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Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill – Making the Textile Works

March 11, 2011

So, this is the last in the ‘making of’ posts for Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill, my current exhibition at Myrtle Street Studio.

Originally, I had planned to create three-dimensional, low-relief small textile works illustrating some of the plants from the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, however, after completing the designs for the letterpress and digital prints, I felt there would be a greater synergy in the exhibition if I focused on the key element within these designs – strong, graphic linework.

This given, I decided to refer to patternmaking within the history of textiles in it’s many forms: stitching, tapestry, embroidery, lace-making etc, by taking just one element – the leaf – from one of the digital print works, the Caladium. Using very simple repeat structures, I settled on three designs to embroider.

Now, my hand-embroidery skills are pretty good (at the risk of sounding self-inflated!), however, after conducting multiple tests using varying yarn plys and needle gauges, I realised I couldn’t do justice to the very, very fine linework in my design. Not wanting to change the design and not wanting to be beaten either, I thought ‘how else might I be able to achieve this’ and then machine-embroidery came to mind. The relationship between all the mediums in the show is now not just about their aesthetics, but all the works have been produced with the aid of machines – mechanical and digital!

I am grateful to have discovered XL Sport in Brisbane, who specialise in teamwear and embroidery. While for the ever-helpful owners, Michelle and Cam, nothing was too much trouble, their talented embroiderer, Craig, did an exceptional job on my linen artworks!

I supplied my artwork files and they were digitized, which creates a special file for the embroidery machine to read. Craig then sampled the design on scrap fabric, and then on a sample of my linen, all the while tweaking the needle and bobbin tension, until we produced the final pieces.

This has been such a great experience, I’m looking forward to doing more work with them in the future.

It’s the second last day of my show at Myrtle Street Studio, I’ll be here from 12noon-6pm. If you’re at work today and hanging out to see the show, tomorrow’s your final opportunity – from 10am-4pm!

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