Creative Embroidery with Suzi Park at Made by Hand

This afternoon’s workshop was creative embroidery and although it was re-visiting the basics of machine embroidery that I have done previously, I found it informative. I especially appreciated the talk on tension, a scary subject at the best of times.

Suzi showed us some examples of techniques we could try to achieve and this was one of my favourites.

Another piece of information I found useful, was noting down the techniques and experiments that you try. If you stumble across an effect you really like, it would be awful if you couldn’t recreate it again!

To round off a great afternoon Suzi demonstrated the principles of appliqué, which is something I have been wanting to experiment with for some time. I only had time to try a very brief example but I will be trying this again very soon. The first photo of a feather, is an example Suzi showed us and the second is my very crude first attempt at a flower.

Felt Making Workshop with Claire Cawte – Made by Hand

I had a really lovely time this morning in Claire’s workshop. I have done a little needle felting before but never wet felting. I really enjoyed the process and enjoyed creating a 3D vase and will definitely be trying this again. However, I also enjoyed the ‘bi-product’ of the workshop and that was the conversation between the other ladies. It was another occasion when I experienced a task that kept the hands busy and created a relaxed environment, which promoted conversation between a room full of strangers.

This is a selection on Claire Cawte’s beautiful felted work

Finished Collage


Here is the finished collage.

I am very grateful to Emma for giving me the opportunity to work with this group. I have learned so much in the short time that we have worked on this collage. The students have worked so hard, bringing together all they have learned about WW1, and it has made it a very enjoyable project.
It has been a pleasure to work with everyone -Thank You.

Constructing the Collage

Above are examples of some of the postcards made by the students. I felt they were an important part of the work, that we have done and I wanted to highlight the flow of communication between home and away. So I strung up a line between each side of the collage and attached the postcards to it. I have also included a ‘honours board’ on the back of the collage, so that the names of the students who took part can be included.

The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts Show

Today I went to the stitch show at the NEC. The actual exhibition was a lot smaller than I imagined, but here are some of the main exhibits that were of interest to me.

The Stitch in the Middle Whisper Challenge really appealed to me, it was interesting to see different peoples interpretation on a theme.

I love the structure of a corset, it has a sculptural quality and I would like to experiment with this form, for a non wearable piece of art.


I am the president of my local Women’s Institute and the National Needlework Archive caught my eye, as they were displaying needlework belonging to a branch of the WI. Apparently you can visit them to see work that they have stored there. I will have to put this on my to-do list, as I am interested in how the language of embroidery is evolving.

There was a Japanese display that included beautifully embroidered kimonos, which had very detailed stitch work in the designs.

However, my favourite exhibit at the show was the life-size Knitted Garden Project. The attention to detail was amazing, the more I looked the more I noticed; even the spider in his web on the shed. It is a lovely example of a participatory piece of work. Also it is pleasing to see such a lovely example of sculptural textiles.

Final session

Things are coming together really well. We made more labels of key words that came from our discussions about the project and thoughts on how we imagined people felt at the time. We also made medals and more postcards based on what we thought the communications would be about. Poppies were another addition to the collage representing the flowers growing in France, whereto battles were taking place.

One of the students wrote a poem, as if she was one of the soldiers in battle and I am going to incorporate it into the collage.


We also added question marks on some of the men on the front, to question would they actually return home.

The Preparation Starts

Today went really well, the main board was painted in readiness for the images to be stuck on. Also we discussed the photographs we were going to use and some of the students produced labels of key words, that we will use to highlight them.

Preparation for Wednesday’s group meeting

Today I prepared the side boards ready for the next meeting, ensuring that the painting of the background only surrounded the area where the photographs would be stuck on. This is because I don’t think the photographs will stick properly to the painted surface. I also experimented with the layout of the chosen images.

First meeting with the Positive Outlook Group

I met the group, that I am to work with, this morning and gave an introduction to the students about my work as requested by Emma. I took a piece of dissolvable fabric, a reel of sewing thread and some of my thread sculptures and briefly explained the process I use to create 3D forms in thread. I also told them about the degree course I have just completed and showed them some objects that I had produced for other projects during the course.

I then explained my proposal for the project.
Using the boards I had been given by the Firing Line, I suggested cutting them down and producing a book type arrangement, as a base for a collage. Each side would represent a different part of the WW1 story; the front would be created from the board showing the men before they went to war. Inside on the left it would show images such as the propaganda posters and photographs of women waving their men off, at the railway station. On the middle board it would include images of the war front, including the painting of the Battle of Mametz Wood and on the right, scenes from the home front. These would depict injured soldiers coming back from war and the jobs that women were doing.

I also wanted to highlight the connection with the soldiers doing their washing and the fact their wives and mothers would have been doing the same thing at home.

I left today agreeing to cut the boards to size and marking out roughly where the images would go, so that we could start painting the background next week.

Research Visit to the Firing Line Museum – 14th June, 2016

I enjoyed my visit to the Firing Line Museum, there was a great deal of information available. However, it was the personal items that interested me the most; objects that told a story about the people involved in the war. My own work is inspired by memory, conversations and stories, so it is easy to see why I was drawn to these items. I particularly liked the embroidered cards, as in an age before mobile phones and emails, a letter would have been such a special thing to receive.

The staff were very helpful and Ian in particular, showed me around and offered me some old display boards if I felt I could use them for the project. There were three that really interested me.

The group of men in civilian clothes appeared to be possible recruits to fight in the war and I liked the rifleman as it signified the war front to me. However, the photograph of the soldiers doing the washing, appealed to me greatly. There was something about seeing this domestic task being carried out in an area of conflict, knowing that it was also being carried out on the home front too. Although there was a distance between loved ones they were sharing a commonality. It also occurred to me that there was a role reversal being inflicted on men and women. At normal times it would have been unlikely for men to be carrying out domestic tasks such as the washing and at home women were having to step up and carry out jobs that were generally deemed as ‘men’s work’.

Tonight I have lots of ideas racing around in my head and I am really looking forward to meeting the group tomorrow.