Punch needle

Reflecting on all my surface decoration ideas I decided I didn’t want to paint onto the stool surface. I think paint would look extremely flat and generally monotonous and not improve the object outcome.

In conducting further research into ways of adding pattern and decoration, I discovered Arounna Khounnoraj’s work. Khounnoraj uses punch needle to create illustrations and patterns, which she then uses to create accessories or adds to furniture she’s made. Khounnoraj is also an advocate of repairing, reusing and renewing objects as well as visible mending, as well as having written books on how-to repair worn out clothing. I like this idea of attaching a soft texture to the seat of my stool. It would add colour and dimension to the stool without appearing flat, as paint would, while also on a practical side adding cushioning.

Arounna Khounnoraj’s punch needle work:

A patchwork, embroidered or a knitted surface would also bring a textural quality to the surface of my stool, but punch needle would allow me to create my developed patterns using coloured wool/yarn onto a piece of fabric to then attach to the stool seat. I much prefer the textural quality to the punch needle surface in comparison to these other alternatives, the small loops will create a raised surface which will serve as a slight padding to the seat.

I managed to find the tools and materials list Khounnoraj lists in her book ‘Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home’ (2019) and sourced the necessary equipment to create my punched top.

I trialed my two favourite designs on paper before choosing the final one. Didn’t like the linear nature of the second so chose the more organic, flowing pattern.

When making the seat cover, I wanted to keep my colour scheme as closely as possible. Altered my colours slightly as there was less choice in the chunky yarn – which I needed to make bigger loops for the stool seat.

Setting up and stretching the fabric - I struggled to find an embroidery hoop that would be large enough, so I cut a canvas from its frame and stapled my monkscloth using a staple gun. Then I drew around my stool seat to get a perfect measurement and drew out my pattern. I coloured in the sections using coloured pencils to plan out the yarn to use for each shape.

Process of punch needling:

Punch the needle into the fabric, ensuring it is facing the direction you're punching in. There needs to be lots of slack in the yarn to ensure its not pulled out as you punch through the fabric. It works by creating little loops on the other side, which when built up creates a layer of looped fabric.

I initially started using the smallest loop setting (D) which created 6mm loops. I wanted them to be bigger to create a more padded effect for my stool seat, so changed to setting 'C' (1cm loops) which worked much more effectively. Also, during the process, the canvas frame proved to be too weak and started stepping at the corners. To rectify this issue, I nailed wooded supports across the corners to keep it rigid.

Process video:

Finished punch needling on the frame:

Process of removing from the frame:

There are various ways to attach the cover to my stool seat. One includes sewing extra fabric around the monks cloth, then sewing a drawstring into the edges so it can be tightened around the stool seat. This is a good option if you want to swap out the pattern with other fabrics/seat covers.

However, I want my seat cover to be fixed, so will add it to a circular wooden board the same size as my seat (35.75cm diameter) to get the cleanest finish possible. I’ll also add a couple layers of thick wadding under the woven surface to add further cushioning, then secured by staples to the underside of the board. The board can then be glued to the surface of my stool seat using a wood glue. I didn’t have an opportunity to do this before the submission but will complete over the following week.

Finished stool:

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