Tina Phillips has always been interested in textiles ever since she was a child. She has been fascinated with textures and colours and how things were constructed from an early age. She was taught to sew, crochet and knit before the age of seven and this started her journey of discovery; learning that there is more than one way to create and that the possibilities are endless. This led Tina to complete a degree in contemporary textiles at university followed by a PGCE in teaching.
Tina has been taught and inspired by many artists from a range of creative disciplines. This has
encouraged her to learn a wide range of skills that she can apply to her craft. She mainly likes to produce her intricate and detailed textile work through hand stitching, exploring and creating textures using different techniques, materials and processes which she can incorporate into her incredible work.
The focus of Tina’s work is hand embroidery, she uses all types of techniques in her work such as
appliqué, batik, fabric painting and recycling fabrics She enjoys creating structures such as circles and spirals; her work is influenced by themes in nature and around nature, and the patterns in Gustav Klimt’s artwork.
She likes to build up layers of fabrics and stitches to create textured surfaces, incorporating a number of textile techniques such as fusing fabrics, which has produced some really exciting results and all this leads back to how she enjoys experimentation with unusual and conventional methods and materials to create something different.
Her actual preparation time before starting an embroidery piece is usually short. She draws directly onto her fabric using air erasable pens which fade over a period of time, these allow her time to work in a very fast and fluid way, which meaning a piece of work can change and take shape as it is made.
Tina is often asked why she hand-stitches and not uses a sewing machine. In fact she can use both but her creativity stems from hand stitching. She feels a greater sense of achievement when sewing each stitch rather than through a machine creating the stitches. She also likes the imperfections created by hand stitching more than machine stitching that can be too perfect and lacks individuality and character.
She says that the best piece of advice she could give to someone looking to work in textiles is learn as much as possible about the basics. Once they have the foundation of knowledge about the subject they can then choose an area that they find a special affinity with and run with it. She also says that you will never be a master of all trades, but knowing a little about everything will help you discover your particular interest.
The ‘Klimtish’ series of hand stitched textile wall hangings are influenced by the work of Gustav Klimt and themes found in nature. These pieces consist of layering different types of organza and voiles to create a textured background in which Tina builds her design on. Then she uses a sewing machine to secure the different layers. The design is then hand sewn over the top to create the final piece.
Tina uses only one type of stitch in this work called a ‘backstitch’ which creates a linear effect. When Tina finishes the handstitching the fabrics are then fused together using a heat gun to melt sections to reveal the underlying colours and textures. Fusing can also distort the shape of the circles adding to the character of the work.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Tina Phillips for contributing her time and knowledge in the writing of this article.