For those of you who haven’t already seen this on Facebook, here’s a link to a great short course by Isobel Moore on making fabric sample-books. https://www.isobelmoore.co.uk/courses/ It shows you how to make a little book to stitch into. And it’s free! I hear that several of our members are making these fabric books at the moment, and enjoying it. It’s a nice way to have something small and portable that you can stitch anywhere. While you’re on Isobel’s website, take a look at the other courses. Lots of us did the ‘spirals’ course during lockdown, and the others look interesting. Isobel also has an interesting blog, and a regular podcast with machine-embroiderer Gina Ferari https://www.isobelmoore.co.uk/podcast/
We had a very entertaining afternoon with Richard Box for our September meeting. Richard has inspired many hundreds of people with his combination of drawing, painting and textile art including hand and machine stitching. Richard was a funny and witty speaker, who held our interest all afternoon. As well as learning some useful tips, we also had a good day out.
Richard told us some amusing anecdotes about his life and his art, and there was lots of laughter during his talk. His first experience of making something in fabric was a Cope for his Church of England father – but he admitted that his father ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in it’. Richard studied painting at art college, but counts himself very lucky to have been taught by Constance Howard, which really awakened his interest in textile art. His painting background can be seen in his work, for example his ability to really observe what is in front of him, and confidence in colour mixing. He spoke about doing art with children with special needs, and the spontaneity that they had to their art, and how he wants to try to help adults to have the same joy in creating things.
Richard is well known for helping people to overcome their inhibitions about drawing and painting, and encouraging embroiderers to use their own observations and art work to make original designs (think ‘Drawing for the Terrified applied to stitch). He talked us through his own artistic process, starting either from real-life observations or from a photograph. He finds that drawing and painting the subject first is essential, as it helps him to ‘understand’ what he is looking at. Having done a painting of his subject, he then simplifies it into basic colour areas, and sketches or draws the main ‘blocks’ of colour which he then applies in pieces of fabric onto a hessian backing. More layers are added, machine stitching is added, and finally hand-stitching and sometimes beading. The photos below show his process, broken down into stages. Thank you Richard for agreeing that we could share these images on our website, and for an interesting and entertaining afternoon, and thank you Gay for organising the afternoon.
Our August meeting was a very successful afternoon in the lovely environment of Findon Village Hall. We had plenty of space to socially distance, and with windows and doors open and the sun shining in we had a chance to be together once again just like old times. It feels like a very positive time in the group: longstanding members are ‘re-connecting’ and at the same time, new members are joining. We took this chance to look back at some of the work that members have been creating during lockdown, and everyone enjoyed the pop-up display of work. If you scroll down, you will see some photos of the individual work that members exhibited on the day. Apologies if I missed yours, but do feel free to send me a photo to add. If I haven’t named your work, or if you know who made one of the un-named ones, please pop a message in the ‘Comments’ box at the end of this post. And here are a few photos of people chatting and enjoying the afternoon.
They say that buses come in threes – well today the news posts from the website will come as three. Your Webmistress is finally having a catch-up! So here are some photos from the wonderfully successful garden sale that was held Jane Baskerville’s garden. This was another opportunity to get together and chat, drink tea and eat cake – and it was also a very successful fund-raiser for the group. Members came ready to shop, and shop they did! As well as Linda’s bric-a-brac, we also had a lovely collection of textile books that was given to Jane B, donated fabrics, and the delicious print-blocks that were donated by Jamie Mason of Colouricious. We will keep a generous collection of the print blocks for members to use in workshops, but there are so many (literally hundreds!) which means we are selling some as fund-raisers (take a look at the Sales page on the website if you’re interested in the box sets of print-blocks). As well as raising £413.50 for the group during the afternoon, we also raised £37 for the NHS from the teas and coffees. Here are some photos of us all in Jane B’s beautiful garden.
The sun shone, and we finally managed to meet up in person for our July meeting. How lovely to see ‘real’ people rather than rectangular people on a computer screen, and how lovely to see those members again who haven’t been joining us on Zoom. Our July meeting took place as an outdoor ‘socially distanced’ picnic. Many thanks to Sue P for organising the day, and for organising the wind to drop and the sun to shine! No more words, just lots of lovely photos.
There was a great turn-out for the Christmas meeting, and it was a lovely afternoon of chat, stitch and cake. Highlight of the afternoon was viewing the results of the ‘Take Two’ challenge (reminder: the challenge was to stitch a piece to be presented on a pre-set canvas size, using only two colours). There was a grand total of 43 entries, and everyone was impressed by the variety and quality of the work. Entries included a wide range of modern, traditional, hand-stitch, machine-stitch etc., and it really reminded us all what a varied group of stitchers we are. The £1 per vote charge raised £76 for the Air Ambulance.
Here are a few of the entries, with people studying them and trying to decide which to vote for. You can see the winning entries below that. At a later date, I’ll put up an image of each entry – that will take a little longer, so I wanted to get the winning ones up sooner rather than later.
The 2019 AGM went very smoothly. Anne Turner gave an account of an active and happy year stitching, and described the wide range of talks and workshops that take place each month. The Treasurer’s report showed a stable and healthy situation; and willing volunteers came forward to replace the three committee members who were stepping down. Thanks were given to outgoing committee members Alison Crossthwaite, Carole Dengate (outgoing Secretary) and to Anne Turner for her 3 years as our chair.
Participants in the Regional summer-school showed other members some of the diverse work that was produced during the 3-day gathering. Branch members took part in two different workshops – a stitch and dye group with Ruth Issett, and a print and stitch group with Faye Maxwell. It was a good opportunity to get to know fellow branch members a bit better, as well as members from other parts of the region, and to get absorbed in our different activities.
Maria kicked off with a description of the lovely environment at the training centre at Roffey Park, and the excellent facilities and high level of teaching (and yummy food).
Maria introduced the stitch and dye technique that was taught in Ruth Issett’s group. Initial stitching was done in white fabrics and threads, which were then dyed afterwards with procion dye, leading to a surprise each time when the colours were applied.
Caroline showed samples that illustrate the technique, where she had cut the sample in half before dyeing and left one half un-dyed. This was a useful record, since other pieces were dyed after stitching so the only record of the ‘white’ stage is in photographs. Other examples below show pieces before and after dyeing.
Other branch members went to the workshop with Faye Maxwell, who was a popular tutor at the summer school the year before. Their work started with a choice of printing blocks, which were printed onto plain fabric before being embellished with stitch.
At our July meeting we were treated to a wonderful talk and a show of work by Georgina Bellamy. Georgina specialises in making creatures using her own special approach to metal thread work, which she calls ‘sculptural goldwork’. Her technique produces fantastical three-dimensional creatures.
Hats off to Georgina, who rose to the challenge of giving her talk without the benefit of the branch digital projector, which we collectively failed to get working. Apparently cool and unfazed by this technical hitch, Georgina went on to deliver a very engaging and entertaining talk, which had her audience fascinated.
We learned about Georgina’s introduction to stitched textiles, which came in her early twenties, after several other attempts at finding her direction in life. Having never really engaged with formal education, and finding herself as a single-parent working in an unfulfilling job, Georgina decided to make her young son an embroidered jacket. With no embroidery training at all, she produced a garment that made people stop her in the street and ask ‘where did you get it from?’ This was a significant milestone in her passion for stitch.
The other turning point was embarking on a City and Guilds Stitched Textiles (Embroidery) course. Georgina was the youngest in the class, and felt she benefited from the experience and encouragement of the older and more experienced members of the course. It was a natural progression from that to a degree at the London College of Fashion. Georgina only mentioned in passing (in response to a question), that at the end of her course she was chosen as one of the Embroiderers Guild Scholars. She had rather modestly not mentioned this during her earlier resume!
Georgina spoke passionately about the skills and experience of older embroiderers, and how sad it is that many of these skills are falling by the wayside. She spoke about the impact of long working hours, passive entertainment, and the wish to have everything ‘instantly’ rather than making things with patience. Of course there were many nods of agreement from the audience – most of us find it sad that people seem to have less time to help children learn the skills that we were brought up with. Georgina also spoke about how hand-stitch is not part of the ‘mainstream’ in fashion courses, despite the fact that so many high-end designers use embroidery in their designs. The emphasis is often on ‘farming out’ the embroidery, rather than it being taught as a skill in its’ own right. Georgina had to be quite single-minded about focussing on hand-stitch throughout her degree course. She is very pleased she did so as this is now her main passion.
Georgina spoke about the history of gold-work, and the traditions that laid the foundation for gold-work today. She spoke about Spanish, Italian and Russian gold-work, as well as Indian gold-work. She also spoke about the status and historical importance of English gold-work (‘Opus Anglicanum’). Her own work draws on these traditions, and she uses many conventional gold-work materials. However, she doesn’t feel she has to be a slave to tradition, and she likes to use the traditional materials in her own way. Her 3 dimensional creatures are stitched on an organza backing which is then cut out and manipulated into a 3d shape. This requires some planning, as she needs to envisage how the flat shape will translate into the 3d shape once it is manipulated. In her teaching she tries to encourage people not to aim for ‘perfection’. She worries that people often find gold-work intimidating, and she loves to encourage people to ‘just have a go’.
It was interesting to hear a talk from a young embroiderer who is at an early stage of her career. Georgina is passionate about trying to bridge the gap between children and teenagers on the one hand, and on the other hand more (ahem) ‘mature’ embroiderers like ourselves. In the middle, sadly, are working mums who have very little ‘spare’ time, and who often were not brought up to stitch or make things themselves. Georgina passionately believes that it is vital for the skills of the older generation to be passed on and she feels a responsibility to do what she can to help this process. Linked to the embroidery skills are other life-enhancing factors, such as patience, absorption and pleasure. I think Georgina may have reached the record at our talks for the number of heads nodding enthusiastically in agreement!