workshop ideas: design and development

Design and Development Days

In each of these workshops we will explore a few simple guidelines, spend time taking inspiration from your original images and starting points in whatever form you have them and we will gradually move away from the littoral representation of the subject matter.

We will get away from deciding in advance what to create and surprise ourselves with more interesting results to use to create our finished works.

Including some easy steps towards creating abstract images and testing a few testing a few ideas which will expand your creative possibilities, I will guide you to develop a concept and plan for a piece which is based on this, reflecting the character or message of the piece, whilst abstracting the essential elements and emphasising the qualities of the original which attracted you.

Depending on the duration of the workshop we can stick to development trials or with more time we can start to translate your emerging designs into textile works.

Shades of Grey 
(Making friends with the ‘D’ word)

During this workshop you will spend time discussing the value of design elements, principles and mind maps.
Then working in small groups you will engage in exercises which enable you think and work more deeply, freely and creatively. You will learn methods and processes to translate ideas and design sources into more meaningful finished works.

Layers of Meaning 
(Using colour and symbols 
in your work)

A series of discussions and exercises, including some messy, fun stuff, which will help you to represent meaning in colour and symbols, then try new ways of depicting this in your work.

Breaking down shapes

Discover how shapes and arrangements affect our reading of a picture in order to create more powerful visual messages. Inspired by Molly Bang’s work on reading images, see how arranging shapes and simple colours affect the impact your work has. Make the most of simple ideas about how we read shape, form and colour in a piece to make your own pieces more meaningful and arresting.

Altered Shapes

Using an original image, extract the main lines and then alter the form. Choose to make your design more rounded or more angular, see what happens to the form and how that will translate into a finished piece.

Repeat and Simplify

Repeats, negative spaces and simplifying lines are all useful and reliable methods to abstract interesting designs for your work. You could develop these patterns into print, appliqué, paint, stitch etc.

Perspectives and Space

How does the way in which you break up an area affect the piece? What options do you have? 
Take time to consider grids, strata, horizons, cruciforms and diagonals as spatial tools.

Doodle Designs

Design without designing! No skill required! Patterns and forms from an original inspiration will develop easily and naturally giving shapes and forms which are ready to take forward into freely stitched embroideries and quilt designs. A great method for those less confident with drawing.


 Creative response playing cards

Playing Chinese Whispers with your original inspiration. 
Transform the original design ideas in a series of quick sketches, then build a new piece based on one or more of the patterns which result from your sketches.

To see takes time

An effective and achievable method for transforming a favourite image of a landscape, flower, tree, seed pods etc. into a painted, printed, appliquéd and stitched panel which is fantastically effective and helps you work towards abstraction whilst retaining the essential qualities of the image which attracted you in the first place. 

You will spend a short time looking at the main lines your image has and the textures then you will develop these using practical, maybe slightly messy, fun techniques such as image transfer, felting, painted transfer adhesive and painted fabrics and stitch.

 Fuzzy Focus

No, it’s not your eyesight going, this piece really will be out of focus!

When you look at a flower or other detailed, macro image, your eyes and mind are drawn to only some aspects of it, perhaps the stamens at the centre of the flower, or the markings on the leaves, or the texture of a seedhead etc. When you take a photograph of this, the detailed focus in areas of the scene which your mind has taken is lost.

We will take an image of a flower or flowers and by painting our fabric background in a soft focus, blurred style, then by adding pertinent details in a combination of hand and/or machine stitch we will draw the viewers attention to only those details which attracted you to the image to start with.

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