ATV Part 1, Project 3 Picking and Portraying 

Exercise 1.7 Sources and media

Choosing sources from nature opens up so many possibilities but maybe slightly less as we are currently in the middle of Autumn and it is particularly wet and windy at the moment. So no sitting painting in the middle of a flower laden meadow for me. Luckily my neighbour is a great gardener and still has roses in bloom, I also picked a horse chestnut leaf but wasn’t quick enough to do my studies from it afterwards and it dried up on me so I collected some Japanese maple leaves from my garden. During Autumn they turn from a green to a stunning red and it is hard to not be captivated by the colour.

As we were encouraged to be bold, experimental and try new things I had decided after researching David Hockney’s works using iPad and iPhone to experiment with the Brushes Redux app. It was interesting to use it but I couldn’t work out how to transfer my work between my phone and ipad and it was only possible to save as an image then blow up to print it. This lost some of the definition. However I did feel that this is something I would like to pursue further, possibly trying other apps too. I was pleased with my rose but not so pleased with the outcome of my idea for the leaf. I had an idea to try and portray the colour bleeding out of the leaf.

Exercise 1.8 Portraying by drawing

Other ideas and techniques I wanted to explore were using watercolours which I had not used before and using felt pen, coloured pencil and mechanical pencil to convey the leaves line, colours and texture.

ATV Part 1, Project 2 Exercise 1.6 Detail and definition

I felt more comfortable approaching this exercise than lines and edges. Looking closely at the details is perhaps more suited to my personality. My archive items had lots to choose from in terms of detail and I decided to close in on a section of the Paisley pattern on the shawl. Initially while starting on it I was captured by the botanical shapes but after quite a long time looking closely at it some of the patterns started to appear to have a more threatening appearance. Haha I’m not sure what this says about me but maybe you may agree after looking at my drawing which I started referring to as Octupussy!

I chose a button from the coat to do a detailed pencil drawing of

I had a try at some of the stitching from the mended sections of the shawl and from the reverse, but found these to be incredibly frustrating and I got bored easily 

I then returned to the more beautiful detail on the cocktail dress. I chose to use tracing paper which I felt conveyed the weight of the material and used grey waterproof pen to accurately trace detail from the skirt of the dress which I copied from a photograph that I had blown up on a photocopier.

ATV Part 1, Project 2 Exercise 1.5 Collage and creases

I chose a brown cardboard as the base of my collage of the coat. I felt it suggested the weight of the fabric I then chose to draw a simplified shape of the coat and then layered a paper cloth that I coloured with felt tip. As it dried it started to show the square pattern through the colour so I added another layer this time using a dried wipe which I coloured with pastels. I think this effectively portrayed the felt texture of the coat. The silk lining was a first layer of cartridge paper stained with a tea bag to give it a yellowy aged look and then an additional layer of tissue paper also coloured using tea to give the impression of the fold and creases in the coat tails. As a contrast and to portray the vividness of the embroidery against the brown coat I used tiny pieces of holographic paper that I cut into shapes.  A Tunnock’s teacake wrapper rolled and moulded provided me with the ornamental buttons.

My second collage started with me layering 3 sheets of cartridge paper. I did this to portray the weight, layers and folds of the shawl. The top sheet was again coloured using tea bags to more accurately create the yellow aged characteristics of the shawl.

I then used lots of carefully cut out pieces of an old envelope and coloured tissue paper to build up some of the detail in the intricate Paisley pattern design. I used small sections of a paper doily to convey some of the teardrop shapes on the edge pattern. I used watercolour pastels to colour these sections. My placement is not entirely accurate but was more to give an impression of the design.

I found this intricate work to be quite absorbing but time consuming much to the dismay of my starving family!

ATV Part 1, Project 2 Recording and capturing

Exercise 1.3 Making Marks

The brief indicated that once you had selected three items of interest you were to observe, analyse and record the textile items through drawing and mark making. The archive room was lacking in space where I could really work to do this and anything other than a pencil wasn’t allowed into the room. I made most use of my time in the archive closely looking at the items, writing notes and taking photographs. I used these to generate a number of drawings.

In this drawing of the dress I used pencil to give an overall impression of the shape, drape and decoration.

I used pencil to portray the general pattern of the folded shawl.

ATV Part 1, Project 1. Exercise 1.2 Substance and story

The first item the archivist showed me was actually on her desk as she was just adding it to the catalogue. She explained it was a carriage shawl.

This was a woven linen or cotton material printed with a paisley pattern. It felt lightweight but slightly stiff to the touch. It had several colours within the pattern. It was a large size approximately 2 x 2.5m, in fact too large to be opened up an held up explained the archivist. The shawl was gifted to the museum in 2016 and it was believed to have belonged to Mary Fraser who died in 1878. It was though to have been the shawl which she had when married in 1835. Rather than being worn as such, a carriage shawl was used similarly to a blanket, while travelling it would have kept her dress clean while providing some warmth. It was obviously well used as there are several areas of mending where frays and holes have been stitched. 

Unfortunately the archive didn’t have much more information than this so I looked a little more into the production of Paisley pattern shawls.

From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland, became the foremost producers of Paisley shawls. Unique additions to their hand-looms and Jacquard looms allowed them to work in five colors when most weavers were producing paisley using only two.  The design became known as the Paisley pattern. By 1860, Paisley could produce shawls with 15 colors, which was still only a quarter of the colors in the multicolor paisleys then still being imported from Kashmir. In addition to the loom-woven fabric, the town of Paisley became a major site for the manufacture of printed cotton and wool in the 19th century, according to the Paisley Museum and Art Galleries. The paisley pattern was being printed, rather than woven, onto other textiles, including cotton squares which were the precursors of the modern bandanna. Printed paisley was cheaper than the costly woven paisley and this added to its popularity. 

                                                                                                                                                                                              (Wikipedia, 2012)


This information fits with that of the museums meaning that the shawl was woven and printed in Scotland.

The second item

This was a women’s occasion dress. The style was reminiscent of the 50’s with the boat neck, but the archivist felt it was more of a modern copy. There were no tags to show where it was bought or made which made me wonder if it was made to measure. It is a three-layered dress. The first underskirt is made of a stiff papery fabric, the second a white satin and the top is chiffon devore with a black botanical design embellished with sequins. There were obvious signs of wear with yellowing around the inner seams and underarm area and a very obvious stain on the white satin layer.

The information held on this item was that it was donated in 1984 as part of a large collection containing approx fifty other items by a Miss ? from Inverness. It was an unusual collection containing lots of evening dresses, nursing and maids outfits and two wedding dresses. This led to me thinking of a few stories, could it have been a theatrical wardrobe, or maybe someone who was well-off and ran a nursing home. What else would you need so many nursing and maids outfits for?

The Third item

This was actually two items in a set but I chose to focus on the coat. 

This was a Jacobean embroidered coat and waistcoat. The coat took my breath away the embroidery detail was so beautiful and intricate. The coat was handmade, green-brown moleskin cotton woven coat with embroidered and sequinned detail.

It was very soft and in good condition. There had been some conservation work done on the silk lining and you could see some small holes on close observation. This is a man’s fitted coat with tails and it would have been worn by someone of wealth and stature and would have been worn at court. The story behind it is that it was purchased by the museum in 1929 from an auction house who were offered it from a private buyer. The buyer’s letter is below.

When it was sent for the conservation work to be carried out on it in 1984 it was carefully fitted with a fine mesh net on it’s lining to protect the integrity of the whole coat. It was considered by the textile conservationist at this time that it was probably from a slightly later period due to its style and decoration and was therefore not Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coat. 

However it is a beautiful, stunning coat which I would not have been surprised to see walking out on the catwalk of a haute couture collection today.

ATV Part 1 Project 1 Selecting and identifying and Exercise 1.1 The archive

Before embarking on this project we were asked to consider our perception of what textiles as a displine might be and what we consider a textile.

As I considered this I jotted down words that came to me – material, cloth, fabric,cotton, nylon, paper, plastic, thread, rope, woven, knitted, stitched, plaited, hair, fur, leather, wool, metal wire, plant fibres.

One word that in my mind seemed to link all of these was flexible. If the material is not flexible then I don’t think it could be regarded as a textile.

So I turned to the internet to see what information it had

“A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres (yarn or thread).”  (Wikipedia 2017)

A material is not a textile if it is rigid, but if only one component of a material is rigid then it is possible for it to be bound together with another and would then still be considered a textile. I even found examples of textile infused concrete that make beautiful wall coverings.

Textile infused concrete
Textiles could tell a narrative in many ways. Woven hangings, tapestries and blankets were often made to depict historical legends, stories and scenes. Often these type of textiles would be handed down within families much like a history book, the bonus of having it in a woven format being that it would be much more durable while having a practical function such as warming cold stone walls and being aesthetically pleasing. It was a more accessible way to pictorially represent stories during times when people couldn’t read and paper was scarce and expensive.

Textiles in the form of clothing tell stories of how the cloth was made and where and what the item may have been used for. It can tell a story of the style and fashion of the time it’s from. Is it dyed or printed? Does it have embellishment? Is it plain workwear or glitzy partywear? For the wearer it might evoke memories of where it was worn, or feelings they had while wearing it. A football top that was worn at a match may evoke memories of the excitement, nerves and jubilation when their team won or a beautiful dress worn by a woman when her husband proposed to her, may remind her of that happiness.

Exercise 1.1 The Archive                                                                         
I was initially worried about the ability to find a textile archive anywhere close to me. I spent a good amount of time looking through websites that mentioned textiles in Scotland. I identified a number of items I would like to have looked at in the Glasgow area but after contacting a few places I discovered that they were either closed for refurbishment or wouldn’t be accessible in the time frame I had. Feeling my anxiety mounting I decided to phone the museum and art gallery in Inverness. While still being a four hour round trip away for me if they had textiles in their archive and I could view then it would solve my problem. I was able to talk directly to the archivist and she was extremely helpful and we made an appointment for me to visit. Unfortunately the archive is not available on the internet so I was not able to do any research or pick items prior to my visit.

On the day of my visit I felt a sense of excitement as I would finally be moving forward with the course and also because I was going to do something I wouldn’t even have considered doing before, it made me feel like a proper student!

Wikipedia. (2017) ‘Textile’ definition [online] At: (Accessed on 12 September 2017)