Sunday, 3 September 2017

September meeting - Kay Dennis

Our speaker this month on the topic of Stumpwork was Kay Dennis. Or more accurately, our speakers this month were 'Team Dennis' as Kay's husband Michael is also an avid Stumpworker (if that's a word) and he spoke about how he became involved in this traditional and very intricate technique.

Detail of Kay's work
Kay learned to embroider as a child, and then a set of circumstances and ill health led her to discovering needlelace and bobbin lace. She then discovered the work of Barbara and Roy Hirst and, in her words, became one of their groupies. The Embroiderers' Guild website has a video showing both Kay's and Barbara and Roy's work. Click here to see it.  Michael became involved as he began making frames for Kay's and her students' work, and eventually became chair of the Guild of Needlelaces, by which time he was getting involved in completing the stitch challenges set by the Guild.

The talk covered the history of Stumpwork - raised embroidery - and how the faces and hands of the embroidered people were created, in addition to the needlelace used for clothing.


Over the years Kay has added more techniques to her repertoire, and paints completed leaves with silk paint to get the required tonal variations. Blackberries are beaded, and puff paste is used to create texture.

Sometimes the commissions Kay undertakes are particularly challenging and this Humpty Dumpty (Humpty Stumpy?) took many hours of work.


Kay and Michael's talk was very interesting, and amusing, especially her anecdotes about the nights spent at Lytes Cary Manor (home to a particularly fine stumpwork mirror) when she was teaching workshops. I might adopt her revised spelling from now on!

In other things . . .

Help is needed in the following ways

New committee members - as some existing committee members will be standing down at the branch AGM next month.

A new leader for Young Embroiderers, as Diane is reluctantly having to step down as leader after many years.

York branch is hosting the Regional AGM on 14th October at Scarcroft Village Hall. This means we need cakes, and people to help on the day. Please volunteer. We only have to take our turn once every fifteen years, so now is your chance!

Get in touch with Sue or Shirley if you can help at all.

And finally,

This month saw the awarding of the Ida Barber trophy. Ida Barber was one of the founder members of the York branch and was its chair for six years. She was also a Minster Broderer, and she specialised in crewelwork. She was a very encouraging person and was very keen for embroidery not to be seen as elitist, and several members spoke of how their love of embroidery was developed by Ida. Ida instigated a competition for the 'Best Original Design' awarded annually. This year it was won by Jane Hare for her hare.

Jane's winning hare




Monday, 31 July 2017

July meeting - Members' day and the Big Stitch

This month's meeting was different from most meetings in as much as we didn't have a speaker or a business meeting. What we did have as usual was a coming together of members and visitors who have a love of, or interest in, Stitch.
We spent the day working on our own projects ( or in some cases - mine included - talking about what we were doing, but not actually doing much of it ).
I took a few photos to give a flavour of the range of work that was happening.

Daisies by Jose

Part of the Stamford Bridge Tapestry project, stitched by Sharon

Fabric dyeing with resist by Pauline

A selection of very fine bugs stitched by Shirley

Detail of the Blackwork piece stitched by Isobel,
 which won the prize for the best piece of Blackwork
There is no meeting in August, but we will be back at the Folk Hall on 2nd September.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

June Meeting - Joanna O'Neill

Our speaker this month was Joanna O'Neill. She described herself as an Embroiderer and Quilter and said this was 'all encompassing'.

Joanna is a member of the Contemporary Quilt Group, a specialist group within the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles. Joanna's talk 'Bitesized' was about her journal quilts. To the uninitiated, this is a miniature quilt, often an A4 size. The advantage of working small is that the process can be less daunting than embarking on a full sized bed quilt.

But . . . as we all know, why think just one quilt when we could make twelve?

Joanna's talk centred on the Contemporary Quilt Group's annual challenge of making a series of twelve journal quilts; images of each to be posted online to a monthly deadline. To add variety, each year a new theme or size (or both) is specified.

A selection of the 2014 collection using space dyed fabric

... and all properly labelled!

We were treated to Joanna's collection of quilts - she's been an active member of the challenge for over seven years, so we had nearly a hundred quilts to look at. She explained how a theme developed as she worked through a year, and explained the techniques she used, often using Markal paint sticks and stencils. She also has a special love of the Heide Stoll-Weber space dyed fabrics (seen above).

A selection from 2015 - coloured crayon, white fabric and sketchbook images

Detail of a 2016 quilt, with an unexpected background fabric.
Joanna's talk was amusing, (who knew that discarded boxer shorts contained enough good fabric to be the background for 2016?) and very informative. It showed a method of working small and exploring lots of techniques within an over-arching disciplined framework. An idea that could easily be translated into many other embroidery techniques. A really interesting talk, with the added bonus of being able to see and handle so many quilts.

In other things . . .

The July meeting is our Big Stitch day. Bring along something to work on. It's also the judging of the Chairman's Challenge where the theme is Blackwork. Also a reminder that the cafe will be closed, so bring your own lunch if you are staying all day.

The Regional AGM is 14th October at Scarcroft Village Hall. We are the hosts this year, so an advance announcement that we would like volunteers to steward, plus donations of inspiration bags and cakes (which sounds like the important bit!).

The Guild has a stall at the British Woolshow at Thirsk 8th-9th July 2017. If you have pieces of work to display there (NOT for sale) please bring them to the July meeting.

AND ANOTHER PLEA FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS. IF YOU THINK YOU CAN HELP IN ANY WAY, PLEASE SEE A CURRENT COMMITTEE MEMBER TO OFFER YOUR SERVICES.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

May meeting - Valerie Wartelle

Our speaker this month was Valérie Wartelle, from Halifax. Following a textile design degree course, Valerie spent the first part of her career working as a commercial designer, but following more study, eventually decided to enter into the world of creative textiles.

Heath Scarf - image taken from Valerie's website
Her chosen medium was fibres, initially wool only, but later incorporating silk and flax, and transparent fabrics . Her moody and sensitive landscapes were so popular, that she chose to become a full time artist, and a very successful one at that. Valérie explained her painstaking technique of the layering and mixing of fibres, and her gentle method of felting which enables her to carefully build up the effect she desires. We were entranced by both her work, and the delivery of her talk in a soft lilting French accent. From product design, into fine art, Valerie now finds herself producing product again. We were honoured to be shown the prototypes of large, digitally printed wool and cashmere scarves, which by the way the members were drooling over them, are certain to become a sure fire hit!

In other things . . .

The speaker for next month (June) is not as advertised, but will instead be Joanna O’Neill.

Regional Day
June 10th at Riccall. Tickets (inc lunch) £25 members. £30 non members
If you would like a ticket, please notify Sue Giles before 27th May. You can pick up your ticket at the June meeting or at the door on the day.
Summer School
There are a few places left on the Region Summer School.
Further details about both the Regional Day and the Summer School can be found in the Region Yearbook

For the June Meeting
Please bring contributions for our bag (being made for us by Jean Graves), which will be our raffle prize contribution at region day. New or handmade items please.

We would also like to see as many “Inspiration Packs” as possible please. So far we have one!

Sales Table
The sales table is proving invaluable in the management of our finances. Sharon and Christine would like you to have a good sort out, and provide them with some more stock please!

National AGM
Shirley and Celia gave reports on various aspects of the AGM. The report of the Trustees and other documents are available to be read in the members’ area of the Guild website.
Celia announced that Shirley had been presented with this year's Executive Award, given for services to the Embroiderers’ Guild, and read the citation. Shirley was presented with a splendid orchid in recognition of the award, and for which she wishes to pass on her thanks.

Cafe refurbishment at the Folk Hall
Please note that from July, there will be no cafe whilst refurbishment of that side of the building takes place. This is extensive and may last for up to 12 months! Members will need to bring lunch, including a drink. Soft drinks and biscuits will take the place of our usual tea and biscuits after the speaker.

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!).  EDIT. Our branch exhibition will be in 2018, but dates and venue are still to be confirmed.

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