De Gillett’s Texture Basic Story

There is more depth to De’s artwork than we realise. Each piece has its own journey from simply an inspiration through to a masterpiece. The texture basics range itself has its own story and De shares this with us below.

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De’s Story of Texture

“Back in the day, I travelled a lot to teach painting workshops. Every year, I’d be off from Brisbane to Dubbo, and Townsville, and in the case of this particular story, to Launceston, Tasmania, in 2010.

I was tutoring a 5 day textures and inking workshop, and one of my lovely students turned up with a length of book binding tape, called cobweb tape. We discovered that we could either glue it down to create a texture on the canvas, or, to preserve this marvellous resource, we could push texture paste through it, using it like a stencil. She gave me a piece to take home, and all was well with my world. Well, apart from it being only an inch and a half wide. That was awkward, working as I do on canvases up to 60 inches wide!

But alas, the tape really didn’t stand up to the rigours of repeated washing. After a few weeks with my precious little bit of tape, it was unusable. What to do? Sadly, I retired it. Years passed…

Enter the wondrous tool that is a Silhouette Cameo stencil cutting machine… With a $430 price tag, I had resisted the urge to buy one of these the minute I heard about them. Eventually, the lure proved too much, and I succumbed. After all, I couldn’t actually buy the stencils I wanted. What was a girl to do?

I wanted informal, suggestive patterns that were open to be interpreted in many ways, not the readily available formal mandalas and fleur-de-lis.

1. I taped down my precious length of cobweb tape to a black surface, and scanned it. Then I visually repaired the woven holes I didn’t want (too small), echoed and mirrored and repeated the patterns until I had what I needed.

2. Then, I adjusted the patterns until I had an A4 sheet that graded from large to small, giving me the opportunity to cut my stencil and then select the part of the pattern that best suited my purpose.

3. My painting students loved it so much that I made it available for purchase on the Arts Tree website.

3. So far, so good- but what has this got to do with fabric design, and in particular the Texture Basics range? In 2014 I used this stencil in a painting I made as the demonstration work for one of our online painting courses through Arts Tree; our Advanced Inking Workshop.

4. The lower left-hand corner has a particularly lovely patch of colour, and so 6 years later in 2020, when searching for inspiration I cropped that little corner to develop into a fabric design. I know all you quilters love a good blender, and I figured that here was the basis for a beauty!

5. I mirrored and stretched that corner…

6. … twisting and pasting until I had a seamless repeat design with a 4 inch repeat.

7. Then, of course, I started playing with the colourways.
8. Many, many colourways, so you would always be able to find exactly the one you needed! Not only tone-on-tone versions, but ones with surprising little jewels of colour hidden in the matrix.

I love the way that the very high quality of Kennard and Kennard fabrics captures every nuance and depth of my highly textured paintings on fabric, and I’m looking forward to wearing some of these fabrics myself! This art business would appear to be a long, long game with many side-tracks and byways, and I love every minute of it. I hope you enjoy sewing with these Texture basics as much as I enjoyed making them.

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