from dyed cotton pinched from my sister's stash, blanket stitched these to the weaving and added machine embroidered stamens to get the results you see. The point being that the collaged flowers are much larger than the woven ones.

There was a third cushion which has also gone to KL but I never took its photo as it was a disaster area which I did point out to Ruth. The weft pattern yarn was one skein of silk chenille which was variegated in red, purple and dark purple. When woven up, it looked lovely and I was very pleased with it. I put it aside for a week but, when I picked it up to do the flower collages, I found it had 'wormed'. I was horrified. I have done a chenille car-rug in the past and that worked fine. It has been through the washing machine and still looks good. The only difference I can see, is that the car rug was chenille weft only but the cushion had 2/10 cotton in it as well for the back. Or maybe it was the effect of using silk chenille which the car rug is not. The effect is to produce little loops of yarn. Not that many, maybe 10 over the whole cushion and Ruth did not care. So it has gone to a new home too. 

What is interesting in these exercises is how people go about extracting ideas from such a photograph. One person isolated a small area of the photo with several interesting flowers on it and then needle felted a similar set of flowers in the same colours on to a tea cosy.  Someone else took a vertical slice of the photo and extracted the colours from it, then turned that into knitting. Quite amazing the versatility of the human mind. The guild does have a whole day set aside to do this so that everyone can look at everything and find out how the ideas were extracted.


  1. I adore your colour choices, and the different textures and patterns in these cushions.

    What a very interesting starting point too, I like this idea of several people starting with one image and producing their own different work.

  2. This procedure was suggested by Stacey Harvey-Brown when she gave a course at Berkshire Guild called 'Imagery in Cloth'. At one point, there was a discussion on courses, tutors and costs thereof and she suggested several ways in which courses could be run which would not need a tutor. One was this method of basing designs on the same photo. Another was to select a single colour and have everyone do something in that colour. As I recall, she said the class ought to use exactly the same yarn.

    There are two great arguments for running such courses. The first is that the courses becomes inter-disciplinary and so lots of people get know each other better. The second is that the cost is only that of the hall which, in our case, works out at a fiver a head. We have members who are on a pension and they have to be very selective about what courses they attend. Did I say I was Course Secretary for Kennet Valley Guild?



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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.