Sunday, 2 April 2017

April Meeting - Magie Relph

Our speaker this month was Magie Relph from the African Fabric Shop, and while she openly admitted (with a smile) that this was an opportunity to buy African Fabrics, her talk 'Under African Skies' concentrated on the methods of production used to create the fantastic patterned cloths she had brought with her, and her (business) relationships with the people that make them.


First we were treated to this Indigo dyed stitch resist fabric, which we could handle and feel the softness, other wax resist dyed cloths were quite firm to handle as they still had a residue of wax in them.

Magie brought examples of all the fabrics she talked about, but also had images, so that we could see the conditions under which the cloths are dyed.

Magie talked primarily about cloths dyed in The Gambia, and Ghana. Often wax resist techniques are used, but the 'signature' of each designer / maker can be seen in the different ways that fabrics are pleated, stitched or the melted wax is applied to the fabric to create a resist.


This stamp is made of upholstery foam, but often wooden stamps are used to apply the wax. A lifetime of experience is used to ensure that the paraffin wax is at the correct temperature. Electric wax pots - and running water - are not readily to hand.

The base fabric is generally a white, 100% cotton damask weave fabric imported from China.


This fabric has been dyed more than once. with a background dyeing before a wax resist has been added and over - dyed.


This was more of a splatter technique, but the bold use of colour made it a delight to behold.

Magie also explained how one length of fabric can be dyed using different techniques along its length to create the most wonderful patterns - and to demonstrate, she was wearing a dress made from just such a fabric, with butterflies starting on the front, and fluttering all down the back of the dress.


This was a very interesting talk, and covered so much more about all the different methods used (did I mention it's mainly indigo dyeing and pounded Kola nut?) and yes, many of us did take advantage of the shopping opportunity also available!

In other news. . .

Young Embroiderers meet at Burton Stone Lane in the Easter holidays on 12th and 13th April, when the theme will be 'Hearts and Buttons'. Click here or on the tab above for contact details.

Bursary Application forms are available from Sue Giles.

Morning stitch club is open to everyone on the morning of the branch meeting. See the About us section for more details, or click here. This month the topic was painted bondaweb - it will be something new next month.

Next year will be our branch Exhibition year. We are moving further afield this time, and will be at the Bridlington Spa, June 1st to 6th 2018 (don't turn up a year early!).

Don't forget the branch has a Facebook page. there's a link at the right hand side of this page, or you can click here.

Our competition this month was for 'Best Commercial Design'. Pauline won the prize with her wonderful blackbirds.


The design came from the book 'Stitched Textiles: Birds' by Rachel Sumner.


The next competition - The Chairman's Competition' will be judged at the July meeting. The theme this year is Blackwork.


Friday, 10 March 2017

March Meeting - Ailish Henderson

Our speaker this month was Ailish Henderson. Ailish previously came to speak to us nearly three years ago (time flies!). The theme of the talk this time was 'Creating Sketchbooks to Treasure'.

A page from one of Ailish's sketchbooks
Ailish brought lots of her own sketchbooks for us to look through and to get inspiration for developing our own ways of recording a creative journey.

She talked about ways to overcome the fear of the white page, from choosing a theme to give inspiration, and staining or painting pages before working into them, to working with mixed media to give interest to the page.

She talked about how making a sketchbook should be an enjoyable part of the process, not just a means to an end, and could be treasured. Her sketchbooks give her a place to reflect, and provide a constant visual memory. She generously shared with us many of the ways she uses to create her 'treasures' and encouraged us to use some of her tips and techniques to create our own sketchbooks to treasure.

In other news . . .
Next month is the Competition for best commercial design. Do enter! This competition is for any piece that has been made from a kit or other commercial design.

Monday, 6 February 2017

February Meeting - Bridget Bernadette Karn

Our February speaker was Bridget Bernadette Karn. She is an artist working in wool, and is based in Acaster Malbis on the outskirts of York.

Bridget realised she was an artist at about the age of 4, but she took a rather convoluted route to become a felt maker. Her talk explained this journey, and then she talked about the feltmaking process, and how this

Bluebell Wood - Bridget Bernadette Karn
(image from her facebook page)
 is transformed into this


The Bluebell Wood - Bridget Bernadette Karn
(image taken from her facebook page)
She works mostly from photographs and looks for dramatic combinations of light and shade and then crops her images until she finds what she is looking for.

In 2016 her piece 'Frosted Woodland' was selected from over 12,000 entries to become one of the exhibited works at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This was a major breakthrough, not only for her personally, but also for textile art in general. This was probably the first time that the Academy had accepted wool as a medium into their 'painting' galleries.

Frosted Woodland - Bridget Bernadette Karn
(image taken from her facebook page)

Bridget's website has a short video showing some of  the processes which went into making her submission for this year's Royal Academy exhibition. The piece is called Glorious in Defeat, and shows a ruined church surrounded by floods.
Glorious in Defeat - Bridget Bernadette Karn
(image taken from her facebook page)

Bridget also shared with us aspects of how she runs her business, and amongst other things stressed the importance of pricing her work at a realisitic level, and how social media plays a large part in getting an audience for her work.

The talk was very interesting, and this month, some of her work can be seen at Blossom Street Gallery in York, alongside work by branch member Carol Coleman, and four other textile artists.


In other things . . .

There was a plea for new committee members, and for members to take on some of the small administrative tasks that need doing - without the commitment of becoming full members of the committee.

Young Embroiderers' is meeting 22nd and 23rd February. For further details click here

Future dates

1st April  National Embroiderers' Guild AGM Information is on the Emboiderers' Guild website (you will need your membership log-in details to access this)

10th June Regional Day
14th-16th July Summer School at Bishop Burton



Monday, 9 January 2017

January meeting - The Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project

Our talk today was the first of 2017, but we were very rapidly transported back in time 950 years.

The talk was given by Heather, one of our members. However, in another guise, she is also one of the embroiderers on the 'Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project'.

The tapestry itself was started in March 2015, with a view to creating a piece similar in style to the Bayeux Tapestry, to commemorate the Battle of Stamford Bridge (the village near York - not the football ground) which immediately preceded the Battle of Hastings.




Heather gave us an overview of the state of the country leading up to the battle in September 1066, and of the four challengers to the throne. She was an excellent speaker and made the history very interesting - and humanised it, in the same way that the images on the tapestry do - we see the characters as individuals rather than a mass of people.

Several members of the project were at the meeting, working on individual panels, and we were able to hear how the design of the fifteen panels is progressing. From the initial tracings....

A man ahead of his time?

... to the design transfer on to the back of the panels, and then stitching with fine cotton to transfer the design to the front of the work...

The reverse showing the transferred drawing and
 the economical use of thread with Bayeux stitch

... to the stitching on the front.

Cotton thread outlining one soldier, and one nearly completed.

Appletons crewel wool is used for the embroidery, with grey for the chain mail, red for the banners and purple for the king. The outlines are stitched first using either stem stitch or outline stitch, and then the filling is made using Bayeux stitch, a stitch used in the original Bayeux tapestry and which is economical in its use of thread, being a combination of laid threads and couched threads.

Heather suggested the book 'The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers' Story' by Jan Messent for more detail on the stitches, but do also take a look at 'The Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project' website which has a video detailing how the project came into being and how it is progressing. It includes footage of our branch Co-Chair Shirley Smith, who is Lead Embroiderer on the project, but was unfortunately unable to be at the talk (Prince Charles also gets a mention!).

Fishing in the Derwent ahead of the Battle, with the
 clouds of the approaching army in the background.

It was a very interesting and engaging talk.

In other things . . .
There is still a desperate need for more people to be on the committee. Please seriously consider if you could help, and get in touch with one of the current committee members for more details. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

December meeting - It's Christmas!

Even though Christmas may still seem a long way into the future, as this is our December meeting, it's Christmas themed.

We have no speaker but instead work on a mini - project. In theory it can be finished in the afternoon, but with all the other things going on - Christmas competition, tea and magnificent Christmas cake, Bran tub, raffle, sales table, and plenty of chatter - not everyone finished what we were working on.

It was an ingenious little decoration or bag, made from triangles, and though I didn't finish mine in time (see above!) this is one that was completed.



The theme for the Christmas competition was Flora and Fauna. The winner is chosen by popular vote.


This cute little chap won the prize. Made by Carole, who said she had never won anything before!

In other news - the branch now has a facebook page. It's an open group,  so can be visited by anyone, with the intention of publicising our branch. If you're on facebook, find it here.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas. See you next year.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

November Meeting - The Guild Collection

Today's talk was given by Pauline Heywood, the current chair of our region.

Collection image from the Embroiderers' Guild website

Pauline gave an interesting and illustrated talk about the history and development of the collection held by the Embroiderers' Guild, from its inception in 1906 to its present location in Aylesbury today. She also showed pictures of some of the most important items in the collection, including some of the earliest items - Coptic woven fragments from the 6th to 10th century. The first item to be acquired in the collection was apparently a pair of kid gloves dating from approximately 1600.  Today the collection spans not only the centuries, but also the continents with articles collected from around the world. More information about the collection can be found here on the Embroiderers' Guild website.

In other matters . . .

Stitch club has restarted as part of the morning session. It is open to all members.  In December Pauline will be giving a demonstration of Free Machine embroidery and Chris will be giving ideas for working with layers of fabrics, and in January Eileen will be demonstrating what can be achieved with a soldering iron!

The December meeting is the Christmas meeting. We will be making a Christmas bag using triangles. Please bring Christmas fabric, usual sewing kit, embellishments and a Pritt stick.

We have also been approached by Susan Aldworth, an artist who is working on a project '1001 Pillowcases'
One of the works that will go on show at St Mary’s in York during The Dark Self exhibition in May 2017, is an installation of 1001 embroidered pillowcases, sewn by local people, community groups and schools.. anyone who wants to join in.
One Thousand and One Nights: I dream of… An installation based on the Arabian Nights, stories that were collected over many centuries from the Middle East and South Asia. The installation will bring together 1001 dreams and thoughts about what sleep is from local community groups, individuals and schools in and around York. They will embroider their dreams and thoughts onto the front of 1001 white pillowcases.
If you interested in this project please contact:
Susan Aldworth:
M: 07732 987 786


Saturday, 1 October 2016

October Meeting - AGM and Marion Anniss

Our speaker this afternoon was Marion Anniss, and her accompanying guest was a very friendly gnome. Although he is only about 12" high, he was the captivating subject for Marion's talk about the trials and tribulations of creating a 3D functional piece for City and Guilds.

Marion's Gnome
The gnome (he is nameless, and only known as 'gnome') proved to be made from a wealth of different textile techniques, and called upon Marion's skills and inventiveness. From the initial research into gnomes - she knew she wanted a friendly gnome - to discovering how to create articulated limbs, turn tights into heads, use a soldering iron to best advantage, and create painted toenails, the finished gnome was a showpiece of the wide range of skills learned on a City and Guilds course, and the talk was light-hearted, amusing and very informative.

In other things . . .

For possibly the first time, our branch AGM was held in the morning, rather than at the start of the afternoon. Chairman Kath stood down after eight years on the committee, with four of them as chair, but not before she gave us her report and a resume of the activities of the year - mostly all detailed here in the blog. She is looking forward to being an 'ordinary' member of the branch again and thanked all the committee members past and present that have supported her so ably over the years. Stevie and Caroline are also standing down. We now have Joint Chairs in Sue and Shirley, but are in need of a treasurer. There is a possibility the role can be split into two. Do let Sue or Shirley know if you are willing to take on some or all of this role. It is vital that there is a treasurer for the branch to continue.

The bursary which is available to members of the Yorkshire and Humber region was awarded to two people this year - Linda and Jane from the Harrogate branch - and will help them complete their City and Guild studies. They both brought some of their work to the meeting today, and will exhibit at our next exhibition (in 2018).

A detail from some of Linda's work


A detail from some of Jane's work

Stitch Club will be starting up again at the November meeting. It will be led by Chris, with her band of helpers. Stitch club runs in the morning from 10:00 am until lunch time. The aim is to teach whatever techniques are requested - so bring your ideas! The theme will be the seasons, making tiny panels in appropriate colours throughout the year. It isn't necessary to commit to every month.
If you'd like to be part of this, bring a basic sewing kit and threads and fabrics in appropriate colours - starting in November with Autumn. As these will be mini panels, you won't need big pieces of material!

There will be a sales table at the November meeting.

Young Embroiderers will meet in the October half term. There will be a Noah's Ark theme. Classes run on two consecutive mornings, and cost £4 in total. If you would like more details, see the Young Embroiderers page by clicking on the tab above.