Thursday, 22 December 2011

Textile response

I’ve just finished a piece of work and it’s packaged up and sent off for selection – hopefully – in the next 62 Group exhibition. I thought you might be interested to see my response to an item from the museum collection of Platt Hall, where the exhibition will open in January 2012.

This is the item I chose after a research visit last summer – it’s a child’s bonnet made of extremely fine silk net. The 3D form is barely visible except for the solid lines of the seams. I made some quick sketches a and took photos in the short time I had in their wonderful store room, filled with hundreds of boxes containing the most exquisite textiles. Platt Hall is only open to the public in the afternoons and 3 hours was just not enough!

P1040478 P1040453 P1040477 bonnet drawings

My newly discovered skills of working with willow seemed a good way of describing the lines of the seams so I soaked, tied, bent and coaxed my locally grown will into lovely curved shapes. I also broke and snapped more than I bent! I take my hat off to willow basket makers everywhere.


The ‘net’ was made from stitched paper, using pages from my old school sketchbooks, recently discovered in my loft. Many pages were machine stitched together making a long surface of about 3.5 metres. Many more lines were then stitched all over to form a connecting network. This stitching created the ‘net’ after being soaked and scrubbed in the sink – I didn’t risk the washing machine in case too much of the paper disappeared.

 WorkingStage2 lace

After lots of trials of how to attach the ‘net’ to the willow and how to form an interesting shape –


(no details here but to all who have deliberated and are currently deliberating with a ‘creation’, you will know the joys of anguish and indecision) this is what emerged – ‘The Empty Nest’.

It can be suspended or


placed on a surface.


Happy Christmas!


  1. Wow, this is wonderful - very you! Happy Christmas.

  2. It's exquisite Sian,but how did you bring yourself to destroy your sketchbook pages?
    Hopefully my piece will be resolved and completed after Christmas.
    Festive greetings.

  3. This is beautiful Sian. Another difficult decision as to whether to suspend it or place it on a surface. I think it has more of a bonnet feel when it is suspended.
    Have a lovely Christmas.

  4. This is a lovely, delicate piece. I very much hope to see it at Platt Hall next year. Happy Christmas.

  5. This is such a beautiful piece of work, Siân, and an inspiration to all of your students. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  6. This is amazing and so beautiful. Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  7. this is lovely Sian do hope its accepted!Interested to know more about the bonnet itself! Have a Happy new Year

  8. Very beautiful Sian. I find it a wonderful and delicate idea that your empty nest is born out of a child's bonnet, it seems to me like a memory of that child is still living in the emptied nest. Did you mean it so?

  9. Beautiful piece Sian, I love your idea of using your sketchbook pages, it's a great recycling idea.

  10. Wow! So vibrant and tactile, really love it!

  11. I am Heather Martin, one of Viv White's Creative Sketchbook students and cannot seem to make contact with anyone via any of the usual Distant Stitch channels. I know she has sent me an email but I can't access it as the student email log has disappeared. In it's place there is this message:

    ADODB. Field
    error '800a0bcd'
    Either BOF or EOF is True, or the current record has been deleted. Requested operation requires a current record.

    None of that means anything to me but may be of use to whoever has to sort things out.
    So sorry to contact you this way but could think of no other.
    Looking forward to enrolling for my next module.

  12. What an intriguing process and fabulous finished piece, Sian!

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