As we venture out of lock down and return to our beaches I am transported back to South Shields, a childhood spent collecting treasures, hunting creatures in rock pools, crunchy sandwiches, hunkered down inside stripey old windbreakers, navy blue and white swimming costumes paddling in the freezing North Sea.
Here we will explore building a colour palette, pattern, texture, light, form, embellishment, technique, recycling off-cuts, capturing the essence of experience through hand embroidered poetry with examples from both The Natural and Womanhood Collections.
Building A Colour Palette
The seaside offers a rich and ever evolving colour palette from white (crested waves), cream and natural tones (polished dry sand), gold and browns (wet roughly textured sand), browns (driftwood, wind breakers, seaweeds), to blues, greys and greens of the sea. Treasures washed ashore and light reflected on glass offers highlights of silver. Fabrics (with deep textures and light reflective surfaces), prints and embellishments (buttons, beads, sequins and jewels) create a rich tapestry of colour and depth.
Fabric off-cuts and scraps collected over time establishes a library of texture with roughly cut edges naturally frayed. Recycling is at the heart of my work and I love to create individual lengths according to size, roughly hand stitched (adds to the unfinished effect) and layered to produce a textile rich in colour, texture and depth. ‘Abstract Beach’ is my favourite textile.
Collecting buttons sourced in charity shops, car boot sales and now Freecycle adds to my treasure trove started many years ago with donations from my Mother and Grandmothers. You can build a subtle variation of colour, size, shape, material (bone, wood and plastics), texture (rough and smooth), light reflective quality (matte and shiny), metallic, embellished detail, pattern (surface print and embossed) and number of holes (with direction of stitch). I simply adore buttons!
Capturing The Essence Of Time
Collecting vintage buttons not only establishes a timeline, but also provides a rich narrative of marks and weathered surfaces, much like the erosion of our shoreline producing treasures in the form of shells and polished glass.
Sequins (both in block fabric and individually applied) creates a vibrant surface, bouncing light around, creating shadows, adding depth to a flat surface. ‘3 Ages of Beach’ captures beautifully the contrast between dazzling sunshine glinting off shards of glass in the summer months and the pale, delicate light of cloudy days.
‘Beach Huts’ was created from a very simple motif in a combination of colours (beach and sea), textures and printed fabrics. The repetition of flat applique highlighted in sequins to form line, square and triangle inside a grid embellished in wool braids effectively layers the textile to create depth within a flat surface.
Inspired By History
Beaches became a fashionable leisure activity in the 1920’s. Classic swimwear is inspired by the striped woollens of the 1920’s.
The rhythmic quality of the sea is strongly symbolic of an emotional turmoil and fragility expressed in ‘Mists of Time’: ”sighing it’s last breath…caught up in an eddy…soothed by the waning of the moon, I ebb and flow…become entangled in the reeds again…settle upon the oceans floor…of no fixed abode…” The natural application of hand embroidery creates an ebb and flow within the flat surface and a white crochet thread becomes crested waves throughout the blue and grey panels.
If you have enjoyed ‘Abstract Beach’, you may like to return to old posts: ‘Capturing The Essence Of A Subject In Buttons‘ and ‘Surface Embellishment – Beads And Sequins‘. For more detail, technique and poetry visit my website and other site.