In the months leading up to Christmas, WEG members busied themselves making gingerbread men and women to hang on their Christmas Tree in this year’s event organised by the Daisychain Benevolent Fund Trust. The remit was that only red and white could be used to decorate the figures. The photographs show the ingenuity of some of our members, together with the tree in situ. The theme proved to be very popular, although one little boy was very upset when he was told that he couldn’t take a gingerbread man away with him!
Many thanks to the branch members for making such a wonderful range of gingerbread people and also to Jan and Sue for decorating the tree.
In June, three WEG members enjoyed the experience of judging the work from three candidates, all of whom had applied for our 2017 grant of £300. After two hours of looking at their sketchbooks, display boards, experimental pieces and garments, Katie Lewis was selected as the successful candidate. She gained the necessary A level results and has since been accepted at Leeds University to study textile design.
One of her early pieces was an unusual bra! During her AS year, she had looked at decay and her final piece that year was a dress that had “seen better days”. In her final year, she was still experimenting, whilst working towards her exam piece through her exploration of artists, techniques etc.
On Saturday 5th August, we returned to St. Peter’s Garden Centre, Worcester (a very popular local garden centre), to hold an event to celebrate the EG National Day of Stitch. We positioned some boards with images of stitched butterflies (this year’s theme) showing various techniques and stitches, and displayed examples of members’ work. On our tables, we had sample backgrounds where people could practise different stitches or be taught how to do “that” stitch, from French Knots to Sorbello Stitch. We had butterfly kits which could be stitched and stuffed and made into mobiles or brooches, flower brooch kits and inspiration packs which were full of different materials and threads.
We had some lovely conversations with people – women who used to stitch, “only” knitted, enjoyed doing cross stitch kits – but all were interested in what we were doing. Many, of course, were still working or were close to retirement but they said that the Worcester EG branch was one that they would like to join, should they have the opportunity to do so. One person supported a young man and had taught him to crochet, a craft which he was enjoying, and she took away a kit for him. I don’t think any of us will forget Sarah, the young lady who had curvature of the spine and was in a wheelchair. She was having a bad day and we cheered her up as she loved the shiny materials and colours. Our youngest customer certainly enjoyed her time stitching, as did all the members who supported the day.
“Bee Inspired” – A Summer Outing
In order to get inspiration for our exhibition, “Bee Inspired”, in 2018, a visit was organised to Lower Smite Farm, the Headquarters of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, on Tuesday 1st August.
On introduction – Caroline, farm manager, conspiratorially whispered, “It’s not all about Bees”. We quickly learned why… though bees were very much in evidence – the walk and talk was about all pollinators and correct planting to help them thrive.So, as embroiderers, what did we learn?
- To be botanically correct when we stitch, we need to think what insect will be attracted to each individual flower or plant. That grasses attract butterflies so leave it long and late in the summer before you cut them. When you do cut, leave some hollow stemmed plants longer to allow insects to over winter in them.
- To encourage wild flowers into beds and borders to keep our insects happy as nothing suits them better than our own native plants.
- That flies play a very important part and some pollinators are so tiny we’d need magnifying glasses to see them, let alone stitch them.
But back to the bees – We learned about honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees. We saw hoverflies and day time moths. We learned that farmers import pollinators rather than encourage our home grown variety just for increased surety of abundant fruits. We heard that even the unpopular wasp has its part to play – as it attacks fruit on the trees, it leaves their juice open to butterflies and other insects who supplement their diet to help them survive when flowers are in shorter supply. We discovered that rabbits aid habitat for insects by cropping banks to allow them to make their homes.
And what about the bees? We saw them on structural plants like burdock and flying low through a field of floral delights such as corn marigold, ox-eye daisies and bird’s foot trefoil. We shook the yellow rattle stalks and heard their sounds almost overshadowed by the popping of the ripe corn which dominated the rest of the field – Evidence that the ‘bees’ and the wind had done their job. We enjoyed the lovely purple of the knapweed – which acts as a wonderful foil for the golden colours of our bees.
And we left the site buzzing.
Worcester Cathedral’s Christmas Tree Festival 2016 — This year’s festival, held in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral from 3rd December to 5th January, has been organised, once again, by the Daisy Chain Benevolent Fund Trust. Our tree has been decorated with seventy six pods made by members of WEG. Three oval pieces of pelmet vilene were cut out to form the basis of each pod. These were coloured in a variety of ways (eg dyed, painted, material bonded on) and then decoration added with gold and red threads, sequins and beads. The sections were sewn together by hand or machine, to create the final baubles. Our thanks were expressed to all members who contributed the beautiful pods and to Jan and Sue who decorated the tree on WEG’s behalf.
Summer Social — A busy summer involving two exhibitions at Croome and Ledbury and the need for the exchange of display material, led to the suggestion of an afternoon meeting when this could take place, hence a gathering on Tuesday 2nd August at Pershore and District Sports Club.
Having exchanged their work, members were able to enjoy a lovely, social occasion which provided them with the opportunity to chat and enjoy cups of tea and homemade cake. Eight members took up the opportunity to visit Pershore Abbey for a talk and guided tour. The afternoon concluded with the draw of the raffle.
We hope this might become an annual event!
Visit to George Hook’s Mother of Pearl Factory
Following a talk given by George to WEG members, it was agreed that a visit to his factory in Pope Street, Smethwick would be both interesting and informative. We were not disappointed!
George’s factory, a large, unassuming, brick building on the outside was like an Aladdin’s cave inside! It was built by George and his father and it holds all that he needs (and more!) to produce a range of beautiful items from a variety of shells that he buys from countries around the world.
George demonstrated the making of a mother of pearl button using equipment manufactured over a hundred years ago as well as more modern tools - drills, cutters, lathes and polishers. His business is concerned with producing high quality, handmade items and he showed us some of what he makes, from spoons to items of jewellery to tiny circles of mother of pearl waiting to be put into the neck of a guitar.
George is a real character! How sad it would be if no-one, at the appropriate point in time, were able to take over from him, the last of five generations of his family to be involved in this industry.
National Celebration of Stitch
This year’s event was incorporated into an exhibition of work being held at Croome, a National Trust property in Worcestershire.
For three days at the start of June, members of WEG ran Activity Workshops under a gazebo set up in the grounds of this beautiful property. Children and adults alike were given the opportunity to print and stitch a book mark. Parents were able to recline in deck chairs and enjoy the brilliant sunshine whilst waiting for their children to complete the one hour activity.
Participants paid £1 to take part and, at the end of the event, £67 was handed over to the Croome Trust to be used on their future craft activities.
Thanks are expressed to the many members of WEG who set up this event and who gave freely of their time to assist in so many ways.
The Worcester Embroiderers’ Guild Embroidery
A special embroidery has been created by nine members of the Worcester Embroiderers’ Guild for the 2016 West Midlands’ Regional Day. Each 10 x 10cm square has been designed to illustrate some of the many facets of Worcester and Worcestershire.
Game of Thrones Embroidery
The Hardhome Embroidery was created in response to a request to the EG by representatives of the HBO Home Entertainment TV Network for a special piece of stitched artwork to form the backdrop to mark the release of the Series 5 DVD of the fantasy TV drama, “Game of Thrones”. The EG led the design and production of the embroidery. Stitch partners from The Royal School of Needlework, Hand & Lock, Fine Cell Work as well as EG members were asked to produce the work (which is 5.5m long and 3.8m tall) in just two months! Two of the members of Worcester Embroiderers’ Guild rose to the challenge!
“When we got the ‘call to arms’ from Jane, our Chairman of WEG, inviting us to offer our skills in the proposed ‘Game of Thrones’ embroidery, I knew straight away that this had my name on it. I had just returned from a wonderful, short break in Iceland where some of the scenes are filmed, and where there was a heavy emphasis on this as a tourist event. My head was buzzing with ideas! I volunteered that very afternoon and, shortly afterwards, I was invited to tell the organisers where I considered my strengths lay with the idea that they could best suit the volunteers to the work required. In the end, they gave most of the EG members ‘Family Shields’ to embroider. These are placed around the edge of the central figure.
We were sent threads and fabric, each with the required shield design having been chalked onto the fabric. Mine was a ‘Tudor Rose’ design. To maintain the dark, brooding feel of the series, we were told to keep to the colours given. Mine was dark blue and dark green on a navy blue background; everyone had to outline their work in black.
Because the background material was very thick, it was rather tricky to work on. As hand stitching had been specified, I decided to do mine in couched threads. For part of the design, I whipped the couching with a silver line in order to make it stand out. Finally, I added a little extra detail on the central boss area, just to liven it up a bit!
Wouldn’t it be lovely if the finished article came to the NEC show next year, so that we could all see it!”
Sponsoring a Student
Worcester Cathedral’s Christmas Tree Festival 2015