Monday, 25 July 2016

A miscellany of activities

BDEG Chair, Ann Lowe (right) with Jan Weedon sampling 
our strawberry, cream and shortbread feast last week

BDEG has had a fascinating range of activities ongoing throughout the Summer months since I blogged about attending the EG AGM in Manchester in May, on your behalf. Regular monthly evening meetings with a speaker, Saturday tutored workshops and our informal Sewing Days which provide us with a marvellous opportunity to get to know each other. With an ‘under-staffed’ Committee, we’ve each taken on a specific role - sometimes we overlap and you may received duplicate information - though better to have too much than insufficient. (And volunteers for the 2016/17 year would be appreciated.) 

Screen shot of our Blog heading; much to discover
We have marketed ourselves and been able to attract a number of visitors, and new members, which obviously helps to keep the Branch alive and flourishing. Everyone is welcome - we’re a friendly lot whether taking up stitching for the first time, or wishing to explore new techniques, frequently with the help of friends - “how did you do that?” And for those mystified by what a BLOG is (I get some strange looks when I mention it); the word is short for WEBLOG - more than a newsletter; it’s an online compendium of news AND many other online links, all in one convenient place. In other words: “A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web (www. ….) consisting of discrete entries (‘posts’) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first”. Why don’t you explore some of the links to the top and left of the screen, settle down and enjoy discovering the many facets and intricacies of our 'Stitching Matters'.

It wasn’t all strawberries! Our latest evening meeting (July 21st) was just such an occasion where we were informally sharing textile techniques with each other, led by our own Philippa Moggridge, who brought along some samples of historic seeds packets printed onto fabric. She demonstrated how we could turn these into hand-stitched samplers, providing us all additionally with a duplicated well-illustrated and annotated stitch guide. Some of us had brought materials along which had been purchased at exhibitions which we didn’t know how to use. Those who were experienced in their use, ably demonstrated. (Editor's Note - I'll add a list of some of the most popular products and how to use them to a new section on the Blog, as soon as I have a spare moment.)

Carolyn looking exceptionally elegant in her chosen hat.
Discovering the Potential of Manipulation (written by member, Carolyn Walker): Wendy Hughes arrived at our March meeting laden down with hat boxes and bags stuffed with an array of exciting items.  Having started out as a painter of landscapes and following a rather unrewarding background in education she found herself teaching in an art college with an Aladdin’s cave of textiles. Here she started experimenting with fabric, finding ways to form something three-dimensional from something flat whilst exploring her love of colour.  Initially inspired by shell forms, she discovered the properties of bias-cutting and playing with structure.  She started with a bird’s wing made from triangles and formed trellises with polyester organzas and canes;  edges were left rough creating a fragmented quality.  Mixing different fabrics and incorporating strimmer wire produced exciting and unexpected forms. The natural progression from these experimental structures was to make exciting and special hats. Now promoting herself as a ‘milliner’ she undertook a formal training in millinery with royal hat-maker Philip Somerville where she was asked to make a hat for the Queen (albeit not in her normal flamboyant style). Her work has now come full circle and she is creating landscapes by manipulating a variety of fabrics and exploring the qualities produced by buckling, folding, dyeing and hand stitching.  She loves the contrasts achieved between flat and shiny, light and dark, smooth and textured and the ways different fabrics react. Wendy was generous with information on how she works, handing round items for us to look at closely - a most enjoyable evening.

Anne Griffiths works in both large scale, as here,
or at almost miniature size.

Our April Meeting (21.04.2016) offered us ‘Stories in Stitch’ provided by Anne Griffiths - a textile artist with a wide range of interests. We were privileged to experience a slide presentation accompanied by many examples of her work which ranged from diaphanous hangings to small stitched pieces. (Anne will will be returning in November 5th to run a workshop for us.)

Such intricate work was demostrated by Jennifer -
waxed piece on the left was married to a paper page.

A week later, Jennifer Collier ran a most unusual ‘Experimental Textile Workshop’ where paper, or a paper derivative, was the basis of everything we made - using melted candle-wax. An inexpensive iron kept solely for this purpose is essential, as is protection of work surfaces, but some of the results were glorious, using a cornucopia of materials that Jennifer provided for us. Having created items that were semi-transparent (rendered so by the hot wax), Jennifer demonstrated how to use machine-stitching to create finished pieces. A revelation indeed.

Philippa sets up the projector and checks it for Fiona's presentation
Nature Predominates … Our May evening meeting (19th) offered us a Power Point presentation by Leamington-based designer/maker, Fiona Metcalfe, whose speciality is working with textiles and paper, combining screen print, stitch and collage.  Fiona is  particularly interested in birds and nature and enjoys experimenting with colour using recycled materials to create layers and depth of image. Her talk demonstrated her past and current work, explaining what has inspired and influenced her.  It particularly focussed on screen prints and stitch work, handmade books and cards. 

Vast sketchbooks and loose sheets of coloured drawings were the basis of
Susan O'Grady's stitched pieces.
'Personal Approach Fabric Painting with Machine Embroidery' - a long title for another outstanding evening meeting, on June 16th, focussing on the work of Susan O’Grady. Her work is painterly, focussing very much on sketching which she translates onto fabric. Fabric collage and machine stitching provide beautiful works of art.

We are a friendly group and welcome visitors to our meetings

ALL VISITORS WELCOME AT ANY OF OUR MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS AND SEWING DAYS. Participating charges are very modest and differ according to the nature of the meeting, and status of the attendee. All charges maintained for next year without increase: Branch membership - £25.00 per annum. Workshops - £25.00 paid-up BDEG members, £35.00 everyone else. Evening Meetings - included in membership fee for BDEG members, £5.00 per meeting for EG members (please bring your EG card), £7.00 per meeting for all other visitors. A maximum of three meetings are allowed in a year for visitors who are not BDEG members. Sewing Days - free to paid-up BDEG members, £2.00 EG members (please bring your EG card), £4.00 all other visitors. This may seem complicated but has been calculated to cover the necessary costs.

NATURE ENGAGES - it would seem that topics connected to the natural world are a constant source of inspiration to anyone working in textiles. So many ways to interpret what we see around us on a daily basis. BDEG member, Clare Boomer, produced this stunning and unusual cushion for the Broughton Castle ‘Capability Brown’ project. (Right now, the cushions are on display until 17.08.2016 in the window of the former Moss Bros in Banbury High Street - at the top end of the pedestrianised section). And Clare’s cushion is to feature on the front of next year’s BDEG Programme.

A fascinating book that should be on the shelves of every textile practitioner
‘TEXTILE NATURE’ by Anne Kelly will whet your appetite even further for engaging nature, so do obtain a copy of her new book, just published by Batsford. Anne tutored a workshop for us in May 2015; her calm and gifted approach encourages the most amazing work from participants and ‘Textile Nature’ fits perfectly into this blog post. The natural world - the basis for creativity, bringing the outside into your indoor workspace. As is apparent in Anne’s teaching, suggested approaches to creating a new textile piece in many formats are paramount, giving the reader freedom to adopt whatever approach best suits their chosen topic. Copious examples are given, not only of Anne’s delicious work, but of many contributors, professional and amateur. Click this link to purchase a copy

A tiny mixed-media folding book, typical of Anne's work
using vintage books, recycled textiles and much stitching