2012 Meeting Accounts

13th December 2012


Christmas lunch and meeting.

The venue for the Christmas meeting was Brookfield Golf Club. On arrival at 10.30 members were welcomed with coffee, tea and biscuits and the sight of the tables decorated with small ‘presents’ and poinsettias. There was the usual opportunity to chat, exchange cards, and look at the seating plans as well as delivering the gifts made from no more than a fat quarter of fabric to the table receiving a ticket identifying their new gift to be presented after lunch.

Tables set for lunch with poinsettias

Receiving the exchange gifts

Wonderful selection of gifts on the exchange table










Then it was time to begin Tricia after a quick reminder about the visit to the ‘Threads of silk and gold exhibition’ at the Ashmolean then introduced our surprise guest speaker was Jennie Rayment. 


Jennie introducing herself and work to members



For those that did not know her Jennie introduced herself as being obsessed with 'Nipping and Tucking' - fabric manipulation and surface texture which involved a lot of stitching, twiddling, fiddling, tweaking, twitching, manipulating and manoeuvring in the making of a wide variety of items.










Jennie spends a lot of time travelling not only in ‘Britain’- indeed she had left home near Portsmouth at 5.0am to reach us for the presentation- but throughout the world giving talks and workshops.

As well as making a vast array of tucked quilts, bags etc exhibiting, delivering workshops and lectures, writing books she also features on the ‘craft channel on television (something that does not seem to impress some of the organisations Jennie has represented).



Jennie had brought many samples (and her books for members to purchase ) with her to illustrate her talk about her life and times. 

This included a visit to Florida to present a series of lectures and workshops when the hotel room accommodation was infested by red ants – were they fire ants?? – a visit to reception produced the desired anti – ant spray which seemed to provide a solution – well the ants were no longer visible.

 On leaving the hotel the following morning for work Jennie explained to reception about keeping the spray and would housekeeping not clean the area so that the ants would not return. 

Reception was fine with this but that the hotel had many ants and ‘roaches’ this gave Jennie an interesting day as throughout her lecture she kept imagining the ‘roaches’ infesting her clothes, case etc. 

On her return to the room Jennie packed her belongings and then rethought the situation as visions of ’roaches’ hidden in her clothes in the case prevailed so unpacked and hung clothes etc at intervals around the room.


Workshops in America clearly show we are divided by a common language with comments like ‘what a great vest’ proving worrying until the realisation that a ‘vest ‘in America is not a vest as we know it but a waistcoat. Other confusions during workshops come from simple terms like tacking work during preparation when in America what is actually required is the term ‘baste’. 







Each of the quilts, bags etc had a story attached and all were different as Jennie dislikes repetitive work. 





'Quags -  The bag

'Quags' - The quilt



Explanations were given as to how to achieve different features including bags which turned inside out to become quilts – ‘quags’. 











Other helpful tips were to quilt first and then apply the appliqué design. Also displayed were quilts and work prepared for the TV programmes together with amusing accounts relating to the making or modelling including a reversible apron featuring different examples of patchwork on each side which caused a certain amount of confusion when the reverse side was shown.



One quilt became a ‘firework’ costume the quilt forming the tube with an addition interesting piece of headwear to be the remaining part of the firework.


Unfortunately with all except her eyes covered Jennie could not see the steps up to the catwalk or its edges; however the end of the ‘display’ revealed Jennie in her ‘marathon kit’.




The marathon kit designed to assist the competing in the event consisted of a customised outfit – a vest/ T shirt with her name on the front (so that people could shout encouragement) and ‘never again ‘on the back. Baggy shorts (for keeping cool) with some toilet paper in 1 pocket and a £20.00 note pinned in to the other (emergency measures). A base ball hat with holes cut into it provided the finishing touch. Jennie was most put out as the medal she was presented with was acquired and worn by her current husband gaining him kudos as a marathon runner!! 



Royal Waitress - evening dress!!


The Jubilee inspired the idea of a royal waitress – for afternoon tea an apron with EIIR embroidered on it, cuffs, collar and headband together with tea tray completed the ensemble.


For evening the outfit converted easily for cocktails by turning the tray over, shedding a few items of the afternoon tea costume and adjusting the headband.









This was an excellent choice providing an interesting, lively and amusing start to the seasonal activities. 


Ready for lunch

A short break allowed the tables to be moved into position and members to locate tables designated by stitch names. Sue Wickson gave the grace and the Lunch of choice was served and enjoyed. Then the time arrived for the gift exchange and the draw to award the poinsettia table flowers. Finally warm mince pies and tea or coffee, a vote of thanks to the committee followed by good – byes and wishes for a Happy Christmas and a good New Year 2013.  


15th November 2012



Rachel Grant - Textile and Mixed Media Artist

Rachel’s qualification is in Textile Design and Surface Decoration with a particular interest in knitting which she uses whenever possible to express her ideas.

Following her graduation Rachel considered various creative routes but until 2005 she focused on her personal life. 

Then housing renewal schemes which involved the clearing of terrace houses in the area of Stoke on Trent near to her home provided inspiration. The demolition of the houses revealed evidence of people’s lives in terms of wallpaper, fireplaces, tiles as well as giving the sense of the safe home environment of people and families being destroyed. This sparked community projects linked to making memories using stories of people’s life in the area and the loss experienced as communities disappeared. The layers of wallpaper in the remains of the houses were layers of history telling about the people who lived there, the miners, pottery workers, the bits of pottery in the soil all added to the story. Rachel represented these experiences using layering techniques, stitching, knitted pieces, pottery shards and fragments of building materials applied onto canvas panels.

As she worked with and talked to people they showed her photographs which illustrated their lives, some gave photos to include in her work. This was achieved through the creation of digital images of the pictures which were transferred onto fabrics including knitted pieces and applied to canvas. Although many of the panels are for exhibitions / galleries others are used in community projects. Space, Places and Identity (a temporary intervention) involved a series of panels relating to the community which were fixed to the walls and used as a trail for people visiting their former homes prior to demolition of the area. Rachel has also used a complete terrace house as part of a community project involving outcomes from skills workshops, knitting groups etc .

Garden Sheds

The Growing Hearts and Minds project linked to people managing their own well being and green spaces, gardens, growing food to improve wellness. This moved Rachel from houses to allotments and garden sheds made from all sorts of reclaimed and recycled items.

Another project involving work with children used knitting to create a ‘tree cosy’ and a series of bulbs or globes filled with elements of life ( a bulb is the store of life, what the plant will become)hope for the future. 


Rachel has used these bulbs/globes in her work extending them into balloons using them to tell stories through symbolism.

Lady Godiva Awakes has been her most recent venture, a team project for the Cultural Olympiad the Arts Council sponsored event which aimed to get communities involved in the Olympics but in activities other than sport. Rachel’s part was to design and create 2 sections of the coat for the 10 metre high puppet figure. The work of Claris Cliff and Susie Cooper together with ordinary women of the potteries e.g. pottery painters were used as sources of inspiration and screen printing and appliqué were some of the techniques involved in the making. Lady Godiva awakened in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and then travelled to London via various towns in her horse (powered by cyclists).

This was an interesting and thought provoking presentation, illustrated with slides and worked canvas panels. The finished pieces of textile art reflected the combination of social history, stitching, knitting and mark making.



 18th October 2012

Quilt inspired by 'African Skies'
‘Under African Skies’  

 by Magie  Relph 

Magie arrived at the meeting with many boxes, baskets, trays and cases. These contained not only samples and slides to illustrate her theme but also revealed a selection of brightly coloured fabrics, threads, buttons, beads and related African items which could be purchased - using 'cards' when cash ran out! 

Decisions decisions!

Baubles and Beads

The presentation was interesting providing information about the fabrics of West Africa - Gambia, Ghana and Mali - including how they are made and the people who work to produce them.

We learned

That initially, before the European influence in West Africa, indigo blue was the main colour available to the weavers.
In Mali the fabric is stitched, tied and dip dyed in indigo with the pattern being more visible on the back of the fabric than on the front.

Fabric from Mali with pattern

 created by stitching

In Nigeria Starch resist techniques are used to create designs, similar to batik process, the starch paste being from cassava.

Various decorative techniques

 including stenciling

Other methods of achieving patterns are the use of stencils where the starch is pushed through the stencil, dried for a week and then dyed and if further colours are required the fabric is dried and re –dyed.
Alternatively the fabric can be hand painted with starch (which takes 3 – 4 weeks) and then dip dyed in the indigo vat for 10 minutes.
These crafts are dying out although there are some artisans in Nigeria promoting the techniques through workshops.   

In Gambia many different ways of creating patterns are used like starch, simple tools, combs, fingers, plastic lace curtain etc.
Musa, in Gambia, has a ‘compound’ where he lives and works with brothers, parents and children. They use wax resist and a simple wooden stamp made from hardwood mahogany to create patterns using various colours. They work on plain white or coloured cloths many of which are imported Damask with traditional designs woven into them. The Damask was introduced by Europeans to trade and was bought as it showed status because it was European rather than local cotton.

Wooden and foam stamps used to create patterns.

  Cloth tied ready for dying and decorated fabric.

The cloth is tied into a rope and then dyed in natural dye either indigo or cola nut which produces an orange dye. (The cola nut is pounded up and mixed with water) Once dry the fabric can be re dipped if required, it is then untied by the children or unpicked using a razor blade (adults). To finish the cloth it is dried, folded, placed over a log and beaten. This gives the cloth a sheen which can be increased further by using powdered starch or wax whilst pounding.

In Ghana Ester uses wax and foam stamps to create patterned fabric. The base colour is applied to the white cloth first then laid out to dry, within 30 minutes it is ready for the next stage. A foam stamp is selected dipped into melted candle wax and applied to the cloth to create the design required, this is then dipped into hot water dye, dried, re-stamped, folded and put into cold water dye. To remove the wax the fabric is boiled then plunged into cold water to pull the wax off the fabric.

In Mali the fabric is stiff and this effect is maintained by continually starching the fabric particularly the ceremonial dresses/tunics.

Creative with Strip Cloth’   a half day workshop with Magie Relph

Strip cloth is a length of fabric 10 cm (4” ) wide and can be any length up to 60 metres the reason being that traditionally the fabric strips could be woven using natural items like tree branches which fitted their life style rather than a loom. These strips are then sewn together to make clothing items like the traditional tunic, trousers and ceremonial robes. When assembled, a whole wearing cloth is about 24 strips wide and nine feet long, which requires a warp that is about 200 feet long.
Tunic made from strip cloth

Weaving cotton into long strips up to 60 metres long is an important textile tradition found throughout West Africa. These strips are slightly thicker than machine woven cotton. Daboya Indigo Strips - from the village of Daboya in northern Ghana or Mud Cloth Strips from Mali.

For the workshop we had a piece of strip cloth – either natural or patterned with stripes  and a selection of glass beads, shell buttons made from the shells of giant land snails, Pata Pata recycled flip flop beads from Kenya, embroidery threads and pieces of dyed or batik fabric with which to be creative.

Magie had various samples to use as a starting point – small bags, purses, book covers, needle cases, small wall hangings etc.

Selection of items made during workshop
Once decided on what to make and with additional items for decoration the group set off to create their artefacts using hand sewing and simple embroidery stitches. The result being a varied and interesting range of products made from strip cloth and a relaxing workshop.