Monoprinting is a form of printing that has images or lines that can only be reproduced once.  The fleeting image must be printed before the ink dries.  A reverse image is produced.  The smoother the paper or fabric the sharper the image. 

We used acrylic paint mixed 50%/50% with medium to stop the paint drying out.  The ink can dry out too, but adding a couple of drops of washing up liquid can help to prevent this.  Acrylic ink can also be used, Art Van Go are suppliers. If you use it on fabric it may not be fast. Kor-i-nor dye is not fast on fabric. You can also obtain Kor-in-nor paint.  An interesting effect arises when you use the two and apply bleach.  The dye will be removed but the paint won’t.  

Sue demonstrated several methods of monoprinting.

1. She put blobs of paint between 2 sheets of acrylic and twisted.   This mixed the paint, she then pulled the plates apart carefully and  made a print by gently pressing paper and fabric onto the plates.  Excess pressure will destroy the pattern.  Glass can be used as a plate but should be bound with masking tape for safety.

2. Next she took a sheet of acrylic and applied some printing ink onto it.   She then used the roller to print moving away from her.  The plate was prepared again with paint and then marked by “drawing” (any mark making tool can be used) and a print was taken.  This needs to be done carefully and gently to avoid smudging and blurring the image.

3. Another method is to prepare the plate with paint or ink as smoothly as possible put fabric or paper down and then “draw” with any mark making tool.  Take a print and then leave to dry.

4. Draw onto plate (image will come out backwards).  You can have a drawing to trace underneath if you use an acrylic/glass transparent sheet.   I “drew” with a roller and took a print onto fabric as you can see below.  I roller printed onto very thin paper and each time the print got fainter as the paint was used up.

One can monoprint on any shape, can also change the ground, pleat the paper and cut out shapes.   Also you can glue tiles to MDF, plate up with paint or ink and create a background by taking a print.  Other variations include placing plant material or other flat objects onto the plate and taking a print.

There is a spontaneity and freedom in this method of printing which I think gives it a liveliness.  It is the most akin to painting in that respect. I have used it extensively in the past and favour it as a method because of this.  I am particularly drawn to using it on fabric because you can create a printed surface that is completely individual and achieve a painterly effect relatively quickly.  One can plan to print just what is needed and therefore you only need to print specifically what is required for that project so there is little wastage.

One disadvantage is that the paint can make the fabric harder to sew.  That is not so true of the dyes, but I like the colours and effects you can get mixing the paints.

The Encyclopedia of Printmaking techniques by Judy Martins

Designing and Printing Textiles by June Fish










Posted in 2012, Fda, Module 3, Printing | Leave a comment

The Big Draw & Painted Stitch

 This session would normally have been a hand stitch workshop, but as an opportunity arose to make it a part of The Big Draw, it was decided to amalgamate the two.

The Big Draw  is an annual celebration of drawing and aims to bring communities together in creative ways.

We had to work within certain criteria:

1. We had to make a piece of work that reflected community, compassion and recycling.

2. It had to have a drawn element. The fabric had to be recycled and include found objects.

3. We had to use a limited palette: black, white, blue, naturals and orange.

4. The panel had to incorporate mark making and paint staining.

5. The panel had to be completed by the end of the session.

6. The panel needed to reflect an alternative society.

7. The panel could be any size and would be displayed together at the end of the morning as a statement of unity.

The week before we were given a list of what materials to bring.  Over the week I gathered together all the fabrics to give me a palette from which I could choose: the grey linen was from a jacket my husband had worn until it was threadbare and patched, the blue fabric was from a dress I’d once worn, the silk background I’d painted on already and had discarded and the black and white printed fabric was a remnant.  The buttons were odd ones from my button jar.

We also had to bring an idea for a design.  I brought a drawing my son had made when he was about four.  It was a drawing of himself with his sister on a seesaw.  My rationale for this was that I was choosing a subject that already reflected drawing and community and of course I was also using my son’s drawing for my design which meant it was being recycled.  I also particularly like children’s drawing and recall Picasso saying that he was trying to get back to drawing like a child.

Mike’s drawing

Mike's picture seesaw  


I’d seen Matthew Harris at the Stroud Festival a couple of years before and this was in my mind as an example of stitched work.  I’d also been to a talk by Janet Bolton and was influenced by the care she put into placing even the tiniest piece of fabric.  The materials used also looked used.  I revisited the two in preparation for the workshop which gave me some ideas.

Despite being a bit nervous I did not hesitate too long to make a start as I was conscious of the time limitation. I managed to just respond to the fabric without feeling too inhibited. I turned off my “internal critic”. This was easier perhaps because we were using found and recycled materials.  It was a bit like drawing on scrap paper that did not seem too precious.  With a bit of trial and error I came up with a combination of fabrics to form the background.  For this I chose mostly cool blues and greys that I hoped would recede.

I used the inside and outside of the jacket, existing darning and stitching and a pocket welt. I tore strips  of orange cotton fabric and couched them to produce the drawing element.



I did hesitate to paint my panel, this was all quite new to me and perhaps I felt the prescriptive nature of the workshop  limited our choices.  I felt the constraints of working within certain criteria.


However it was good to be taken along and forced to try something outside my comfort zone.We were encouraged to look at other peoples work:


I was interested in the transparent, layered nature of this stitched panel.


The panels above and below achieve a strong textured element. I look forward to seeing the effect when they are painted


I think I will want to pursue this now I have tried it.  This is art rather than craft and feels right for me. I would like to use this as an expressive medium.  I’ve had concerns that I’ve wanted to move away from fabric and learn to paint and draw but this marries the two in a way I am comfortable with.  I think to progress with this I would enjoy breaking with convention in other ways that I could choose for myself

Here’s some useful books.

Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley

Patchwork Folk Art By Janet Bolton

Posted in 2012, Fda, Hand stitching, Module 3, painting | Leave a comment

Putting together a Portfolio – 2012

This was akin to photography in some ways for me: it was about looking and noticing the image and the space around it.  Composition in a photograph sometimes means less is more.  All that is placed in a space and where is there because of a series of decisions one has to make. The relationship, size,  comparison with anything else and the surrounding space .  When does the comparison improve and strengthen the power of the image or when does it take away from it?

I came home and revisited the exercise trying out some more possibilities and then photographed them.  This helped distance me and immediately I could decide what worked.  Some of the pieces are still unfinished as I’m still undecided. 

This next piece came to life once placed on the plain white paper and showed me how important the background and the space around are.  I definitely thought the piece was stronger once it was mounted.



Mostly looking again reinforced my earlier decisions about what I’d already chosen to include in my portfolio during the seminar .  I did, however include the following 4 mono prints on different coloured paper, which I hadn’t noticed before.  I find that the prints are so strong in themselves that they stand up to one another.  They compliment one another because they contrast so vividly.



Unlike the next example.  The pieces  in isolation work, though in juxtaposition I don’t think enhance one another. Perhaps because they are too alike to compliment each other.



This is stronger, but I still decided not to include it in the portfolio, though I thought the roller marks were interesting.



On the other hand this print works well on its own and I think anything else that I might mount with it would only detract.



The next one I tried out, but again decided not to include.  It just doesn’t have the impact of the previous panel.



This is different again because here the images have a connection. They are a series, create a pattern and relate in their gradual intensity.  Even on revisiting I still wanted to include it.



And maybe the reason this combination doesn’t work is that they don’t have enough in common to work together.



There are both elements in the next piece, the colours harmonize but the shapes are in contrast.  I included this.       



Though this is at preliminary stage, I found that this position was most satisfying placed to the right and with more space underneath.  The points and fringe seem to intrude into those spaces and are therefore accentuated.



This is the final design.



I am undecided which works better  The two in combination or just the left hand panel on its own, which is already framed by the grey.



I found this session really engaging and liked the way we looked at each others choices which reinforced the lesson.  We are learning to look and notice for ourselves.  I found using the camera very helpful, they say the camera never lies!


Once I’d done some more stitching I settled on this arrangement.


How and where and with what something is placed to be presented can make a huge difference to how one sees it.



Posted in 2012, Fda, Module 3 | Leave a comment

Stitch and More – a hand stitch workshop.

We were asked to bring:

½ Metre of hessian

Basic sewing kit:’

Needles, pins, sharp embroidery scissors, wools, threads, thimble.


Found items such as:

Buttons, feathers, fabrics snips, lace, glitz, pipe cleaner, beads, acrylic paint, small jar of white emulsion, cords, labels, string, wire & any other exciting stuff you might use.

Firstly we cut 4 pieces of hessian roughly into 25cms by 35cms rectangles.

Piece 1



  1. Deconstruct fabric
  2. Enrich.


Piece 2


  1. Invade
  2. Impoverish.

Piece 3


  1. Menace
  2. Adorn

Piece 4



2. Reconstruct

Evaluation Piece 1

I thought the ½ hour time slot quite daunting to start with and thought I wouldn’t need all that time. Having to keep with it challenged me to come up with more and more which I might not have managed without the time structure.

The second instruction to enrich felt so contradictory that it took me by surprise. Again I found it challenging to the extent that now looking at the result I feel I held back finding the two instructions hard to resolve.

I had the usual difficulty organizing and deciding what to take. We are going into the unknown and do not know what we will need! The stitch element of the course is the one that is newest to me. I probably imagined a decorative approach and chose my items accordingly. I was later to regret this when I came to realise that my preconceived ideas were constraining me. We were encouraged to be far more than merely decorative. We were to express all sorts of feelings and actions. I found this gratifyingly challenging but also dispirited that I had not brought things that would have been more contemporary to play with.

However I still enjoyed the doing of it and working with different materials.

Piece 2

I felt my confidence growing and could respond instinctively to this task. I felt I moved away from the rectangle immediately and changed the shape at the onset: invading the shape with the cloth itself. I also liked developing this further by creating a 3D element.

I was less happy with impoverishing and held back feeling I was weakening the impact of the “message”.

Piece 3

I liked my first interpretation of menace but again found adorning completely obliterated the menace. I think two elements in complete opposition given the same input gave a dynamic I found unsatisfying. I might explore a different ratio of input to see if one would enhance the other rather than contradict and negate one another. For example: lots of menace but just a soupcon of adornment.

Piece 4


This was the most satisfactory piece for me though I did not finish it during the class.  I intend to further this as I now have access to more materials and time to bring it to a resolution.


Donna’s Menace and Adorn

Examples of hand stitch embroidery artists.

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In Your Dream at Festival of Quilts – National Exhibition Centre

ruth Peel and quilt at NEC at

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End of Year Show 2011

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show  Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

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‘Undercurrents’ textile hanging 2011

I wanted to create a hanging that conveyed the feelings experienced on the therapist’s couch.  The idea was that everything I viewed was about me: it was my projections.   I was in everything the water, the clouds, the tree, the landscape.  I was myself, the viewer who was being viewed and looking back at myself.   There would be eyes hanging in the air, in the water, and in the tree: everywhere.

I  intended to give the quilt a dreamlike, surreal quality and originally I was going to make it in indigo blue as in my previous quilt ‘In your dreams’.   I quite unexpectedly found myself painting in  vivid,  saturated colours, far from the moonlight, dark background I’d used for my previous quilt this was a shimmering, pulsating, hot, desert environment, where I could get burnt, as I was exposed and vulnerable: under the spotlight.

PNTX9230-ruth quilt body

The picture above was my original painting which was really only one layer of what I intended. I still had to devise a way of incorporating another layer which would include angels in the sky, swimmers in the sea, eyes/fish,  hair/seaweed. One thing would morph into another in a ‘now you see it, now you don’t fashion’.  The tree and sun were strongly influenced by Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the sower.   I’d been to an exhibition of his work earlier in the year.

The Sower

I intended to amalgamate features creating visual metaphors waves/sheets,  clouds/angels,  swimmers/fish/eyes, sleeping figures, hair/seaweed, and sea/emotions/Undercurrents.

This is a picture of to show the way I built up the intended second layer.  It includes all the other elements; angels, sleeping figures, swimmers, fish, eyes,  hair, seaweed etc.  I drew them on to tracing paper with the painting underneath for reference.

I did some  experiments with soya wax, but felt I wasn’t getting the definition I wanted: the wax was giving me too broad a ‘brush stroke’.  I also tried out “gutta” (silk paint resist) with the intention of silk painting the hanging but again I found the method was not defined enough for what I wanted.



I painted my design straight onto fabric, but lost the drama of the original, as I’d failed to keep my original proportions , so I went back to my original draft.  I may still return to this at a later stage as I’d like to experiment with a stitched resolution, applying another layer and cutting away.



I went back to the model to work out where I’d gone wrong.


At this stage I expected to create and piece the different elements of the landscape separately: the painting was just a draft idea.  I used a model to check the perspective on the body. Were the knees too big? Would I see the toes from this angle? Was the overall size right?  At this time I expected to apply the body in much the same way as I had the ‘In your dreams quilt’.  I realised the tree was not in the right proportions but decided to leave it: after all I was trying to create something surreal!


At this stage I took lots of photographs of some of the elements I wanted to incorporate.  I scrunched and folded sheets across a large table to mimic waves and took shots from a low angle into the morning sun.


I tried to create a sharper perspective by arranging larger folds  in the foreground and graduating them towards the horizon.


I  hoped to utilise the strong graphic  quality of the images possibly highlighting the tops of the waves that caught the light with stitching.


I liked the turbulent looking ‘waves’.

P1040398 P1040399

I hoped that by taking pictures of hands I could achieve more realistic proportions.



This photograph  printed on a transparent HP sheet was tested out on the images with the photograph of the sheets.  Later I printed them onto silk organza by first amalgamating the two in Photoshop.   This gave me a transparent layer I could then overlay onto yet another layer.


I hoped to use these gulls on a transparent layer.

PNTX9230-ruth quilt body-cropped-composite-2

The sheets and waves amalgamated in Photoshop.

PNTX9230-ruth quilt body-cropped-composite-ext-2-17-3-v2



I researched buying silk sheets already prepared for printing, but decided that though they would save me time, matching silk  to other areas of the quilt could be a problem.  I had used the other method and found it time consuming and often difficult to prepare the sheets perfectly. Cutting to size and adhering the fabric to the freezer paper has to be done to an exacting standard to avoid problems at the printing stage.In Photoshop I incorporated the sheet and wave images and replaced the sea I’d painted.  Though the image created was quite subtle I was pleased: this had the surreal feel I wanted.

I began to investigate printing sections of the quilt.  I bought some bubble ink jet solution, silk satin and freezer paper and did some tests at home to get as close as I could to the colour in my design.  I liked the vibrant colours and the sheen on the silk, I felt I’d achieved the shimmering heat effect I wanted.

2011-03-28 10.34.11

2011-03-28 11.38.49

2011-03-28 12.00.44

PNTX9230-ruth quilt body-cropped-composite-ext-2-17-3-v-6-strip tests copy

IP1040649  P1040653


P1040656      P1040714


Above right is a transparency of waves at Mudeford and the sheets, printed on to silk organza.  At this time I was still contemplating layers and I was really excited that this incorporation of two layers on to transparent organza meant I could have yet another layer beneath, perhaps my original painting downloaded into Photoshop and printed on to the silk satin.

I prepared  the fabric for printing, by soaking the fabric in bubble jet, drying, ironing onto freezer paper, cutting to size and drying the test results after rinsing.  After these tests I decided to research printing the whole image in one piece.  I already knew of Mount Pleasant Media Workshop and persuaded them to let me use their large printer.  I had to prepare my fabric in the usual way, by soaking it in ink jet solution, drying it, and ironing it onto freezer paper, which was in 6 A3 sheets on the first attempt. But on the second attempt I’d managed to buy some wider paper so there were less joins.  On the second attempt I also upped the colour in Photoshop as the colour seemed to be ‘diluted’ on the big printer and I also allowed several inches extra for the printer to engage.

P1010767       P1010766



I found all this very exciting and I was very grateful that Martin of the workshop had agreed to let me have a go. The picture top left shows him downloading my file and putting in the size the printer would accommodate.  Top right my nervous excitement and anticipation!  Bottom left is the print exiting the machine, note the amount of wastage before the printing kicked in, Martin thought this might be a complication of using fabric: the computer didn’t quite know where to start.

In fact it was because of this I couldn’t print in one go and I did land up with two pieces as you can see in the picture above right.  Unfortunately this is very noticeable.


I tray dyed the backing and bought silk wadding as I used silk for the top and bottom layers.

2011-03-23 11.54.15

I used a freestyle quilting frame and a Bernina sewing machine to finally quilt my hanging. The quilting frame is designed to keep all the layers under tension, does a good job and saves the need for stretching.  In fact I could set it up on my own.

2011-03-23 11.54.51

The printing mark on the right was a disappointment.  Suction plays a part in the printing process and can cause a fold.  The print head then hits the top of the fold causing the black mark and in the pleat the surface remains white as it can’t come into contact with the print head.  I did go ahead with the quilting and then considered covering the mark with fabric from some of the sample fabric I’d printed backed with bondaweb so it wouldn’t fray. I was unhappy with the quilting stitch as the bobbin thread showed through to the top (I’d matched it to the backing fabric) I tried unpicking it but it left a mark on the delicate silk so I decided to leave it.

2011-03-23 11.54.43


I was really excited about discovering how to amalgamate a design in Photoshop and bubble jet print on a large scale: I could print my design straight onto fabric and achieve a very satisfactory outcome.  It was as though I had pieced without stitching. I did tests on heightening the colour to achieve the vibrant colour.  I was also pleased with the choice of silk satin for the quilt as I feel the sheen adds to the hot, scorching, all seeing, glorious, light effect I wanted.

I am disappointed, however in some ways with my final quilt.  Firstly after quilting, the ‘wave/sheet’ element has become blurred and lost its impact.  The image works well as a photo and on the original tests on fabric with a flat surface but once quilted losses definition and impact.  I also abandoned some of the elements in my original idea perhaps because it was too complex but also because I became distracted by the excitement of moving to the printing stage before I’d really thought through how I was going to create my other layer and then finding I couldn’t work it out.

I am also disappointed with the stitching. The bobbin threads which I’d matched to the back shows through on the top surface and are quite unsatisfactory especially on the sea. I tried to unpick it but found that it left a mark on the silk and decided it was best to leave it.

I quilted it on a freestyle quilting frame with a Bernina with a BS2 attachment. I found it difficult to get the tension right to start with. It was only when I abandoned the BS2 and used the foot control that I got the tension right and achieved a reasonable stitch.

I like the allusion to Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Sower’ with the tree and the sun which an onlooker recognised immediately when she saw it being printed.  I found that very satisfactory!  I wanted to hint at a slightly disturbing feel from the association with Vincent Van Gogh.

I am looking forward to trying out my new found technique (amalgamating my design in Photoshop and ink jet printing onto fabric) on other projects and testing out whether some stitching on the top before sandwiching the layers will ensure that the clarity of the image is not lost and keeps its impact. I am very excited about the possibilities.


I’m working on building up the intended second layer .  This will include all the other elements; angels, sleeping figures, swimmers, fish, eyes,  hair, seaweed etc which were originally left out.  The plan is to draw this onto tracing paper with the painting underneath for reference.  I am in the process of deciding whether to reprint the whole thing with this layer incorporated or to transfer it onto the quilt in some other way and use that to give me a guide for another lot of quilting.  I’m intending to hand quilt this in order to get the accuracy I need and to help differentiate between the layers.

P1040894 P1040890

P1040891  P1040893

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

Ruth Peel Textile Art Show  Ruth Peel Textile Art Show

Posted in "Undercurrents" Quilt 2011, 2011 | Leave a comment

3D Object From Table to Guitar Body

I had decided on the body/guitar as my theme.


From Table to Guitar Body

From my original design, I’d planned to make a table. However I changed my idea, as I hadn’t realised I had to include  stitching in the exercise.

The original 3D cardboard mock up.


Once I realised this, I did consider drilling a hole large enough for a pot plant, then making and stitching a plant or some flowers.  As in this example. Another thought was to sew and stick fabric to the table and to drill lots of holes I could stitch through.


However eventually, I  changed tack as this wasn’t what I’d envisaged: I didn’t like the idea of a decorative piece, as I wanted to keep the connection of a wooden  table and guitar with the unadorned naked body.  One soft, one hard, but both a similar colour.

I had to come up with another design based on what I’d done. Possibilities included a guitar case, knapsack, cushion, tabard, soft sculpture or a vase.  Here are some source photos and drawings of some of these ideas.

P1040900P1040901P1040904    P1040903

If I was representing the body, rather than the wooden guitar, decorative stitching and fabric now seemed appropriate.

Once I had eliminated the idea of the table and focussed on working with fabric, the stitching now seemed appealing: in fact the more decoration, embellishment and stitching the better.

My painted design.

P1010685-adj P1010684-ad-Edit


I transferred my design by mono-printing,  using an acrylic sheet with acrylic paints onto cotton sateen.  The sides of the body were printed using a  roller.  This gave the free painterly quality I desired.

These are the pattern pieces laid out ready to form into ‘sandwiches’ with wadding and a backing.   The backing would not be visible, so I was not concerned about the look. I therefore decided on a fairly thick cotton to make it more substantial .


Choosing threads and piping for the binding.

I chose metallic threads for quilting and guterman threads for the construction.

Checking and matching threads to the front and back pieces.  I later replaced the green commercially bought bias binding

P1040036-1 P1040037


Trying out the pattern pieces to work out how big each segment had to be.


For the  cheek…


…and the breast.


I used this quilting pattern on the side of the guitar body


as well as some simpler zig-zag quilting.




I also wanted to incorporate some hands so used some rubber gloves to find the best position to place them in.


It was bulky and difficult to guide the sewing and involved having to hold the sewing aloft to take the weight. I found stitching through the tougher material difficult on a domestic sewing machine.  I had several attempts before I succeeded and even now I think an industrial machine would have made a better job of it.  I also redid the binding, finding the commercial bias I’d bought unsatisfactory, so I painted some more cotton sateen fabric and made my own bias binding.


Turning it inside out.



Initially I filled the sculpture with foam sponge pieces, but this was too squishy, so I tried polystyrene beads which gave it more substance.  At first attempt I tried this on my own. However  I would suggest to anyone else attempting this, to get some help, as the beads are very hard to control!  With help I could push the beads down and achieve a firmer soft sculpture.


I took my sculpture to Calshot to take some stills.


P1000393-1  P1000430


Though I was  pleased with the final outcome, it was not all easy. I’d spent a lot of time at the beginning settling on what I would make. Also there was a great deal of choice as to what materials we could use. In retrospect I would have used a softer fabric for the backing, as sewing proved very difficult.

Though there were difficulties along the way, ultimately the process was satisfying.

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Quilt 2011: Undercurrents


a detail from my latest quilt.

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Work on quilt – Undercurrents – April 2011

2011-03-23 11.54.32

Work in progress    -watch this space   Smile

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