One of my favourite textile artists is Can Holmes and I was lucky enough to see her exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show. Below are my notes on two of her books Stitch Stories and Textile Landscapes.
One of the things I find inspiring about Cas Holmes’ work is that she uses a lot of found objects and textiles in her work. In Stitch Stories Holmes’ recommends using digital media to record inspiration which is something I have taken to heart (as you can probably see in this blog). Her suggested exercises for using digital media will be handy when I take my tutor’s advice to play with digitised versions of my own sketches.
- cut up printed photographs of textures or everyday objects and glue into collages. Make further drawings and designs from these patterns!
- create series of photographs of similar objects/subjects and crop in regular boxes. This reminds me of the samples I have created for Exercise 2.3.
- enlarge or reduce size of image and isolate areas of interest
- photocopy or print images on top of one another to create a layered image – this is something my tutor also suggested.
- photograph a drawing or collage as it progresses
Cas Holmes also recommends looking at the back of stitched work as there can be more interesting results hiding behind. Holmes’ small collages are very inspiring and she suggests using a mixture of found papers and textiles, exploring different formats (square, rectangular, circle etc) by using the same materials – this can be useful for modular work – and limiting colour usage which is advice that I am taking for Exercise 2.3.
Her suggestions for drawing on cloth included drawing on the reverse and stitching through to the front which is an intriguing idea that I am looking forward to trying. Much of her work also includes transfer printing.
Cas Holmes uses cellulose wallpaper paste (cellulose paste powder) in a wet-appliqué method to create mixed media backgrounds.
This book is a joy to flick through and Cas Holmes references many other textile artists so there is no end to the inspiration you can obtain.
Cas Holmes hints for making marks in textiles will be handy when trying to create a variety of marks – curved/straight, horizontal/vertical, sharp/soft, jagged/smooth, heavy/light, thick/thin, diagonal, almost touching, dashes, scribbled, continuous/broken, radiating/circular, pulled, repetitive, crisp/fuzzy, dots etc.
When she discusses colour she references the Japanese aesthetic Wabi-Sabi she notes that the colour palettes tend to favour “browns, blacks, greys, earthy greens and rusts; muted colours that reflect the patina of age, change and impermanence” and contrasts this with the rich and bright Indian palette.
Cas Holmes outlines her method of creating a “stitch-scape” and I noticed that after creating a background and machine stitching over it, she adds further colour using coloured pencils, paints and inks as well as hand stitching. She gives an extensive list of suggestions to try when colouring fabric which I will revisit in Part 3.
Using the cellulose wallpaper paste also referred to in Stitch Stories, Holmes creates rolled or folded journals which appear to be exciting bases to work on and play with but also create a tactile three dimensional work to display. In this book, Holmes again gives numerous other textile artists to look at but the particularly interesting section is at the end where she gives some tips on making site specific work.
Holmes, C. (2015) Stitch Stories: Personal places, spaces and traces in textile art London: Batsford
Holmes, C. (2018) Textile Landscape: Painting with cloth in mixed media London: Batsford