Saturday, 23 August 2014

Silvery Threads

The Silver Thread, machine embroidery on dyed and painted organza. 2014

Another competition and another piece of work! I saw this particular call for submissions quite early in the year but didn't have chance to work on my entry until quite near the deadline (nothing like a deadline to get you going!) The competition was run by Norwich based charity the Costume and Textile Association. To celebrate their 25th anniversary they ran an open textiles competition on the theme 'Silvery Threads.'


As soon as I saw the brief I had an idea of the kind of piece I would like to make; something to do with hands making to carry on from my drawings of hands engaged in various textile practices such as knitting, crochet and stitching. Having started to experiment earlier in the year with machine embroidered drawings on organza I decided that this would be a good option to explore further.

An embroidery from earlier this year

My experience with display and mounting of my stitched drawings earlier this year made me very aware of how the work should be displayed so I tried to keep this in mind throughout the time I was working on the piece.  To fit in with the theme of silvery threads I had decided I would use silver thread for the embroidery and I also wanted to incorporate a silver yarn. So, after drawing and playing about with ideas I decided to create a stitched drawing of hands crocheting, with the yarn the hands were crocheting forming a long, silver chain that would fall off the edge of the piece. I was thinking a lot about silvery threads and spider webs and the various creation myths associated with spiders and threads.

Stitch detail

Stitch detail

The piece was quite challenging to work on for a number of reasons. Firstly, as usual, my drawing ended up really big so manipulating it around the sewing machine was awkward. Secondly, metallic thread is not the easiest to work with and I had to work with it in the bobbin so I was in effect working backwards (the right side of the work being face down.) As I was working on organza this wasn't too bad I just had to keep checking I was going in the right direction!

Crochet chain

Hem detail

However, by far the biggest challenge came in trying to photograph it. When I hung it in front of a wall the camera was unable to pick up the silver thread, so the pictures just looked like a random blue rectangle. When I photographed it with light behind the drawing was clear but not that it was in silver thread. So, for my submission I had to do a halfway house. I sent a picture photographed against the light so you could see the drawing and a detail against a dark background so the silver thread would show up. The piece wasn't selected but I learnt a lot making it and I've got a few ideas out of my system so I can now focus on other things. Onwards and upwards!

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