Sue Hotchkis: Tool kit

Sue Hotchkis: Tool kit

Welcome to another edition of Tool kit, a series of articles where we take a look at some of the favourite tools used by professional textile artists.

Sue Hotchkis looks at the relationship between natural elements and those man-made, such as the results from erosion and human use. Whilst being aesthetically pleasing, her work can also act as a metaphor for deterioration and ruin, associated with urban decay and ultimately death and loss.

Her art evolves organically, built up with layers of print, cloth, paper, and stitch into three-dimensional abstract forms that hover between object and image which create a unique, visual and tactile landscape of form and texture. Challenging traditional understandings of the division between the visible and the unseen.

In this article, Sue shares her expertise on where to find some essential items for everyday making and reveals where two of her most useful items were discovered.

Sue Hotchkis, Pins

Sue Hotchkis, Pins

Item 1 – Pins

Brand: Various
Model: Heart shaped (other styles are available, leaves, flowers)

How do you use this item in your practice?

When I’m working on my pieces I do a lot of pinning and arrange fabric on a design board before I actually stitch it; so I use these pins to hold the fabric together and to attach the work to the board while I decide what’s happening.

Why do you use this specific item?

I couldn’t make my work without these pins. I find the large quilters pins which I do use occasionally are not as strong and frequently bend, or worst still the glass head comes off leaving a nasty sharp piece of metal that can be difficult to remove without the head. These pins are strong and long enough to enable me to hold several layers together at one time.

I also like the bright large head so there is no danger of me leaving one in a piece of work by mistake and they are easy to find if dropped on the floor.

The pin cushion in the photo I don’t use but I do love it, my mum found it in the charity shop where she works. The powers that be thought it worthless and we’re going to throw it away, but my mum saved it as she knew I’d love it.

I wonder about the person who took the time to decorate it with the braid and beads and I’m sure they’d be pleased to see it gain another life. It makes the perfect nest for my gold bird that was a decoration at my wedding. It’s placed on top of my thread drawers where she sits and watches me sew.

And where did you buy it from?

I buy the pins whenever I see them, usually from small haberdashery shops or market stalls as I like to try and keep small businesses like those going by buying something. You can get them online though from Amazon and eBay and they are very inexpensive.

Sue Hotchkis, Thread drawers

Sue Hotchkis, Thread drawers

Item 2 – Thread storage drawers

Year: A long, long, time ago

How do you use this item in your practice?

This is where I house the majority of my sewing threads. I like to have it close to where I’m sewing so I can just turn to my left and reach for a thread very easily by just pulling open a drawer. If I need a particular shade I can pull the drawer out completely and have a good rummage.

Sometimes I use an empty drawer so that I can just put threads in it that I’m using for one specific project. Then there is no confusion over which thread I’ve used if I need to go back to an area to stitch it again. It helps to keep the area around the machine tidy too.

It isn’t perfect though as it can get a little dusty being open at the front. Organising and reorganising my threads inside it is also a pleasant way to procrastinate.

Why do you use this specific item?

Whilst I do also have a lovely new drawer set from IKEA as well, it couldn’t replace this one completely as it has sentimental value. From a practical point of view, I also like the shallowness of the drawers, it’s just over two reels high when laid down. I find the drawers on the IKEA chest are too deep and so I’m wasting space.

And where did you buy it from?

I found it hiding in the back of my husbands’ garage just after we’d first met. It used to belong to his grandmother. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it so I cleaned and painted it. It could do with another makeover now though.

Sue Hotchkis, Extension table

Sue Hotchkis, Extension table

Item 3 – Perspex Extension table

Brand: Sew Steady 24” x 24”
Model: Made to fit a Bernina 1001 &1008

How do you use this item in your practice?

If you don’t have the luxury of having your machine set into a table this is the next best thing. It gives your work more support when stitching. If it’s heavy, it doesn’t pull down. If you are free motion stitching or quilting, you need the area which your fabric sits on to be smooth and level so it just glides and doesn’t interfere with the motion of the stitching.

It’s also good because it doubles your workspace. You are able to put pins and scissors underneath within reach without them getting in the way.

Why do you use this specific item?

It’s bigger and cheaper than buying the actual Bernina extension table. Plus, it’s clear Perspex so you can see what’s underneath.

And where did you buy it from?

I bought it from The Cotton Patch. If you contact them with the make and model of your machine they can order the correct fit for you.

Sue Hotchkis, Camera

Sue Hotchkis, Camera

Item 4 – Camera

Brand: Panasonic Lumix
Model: DMC-TZ60EB-K (There are newer models of this now)
Year: 2014

How do you use this item in your practice?

I constantly take photos of surfaces and textures to use as inspiration in my work, at home and abroad.

Why do you use this specific item?

Even though my phone has a fairly decent camera on it I still prefer to use an actual camera because it takes larger file sizes than the phone, so if I want to enlarge an image for printing purposes I can.

It’s compact, so doesn’t take up much room when traveling but has a long zoom and takes amazing images. As it has a Leica lens.

I also like the size of the camera, it’s small enough to fit into a pocket whilst still being a reasonable size to hold. It has a slightly old-fashioned look and feel to it, which I like. You also have a choice of using the manual controls or the touch screen, which I prefer.

In the past I’ve bought various Canon ixus, however, they became smaller and smaller and more rounded almost like a bar of soap and as a consequence slipped from my hands, something I wish to avoid. This is my third LUMIX and I’m very happy with.

And where did you buy it from?

Amazon.co.uk

 

Sue Hotchkis, Amazing Tape

Sue Hotchkis, Amazing Tape

Item 5 – Tape

Item name: Amazing Tape
Brand: Hugo’s Amazing Tape
Model: 2” wide 50’ 5cm X 15m (£16.94)

How do you use this item in your practice?

It helps to keep all my threads clean and tidy. It’s just a clear plastic that adheres to itself. So you just cut a strip off and wrap around the thread. It’s reusable too.

Why do you use this specific item?

Unlike using masking tape or sticky tape the plastic doesn’t actually have glue on it so you’re not left with a residue on your thread which can cause problems when sewing. Thread is expensive and the shiny Rayon thread which I use a lot has a nasty habit of unraveling and knotting up when not in use. It’s an expensive product but a little goes a long way. You can use it for other nonsewing things too.

And where did you buy it from?

You can buy it online if you google it but I bought mine from Barnyarns

For more information visit: www.suehotchkis.com

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FREE E-BOOK: How my journey into textile art began, a fascinating insight into the work of textile artist Sue Stone
Wednesday 26th, April 2017 / 11:45
Daniel

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