Thursday, May 27, 2010

Return of The Dot

Hand cut, hand dyed, black cotton dots stitched on unprimed cotton canvas.

If you have been following my blog recently you know that I have had an interest in 'dots'. Dots meaning small roughly cut circles of fabric stitched onto a substrate. I have attempted several ways to apply these elements but have not been happy with the results as I want to make a large composition using this technique and the applications I have tried were too difficult for larger scale.

Another thought that has been floating around my head is the use of canvas as a foundation for work. I've done that a couple of times but those pieces have not been presented here. This week I decided to combine those two ideas....dots and canvas ...and the above piece is the result.

The canvas is a heavy unprimed scrap of canvas. I threw it in the washer and the ragged edge became even more ragged and nicer. It has an irregular shape and I chose to use that shape.

Detail of center-left of composition.

I mentally divided the length into thirds and began by stitching the dots one at a time from the top left corner in a soft square spiral. I predetermined that I would stitch for 30 minutes and stop wherever I was at the end of the time. I then added the 'tail' inside the empty center. I did this as a reference to how long it took to stitch over an area.

Detail showing crisscrossing of stitching lines.

Next, I stitched two rounds of dots into half of the remaining space and filled the center of that area leaving open space between each dot. On the right I laid in vertical rows of dots allowing them to softly shift.

Had I stopped there you would be able to see clearly my path as to how the dots were organized. However, I then stitched many lines and in order to emphasize the look of a web, as my stitch lines crossed another stitch line I changed the direction just slightly at many of the intersections. I considered adding some line work in black but decided to save that for another piece.

Simplicity and Complexity

I have been exploring and learning surface design processes for about a year. I'm still a beginner but loving the education. One of the things to come out of this adventure is my identification of the concept of Simplicity and Complexity. At first glance this may seem to be ideas that are opposed to one another but I don't think that is true. The piece presented here is a nice example of this relationship. What could be more simple than little black dots on a white background. Yet the space between the dots is very complex, the lines and the many intersections are complex and there is lots of room for even more complex relationships. I have also become aware of how frequently artists choose to work with dots or points and just for fun here are some links where you can see work by others using the humble DOT:

Thank you for dropping by and spending time here at Studio 24-7. You are always welcome and I love hearing your comments.


  1. Dear Dotty!
    is it the aborigine in you? or....were you given too many dot to dot puzzles as a child!!!
    I love the conceit of the simple creating the complex..and of course if you place the dots repetitively with your eyes shut over and over using the same movements then patterns will begin to emerge!! nature's chaos. fascinating!

  2. Nice piece, Terry. I love following the line from the spiral to the box and getting lost in the white thread. Beautiful!

  3. This reminds me so much of the fabric designs done by a lot of northwestern indian Haida button blankets. Wonderful.

  4. This gave me chills: "I did this as a reference to how long it took to stitch over an area."

    You're spooky smart, Terry. :D

    Drive safe, today, and THANK YOU for this post... I loved reading all the details of the construction of this piece.

  5. I love this idea of simple and complex, and I hope you continue to explore it.

  6. Isn't canvas great when you run it through the washing machine and let it fray? I have done this many times while dyeing it, and I think I like the edges better than I like the middle. Have never gotten that rich effect with other fabrics. It really complements your dots

  7. Thanks to all for your supportive comments. I do love the canvas and look forward to experimenting more with it and the idea of dots.

  8. Great dots, Terry! The simple and complex combo proves out that many things we think are opposites are mirror images of each other. And thanks for linking to me. I love the washed canvas too.

  9. Thank you Nancy. You know I love your work and the 3-D quality of the dots in wax.

  10. Spot on Terry (pun intended).
    The detail shot "Center of Left of Composition" is intriguing. The stitching v. dots is harmonious.
    more please.

  11. Thank you Christine. As I looked at the detail I realized I now have to do some very large dots. May paint them on canvas and then stitch or something like that.

  12. great piece Terry. Fascinating how a combination of simple elements creates a beautiful piece with complexity and depth. I love working with canvas, it's a staple in my studio.

  13. Thank you Sue. I'm looking forward to working more with the canvas. It's been a long time since it was part of my art materials inventory.