I started by looking back at all the work that I’ve done for this module. Some have worked better than others and even at this stage I can see that there is a lot I can go back to in the future to develop further.
As part of Chapter 3 Reveal and Conceal I’d used photos of the stained glass in Liverpool’s Catholic Cathedral that I had altered in Photoshop. I was drawn back to using them for my Personal project so I did some research that I put in a sketchbook.
My first idea was to make a hanging that would be suspended away from the wall preferably from the ceiling so it could be viewed from the front and back, which would allow light to shine through the piece to mimic the effect of a stained glass window. At this stage of my studies I’m not sure how I would achieve this idea in textiles so I’ve had to take the safe option and make a cushion cover.
I still wanted to have a transparent effect to my finished piece but apart from using organza I wasn’t sure how I could achieve this until I got an eureka moment. I subscribe to Linda and Laura Kemshalls’ Design Matters Tv and Linda was using Transfer paints and of course they are transparent on fabric not opaque like fabric paints can be. I’d recently bought a set of transfer paint powders so made some up a tried them on a few different fabrics. One in particular worked especially well, it has a sheen to it so depending on which way you look at it the colour changes.
I cut the transfer painted papers in to different size rectangles and ironed them on to my chosen fabric.
The cover would have looked nice just using this fabric but I decided to embroider on top. One of the photos in my sketchbook is of the carving on the front of the Cathedral representing Christ’s crucifixion and I remembered an embroidery stitch called ‘Spanish Feather Stitch’ also known as ‘ Twisted Zigzag Chain Stitch’ which I thought would look like stylized thorns.
I embroidered this where one colour met another colour and although I used matching hand dyed thread it mimics the lead in stained glass. The carving also shows the tears of the repentant thief in a triangle so I used ‘Crows Foot’ which is usually used in tailoring to strengthen a seam.
I thought it needed some more embroidery so I added ‘Pistil Stitch’ in a circle. As I continued stitching I got the feeling it was beginning to remind me of Indian textile work.
I should have done something easier this is taking me ages to do the embroidery. I can see that when I get to levels 2 and 3 I am going to have to up my speed. I’m inclined to be a perfectionist. My Mum would have said a man on a galloping horse wouldn’t notice any mistakes, but I know that they are there so I would rather undo them than leave them as they are because they will niggle at me and my eyes would instinctively be drawn to them.
I thought I had used a large enough piece of fabric to make a cushion cover but the smallest cushion pad I could buy locally was 18” square so it isn’t big enough to cover it. Though saying that the stuffing doesn’t fill it completely at the corners so it will probably end up being a bit smaller.
Another eureka moment I remembered a Design Matters programme where Laura had used a hexagon patchwork as a separate cover on a cushion – so I’ve decided to cover the pad with another fabric and use the piece I’m making as a cover fastened with buttons and instead of bought ones I’ll make some Dorset buttons to match.
As I sat stitching my mind often wonders and I suddenly thought cover the cushion pad with black fabric so it will echo the black lead in the stained glass in my source material. I’ve used some left over transfer pained fabric to use for piping on the edge. Would look nice even if I wanted a plain cushion and wasn’t putting the extra piece over it.
Yippee!!!! Finished the embroidery at last I was beginning to think I would never finish. Good thing I’m not making this to sell no-one could afford to buy it. It shouldn’t take me long to finish now as most of it will be machine sewing. Just got to decide how to back it.
Did I say it would be mostly machine sewing? I was wondering if I should bind it but instead decided to use the same black fabric I covered the cushion pad with to back the embroidered piece. I left enough to fold over the edge to the front and hand stitched it down so it looks like a binding.
The finished cushion isn’t a literal interpretation of my design source but I believe that I’ve managed to catch its’ essence. I know it is based on the stained glass of Liverpool’s Catholic Cathedral and the embroidery represents the Crown of thorns and Tears but anyone not knowing that will probably see it as a colourful embroidered cushion.