It was an absolute joy to visit St Fagan's National Museum of Welsh history just outside Cardiff this month.
On a beautiful spring day two groups of us were fascinated by textile curator Elen Philips’s inspiring thoughtful guide to some of the special stitched items in the Museum’s collections. She even took us around the stores and introduced us to a group of embroiderers working on a hanging for the Tudor Merchant’s House, re-erected along with many other buildings from all over Wales. Elen also introduced us to the concept of museology - a relatively new study of how to present museum items in a variety of thought-provoking ways.
The newly extended and revamped galleries invited participation by visitors and I especially enjoyed the Gweithdy a new building celebrating making in many materials including stitch quilting and clothing.
A wonderfully rich and inspiring day!
Report by Clare R
St Fagen's Castle, gardens & relocated houses
Esgair Moel Woollen Mill - moved to present location in 1950's. The current spinner and weaver did his apprenticeship in the mill 30 years ago and now maintains all the equipment and makes woven materials which are sold in the shop.
1725 Silk damask dress hand embroidered with silver threads. Owned by Lady Rachel Morgan of Tredegar House. This dress is currently on display for all visitors to enjoy.
Below is a selection of items shown to us by textile curator, Elen Phillips
Photos thanks to Clare R, Vernice C & Ellen S.
There was a great hive of activity at the April Stitch Day. A group of members were busy on our long-term branch project, some were creating Flags of Thanks and others were doing their own work. Our extensive library is available to all members. Stitch Day is a great opportunity to chat to like minded friends and spend time doing what we all enjoy most, stitching!
Photos thanks to Vernice C.
This month the branch enjoyed our annual Ploughman’s lunch, a lovely choice of cheeses and ham together with bowls of fresh fruit salad.
After lunch, member Vernice Church, continued her talk entitled “Textiles, the Taj Mahal and Tuk Tuks”. She picked up her journey showing us pictures of Udaipur, the amazing Jain Temple at Ranakpur, a step well and then Patan where they saw the double Ikat weavers. They visited the Calico Museum at Ahmedabad but unfortunately no photos were allowed so the images she showed us were taken from their website.
During Vernice's trip through Gujarat the group were given textile demonstrations, took part in workshops and had many opportunities for retail therapy. They were shown examples of Rabari work, saw Rogan painting by one of the only families who can still demonstrate this craft, attended a Kalamkari workshop and a block printing workshop.
Vernice brought along some of her purchases for members to see and we thank her for sharing her exciting experience with us.
Thank you for sharing some of your slides, Vernice.
Report and photos by Ros
Vernice made celebratory flags, Chris patched machine stitching together Margaret, Ann and Susanne stitched the Prospect project, Susan hand stitched and Clare printed poetry.
What a hive of activity!
Text thanks to Clare and photos thanks to Vernice
Congratulations from us all, Lindsay!
On Sunday at the Fashion and Embroidery Show at the NEC, branch member Lindsay S was the Visitors' Choice winner in the 2019 Madeira competition.
This year the challenge was entitled GLIMPSES OF ROYALTY and entrants were asked to create a rich embroidered piece inspired by royals throughout history – they could choose to capture Harry and Meghan’s romance, the grandeur of Queen Elizabeth, or even a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt! With thousands of years of history to explore, there was a great choice and a wonderful selection of prizes to be won. It was supported by Stitch magazine with the Embroiderers’ Guild.
On behalf of all M&DEG members, congratulations Lindsay. You, and your work are amazing and a great inspiration to us all.
Nikki VW and Linda W also entered this competition and below is an image of Nikki's crown using recycled materials.
Thanks to Ann K and Nikki VW for photos
Very few of our speakers have had such a prestigious CV as Karen Nicol. Karen’s mother was a keen flower arranger and she was brought up with flowers everywhere. Flowers, animals and birds can be seen in the majority of Karen’s work.
Karen gained a 1st class BA at the Manchester College of Art and then went on to the Royal College of Art where she studied textiles. For many years she taught at the Royal College of Art and has been visiting speaker and artist in residence all over the world.
Karen kindly bought a wonderful selection of her work for us to look at.
Karen then went on to show us images of her work. A large number of them included animals, birds or flowers and ranged from dresses to bedding, table linen and even large animal rugs. She mentioned working for designers like Alexander McQueen, Jasper Conran, Givenchy, Betty Jackson and John Rocha. In time Karen decided to expand her horizons and exhibit and accept commissions under her own name. She started with an exhibition in London and one in Italy with the theme of lace skirts but has subsequently exhibited all over the world. In 2015 Karen was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry.
To our amusement Karen told us that her favourite machine was a 47 year old Singer. She sources a lot of her materials from car boot sales and jumble sales and is always experimenting with unusual materials.
This was a truly inspirational talk which opened up a world I knew little about.
Apologies to Karen for the quality of some of these images which were taken from her presentation. I now know how to adjust the brightness on the projector!
Photos and report by Ros
A group of young embroiderers, under the guidance of Guild member Christine Hill, created beautiful hand stitched and decorated needle cases.
Thank you Christine for the photo.
For the record, the February 2019 main meeting was cancelled due to snow.
On her table Judy showed us many variations of the "covered box". So many sizes, shapes, functions and colours. She set the bar high and certainly gave us all so much to strive for.
Judy gave us lots of instruction (collective and individual) and encouragement and slowly box construction progressed. Some boxes were almost complete by the close of play.
It was a thoroughly informative and enjoyable day. Well done and thank you Judy.
Report and photos by Linda W
Thank you Linda, Ros.
David Birks from Trowbridge Museum started the new year off with his talk entitled “1000 years of Warp and Weft”. He is the Learning and Outreach Officer for the museum which is closed for redevelopment until August 2020.
David started his talk by asking why the area of West Wiltshire (Trowbridge, Westbury and Bradford on Avon) was so important to the wool trade. We had downland for the sheep, rivers to wash the wool and later to power the machinery, and a good supply of Fullers Earth clay which was important in the finishing of cloth. Initially it was a local trade whereby white woollen cloth was woven and dyed and also raw wool was exported to Europe.
We were shown a basic loom with the warp threads weighed down with blocks which was superseded by the horizontal loom in the 12thC - this had a 7 year apprenticeship to learn the skill. By the mid 15thC it became a regional trade with a wool mark of quality issued by an Aulnager and clothiers responsible for the complete process from raw wool to cloth. Merino wool was introduced from Spain and this was mixed with English wool to produce checks, stripes and patterns. In the 17thC cloth workers from the continent brought new techniques and equipment
By the mid 18thC Georgian money-saving inventions were introduced - the Spinning Jenny, Slubbing Billy, Carding machines and Scribbling Horse. This was a period of industrial unrest as workers worried about losing their jobs due to these new inventions. At the beginning of the 19thC clothiers became very wealthy and the Kennet & Avon Canal was constructed to enable coal to be brought economically from Somerset. In 1860 the wool industry was at its peak. During wartime military cloth was produced for all sides involved but the industry lost out eventually to Scotland, Yorkshire and the continent ending locally in 1982. One of the last orders was for Mary Quant in the 1970s.
David concluded his talk by reading us the fines which were administered to the workers in the factories. They were a high proportion of the workers wages and appeared most unjust by our modern day standards.
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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