Books: Layered Textiles

I am currently in the middle of Exercise 3.1 Gouache Studies where we have to try to colour match textiles and so I found the following quote in Kim Thittichai’s Layered Textiles very heartening

When you learn properly to examine how a leaf is joined to a stem, or work out how to recreate a particular colour you have seen, it will make a huge difference to the work you create for the rest of your life:

This book has some very clear explanations and exercises for learning to use products such as Hot Spots!, Bondaweb and heat-transfer foils. Although I currently do not have these products it is worth bearing in mind, this book if I choose to explore them in the future.

Kim Thittichai does have a useful definition list

Colour: refers to the wavelength composition of light
Shade: a gradation of colour referring to its degree of darkness
Tint: a gradation referring to its degree of lightness
Hue: indicates a modification of a basic colour.

She has a very useful piece of advice in saying that “[t]oo many colours in a piece of work can make it very complicated to look at and confuse the brain so…keep it simple”. She also recommends keeping interesting colour combinations in a scrapbook or sketchbook.

Kim Thittichai outlines a technique for dyeing silk tops and threads in zip-lock food bags. The excess dye can then be used to dye background textiles and Bondaweb can be used here allowing the silk tops to be ironed in place.

Thittichai notes that working with paper “seems somehow to be less worrying than working with fabric” and this resonated with me. Perhaps this is the familiarity or possibly the fact that it is just cheaper! She creates very inspiring backgrounds from applying torn paper and Bondaweb strips onto firm handmade paper. Thittichai then tears this into strips and bonds them to another background until she has created a piece of the desired thickness. This may be a use for the stack of papers that I am currently accumulating.

Ann Small’s Whelks on Islay has a fantastic dense texture that could be used as inspiration when I rework Assignment 2 to create a more interesting piece that has the appearance of abundance.

Credit: Photograph by Art Van Go

According to Thittichai polyester organza can be cut into intricate shapes and fused with a soldering iron or distressed with a heat gun and recommends Margaret Beal’s book Fusible Fabrics for more information. Organza can be applied to Bondaweb, painted, cut, fused etc to distress the textiles and create an interesting surface to work on. Thittichai also notes that it makes an excellent contrast to papers “particularly newspaper” focussing on the contrast between the “rich and sparkly colour of the organza and matt and dull newspaper”.

Faux fabrics such as chenille can be created using layers of newspaper, magazine pages, organza etc sewn onto interfacing. Other methods of combining materials could be to layer and piece them (much like quilting). Quilting is a good way of recycling old fabrics, alternatively rag-rugging uses up scraps whilst creating texture.

Angie Hughes combines text in her work which I find useful as a source of inspiration on how to move forward the small sample piece I made in Part 2.

Laser cutting would be an interesting technique to explore as it would enable me to create my own stencils or cut out shapes from textiles I have created.


Thittichai, K. (2011) Layered Textiles: New surfaces with heat tools, machine and hand stitch London: Batsford

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