Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December Guild Meeting - Members Project

This month at Guild, we started work on a group project, creating embroidered Christmas bunting. We also had coffee, cake and mince pies, and enjoyed a chat while we stitched.

It was a sad day, in part, as Monday was our last afternoon meeting - we are switching to evening meetings only from January. Hopefully this collective project will allow us to mark the occasion at Christmas each year.

We are looking forward to the first session of 2012 - a group project working on ideas for stitch based on the theme of Our Industrial Heritage.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Fusing Fabric Workshop

On the 26th November, Margaret Beal came to lead a workshop for 12 members of the Guild. She demonstrated how to cut felt and polyester organza with a soldering iron. First, we stitched leaves and abstract shapes with free machine embroidery, and cut the excess organza away from the edges of the stitched shapes:
Margaret Beal  Fusing Fabric 2 Workshop 27-Nov-11 (35)

We then layered organza, free machined into it, and carefully removed the top layer in sections to reveal the organza underneath:

Margaret Beal  Fusing Fabric 2 Workshop 27-Nov-11 (22)
Some beautiful effects were achieved by building up layers of snippets of organza, and then working into these with stitch and the soldering iron:
Margaret Beal  Fusing Fabric 2 Workshop 27-Nov-11 (33)

The members produced lots of great work over the day, and I certainly feel inspired to take this further:

Margaret brought many beautiful samples of her work to share with us, and these were invaluable to help us understand the techniques she shared:

All in all, we had a great day, and are looking forward to next year's workshops. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Coming Up in December

Within the Guild:
December meeting - Members Workshop and Christmas party. Committee members will be bringing mince pies, and there'll be a raffle. We'll be working on a collective project, so please bring materials as specified on the requirements list. Sadly, this'll be our last afternoon session, as from January 2012 we move to evening-only sessions. If you've been contemplating coming to a session for a while, please do come along!

Fairy Tales in Fabric at the MAC
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December

Lost in Lace at Birmingham Museum
Ongoing until February 2012 - would any one like to go to this exhibition together on a Saturday in January? Leave a comment if you'd like to go.

November Workshop -Fusing Fabric 2 with Margaret Beal

We're looking forward to welcoming Margaret Beal this Saturday for her Fusing Fabric 2 workshop.

For members who are coming, the requirements list is below:

Sewing machine
Machine embroidery threads (non-meltable) for example cotton, rayon or silk
Usual sewing kit
Medium size tapestry needle
Large fabric scissors
Soldering iron 240 volts, 18-24 watts *
Medium/ large terracotta flower pot with a drainage hole in the bottom to use as a soldering iron stand
Mains extension lead
Piece of glass about A4 sized, edges covered with masking tape (e.g. Picture frame glass)
Metal ruler 6 inches long, not less than 1 inch wide
Face mask (if you are concerned about breathing in any possible harmful fumes from melting fabric)
Fine wire wool to clean the tip of the soldering iron *
Nylon organza in a variety of colours #
Acrylic felt #

* Note on Soldering Irons
The soldering iron should have a very fine tip; she uses a 0.12 mm tip, 18 watts.

Margaret will have soldering irons available for sale at the workshop, priced at £23.50. If you'd like to order one in advance of Saturday, please call her on 01264-365-102 or email

I've seen Margaret demonstrating before, and she has put the wire wool in a toilet roll tube to make it safe and easy to handle, so it might be worth bringing a spare tube.

# Optional
Margaret will bring a supply of nylon organza and acrylic felt at a charge of £3 per person.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Requirements Lists - December 2011 & January 2012 Sessions

Could people attending the December and January sessions please bring:

December 2011
Christmas Guild Project
A sewing kit (scissors, needles, embroidery needles, pins etc.)
Threads, beads, sequins, ribbons, braids in Christmas colours (Red, green, gold, silver)
If you wish, bring reference material with a Christmas theme
Background fabric will be provided

January 2012
New Beginnings - Our Shared Industrial Heritage
Paper or Sketchbook
Pritt stick/paper glue
Old magazines
Water colours
Coloured tissue paper
If you wish to bring your own reference material on the theme of Our Industrial Heritage, please feel free, however some will be provided for you.

If you have any queries, please email

Moroccan Mosaics

This month, Angela Thompson came to talk to us about her travels round Morocco, and the textiles she has collected.

She showed a presentation with many photographs of the buildings and architectural details which have inspired Moroccan embroidery, full of rich geometric patterns.

Due to the wide range of cultures that settled in Morocco, there are many different styles of embroidery, varying from town to town, and ranging in style from very delicate to rather more coarse embroidery. Angela also talked about how she had visited homes where families embroidered items for sale, like table cloths and tea tray inserts.

Here are some of the photos I took of the textiles that Angela shared:

Monday, 31 October 2011

Upcoming Events for November 2011

Here are a few events which are coming this month:

At Birmingham Embroiderers Guild:

On Monday 14th, Angela Thompson is coming to talk to us about Moroccan Mosaic textiles. She's sent these two pictures, and it looks to be a very interesting session.

Rabat curtain fragment from Angela Thompson

Azemmour Cloth from Angela Thompson

On Saturday 26th, Margaret Beal will be doing her Burning Issues part I and II workshop, exploring using soldering irons to cut and fuse fabrics, and then working into these with sewing machines.


On Saturday 12th, there's a Nuno Felting workshop at the MAC. For more info, see their website.

Also on the 12th, there's a Silk Screen and Textile printing course at Birmingham Printmakers, covering how to creat and expose a screen, and then printing onto fabric.

Birmingham Museum currently have an exhibition, entitled 'Lost In Lace', about contemporary lace creations, including large scale and sculptural lace pieces. See the Lost In Lace website for more info.

Monday, 17 October 2011

With Hand And Heart

This Saturday I went to Forge Mill Needle Museum, to see With Hand And Heart, Linda and Laura Kemshall's latest exhibition. It had lots of beautiful quilts, as well as other pieces including this wonderful hand bag:


I loved this quilt, The Golden Pear, with cut out details and hanging leaves and fruit:



There was a simple beauty to this picture of medicine bottles, with lots of different techniques including stitching, applique and paint to form the shapes:

The exhibition is on until the 23rd, and Linda and Laura will be there this Thursday (the 20th) talking about their work.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Japanese Fans

After Julia's wonderful talk this week, I have been looking around for more Japanese embroidery, and I found these lovely fans:

Origami Fans by Mezcraft on Craftster

Although it's not goldwork, I thought it was beautiful embroidery, with some lovely details.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Upcoming Events for October 2011

A couple of events have been brought to my attention, which might be of interest:
Embroidery Events:
Linda and Laura Kemshall have an exhibition, entitled 'With Hand And Heart', at the Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch. It is on until the 23rd of October, and features lots of their wonderful quilts, sketchbooks and embroidery.
For more details, see the Forge Mill website.

Beasts, Birds and Flowers - Embroidered Textiles from the BM&AG Collection is a workshop using embroidered items dating from the 16th to 20th centuries from the museum's collections.
For more details, see the BMAG website.

Raising The Surface, a celebrity lecture from Maggie Grey, is being hosted by the Worcester branch of the Guild on October 29th. Admission is by advance ticket only, call Jacky Shail on 01684-311-722 for details.

Coming up in November:
Lost in Lace: New approaches by UK and international artists exhibition at Birmingham Museum Gas Hall, 29th October 2011 to 19th February 2012
Nuno Felting at the MAC, 12th and 13th November
Silk Screen and Textile Printing course at Birmingham Printmakers, Digbeth, 12th November

Also of interest:
Collograph Printing course at Birmingham Printmakers, Digbeth, 15th October
Small Print: Big Impression exhibition at the MAC, 22nd October to 4th December

For The Love Of Gold

At last night's guild meeting, Julia Gray came to speak to us about her Japanese goldwork embroidery.

Julia has been developing her skills in this technique for over 20 years, initially studying on a 10 stage American course, then moving on to learning from a Japanese master who was willing to teach a Western woman. This involved trips to Japan and correspondence via email, despite language and cultural barriers.

Julia's work involves gold leaf applied to stenciled on glue, and lots of very fine couched on gold thread. She also dyes her background fabrics.

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (10)
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (12)
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (11)

Julia brought a wide range of equipment with her, which really helped us to understand her processes. She also brought many samples of her own work and other traditional pieces.

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (1)
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (2)
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (8)

Her talk was lively and entertaining, and she has published a book.

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild For The Love Of Gold 10 Oct 2011 (7)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Birmingham Postcards

Guild members have recently completed a project to stitch postcards representing aspects of Birmingham. These were given to the then Lady Mayoress, Gillian Gregory, and were originally intended to hang in HMS Dearing, Birmingham's naval ship. Unfortunately the finished hanging was a bit too big for the available space, however the Lady Mayoress has secured them hanging space within the Council House itself, so Birmingham residents will be able to go and enjoy these very diverse examples of embroidery.

For more details about the project, see this Birmingham Mail article.

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (10) - Birmingham Postcard

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (11) - Birmingham Postcard

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (12) - Birmingham Postcard

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (13) - Birmingham Postcard

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (14) - Birmingham Postcard

September Guild Meeting

As well as having visits from lots of interesting speakers, we also have many talented members who lead workshops.  The September meeting featured three members demonstrating their skills:

embroidery 2011 001

Margaret uses the computer a lot in her embroidery, manipulating images and printing them before stitching into the printed fabric. She talked through her work with members.

embroidery 2011 002

Lyn demonstrated goldwork, with lots of beautiful threads and shining stitches.

embroidery 2011 003

Angela brought her beadwork to share with us - lots of beautiful, detailed embroidery.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the meeting, so thank you to Janet for taking these photos. If you'd like to share your work and skills with members, please feel free to get in touch!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ceramic Bugs

This article on the BBC News website about an art exhibition in Nottingham reminded me of Louise Watson's embroidered insects, so I thought I'd share it here. There are some beautiful ceramic bugs, with gorgeous glazed colours.

Anna Colette Hunt's Ceramic Insects

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Geek Of The Week

I (Heather, Birmingham Guild blog maintainer) was on BBC 6 Music this weekend as 'Geek Of The Week'. I nominated myself for my embroidered picture of the exploding TARDIS from the end of the last series of Doctor Who:

Doctor Whoopla The Pandorica Opens (1)

I also had a chance to talk about our Postcards Project, where guilds across the country are stitching postcards to welcome sporting nations competing in the Olympics 2012, and the joy of making things.

If you want to listen to my little section, you can go to the listen again page until Saturday (the 16th of July) and skip forward to 48 minutes in.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Summer Party Today!

The Birmingham Embroiderers' Guild summer party is on today, with the afternoon session on from 1:30pm and the evening session starting at 7:30pm. It'll be a fab event, with strawberry cream teas, and a talk from the Lady Mayoress - if you've been wondering what the guild is all about, tonight would be a good chance to come down and meet people.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mayormaking Day

The Guild exhibited lots of beautiful embroidery at Birmingham Council's Mayormaking Day at the Council House.  We had a great stand that really showcased the wide range of work which members do:
Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (1)

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (6)

Betty brought her canvaswork cushion, which includes a wide variety of different stitches, to good effect:

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (2) - The Blues by Betty Rorke (Canvaswork)

This gorgeous machine embroidered picture by Margaret Richards shows the painterly effects that can be achieved:

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (3) - Copper Beech Trees by Margaret Richards (Machine Embroidery)

Viv Wilson embroidered this wonderful picture, called "When King Kong Came To Brum":

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (8) by Viv Wilson

Janet Molloy brought some great blackwork, including this chessboard and pint of Guinness:

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (4) - Chessboard by Janet Molloy (Blackwork)

Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (30) - Glass of Guinness by Janet Molloy (Blackwork)

This bright and colourful picture, entitled 'Sea Flowers', was stitched by Janet Lee, and features applique and beading:
Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (31) Sea Flowers by Janet Lee (Applique & Beading)
This beautiful casket was stitched by Janet Wright:
Birmingham Embroiders Guild Exhibition 30 May 2011 (28) - Turquioise Casket by Janet Wright (Mixed Techniques)
The Guild also exhibited two Group projects - wall hangings for HMS Dearing & St Martin's Church, and they will be featured in blog posts in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

'Little Boxes' Workshop with Louise Watson

Today, 14 Guild members attended a brilliant workshop led by Louise Watson, who was teaching us to make tiny embroidered boxes like this one:

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (12)
A one stitch box

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (13)
A little garden box

We had all brought a selection of fabric, beads and threads, and proceeded to work on our own boxes.

Some members chose to start one stitch boxes in a range of complementary colours:
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (4)

While others started work on their own miniature gardens:
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (5)

Louise was a brilliant tutor, she gave very informative demonstrations and was on hand to provide advice and tips. Throughout the morning she demonstrated the next skill or technique we'd need to know to progress with our boxes. Through the day we worked on our sewing, making the side panels and embellishing the top with layers of stitching & beads.

Linda worked fantastically hard and finished her entire box in the day:
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (19)

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (20)

Everyone else made great progress, and have boxes which are nearly ready to finish, here's a slideshow of the photos:

All the stitching together:
Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Little Boxes (35)

If you want to find out more about Louise, you can go to her Brunel Broderers page, or their Blog, a great source of inspiration. The group have an exhibition entitled "curiouser...?" in Frome in September, and more details are on their blog too. She also has an exhibition in Cardiff soon, about her collaboration with a potter.

All in all, a great day, and everyone was really looking forward to making more boxes. Thank you Louise!