Working in Sketchbooks (Additional Notes for Textile Students)

Working in Sketchbooks (Additional Notes for Textile Students)

Working in Sketchbooks (Additional Notes)

The idea of working in sketchbooks often proves daunting for students at the beginning of textile courses. I have, therefore, compiled these additional notes which I hope will be helpful. This is a very personal interpretation and I have given examples of how I work in my own sketchbooks as far as possible.


The importance of sketchbooks cannot be over emphasised. They are the starting points of your textile work, and the development of your own original work depends on them. Physically it can take any form, loose-leaf, spiral-bound, tear-pad or even scraps of paper thrown into an A4 envelope file. You will gradually find what works for you. Personally, I carry a cheap (bargain bookshop) A6 spiral bound book and watercolour pencils in my handbag at all times. I then tear out any page I want to keep after I’ve drawn on it and stick it into one of my larger on-going sketchbooks. These are two A3 spiral bound sketchbooks, one is landscape format into which I put my tree/hedge drawings, making it my theme book, and the other is a portrait version into which I put everything else, my general sketchbook. I found out by trial and error what works for me (trying to cram an A4 sketchbook into a backpack on a hill-walk proved too difficult). A small sketchbook can be briskly hid away from prying eyes when drawing in public places!

The word “drawing” seems to present particular difficulties for students. We are not talking about carefully executed finished works when we use the term applied to textiles. We are talking more about a quick scribble, done to capture something in particular, or later on, to work one of these sketches into something else. The exercises you are set in the first two assignments lay the groundwork for these approaches. Students often do these exercises very successfully and then when it comes to their own sketchbook work, forget all they’ve been taught and try to make neat, complete,...

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