Monday, December 24, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 12

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 11

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 10

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Friday, December 21, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 9

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 8

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 7

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 6

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Monday, December 17, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 5

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 4

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 3

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Friday, December 14, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 2

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Members Competition, Christmas ATC 1

Displayed in no particular order, except the winning entry which will be shown on Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 December 2012, Christmas Social

Given the weather (freezing fog) there was a very good turnout for Christmas Social Meeting.

We tried to do a few things slightly differently from our usual ways, some intentionally and some unplanned. When members arrived they drew a card to decide which table they would sit at. We have several new members this year and we hoped that by mixing people up we would make them feel more welcome. Judging by the continuous hum of conversation, this worked well.

We had some very nice prices for the raffle but no raffle tickets! Instead of the usual method members paid to have their name included in the draw, a pound a go. It was not a very big deviation from a normal raffle but the lack of raffle tickets was cause for some amusement.

Alex came up with a fun and topical variation of bingo for our entertainment. Each table was given a pack of cards with stitch and textile related pictures. Alex then selected and called the cards. Some were easy to identify, needles, black work, buttons, etc, but others were in the form of a quiz, "a piece of work by ...", "this magazine was first published in ...".

Some things were the same as usual. Everyone came “Dressed to impress”, we had a lovely selection of sweet and savoury nibbles and there were some very lovely submissions for the members’ competition which was won by Maureen Ergeneli. They will be making an appearance on the blog in the days leading up to Christmas with the winning entry on Christmas Day.

One of the hot topics of the evening was The Big Stitch. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed the event. The accolades keep coming from far and wide ...

My friend and I had a wonderful day at the Ashmolean, thanks to many of you demonstrating and exhibiting there.
Member of Kettering branch

I really did enjoy the day and so did the other members of my party from the Chesterfield Branch. Huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make the day such a success. It was a really good `advert' for the best of The Guild!
Member of Chesterfield branch

... and, of course, from closer to home

What a fantastic experience the Big Stitch was. Jean Littlejohn’s talk in the morning: Echoes of the Past was very informative with lots of slides giving an insight into what inspires her work and examples of the inspiring work she has produced recently using a variety of textile materials combined with anything else she can find that suits! Kay and Michael Denis’ excellent workshop on stump work enabled people to produce very realistic looking strawberries ... well explained and great fun. It was wonderful also to see so many fascinating demonstrations of textile techniques by Guild members.
Rosemary Howden, Co-Chair Oxford Branch

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Big Stitch - Jan Beaney Talk

by Margaret Craig

Jan Beaney, Joint President of the Embroiderers' Guild, talk on the "Songs of the Earth".

Jan had the last slot of the day, being post-parandial might have been a difficult slot for some, but not for Jan! She gave an interesting insight into the inspirations behind her work and the mutual interests and destinations she shared with her friend and fellow Joint President, Jean Littlejohn. Jan’s talk concentrated more on the motivations that led to the creation of her work, rather than a technical explanation of her methodology. Her lecture opened with an appreciation for the Native American traditions which were rooted in landscape traditions, her comment brought the work of Jackson Pollock to mind, as he was equally inspired by these traditions, though with very different results!

Jan focused in particular on various trips she’d made in Australia and the Middle East. Much emphasis was placed on the intensity of tones and coloured shadows she experienced in both locations. She showed images from her sketch books (some of which were created whilst being driven around in a car!), which were then translated into magnificent textual landscapes. She frequently attempted to capture the essence of a place and the effects of light, shadow, on places such as Ayres Rock. She said at a particular time of day the shadows were virtually emerald, a phenomenon attributed to the intense red earth and rocks there. She was particularly sensitive to the inclusion of the cooler turquoise and emerald colours in her work. In order to capture these effects in textiles she often created her own fabrics, simply by stitching and overstitching into dissolvable fabric, ultimately creating a slightly ephemeral effect, with the lacy perforated surface that ensued.

My daughter who had been fortunate to attend Jean Littlejohn’s talk in the morning was able to see the huge difference in their responses to similar stimuli. Jan referred to the fact that Jean was a frequent traveling companion during her travels. Jan recounted an episode when she and Jean wanted to fully experience the quiet glory of an Australian outback sunrise without the other tour members, so early one morning they very quietly snuck out. Once out in the middle of the outback they worried that if anything happened to them no one would know where they were or that they were even gone. However on their return they found they had no need to worry! According to their sensitive Aboriginal guide as a result of walking along the gravel path as they left it meant, as far as he was concerned, they’d made as much noise as a heard of kangaroos!

Jan’s talk was a remarkable journey through her varied responses to landscapes one might call arid and featureless, but she was able to respond to the nuances of nature found there to create her own "Songs of the Earth".

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Big Stitch - Japanese Pocket Book Workshop

by Margaret Craig

Japanese Pocket Book Workshop, tutor Gill Riordan, Regional Chairman of the Embroiderers’ Guild East Region

I was fortunate enough to get a pre-booked place on this highly popular workshop (they were turning people away on the day, as they were so over-subscribed!) which was thematically linked to the Japanese textiles exhibition ‘Threads of Silk and Gold’. Many people had travelled quite a distance to attend, with the woman next to me having travelled 2 hours just to get to Oxford!

Gill Riordan was the tutor for the 2 hours long workshop, amusingly supported by her husband, who had clearly been involved with the preparation of the various materials used. The Japanese Pocket Book we were making was essentially an origami-like folded silk covered holder for 3 differently sized small tasselled ornamental notebooks. The notebooks tuck into the origami folded pockets, hence the name!

We were each given a packet of materials containing all we would need for the workshop. The most important initial step was learning to create the folded pocketbook, but practising with an A4 piece of paper first. Once we had mastered the intricate folding process we could apply it to the carefully prepared silk backed paper. This had been created by Gill’s husband, who indicated that it was merely lining paper! He had painted the paper with a metallic deep terracotta colour acrylic paint on one side with the beautiful bronze, black and maroon stylised floral silk applied to the other side. The silk was adhered with double-sided sticky tape along the 4 edges rather than an overall application of Bondaweb, as some give was needed with all the folding involved.

After we’d created the folded pocket book, we needed to create our small notebooks to put in the pockets. These were much simpler with only one fold! They were also made from acrylic painted lining paper (an ochre colour this time) for the covers and a few pages of white cartridge paper for the inside. These were then simply stitched to create a book effect, which we embellished with tassels made from gold and/or black embroidery thread. However we didn’t stop there, as we were provided with a range of variously sized coloured/patterned glass and ceramic beads to choose from to add to our tassels! The small notebooks could also be further embellished through the application of corner ink stamps of a variety of designs.

But, we weren’t yet finished as we were encouraged to add beading to the folded pocket book, along the edges. We were provided with small golden glass beads to apply in whatever fashion we liked, but the emphasis was on creating a picot beaded edge. Although most of us didn’t fully complete all the edging we were encouraged to take away a small bag of beads and complete it at home. Being a rebel I didn’t do a picot edge, but embroidered a chevron pattern to tie in with the angled pocket edges instead (OK, that was for a quicker effect, but I’ve now added the picot edge too!). We were all asked to place our work along one table for the final viewing, a very satisfying time was clearly had by all!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Big Stitch was a Huge Success

The Big Stitch was a huge success! Crowds of visitors queued outside the Ashmolean waiting for the event to begin and continued to gather around the demonstrators long after it was expected to end. The workshops and talks proved very popular, as did Mr X Stitch and the World’s Longest Embroidery. Further proof of the day’s success was the number of people who joined in with the crowd stitch and the smiling faces of our younger visitors who spent some time at the Family Drop-in Activity making Simple Stitches.

© The Ashmolean Museum

Oxford Branch would like to thank everyone who took part in the day. This is what some of you had to say about The Big Stitch.

It was a superior and high quality event, so brilliant to see the Ashmolean filled to the gunnels with enthusiastic people thronging to all the demonstrations, workshops, talks etc! I attended the excellent Japanese Pocket Book workshop whilst my daughter attended the talk by Jean Littlejohn, which she LOVED! She felt the talk was very inspiring and that Jean's work and ideas encouraged her to develop some projects pursuing similar interests. She was particular taken with the concept of (re)using a variety of materials to achieve quite stunning results (e.g. the fingers from rubber/plastic gloves used in a bracelet/cuff design). Overall we both loved the day and in particular she said she felt the best part about it was feeling involved, as being a part of the event gave her a fantastic feeling of inclusion and shared interest with so many others. In particular it left her with sense of stimulation to be involved in future events!
Margaret and Madeleine (aged 13) Craig

Brilliant day. Demonstrating to really interested people was amazing. The cafe was so busy they ran out of teapots!
Kate Medcraft

We had a lovely time yesterday. We were buzzing! I'm so pleased that the day was such a success and that the Ashmolean were given the opportunity to revise their view on "embroiderers". Thank you so much for including us and for making such a great job of organising things. I thought your stand was brilliant; looks like you've got a lively branch in Oxford.
Sue Robinson, Aylesbury Branch

A wonderful variety of skills from friendly women sharing their enjoyment and knowledge. I had a great time. Many thanks to all involved.
Jane Buckly

© The Ashmolean Museum

It was really a wonderful day. I was fascinated to meet ladies who had come to Oxford by coach from Brighton and Worthing and some from London too. The demonstrators were outstanding. So professional. Well done.
Maureen Ergeneli

It was a really good day and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us from the Newbury Guild. The lectures were good, we went to 2, and the demonstrators were great, really covering all topics! In fact we could have been there longer as we didn't manage to get to everyone.
A member of Newbury branch

I thought it was a fantastic day and everyone I met seemed to be really enjoying themselves and pleased to have an extra special stitch event to attend. I certainly had a great time and also had an excellent demonstration space in which to work, not to mention the fabulous surroundings.
Jo Smith, Embroiderers’ Guild Scholar

Everyone who came round was so interested and enthusiastic – a most enjoyable day.
Pam Blackley-Goble

© The Ashmolean Museum

The atmosphere in the Museum was amazing. Both while demonstrating and while watching other demonstrations, I was aware of a continuous buzz of excitement and enthusiasm. The only disappointment for me was that I could not be everywhere and take part in everything!
Carol-Anne Conway

Sunday, December 2, 2012

14 November 2012 Debbie Lyddon -
"Combining the Senses - Sight, Sound and Touch"

Debbie Lyddon trained at The University of Hertfordshire and has an MA in Contemporary Textiles. She enjoys experimenting with cloth and using other materials such as salt and wax to change its natural qualities. Many of her pieces use cloths that appear hard and firm and she generally likes them to be unframed and available to touch.

© Debbie Lyddon
She originally trained as a musician and developed a heightened sense of hearing which she still possesses. Whilst finding many pieces of music very inspiring, she finds sounds in general also catch her ear and she always carries some sort of recording device with her. For Debbie, there is a difference and yet similarity between what you can hear and see both in colour, tone and rhythm – all words that are used in both music and textile art. But it is her "ability" to visualise a sound (for her A-flat is always olive green!), seeing the colours as she played music, and how she turns this into a textile piece that formed the basis of her talk to us.

Like many textile artists, Debbie is inspired by lots of different things and we could see different combinations of these in her work. The North Norfolk coast with its network of little creeks, wide open beaches, and a flat horizon that stretches to meet the sky, can be seen as both bleak and beautiful. Her family also own boats and the shapes of these also make their way into her work – from the tall, straight, vertical masts to the sails and curves of the actual boat itself. Then there were the interpretations of sounds – from orchestral pieces to the ringing of wires against the mast or bubbling lug-worms on the beach.

To help explain her approach, Debbie showed a picture of an early piece – a textile work of undulating white organza shapes, which (sewn onto wires) was then draped and wound across the garden. This was based on a piece of music written by Debussy for the flute - a sinuous lyrical piece which tells the story of a Syrinx, a water sprite pursued by Pan. To escape him she jumped into a lake and turned herself into a hollow water reed, but he saw her, cut the reed down and fashioned them into Pan pipes.

Debbie then displayed one of her Windsor pieces. I had actually seen this in the Graduate Show some years ago, wall mounted in a softly undulating stretch around a corner. Whilst I had felt there was something in it that spoke of water and perhaps boats, it was only after hearing her describe to us how and why it was also based on a musical piece by Benjamin Britten entitled Sea Interludes, that I could really appreciate it. Made of firm linen and softer linen scrim it moved from a solid, flat plain white (painted with gesso and emulsion paint) through blues to an almost black at the other end, where a top layer of large scale drawn-threads hung down over the background. She used drawn threads because they reminded her of moving water and rhythms and therefore fitted with the interpretation of the music.

© Debbie Lyddon
Debbie passed around lots of sample pieces for us to look at, and played parts of the music which had inspired her – it certainly added to the talk to be able to listen to this and view the finished piece at the same time.

First interludeDawn – bare, chilling and desolate with the sound of seagulls in the cold air. (This was the flat, cold and pale part of the work)
Second interludeSunday Morning - bells and rhythms of boats rocking on water were echoed in the semi circles and strong vertical lines
Third interludeMoonlight – with small surges in the music above a slow throbbing background. Whilst her initial drawings tried to translate this, they did not evolve into the final piece and she chose instead her love of the slow tides of Norfolk.
Fourth interludeStorm – thunderous and raging with spray blowing high, but a faint ray of sunshine comes through to challenge and defeat the storm.

We were then introduced to other artists who used music as inspiration. Wassily Kandinsky, who was fascinated and stimulated by colour and its symbolism. He was actually diagnosed as a synesthete. This is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway (ie sound) leads to an involuntary experience in a second sensory pathway (ie seeing colours). In Kandinsky’s art the juxtaposition of colours was very important – the way they were placed and combined, he believed, said different things. He likened painting to composing music writing, "Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul". If you imagine high sounds translated into light colours and deep sounds into stronger colours you get the idea.

Paul Klee, who thought not so much about the colours but about the rhythm and movement of music as he painted. He worked in many different media (oils, watercolour, ink) and often combined them into one work. He used canvas, burlap, muslin, linen, gauze, cardboard, metal foils, fabric, wallpaper, and newsprint. Many of his works allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes they include words or musical notations – a violinist, his drawings often look like transcriptions of music, with little hieroglyphics and squiggles.

Debbie explained the composer, Chiyoko Szlavnics, has a way of visualising sounds – instead of using the traditional five lines and notes she uses a graphic score – a way of using a drawing to indicate the sound and which is then open to interpretation by the viewer/musician. Just think what sound you would interpret from a jagged, hard line; or a series of little dots across the page and you get the idea. This idea had led Debbie to make line drawings and paintings, all interpretations of different sounds, and these were then made into folded and pleated books. Other pages were made of strong canvas with large eyelets and these were reminiscent of boats and sails.

© Debbie Lyddon
Whilst all of the above may make you wonder where Debbie fits into the world of textiles, this was a fascinating evening and a very interesting talk. Her work is strong and, knowing more of the background, you can better appreciate the design and marks shown within it. She does not over-stitch or embellish but relies on the simplicity of the piece to speak for itself.

© Debbie Lyddon
Read lots more about what Debbie is currently doing on her blog or see her work on her website