Working in a Series VI

black and white collagraph on gelli plate with texture added

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing working in a series. In “Working in a Series I“, we talked about why it’s so important, what the benefits are, and some things to consider. In subsequent posts, we’ve discussed Choosing a Theme, Developing your Ideas, and Creating a Cohesive body of work.

Today, I’d like to talk about Considering the Context and Experimenting with Different Techniques. Are you ready? Here we go:

Considering the Context

When creating a series in textile art, it’s important to consider the context in which your work will be displayed or presented. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. Audience: Who will be viewing your work? Will it be displayed in a gallery or museum, or will it be part of a community event or exhibition? Knowing your audience can help you determine the tone, style, and subject matter of your work.
  2. Theme: What is the theme of your series? Are you exploring a particular concept or idea, or are you using a specific material or technique? Knowing the theme can help you create a cohesive body of work.
  3. Presentation: How will your work be presented? Will it be displayed on a wall, in a vitrine, or in another type of installation? Will you be creating accompanying text or documentation? Thinking about the presentation can help you plan your work and ensure that it fits the space and context.

Disclaimer: On this point, the truth is, that most of the time I don’t necessarily consider the context in which my work will be displayed, because – honestly – it may never be displayed. If I was preparing for a specific exhibit, then yes, I can see the point of this, but when I work on my own stuff, for my own growth – experimentation, and exploration are more important to me at this point than whether or not the work will ever be displayed.

Regardless, I’m still focused on creating a cohesive body of work and definitely consider theme and presentation. To work on a series you need a theme or even an idea of a theme that will keep developing as you go along. And Presentation is important too. Are they going to be wall hangings? Small pieces of work? Large ones to be framed or mounted?

Experimenting with Different Techniques

In addition to considering the context, trying new techniques can help you expand your skills and create more interesting work. Here are a few ways to experiment with techniques:

  1. Explore new materials: Consider working with new materials or combining materials in new ways. For example, you might combine fabric and paper, or experiment with different types of thread or yarn.
  2. Try new stitches: There are countless stitching techniques to explore in textile art. Consider trying new stitches or combining stitches in new ways. You might also experiment with different types of threads or yarns to see how they interact with different stitches. Consider how machine stitching and hand stitching together could coexist in one piece of work.
  3. Experiment with surface design: Surface design techniques, such as dyeing, printing, or appliqué, can add texture and interest to your work. Consider experimenting with different surface design techniques to see how they can enhance your pieces.

On the subject of surface design … what can I say? There’s so much to consider, try, experiment, and play with, that we could spend a couple of months discussing them all. Suffice it to say that my take on this is BE BOLD!!!! Try new things, experiment, and explore.

You may be concerned because of the materials you are using and the time spent trying something that may not work. That’s why I work with what I call my “prototypes” – small pieces of work that follow the same guidelines as the large piece I’m working on, or planning on working on. Instead of trying new things on that larger piece, I make small pieces to try different techniques, so if they don’t work the way I planned, I only spent a bit of time and materials. Regardless, remember that you always learn something new, every time you try something.

There is also a way of thinking that I’d like you to consider: Not everything is precious. Not everything you make will be a work of art. To make good art you have to make a lot of art, a LOT of art, and a lot of bad art to learn how to make good art. As one of my mentors always said: “Not everything is worth saving. Some things are meant for the fire.” :) So make art and what’s not good, get rid of it so it doesn’t clutter your mind.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next week with more on working on a series. Stay tuned. Until then, stay happy and keep creating, I’m off to work on my series …


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