Friday, 31 October 2014

English Work: Embroidery Short Course - Part 1

The Ashmolean Museum have been running a series of lectures and short courses in conjunction with The Eye of the Needle exhibition. I have attended them all with the exception of a black work workshop that was added as an afterthought. I have already written about the Empresse of Flowers workshop run by Lynn Hulse and Nicola Jervis. I also attended a short course on Opus Anglicanum run by Tanya Bentham. I have been following Tanya’s blog for several years and enjoy her quirky sense of humour as much as I admire her embroidery.

This was a 3 day course spread over several weeks with the first day being in August. In fact, I was not able to attend the first day of the course because I was doing something far more important than embroidery – throwing a party to mark my Daddy’s 80th Birthday. I’d been asking him for months how he would like to celebrate the occasion and, in the end, I was slightly worried that I had somewhat bullied him into having a party. In the weeks leading up to the party the weather had been cold and damp and my dad had not been enjoying the best of health (understatement, he hasn’t enjoyed the best of health for many years, just before the party he was feeling much worse than usual). But Sunday, 17 August dawned bright and sunny, and pleasantly warm – perfect for a garden party. Better still, Dad had awoken feeling bright and sunny and in the mood for a party. From my point of view the day could not have gone any better, weather was great, food was delicious (thank you Marks & Spencer’s party food) and the guests all enjoyed themselves but, most importantly of all, Dad had a lovely day and didn’t stop smiling.

Meanwhile, back at the Ashmolean the rest of the students were choosing their designs, stretching their fabric onto their frames, transferring their designs to their fabric and selecting their threads. I would imagine that took most of the morning so they then had a lovely afternoon of stitching to look forward to. Because I was not able to be there, Tanya chose my design, stretched my fabric onto my frame, transferred my design to my fabric and selected my threads, and she did a jolly fine job on every count. Tanya left these together with some very details instructions in the safe keeping of someone at the Ashmolean until I could collect them later in the week.

© Tanya Bentham/Carol-Anne Conway

Tanya had instructed me to work only on the dress as we would be learning how to do faces in the second class. With Sue’s unexpected illness and death, I didn’t much feeling like stitching but I did make an effort to complete some before the class in September so that Tanya could assess how I was doing. Tanya had warned us that Opus Anglicanum is a slow process but mine was going extremely slowly. That may be because I had not read one part of Tanya’s excellent instructions properly. The instructions said that the dress should be filled with very close, small split stitches using three (very fine) strands of silk. I missed the ‘three’ in the instructions and was filling the dress with very close, small split stitches using one (very fine) strand of silk. No wonder it was taking me so long!

© Tanya Bentham/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Every now and again the teacher's mantra of "Read All The Questions" comes back and bites us - even when we aren't at school, and they aren't questions!