On paper

Sketchbook page with photographic image and cut up poetry

Just a few words today about my proposed year on paper.  As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not generally good with sketchbooks, or indeed at keeping any kind of record on paper.  Any design work I do before making a cloth is often nothing more than a biro drawing on a bit of scrap paper which I throw in the recycle bin as soon as the work is complete.  Then when I sell that piece of work, I have nothing left of it apart from a few photographs (and I sometimes don’t even keep photos!)  If I want to reproduce any part of it, or remember why I stitched something in a certain way, I have no way of recalling that.  I’ve seen various excellent examples of textile artists’ sketchbooks – notably Jan Beaney and the inimitable Jan Messent – and have sometimes wondered what my own version of that kind of thing would look like.  What I’m aiming for is a kind of personal reference library, the creation of a series of hand-painted, hand-bound sketchbooks filled with notes, drawings, thoughts, bits of poetry and stitched samples.  I’m thinking ahead a little here, in that this kind of work would also make a good teaching resource, if I decide to run workshops next year.  I’m also wondering if some kind of theme or common motif will emerge: something I can build on and develop in future work. Up until now, I’ve tended to make one-off cloths and quilts, and I’d prefer now to make cloths that somehow connect to each other.  I’m hoping that consciously keeping sketchbooks will help towards this.

So while I’m beginning on paper, and the basis of this year’s work will be paper, I will – of course – be doing a lot of stitching as well, because stitching is what I do.  I think that my work needs a little more focus and discipline, and I think this could be a way forward for me.  Of course, I could be quite wrong.  I guess I’ll find out!

Black cotton fabric painted with gesso and marked with black pen

I’ve been working on some pages for the ‘Tracks’ sketchbook today.

Painted/collaged page with stitched sample applied

The pages of this book are 8″ square.

Layered silk, lace, tulle and cotton net with hand stitched marks

So far (one day into the year-long project!) – the pace is very satisfying.

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34 Responses to On paper

  1. Maggi says:

    I think that this is going to be a very interesting journey to follow with you.

  2. Amanda says:

    I look forward to seeing how you carry on. I’m finding working in a sketchbook terribly awkward for the City and Guilds. I almost find it stifling. I have two pieces that I am working on (not C&G) that are just evolving as I work, but that is how I have always crafted. We may not work alike but I think we are walking down similar paths sometimes Karen!.

    • Karen Turner says:

      I had to keep sketchbooks for a textiles course I did a couple of years ago and found it really difficult. It’s a bit early to say whether I’m finding this one any easier, but I can certainly see the benefits now, whereas I couldn’t see the advantage before. Hope you enjoy the C & G: they seem to be excellent courses, very satisfying. Similar paths, yes. Similar tracks?

  3. Sweetpea says:

    …all is now very clear, K, your process is so interesting to me. And thank you for the links, scooting off now to check them out…

  4. Penny says:

    This is lovely already! I love the colors you’re using – makes me think of robin’s eggs. A year long project – whew! I’m more the short term project kind of gal so I will really enjoy tagging along on your adventure.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Your plans for this year sound so interesting, I’m really looking forward on how you gonna grow and develope your idea.

  6. Carrie says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog from Tanglewood Threads. I love the idea of tracks as a basis of a project – loads of potential, I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

    • Karen Turner says:

      Thank you, Carrie; how lovely to see you here. Yes, a lot of potential, I hope. I’m intending to work seasonally, and I like how this idea fits into January – named after Janus, who looked forwards and behind, at the tracks we’ve made and at the journey ahead… It remains to be seen how the rest of the year will fit in to the plan… Thanks for joining us on the journey.

  7. Your comments on how you feel about sketchbooks is the same as mine. When l did my Art and Design Hons degree a few years ago, l was always in trouble because l found it hard to use them, like you…scrap pieces of paper etc! I am also trying to start a New Year with a new way of working but have not yet quite worked it out…l am trying to work it out at the moment and will be writing up in my blog today or tomorrow. I will be (subscribing)following you to see how you managexx
    but l also have a photo blog…http://chocolatelifeandjazz.blogspot.com if you are interestedxxlynda

  8. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Incase I didn’t tell you that already 🙂 Love your idea! The painted collage page with stitch sample is beqautiful. I also really like the black cotton with gesso and black pen. This will be an interesting year on stitching life!

    • Karen Turner says:

      Happy new year to you too, my friend 🙂
      That’s the first time I’ve tried gesso on fabric, and I quite like it. It has a very interesting texture and hand. I’m going to try gessoing a piece of stitched fabric too, at some point.

  9. Barbara says:

    Happy New Year, I’m really looking forward to what this year will bring and what you will share with us – it’s always interesting and thought-provoking.

  10. sandra says:

    Happy creative new year and wishing you good health.
    I’m looking forward to following you along your creative path. I love the delicate atmosphere of your work here. I also have some problem with sketchbooks but somehow I always find myself starting a new one and then forgetting about its existance.

    • Karen Turner says:

      Exactly! I’ve started so many sketchbooks in the past and abandoned them a few pages in, which is why I’m starting this one with loose pages – then I can make it as short or as long as it needs to be.
      Wishing you a healthy and happy new year too 🙂

  11. karen says:

    you can never have too many design resources…hence my recent attempts…

  12. Jill Cooper says:

    I did C&G a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the year of working in the sketchbooks although I didn’t think I would. I kept mine, please dont chuck yours out, they are great to look back on and you will also gain some inspiration on them. I also love your theme on tracks, I have been seeing various patterns in the snow and mud recently. Good luck with your project

  13. judy martin says:

    Might I congratulate you on your self study ambition for 2011. It is note worthy that you have consciously decided not to sell your work and to keep more records of exploratory work. Fantastic.
    I wish you self discipline and peace of mind for 2011.
    Shall be interested to follow your self discoveries.

  14. Janice says:

    Happy New Year, Karen, and welcome back to blogging after your break. Your sketching / journal project sounds great, and I’m sure it will achieve all you hope it will. I love those multi-layered notebooks with sketches, fabric, swatches of embroidery, and so on – just to look at, quite apart from their value as a reference. I hope the year has started well for you.

  15. serenapotter says:

    you’re back!
    this is beautiful and wonderful! i’d love to try this sometime. i agree there is something special about a personal body of reference.

    can’t wait to watch this.

    • Karen Turner says:

      I hope you do get to try it sometime. It’s already very liberating – just trying things out, with no pressure to make something saleable at the end of it. Getting to know myself, I guess.
      Thanks for being here with me 🙂

  16. Kudos for you for starting on this journey! Like you, I’ve often thought that a sketchbook would be a wonderful resource for future teaching opportunities. Perhaps I’ll follow you on your path. In spirit, if not in action!

  17. julochka says:

    oops, i see you explained the tracks here! 🙂 it’s a lovely notion and much better than detective work from a crime show! 🙂 i think i lost you a little when you moved blogs…i will adjust my reader subscription so it’s correct!!

    and a slightly belated happy new year!

    • Karen Turner says:

      Ah, I see you tracked me down 🙂
      Happy new year to you too!
      Thanks for adjusting the blog link.
      I do enjoy the occasional detective show now and again though…

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