Chapter 5: Shadows



Creating and interpreting shadows:

Finding shadows – Light sources: Sun, moon, fire, candles, and lamps of all kinds.

Leaf Dragon from Facebook

‘Leaf Dragon’ off Facebook!  Isn’t it lovely?

Items that use light and shadows: sundials, sextants (shooting the sun/stars) shadow puppets and by extension, silhouettes.  Magic Lanterns – cinema?

Painters: Caravaggio and Joseph Wright of Derby used chiaroscuro and Wright used firelight: forges.  One modern artist we came across this summer at the Biennale is James Richards, whose installation Music for the Gift was in the Welsh pavilion – a disused church, Santa Maria Ausiliatrice.  It included some inkjet monoprints

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

I didn’t really understand it, or indeed like it, although my husband liked the audio part of the installation.

Russia 1

Russia 2

Russia 5

These are photos of the exhibit in the Russian Pavilion.  Again, I didn’t understand it, but admired the modelling and use of shadow.

Poetry: R.L. Stevenson  I have a little shadow who goes in and out with me

Edgar Allen Poe  Eldorado (the third line of every verse contains the word shadow)

Creating shadows

The only wire I could find was very fine and had beads etc. wound in it, but I also had some pipe cleaners.  I couldn’t find much to do with them, particularly since the only source of light was a neon/LED desk lamp.  (My husband has just produced some thicker copper wire.)

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2


I have a little shadow who goes in and out with me,

And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.

He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head,

And I see him go before me as I jump into my bed.

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2



Single wire drawing

Single and double shadows combined

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Page full of wire shadows

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Page pleated one way

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

and the other

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Cut along the folds and pieced at random


Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Isolated section

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Stitched version

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2



Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

This was a bit make-it-up as you go along: I started with a piece of transfer-dyed polyester satin, assembled some toning threads and fabrics and traced and stitched the design.  Two of the fabrics were appliqued on using a small zig-zag, one shows, one doesn’t.  Two areas of vermicelli whip stitch, background visible through.  Two areas of twin needle and some thicker stitching.  Then I covered it with a piece of net secured with a machine pattern.  I hope this is what was wanted.

The second sample includes Angelina fibres, printed sheer, plain sheer (too pale, doesn’t really show up under the random granite stitch) green lurex, solid stitching, an area of whip stitch with a pale random top and a white cystal bobbin thread (also a bit pale) and a zapped and stitched organza on top.  A printed sheer with granite stitch looks good (use elsewhere?), and the zapped organza on top of the lot, which was then bondawebbed to green slubbed furnishing fabric.  This was very pretty.

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

42Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

This was a very strong shadow although the division into four is a bit ‘ordinary’.

Handmade peach paper using free machining and patterns; zapped blue organza similarly stitched on top; torn black tissue paper trapped under pale blue chiffon with net stitched on top.  Not something I might have tried un-prompted, but I like the complementary colours.


Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Fabrics as shadows:

Shapes extracted from the wire shadow work and built up using transparent organza, three shades of metallic silk, one of silk with gold embroidery and purple chiffon.

I hope this is what was required.


Stitching as shadows


Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2


Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2



Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Blue metallic and random

The black stitching is less satisfactory as it fights with the background, but either of the others work.  Possibly a grey would be preferable, as it might be slightly softer than the black.


Line to define areas

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Big Ben (p.18)

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Background with sheers

Free machining



Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Topiary Garden, Jardim Botanico, Madeira

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Background with sheers



Granite and satin stitch

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Cold and frosty morning


Whip and granite stitch


Fibres as Shadows

Old Tree






Shadows in Angelina










Chapter 4: In-between



I find Gerard Manley Hopkins difficult as we never studied him.  I came to the conclusion that he gets drunk on words – good for him!  I prefer George Herbert; he’s no more easy to understand at times, but I find myself more on his wavelength, although I had a problem with what turned out to be called ‘Whitsunday’.  Grayson Ives set it to music and called it ‘Listen, sweet Dove’ and included a verse about the stars.  When I located the poem, I discovered that Ives had edited it for the music, which was why it didn’t make sense to me.  I didn’t understand why there were only 12 stars (the Zodiac? at Pentecost?) or which constellation might have 12 stars: Orion?  Here’s the relevant portion less the first verse. (The second verse – top one here – which explains the 12 stars, is omitted, as are four and five).

What would it look like if the stars came down to be on earth during daytime?  Would they hang in trees like Fairy Lights?  Make a river of light up a mountain? (see p.14)  They couldn’t stay in the sky as we wouldn’t see them (see St. Petersburg p.  )  Where would I like to see them?  Probably in a tree, I’m rather partial to bare trees decorated with white lights at Christmas.  But what would they look like in a tree in May/June? Would they just be white, I doubt it.


This was my first scribbled thought, a rough idea of what might work.  However, when I tried to assemble it, I found I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing, and this probably wasn’t it, as there seemed to be a collection of disparate bits with no cohesion.  So I thought if I had come to this idea without prompting, I probably wouldn’t have used these techniques in quite this way.  How would the stars (zodiac) get to earth?  Perhaps down a rainbow of silk and organza into a tree canopy?

Attempt at a Background


I couldn’t think how that would work either, and was so fed up that I decided to leave it for a bit and go on to Chapter 5.  The printer refused to print properly (I tend to print off a couple of chapters at a time) so I could only get page one.  Depression set in, so I decided to look for a different poem and see if anything struck me:

John Milton from Arcades                                         George Herbert from Star

Under the shady roof                                                                Glitter, curl and wind                       of branching Elm Star-proof                                                                                                                  Follow me…

I could just imagine stars battering against an elm tree, and someone saying ‘Go away, we’re not in!’  Also the instructions said why not stitch a grid on water-soluble material, so I stitched an elm-shaped grid to put over a star-free portion of the background and go on from there.

Elm tree grid

It was not a success, so I went back to basics and tried a different background:

Black Nuno felt with glitter, and silver leaf, then a few pieces of blue/purple and green silk sari scraps.  Next some black organza – a dark grey (which I don’t have) would have been better as the black is a bit too dark.  After that, a brown/yellow silk rod for the trunk and a couple of bushes made of torn green chiffon, and the slightly stretched Elm grid, and some free machining.  This was covered with a silver organza, some machine patterns as shooting stars (and to keep the various bits in place), free machining to outline the Elm, and to balance the colours.  This was zapped with a heat tool, as was an organza star to make it ‘curl and wind’ as Herbert suggests.


Although it is rather dark, I like the result. (Memo to self: You can’t make a piece go where it doesn’t want to go.)