Tutor report – Assignment 4

Overall Comments

This is a sound assignment in which you have demonstrated your commitment to mastering and then exploring the potential of a new technique. The work you have sent me shows an appropriate choice and sensitive handling of a range of yarns and threads and a willingness to experiment with some more unconventional materials. Your weaves are technically good and show your ability to choose a particular weave to suit your purpose. If you are intending to present your work for assessment, I would like to consider how you might showcase these in their best light.

Your learning log and research task shows a thoughtful approach to the way your learning is progressing and the extent to which you are able to make impartial judgments regarding the work of others. There is also evidence of your willingness to listen to advice and then reflect and act upon it. A good assignment, Julie. Well done.

Assessment potential (after Assignment 4)

I understand your aim is to go for the BA Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   


Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Project 8: Exploring Structures

Analyzing colour, texture and proportion

These preliminary exercises showed the extent to which your ability to identify and accurately reproduce colour relationships has improved with practice. There was some sensitive observation, particularly when it came to the yarn samples.

You produced some interesting optical effects with your paper weaves, particularly those where you used images with a strong geometrical element e.g. the pink, black and green papers. With both of these, you could isolate small areas and try out some smaller drawing from these in your sketchbook. There were some parallels with op art. Have a look at Viktor Vasarely’s work or that of Bridget Riley.

Despite your initial reservations, I think you really enjoyed experimenting with rope and braid structures. You quickly discovered that by varying the combination of yarns and threads, you could create a very diverse range of samples which fully exploited the textural qualities of each. It’s very interesting to compare the same structure executed in two different materials, say, fine cotton and then heavy jute. As you found, this separates out the structure which then exploits the regular pattern qualities. You might like to try coiling your braids (have a look at www.braided-rugcompany.co.uk ) or stitching them together to form a flat textured surface. Another approach might be to intersperse the rows with bands of fabric or flat yarn. What about distorting the braided structure to create a more irregular structure? This works well with thin wire.

Your irregular weaves were fun pieces and the wooden stick construction worked very well when held up to the light. It was a good framework with a strong shape. Have you thought about painting the sticks in similar colours to the fabric, or extending the blocks of colour where they meet the stick? Howard Hodgkin does this very successfully with his landscapes and frames.

The twig and yarn weave was lovely. Your sensitive choice of yarn gave it an organic feel much like moss. Could you prop this up against the light and then maybe draw the shadows cast on the wall?

Your use of commercial rug canvas also presented many further opportunities. Although very harsh in itself, I really liked your use of coloured machined thread on the surface. The use of fabric strips as canvas/tapestry stitch also had other possibilities. If you worked this more loosely, you could begin to introduce new material between the stitches.

The random weave with found net and rope was effective in that you selected complementary material such as hessian with which to weave. The controlled colour scheme also added to the success of this piece.


Project 9: Woven Structures

Your tapestry sample weave showed a good understanding of the different weaving techniques such as soumak, rya and curved wefts. There was also some good colour blending which created additional visual interest. Now you have these insights, think about how you might apply them in the development of subsequent weaves. Just a technical point: always start a new weft yarn in the middle of a row. This means that when you pack or beat down the weft, it traps the end of the yarn and you can then cut it off without danger of it becoming unravelled. – Thank you for the tip, it was not mentioned anywhere in the instructions!

Another issue to bear in mind with rya is its tendency to overpower (literally!) other sections of weave. Think carefully when planning the sequence of the different heights of weave.

Your experimental weave with different materials really exploited the qualities of the materials chosen. For example, the red net and netting bag gave a great fuzzy effect. The novelty yarn worked well too. Sometimes, the effects of this can be lost if the weft is packed too tightly, but this was just right. There was also a good balance between flatter areas of weave and those where you built up the height.

Your final sample was based on a good visual starting point which you sensibly abstracted into stripes of colour. The latter gave the image its visual impact and another development might have been to distort your wefts further to suggest the curves of the shapes in the photo. You started to do this to some extent but the effect ended up being quite lopsided. Could you have varied the direction of the curves so that they appeared more like waves of colour?

I think you might like to look at Tadek Beutlich’s ‘moon weave’ as I think there are certain similarities here with your weave.

Sheila Hicks ‘Weave as Metaphor’ work is also worth following up in terms of its small scale and use of similar materials.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Clearly, this is work in progress as you noted in your learning log. Try to find additional ways of working in your sketchbook (I’ve suggested a couple above). It’s important that your sketchbook is closely linked with your ongoing work as well as providing a record of your observational and visual skills when it comes to assessment. – Thank you, I have tried to use my sketchbook more for design development in Project 5 and linked both the sketch and theme book together more.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays


Your learning log is thorough and honest with regard to insights gained through project work. There is a sense that you are now understanding how the various components of the course fit together to provide you with the knowledge and understanding to tackle new challenges.

Both research points were well considered. I thought you might like to read the following definition by Sheila Hicks:

Sheila Hicks: Weaving as metaphor

Ref: MOMA 1950

Traditional Craft materials and non-functional objects

Designer craftsman

Makes well designed high quality utilitarian products in a limited amount of each design for a regular market.


Creates one of a kind or limited editions of superb quality and unusual aesthetic interest.

‘I found my voice and my footing in my small work. It enabled me to build bridges between art, design, architecture and the decorative arts.’

(There is) ‘Reciprocity between art, craft and design in these small works.’

Sheila Hicks 2004.


Suggested reading/viewing



See above in report


Pointers for the next assignment

Theme: Gears

Although you have made a final decision in terms of your theme, please consider your options and then think through your ideas and refine them very carefully. Don’t allow yourself to become overambitious at this stage either in quantity or scale. Sometimes, a simple idea well executed can be the best option. Ensure that your work is well supported by commentary in your learning log and sketchbook and that you look at the work of other artists who have worked in similar genres. You do need to undertake further exploratory work in preparation for a final outcome. If you could maybe visit and industrial or agricultural museum or maybe visit a flea market and buy a couple of old clocks to dismantle, then you would have further visual material from which to abstract your imagery. There is also a strong pattern element in the images in your theme book. Is this something worth thinking about?


About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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