New project: Stained Glass inspired tapestry.

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I’ve been having a lot of fun over the last few days, looking at pictures of various John Hayward and Keith Day stained glass windows (inspired by my recent visit to Norwich Cathedral). I must admit that I didn’t know anything about either man before that trip, so it has been fantastic to be able to find out so much about them without having to travel miles around the country – which although I’d love to do it, simply isn’t a practical idea at the moment.

I’ve found Flickr to be a particularly good source of information and pictures, as there are obviously people with similar passions, who go out and photograph windows, then kindly upload them for us all to enjoy – thanks chaps.

Anyway, having engrossed my self in the designs and perhaps more importantly for me, in their colours, I’ve now started to work on a new piece of tapestry – now I know that technically what I do is needlepoint or canvas work, not tapestry, but these days, so many people refer to needlepoint as tapestry, that I feel really feel more comfortable using that term, so sorry if it offends, but there you go.

The composition of something which is conceived as a whole, then broken down and worked in tiny pieces, and then finally pulled back together to present the whole once more, fascinates me. However, working with threads and canvas is very different to glass, so I’ve had to have a think about the elements that I can use and those that I need to change.

For this piece, I’ve painted my design onto the canvas – another piece of upholstery canvas, but with a tighter and more uniform weave this time. I tried using watercolours to give me variations in tone, but as they dry, they lose a lot of their intensity and in fact their colour, so instead I then went on to using pastels, which I have fixed as best I can with several applications of very smelly fixative.

I’m hoping that enough will stay in place to make working it straight forward, and that I don’t need to wear overalls when sewing, but I think I’ll be OK. I really didn’t want to use acrylics this time, because I wanted to explore a greater tonal variety than I’m usually able to manage with acrylics.

The abstract design is again one of my curvy structures. I feel very drawn to swirls, curves and circles (especially after working straight lines for so long in the meditation piece).

Next job is to start sourcing and deciding on the threads. This time I will combine metallic threads, wools and silks, as I want to give the piece more of a shine, to communicate the values of light on glass. I’m going to try and take my time with this, as my usual habit is to just dive straight in and work it out as I go along. This is fine, but occasionally, I’ve discovered a colour or texture once a piece is quite progressed, that I wish I’d used more, or in different places. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to be fabulously organised this time, but if I’m honest, I do quite like the fact that pieces develop a life of their own as they emerge from the surface.



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