Thursday, 31 December 2009
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
My daughter's great friend Tessa has taken up the embroidered word theme this Christmas and embroidered a pillowcase for her parents as a present. It looks brilliant - the opening lines of The Go-Between (L.P .Hartley).
So ....first lines and closing lines of novels on pillowcases - a project for the New Year?
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
Jessica Aldred, of the Royal School of Needlework, who has been such an enthusiastic backer of Stitch, has just launched her own website . Pictured: Jessica (far right) when women from Battersea, south London, paid a visit to the RSN collection and ateliers at Hampton Court Palace, this summer.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Another suggestion from a reader... A German blog.
And an interesting coincidence - the writer (though I don't speak German, so am not sure!) has been to Cornwall recently, home of Arthurian romance and the setting for Tristan and Iseult's ill-fated romance, already mentioned...
And home to another Bridging Arts project, I Packed This Myself, which throws a spotlight on migrant workers who play a vital role in the Cornish economy - in fact it would grind to a halt without them.
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Our own fish embroidery, a kantha (quilt) from Bangladesh has been loaned by Ferdous Rahman, of Restart 50+. These quilts are traditionally made by stitching layers of fabric together, sometimes old saris.
The fish motifs on the quilt inspired many of the embroiderers - At other classes, we also asked participants to bring in embroidery from home that they cherished.
It also inspired Hannah Walker who designed a fish motif for our sewing pack. At the classes, she pointed out that the fish is a Christian symbol, but is also widely used in the Islamic world... Pictured - a fish banner of the Mughal emperors. Each of the sewing packs has a theme for discussion. Naturally the fish motif prompted talk about cooking and recipes. To follow: more recipes contributed by participants.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
As previously mentioned, Glynn Christian, the UK’s first TV chef, is a keen embroiderer and brought in his collection of landscapes to one of the classes. Following our discussion on cooking, inspired by the fish motif studied in week two, he offered the following recipe for general Christmas enjoyment.
UNCOOKED CRANBERRY RELISH from Glynn Christian
This truly delicious and attractive relish, originally from New England in the USA, is easier made with a food processor but a sharp and heavy chopping knife and a few minutes will give equally good results. Once made it softens, turns a pretty pink and the flavours all exchange to produce something original and fresh tasting. Cranberries have a very high Vitamin C content, and it is this that gives the relish its very long life. I find it is a much appreciated Christmas gift and as well as being served with turkey or other birds it really brings leftovers to life.
The recipe is excellent what ever the proportions you use, so do not hassle about exact amounts. It is better to err on the side of making the chopped pieces too big rather than too small: it will mean only that the relish takes a little more time to soften and mature, and it looks better than when too finely chopped.
Wash a large sweet orange and a small lemon, cut into quarters and then remove any pips. Core but do not peel a large, sharp apple - a Bramley is ideal, of course. Process the orange and lemon in a food processor until rough and finely chopped but not a puree - you might have to do this in two or three batches. Remove the mixture and then roughly chop the apple in the processor, again staying well away from making a puree. Mix the apple into the citrus mixture. Then process 8oz/ 250g or so of fresh of frozen whole cranberries until the cranberries are all cut up but still in varying sizes. Mix everything together and then add 4oz/ 100 - 125g of sugar - white or brown.
Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours by which time everything will have begun to soften, and then give it a good mix and taste - it might need more sugar. Store in refrigerator at least a week before using - longer is better.
Variations: add 50g/2oz of finely chopped celery including some leaves OR 4oz/ 125g chopped fresh pineapple OR 4oz/125g well-roasted pecans, roughly chopped. Two or three tablespoons of vodka, gin, cognac or port make a great addition too - as you might imagine. Small amounts of any or all of these additions might be added every time you serve some of the relish.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Taking out the Christmas wrapping paper box discover a forgotten piece of embroidery packed away by accident. Dating from the summer when I had an obsession with embroidering words on fabric - a way of whiling away the hours up and down to Cornwall on the train.
Think the small words work well - have done some pillowcases as Christmas presents with much larger patterns (and not lines from Dante's Inferno! but more cheerful thoughts...)
But small seems best in this context.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Two wonderful Christmas cards with a Stitch theme ....
Crocheted snow-white flowers from Katrina Williams (above) who has been a lynchpin of the project since it started. And from Momtaz Begum-Hossain a printed card with a button and flower edged with inked stitches. Plus.... a spectacular brooch with which to dazzle on dark winter afternoons. (Momtaz and her sisters are loyal supporters of Bridging Arts, all producing fabulous entries for the British Sari Story annual competition.) A very Merry Christmas to Katrina, Momtaz, Joleka and Fatema - and everyone who has worked so hard on Stitch this year.
Friday, 18 December 2009
News from a blog reader about an exhibition coming up in Ealing in January. Five artists' work displayed – Kate Keara Pelen, Louise Riley, Tilleke Schwarz, Laura Splan and Tamar Stone. Click through to their websites to see examples of their amazing work.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Jean is interested in creating pictures with embroidery, particularly in using single thread embroidery which she thinks can imitate the fine lines of a drawing. She brought in a dormouse of her own design to demonstrate just how.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
A rainy dark evening. Walk down New Bond Street on the way home from a meeting. Impossible glamour in Fenwick window (though a similar cropped faux leopardskin jacket can be bought at a snip in Primark).
Wonder how this sparkle can be translated into real life. Then on the tube spot see just how.
Central Line glamour: how sequins can lift the spirit. (Actually think that the bag is a star Primark buy, too).
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
My birthday and the cardigan theme persists! my daughter has given me a wonderful black cardigan she has embellished....
and in central London ....see more unexpected lacing and weaving - this time Christmas lights threaded in and out of railings.
Monday, 14 December 2009
At the Battersea class someone commented on my daughter's perserverance in learning to crochet. She worked it all out from an old embroidery book we found at a church book sale last summer. It was hard (initially) to find the right size hooks etc. But she kept trying. Pictures speak louder than words. And it's her 21st birthday today - so I thought I would say well done and happy birthday dear Josie! If anyone else has photos or news of an unusual sewing or embroidery project, please let me know and I will put them up on the blog.
After her birthday lunch in Manchester, wander around the Christmas market. There is a talking reindeer…
And a party feeling, even inside the Town Hall … where the extraordinary arches and corridors are reminiscent of looped stitches and skeins of thread. In the back of my mind, am sure there is another historic link, too, with all the work we’ve been doing in Stitch. But will have to go home and read Pevsner to find out just what that is.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Friday, 11 December 2009
Our final class of four at York Gardens Library. We study a Turkish rococo motif of a Horn of Plenty. Faduma Abdullahi is wearing a gold embroidered dress (with chain stitch), bought in Mogadishu some years ago. We learn goldwork techniques seen in church embroidery from the Middle Ages in this country.
And still more enthusiasm.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Feedback from a visitor to York Gardens Library -
"I enjoyed the exhibition, especially the wonderful feel for colour and how it lit up the dull December afternoon. Highlights for me were Ferdous Rahman's embroidery. The colours reminded me of Thomas Wardle's dyed Indian tussar silks and the Leek Embroidery Society's work which used his silks. Safia Qureshi's motifs of seed pods reminded me of British 'bizarre' silks like one of those that we saw in the British Galleries. I loved the colours of Chhaya Biswas's daffodils and the story. The way that Amina Aziz's embroidery burst through the boundaries was wonderful too. It was moving in places including Bushra's story. I am so glad that I went."
Such interesting comments! Will follow up these links ....Pictured: Daffodils by Chhaya Biswas
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
A pencilcase bought in Bangladesh by Seeda Islam to the latest embroidery class – much loved and well used... Women in villages and towns embroider these cases through special schemes aimed at encouraging skills that they can use to earn money and transform their lives…. This pencil case is quilted with the same tiny running stitch as the kaftans from Topkapi Palace (seen in Paris) and the kantha in the exhibition at York Gardens Library.
And a blog reader who spent the afternoon fitting pacemakers emails to say he has been stitching too. Stitching of a different kind and a sharp reminder of the different pressures people face in their lives. A surgeon's stitching saves lives.
Monday, 7 December 2009
Kathleen Oyediran brought in two more tablecloths , embroidered before she was married 40 years ago. These are ones that she finished! And now often uses. The colours and the designs (ordered from magazines as was popular at the time) recall the tones and herbaceous borders of another age, pale mauves, daisy yellows and pinks. She was living in north Yorkshire and working for the local authority, embroidering in the evenings and at weekends. Her mother taught her the stitches.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
In Paris for a flying visit...(above - a chalk drawing of a cheeseboard on a cafe blackboard) by chance come across an exhibition of embroidered kaftans from Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, at the Louvre (only just - there was a strike about proposed job cuts...)
Was struck by the tails left on the ermine lining this 16th century quilted kaftan (quilted with the same running stitches we saw in the kantha last week).
And spotted pomegranates on an Italian velvet kaftan from the second half of the 16th century - alongside tulips (another flower that links east and west)
And finally a talismanic kaftan with phrases from the Koran - in our first class, someone pointed out that people often carry pieces of paper with phrases from the Koran as talismans to protect them. This quilted 17th century kaftan was covered with them.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
We are studying a rose and nightingale motif. A 19th century ink drawing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art conjures up the mystic romance of Persia. As do lines from the 14th century poet Hafez of Shiraz.
In the garden at dawn I sought for a rose
When nightingale's voice broke the peace with her prose
Like me, she was mad for the love of a flower
And woke up the garden by trilling her woes.
Faisa Faran posed with her embroidery from last week.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
"Although in subtle shades, the large scale designs are very clear and the quilt must have looked particularly impressive by candlelight, with lively scenes of battles, ships and castles," says the V&A.
Great embroidery and a great story. And a link to recent experience. In Cornwall a few days ago I had a meeting at a school near Malpas, where in the legend Tristan (pretending to be a beggar) carried Iseut on his back across the ford. The crossing in fading light.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
On the way back to the hotel (once a warehouse holding cloth from the north west prior to distribution all over Britain) we pass an embroidery show called Undercover by students at Manchester School of Art in an cafe, promising "to challenge and inspire anyone whose idea of embroidery is limited to the domestic arena."
A great idea and a great display in the showcase window... pieces of embroidery hang in the cafe downstairs. Where on one of the sofas someone happens to have thrown a crocheted blanket.
And later still, a barman peeling lemon for a martini gets distracted, talking about his former maths and physics studies... and pares off at least a foot of rind. Dropped into the glass, it looks like instant embroidery.
Friday, 27 November 2009
"Though I'm a writer, I'm useless with my hands I can't do this kind of thing, but I so admire people who can," he said. "They were not only stitched by people but designed by them."
This embroidery is mostly on linen or canvas. There are so many beautiful pieces that I cannot display on the blog - so have created web gallery for them on the Bridging Arts site. Everyone was carried away by this embroidery. I am inspired to embroider a landscape myself this Christmas. Thank you, Glynn.
A lovely moment at the beginning of yesterday's class in Battersea. Kathleen Oyediran brought in a tablecloth that she had started to embroider before she was married, 37 years ago, but never finished. The classes, she said, had inspired her to have another go. The tablecloth has been keep very carefully in the intervening decades and looks as pristine as it did when she started on it....
Thursday, 26 November 2009
But most important it is Jessica's birthday. Jessica Aldred (above) from the Royal School of Needlework has been working on the project from the start and has thrown herself into it - and really supported the whole idea of bringing cultures together through embroidery. It's a year since we first met at the first focus group in Tooting.
More on discussions at the class, the background to the motif and on embroidery brought in by participants tomorrow... In the meantime Happy Birthday, Jessica.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Another reader, this time someone who has followed the project (almost) from start to finish and been a HUGE help, has suggested a good blog to follow ....Lazy Girl Designs
This reader is a keen and enterprising needlewoman who has inspired me to make cloth bags to carry around exhibitions more easily ....mannequins, embroidery, signage boards and sewing packs. An amazingly simple, but brilliant idea. Hopefully this will change my life (though the only fabric available to use was material left over from a sewing project many years ago involving unpopular curtains for my then 14-year-old son's bedroom.... The pattern had far too many cute dragonflies and ladybirds for his taste - and mine had I noticed when I bought it at a knock-down price at Shepherds Bush market.)
However as bags, they work.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Persephone, beautiful daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was kidnapped by Pluto, King of the underworld. Her parents were – naturally – devastated. Demeter, goddess of agriculture, went into mourning. Crops failed, people starved. Such was the devastation that Zeus ordered Pluto to free Persephone – as long as she had not eaten in the underworld. Pluto let her go as he thought that she had not eaten.
Persephone fled back to her mother’s arms (as in Lord Leighton’s painting above) but close on her heels was a gardener who revealed that she had eaten seven pomegranate seeds in the land of the dead. She had to go back.
But there was a compromise. It was decided that she could live on earth for nine months each year then return to the underworld for the other three.Every year while Persephone was away Demeter refused to allow any plants to grow. Trees lost their leaves; plants withered. Hence winter. All flourished again in the spring when Persephone returned.More paintings (though not the above) by Lord Leighton at Leighton House, Kensington - a place full of pattern and motifs.