Bath Textile Summer School – Day 2

The second day of the Bath Textile Summer School was warm and sunny. Many of us arrived at the Holburne a little early and sat outside talking over the previous day’s learning and any “homework” we’d done the night before. One of the very best things about being on a course like this for me is that I have the chance to meet new people who share my interest in embroidery.

In Jenny’s classes she always sets up a display of her completed designs for us to see. It’s such fun to see the range of her work and, of course, inspires us all to recreate her designs as beautifully as possible!

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As soon as it was time to begin, we all got settled and down to work quickly. There is a calm, relaxed and industrious atmosphere about Jenny’s class. She gives direct instruction to half of the group at once and then was around and around the tables checking on everyone’s progress, stopping when someone needed help and giving praise and gentle correction along the way. We all commented on how well she teaches each one of us and that no one feels like they aren’t getting the help they need, when they need it.

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I asked Jenny if, when she designs a piece for a course, she thinks about how she will teach it to a group and she said yes. After the design is developed, she then thinks through the teaching process and makes any little changes that will make it work well in a group class. This is probably why so many us are already talking about booking for her class next year – first rate teaching and fabulous designs are an experience that you want to repeat!

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Above is a photo of Jenny demonstrating how to shade the wings of the god Minerva in the mirror frame we are creating. Her explanation of long and short shading is so clear: think of your needle going into and out of the fabric like an airplane taking off – at a nice, low angle – not like a rocket ship blasting up into space. She, like many teachers I’ve had, said not to think of it as rigid long and short stitches, but to think of the stitches as long and longer. Since the most common mistake in this technique is making stitches too short, this is especially helpful advice.

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Above and below are photographs of the wings on my piece, shaded in the beautiful colors inspired by the green and blue of the waters in the Roman baths here in Bath.

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The biggest challenge of the day was learning plaited braid stitch. We all were given lengths of yellow silk gimp to practice with on the edges of our fabric. As you can see, I needed a lot of practice! I now feel confident that I can do it properly and I’ll be adding plaited brain stitch bars to the round frame in the design next.

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Below is a photo of the original piece mounted on a mirror frame designed by Jenny’s father. Isn’t it a stunning work of art?

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When Jenny teaches a class she brings with her kits and supplies from her shop. As you can see below, the temptation is huge and I think no one has been able to resist picking up something for future projects!

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Jenny brings tools and supplies for stump work, including the beautiful silk gimp we are using in a huge variety of colors, silk wrapped purl purl (which we will be using) and loads of other goodies with her. It’s lovely to be able to see the things you would like to use for future projects before you purchase them. It’s also a huge temptation!

Bath Textile Summer School; Day 1

I’m in Bath this week at the second Bath Textile Summer School taking a class with the delightful Jenny Adin – Christie (seated in the photo above). We’re learning stump work techniques as we embroider a beautiful mirror frame based on architectural details in the Roman Baths here in the city.

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Most of the people in the class live in the UK although there is one student who has flown in from Australia! Our classroom is in the Holborn Museum, just off the entrance with large windows and a wide door that opens into the beautiful grounds.

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Each of us is provided with a kit from Jenny that contains all the materials and one of her justifiably ‘famous’ instruction booklets. It really is a small, spiral bound book – with a table of contents! Her instructions are completely clear and her diagrams/drawings are almost (but not quite) as good as having her right next to you. I’ll write more about the project and the class next time because, at the end of the day, we got a surprise when Catrin Jones, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Holborn, brought down their casket for all of us to see.

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When she walked into the room with the casket on a rolling cart, it was not unlike a rock star arriving! So many of us had only ever seen something like this behind glass and under relatively dim light. As we gathered around in a circle, she talked briefly about the casket. You can find out more here. She also graciously allowed us to take photographs and pointed out that there are excellent photos on the web site (link above).

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Catrin was very familiar with the images on the casket and she pointed out her favorite things to us as we slowly moved around in the circle so we could see all the sides. Above you can see the reflection of the girl in her mirror. The silver handle in the original.

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Above is the sun, smiling down on a happy couple in the garden. In some places the embroidery wasn’t finished, so we can see the pattern lines. I wonder why it wasn’t finished.

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My favorite parts were the two dresses of the women on the front of the casket which were delicately embroidered. The minuscule stitches that make up the pattern on their dresses seem impossibly small to have been done before the invention of the daylight magnifying lamp!

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After we’d had a good, long look at the outside, Catrin open it so we could see the inside. The interior has 19th century additions/replacement paper so it is of a different era from the outside. You can see a glimpse of the deep purple paper that lines the inside of the cabinet.

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Catrin Jones also brought an embroidered panel for us to see. It tells the story of  the death of Jezebel and is worked in silks on canvas. The colors are remarkably fresh and bright for a piece worked around 1640. For more information on this piece, click here.

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The Holborn’s collection of embroidery isn’t large but the pieces they do have are beautiful. If you want to see more of their collection, here is link to the search collections page. Type the word “embroidery” in the search box and you will be taken to the embroidery page of their collections. Click on any image and you will find photos and information about each piece.

After all this excitement it was time to pack up for the day – and what a great day it has been!

Next time, more about the project and what I’ve been learning!

Happy New Year and what’s ahead!

Happy New Year to all of you! We had the most wonderful time with our friends over Christmas and came home refreshed and feeling very lucky to have two such delightful people in our lives.

After receiving many, many Happy Christmas wishes from you, I feel very lucky to have all of you as part of my life as well! I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of you – more than I ever thought I would when I began blogging. It’s always lovely to have a face to put to one of your names. Thank you all for your interest, your advice and most of all your friendship!

So, what’s on the cards for this year? Lots of exciting projects and trips!

At the beginning of February we’ll be going back to the UK for the first 4 days of my Royal School of Needlework certificate course in silk shading with Kelley Aldridge in Bristol. We’re staying in Wick, a village between Bristol and Bath and are looking forward to exploring that part of the UK more. We’ll return to the same village over Easter and I’ll finish my silk shading course then (I hope!). That will be the last of the four modules of my certificate course and hopefully I’ll receive my Royal School of Needlework Certificate this year!

Here’s the image I’m hoping to stitch – pending permission of the photographer, Mandy Disher. Her work is stunning – take a moment to do a search in the internet and you’ll find her work.

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In August we’ll be in Bath for the Bath Textile Summer School where I’ll take 4 days of tuition with Jenny Adin-Christie. I’ve signed up for the Raised Embroidery Mirror Frame course which is a four day course. The design is themed around the iconic architecture and environs of Bath and inspired by the form of those of the 17th century. Perfect, since I will have had the chance to soak up all the beauty of Bath during my two stays earlier in the year!

You would think this will be enough on my plate but you would be wrong! I’ve happily agreed to stitch a BRAND NEW DESIGN by Nicola Jarvis. The design in entitled Loveday and is a crewelwork interpretation of her gorgeous Loveday tea towel.

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During our stay with Nicola she and I took time to go over the project and I am so excited to be the first to stitch this delightful design. It’s to be finished in time for the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show in November, 2015. Look for it in her online shop in November – I’ll be sure to let you know when it becomes available. I think you’re going to love it!

That’s what’s ahead for me in 2015 – including, of course, finishing the Schwalm Whitework table cloth designed by Luzine Happel and the Sweet Honeysuckle piece by Anna Scott..and who knows what else will come along! I’d better get back to my needle!

And one last thing – I’m now on Instagram! It’s a great way to share photos of my work, where I go and who I meet in the world of embroidery. Look for “theunbrokenthread” and you’ll find me!

What’s coming up for you this year in the world of embroidery? I’d love to hear from you!