Rainbow squares

If you were a member way back when, you may have stitched one of these ‘Rainbow Squares’. It was a regional project where individual members of each group embroidered a square in the colour allocated to their group. They were then assembled in ‘chains’ and hung alongside the different colours from the other groups. You might like to know that they have been gathered together again, and exhibited at the Guildford House Gallery in Guildford (ours are the dark green ones). I saw them all together once a few years ago, and they look amazing in real life. You can see them there from today until to June 15th. It’s a long way to go, but Guildford is a nice place for shopping and a day out. Apologies for the quality of the photos (they lost quality through being emailed to me).

Textile treasures at Worthing museum

Victorian crazy-patchwork quilt.

What a delightful morning we had at Worthing museum, enjoying a ‘show and tell’ session with Gerry Connelly, Head of Museums and Exhibitions. Gerry started his career in fashion design, before specialising in the History of Fashion. Gerry was the perfect person to show us some of the wonderful items that are owned by the museum but are not usually out on display.

Gerry started by showing us the oldest item in the collection, a blackwork jacket dating from 1610. It’s amazing that it is so well preserved.

We had a wonderful range of items to look at closely, and it’s lovely to see them without the reflections that you get when they’re behind glass. A couple of Elizabethan dress items: a fragment of embroidery that was probably originally on a jacket, and an embroidered glove that was probably given as a symbolic gift rather than for regular use, although it was interesting to see the signs of wear on the underneath.

Fragment of Elizabethan embroidery, probably from a jacket.

Elizabethan ceremonial glove with metal thread embroidery.
Detail of metal thread work on glove.

We saw a stunning embroidered waitcoat that could have come straight out of ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ story, with stitching so fine that it could well have been stitched by mice.

It was lovely to have time to study the details, and we could have happily stayed there all day.

Gerry brought out an embroidery called ‘The Warwick Street Embroidery’, which was stitched by our group in 2004. We had searched for it and no-one was sure where it was, but we were delighted to see that it is in the safe care of the museum. The embroidery was created by cutting up a historic photograph of Warwick Street, and distributing the cut-up rectangles to individual members to stitch. It was then re-assembled to re-create the picture. The names of the individual embroiderers were stitched on the back.

The Warwick Street Embroidery
The contributors to The Warwick Street Embroidery.

Lunch together afterwards was a lovely way to end the visit. Thanks to Chris for organising it all.



Hand and Lock Visit

Ten of us from our group took the train up to London to visit Hand and Lock who have been producing fine embroidery for royalty and celebrities since 1767. We were taken into the ‘BeadRoom’ where two of the embroiderers told us about their work and how they came to be embroiderers for Hand and Lock.

Some interesting facts from our tour:

*Military uniforms for royalty are made with real gold braid (2% gold) film set uniforms use fake gold.

* When making a uniform like the one modelled by Susie, individual pieces are embroidered, it is then made up by a tailor then the embroidery is finished.

*Hand and Lock did much of the embroidery for the coronation but sadly they were not mentioned on the programme about the coronation tailors. They worked on Penny Mordant’s fabulous sea green coat, Queen Camilla’s shoes and 52 goldwork flags for Burberry’s flagship stores and the Household Cavalry uniforms.

* They work with skilled embroiderers in India who are mostly men. * They also do lots of machine embroidery for many other clients.

* They run loads of different embroidery courses on line. Check out their website.

Detail of the butterfly

The following photos give you a taster of the embroidery we saw.

Goldwork insects. Online courses are available to teach you to embroider these.
One of the machines used for the machine embroidery
Intricate embroidery on Tulle
Fascinated by our talk
Our group
When making a uniform like this the panels are embroidered separately then sewn together by the tailor. The embroidery is then completed over the seams. A hand embroidered coat such as this can take a year to make from start to finish and cost £50,000.
Inspecting the amazing work
Dinner at the end of a great day after fabric shopping at Macolloch and Wallis and Liberty’s.
Machine embroidered uniforms used in the film industry
An epaulette made from coils of gold wire
Susie modeling one of the embroidered uniforms
A chart of all the gold threads available to purchase
Machine embroiderd piece
Details of the dragonfly

New art from old treasures

Thanks to Chris for this description of Tuesday’s talk by Anne Kelly.

‘Today we had an interesting talk from textile artist and Author Anne Kelly. Anne is resident artist at Sussex Prairie gardens and lots of our members have been there to workshops with her. Anne brought lots of examples of her unique style of art using paper, hand and machine embroidery and reclaimed fabrics. She is a well travelled artist, originating in Canada and putting on shows in Australia, France and India to name but a few places. She likes to exhibit her work in places like hospitals and hospices and not just art galleries. Anne does lots of commissions and likes working on old maps which she treats with PVA glue and tissue paper before stitching onto them. She feels strongly about reusing old fabrics and putting them to new use. Lots of her work had bits of old embroidery stitched into it. She has an exhibition in Hackney coming up’.

The details of Anne’s exhibition in October are in the poster below. Scroll down below that for lots of photos of the work that Anne brought with her to show the group, and there are more lovely things to look at on her website https://annekellytextiles.com/

Tea and scones

Instead of the summer picnic that we had for our August meeting in the last two years, this year we decided to have a catered ‘posh tea’ instead. This turned out to be a stroke of luck, given the wind and rain that afternoon. Thankfully we weren’t holding on to gazebos that were trying to take off into the field! Valerie kindly organised the caterer, as well as finishing touches such as floral tea cups and table-cloths. Thanks to Margaret for providing floral table-decorations (despite the fact that she was on her way to catch a flight). We were treated to scones with jam and cream, a selection of sandwiches, several different cakes, and strawberries and cream. Naughty but nice! There was a little bit of stitching before tea was served, but when sticky things appeared the sewing was mainly put away. Here are a selection of photos of us stitching beforehand, and then enjoying the feast. If anyone is looking for a cake-maker or caterer, she is Janet Spoor at ‘Janet’s celebration Cakes and Catering’.

‘If I concentrate hard enough, maybe a scone will spontaneously jump onto my plate?

Dustbin lids and cabbage leaves…

Members enjoyed a fascinating and stimulating talk by textile artist Esther Collins at our June meeting. Esther is a local artist whose work is influenced by her interests in the History of Art, and also by her previous work in graphic design. Design influences include the natural environment, walking in the South Downs and local history.

I was so disappointed to miss Esther’s talk, and feedback from members has been very enthusiastic. Sadly I can’t add my own reflections on the talk as I usually do, but the talk generated appreciative comments from members, a couple of which I’ll add here: ‘I loved the leaf brooches and was inspired by the use of gold leaf in her decoupage work’ and ‘Esther produces beautiful work combining stitch, textiles and mixed media. I’ve never met any artist that gets inspiration from dustbin lids and cabbage leaves and then goes onto produce stunning pieces of creative work’. I’ll leave you with some images of Esther’s work taken by Maria Griggs and Margaret Borbone (thank you). Esther’s work can speak for itself! If you would like to see more of Esther’s work, and the courses she runs, you can go to her website at https://www.esthercollins.co.uk/




Worthing Artists Open Houses

SCS members are taking part in several different venues in Worthing Artists Open Houses in June / July.
Venue 40: Jane Baskerville, Jane Robinson, Julia Brown (with Julia Berry and Alison Brown). Textile art, Embroidered Landscapes, Mixed Media, Ceramics, Print, Paintings, cards and gifts. Tea and cake in the garden in aid of Care for Veterans. Details above.
Venue 23: Alison Crosthwaite and others. Alison makes colourful hand-dyed and woven garments and decorated papers and cards. A wide range of different work from the other artists at the venue.
Venue 27: Coastal Threads, many of whom are also SCS members (17th and 18th June only). Textiles, Crochet and Mixed Media by members aged 8-85. See details in a previous post.
Hope you can visit as many of the venues as possible. More details at https://www.worthingartistsopenhouses.com/
If you are taking part in the WAOH and you’re not listed here, drop me a message and I will add you.