Archive for the ‘College work’ Category

DR: 01-01-11

January 3, 2011

The first of January marked more of an occasion for me this year than normal. I wasn’t excited by champagne corks flying or New Years resolutions, instead I was excited by a new feeling: optimism about politics. Not Britain, of course, but the wider world.

The first of Janury 2011 was the day that Dilma Rousseff became the most powerful woman in the world. Rousseff is now the president of Brazil. The first was her inauguration day, I’ve been awaiting this day for some months now. She’s not just any old politician. I’m not simply excited on account of her being a woman: it’s because of her history.

When Dilma was much younger, in the 60s, she was a guerilla fighter. She fought against the military dictatorship. She was captured, declared the ‘Joan of Arc of The Guerilla Movement’, tortured, and held in a cell for three years. And now, fifty years later, she is the president of that very country that she fought to save. If any proof is needed that standing up for what you believe in is the right thing to do, Dilma is it.

And so to celebrate, I made a rosette:


We’ve been doing whitework at school recently so I thought I’d take the opportunity to do my school work and honour a great woman.


The centre image is a venetian cutwork portrait of her doing her peace signs which she loves to do so much. I’d definitely vote for a politician who frequently gave a peace sign at press conferences. The middle ring uses broderie anglaise and pulled thread work.


The outer ring is a scalloped edge of buttonhole stitching so as to be able to cut it away and have no frayed edges. Sort of. Kind of worked?


The ribbons were made with a thin muslin which I double back stitched on, in the font Corbusier Stencil, the words “Fight The Good Fight”.

I am going to wear her with pride, and a little bit of fear of getting her dirty. Wahhh, white 😦

*the background image of these photos has no political meaning: I was taking photographs on the bus home and all I had in the way of a background was a painting of an American boy my boyfriend bought me for Christmas


Filigree Work

November 15, 2010

We’re being taught Whitework at the moment, last lesson on wednesday, sob sob sob. Jenny Adin-Christie is teaching us Whitework and she’s amazing. Super good teacher, lovely person too.

One of the lessons covered filigree work, embroidery on a surface so transparent that the thread that creates the aesthetic is the thread on the back of the work.


You can also apply fabrics and pictures to the fabric from beneath-


The text on the brown paper (stitched on with feather and thorn stitch) reads “Now you have touched the woman, you have struck a rock; you have dismantled a boulder; you will be crushed.”

This year is proving tricky.

Strange little world

April 30, 2010

So, some months back I did a little embroidery for a special project that I shall keep secret for now. But you can see the embroidery I did for it!


Two little cotton bulls on red silk. They are done with long and short stitch, which took forever but were received ever so well and I’m rather proud of them. I shalln’t lie. The person who I stitched them for, when she saw the first one said “I can’t believe this is by hand!” To which my tutor replied “They weren’t, it was a machine” HO HO HO JOKES! Unfortunately the woman in receipt simply assumed this was the truth, and was then excited by the fact they made machines that did embroidery like that. I gather that over lunch with him, she asked him what machine it was I’d used – at which point he had to admit his joke had failed and in fact it was a labour of love, with my hands.

Boasting over. Detail shot.


All this took place in January, I think. It was certainly over by March, anyhow.

A couple of days back, and we’re now at the end of April, I went down to the RSN studios to find some tapestry wool, for a canvas design I’ve been working on, in the shape of a bulls head. The head of the studios saw this, and excitedly told me she’d found something in a box recently that I’d like. “Because I know you like bulls an’ that.”

Holy fuck. Spot the difference, anyone? Apparently this was done in the 80s, or something.

So, obvious things first:
It’s a bull.
It’s (mostly) in black.
It’s on red.
It’s stance is extremely similar.

Less obvious things:
The stitch is exactly the same one I used.
The amount of strands in the needle, the same.
The direction of the stitches are the same.
The length of the stitches are the same.

My tutor was in stitches when I showed her, we sat giggling at it for a good few minutes not quite sure what to say. Why on earth had I chosen to do the exact same thing all these years later? It must be something in the water in these parts.

It was pretty good for me to find- it totally confirmed to me that this obsession with bulls I’ve developed recently has been a good one to get. I started stitching the bulls when I realised my history was peppered with them. Reappearing and reappearing time and time again. And now it seems my future will be that way too.

Why? What’s your problem?

April 23, 2010

Ok, so I’ve been going cross stitch pattern mad recently. There’s an explanation for that! It’s school work, innit. I explained the unit a bit here and here, but yesterday we handed in our work and I can say I’m finished! Well, sort of. I’ve still got to actually get the pattern in a position for selling it (and I will be! zomg! you can buy something I made!) BUT, here is what you can make:


The kit will be for a sampler only, but will have instructions on how to apply it to things like jackets/tea towels/pillowcases… you get the picture.

A close up!

The quote is by Dale Spender, from her book ‘For the Record: The Making & Meaning of Feminist Knowledge
It ends with:

“If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a Feminist.’ I ask ‘Why? What’s your problem?’

I was very excited to make my first ever sampler (ish thingy) and I hope you like it too. Did I do good? Did I? Did I?

Edit, just found this:

Life Stitching

February 2, 2010

Life drawing is fun. Add embroidery into the mix to highlight some details, and it becomes brilliant.

We spent the day life drawing at school today. We didn’t have any professional models, so our tutors did that instead. These drawings are of Nikki, or Nicola Jarvis as the embroidery world know her.

I only used thread on the face, as I thought this was the most important area to work on.

And the back of the piece is quite interesting too.

Tech specs: Charcoal, calico, household thread

Haven’t seen your face in a long time

July 9, 2009

So I’ve been absent. I’d explain, but once I start talking I can’t stop. So here’s my last embroidery series instead.

As Kurt Vonnegut once wisely said “A plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit.” So, for my last piece of work at Swindon College- I decided to attempt that.

I asked around for five little things that make life worth living. I came up with phonecalls from friends, the sound of nearby ice cream vans, fridge magnet letters, nice biscuits and warm, cozy, stripey socks.

I satin stitched a little picture of each item.

Before surrounding it with a little back stitched ditty, with cross stitch emphasis on words, to help the viewer read it how i’d like them to.

Then I blanket stitched it onto a kitschy homely/floral fabric background.

Then I mounted it in a tacky gold frame to finish the whole thing off.

I got a merit for the whole year, which whilst a little disappointing, is still something to be proud of… and now I’ve got the Royal School of Needlework to look forward to… and of course a life full of phonecalls from friends, sounds of nearby ice cream vans, warm socks, nice biscuits and fridge magnet letters. Bliss.

I won’t leave you without post for so long next time.

This is the best day.

June 4, 2009

I got to vote for the Green Party, and I got Stitchgasmed by Beefranck over on Mr X Stitch.

To celebrate, have a photograph of a woman with a couple of dogs outside the Saatchi Gallery. Taken on May 2nd 2009.

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment.

May 26, 2009

It’s a curse that the academic year comes to a close in the summer. Sure, it’s great that we then get to frolick around in the sun for six weeks or so- but leading up to that frolicking time, we have to just sit inside and sigh wistfully at the sun and the daisies and the joy whilst we stay indoors bored out of our minds.

It’s impossible to work in such conditions. Especially when friends invite you to fun things that you simply cannot say no to. I love my friends. I’ve just experienced what is posssibly the best weekend ever, but now I have to face up to the fact that my deadline is soon, and my work is not finished.

The project that I’m working on is a topic I’ve chosen myself. For the pretentious title, I chose “Beatific Visions” and for the brief I basically said I had to study the Christian Religion and discuss my own beliefs and create appropriate imagery based on traditional stuff to support my faith. Or something. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. And I still don’t. And I guess that’s the fun.

A little while back I bought a small wooden hinged shrine wotsit from a charity shop for 25p. On one side of the wotsit was a painting of God, with a book that I presumed to be a bible. Across from him was the BVM and their son, Jesus Christ. I decided to remake this for my project. This time, I wanted it to be more believable- more human. No pretty, demure looking women or ever powerful men.

I put myself in place of Jesus (Well, why not?) and represented myself by using an image from the story of St Rosa. She, the patron saint of embroiderers (No, really) was said to be seen by a servant as a baby, with her head transformed into a mystical rose. So there you go. Jesus with a rose for a head = me.

And the mother? That’s John Fowler. He’s a tutor at college. He really encouraged me this year and has been my rock. Without him I’d surely have gone mad, and I doubt I’d have stuck the year out or at least certainly not got to where I am now.

God. My God, challenge and a half. Choosing who wasn’t so bad- I just had to look for someone who I basically believed or agreed with every word they ever said. Who I trusted, someone who I thought was good and honest, who made sense of things for me… and who I unequivocally swear by. Even better, someone who writes books. That little wooden wotsit of mine has a book in it, remember? So. Who else could I go for but Kurt Vonnegut. I read Slaughterhouse Five in 2007 and I’ve never looked back. He’s a Humanist too, and famous for it. So there’s humour in that too. Embroidering Vonnegut as God, something he couldn’t possibly believe in.

Vonnegut’s got one of those faces that is impossible to capture. He’s come out looking way more stern than I’d have liked, but according to my mother (with no prompting) it looks like him. Despite the fact I have one of those wonderful wash away embroidery pens, I had no choice but to embroider Vonnegut by eye, because embroidery pen just wasn’t cutting it.

To finish off I had to figure out what words would go in Vonnegut’s bible. At the time I was deciding, I was sat watching Britain’s Got Talent (don’t judge me!) and couldn’t be bothered going to find some books to scan through. So I just scanned my memory for some of his more philosophical moments. And here it is, the Tralfamadorian view on time;

Sigh. Back to work now.

My Blue Eyed Prince in his Stumpwork Crown

April 21, 2009

*Sigh* Is it awful to fall in love with one’s embroidered angel? I think I’m emotionally unstable enough to do such a thing right now.

stumpwork crown

I spotted him first in the Stained Glass at The University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford. I took a quick sketch of his beautiful face, and later decided he will be my first stumpwork project.


I machine stitched his bountiful curls, back stitched his face (and his piercing blue eye) and then used a few basic stumpwork stitches to create his golden bejewelled crown.

I don’t think I’ll work with metallic thread again in a hurry. It nearly killed me, it’s especially unsuited to stumpwork. My advice is don’t even attempt to combine the two. I’m very upset that it doesn’t photograph well. In real life it’s stunning and shiny. Trust! Here, I’ll show you this blurry photograph so you don’t have to take my word for it:

The stumpwork itself was a dream, however time consuming it was. I will certainly be revisiting that.

I’ve popped him in my portfolio ready for my interview tomorrow for The Royal School of Needlework. Let’s just hope my interviewer is just as much of a wreck as I am and will fall for him also.

Ah, machine embroidery…

November 9, 2008

How I have missed you!

enoch powell

enoch powell back

enoch powell

Let’s all guess my textiles project?