Stitched Enamelled Skies

One week on and I have finally finished stitching the sky samplers. The work has made me reconsider my initial ideas and now I am thinking how to develop this new work. I have envisaged these pieces for several months and thought that I knew how they would look, but these samples are not working as well as I imagined. I am not sure if this is just a matter of scale, they are quite small – one is 15x60cms and the other 15x90cms, other enamel panels I have made using this stitched technique are much bigger and have more presence. So I probably need to leave them alone and view them in a few days/weeks time to gauge my reaction. But I did make several decisions that I am certain about.

I decided to keep the stripes in different widths, as opposed to the same size blocks as in commercial  colour charts, but I am not sure that I need so many stripes as more interesting effects may be gained by the gradation of the colours in one stripe – so the yellow sky stripe would be wider and go from rich coral pink through apricot to yellow to cream. but I will loose the lovely slinky movement of the strips, I will need to sample further…..

But these samples are successful in giving me the technical information I need:- an initial colour gamut to work from – I made the same size sample into a the colour reference with each recipe on the back. The glossy surface of the enamel has been chemically treated to make it matte, this also softens and distances the colours.

I decided that the actual stitching will be uniform throughout as in the sample on the left, and to use only copper coloured wires, from pale to dark, to unify the stitching; and I tested to find the best gauge of wire to use. So I ordered  more wire from the Scientific Wire Company web site and it came in time for me to complete the work within my self imposed deadline of a week.

When stitching the pieces with the wire, I did consider whether I was actually stitching or threading – but why do I want to stitch this particular work – is it because I just want to make enamel fabric to this format again? The original stitched strip enamel hangings can be seen in the Gallery section of the blog.

By chance I have just received a new paint chart, the idea that first made me see a way of using my original sky drawings, and  I realised that what is so alluring here are those perfect rectangles of pristine colour, whether in paint, silk or woolen threads they give us a sense of order and are in fact complete entities in themselves.

So how will my simple strips of colour give the impression of a whole sky and why do I want to do this? to contain it? to claim it? to make a version of it for myself, in a size I can manage? The sky is limitless, I am trying to convey the beauty of the colour in a tiny fragment -or does it need to be big – on the scale of a window? Maybe I should make a whole series of different striped skies and hang them side by side as in the chart layout?

So here it is – the dilemma of  making your own work from your own ideas – do you allow the work a life of its own and let it lead you where it will or do you stay faithful to your original idea and ignore all the possibilities that making affords you?  At present the sky samples fall between these 2 options, which is why I am not sure how to continue just yet. And significantly it is being developed just as an idea, not a product as yet. I have heard writers talk of the characters in their novels who suddenly take on their own life and guide the story, is this what I need to let happen?

Anyone got anything to say to me about this?

6 thoughts on “Stitched Enamelled Skies

  1. Well, you asked…. I looove the first picture (on the left) and not so much the one on the right. When I started to think about it I guess it is a matter of proportions – for this height the pieces are too short, which makes the feeling of the sky unclear (and the black pole/rode devastates the see-through effect).
    Personally I don’t like working in the big scale. So when I saw the pieces in your last post I immediately “saw” your sky made of narrow (let’s say 1-1.5 inches) stripes. Oh, I looked again at the pictures and noticed that the left one has pieces with different width and I prefer it too.
    But probably the best idea is to wait some time and listen to your art – it will tell you what to do much better than I.

    1. Dear Bozena,
      So good to hear from you again, I really do appreciate this feedback, thankyou so much for replying to my query. I am very interested in your comments as you have immediately seen what I missed – that the width of this work is very important.
      I made these small samples the same size as some sections of windows in the house here…and it just doesn’t work at all. The black pole was simply there to hang the pieces on one very stormy evening so I could get a photograph for the blog, but in fact I do need to think carefully how I will show them.
      I was so disappointed in the results that I seriously considered why I am doing this work at all…you must know what it feels like, a good idea fails at the first fence ( I come from a family who loves to go horse racing) and of course you start to question everything about all your work……….

      But also a friend saw the work earlier today and thought that the copper coloured wire was wrong as it got in the way of the idea of the sky, by making the stitches too apparent – so maybe I need to stitch in steel or silver wire so that the joins disappear – but I do love the copper against the colours; maybe I have to stick to my first impression of the tonal sky and space.

      As to doing large work, it is a pain sometimes to have to stitch a big surface (but sometimes it is just perfect) I persevere because I love the way a large piece of work can inhabit a space and really influence the atmosphere in a room with its presence…your own works are full of such energy, colour and detail that I thought that they were big – like a bed quilt size, so if they are smaller they certainly have a lot of presence.
      thanks again for all you thoughts, Janet, p/s. I now having an enforced break from this work – I have a new commission to consider.

      1. Hi Janet,
        I’m very glad if my opinion could help. Sometimes it is just a matter of distance we don’t have while working intensively (especially when we have this strong idea in mind).
        Unfortunately you are right as for the big pieces. They are much more powerful. Mine works are too small but I’m working on it slowly…
        “Enforced break” always works for me 🙂 Usually when I come back I know very well what to do and how to do it and I can’t wait to work again on this “unloved” before piece. Hope it will help you too.
        Good luck for the new commission!

  2. Dear Janet,
    It’s lovely to see some more ideas working their way through here. The skies are particularly interesting. I’ve been thinking about what works and what may not on the samples you’ve posted. The insertion stitch certainly distracts (though you know this), and there is something missing between the lovely colour studies and the enamel. Changing the proportions are perhaps key as are colour transitions. The paint (or it maybe pastel) study has some ‘fuzzy’ edges to it that make the colours merge or hover over and into one another. Perhaps the enamels need to be much closer and the colour more fluid over the surface or at an edge. Would it be worth considering re-working the colour when the pieces are actually attached together rather than working them in isolation and then attaching? There’s so many options; none of the above may be right and maybe just plain wrong, but what’s exciting is that there’s something here to really try and conquer…I’m also thinking of your previous ‘encasing idea’. ie. could the enamels be housed in something like silk pockets that are themselves over-dyed so he colour of the enamel and the cloth become layered together. Almost as if you’re painting with watercolour but on different substrates.
    Really interesting stuff anyway. Keep it going!!

  3. Hi Nigel,
    well the encasing idea is interesting but I feel that the enamel can get that translucence of sky by itself, I will have to sample this as well – seeing one colour through another – and I agree about the blending, I think now that the clarity of the paint charts got in the way.
    I also want to do another piece of work using the idea of the encased enamel, a Secret Security Blanket…part of the Make It Through the Night series, but that is way ahead of me at the moment as my next piece of work for this is my horrible dream with no feet……anyway thanks for thoughts. Jx

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