• Sarah Jane

Thread Painting.....

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

Thread painting is a technique that involves painting with thread. The fabric is essentially your canvas and the thread is your paint. This can be a laborious process, but it can also be a rewarding and calming process. I started to look into this technique in the latter half of second year, and one of my ideas for this current unit would be to explore this technique further, and apply my ideas to create pieces that hopefully showcase a traditional skill in a new, contemporary light.


For this process, I first had to think about what imagery I was going to essentially paint. I thought about how I had become interested in the idea of female identity, and what it means to be a woman in todays society. I then started drawing different images in my sketch book until finally coming up with the idea of stitching breasts. These are essentially the most used icon of women, and are often seen in a sexual, objectified way rather than a gender specific way. In a way, I wanted to reclaim this imagery as our own, as use it as a way of saying that we as women should not be defined by what we have on our chests, but who we are as a person.

The use of thread painting and embroidery helps to emphasise this point as it's a traditional medium, typically used by women, and has a lot of skill and patience that goes hand in hand with it. I wanted to essentially reclaim this medium/method as an art form, and show that domestic arts can be more than just a hobby.

For the design of the breasts, I decided to keep them simple and use basic shapes. I wanted to have them as different shapes as no one breast is the same, they are all as unique and different as women are, and I wanted to be as diverse with the colours as I could, to be inclusive of all races/ethnicities. I find this to be another issue within the art world but I feel I should create another piece to fully explore that issue. For this piece however, I wanted to have a subtle hint at the issue.


I used a piece of felt for the 'canvas' as it's something that I haven't embroidered or stitched into/onto before, and felt that it would be sturdy enough for what I want to do. Another reason is that it's plain and has no pattern, which won't distract from my main image. I also like the softness of the material, and how it buckles with the stitching. It somehow adds more form to the material, and makes the piece seem more 3D than 2D.

I have found that stitching in this way is quite a long process, and although I've spent almost a day stitching away at this, all I've managed to stitch is part of the first boob. However, I find the process of embroidery and stitching to be quite meditative and calming. There's something about this simple process that some how helps to clear the mind, or seems to help with thinking about the meaning behind the work. It has been suggested to me to film myself stitching, which is something that I might start explore the next time I come to working on this.

Things to do next:

- Finish off piece

- Look into filming myself stitching

- Look into other processes? (knitting? crotchet?)

- Think about imagery? meaning? purpose?

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