Meeting accounts 2017 /2018

15th February 2018 

My Blue Suitcase by Amanda Clayton



7th  December 2017

Christmas Lunch this year had a change of venue to Audlem Public Hall with caterers due to the closure of Brookfield Golf Club.

We had our normal 'swap' which this year was a pin cushion for which we had 28 very varied entries, a draw for the table decoration and a felt christmas decoration(a star, holly leaves or a christmas tree all enhanced with stitch,buttons or beads).

The surprise speaker was Alison Cooper a floral artist who created some spectacular arrangements, which she made look very simple and easy to construct, giving us inspiration for our festive decorations. The floral arrangements were won by several lucky ticket holders- drawn at the end of the lunch.
















16th  November 2017

 'The Corset Unlaced' by Gill Roberts

Gill has been an embroiderer from the age of 5, but only started her business 'Belladonna and Roses' in corsetry five years ago. Following cancer, which showed her that life was too short not to follow your interests, Gill gave up accountancy and started her own business making use of her previous work for special occasions and embroidery. 

The talk was interesting and informative covering the history of corsetry from its beginings in the 1500's through its various forms and changes due to fashions/developments of materials etc to the present day when corsets are decorative.  
Gill brought many wonderful examples of her work with her to illustrate the presentation.  





































15th  June 2017

Travels in Mexico and Guatemala by Pauline Barnes

Following a City and Guilds patchwork and quilting course instead of continuing on to part 2 Pauline undertook a 3 year design course. For this she was able to use the photographs taken during her travels in Mexico as inspiration for her subsequent work. 

The images of the Mayan temples, carvings on stones, the ‘Pyramid of the Wizard’, the ‘X’ an ancient symbol in the culture and also ‘Chaac’ the rain god which features on many of the buildings. 

Pauline also brought back a selection of textile items which attracted her and are useful sources of ideas.

Pauline used her quilting background and incorporated many of the features which she explored in her design work in their creation. During her experimentation she found that dying the cream fabric she uses did not produce the required results and so explored using coloured threads and stitch to create the desired effects. 

The quilt ‘Transforming Tradition’ took about 300 hours to produce and features the Mayan ‘X’ Motif.

18th  May 2017

My Creative Journey by Judith Rowley

As a child Judith was always making things and drawing, her father was a design/graphic engineer all of which led to her taking Art at both ‘O’ and ‘A’ level . She then trained to teach and was able to introduce both art and stitch into her teaching. 
In 2005 Judith finished teaching and went to college to take C and G and also a diploma in Stitch and Textiles. Whilst working through this she completed all the tasks but found there were some she enjoyed and others like ‘Blackwork’ which she disliked. Having identified the aspects which she preferred and being conscious of requiring a ‘style’ for her work Judith set about thinking. 
Fortunately 3 things happened to provide a solution; firstly her son returned home wearing jeans in urgent need of repair and Judith suggested darning them (rather like weaving which she had liked), secondly she visited the ‘Whitworth Art Gallery’ and was drawn to a model of a child wearing a garment made in 2000BC which was largely darns i.e. horizontal and vertical lines, the third event was a dream where she saw her work in the ‘Birmingham City Art Gallery’ with the work comprising of intersecting lines. This was to become Judith’s style for all future projects.

City Totems – boards featuring maps / you are here/
information – Judith liked the shape and took aspects of city life e.g. regeneration of buildings (orange lift, grey building etc), floral city (red / green hanging basket, appliqué flowers) basically the work is largely lines which provide a textural quality to the pieces.

The demolition of tower blocks in Wolverhampton provided 4 pieces using natural fabrics/fibres – usually Indian cotton imported from Madras Mills which requires washing prior to use to soften it. Judith also uses silk, linen and occasionally wool to provide texture.

When Judith decided to exhibit her work, she is a member of the Midlands Textile Forum and Birmingham Arts Circle, her emphasis moved from embroidery to art. She also belongs to Prism Textiles an International group which has enabled progress in her textile and art work.

Her ‘rag books’ are made out of Indian cotton and feature different aspects of the creative journey – as all pieces of work require progress through stages from the initial idea(something you have read about, heard or seen), through sketches, drawings, photographs to clarify, then development of one or two elements, experimentation with fabrics and stitch to the final idea and piece.

The’ green book’ relates to a housing estate in Greenwich – tall apartments with shops at the bottom. She was fascinated by the lines made by the scaffolding etc which she photographed, drew in pens, sampled in textiles, experimented and prototyped.

Judith likes hand stitching which she can do at different times eg whilst watching TV, visiting hospital, sitting with people who are ill and finds that in difficult situations it helps her to focus, almost a form of therapy. A green scarf was created in this way .

Her work never stands still it is always developing and changing eg from just lines to include other elements, illustrated by the blue piece – Madeira the Jewel of the Atlantic. The features represented are mist, flowers, embroidery, blue sea, terracotta roofing, stones or pebbles(at the edge of piece), banana terraces(green leaves), the piece is on turban cotton and is double sided as it was designed to be hung.

The yellow/orange piece was a hanging created for an exhibition at Bishops Castle where the theme was the ‘Lie of the Land’. Her inspiration came from field patterns, each country has different characteristics and Judith looked on the internet for examples and found lines are a feature whether ditches/hedges/walls etc. She used turban cotton, printed with lemon/orange/yellow dyes, she then manipulated the fabric with stitch both hand and with an embellisher applying silk tops/felt and making holes, in addition Judith cut up some other work which she applied in patterns semi circles. She titled this piece ‘Fields of cloth of Gold’

For the Birmingham Prism textiles ‘Another View’ exhibition Judith created a green piece with purple/blue circles, viscose wool felt for flowers, hand gathering/tucks to manipulate and embellished to make the flowers. This was hung in front of a window suspended from the ceiling and falling into a pool on the floor, the inspiration for this was China in 1957 when Chairman Mao was criticised for suppression of news and when asked for his views his speech included let 100 flowers bloom...

On a drawing course she went to Victoria Square here she drew the shops which had orange guard rails in front due to building work she then had to transfer the drawn image/ photo on to the fabric (her own practice). Her initial drawing was black and white, but the rails were orange providing colour, the lines were horizontal and vertical so Judith used felt and herringbone stitch to embellish.

For the ‘coded decoded' Prism Exhibition she took the short story ‘The Dancing Men’ by Arthur Connan Doyle in which Holmes has to break the code. Her book shows the thinking behind the work, a ‘web of intrigue’ depicted by a spiders web,  each letter of the alphabet is represented by a different  free machine  stick figure – the ‘stick man code’, the doodles are sketches and to create the dancing men Judith distorted the arms and legs to give the idea of movement.

20th  April 2017

Ordinary and Extraordinary Women by Ann Patterson

Ann has looked forward to returning to Audlem, her mother lived locally and they used to visit Audlem.

Ann had ‘grannies’ from Yorkshire and Lancashire and a Scots husband so she does not waste anything, which has resulted in her being known as ‘Scrappy Annie’. In the 1960’s at the age of 19 she went to London – a good time to be there, she then married, moved to the Midlands and had children, at the age of 50 her husband died suddenly so Ann decided to do something. 

She had always stitched so she took a C and G course, ‘Stitch and Machine Embroidery’ with Chris Goodall as the tutor. This involved machine embroidery, quilting, surface decoration etc and required planning/designing/research/recording, with all work exhibited at the end. 

Ann tended to ‘rebel’ against the constraints that the tutors put on the work e.g. the Art tutor wanted still life work, but allowed her to follow her interests - cartoons which were politically orientated. This was also evident when she was required to make a cushion / bag etc which were just not her scene. Ann’s cushion was - herself attached to a machine with her tutor on her back and was a pincushion, whilst her bag was a ‘body form’ bag. The work required but her way!

At the same time as her C and G part 2 Ann went to Westhope just because they had a different way of working. However her tutor Marie Roper said Ann had to accept that her work needed to be presented and therefore fulfil certain criteria. Her first element was quilting and she made a coffin cover, the agreement was that work would be accepted on condition that she was true to herself. 

As Ann had always had an interest in women’s stories her work is related to women’s history. The 3 women focused on are Eleanor of Aquitaine (political), Jane Austin (scientist) and Ada Countess of Lovelace (scientist – basis of computers). Research into the women became progressively more difficult due to the lack of recording of their life story.

Eleanor was well recorded in Plantagenet history, paintings etc it was a wall painting in a church that inspired the creation of the medieval banner in which Ann used calico and worked with printmakers (photo polymer etching technique), she dyed the fabric, applied acrylic and oil based paints and printed with oil. The piece includes many symbols associated with Eleanor, a unicorn, an E from the Lindisfarne Gospels, death mask from her tomb – Ann went to Fontenbleu to research further.

Westhope required books to evidence the work hence the ‘story of the banner’, and for the work to display (she did not want to display the banner) Ann created a purse and waistcoat using the un oiled remains of the fabric.

The C and G required large items to be made hence the Jane Austin hanging in which she used ‘Georgian’ colours, a silhouette, Persuasion (book) and a naval captain, the colours tended to be dull to indicate a far from colourful life.

Ada was the daughter of Byron who had married a ‘bluestocking’; he did not want her to be part of the literary society which was good as her interest was figures/numbers based. She came into contact with Charles Babbage who needed a mathematical language for his machines, her language /calculations / work were recognised as the basis of modern computer science and in the 1960’s the science museum built the Babbage machine and put her code through it. Unfortunately Ada died early at the age of 36 from cancer. The piece of work produced is a panel in colours of the period, featuring a silhouette of her face, it is worked on layers of newspaper and includes paint and stitches, sections are rubbed down.

The C and G also gave Ann opportunities, opening doors to work with artists in Eastern Europe, poets etc all providing different challenges. In Eastern Europe she was in a rural area of Slovakia which was an interesting experience due to the noise/ continuous broadcast from the Town hall from 9 – 5/ church bells/ radio/lack of English language/ requirement for translators etc. The brief was experimental textiles and started with Macramé, for this Ann tried using plastic bags but this was not allowed – she had to use string, next was drawn thread work, crochet, lacemaking, tatting – she worked with wire but the only wire was in alternators which she had to take apart prior to use.

Ann decided to study traditional costumes, so she went to the museum to research but no one was interested and the textiles were falling apart. Her final piece was a long waistcoat in crystal chiffon, stitched and heated to melt sections revealing stitching.

The C and G enabled Ann to exhibit her work, give talks and run workshops, post C and G she has continued to focus on women with stories and giving a voice to women (The Haven in Wolverhampton where women and children arrive at short notice for respite).

Post C and G Anne has worked on various projects involving women like Marie Stopes the birth control pioneer at the time of the Suffragettes. She usually includes faces in her work but in this piece she did not like the face so cut it up and used the sections, also used were the techniques of the time like the ‘Suffolk puffs’- these were used to make a circle representing the reproductive cycle which was broken by the war and Marie.

EG 2009 display entitled Autumn – Ann does not like nature/landscapes so she researched the Suffragettes and the first one to be force fed was in Birmingham in September 1909. Ann wanted to know if the anniversary was being commemorated, the resulting panel about force feeding ‘The story of Confinement’ was based on the use of stitch, fabric and wrapping by women in mental institutions and the fact that you are a number and lose your identity.

Emma Sproston from Wolverhampton was the first woman councillor – she came from a poor family, went to work at 5, educated herself, was involved in women’s suffrage and spent 3 months in solitary confinement in prison. She recorded her story and talked about daisies (flower) in a bank and people treading on them as they are abundant /common rather like women –downtrodden. A piece of work for a William Morris exhibition – experimental in nature being green and featuring chiffon with knitted wool , crochet etc being covered, stitched down and using a heat gun to burning/melt the chiffon to the stitch line revealing what was underneath and giving a rough texture due to the melted chiffon.

Other pieces are ‘soft sculpture fairies’, 

Jewellery made out of crisp packets / tin foil (contents of a lunch box) created in a book for C and G, 

‘political pin cushions’ featuring force feeding, Margaret Thatcher, BREXIT – my legacy, Pick and Mix – the last election, 


WW 1 – bandages – tattered and torn  as a rolled book, other books are ‘Nameless and Faceless’ – featuring fabric from which the printed faces had been used previously and just the remainder of the image was left. 

Easter egg(C and G) Ann’s version of a ‘Scotch Egg’ – inside a haggis nursery and whiskey distillery with the waste product scotch mist leaving via the chimney.

16th  February 2017

Embroidery and Screen Printing in collaboration with others by Chloe Hamill

Chloe undertook an Art foundation course at Falmouth this included screen printing, embroidery, machine stitching and 3D forms. One of the 3D projects was cups and vessels, which inspired her to consider issues in society and use her work to bring these to the attention of the audience. The vessels linked to the women who collect water for their families often walking great distances and carrying the weight on their heads as they return, whilst the cups naturally led her thoughts to tea and then to the Fair Trade movement and Chloe used these elements to decorate here work. 


Next she embarked on a BA Embroidery degree at Manchester and whilst here she had many opportunities to develop her work. Examples of this are work for the clothing company ‘Oasis’ where Chloe laser cut wood and used appliqué to attach this, use of a multi head machine to create an embroidery based on Moroccan tiles  which was then used on clothing. A competition in which she entered a ‘peacocks head’ design led to her work being used by ‘Purvah’ who used the design to feature on a cushion but changed the colours. A learning experience for Chloe to find companies could change colours etc without consultation once the design belonged to them.

She has undertaken various placements including India where the Jacobs Well Charity teaches women embroidery, tailoring etc. Whilst there Chloe visited factories and experienced the conditions as well as child labour being used to make goods – which were sold in the developed world, by companies some of whom say they do not use child labour.

She enjoyed working with the people and this together with her experiences made her want to tell the story as well as using, when possible, fair trade fabric. To do this Chloe screen printed images of the world onto fair trade fabric and then hand stitched the story into the image of the world, leaving the needle and thread in position and the work unfinished to give us the chance to change the life of the children.

Other images Chloe uses are ‘birds’  and these can be seen screen printed onto fabric and stitched into to tell stories of women. She selected this to represent women as men often refer to women as birds. Also birds 

like pheasants have personality e.g. they run across the road in front of you rather than retreating back into the hedgerow and this interests her, also the fact that birds migrate from one country to another helped Chloe to express her thoughts in relation to women through the creation of maps with images on them.

Rainbow Haven is a drop in centre where women learn skills and although they all speak different languages Chloe took in fabrics, threads and needles for the women to use which helped to communicate ideas, helping with the conversations between them. They made cushions and many returned weekly so Chloe saw an opportunity to get them involved in a project where they used their embroidery skills to stitch their name onto the country they came from or to stitch the name of the country, although many found it difficult to identify their country of origin. 

From this and the fact that when the women moved they carried  their belongings in a bag came the idea to create a series of rucksacks screen printed with birds based on the countries that the women came from. The instructions for making are printed on the inside, and as part of the decoration on the bag there are pieces which can be cut out and made up into a bird whilst making the bags provides a source of income for the women.


Workshops continue to inspire Chloe and a Craft and Design Day in the old fish market in Manchester led to screen printed fish which people were asked to embroider and make up, these when sold provided funds for the RNLI.


Studying for her MA in Manchester Chloe lodged with a lady named Dorothy who was one of the first women to go to Oxford and whilst there she went to Germany on an exchange with Jewish girls, who stayed in the UK instead of returning to Germany. Tactile Too asked Chloe to create a piece of work (sketch book and final piece) and she used Dorothy’s story as her inspiration.

He MA encouraged her to move away from textiles and saw the making of an installation from 2000 butterfly wings which correlated with the number of women being trafficked for sex.

The Manchester Aid to Kosovo was set up after the war and 5 children who survived following the killing of the rest of their family came to Manchester. Chloe helps with the summer school and started children’s embroidery; this led to work with 20 widows of the war who she taught to embroider, initially making place mats and then creating 50 limited edition CD covers which were sold to raise money for the charity and now the women send their work to the UK to be sold.


There is an installation in the Imperial War Museum North in the exhibition of ‘Stories of War’ featuring 300 birds, the birds are embroidered in the same colour but each features the words of its creator. 

Chloe has lectured at Salford University and is now at Bedales School teaching pattern cutting and embroidery. She is now using the pattern cutting and making of garments to tell stories (examples of work from GCSE and A level students including the brown and cream jacket where the student made her own fabric by ribbon weaving and made it into the jacket) – life is all about learning new skills and experiencing new opportunities.













19th  January 2017

Members Meeting

The meeting saw the tables set round the hall providing the opportunity for members to catch up and socialise whilst helping to prepare items for the 120 ‘Goody Bags’ to be given out at the Regional Day which we are hosting.



The theme for this is ‘Pathways’  - we have collected O S maps featuring the West Midlands region and stuck these onto card, which was then cut up.

Tasks to complete

Sewing a selection of donated buttons onto the prepared cards

Stitching pathways onto the labels for the goody bags

Ironing and cutting up donated fabric into squares

Sorting donated beads for sale or goody bags

The raffle was drawn and ‘winners’ selected their prizes.



8th  December 2016

 Christmas Lunch and Surprise Speaker


Members gathered at Brookfield Golf Club for coffee at 10.30 bringing with them Christmas greetings, cards and gifts for friends and of course the broaches made for the ‘Christmas Swap’. 


The tables set for lunch, looked very festive and luxurious with gold cloths and serviettes, green and gold table centres containing the cyclamen (a gift for one of those on each table at the end of the meal), Christmas crackers, table name cards featuring Women celebrated for their work in Embroidery e.g. May Morris and the red gift pockets for each member. 

There were over 30 broaches all created using a variety of techniques and all very different, they made a wonderful display and the recipients were delighted with the broach gained in the exchange, many being pinned on immediately. 

After the refreshments and chat it was time for Trisha to welcome us, reminding us at the January members meeting we would need basic sewing kit and glasses if required. 

Then the introduction of our surprise speaker Meredith Towne who gave a very lively, enjoyable and informative presentation entitled ‘Glitz and Glamour’.  This highlighted ladies evening wear in the early 20th Century and featured the social history of the period that produced the changes in style, decoration and hem lines. Meredith brought a wonderful selection of original clothes, many of which featured embroidered and beaded decoration, with which to illustrate her talk.

















17th  November 2016

Paper, Stitch, Passion and Purpose by Bridget Bowie

Bridget has a degree in textiles and embroidered textiles, from this she started teaching Art to 11 to 18 yr olds and then 10 years ago changed direction again to become a self employed Artist. This freedom came as a bit of a shock after the routine of school, so she set out to develop her own routine and with this the thoughts about what she was going to create , how to develop her work and become more widely known.

When Bridget was teaching she used paper and card, working with smaller pieces, off cuts etc so she decided on this as her starting point for work at home. This involved the manipulation of different types of paper, staining using various mediums and stitching the results together. There were many influences on her work including cultures for example Indian. Bridget developed a range of paper samples which she used for cards as well as using the paper to produce images.

Initially she ran workshops focusing on the use of paper and then needed to challenge herself, which came about through Crewe and Nantwich together with Cheshire Council and the ‘Econet Project’. This looked at the environment and involved exploring various outcomes other than pictures e.g. labels/tag and a flat pack bird box.

Bridget met others on this project which developed her ideas and resulted in a group of 4 signing up for an MA at MMU.  This produced a change of direction, via an installation project at Victoria Baths in Manchester, which led to her work telling a story. She collected stories/ memories from people who had used the baths, involving bathing hats and swim suits, towels etc.  How to use this information to produce the installation, which by its nature takes time to create and set up, is not present for long and is then disassembled. Bridget decided to collect towels, roll them up (as one did with swim wear inside) and attach name tapes to them which had different stories printed onto them.

The MA was Art as an Environment (selected to be different from her original textiles) about our human environment and how we (Bridget) fit into this. The first task for her MA was to ‘Make Something’  the item Bridget selected was a dress for a doll – strange you might think but she visited her Mother on a day a week basis through the course and her mother would present her with different items. The doll was wearing a dress that Bridget had made for it when she was about 7 years old and she decided to recreate the dress, this brought about the realisation that for her the process was a major part of the work rather than the outcome. Before starting she had to think in terms of how it affected her, what she knew and how we retain memories. 

Bridget’s interest in memory, how it functions and affects creativity resulted in a project working with a group whose members had suffered a stroke, the group used images or items that were a part of their memories to produce pieces of work. These are displayed in the Eagle Bridge Health Centre.
Life drawing featured as part of the course and from this Bridget developed the process of cutting away the figure resulting in space around the figure (this linked with the death of a friend). She also works with tracing paper making positive and negative images, stitching paper together and seeing the parts removed as being fragile whilst pieces that remain are more solid.

Bridget’s Work since her MA has focused on what has been removed e.g. removing sections from paper and machine stitching over the void.  This process causes different things to happen in terms of the paper changing shape, Bridget has little control over what occurs and although she did not start with a particular outcome in mind during her working it evolved into a 3D hanging.

Throughout her work Bridget uses photos of her work as part of the process to further develop work/generation and exploration of ideas, it helps her to look at her ideas differently for example when viewed from the side it is contained whilst when viewed from above it looks open differing perspectives.

Exhibitions have been ‘Off the Wall’ at little Moreton Hall based on ruffs from Tudor dress and ‘Unravel’ the theme being to show the story behind something eg her work featuring sketch books, process, samples, exploration of ideas



20th  October 2016

 Goldwork by Golden Hinde
















15th  September 2016


At the AGM there were displays of the Travelling Books from 2016 , the items entered into the 'Chairmans' Challenge' competition for members to vote on and select a winner, members work created at the various workshops during the year as well as a raffle for a range of prizes.

The work entered for the challenge was excellent and varied in terms of techniques which provided members with very difficult decisions as to which piece to select as their favourite.






























Also on display were the travelling books and work that members had undertaken at the various workshops, both in house and delivered by external speakers, throughout the last year.





There were two presentations
The first was  25 year Embroiderers' Guild membership certificates awarded to Marjorie Derbyshire and Sheila Webster.

The second was to Linda Hall the winner of the Chairmans Challenge members vote  pictured with her winning entry 



21st  July 2016

 Members meeting ‘Afternoon Tea at Lunchtime’

The meeting was lively with plenty to do including a sales table, with lots of contributions which proved very popular,


 a raffle with many interesting prizes and Maggi Phillips sales table raising money for the overseas charity she supports.

Members sat at tables (max of 8 people) so plenty of opportunity to socialise whilst having tea/coffee, then after the notices came the challenge.   everyone was given a piece of fabric with a leaf printed onto it, a range of embroidery threads, needles and scissors had been provided, the owner of each was given 5 minutes to stitch part of the leaf in a stitch of their choice, then time was called and the work passed to the next person at the table to repeat the process, this was repeated until the leaf returned to its owner all that remained was to complete the leaf!

Then it was time for the committee to bring out the, flowers, cutlery,  platters of sandwiches, cake stands laden with a selection of scones, fruit tarts, cup cakes, chocolate slices, the bowls of strawberries, jam and cream and of course cups of tea.  

 The raffle was drawn ( 8 winners), prizes selected, thanks given for the Afternoon tea and with many wishes for a good summer and ‘see you in September’ the meeting ended - another successful year.   

16th  June 2016

Landlines, drawn lines, stitched lines by Amanda Hislop

Amanda was interested in art and textiles, she went to art college for her foundation course and applied to Goldsmiths although she actually studied for a degree in woven textiles and painting at Farnham. Following this she trained to teach and ended up teaching in Wantage, Oxfordshire at a girl’s boarding school where Amanda introduced textiles, embroidery and machine embroidery into her art classes. Eventually the school merged and Amanda took redundancy, moving on to a Masters Class where she met up with Julia Caprara and then became a member of ‘Prism’ Textile inspired Art.


At home Amanda works in a studio(3x3.5 m), which houses a Bernina 807(which she used at school),  a Viking Husquvana 425, and a recently acquired Bernina 830 which is a bigger machine with a knee lift to raise the presser foot (which she is getting used to). Her studio looks out over fields and she uses this landscape of hills, trees, sown and ploughed fields and vegetation for inspiration. Living close to the ‘Ridgeway’ and walking her dogs along this path also provides plenty of ideas and opportunities to take photos which can be used later. 

Amanda works on muslin using acrylic paints and will combine elements from different landscapes or remove posts or features which she does not require. She also learns from each piece of work especially those where she has used a particular paper or fabric that has been very difficult to stitch into or created other problems. Another source of ideas is a sketch book which belonged to her grandfather (who died when she was about 8 years old), it includes sketches of cow parsley, wire fences etc.

Amanda’s work features ink and bleach – a type of resist/discharge technique, mark making is used to create grasses, Mark making is a visual language, this and drawn lines are an important part of her work. Amanda produces studies using drawn lines, which become stitched lines; she will then paint the surface, create the structure with hand stitches (usually long and short stitches, seeding, ‘Y’ and French knots) and then machine stitch( this will be straight or zig zag or a combination of both). 

She also uses a range of fabrics including cotton rag paper(150gms – crumpled up or uncrumpled),Abaca tissue,  conservation tissue, teabag paper( these 2 have wet strength meaning they can be used when dyeing)  and often works on calico with paper laid over it so she can paint it using an acrylic wash and then embroider into it. Amanda tends to use a limited colour palette which are natural and comprise liquid acrylics or system 3 acrylics.


Amanda also stitches onto dissolvable fabric, firstly laying threads onto it (forming grasses) and then stitching into them and then applying them to her painted canvasses using hand stitch, more recently she has been using ‘Aqua bond’ for this. 

Experimentation also develops her work for example a layered piece which Amanda cut into sections and put ‘Thermo gauze’ in between stitching grasses into this and then melting the gauze to leave the stitches which represented the grasses blowing in the wind thus providing movement in the piece.  

Throughout Amanda looks for layers and lines in the landscapes, and always takes a sketch book with her especially on holiday when she fills it with ideas using ink/ water and bleach. Work entitled ‘Big Skies and Rain’ came from a holiday in Wales when it rained a lot.




Mixed media is also used and enables her to push the boundaries with her work for example stitching onto paper and glues this onto pictures.

Another focus is trees particularly the light through the trees, against the darkness of the trees themselves e.g. larch, being a weaver – working with horizontal and vertical threads in work and designs- these remind Amanda of herringbone weave.

Each year Prism has a different theme for work which provokes different ideas and pieces including’ I must go down to the sea again, a piece which uses cellulose paste to bond CNC – this thickens the fabric so it is firm enough to stitch but which softens once stitched and the seascape was added using layers of paper, fabric and thread. 

The 2011 theme was ‘Up Close in Detail’ for which Amanda created work based on the Dorset cliffs and the fossils on the shore.  

 The 2012 theme was ‘Hidden Places, Hidden Spaces’ this work came from an isolated beach, where things hidden by the sea are revealed as the tide ebbs for example seaweed, fishing line shells, rocks etc. Amanda does not like the rock in the middle of the picture so will cut the piece up and rework it. 

The 2013 theme was ‘From Sketch to Stitch’ this is a liminal process you go through in order to get to the end product/point – Amanda has a big sketch book which records the process behind the idea which originates from a holiday in Cornwall.

The 2014 theme was ‘Coded: Decoded’ this was a landscape produced as a free standing piece(an experiment) and is now in book format comprising fragments of the landscape.

The 2015 theme was ‘Lines of Communication’ - this was a new venue for the exhibition – Hoxton Arches (under a railway) and work had to be hung, but with limitations due to transport it had to be a smaller piece. Amanda created a piece based on weaving in which the land unfolds as the pleats are opened revealing the work underneath. Her sketch book provides a record of the process including experiments, trial pieces and samples.

The 2016 theme was ‘Fracture’ and for this a piece of flint picked up on her travels was used, inspiring with its colours and shape. In her sketchbook Amanda has applied colour to the pages rather than working onto white whilst the piece created is sealed with acrylic wax to give a shiny leather like surface.

19th  May 2016

Machine Embroidery by Suzette Smart

Suzette lived in Wales on a farm near to the mountains and the sea, the family had a sailing boat and went to Anglesey, her grandmother painted and all this has served to inspire her and can be seen in her work.

She did fashion and textile design at university but this was really the wrong course for Suzette as she had always loved embroidery. In 2002/3 she bought a new sewing machine and this enabled her to create/produce work more quickly than previously when she had worked by hand.

Suzette’s first pieces of work, about 1998 (following the death of her parents) were reflective looking back to the farm, land and sea. These were also the pieces where she was learning about the machine and experimenting with different fabrics like handmade felt.
The tree of life was one of these pieces and featured birds, figures etc which still feature in her work.

With experience Suzette applied stabiliser onto calico and used a frame which meant that she had much more control when working. The pieces of work were based on family days out e.g. on the beach, Suzette draws out ideas in pencil and uses variegated thread - this ensures the out lines are not to solid. 

She also uses characters like dogs, foxes, birds as well as leaves and trees in her work which she has developed and translated into 3 D forms so they come out from the picture with many like the birds being presented on blocks of wood etc. 

Suzette makes use of various items e.g. wood, metal and also recycles fabric pieces including experimental samples from her ‘sketch’ books to feature in her work. (for example the 'woodpecker')

The boats and figures have been created using water soluble fabrics and also with layers of fabrics and synthetic felt which are then stitched into, following this a soldering iron is used to melt the work creating holes, Suzette then makes these into models like the boat and flag.

Suzette has also written books but it is with words rather than pictures that these are compiled, she usually has a book on the go which also inspires her to work. 

The quilt took 8 months to complete and Suzette used a vintage dress as the basis for this, using the lining, top fabric, straps etc, the patches on the quilt are pieces of recycled embroidery, and letters also feature. The idea for the quilt had been with Suzette for a while and she had sketches but it was really a ‘developing piece’ as she had no ideas as to exactly how it would look when finished. 
Ideas came from a map, walking along a canal towpath, nature and figures/people met, part of the work is quilted using a grid but also features hand stitch. There is a forest of trees which makes use of recycled embroidery, but in order to change the colour or tone it down Suzette will cover sections with lace or organza and then cut out areas to reveal the brighter colour.

Other sources of inspiration

A large white rabbit, called buster, which was put in a telephone box to keep him safe until collected, had a limerick written about his situation and Suzette turned this into a picture with the writing done free hand on the machine.

A similar picture was created about two collared doves again with a written passage.

The tea cups and saucers pieces were inspired by Suzettes’ grandmother and her friends meeting for tea when ‘Aunt Jean’ would read the tea leaves. 


A Madeira Threads competition in 2004 entitled ‘Glimpses of India’ led Suzette to make 3D teacups and saucers – these are made as 2D and then put into a cup to mould them- and include tea leaves and ‘Masala Chai’.

Suzette has also run various workshops including ones featuring boxes, using pelmet Vilene with layers of fabric stitched on top, she has also experimented with machines and techniques and a casket which she produced led to a commission from the University church of Oxford to produce a large (35cm x 110cm) fully stitched picture.


‘Rose Queen sash’ - for this she used an existing sash (which belonged to her mother) which she cut up and reassembled back into a sash shape. The recycling of clothes and fabrics to create compositions together with experimenting with different threads including thicker ones in the bobbin to give a tapestry feel (she then sews on the reverse of the work) are all features of Suzettes work.

21st April 2016



Creative Surfaces by Lynda Monk (a mixed-media textile artist, who uses materials such as Kunin Felt, Tyvek and Lutradur to create textured and unusual surfaces.)

Lynda started her career in textiles wanting a knitting machine and once acquired she made jumpers, from this she looked for evening classes to extend what she was doing and found C and G in machine knitting. 

Her tutor introduced her to creative embroidery which led to Lynda stopping knitting after her part 1 . Instead of going on to part 2 she went to shows and bought books and kits to work on, then Lynda moved house and started using distance learning completing work through a blog, this then took over becoming a main way of communicating and leading to books, workshops e.g. ‘Pinked, Puffed and Pulled’ - Elizabethan costume the waistcoat is poly velvet which has been foiled, covered in organza and then put through the embellisher

Slinky secrets – Lynda prints onto tissue paper( old paper patterns) using the laser fly motif, this is then glued onto the backing fabric, stitched through and coloured in.

Encrusted blades structures are made from acrylic felt (created from recycled plastic bottles), this can then be melted. This is then backed onto pelmet Vilene with a layer of Lutradur in between to stop the fabric buckling, machine stitch is applied as either a wavy line grid or circles, with the final stage using acrylic paints to colour. 

Lynda’s first book 'Stitching the Textured Surface', was written with Carol McFee and explores the use of gesso and molding paste to create amazing textured surfaces which she then ‘zaps’ ( applies heat to in order to obtain further effects/detail).


Her second book 'Fabulous Surfaces' uses tissue papers combined with foils and acrylic mediums producing metallic effect surfaces and more. Lynda has used this technique to create wearable art constructed using Evolon as the background to obtain the metallic effect. This is also seen in the vessels and gift bags.

The third book in 2012 was 
the quickest to write, 'Exploring Creative Surfaces' looks at creating more unique surfaces using scrim, polyester fabrics, foils and mixed media products.

The books are published by d4 Daisy; there are newsletters, a website and free online lessons to explain the techniques.

Folded pocket books(Granny’s boasting books for photos) consist of Lutradur covered in gift wrap tissue paper (on each side) which is bonded on using bondaweb and then coloured with e.g. walnut ink which then has salt sprinkled on, this is allowed to dry.

Leaves are created using a 2 tone foil technique on Lutradur and are coloured with acrylic paint.


The white flowers/leaves make use of Lutradur and Xpandaprint (puff paint) and a heat gun as when heat is applied the Xpandaprint puffs up whilst the Lutradur melts creating the lacy effect, wire is then used to stiffen the veins of the leaves/petals.

Three pictures- First one is inspired by the ‘Bone Church’ in Kutna Hora Prague where garlands of human skulls, a bone chandelier and chalices decorate this small Gothic chapel.

The second is ‘Postman’s Park’ in London -this scenic park acquired its name due to its popularity as a lunchtime garden with workers from the nearby old General Post Office. It is home to the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts (1817-1904).
Watts was a radical socialist with strong sympathies towards the dreadful living conditions of the urban poor, and in 1887, wrote to the Times proposing that a park commemorating 'heroic men and women' who had given their lives attempting to save others would be a worthy way to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee year. This eventually took the form of the Watts gallery in Postman's Park.
Along the walls of the gallery, Watts placed glazed Doulton tablets commemorating acts of bravery, each one detailing the nature of the heroic act. The tragic tales documented on the tiles are touching, often involving children and usually concerning fire, drowning or train accidents.

 Third is ‘the Cross Bones Graveyard’ Southwark an unconsecrated graveyard for prostitutes or’ Winchester Geese’ by the 18th century it had become a paupers’ burial ground which closed in 1853.

Sketch books are created from samples/ experiments with the processes being described fully
















17th March 2016

What Floats my Boat by Liz Brooke Ward

Liz’s work covers all aspects involving fabric and stitch, including quilts, she considers herself an enthusiast rather than a specialist. She spends many hours in her ‘shed’ in the garden and takes her inspiration from the natural world and landscapes including what she sees from her work room.

Whilst working on her C and G Liz focused on lichens, an idea which came from the work of her scientist husband, who at that time was taking pictures of lichens through a microscope. 

She thought the images were so textural that they were ideal for stitch, Liz created a simple design – a circle, inscribed in a square which she cut into 4 and re arranged, then free machined into to give texture.

The scale of the circles varies from 4” to 24”, the fabrics are hand dyed and she has printed onto the fabric( via the computer and printer), this has included the words of the poem ‘Walls’ by Robert Frost(lichen featuring on walls as yellow/orange/grey/green patches)

The long panel is based on the same theme but with stone shapes, which Liz quartered and re assembled, this was a second working of the idea as she was not happy with the original.

Liz saves ‘waste pieces’ e.g. the outer pieces once circles have been cut out etc and this has allowed her to create pieces featuring the negative shapes which she stitches onto a base fabric and enhances with stitch. She also uses the Fibonacci sequence which is a natural shape. 

As well as large pieces Liz creates smaller versions which are entirely stitched with French knots.

The leaf was the first time she used embroidery on quilted work and employed the two stitches she knew – French/bullion knots and blanket stitch.

Yellow / fawn piece focuses on lichens(fungus and algae) and employs mixed media including flour and water paste.

As part of her C and G Liz created a quilt based on the solar eclipse, featuring the band of darkness seeping across the sun, this uses space dyed fabric and panel of moon shapes (the reverse is orange, red and yellow).

Cones made using dissolvable film, straight stitch and then working over this with circles, Liz did not wash out all the film and so they have some support and retain their shape.

Her entry for the Charles Henry Foyle competition was entitled Maelstrom, swirling water, all the shapes were an oval, which was distorted, and Liz changed the scale of the shapes from small to large and created the feeling of movement by working on the diagonal. She used reverse appliqué with shapes drawn on Vilene, dyed pieces for the front (marbled fabric) and then created a string block which she then dabbed over the work to give a pattern over the surface.

For the Festival of Quilts –Be Inspired the brief was ‘August’, Liz decided to use the poem ‘August Midnight’ by Thomas Hardy, in which the light attracts insects – a moth, bee daddy long legs and flies. She appliquéd words, tie dyed fabrics, recycled fabrics, layered silk, organza’s and used velvet as a base. 

The first pictures that Liz created were landscapes featuring the Slad valley for the centenary of Laurie Lee and one of the sun rise across the valley which used hand dyed fabric and hand embroidery.

18th February 2016

Hats, Flowers and Fascinators a fascinating journey by Claire Muir

People often ask Claire about her sources of inspiration, how she creates the items and why she does what she does and this led to her presentation. 


Claire spent her childhood abroad, living in various exotic countries, where creatures especially lizards, tropical flowers, colours, bird of paradise feathers, dancing/movement /fluidity all impacted on her and feature in her work.  

Following school she embarked on a 1 year foundation course in Bournemouth exploring many areas (not textiles) e.g. screen printing onto fabric using images of lizards.  Claire then applied to Middlesex Poly, Chelsea school of Art etc but without success and eventually ended up in Chichester following an Art and related Arts course with an emphasis on performing arts. 
Fortunately she was interviewed by Carol Naylor and the college had a fibres department.
Her first year was spent ‘dabbling’  - dying, felt and paper making etc, in the second year she was introduced to  free machine embroidery and this was when Claire was able to realise her ideas, creating 3 D items.
Alice Kettle workshops then brought embroidery to her, a way to enhance her work further. As Claire did not want to make pictures, her options were garments (she did not know how to make these) or hats – although she did not know how to make hats she decided this was a better choice.

Her first hat was made using paper pulp which she dyed (pinks and purples), she covered an existing straw hat and spooned the pulp over it, however once dried it had lost its jewel like colour and so Claire decided to embellish it with machine embroidery. Using Avalon soluble fabric to machine embroider on she created a lace flower.

Her next hat had an Oceanic theme and featured lizards, birds etc and was quilted on the top. 

This was followed by a felt hat – Claire manipulated the felt to give shape, embroidered using French knots and applied decoration in the form of ‘pimples’ (made by free machining in circles on Vilene using a thick bobbin thread, turning them through, stuffing them and attaching to the hat) and lizards – one machine embroidered and the other made in 3D and wired onto the hat. 

In other experiments for her degree Claire machine embroidered onto soluble fabric to create a lace hat in 3 sections, brim, crown and tip, she then embellished with beading (applying them individually) and hand stitch amounting to 75hrs of work!

For her post graduate year Claire applied to Goldsmiths and the Glasgow school of Art, which she decided to select. She was told that if her focus was to be hats then she had to learn how to make them correctly.

Following this Claire embarked on her first hat (1 terms worth of work!!) was able to dye her own fabrics (black bag method), select a source of inspiration, this time an oyster shell, and create a ‘proper’ hat with a blocked crown, lined, labelled, pin tucked with wire, stiffened with millinery stiffener, decorated with free machined barnacles, smocked using a smocking machine. The threads used are Moderna classic 40 – a viscose thread which have a good colour range available. 

More hats followed

A pink hat with hat pins covered to match the hat providing the finishing touch

A pink ‘pixie ‘hat with a machine embroidered section that was then attached to the brim. 

Throughout Claire was striving to make a machine embroidered lace hat but found it very difficult to stiffen them so they maintained shape as well as appearance. She participated in the New Designers Exhibition and was awarded a prize by The Worshipful Company of Drapers; with this Claire was able to buy hat blocks and machines enabling her to work at home. 
Whilst experimenting she came up with the idea of a brim supported by spokes and attached to the crown of the hat (Green), this led to her ‘Ascot’ hat (cream), as well as a red hat which was heavily stitched and created for an exhibition. 

Claire also created hats to match dresses – indeed with the first one someone suggested that she contacted the maker/designer of the dress and as a result she was given a voucher with which she acquired a second dress and the need to create a matching hat! 


The beauty of the lace hats is they are light and easy to wear although very time consuming/labour intensive to make.

This led to a change in direction to the making of tiaras, headdresses, fascinators and flowers, still using embroidery, feathers, flowers, wire together with the application of beads, crystals etc.

Other work that she has done was with a theatrical costumer where Claire was involved in designing and making hats/headdresses for the ice show in Blackpool- fortunately there was a big budget allowing for extravagant creations.

As well as making fascinators Claire also provides groups with presentations and runs various workshops including free machine embroidery, funky fascinators and fabulous flowers.

10th December 2015

Christmas meeting and lunch

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 cyclamen.

There was the usual opportunity to chat, exchange cards, and look at the tables as well as delivering the ‘key fob’ to Jean and Rita and receive a ticket for their ‘swap’ to be presented after lunch. The key fobs about 30 in total were colourful and useful demonstrating creativity as well as showcasing a variety of techniques.  


Tricia – had an announcement about Alston Hall (the venue for our 2016 week end course) which was closing at the end of December 2015 due to funding cuts. We will try to find another venue or if this fails develop an alternative proposal.

Following this our surprise speaker was introduced as ‘ Wynndebagge’ (Paul)  a Medieval Musician and Entertainer .

Paul has been a performer for 20 years and in addition to giving talks and presentations works with the National Trust and English Heritage. His name arose from his ability to play the bagpipes and also to talk. Paul comes from a theatrical and musical background, with his aunt being married to John Laurie.

As well as being dressed in period costume including boots Paul brought with him a selection of hats, boots and of course musical instruments.

The hats included - 14th / 15th century style felt hat, a medieval ‘pill box’ type of hat and an Elizabethan ‘statute hat worn by the town band musicians or waites.


Paul informed us that in medieval time’s boots were expensive as in order to make them 12 different measurements were required. This meant that only the wealthy wore boots leaving the common folk wearing wooden platens. The Civil war changed this as footwear was required for soldiers etc and could not be handmade for individuals due to time and cost, this led to mass produced foot wear of the one size fits all variety – with no specific shoes for right or left feet!

Musical instruments – the common people were not allowed brass so musical instruments were made from wood and bone.

Early instruments

Indian black buck horn (includes a bag pipe section).

The Shawm – an Arabic instrument (like the ones featured with Angels on Christmas cards), a medieval/Elizabethan wooden trumpet with a reed, has a cone shaped hole down its centre. 

Crumhorn (Flemish term for bent horn) is a medieval wind instrument with an enclosed double reed and an upward-curving end,  it has a straight hole down its centre and produces musical notes; these come in different sizes and so create different notes. 

Bag pipe – a Medieval dance instrument was the most commonly played instrument from the 12th to 17th century, it was the instrument of the God Bacchus and was made from apple wood (wood of the devil), it has 3 drones which produce a simple harmony.

Hurdy Gurdy (organistrum) was played by monks, it works /plays when the handle is turned to vibrate the strings and the notes are made when the little wooden finger pegs (tangents) touch the strings.

The Dulcimer is the fore runner of the piano where the strings are hit rather than plucked to create the sound.

The Gittern (medieval lute) is made from one piece of wood and is the fore runner of the violin.

This was a different choice of guest speaker providing an interesting, informative and musical start to the seasonal activities. 

A short break allowed the tables to be moved into position and members to locate tables designated by technique/stitch names (e.g. Ayrshire – fine cotton thread was used for embroidery on locally woven lawn, or sheer linen cambric) then Lunch was served and enjoyed. This was followed by the key fob exchange and the draw to award the cyclamen table flowers. Finally mince pies with tea or coffee, thanks to the committee, congratulations on the 25th Anniversary celebrations from Maggi with wishes for a Happy Christmas and a good New Year 2016. 

19th November 2015

 Tales from my Scrapbag by Deborah O'Hare

Deborah was introduced to patchwork and quilting whilst abroad, she had started a cross stitch group, which was joined by an Australian lady whose skills were patchwork and quilting and she taught these to the group.

Following this was a C and G patchwork and quilting course at Swansea, to which Deborah added a C and G in machine embroidery. Her final piece was based on the cliffs where she lived and was monochromatic. She did not want to Dye the fabric so instead bought fabric paints and painted, Deborah enjoyed this process and now paints her fabric. Indeed she shows/teaches groups how to paint fabric and sells both fabrics and pieces created. 

It was suggested to her that she could start a ‘blog’ which is basically an on line diary or journal which includes a picture and a piece about it. The name Deborah decided on was the ‘blue hare blogspot’. The pattern making part became well known and so to publicise the quilting side she developed ’quilt routes’ unfortunately this has meant that Deborah now has to think of things to put onto it i.e. ‘blog fodder’.

A solution to this problem came in the guise of a carrier bag into which she had put the scraps of ‘waste’ fabric and threads that she did not want to discard. Deborah set herself a challenge to use all the bits, recording the process for the blog. The first stage was to empty the bag out and sort it into colours; during this she discovered a lot of green bits, and then came the creative part of what to make.

First piece – green pieces included batik, Indian techniques, block printing etc, the fabric strips were laid out, then the design to go onto this was considered. Reference to her sketch books revealed Teasels; Deborah drew these onto stitch and tear, placed it in position and machined round the outline (once) and used acrylic paint to add the detail. 

2nd piece- this made use of the embellisher machine which Deborah had received as a birthday gift (for a big birthday). She selected hand dyed orange/red pieces, laid the strips onto wadding and embellished into this, an Aboriginal carving provided the image this was sketched onto tissue used to quilt the outline which   was then stitched into and quilted to enhance.

3rd piece – a streetscape strip, this is multi coloured,
embellished and finally has street furniture images applied.

4th piece –Trees created by embellishing into wadding, then using fancy machine stitches on top, completed by cutting ‘lollypop’ trees out of batik fabric and applying to the surface.

5th piece – fabric strips layered onto wadding, tulle laid over this and then stitched into intensively to create a landscape. What to add into this? Inspiration came from a barn on a hill, which Deborah passes regularly and which changes depending on the weather/season/light etc. For the barn she used hand dyed brown fabric and stitched into it.

6th piece –Deborah was contacted by the American ‘Prayer Flags blogspot’ and asked to contribute a prayer flag. A flag was made and a picture sent which led to a set of flags which could be given as a gift.

7th piece- made machine wrapped cord and used this to create a tassel to put on a gift.

8th piece – more machine wrapped cord but this time coiled into a coaster.

9th piece – fabric book (created from the paper towels used to mop up paints etc dried and glued together) the cover created from fabric scraps embellished onto backing, the motif was drawn on card, the shape was cut out of freezer paper and zig- zagged stitch on, the work was completed by stitching with pebble circles including over the motif (which was gone over in black at the end) 

10th piece – heart created from scraps of silk, scrim, beads, stitched mosaic style.

11th piece – still lots of green bits left so Deborah laid bits out, pieced them together and used free motion stitch in a lozenge shape( worked starting at the top and going to bottom the working back from the bottom to the top to create the pattern)

12th piece – by this time only a few scraps remained and Deborah had little time so reused some little canvasses to create beach pictures using a combination of fabric and paint.

13th piece – making quilts by piecing and stitching fabric, then dying.

These projects came from one bag of scraps with the inspiration taken from the fabric.

Deborah has  also worked  from an American site which publishes a ‘free block of the month’ she has made these up in order to learn new techniques. 

These have included ½ square blocks, string blocks(batik squares heavily stitched into), star/string block(made from painted selvedge pieces and pebble stitch), hexagon blocks (painted on and stitched between the lines), hexagon flower bucket(stamped on hexagons and then stitched),wonky log cabin with cantha stitching, wonky log cabin/crazy patchwork (green).

Bunting quilts – consist of 2 flags one right facing and one left facing and create feeling of movement, scraps from this were then used as triangles to make another quilt completed with lots of close stitching. 


The challenge is to use scraps, being mindful, but also reducing stress as there is no pressure to make something specific.



15th October 2015

Creative Journeys by Shelley Rhodes

This comprises of 3 parts - her own creative journey; the sketch books in which she keeps a record of her journeys whilst travelling and the journey made when working on a project from initial ideas, development/experimentation to the final item.

The way we see and interpret things is informed by all our previous experiences and influences.

Shelley’s journey started at school with her first painting and then observational drawing which led to Art College. Her foundation year was varied covering graphic design for example posters, book covers, packaging etc influenced by Matisse.
In her final year she was recruited as a graphic designer by the BBC and found 95%of her design work was computer based focusing on the relationship between text and image/layout , the limited drawing involved was of images that someone else turned into models e.g. ‘activ8’ .
After 6-7 years of this Shelley decided to retrain undertaking a PGCE in Manchester in order to teach art. Whilst on the course she experienced 3 different elements – ceramics, textiles and print making which she used when teaching and continues to include them in her work. Once teaching Shelley did a City and Guilds course in ceramics.

During a move abroad when she was only able to take fabrics and threads with her Shelley created her first textile pieces based on grid work(related to her graphics) and including found objects, hand and machine stitch, used to enhance/emphasise areas.
On her return to UK a visit to a City and Guilds exhibition at Lancaster inspired her to sign up for a City and Guilds course 1 day a week for 5 years. Her first piece, based on shells, was linear and monochrome and her last piece – still linear but in colour. Other pieces were 3D making vessels using fabric and paper, coating them in slip them firing them to be left with ceramic imprinted with detail of stitch etc.

One – a – day sketch books these were A6 or smaller and initially only featured drawings but soon Shelley included paint, collage, tactile objects, stitching and they became mixed media. These loosened her up as the sketches are quick and spontaneous taking only a few minutes to achieve. These have progressed from collections of items on paper with block lettering on to the inclusion of  models(e.g. representation of sea urchins) created by wrapping with thread, tissue, wire etc.

Travels with a sketch book – although Shelley works daily in a book, rather than take bulky books with her on holiday she makes her own. These are often concertina books – good for display and can work over the folds; others are stitched or glued together and include different papers (texture, colour etc) as well as varying sizes of page. She also uses scrolls made from paper and fabric rolled up which enables a section to be unrolled and drawn on. 
In addition to the prepared book Shelley takes paints, black ink, pencils, coloured pencils, labels, pins, eraser, scraps of paper for collage, PVA glue, bits of wire, brushes in order to record her journeys. Her work features repeated images e.g. windows (thumb nail size on A6), olive leaves (in different colours and sizes). Shelley also records her walks – stopping every so often to sketch, collect objects( she takes marks, patterns and colours from these), or taking pictures which she tears, sticks down parts and draws from them extending the image.

Development of work –via drawing/sketching, photos, paint to explore shape, pattern etc; looking at the work of others – basically identifying what she likes / what attracts her to particular aspects, this analysis moves her forward. Shelley experiments with different textures e.g. using scrim, wax and then stitch, stitch and then wax, embedding images into plaster etc. She focuses on what happens to a surface through wear and tear, manipulation, distressing, repair, playing with materials, exploring possibilities as these are all aspects involved in creation of pieces of work. Shared ideas and collaboration with others are important; Shelley has worked with Artist Sally Payne. 

Shelley’s latest journey is based on walks in 2011 the theme being ‘Traces of Life’ for which she took a strip of paper to draw her walks and collected objects, these informed her work e.g. marks from shells were incorporated ( she uses needle and thread as another way of making marks), prints from leaves, pieces layered and stitched. (Kantha work)


September 2015

Capability Brown Festival 2016
A Whole Guild Opportunity
An introduction for Branch Chairs and GLO’s
2016 will be the 300th anniversary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – the landscape gardener responsible for many of the magnificent gardens and houses across the UK. The Landscape Institute is working with the National Trust and English Heritage to highlight CB’s work, co-ordinate celebratory events across the country and bring his name to a new audience. In the first ever celebration of his work, they will be working with partner organisations to create the largest festival of its kind.
Bringing stitch and textile art to a new and wider audience is one of the core aims of the Guild. Acting on a suggestion from three members the Guild approached the festival organisers with the proposition that textiles could add a unique contribution to these events. The Landscape Institute really liked the idea and welcomed the Embroiderers’ Guild as a Festival Partner.
Since then the three members (Amanda Smith, Alex Messenger and Eleanor Jakeman) have been working with the central Guild to prepare the ground for this superb opportunity for members, branches and regions. The Festival will benefit from considerable media coverage from the festival organisers, the 17 festival partner organisations and the venues taking part.
This introduction tells you about the project and the preparation work already done on behalf of branches. We hope each branch and its members will get the best from the opportunity to be a part of the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown Festival.

The Embroiderers’ Guild Celebrating Capability Brown
A unique perspective at VENUE NAME
Capability Brown – England’s Greatest Gardener

LANCELOT ‘CAPABILITY’ BROWN Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown changed the face of eighteenth century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green

His Early Life

Lancelot Brown was baptised on 30 Aug 1716 at Kirkhale Northumberland, the fifth of the six children of William Brown, a yeoman farmer and Ursula, née Hall, who had worked in the big house on the Kirkharle estate . He went to the village school at Cambo, and then began work as a gardener at Kirkharle, leaving in 1739. In 1741 he reached Stowe, Buckinghamshire where he rapidly assumed responsibility for the execution of both architectural and landscaping works in the famous garden. It was at Stowe in 1744 that Brown married Bridget Wayet, with whom he eventually had nine children. While at Stowe, Brown also began working as an independent designer and contractor and in autumn 1751, he was able to move with his family to the Mall, Hammersmith, the market garden area of London.

His style

Brown’s style derived from the two practical principles of comfort and elegance. On the one hand, there was a determination that everything should work, and that a
landscape should provide for every need of the great house. On the other, his landscapes had to cohere and look elegant. While his designs have great variety, they also appear seamless owing to his use of the sunk fence or ‘ha-ha’ to confuse the eye into believing that different pieces of parkland, though managed and stocked quite differently, were one. His expansive lakes, at different levels and apparently unconnected, formed a single body of water as if a river through the landscape, that like the parkland itself, ran on indefinitely. This effortless coherence is taken for granted today in a way that was predicted in his obituary: ‘where he is the happiest man he will be least remembered, so closely did he copy nature his works will be mistaken’. His nickname of ‘Capability’ is thought to have come from his describing
landscapes as having “great capabilities”.

His business

Brown offered a number of different services to his clients: for a round number of guineas, he could provide a survey and plans for buildings and landscape, and leave his client to execute his proposal; more frequently he provided a foreman to oversee the work, which would be carried out by labour recruited from the estate. Even in 1753, when he opened his account with Drummond's Bank, Brown was employing four foremen and by the end of the decade he had over twenty foremen on his books. Finally, he could oversee and refine the work himself, usually by means of visits for a certain number of days each year. He also practiced architecture, and during the 1750s contributed to several country houses, including Burghley House, Northants. However his architecture played second fiddle to his ‘place-making’.
In 1764 he was appointed to the gardens of Hampton Court, Richmond and St James and he then moved to Wilderness House, Hampton Court. Brown had suffered from asthma all his life, and his habit of the constant travel, together with his practice of not always charging for work (he would sometimes allow his client to determine the value of what he had done and seems frequently to have submitted plans and surveys without a bill), did affect both his health and finances. He continued to work and travel until his sudden collapse and death on 6th February 1783. He died at his daughter Bridget Holland's house in London, but was buried at Fenstanton, in Cambridgeshire, the only place he is known to have owned property and where he became Lord of the Manor.

An evaluation of his work

‘Capability’ Brown is best remembered for landscape on an immense scale, constructing not only gardens and parkland, but planting woods and building farms linked by carriage drives, or `ridings', many miles from the main house. Although his work is continually reassessed, every landscape gardener and landscape architect since, both in Britain and across the developed world, has been influenced in one way or another by Brown. Over two centuries have passed since his death, but such are the enduring qualities of his work that over 150 of the 260 or so landscapes with which he is associated remain worth seeing today. The images that Brown created are as deeply embedded in the English character as the paintings of Turner and the poetry of Wordsworth.

Capability Brown Festival 2016


 All members can take part… branch and individual members.                                                              
 Members work may be exhibited in a branch or regional exhibition; at ‘host’ venues; and/or at Guild exhibitions and shows
 Branches can work together to create exhibitions for their nearest venues.                                          
 Branches showcase their work in high footfall venues and attract potential new members.                 
 Exhibitions agreed so far are for a minimum of a month and a maximum of 6 months.                       
 Branches can meet the public by arranging ‘activity days’ for adults and younger embroiderers        
 Pieces interpreting Capability Brown’s work can supplement host venue-inspired pieces .                 
 Guild and branches can build relationships with the host venues for further exhibitions in 2017          onwards.                                                                                                                                                
 Branches can approach other similar venues in their locality with the idea of an exhibition based on CB’s work.
 Work from individual and branch members may be selected for the EG exhibitions at the NEC and    K&S shows in 2016                                                                                                                                 
Support for this project….                                                      
The three originating members are offering to support           branches throughout this project. The central Guild will also be providing help.                                                                      28 venues are confirmed.                                                      
 15 other venues are still being negotiated.                            
 Many of these venues have grounds designed by CB             himself. We have also approached other venues with equally beautiful and inspirational gardens in order to ensure a   spread of EG branch exhibitions countrywide.                        
 Letters outlining what has been agreed at this stage have been sent to all participating venues.
 It should be possible for members visiting their host venue to get inspiration to do so without paying an entry charge.
 A section of the World’s Longest Embroidery can be made available to support activity days.
 The central Guild will be providing redesigned credit card sized ‘invitations’ to potential new members.
 The central Guild will also be providing leaflets and posters as needed to support exhibitions and local marketing.
 The Guild website will feature every exhibition and link to the venue and branch websites.
 The CB Festival team will be running their own media campaign on line, in the press and specialist in magazines.
 Stitch and Embroidery will feature the project, branch and member involvement and host venues.

Taking Part in the Capability Brown Festival 2016

1 Decide to part
2 Seek a member to liaise on behalf of the branch
3Advise the project team of 1 & 2
4 Visit the host venue for your exhibition
5 Plan your exhibition
6 Report back to your members

7 Plan YE involvement & activity days
 8 Design, stitch & enjoy
9 Select pieces & mount exhibition
10 Explore possibilities for 2017/18 exhibitions

Taking Part in the Capability Brown Festival 2016

1. Deciding to take part…
 We hope you will decide to take part! The theme is ‘landscapes and gardens’ based on inspiration drawn by members from the host venue for the branch or, if no host venue is available, inspiration drawn from the work of Capability Brown or local gardens and landscapes. If we have already found a host venue for your exhibition you will find the name of your branch listed against the venue on the attached list. If you prefer to be part of an exhibition at a different venue you must first contact the CB Liaison person for that venue shown on the attached list). If you have an idea for a venue, please contact us to check if we have already approached it, and if not, the project team will follow up on your idea on your behalf. 
For a very small number of branches which are located across a wide area, if we are not able to find a venue within a reasonable distance, please encourage your members to contribute a piece to the Central Guild. These pieces will be displayed as a supplement to other venues and/or Guild exhibitions or may be exhibited at one or more of the major shows in 2016. Details will be posted on the Guild’s website. You may also like to consider adopting ‘landscapes and gardens’ as the theme for your branch exhibition in 2016 or 2017. This would maximise the opportunity to participate for all members who wish to.

2. Seek a member to liaise on behalf of the branch…
We need a volunteer from each participating branch to work with us and act as the CB liaison person for the branch. The person’s name, branch name and contact details should be emailed to the Project Team ( as soon as possible. We suggest that the liaison person from the branch nearest to the host venue acts as a coordinator for the other branches participating in the exhibition. We will keep in touch with the CB liaison volunteers and also pass this Information on to central Guild.

3. Advise the project team and Central Guild of 1 & 2…
Please email by end of July to let us know that your branch is taking part. The Guild will post the name and contact details of the CB liaison people under YOUR GUILD/Capability Brown. It may be that the branch decides not to take part but some of its members would like to submit a piece for the central Guild exhibitions. Those members should go to the ‘Capability Brown’ page on the members’ side of the website for more information..

 4. Visit your host venue…
If your branch is going to be part of cluster group of branches that contribute to an exhibition at a host venue it will be necessary for the CB liaison people to get together (via the coordinating CB liaison person from the nearest branch) and, if possible, visit the host venue to plan your exhibition. As a result of this visit the participating branches should have…

 Met the contact person and others at the host venue.

Explored the opportunities for interpreting aspects of the host venue in stitch. This is the part of our negotiations that encouraged many of the venues to take part.

It may be that the landscape, the gardens, the house or even the rooms and fittings that provide perfects sources for interpretation in stitch.

Visited the site of the exhibition and noted the predominant colour scheme, hanging options and constraints, any sources of strong light and have a clear idea of the sizes of pieces best suited to the exhibition space and hanging method.

Discussed and agreed any activity days - (date(s): location: activities: promotion: etc) - that would help the branches to meet the public and promote membership. If you felt it would add impact consider including the World’s Longest Embroidery in your activity day planning.

Explored and agreed the opportunities for YE involvement.

Discussed security and stewarding needs – if applicable.

5. Plan your exhibition…
This may be in conjunction with other branches in your cluster group or your own branch exhibition if yours is the only branch working with the host venue. We are
recommending the following in respect of all pieces on exhibition…
 Sizes / Number of pieces required.
 Mounting colour
 Hanging fixings
 Preparation timings

The guidelines for CB liaison people (also attached to this email) have more information on this. You will also notice on the summary of venues that some have very specific requirements attached to them agreeing to an exhibition. Please observe these.

6. Report back to your members…
This is the opportunity to brief members, tell them about the opportunities and work out how the get the very best from the project. In some instances the space available for the exhibition may be restricted and will not require work from all members who wish to take part. In addition to the host  venues around the country the central Guild will be arranging additional exhibition opportunities for these branch members to take part. You may also have decided to make ‘landscapes and gardens’the theme of your branch exhibition for 2016 or 2017.

7. Plan YE involvement and activity days…
Any plans will depend on what is agreed with the host venue and be subject to the number of members available to take part. Many of the host venues expressed immediate interest in the idea of one or more activity days and the prospect of involving young people of all ages.
 You may wish to take the earliest opportunity to post details of these activities on the Central Guild website (Find a Branch) and, of course, on the branch website or Facebook page. The central Guild will be developing opportunities for young people to take part. Details will be posted on the members’ side of the Central Guild website under ‘Capability Brown’.

8. Design, stitch and enjoy…
We hope there will be sufficient time for all who wish to take part to do so. Please note that the timings for exhibitions vary widely from venue to venue. Some start in the spring while others have a much longer lead time starting in the late summer.

9. Select pieces and mount exhibition…
Please be aware that it is important that pieces displayed are in keeping with the quality of the venues themselves and work together within and between branches to provide a high-quality exhibition.

10. Explore opportunities for exhibitions in 2017/18…
A number of venues have expressed interest in working with the Guild in 2017 and even 2018. The project team and Central Guild will be liaising with host venues throughout this project. Please let us know of any opportunities you identify so that we can make the best agreements with host venues.

Taking Part in the Capability Brown Festival 2016

 This is an opportunity for all members who wish to take part
 The Capability Brown Festival will get substantial publicity in 2016
Nearly 30 venues have agreed to host an exhibition of members’ work, more are being negotiated
Look on the Guild website for more news of the project and developments, starting in September
The central Guild will be providing artwork for leaflets and posters. Details on the website in September
 This is an opportunity to build a network of venues for future whole Guild exhibitions and events

Next Steps…
Let the project team know if you have a possible venue that may be closer to your branch
Ask a member of your branch to act as a ‘CB Liaison Person’ for your branch
Advise the project team of the name and contact details of the ‘CB Liaison Person’ for your branch
Make contact with the lead ‘CB Liaison Person’ for your cluster of branches (see list of host venues)
Visit your host venue to plan your exhibition; possible activities; and YE involvement
Encourage members who decide to participate to visit the host venue to see and draw inspiration from the landscapes and gardens

CB Project Team –