Big upgrades this week! I’ve gone from this, the 6-color 2003 Brother PR-600
to this, the 12-color embroidery plus sequins and laying Tajima!
A new addition to Hexagram thanks to the grant-writing skills of Barbara Layne. They had to remove a section of the 10th floor EV building wall to crane in this 1.5 tonne beast. Details about the machine’s journey into the subTela lab can be found here Back to the Future of Fabrics.
So far I’ve just been learning the software, which is pretty confusing, but shows promise of speeding up future projects. The Brother machine used Embird software, which required you to manually outline all of the colors and lines from your digital image in order to render them into stitches. The Tajima software has an “autodigitize” feature which reads the colors and lines of your digital file automatically and lay the stitches without any tracing.
So I just put in one of my drawings from photoshop like this
hit the autodigitizer and…
Things are never as easy as you hope. I’ve been making slow and steady progress on how to get the Tajima to read the images, but I’ve also been saving these glitchy patterns as well. In some ways I find them more interesting than the polished drawing. I’ve been looking at glitched embroidery from Nukeme, like this one here, which I especially like displayed with the gif hoodie.
While checking out a friend’s site GIMCRA©K I started looking at Animationsmears. Purposeful analog motion blurs designed to convey motion faster than the speed of animation. I liken them to digital glitches, as they are both a chaotic instant that, when detected, snaps the illusion of life back to awareness of the material, whether it be drawing or code.
This piece was part of the Concordia MFA exhibition Ultramoderne at Art Mur.
Entirely stitched and hemmed by hand, these two cuffs were displayed as a static sculpture.
Although I always seem to read about the gestures and movements of craft, I fuss over details and hard lines. I love the chaotic backs of the embroideries, and it gives me a chance to incorporate some form of randomness into the piece.
I’ve been gravitating towards floral motifs as they appear frequently in western embroidery and they are intrinsically animated in their bloom-die cycle. Much of my previous work revolves around transformative states of the human/animal body, but over the last few months I’ve been thinking about incorporating plants into the imagery. Previously I was only thinking about animation as movement, progression, or a potential for advancing a linear narrative. But what also goes along with that, and what makes animation really chaotic, is it’s potential to suspend time and motion and to manipulate it. Suspended animation, like dormant plants, is possibly what makes the movement and the motion so enjoyable.
Here is one of my first tests to see if I could cyclically animate the embroidery.
I was also reading Swamp Thing while working on this.
And it was the end of a cold and dark winter.
So on the first sunny day I made this:
Tests with the digital embroidery machine at Hexagram.
This was the first full color embroidery I’ve done on the Brother, mapping out the colors in separate layers. The hair and wings are hand stitched, and you can see the difference between the textures on in the detailed image.
And this one was made for a cool guy’s birthday present, soon to be a classy metal backpatch. This one I built up with overlapping layers, so it’s thick and feels more like a tapestry than an embroidery.
Chainstitch Frameloop is my graduate thesis research about the comparative history of craft and new media. I am specifically focusing on embroidery and animation, two processes that I have been working through for a few years prior to entering grad school. When I realized that the feeling of embroidering and the feeling of animating were similar to me, I began looking into their histories to see if I could formulate any connections between the two. I’m particularly interested in country-western chainstitch embroidery for its pictography and regional familiarity to me, and live-action animation for its relationship between the cartoon and the body.
I’m approaching this research through what Barbara Bolt calls “material thinking”, a “very specific sort of knowing, a knowing that arises through handeling materials in practice. Material thinking offers us a way of considering the relations that take place within the very process of making. The materials are not just passive objects to be used instrumentally by the artist, but the materials and processes of production have their own intelligence that comes into play in interaction with the artist’s creative intelligence. (The Magic is in the Handeling, pg.29)
Through the Fibres department at Concordia University, I have access to a Brother digital embroidery machine that I’ve been sticking my fingers into. Here is one of my early tests working in tandem between embroidery and animation.
Check out my new animation featured in the online Branch magazine, pg. 3. My other sculptural work is included near the middle of the issue http://www.branchmagazine.com/
I broke my hand while crashing my bike a little over a month ago, and while unable to do much in the studio I figured it was time to join the internet. Wave hello!
At first I was dissappointed that I wouldn’t be able to doodle on this fiberglass-tensor bandage cast like you would on a plaster one, but it proved to be a great surface for chainstitching and rhinestones.
My caitlinthompson.ca site has been redone thanks to my friend Matt (who has also done some sound for me on my animation Awesomosis. I have recently uploaded the full length HD version to Vimeo.
While my site will be an archive of previous projects, I’ll be using this blog as a way to try and make sense of my graduate school pursuits.