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From Design into Stitch

Bobby Britnell is a textile artist, designer and teacher and lives in Shropshire, UK.  She came to Ireland in November to give a two day workshop and three of our members managed to bag a place on the course.  The course looked at simple but effective ways of developing original designs and how these ideas can be taken into fabric and stitch using mixed media approaches.


For those of us who love working with fabric but shy away from using art materials such as Markal Paintstiks, Inktense blocks, Gesso, graphite and Pastels, it was with trepidation that we approached the workshop!  Our worries were groundless as Bobby is a really good teacher and gave clear, step by step instructions which removed the mystery and allowed us to explore this side of the creative process.

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A full day was spent working in a sketchbook using graphite, then a pencil and then a pen to create light, medium and dark tones. We worked in a small scale within a paper frame which Bobby provided.  Bobby then introduced resists into the mix and taught us different ways of mixing the media and mark making.   We moved on to colour in the afternoon of the first day and redid the earlier exercises into our sketchbook with dry colouring media.  It proved to be a bit more difficult but worth the effort in the end.


We explored overlaying our squares and shadowing to give depth and mark making with sharp tools or with pencils to create texture.

From sketchpad to fabric
From sketchpad to fabric

On day two there was a personal challenge… it was up to each participant to use their own knowledge and the ideas learned in the workshop to develop one or two of our sketchbook ideas further, either in the sketchbook itself or into fabric and stitch.


In the image above, Eimear from element15 has put gesso onto paper and fabric to give a textured base onto which graphite, markels and stitch were added – doing a really good job of moving the ideas from her sketchbook onto fabric.

Some people found it much easier to revert back into stitch and fabric to interpret ideas and were delighted with the challenge, while others found a new interest in exploring the use of art materials and paper and continued to develop their work in that medium.  At the end of the two days all participants had a better understanding of design development and of simple techniques to move the designs into a finished piece.

Bobby runs courses in the UK and has a book on sale at the moment called ‘Stitched Textiles: Flowers’.  Here is a link to her website:http://www.bobbybritnell.co.uk/stitched-textiles-flowers.asp

The information on the workshop and photographs in this post are published with the permission of those attending Bobby’s workshop.  Not all of the images are of work created by element15 members.  Thanks to Bobby and the members of the Irish Guild of Embroiderers http://www.irishguildofembroiderers.com/for the great workshop.

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