RSN Durham Exhibition- Take 2!

I was so excited to share this with you I clicked too soon and published an unfinished post. Here’s the finished one…

There are so many exhibitions coming up where one can go and see beautiful hand embroidery “live”, so I thought I should tell you about one where you can see the work of students of the RSN : people who are still learning the techniques and skills just like I am. So often the photos we see in books are pieces done by professionals. We compare our skills to those in the photos and see a huge gap.

In late October there will be an exhibition of the work of the students at the RSN in Durham. Tracy A. Franklin is their instructor and judging from the photos in the flyer below, they have produced some beautiful work!

October is a long way away and if you want to be inspired before then, Tracy has created an RSN Durham Flick’r page to show the work of her students. I think this is a great idea and it’s so interesting to see what the certificate and the diploma students are doing.

If you want to know more about Tracy and her work, she graciously did an interview for The Unbroken thread which you can read here.

I’m hoping to do one of my remaining two modules of the certificate with Tracy at her studio Durham. Who knows, maybe in the future my work will be on the RSN Durham Flick’r page!


Goldwork design from Wells Cathedral

When we were in England at Easter we visited Wells Cathedral. What a magnificent place! Naturally we took loads of photos and one of them was a photo of this inlaid brass bishop’s crook.

This is the design I’m using for my goldwork piece at the RSN Goldwork course.

The leaf in the center and the curved crook will be padded with felt underneath the goldwork. This means that it’s necessary to first make a paper pattern of both shapes.

Cutting out the crook was straightforward and didn’t take long. Cutting out the leaf took forever! So many little points to make pointy and curves to make curvy. It’s a good exercise to prepare for the stitching, though, since I get to know the shape as I’m cutting it out. I’m thinking of all the very tight turns I’ll need to make or the ends I’ll need to get right to maintain the sharp points on the leaf tips.

The veins in the leaf will be left without any stitching so the green silk will show through. Again, lots of very fine little tips to make sharp and crisp.

Below, you can see the green silk stitched onto the calico or muslin backing. Before attaching the silk to the muslin, it’s pinned using straight pins stuck straight through the fabric, as you see the pin above holding the paper leaf to the fabric. Pins are stuck through both fabrics all around the edge and then the silk is stitched onto the muslin using alternately longer and shorter straight stitches. I began stitching from the center of the bottom to one corner and then to the other corner. Then from the center of the top to one corner and the other and finally from the center of each side outwards to each corner.

The silk is attached to the calico while it is still slightlz slack on the frame. Once the silk is stitched onto the muslin only then is the frame tightened so that both pieces of fabric are pulled tight.

To get a glimpse of how it will look when I’m farther on in the process, I laid the two large paper patterns on the silk. The next step is to prick the pattern and, using pounce, transfer the pattern to the silk.
Doing this little bit of prep. work will help me to get the goldwork finished in the 8 days of the course. It’s quite an intense two weeks, with four days of class each week and a three day weekend in between to continue working. I would much prefer to be able to take one class a week over an 8 week period, but the commute from Berlin might be prohibitive!



Forgotten…framing supplies

Remember my article about all the things you might want to be sure to remember when you traveled away from home to embroider? So many of you had great tips for things to take along.  Unfortunately, all of those tips did me NO good when I packed for the RSN Goldwork course.

I arrived in England, ready to do the prep work… without all the things I needed to have to DO the prep work. I had forgotten:

 1.Twill tape to attach the calico to the frame on the side so the fabric can be stretch horizontally.

2. Heavy duty thread to sew the twill tape onto the calico fabric

3. String to stretch the fabric onto the frame.

Before any stitching happens, the fabric needs to be framed up as my goldwork piece is going to be stitched on silk. However, silk is too lightweight to stitch on without being backed first with calico (which is called muslin in the USA).

The first step is to attach the calico to the frame at the top and bottom. First I had to find and mark the center of the webbing on the top and bottom of the frame. Then I had to  find and mark the center on the top and bottom ends of the fabric. Lastly I had to stitch the calico to the webbing with the buttonhole thread – which I had forgotten.

Then it was time to sew the twill tape to the right and left sides of the calico , reinforcing it so the calico could be stretched. I needed to cut a length of twill tape for each side of the calico and attach it  using buttonhole thread. Except…I had no twill tape. So off I went into town to get some twill tape.

After I had gotten these two things accomplished, the final step was to lace the twill taped calico onto the sides of the slate frame. For this I needed my bracing needle and string. Bracing needle – check. String…nope! Fortunately I’d noticed that I didn’t have sting earlier so I’d picked that up when I went in for the twill tape.

The moral of this tale? Remember that when you are setting up a project, you have to begin at the very beginning. From the framing, through transferring the pattern…which reminds me. I also forgot my pricking needle and my pounce. Unbelievable!