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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!