TECHNIQUE

ccunningham-woman.com

Traditional techniques combined with a modern sculptural approach establishes the structural integrity of my work. Outlined below are skills and examples when considering the creation of my Textile Wall Hangings. 

Click on images for detail.

TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES: Applique, Patchwork and Quilting. Dressmaking techniques enables fabric to be manipulated, with padded structure and layering.

TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

Traditional padded applique was used to create the vast 3D vagina in 'Gangbang', with a layering of the red satin onto the background fabric and padding with wadding from the underside. Careful manipulation of the fabric was required, with it's folds and natural creases encouraged. The depth of the padded structure is further enhanced by the flat internal panel of pattern, embellished in beds and sequins, evoking an abstract reproductive system.

press to zoom
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

The internal structure of a layered and padded applique is beautifully displayed in 'Cancer 2: Mastectomy', with the inner structure exposed with the removal of 'breast' tissue. Layers of bubblewrap, plastic, wadding, frayed organza and an open weave cotton (similar to a gauze dressing) are visible, enticing the viewer inside. A great textural mix of traditional and man-made fabrics.

press to zoom
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

Traditional patchwork surrounds applique panels in 'Three Ages of Woman', embellished in hand embroidered poetry and decorative mark making. A richly diverse mix of vintage pattern and modern fabrics. Some fabrics are recycled curtains from my childhood, adding an authentic age to a traditional craft.

press to zoom
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

Example of an inner applique and patchwork panel in 'Three Ages of Woman'. I carefully chose the patterns within the 60's fabric to create the abstract vision of three vagina's at different stages of fertility to represent the life cycle of woman. Simple layering of one fabric onto another, surrounded by panels varying in colour and texture, embellished in hand embroidery. French knots evoke the fertility eggs in the womb.

press to zoom
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

'Mists of Time' was created entirely from applique panels, padded with flat areas between to give additional depth to the 3D quality within the surface contouring. Traditional hand embroidery offers an emotional layering, providing an ebb and flow within the natural rhythm of the stitching.

press to zoom
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES
TRADITIONAL TEXTILE TECHNIQUES

The manipulation techniques of the silk stocking anus in 'V and A' demonstrates the union between traditional dressmaking techniques and a modern exploration into using unusual materials. Simple layering, machine and hand stitching, embellished in diamante and light reflective sequins.

press to zoom

A MODERN APPROACH: Experimental 3D structure has resulted in some textiles of substantial proportion through the use of thick padding and excavation of structure.

PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

Example of padded structure in ''Cancer 2: Mastectomy'' from The Womanhood Collection. Layers of plastic, bubblewrap, wadding, frayed organza and open weave cotton create the body mass of the textile, and the cavity was created by simply cutting through and removing some of the content, exposing the layered structure inside. Effectively invites the viewer to peer inside. I had my own surgery recorded in order to recreate the experience.

press to zoom
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

Detailed image of excavated site within the padded structure revealing layers of plastic, bubblewrap, wadding, frayed organza and an open weave cotton (similar to fabric dressings used after surgery). The depth within recreates the size of a man's fist) the amount of breast tissue removed).

press to zoom
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

''V and A'' is another example of creating a 3D cavity. The interior of a vagina was moulded using my own hair (following chemotherapy) and the outer structure created from a mass of hand sculpted 3D silk flower heads. From The Womanhood Collection

press to zoom
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

''Fur Pocket'' was adapted from an actual pocket in a fur coat, manipulated to create the crevices and folds of a vagina, anchored in place with tiny stitches and padded to create the necessary depth to house the inner cavity. From The Womanhood Collection.

press to zoom
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

''Gangbang'' from The Womanhood Collection. A 3D vagina was created from an outer padded structure (moulded satin vaginal lips) with an inner flat panel (patterned fabric from the 60's) embellished with beads to represent the female reproductive system in pattern and colour.

press to zoom
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION
PADDED STRUCTURE WITH EXCAVATION

''16 Pockets'' presents a series of padded patchwork squares with excavated pockets housing 3D vagina's in a combination of colours relating to age as a commodity in the sex industry. Sixteen is the legal age of consent with the sale of 'fresh meat' commanding a higher price range. The adorned outer lips of the vagina's (pink, red, blue and purple sequins) present the outward appearance of a glamorous industry, of 'fun times' and 'entertainment'.

press to zoom

RECYCLING OFF-CUTS: Effective in creating panels of colour and texture, layering for additional depth. Frayed edges promotes a wealth of natural texture. 

RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

I adore recycling and keep scraps of fabric and wool to produce textiles such as 'Womb'. The huge outer pompom fringe is a mixture of frayed fabric lengths and wools, layered to create additional volume. The greater the variety of fabrics the better the textural diversity within the structure.

press to zoom
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

Here is a good example of roughly cut silk, edges naturally frayed for a rich textural volume. Lengths are cut to size and the mid section tied with enough length to form the 'thread' to anchor through to the back of the textile. The 'head' of the pompom is simply a piece of fabric tied around the bulk of the length. The natural flow and rhythm within the overall structure provides a rich density and sculptural effect.

press to zoom
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

The main body of 'Womb' is constructed from a network of tied scraps, overlapping and interlinked to form a dense volume beneath the top layer. Netting collected from oranges was an effective addition. Buried inside the structure are buttons and beads. Fabulous textural diversity.

press to zoom
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

Long lengths of roughly cut, naturally frayed and knotted silk were used to create a top layer of undulating stems carrying the beaded flower heads beneath. Lovely contrast between the flat flowers (created from a richly patterned cardigan) and the free flowing stems.

press to zoom
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

The remnants of fluff created by tearing strips of silk proved to be a very effective by product in the lining of petals and inner flower heads in 'Ecstasy'. Easily moulded and anchored with a stitch. Lovely soft textural quality against the 3D structures it is adorning.

press to zoom
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS

The large folds of the 3D vagina in 'Ecstasy' was embellished in the same silk fluff which adorns the large flower heads, providing a continuity within the textile overall. Carefully manipulated to create a diversity within areas. A soft backdrop of royal purple in contrast to the machined 3D structure created from a bright yellow silk scarf.

press to zoom

3D FLOWER HEADS: Individual petals hand stitched to a padded applique head. Petals are created from machining two pieces of fabric right side together with an opening to turn out. Excess fabric left around the stitched edge when cut provides the bulk necessary to give structure to the cavity. Hand stitching petals around the flower head provides artistic licence to create individual form. Embellish with light reflective beads and sequins. Beautifully sculptural.

3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

'Gangbang' presents an abundance of erotic 3D lillies inspired by Mapplethorpe. Abstract penises stand proud of the moulded foliage from which they come. Created from two layers of machine stitched round petals, cut and opened out to form 3D structures. Individual lillies were then created by hand, anchored in place with a stitch. Silks and satins a metallic sheen. Light reflective qualities enhance the 3D structure, with shadows cast in deep crevices.

press to zoom
3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

3D lillies nestle around a giant vagina, abstract penises ready for action. Inspired by the photography of Mapplethorpe. Created from recycled silk, satin and metallic tights. The texture of the fabrics hold the structure well, manipulated with a stitch to anchor in place. The folds create a rich depth, providing shadow within the contoured surface.

press to zoom
3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

The 3D rose in Cancer 1: Lumpectomy (representing the breast) was created from a simple cotton, two sides machined together into a variety of petals and turned out, with the individual parts moulded around a single bud, evolving to form a beautiful old rose. The depth within the structure raises the height of the textile surface.

press to zoom
3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

Detailed view of the depth achieved within the layering of rose petals (a cream cotton). Hand moulded around a single bud deeply embedded beneath the structure.

press to zoom
3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

Individual satin rose buds were created by machine and moulded by hand (anchored with a stitch) to form the outer structure of the huge vagina in 'V and A'. Beautifully sculpted with shadows cast across the contoured surface.

press to zoom
3D FLOWER HEADS
3D FLOWER HEADS

Large abstract flower heads adorn the erotic garden in 'Ecstasy'. Individual flowers were moulded from simple petals created from two layers of fabric machined together. Large inner heads anchor the surrounding petals, standing upright, providing a real 3D volume within the surface contouring.

press to zoom

SCULPTURAL CONTOURING: Layering fabrics to create volume and depth is a simple yet effective way to contour a surface, anchored with a stitch, embellished in beads and sequins to enhance. Naturally frayed fabrics provides an elegant  fragility.

SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

A variety of nylon tights and stockings were used to create the pattern and raised surface of the bottom and legs in 'V and A'. Abstract flower heads, created from small, medium and large circles (roughly cut to promote texture), layered and stitched in a blue thread (veins on a pale skin). The textural quality and thickness of the nylon determines the textural effect. Creates great light and shade within the depth of contouring.

press to zoom
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

Example from 'V and A', where nylon tights were freely cut into circles, varying in size, layered and moulded with tiny stitches. A variety within the fabrics enhances the sculptural effects created when anchored in place. A delicate colour palette of nude, pale blue, yellow and ivory.

press to zoom
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

Example from 'Fur Pocket', with soft 3D abstract flower heads created from sheeps wool, layered and anchored in place with a single bead. A delicate colour palette of cream, mushroom and caramel.

press to zoom
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

Example of surface contouring in 'Fur Pocket' using a cream wool jumper, layered with roughly cut circles to form abstract flower heads. The bottom layers are flatly stitched to the background fabric. Upper panels are anchored with a central stitch and left to naturally create a textural contoring.

press to zoom
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

'Ecstasy' applies strands of silk, roughly cut and frayed to promote natural texture, anchored at both ends and left freely to lie above the textile surface, creating an upper level. Provides contrast to the flat applique flowers beneath.

press to zoom
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING USING LAYERING

'V and A' is a most perfect example of creating volume and depth using individual 3D flower heads as a mass structure. Each petal was machine stitched, cut and 'turned out' to create a unique 3D petal. Individual flowers were created and then hand stitched together to create a 'vagina' lined with my own hair (following chemotherapy). A strong structure with beautiful surface contouring. Holds it's shape, protecting the cavity beneath, providing real depth to a flat background textile.

press to zoom

USING WOOL: Enhances texture and creates volume. Knitting and crochet feature as both background and embellishment. Wool jumpers are used in the layered formation of flower heads to contour an area. Creating a variety of pompoms (volumes vary according to the type of wool used) takes me back to my early childhood. And embroidering my poetry adds an emotional layering to works.

USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE  TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

Wool provides great texture and depth to a flat surface. A traditional crochet blanket serves to enhance the colour scheme in ''Reducing us to simply a heartbeat'' and embellishes areas between panels. Hand stitched in place.

press to zoom
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE  TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

A variety of wool jumpers were used to create a textural skin in ''Fur pocket''. Layers of circles, varying in size and texture, are stitched to anchored in place. Great volume and depth, raising a flat background surface to provide a rich textural contouring with light and shade around the vagina.

press to zoom
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

Example from 'Fur Pocket' showing depth within the 'skin' contouring. Patterns within the wool jumper used to create the 3D flower heads adds another dimension to the textural quality within the contouring. Silver sequins quilt the flat background beneath.

press to zoom
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE  TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

'Womb' is a fine example of using wool to create volume and textural mass. Large wool pompoms were created and layered in application to provide a huge framework surround to the main body of the textile. Rich colour palette of pinks, reds, purples and blues evoke an abstract womb. The diversity within the ply and texture of the wools provide a rich density. The weight effects how the pompom reacts to gravity and mobility within the structure.

press to zoom
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE  TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

'Three Ages of Woman' is a lovely example of using wool as embellishment in hand embroidery pattern and quilting. The ply (thickness created from strands of wool) can be refined. A simple stitch creates a quilting effect and a knot has more depth and impact. Childlike flower heads decorate patchwork panels, enhancing colour texture.

press to zoom
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE  TEXTURE
USING WOOLS TO ENHANCE TEXTURE

The main 'body' of Cancer 2: Mastectomy' was created from sheeps wool, unprocessed and pliable to be manipulated to create a layering effect within the contours of the surface structure. Pulling and tearing of the structure around the breast cavity echoes the brutal effect upon the physical and psychological.

press to zoom

ORIGINAL POETRY: Poetry adds an emotional layering to works, hand embroidered in wool or silk threads. Cancer 1 and 2 expresses the emotional and physical trauma of my experience.

ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

Hand embroidered poetry in a colour palette of pale blue (veins) on ivory (pale skin). Original poetry conveying the trauma of my experience at the age of 26. 'Anxiety' from ''Cancer 1: Lumpectomy'': 'Anxiety has seeped into my bones, into my dreams. Masquerading as pent up energies. Always my shadow, lurking deep, to drag me back if I dare to seek any solace in my being''.

press to zoom
ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

The second layer of poetry for ''Cancer 1: Lumpectomy'' in a colour palette of blood red: ''I was the sun in Summer season. Ever hopeful with buds of Spring. But now my petals are all fallen. And I will remain forever in my Winter skin''. Conveys the desolation of ever being whole again. Two tone colour palette of pale blue and bright red on pale ivory with warm flesh tones (light reflective sequins) against a backdrop of black (beneath the threadbare linen surface).

press to zoom
ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

''Cancer 2: Mastectomy'' presents 'Carve me up', in a mustard yellow wool embroidered on a manipulated surface of sheeps wool (representing the body surface). The hand embroidery is carved into the 'skin', undulating within the surface contouring, providing a natural rhythm to the surface texture.

press to zoom
ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

Original poetry in ''Cancer 2: Mastectomy'', capturing the essence of physical and psychological trauma: 'Carve me up, cut it out and send me on my way. Tell me nothing of the aftermath, the psychological despair. Loss of sexuality and femininity. Imperfection guaranteed. This is how your life will be. Insecure, the ugliness implores how perfect you must have been before. The dent, of such cavernous proportion, no longer a feast for loving eyes...'' Begs the question ''Am I sexy now?''

press to zoom
ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

Snippets of poetry adorning patchwork panels in ''Reducing us to simply a heartbeat''. Evoking ''treasured memories of a life lived...A rich and vibrant tapestry...Tradition steeped, of a bygone era...Our wisdom a precious commodity... Passed down through the generations... From Grandmother to Mother to Child...Old love letters still to be enjoyed...'' A beautiful example of the traditional values of family life in a rich colour palette.

press to zoom
ORIGINAL POETRY
ORIGINAL POETRY

'Mists of Time' recalls an absent love ''without you present, too self absorbed to care...drawn out, breaths of the dying...It happened so long ago...''. Original poetry captures the sadness of being alone in a relationship, where one person is emotionally absent. A natural rhythm within the hand embroidery creates an ebb and flow to the abstract sea. White cotton yarn on three panels of blue.

press to zoom

UNUSUAL TEXTURES: Creating soft sculptural vaginas from pockets. Using my hair, having fallen out during chemotherapy, to create a large 3D vagina nest. Bubblewrap and plastic sheets, layered between fabrics, creating the visual impact and density required in Cancer 2. The metal underwire from a bra embodies the loss of a breast in Cancer 1. 

UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

A rubber water carrier from camping trips as a child was used to create a simple abstract vagina in ''Menstruation''. Embellished in red sequins representing the first bleed. Effectively creates a vagina which is non sexual, given that the average period is early teenage years.

press to zoom
UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

The pubic hair in ''Gangbang'' was created from silver metallic scouring pads, pulled and manipulated into position and secured with a simple stitch. Demonstrates the ageing process within the colour palette but also that women can be more in control of their sexuality as they gain experience and understand what they like. Striking material in terms of texture and colour.

press to zoom
UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

The 3D vagina in 'Fur Pocket' was actually created from the pocket of a fur coat, sculpted and hand stitched. A most effective way to convey the depth and contours of a vagina. The viewer can 'finger' the carefully manipulated crevices and folds, held in place with a simple stitch. The outer labia ('lips') were created from the fur coat surrounding the actual pocket, inviting the viewer to stoke and caress the textural quality.

press to zoom
UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

My own hair was used to create the lining of this large vagina nest in 'V and A'. My hair fell out during chemotherapy and was put away as a keepsake. Serves as a very versatile material, easily manipulated and moulded into shape. I was surprised by it's strength and ability to hold the 3D structure.

press to zoom
UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

To produce the volume necessary in Cancer 2: Mastectomy I used layers of plastic sheeting, bubblewrap (of varying sized bubbles), wadding, frayed viscose and an open weave cotton gauze (similar to the dressing used after surgery). The bubblewrap perfectly demonstrates the fatty tissue of the breast. I had my surgery recorded so that I had real footage in order to recreate the procedure. The cavity demonstrating the layers of the breast tissue invites the viewer to peer inside.

press to zoom
UNUSUAL TEXTURES
UNUSUAL TEXTURES

The underwire from a bra was used to convey the absence of the whole breast after a lump was removed, with the date of surgery endorsed in blood red silk embroidery thread in 'Cancer 1: Lumpectomy'. This was more traumatic at the age of 26 than having a double mastectomy eleven years later, hence the absence of the breast. The background fabric (old linen) embodies the physical and psychological trauma, torn and held together by panels of flesh toned sequins (putting on a brave face).

press to zoom

RECYCLING: I am passionate about rejuvenating textiles no longer valued in our throw away society. Carboot sales, charity shops and donations from family and friends provide me with a wealth of possibilities. The crushed velvet curtains from my childhood can be seen in many works. Indian silks provide intricate detail to be used in embellishment. Wool knits provides density. Lace adds delicate detail. It is the accumulative effect of using a wide range of textiles and embellishment which gives my work it's unique quality with surfaces encrusted with beads, buttons, light reflective sequins, old jewels. Some textiles have been reworked and others grown over time.

MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

A silk stocking with a lace top was used to create the carefully manipulated anus in ''V and A'', anchored in place with tiny stitches to prevent the stocking from unravelling. Embellished with a glamorous diamante bracelet, again anchored in place with small stitches. A very effective material in the abstract creation of a sexual orifice.

press to zoom
MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

An array of buttons were used as embellishment in ''Cancer 2: Mastectomy''. The variety in size, shape, colour, texture and light reflective qualities adds depth to the flat surface. The richness within the colour palette was created by collecting buttons over a period of time. Layering in the application provides another source of surface depth.

press to zoom
MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

A cluster of pearl necklaces represents the fertilised eggs nestled in the lining of the womb in ''Womb''. The light reflective quality embodies the abstract value of new life and also provides a contrast to the density of the fabrics.

press to zoom
MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

Example of light reflective sequins from '16 Pockets'. The glamorous exterior of the sex industry is portrayed here, inviting the viewer in to explore the crevices.

press to zoom
MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

Example from 'Rainbow', where panels of colour are encrusted with beads and light reflective sequins. At the centre is the vagina pocket, recycled from a velvet jacket. Sequins are iridescent, changing colour as the light plays across the surface, providing an ever evolving light source.

press to zoom
MY TREASURE CHEST
MY TREASURE CHEST

Old jewellry (vintage and costume) is a great way to enhance a textile, providing depth and light. ''Reducing us to simply a heartbeat'', has several jewels at the intersection of patchwork panels. Here is an example of a flower design glass brooch embellished with outer petals of shell

press to zoom