Wednesday, 24 February 2016

7 Days of Embroidery

I first took up embroidery in 2010 whilst studying for a degree in Fine Art when quite by chance I was introduced to the Solihull branch of The Embroiderers' Guild. Now although I had always shown an interest in sewing and textiles I was put off embroidery after having to painstakingly sew my name on my gym bag at school when I almosted ended up attaching it to my skirt. So how would I fit in going to a meeting where everyone was an expert embroiderer? Was it not a very elitest group? Well I could not have been more wrong.

"The Guild welcomes everyone with an interest in any area of embroidery and we are proud to be recognised as a voice for raising the profile of textile and stitched art.  No longer just the domain of fabric and thread, textile art now embraces (amongst other things) the world of mixed media, dyeing with rust and plants, print and videos. We hold a historical collection, aid research, support students of all ages, and publish “Stitch” and “Embroidery” magazines. Members around the country are involved at whatever level they choose in meeting regularly to listen to speakers, often in their local Branch, attend workshops, learn new skills or build on existing ones, and participate in local, regional and national projects."  

So I became a member of Solihull Embroiderers and the more I learnt about embroidery techniques the more I came to realise that stitch and textile art would play an important part in my art practice.  

I was recently challenged by a friend to post a picture of an embroidery on Facebook every day for 7 days. I really enjoyed the challenge as it gave me a chance to delve back into my work and revisit pieces I had not seen for quite a while, to re-evaluate them and to pick out some old favourites.  So for the benefit of my non-Facebook friends here are the 7 embroideries I chose:

Embroidery Challenge Day 1
So this was my first ever art quilt having taken inspiration from the many I have seen at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in recent years. It is of my daughter Emily from a photograph taken on holiday in Cornwall when she was about 8. We were in the Porthminster Beach Cafe in St Ives and I couldn't resist taking this photo of her sat next to a mirror looking extremely bored, tired and hungry after a long day on the beach waiting for her favourite Spaghetti Bolognese to arrive. 



I made the quilt using a combination of dense machine quilting and acrylic paint for the hair and face.  The first thing Emily always wanted to do when on holiday was to go down to the sea front to have hair wraps so I decided to put those in too using couched threads.

Embroidery Challenge Day 2
I love embroidering words and these words just about sum up what I feel about washing. The work was from Year 2 of my degree when I was focussing on the role of women in every day life and I felt I just had to comment on how doing the laundry takes up a major part of every woman's life

Embroidery Challenge Day 3
This is also from 2nd year of my degree relating to the role of women in everyday life. Embroidered on an Ikea tea towel. Its all about those plastic storage boxes like Lock & Lock and similar which seem to multiply then fall on your head when you open a cupboard door.

Embroidery Challenge Day 4
The ring cushion I embroidered for my niece's wedding back in 2012 with some vintage lace. I embroidered the words using free machine stitching.

Embroidery Challenge Day 5
An embroidery from my degree show work. It was of a Woman's Realm sewing pattern I found in a vintage shop probably dating back to the 1970s when smock dresses were fashionable. I remember when I was about 13 my mum taught me how to make dresses using a commercial pattern like this one. It was a Simplicity pattern and I made a little flowery smock to go with my bell-bottom jeans and platform shoes. I felt the bees knees in that outfit.

Embroidery Challenge Day 6
More embroidery from my degree show work and embroidered onto one of my vintage tray-cloths.   Based on the diary of Nella Last - Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife 49' I embroidered quotes of Nella's from the book which just about summed up what life was like for a housewife during the Second World War - rationing, sewing, darning, mending, knitting and  worrying about her son Cliff away fighting in the war. 

Embroidery Challenge Day 7
As a blonde who loves good beer I thought this a fitting end to the challenge. What more can I say. Slainte!  

And for anyone who is interested in joining Solihull Embroiderers, please don't be shy or think you won't be good enough. We welcome anyone at any level who has got an interest in stitch, craft, textile art, quilting, sewing and knitting alike. Please visit our Facebook page for details. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Pleasant Surprise through the Letterbox

 Had a really pleasant surprise this morning when this book arrived in the post. 

I had won a prize for a competition I had entered in Autumn of last year in The Embroiderers' Guild's Contact Magazine.  I never win anything so was really excited to receive it especially as the book had been on my Amazon wish list. 

Wendy Dolan is a well known textile artist who uses fabrics and threads to create textured designs.  These are just some of the projects in her book and I just can't wait to get started on them.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

An Embroidery Waiting to Happen

On my way to the dustbin and recycling bins  in my garden today I came across these little beauties. They looked lovely in the spring sunshine so I went and grabbed my camera......

.... and did a quick watercolour too.  An embroidery waiting to happen!