10 December 2015

Christmas Social

I can't believe it, but the Christmas Social came round again last Monday.  Everyone contributed to the "Jacob's Join" lunch and we had a wonderful variety of goodies to eat. There had to be a quiz of course!  But it was easy this time so nobody's brain was taxed too much I hope - mind you, it always looks easy when you are the one with the sheet of answers.

We handed out material to make a name badge  so we could sew while we chatted (thank you Jill, who cut out all the little pieces).

Here are Louise and Patricia working away, but Florence looks as though she wishes she had a shorter name!

We had a visitor, Jenny, who brought a huge box of threads from her late mother-in-law's stash for us to root through, for the price of a donation to the British Heart Foundation.  Our generous members were able to present her with a very healthy £47.15.  We hope Jenny will become a member in the New Year - she has already made a name badge!

It was also our Christmas competition, for a book cover or wrap for a notebook or journal.  It proved a popular subject and we had seventeen lovely entries.  Here I am, the lucky winner, receiving my prize from our Chairman, Sue.  (Note to self:  I just have to lose weight or alternatively stop having photos taken!)

We also had great pleasure in presenting Eileen with a potted rose in appreciation of all her many helpful acts during the past year.

 Once the Christmas and New Year holidays are over we have a busy and exciting year to looks forward to.  As well as our usual monthly meetings we hope to take part in the Easter Art & Craft Fair which is held annually in the village.  And later in the Summer we are taking part, together with Bolton Branch, in an exhibition of work at Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham to celebrate the life of Capability Brown with the rest of the Guild.

Have a peaceful and happy Christmas - see you in 2016!   J.

Thanks to Sue and Val for the photos - I forgot to charge my battery so they came to the rescue.

6 November 2015

We have changed our name

Since our move to Higham Village Hall in September our name, Padiham & District Embroiderers' Guild, does not seem to have fitted us so well.  It was suggested that we change our name to Pendle Embroiderers' Guild and this suggestion was enthusiastically endorsed by all our members.  Higham is in the Pendle administrative area of  Lancashire and lies in the shadow of Pendle Hill which is a well-known and historic landmark, famous, or rather infamous, for the witch trials which took place in 1612.  Despite these sad events we are happy and proud to take the name of Pendle.

3 November 2015

Mixed Media Books

Had a visit from Sue Bartlett from Blackpool Branch yesterday to show us her lovely hand-made books. This was a taster of what's to come as we have booked her to give us a workshop in the New Year.

What a feast for the eye they are - all far too precious to actually write in I felt!  We all got very excited looking at them as they were passed around and poor Sue, who was suffering from a bad cough, had trouble keeping us in check long enough to explain how they are made.

Never mind, I am sure she could see how much we were enjoying them by the amount of conversation each one generated as it went round the group.  The list for her workshop is already more than half full, which is another ringing endorsement!  So well done, and thank you Sue.  J

26 October 2015

Stumpwork Faces

On Saturday a group of us attended a very enjoyable workshop with Sue Sissling.  We welcomed some members from the Lytham branch and all had good fun. 

We learnt how to make stump work faces. These are 3D faces which, by stuffing and stitch work, stand proud from the backing fabric. Sue brought some examples and a selection of books for inspiration and advice. Much needed !!  

A face taking shape

Even though we were mostly beginners we all managed to complete at least one face. No mean feat for a workshop day - as you know!The faces we made were all completely different, many shapes, sizes and colours and we were all surprised by how they developed and scarily took on a life of their own!

Hair and accessories add glamour!

I missed the list of requirements but Kathryn and Jill kindly supplied me with everything I needed and Sue brought a big stash for us to delve into. I think this illustrates the good fellowship you find in our group. We spent a good part of the day laughing and sewing - sharing each other's ideas and admiring each other's work.
One of our Lytham visitors gets down to some serious work!

Kathryn brought some frames to sell for our Branch funds and if you were lucky enough to get one they certainly enhanced your work.

All in all it was a great day with Sue and we all went home with a new skill.  S.

11 October 2015

Yorkshire Buttons

Our new regime of two hours of informal "stitch and chat" got off to an excellent start this month.  Nearly everyone made it early and we were able to hold a committee meeting while everyone chatted, shopped at our bring and buy sales table and had their lunch.  At 2 o'clock we got down to the real business of the afternoon, welcoming Gail Marsh to show us how to make Yorkshire Buttons.

These woven buttons, stuffed with sheep's wool were once made in their thousands until the invention of a machine to make the cloth buttons familiar to some of us older ladies from the days of wearing liberty bodices - was there ever a more inappropriately named garment?!

Gail busy keeping us on the right track.
Gail's sample boards were delightful, but hard to replicate and some of us were all fingers and thumbs (well, OK, I was all fingers and thumbs!) and Gail was kept busy keeping us on the straight and narrow.

The buttons are woven onto a piece of card with a 'tail' hanging down; threads are woven over and under until the whole card is covered, then the result is removed, the tail pulled up and the button stuffed as full as possible with wool.  The weaving gives them an attractive ribbed effect.

There was time to chat for those of us who had got the hang of it.  I was using my duties as secretary and official photographer as an excuse to abandon mine, but while I was away the fairies came and I returned to my table to find they (Wendy really) had put me back on track, so the least I could do was finish it!

Patricia concentrating, Louise and Glen not so much!
Another happy afternoon and can't wait to welcome Sue Bartlett next month to talk about her Mixed Media Books.

Chairman's Challenge

Val, our North West Region Chairman, has challenged the Branches to produce pages for a 'travelling book'.  Her plan is for us to depict some representative views of our local area.  Padiham & District decided to use Gawthorpe Hall as our inspiration using pictures Dianne has provided as a starting point.  Gawthorpe Hall is a jointly owned National Trust and Burnley Council property and home to the Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth embroidery collection - a wonderful resource for our area and for all embroiderers.  Our Branch was started at the Hall - although only in the stable block sadly! - but due to flood damage during the very hard winter of 2010/11 we had to find another venue for our meetings while repair work was taking place, and never went back.  All of us have a soft spot for Gawthorpe, which was a happy family home for many generations.  These are the pictures used for inspiration and our members' work to interpret them.

Images of Gawthorpe
Members' embroideries 

12 September 2015

A Lovely Meeting

We had such a lovely meeting last Monday - I never thought I would say that about an AGM, but this one was our first meeting in our new venue and with our new extra hours.  The hall is so warm and welcoming and the whole atmosphere was great - definitely a positive move for us.

We had arranged a Jacob's Join lunch
before the meeting and I think everyone went a bit
mad - we had so much food and all of it delicious. Next time we will have to rein ourselves in!

Our new hours gave us plenty of time to relax and chat before the main meeting and everyone had a lot to catch up on after the summer break, plus get in a bit of retail therapy from our Sales Table.

The AGM itself went well.  Our Chairman was standing down after her three years and so we now have a new Chairman.  Our Treasurer has agreed to stand for a further term - thank goodness - as she claims she has now got the hang of it and it is a doddle!  We are really grateful to her, but hope there will be a bit more volunteering in the future.  We also have three new committee members, so we are looking forward to a busy time ahead.

Nan and Sue, our outgoing and incoming Chairs
After the main meeting Kathryn gave us a short talk on the Blackpool Treasure Trove Project which she is involved with.  She had an intriguing selection of artifacts with her that are part of a light-hearted exhibition to raise awareness of the proposed Blackpool Museum which, as well as depicting Blackpool's history, will be the first museum in the country devoted to "show biz".  Many memories of the Blackpool in the past were stirred among the members.

Kathryn with some of  the strange and wonderful pieces used in their publicity, all relating to Blackpool tower and depicting the part it plays in Blackpool life.  There is a tower too, but it wouldn't fit into Kathryn's little car!  The bunting was made by members of Blackpool Branch of the Guild; A Postcard from Blackpool. 
All in all a great start to our new Guild Year.  Next month we will be making Yorkshire Buttons and later in the month Sue is doing a Saturday workshop on Stumpwork Faces, which should be great fun.   J

7 August 2015

National Stitch Day - Saturday 1st August 2015

Pamela & Patricia
 Last Saturday was National Stitch Day with Guild branches all over the country stitching in all sort of unusual places and encouraging members of the public to "have a go!"

Patricia arranged with her local branch of Morrisons supermarket to stitch in their foyer and was joined by three other intrepid ladies, Pamela, Wendy and Sue S. (who took all the photographs).

They had a really good day and there was a lot of interest in the work on show.  The aim was to raise awareness of the lovely art of sewing, and the profile of the Guild.  Naturally we also hope to encourage people to experience the joys of sewing for themselves and, hopefully, gain new members for our Branch.

Here are Patricia and Wendy among the trolleys.  It was a cold wet day, so the foyer was rather draughty, but embroiderers are made of stern stuff and they presented very sunny faces to the shoppers coming into the store.

Sue's sculptured cloth doll

A shopper stops to admire the display of skills on show.

Well done Padiham & District ladies, and thank you Morrisons for hosting this event for us.  J

12 July 2015

Strawberry Tea - 6th July 2015

We held our usual Summer Social and Strawberry Tea last Monday and a good time was had by all.
The committee provided the strawberry tea, with Kathryn's famous vanilla cream mould (courtesy of Delia Smith!), homemade shortbread and strawberry fairy cakes.

As usual our brains were not allowed to have a rest and there were three quizzes to tax us. Oh dear, judging by the photos perhaps we made the questions a bit too hard!

However, we did have one star - while the rest of us stared at our papers in bewilderment, Eileen seemed to be having no trouble at all deciphering the Dingbats quiz.
Eileen storming to a 10 point win!!

Sue T seemed to have a not entirely healthy familiarity with the Fast Food logos and also won the Film Quotations quiz, together with Susan, Nan and Louise.

We then went on to judge the competition for the Bell Trophy.  There was a interesting display of lovely work, with enormous variety.  Our theme was Marine.  The winner was Carole with a lovely, serene seascape.

Some of the entries
Carole's winning seascape
We were joined at the meeting with our new Area Representative, Meg Starkey, who presented Carole with her prize.

Now we are looking forward to starting our new Guild year.  We are particularly excited because we are moving to a new venue which will allow us to include stitch and chat mornings to our main programme.  So from September we will have the hall from noon and will be able to spend time working on our own projects and exchanging ideas before the more formal part of the meeting.

See you again in September!

14 June 2015

Landscape & Architecture in Hand Embroidery

We've been looking forward to our June Saturday workshop with Gina Smith, and 12 of us and our large bags of fabrics and threads arrived with eager anticipation.  Gina gave us a talk earlier in the year and showed us her lovely work and described her technique of layering sheer and more opaque fabrics to create a "painted" surface for stitch, so we were keen to learn her secrets.  It is such an effective technique, but a lot easier when Gina does it than when we try!  She was kept busy putting us on the right track and encouraging us when we despaired.

We had been asked to find a photograph that inspired us and blow it up to A4 size, and then get a couple of black & white copies.  These were helpful to pick out the different tones and we also used them to cut up to place them on our background fabric so we could trace the areas correctly - particularly important with the architectural subjects where the perspective so vital.  Some of us had favourite photographs, others were inspired by other art works so there was quite a variety of subjects on view and with Gina's help we all mapped out our work and were able to start on the fun bit of layering on the fabric.  I chose a picture of a canyon in Arizona taken from high on the rim, so had fun layering misty blues, pinks and whites for the dreamy scene below.  Harder is going to be working on the foreground rocky pinnacles, so I still have to work my way through my scrap-bag to find just the right piece of opaque fabric to work on, so when it came to the show-and-tell I cheated by including my black & white cutout!

There was much pinning and un-pinning and a little sewing but all too soon it was time to clear up and prepare for the Show-and-Tell.  Gina didn't seem to mind that we had all strayed from her delicate and subtle technique and her generous critique and description of each piece made us all feel we had really achieved something and just might finish a masterpiece given time, patience and a following wind!

Thank you Gina, for a lovely day.  Lots more pictures in the Photo Album.  J 
Say "cheese" Gina!

8 June 2015

Fusing Old With New

We arrived at the Hall early on Monday for a committee meeting to find the power off - calamity!  What about our cuppa?!  All was not lost, the caretaker supplied a kettle so we were able to move supplies and crockery to the next room so disaster was averted.  Despite an extension cable from another hall our speaker, Karen Casper, still ran into computer problems, so we were unable to see her Powerpoint presentation, but she had some large professional photographs and magazine articles to show us as she spoke, as well as examples of her fantastic wearable art.

Karen describing some of the many
techniques that make up her
Fairground Skirt
Karen admits to a passion for old lace and textiles, even torn scraps are treasured and she uses them to blend with her own sewing to create new, beautiful and unique wearable art.

Her Coral throw is once such example and below is a close up of the rich texture she achieves with recycled tulle and lace together with metal thread and velvet - it looks good enough to eat!  She has used some dramatic glow-in-the-dark threads in this piece.  Have a look at her website www.tulleandcandyfloss.blogspot.com to see the full effect.

This veil (one of a series of three) uses old bridal veiling and the "lace" is achieved using the Cornely machine at Manchester Met.  This machine is over 100 years old.  It was manufactured by Ercole Cornely in Paris from a design by a French engineer called Bonnaz . It is a chain-stitch machine made to imitate tambour work.  The stitches can be worked in any direction, guided by the operator using a rotary handle.

We were also privileged to examine Karen's sketchbooks, filled with her meticulous research and sampling.  A lovely afternoon.   J.

12 May 2015

Torn Apart & Stitched Up

Another Bank Holiday disruption to our meetings - back to normal in June thank goodness.  However, once again it was worth waiting for.  We had a lovely speaker, Sue Boardman, who brought slides and lots of work to show us.  Sue loves to work with torn paper which she stabilises onto a background fabric before waxing and stitching - just my kind of thing!

This fabulous still-life of a Jug & Bottle is done with all kinds of magazine pages.  You can see the brown paper it is worked on at the top right edge, complete with some splashes of wax.  Sue drips candle wax all over her pictures before ironing between two sheets of baking parchment; this gives the paper strength to hold the stitching.

I loved this Self Portrait with a Flower

We had to work a bit for our entertainment.  Sue had brought a hat, based on the Swiss Bridge in Birkenhead Park, a dress based on Hoylake Beach (Sue is lucky enough to live by the sea and her love of the area is reflected in a lot of her work) which were modelled by Eileen and Nan respectively - there are pictures in the Photo Album - and a fantastic Dress of Addresses modelled by Susan.  Sue had really gone crazy with paper tearing for this one and spent a whole winter (I am amazed it was only one!) cutting up old telephone business directories and maps.  Each little piece is beautifully bound and backed and many of the pieces have little extra comments, such as "The Vicar lives here".  What great fun!

Sue fitting Susan with the Dress of Addresses
Susan gives us a twirl!

 Altogether an entertaining and inspirational afternoon.  Do look at the Photo Album for more.

15 April 2015

Journeys with a Needle

It seemed a long wait to until 13th April for our meeting as the Easter Bank Holiday disrupted our usual Monday slot, but it turned out to be worth the wait.  Gina Smith brought some of her lovely work to show us and treated us to a slide show of other pictures depicting the many wonderful places she has visited.

This seascape is made from strips of dyed fabric with couched threads.  The exciting knitting yarns available these days are particularly interesting to Gina and the slubby ones are wonderful for depicting lashing waves!

Many of Gina's pictures are landscapes or architecture and look like paintings from a distance, but although some backgrounds have added colour most of her effects are achieved by sheer fabrics to make light and shade, together with simple embroidery stitches.

I loved this depiction of the Amazon flowing through the rain forest.  Gina has achieved a wonderful perspective; it is just like flying above the canopy of the forest.

She has done some lovely studies of cathedrals where the sheer fabrics and stitches are used in quite a minimal way but really conjure up the peaceful atmosphere.

These photographs do not do Gina's work justice I am afraid. The glass made them difficult to photograph under the lights of our hall and you may be treated to the odd shadow of the photographer in the glass!  My apologies.  Do look at more examples of her work - there are lots on Pinterest if you Google Gina Smith Textile Artist.

Lucky us, we will be seeing Gina again in June when she runs a workshop for us - just hope we can do justice to her.

These last two pieces are depictions of Roman tiles from Turkey (with added photographer and assistant's thumb!).

25 March 2015

Messing with Metal Workshop, 21st March

We had an intriguing workshop on Saturday called Messing with Metal  We arrived bearing the evidence of Christmas indulgence - foil sweet papers and cases from mince pies - as well as precious squeezed out tomato puree tubes and more mundane margarine tub covers.

Sue Bennett, our tutor had brought lots of her own beautiful work to give us inspiration.  It was  hard to believe they had all had such humble beginnings.

My particular favourite was the blue vessel, below. Her inspiration for this piece came from Gaudi 's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and perfectly captured the essence of this fantastical building.  The colours were lovely and the subtle sheen from the metal was like butterfly wings.

We were first shown how to flatten our foil, then how to emboss the surfaces in a variety of ways - with a dry ball-point pen, or an embossing machine, or using rubbing plates on the margarine lids. We also tried crimping and cutting out apertures for a 'jewel'.  More patterns were made by punching with a sturdy needle or by running the metal through an unthreaded sewing machine.

The next stage was the messy bit - colouring the metal.  Silver foil was painted with black acrylic which was then rubbed off leaving a pewter effect.  The gold of the tomato puree tubes looked aged by the same treatment and the margarine tops came out amazingly like leather.

Sue demonstrated how to cover some pieces with sheer fabric with free machine stitching, which was then burnt back.

Sewing a piece to a background fabric was easy, just pierce the holes and attach it with embroidery thread - blanket stitch worked well.

Here are some of us admiring the results we achieved.  A really fun workshop and much enjoyed by all of us.

Lots more pictures in the Photo Gallery. J