Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Great Hockham Mothers Union banner

A while ago a friend came to me with a plastic bag filled with something in the way of fabric in a very sorry state. She quietly told me that she'd noticed the Mother's Union banner at Church had been very grubby indeed so she washed it. The entire background of silk had rotted away and the embroidery was sadly in need of some tender care. Could I please have a look at it and see what I could do.I love these kinds of jobs and have absolutely loved every minute of restoring this old and very beautiful thing. I had to use tweezers to pull out the old threads and it was fascinating to see what was underneath.Appliqueing primroses is a therapeutic exercise on a cold and wintry day.
and though replacing the threads around the lettering was a painstaking job, it was worth while in the end.
Luckily the embroidery and applique of the mother and child was still in good condition. It's extremely hard to make faces look good with fabric, it's where the real Art lies in this sort of piece and this one is beautifully done.The work that no one sees is just as important as without this stitching , the banner would bag and look like a sack. I was able to use the original interlining but it was very thick linen and I ended up with plasters all over my fingers as I stabbed & stabbed again to get the needle in exactly the right spot.

Finally though it was finished. I'm very pleased with it and hopefully it will last another hundred years or so.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Kerry Dwyer's stole

My friend Kerry is an interfaith minister in Sydney. She asked me to make a stole for her ages ago but we couldn't decide on a symbol that would encompass an Inter faith message. Then I went to London to visit Watts of Wesminster and found a fabulous book on Ecclesiastic embroidery with this image of a phoenix in it.
But then it turned into THIS... a much better image. Graphic & powerful.
With a hand made tassled fringe.
Painstakingly sewn onto petersham ribbon.

Finished at last.
Let's hope lots of loving couples get to gaze at it on their big day as they kneel in front of Kerry D.


Monday, August 03, 2009

My buddy Jeremy has given me a Mitre to restore. I've carefully unpicked it and found a date inside which you can just see in this picture, it says 1896. Boy, that's old.
It's a beautiful thing with pearls and garnets along the Victorian metalwork edge. I've found the perfect red fabric and have replaced these tattered and worn bits.
With shiny new lining tails.The embroidery on it is exquisite and there are semi precious stones inside the circles on the front.
It has a cross on the top that has two stones missing so a friend, Sheila is going to replace them with moonstones for us.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Lotus embroidered stole

I finished a stole today that is to go to Australia.
The woman it's for is studying to be an interfaith minister and wanted a motif that would transcend and combine all religions. We decided on a lotus as she has one tattooed on the back of her neck. I think it worked out rather well.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Swaffham banner

I've been asked by Swaffham (Norfolk UK) Mothers Union to make a new banner for them, replicating their old one which you can see here. The fabric is so old that the blue around the outside edge is almost white.
I had a job & a half to find the right blue. Eventually I found some beautiful silk at Watts & co in London behind Westminster Abbey. Extremely pricey though.
The symbols on the banner are interesting: crossed keys & crossed swords for the saints Peter and Paul. Here's the original with swords.
And the beginnings of the new ones: transferred onto the back & then sewn through with cotton thread to mark the front
Here are the new ones embroidered on.
I've had another job and a half (that makes 3 jobs now doesn't it?)to try & get the gold fabric that is appliqued on for the cross & lettering but after emailing 7 different companies today a few of them have started to reply and have said they will send samples. It's a really unusual lurex that looks like it has real metal in it. Who knows how old it isIn the end I used gold kid for the cross and crown. It worked well but my poor fingers were very sore from pushing the needle through the leather.
Attaching the gold cord took ages but it finally took shape and started to look like the real thing.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thetford Masonic Banner

Ages and ages ago our very wonderful friend Harold Lock asked me if I'd be interested in having a look at a banner they had at their Masonic Lodge. It was the centenary of it's consecration in 1909 and they needed a new one. Did I know anyone who could do the job?
Here's a picture of it. Faded and cracked but still a fine example of the Victorian banner maker's craft.Would I be interested in trying to replicate it? I was.
At the time I thought it should be no problem at all. I thought I'd embroider the gold lettering to save me having to learn how to use gold leaf on fabric ......A million miles down the track I discovered that it was a much harder brief than I had expected. First I had to find the material for the ground, which took forever and lead me through a range of very expensive silk manufacturers. I finally ended up finding exactly the right fabric at a sale in North Norfolk. I had to trace the original onto transparent plastic, then trace again over that before putting it onto the fabric.
Without moving it an inch...
Next I had to find the gold embroidery thread. NO GO. Embroidery threads come in yellow or beige or taupe. Nothing like the gold I needed. I decided I would try to find some gold paint instead. I had success here again in Norfolk at the Norwich Art supplies shop where I found the perfect gold powder that became a fabric paint when you mixed it with a particular medium. So far so good.....
Every morning I'd wake up thrilled to be working on such an auspicious piece. I honestly loved every minute working on it.
So after much joy & a small amount of anxiety I finally finished it. Such great symbolism, with the all seeing eye, the sun and the moon, the Mason's square and compass. It was great to see something so old and faded come back to life again .