Monday, 29 June 2009

Travelling Book - Networks to Enrich

I always enjoy the workshops offered by the Oxford branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. For me they are a day when I can totally immerse myself in stitching without thinking I should just peg out the washing or prepare lunch; a day in the company of talented and enthusiastic needle women and an opportunity to learn something new. Whatever the main focus of the workshop, I always learn something new, a technique, a stitch, a product or simply a handy little tip. For this reason I try to do as many of the workshops as possible, even if I think it is a technique that have done before.

I was not at all certain what we would be doing at the April workshop entitled Networks to Enrich but it was the first course that I book when I saw the schedule for this year. Why? Because it was taught by Jan Beaney and I had heard so many good things about her classes. Following her Branch talk in March I was even more keen to spend a day in her company.

Jan was every bit as energetic, enthusiastic and encouraging as I had imagined. She did not stop delivering information and inspiration from before the class was scheduled to begin to long after it was due to finish and if we had not had to vacate the hall, I swear she would have gone on and on. The technique we learnt was simple enough - sandwiching a network of threads water-soluble products before hand stitching (or machine stitching if preferred) through all the layers to tie the grid together and then embellish with decorative stitches and beads or anything you liked before dissolving away the film.

The real lesson was in thinking about a source and translating that into a concept, then developing the design and really working it through. All things that I find quite intimidating but Jan’s is so enthusiastic, so encouraging that you can’t help but get caught up in it. The entire day, Jan went around the group, looking at were you were doing, talking through what else you might do or try, and demonstrating stitches. Jan really made me feel my little piece of work was wonderful and worth taking further. Listening to how she spoke to the rest of the class, I think everyone must have felt the same way about her own work. I have never felt so encouraged by a tutor as I did that day.

I used a variety of threads including knitting threads. I tied the intersections with French knots and sorbello stitch and enhanced them with an assortment of beads. I strengthen the border with a blanket stitch.

Happpy Stitching

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Guest Speaker, Maggie Grey

The excellent Maggie Grey rounded off a wonderful year of speakers. I have been following MagStitch since day one and was really looking forward to hearing her talk. I was not disappointed. The talk was entitled 'Old Walls and Painted Halls' but honestly I think Maggie could have inspired and entertained us just talking about dust bunnies!

The talk was well illustrated by a slide and video show delivered by Maggie's husband, Clive. In fact the talk and pictures were so well coordinated that you could have forgotten Clive was even there but for the occasional banter between husband and wife. The slide show began in Port Merion and took us on a tour of holiday destinations and the buildings, art and architecture that has inspired Maggie's work. Intermingled with these were pictures of the sketches, preliminary samples, intermediate and finished pieces. What impressed me most was that this was not a 'this is what I have made' talk but a 'this is how I made this' talk. Throughout Maggie explained at length the materials and techniques used. I came away with a head full of InkAid, transfer paints, soluble paper and embellishing machines.

Throughout this year we have had a program of interesting, inspiring and entertaining speakers. Maggie ticked all the boxes with an enthusiasm that cannot fail to inspire you.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

More is less

I always look forward to the longer days, thinking that more hours of daylight will afford me more stitching time. In fact, the opposite is more often the case, the main reasons being my garden and a partner who cannot bear to be indoors while the sun is shining. Phase II of the Japanese bead embroidery is claiming the lion's share what stitching time I do have - I seem to be suffering from a bad dose of bead lust! Bead embroidery is sloooooooow and at the moment, one photograph is not very different from the last.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

A discussion on the Embroiderer’s Guild forum about making stumpwork into a book reminded me of this little book that I made at a workshop with Heath Power in 2004.

The fan-folds on the bound edge allow expansion room between the pages. Great for embroidery with a raised surface.

Happy Stitching