Recently, I’ve been looking at the work of other printmakers and artists who have produced interesting results through the introduction of sewing into materials. I’ve looked at the work of printmakers who that have used threads and fabrics as part of the platemaking process, as I have in the past, or embellishments or decoration, post-print. Elsewhere, I’ve looked at artists using fabrics and/or sewing techniques as the main material within an artwork. An example of this is the brilliant exhibition of work by Michael Brennand-Wood, currently on display at the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD) in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

For my own work, working into prints once the main image has been printed offers up huge possibilities. I can add highlights of accented colour or texture. I can even shift the main focus of attention within the print. However, I think it will mean that I may need to think in advance about the type of print that will be suitable, and why. It would be all to easy to start applying lovely-looking finishes to prints, only to find that they weren’t necessary, or that they are inappropriate in the context of what the whole print is communicating.

Along with some new materials, my partner has also been kind enough to show me how to make some simple sewing stitches. Initially, these were made in cotton materials, and then on samples of my usual printing paper, like this:

Sewn gold-coloured thread

I was surprised to see that the act of pulling the stitches through the paper didn’t cause it to tear. The heavyweight nature of the paper really helped to prevent that. Anyway, here are some of the materials I have begun collecting…


Silk threads

Silk threads

Multi-coloured threads

Metallic and multi-coloured cotton

White raffia

White raffia

Imitation gold and copper leaf

Some materials, such as this imitation gold leaf (also known as Schlag Metal or Dutch Metal) can be stuck to the printing paper, as shown above, using a glue referred to as acrylic gilding size. You can see some of this in the print I made a few weeks ago (see below). It was selected for the upcoming InPrint exhibition at Studio Eleven in Hull.

Print Stories: '6x6' print from poured varnish plate – red oxides/gold

Print Stories: post-print embellishments – gold ink

I’ve also been given some gold gilding wax to mess around with. This is great for rubbing into Somerset, my favourite printing paper.

It’ll be interesting to see how these materials and techniques could work with some of my prints. I’ll post again when I have some results to show.

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