Monday 15 April 2024

Data Visualisation in embroidery

 Jordan Cunliffe visited us today and gave a talk on data visualisation in embroidery. What on earth is that!? Fascinating is what it is! Jordan showed us her beautiful work, so simple in the tiny stitch but conveying detailed and complex ideas and information. The work records many aspects of her life that she has recorded such as marks for every day of her life and her husband's life and where they intersect represents their time together. She tracked her sleep over a week and each stitch represents a minute. Jordan made her own code to spell words in beads and similarly the words from a beloved childhood book were recreated in cross stitch - one stitch for each letter. Codifying information is another avenue she has explored; parts of teenage diaries represented in binary code using beads again. 

It was so interesting to see her work and think about different ways to convey time and meaning. Thanks Jordan!

Monday 18 March 2024

Experimenting with Jennifer Collier

 Today we were joined by Jennifer Collier who brought us her workshop Experimental Textile techniques. We've had a lovely day playing!

There was lots to try out and all our samples are being made into beautiful books with laminated covers. We haven't quite finished them yet so there will be an update next month with the finished books and samples.

There was a lot of ironing involved - not the usual boring kind but with wax and plastics. We started with plastic bag samples, ironing bits together to create a new textile to stitch into. Next was trapping 3D items in a small waxed box and encasing them in paraffin wax. Third item of the morning was emptying teabags and trapping small bits of ephemeral in them then dripping melted wax on and ironing to seal them. We had plenty of time playing and making our samples.

Next up was ironing items in sandwich bags, turning them into lacy parcels followed by sellotape transfers and more teabags plus items with latex instead of wax.

The last three techniques were: making tissue paper and ephemera sandwiched and waxing them again producing lovely translucent goodies; trapping objects between two pieces of sheet fabric using bondaweb and finally paper roses.

So lots and lots to do and we all had a lovely pile of experiments to stick to pages of recycled papers which were turned into a book. We all found something we really loved and I'm sure some of our favourites will reappear in other pieces of work.

Our thanks to Jennifer who brought an enormous amount of stuff for us to use, it was a fabulous workshop.

Here's a flavour of what we got up to. I have to confess to forgetting to keep taking photos - too busy waxing stuff!

Monday 19 February 2024

Drafting a dress pattern

 Wow, what a great morning we had. Saima, one of our members, took us through the process of drafting a dress pattern for our personal measurements. It was quite an involved process but Saima took us through it step by step and explained and demonstrated brilliantly.

We had a formula to use once we had taken our personal measurements - in inches rather than cm - the numbers are smaller 😂. Saima then showed us how to transfer our numbers onto dressmakers tissue to make a pattern. The whole process was really interesting and we took loads of notes; fingers crossed we can work out what we meant! Thanks to Saima for a really useful workshop.

We also had our first Travelling pages swap and welcomed new members. Serena brought in the book of the blackwork coif project for the V&A too.

Monday 15 January 2024

Carolyn came in her underwear and it was brilliant 😮

Now, it's not quite what it seems... Carolyn is one of our very talented members and belongs to The 1635 Household - a Jacobean re-enactment group. They mainly deal with domestic life rather than battles and the like. Carolyn kindly agreed to come and talk to us about Jacobean costume and what a fascinating morning we had. She brought lots of her 'higher-end folk' outfits - all of which she has made herself and also embroidered - her work is absolutely stunning, it was a real privilege to see them and hear about the process of designing and making.

Carolyn does lots of research to try and be as authentic as possible and takes inspiration from period portraits and original pieces found in museum collections. Her clothes are made from authentic materials - wool, linen, silk, taffeta and silk velvet. She also makes lace where possible. Thought has to be given to budget and practicalities such as washing.

Carolyn brought shoes, hose and ties, smock, fitted kirtle aka a pair of bodies, ruffs, collars , jackets, skirts and coifs. 

She started in her underwear - the shoes to kirtle... 

...and then gradually added the other layers explaining each as she went. As all items of clothing are made to fit the wearer everything was far more comfortable than you might imagine. 

This jacket was inspired by the Maidstone jacket and has a lovely peapod motif and looks stunning in white and red.

The black and white jacket was inspired by the Dandelion jacket in the Bath Museum

Often when we see historical items in museums the colours have faded but in reality the colours would have been much brighter sometimes with the addition of spangles (Jacobean equivalent of sequins) and the use of gold and silver threads.
The Margaret Layton jacket is perhaps one of the most famous embroidered pieces of period clothing you may have seen; it's in the V&A and is unusual as we have the actual jacket and a portrait of Margaret wearing it. Carolyn has a beautiful jacket invoking the V&A one.

Then we get to the coifs. We all loved the ingenuity of these items and the fact they were constructed in such a way that they fit almost anyone because they were gathered with a tie. Carolyn brought various examples all based on originals.

Clearer photos below! Then we were on to ruffs and rebato collars, pockets and knife holders, all beautifully made. 
What a talented lady you are Carolyn, it was such a pleasure to have you speak this morning and share your exquisite work.
Here's Carolyn fully clothed and some close ups of the embroidery - and yes, it's all her own work and all clothes are hand stitched too.