Our February speaker was Dr Susan Kay Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, who kindly returned to Lockeridge to give the second part of a talk about colour which she started in July 2018.
This talk Susan entitled Poo, Poison, Science and Serendipity and I am sure I was not the only one to be intrigued by what was to come. She is a great collector of fabric and thread sample books and we found it fascinating to see how her research over the years has shown the development of both natural and synthetic dyes. I never realised that guano was collected and used to make a yellow dye and that green, which was made with arsenic, became very popular in the early 1800s. This material put the weaver, the maker and the wearer at risk and we were shown a sketch published in 1861 by Punch which was entitled the Arsenic Waltz.
Credit - A skeleton gentleman at a ball asks a skeleton lady to dance; representing the effect of arsenical dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories. Wood engraving, 1862. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
In the early 19C Michel Chevreul, a French Scientist, did research into colour. Initially his colour wheel showed 72 colours but he went on to explore an even wider range of hues ranging from loud to soft. A chemist, William Perkin, was attempting to find synthetics quinine. He did not find that but discover the first synthetic colour, later named mauve. This colour became a favourite of both Queen Victoria and Empress Eugene.
Credit: Image below taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Eug%C3%A8ne_Chevreul
Susan concluded her talk by bringing us up to date by talking about the invention of procion dyes and the production of synthetic indigo for making denim. She showed us colourful images of dresses from the catwalks of Mary Quant to those worn by Diana Ross and interior designers like Sonia Delaunay.
Credit: Image below taken from Dr Susan Kay Williams' presentation
Dr Susan Kay Williams has written a book entitled “Colour in Textiles” which is available on Amazon
Report by Ros
Lovely collection of photos to celebrate Nikki's workshop. Thanks to Vernice and Kay
Uploaded by Ros
Pamela’s interest in Russia started at a young age when her father worked in London near to the Russian Shop and bought home books and artefacts as presents. She went on to learn Russian history at A Level and in 1973 her husband was posted to Moscow for 6 months. At this time she was doing a 4 year City & Guilds Course and had the fortune to meet the Textile curator of the Museum in Moscow. Pamela introduced her to art quilts which started in Russia about this time.
The first evidence of metal thread work was found in Russia about 1592 and Pamela showed us a photograph of the Stroganov family shroud (below). Similar work was being done in England at this time. In the 17th C the aristocracy wore long beards, flowing gowns and coats but overnight this changed at the time of Peter the Great. Beards were shaved off, the old style was banned and western court dress was worn. Merchants’ wives continued to wear traditional dresses made of silk and exotic imported materials. Embellishments were worn on the end of plaits but when a lady married she hid her hair away. Examples of textiles fortunately survived the Russian revolution where as a lot of paintings did not. The blue court dress below was worn by the last Tsarina, Alexandra Fyodorovna. It was made by the Atelier of Olga Bulbenkova in the late 19th-early 20th C
In 1903 a ball was suggested for pre and post revolution costumes and Pamela showed us photographs of the wonderful variety of outfits which were worn.
Nowadays gold work is now mainly found in the church costume. Torzhok, a town between St Petersburg and Moscow is full of monasteries and a school of gold embroidery. Girls are taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and then they continue to the embroidery school. Below are some examples of items Pamela bought at the school and on her travels in Russia.
Thank you Pamela for a most interesting talk about a subject I knew little about!
Report and photos by Ros
Our Christmas “bring and share” lunch is always an enjoyable event and this year joint chair Clare Russell and Ann Smith started by presenting Kay Francis with some flowers as a thank you for her many years of service on the committee.
After lunch our surprise speaker was Lt Col Neil Stace who was a runner up in the 2015 series of the BBC Great British Sewing Bee.
As a bit of fun, Neil and a friend joined the sewing group at Primary School and his interest in stitch developed from there. He talked about various tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and explained that there was always down time which had to be filled which is why he included a sewing machine along with his kit. Neil sees himself as a soldier who sews and an engineer who does not need a pattern which is why he designed and made a wedding dress for his female driver in Bosnia. Another story that I particularly found interesting was during his second round of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 he had the challenge of re-introducing cottage industries to the local ladies which had to be done discretely through an interpreter. It was so successful that after a couple of months the ladies had set up stalls in the market selling their crafts.
It was Neil’s wife who completed the application form for the Great British Sewing Bee and he had to go through a number of interviews and challenges before being accepted onto the reality TV programme. He showed us a little girl’s smocked dress, a boys waistcoat (made during children’s week), a ladies corset and a wonderful kilt which he often wears.
Several of our members contributed to the Flags of Thanks challenge which Neil organised recently. People were asked to make a 12 inch square of gratitude to the Armed Force Community. About 1000 flags were made and displayed St Thomas Church in Salisbury in June 2019. Eventually Neil wants to stitch these squares together to make in quilts, sleeping bags and ponchos for war veterans and he had a number of the squares and quilts on display.
Whether it be modifying backpacks in Afghanistan, repairing cuddly animals during tours of duty, making costumes for musicals, modifying clothes for Skiing for the Disabled or making bags with local primary school children, Neil’s sewing skills were there for all to see. All through his talk Neil emphasised the importance he finds in relaxing and de-stressing through stitching and knitting and he talked about sharing his skills with others both in the military and on civvy-street. He reminded us that soldiers during the Crimea, the First and Second Wars had done the same.
Thank you Neil for sharing these amazing stories and opening our eyes to a side of our craft that most of us knew nothing about.
Thank you to Vernice for sharing the photo she took of Neil in Salisbury earlier this year and to Lindsay for her "Salvador Dali" photo of our Christmas lunch table!
Report and photos by Ros
A few years ago I saw Anne Hellyer’s work displayed at the West of England Quilting and Textile Show at the UWE (University of the West of England) in Bristol so when I had the opportunity to go on a two day workshop I was keen to put my name down.
Anne’s distinctive “Painting the Town” designs incorporate hand painted textiles and free machine embroidery.
We started the day by choosing a design, winter townscape, snowy townscape or an individual choice. The hand painted fabric is ironed onto a background and then starts the fun of adding the doors, windows, plants and trees. Finally a backing is added and ribbons to enable you stand your finished work up with a night light in the centre.
Anne was extremely generous sharing her ideas and techniques and the two days of stitch, stitch, stitching went so quickly. The end results were so individual with each person choosing different coloured fabrics and adding their own special ideas including Rosemary's super black cat.
Thank you Anne for a great workshop.
Anne’s kits can be bought on her website: http://www.paintingthetown.org.uk/
Please note - all the designs are Anne's copyright
Report and photos by Ros
Liz explained that many years ago she chose rocks and stones as her topic for a City and Guilds course. During this time she also became interested in lichens and, although she has diversified considerably, Liz is well known for her circle in square designs using lichens as inspiration. Liz handed round a wonderful selection of her work and it was interesting to see her lichen design created using different techniques and materials. They included applique and reverse applique, free machine embroidery, hand stitched French knots, hand dyed fabrics, varying colour combinations and multi media.
Liz enjoys poetry and regularly includes text in her work. She loves experimenting with fonts and her son has created a font for her in the shape of a leaf.
In 2006 Liz was awarded the Charles Henry Foyle award for Stitched Textiles. Her work was entitled “On to the Eastward” and was her interpretation of a maelstrom.
Liz gives talks, has had articles printed in various publications, has been an artist in residence at Nature in Art and has exhibited her work at the Festival of Quilts and around the country. She is a member of the Contemporary Quilters Guild and showed us examples of a monthly challenge to create a journal quilt.
Thank you Liz for a wonderfully enthusiastic talk and for generously sharing your techniques.
Report and photos by Ros
Nikki is a talented artist in so many disciplines and the Guild is fortunate to have her as a member. We could not be anything but inspired by the breadth of her passions and skills, she in turn is inspired by artists such as Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet, Gaudi, Lautrec, the pre Raphaelites, and nature, history, birds and colour. Nikki showed us an amazing array of her work of embroidery, enamelling, silver-smithing, stained glass, furniture painting, upholstery and needle felting.
In amongst all this Nikki's uses recycled materials to dazzling effect in her multi media works such as her crown made for this year’s entry to the Madeira Competition. Last year she was competition winner with her beautifully imagined 'Mary Poppins' carpet bag. She is rightly proud of her ability to recycle and reuse.
Nikki seems to be able to turn her artistic talent to almost anything as well as doing her bit to save the planet. Thank you from the members of the Guild for giving us a glimpse into the amazing world of Nikki Vesey Williams.
Thank you Amanda R for your report and the photos.
I was so very sorry to have missed your talk Nikki, another time! Ros
The day after Jennifer's talk to the branch she kindly led a workshop entitled "Inspired by Chinese Ethnic Embroidery". This was a hand stitch workshop using folded pieces of fabric which were stitched into the form of a bird, fish or animal.
To start the day Jennifer showed us some samples which she and her friends had worked especially for this workshop.
Jennifer had also prepared outline shapes to act as a guide for our design.
During the day Jennifer demonstrated a number of different stitches which were included on the traditional Chinese embroidery - pulling stitch, various forms of chain stitch and she showed us how to make a flat braid which was often used to outline the design.
We left at the end of the day with some lovely samples, well under way and knowledge of some great stitches which were new to a number of us.
Thank you Jennifer for a most enjoyable day.
Report by Ros
Photos by Ros and Jennifer
After what seems a very long break Jennifer Hughes got our programme under way again with a very interesting talk entitled “Hats and bound feet”.
Jennifer brought with her a wonderful personal collection of costumes, hats and shoes which she displayed for members to enjoy. She explained that in the past Han Chinese women would stay at home and were respected for their embroidery. To start with it was the upper classes who stitched but in time the craft filtered down and women would buy silks and threads from pedlars.
Chinese girls had their feet bound from the age of 5 as women were not expected to do anything. The big toe was left and the remaining four were taped back. Nobody saw the foot bare and a sleeping sock would be worn at night times. It was considered a status symbol as well as a mark of beauty.
Jennifer then went on to show a variety of hats which were embroidered with a variety of animals, symbols and flowers. She explained that pom poms and tassels were added to children’s hats to keep spirits away and a tail at the back of a hat identified that the wearer wanted to be a scholar.
Report and photos by Ros
You may remember last year Lindsay S kindly organised a display of members work to exhibit at the West of England Quilt and Textile Show which takes place annually at the end of August at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol. "Take a line" was so successful that members were keen to take part in the 2019 show.
This year Lindsay asked members to create a piece of work using a canvas 20 cms x 50 cms and include a circle/s somewhere in the design. The technique, topic and colours was completely up to the individual.
Thirty two canvases were submitted and just look at the wonderful variety of techniques, themes and colours.
Left to right:
Chris C - Paper Circles, Fiona H - Hurricane Irma, Clare R - On Another Planet, Sally J - My Garden
Jackie B - Sepia Seeds, Tase W - Freshwater East, Linda W - Crop Circle, Judy J - Have you got any "O"s?
Dawn V - Pewsey Vale Circles, Annie F - Mid Summer, Nikki VW - Dandelions at Sunset, Jean F - Maytime
Left to right:
Julie B - Hubble Bubble, Sue F - The Windmills of your Mind, Kathy P - Five a day!, Diana K - Raggy Orange
Maria F - Triffids and Roses, Robina O - Circles in Nature, Ros L - Kaffe Galaxy, Hazel P - Patchwork Orange
Stephanie N - Eddies, Lindsay S - Diesel, Lexie Bray - Champagne Fizz, Christine H - Blue Planets
Left to right:
Yvonne M - Emeralds & Amethysts, Lindsay S - Paua, Ann K - Rhapsody in Blue, Rosemary C - Circles Sampler
Marion R - Solar System, Ann K - The Hare and the Moon, Ann S - Rusty Boats, Susan V - The Eyes Have It!
Some of the comments from the visitors!
Image 1 - Diana & Stephanie, Image 2 - Jackie & Nikki, Image 3 - Ros, Lindsay & Rosemary
A very big thank you to Lindsay for organising everything, for designing the stand and for co-ordinating the project. You are a star Lindsay!
Also a big thank you to members who went over to Bristol to talk to exhibition visitors about our wonderful work.
Report by Ros
Photos by Ros and Lindsay
Information in this blog is provided by branch members who have attended the meeting, workshop or event.
Marlborough & District Branch is a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, the UK's leading crafts association
* The Embroiderers' Guild website -https://embroiderersguild.com/
* The Guild Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/embroiderersguild/
* The Guild Pinterest pages - https://uk.pinterest.com/theembroiderers/
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