Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's On in November

Ann Rippin is a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol in the Department of Management. As part of her research, Ann creates quilted and embroidered textiles about the companies she researches or some of the themes that she is interested in such as organisational excess, or foundation narratives.

© Ann Rippin

"Laura Ashley - her part in my downfall"
7.15 pm on Wednesday 13 November 2013
at Iffley Village Church Hall, Iffley, OX4 4EG.

Visitors welcome £5.00

Friday, November 1, 2013

Create A Floor

When Margaret Craig, Education Officer at Dorchester Abbey, first suggested a mini Big Stitch Day Amanda and I pondered the idea and then thought “why not?”. After all, part of the Guild’s remit is to get embroidery out there into the public eye and encourage them to join in, so this could be another opportunity to do just that.

We met up with Margaret at the Abbey and discussed how the day might run. The first thought was to take ideas from the new set of vestments commissioned from Helyne Jennings especially for the Abbey. This is ecclesiastical embroidery at its best - they are absolutely beautiful to look at and the work demonstrates the highest level of skill. We realised that we would need to use fabrics that would be easy to handle so decided on felt, then we needed to think about how non-sewers would stitch the motifs on.

It was at the second meeting, whilst walking around the Abbey, that we came up with a different idea - create the floor in stitch. For anyone who was walked around an old church or Abbey before, they will know that the muted colours and patterns to be found in old, worn stone are interesting to us creative textile-types. There were (very) old headstones laid into the floor with italic lettering and angels’ wings, medieval floor tiles, and a host of other things to give us inspiration.

Amanda bought the basic cream felt which she and Kathy dyed in shades of greys and dull mustard, as well as some other pattered fabrics. The felt was cut into pieces of A4 and A5 size – that way we knew they would fit together like a floor. Karen hunted out old buttons in browns and greys and bought along some transfer crayons which could be used for rubbings (as well as a very useful set of instructions!). Alex dyed some heavy braids and fine lace in shades of bronze, dark greys and dusky pinks and printed onto lutradur and soft sew-in Vilene images of medieval floor tiles in various sizes. Margaret supplied us with needles, pins and scissors and everyone who came along bought some threads for everyone to use. That gave us a collection of things which we hoped people could just get going with, without having to think too hard.

When we got to the Abbey on a slightly chilly Saturday morning, Margaret was already getting everything organised. As well as sales tables, she had also arranged for 3 speakers for the day – Helen Russell (textiles teacher) on the vestments; Michala Gyetvai a mixed media artist on her work, and Suellen Pedley, a well-known and skilful ecclesiastical embroider. Margaret and her helpers also kindly provided sandwiches and cake for lunch, and Amanda kept the tea and coffee flowing.

It wasn’t long before more of the Guild members turned up and, sitting around one large table, started rummaging amongst the bits provided. Soon everyone was creating a piece of floor. It was a treat to spend a day chattering and stitching – by keeping stitches simple and just combining the laces, motifs and anything else that took our fancy, we had time to do more than one piece if we wanted. Other Guild members came along and sat together in parts of the Abbey to demonstrate other techniques and Kathy bought along a collection of Linus Quilts to show.

It was a shame that not more members of the public turned up for the day, but I’m sure those that did, enjoyed themselves. It wasn’t just adults who we persuaded to join in; there were also teenagers and a girl of 8 who was proudly shown by her dad how to sew buttons on. By the end of the day we had enough floor pieces to fill two A3 boards which we left with the Abbey. Thanks to everyone who gave up their time on the day and I think we did a grand job showing how a simple idea can be translated into stitch.