Friday, 30 October 2015

Planning for the Winter

Our clocks in the UK go back this weekend so the evenings will get darker a whole hour earlier. Spring forward, Fall back is the way I remember it. Recently we had Harvest Festival at Church with the lovely hymn ‘Come ye thankful people come, Raise the song of harvest home, All is safely gathered in Ere the winter storms begin.  Jews also have a similar festival Succoth also known as the Festival of Ingathering.’

Similarly I am planning on needlepoint projects for the long evenings and cold days when stitching rather than going out seems far more attractive.  My students are also planning, at a recent open day here many chose a new project for their winter stitching.

Besides a design interesting colour schemes can be recorded so here is a bunch of dried flowers with a bunch of threads that would echo the shades well.

 So, I have already got a piece ‘Aleppo’ on the go;  I think I have already mentioned it inspired by an ornate ceiling in the Citadel in the city of Aleppo in Syria but in addition I always try to have a ‘piece to go’  something that can be popped in a bag to work on at odd moments.  Spec cases are always good and make excellent presents.  Kindle covers, Christmas tree ornaments likewise. We also have a clutch bag that can take panels to match different outfits – again a small canvas
Some years ago, more years than I want to remember I taught panels for this bag/purse in Scotsdale for ANG.  If anyone has a bag of that vintage do let me know as additional panels are available.  The current purse is also available with a whole wardrobe of panel designs.

This is just one of the panels with an amusing chain.  Although the Duchess of Cambridge carries her signature clutch bags in her hand I do find a chain to pop over my shoulder more practical.  I have amassed a collections of chains threaded through with velvet ribbon as well as this converted necklace.

Besides stitching I also love going to exhibitions, particularly in the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London.  At present there is a sensational ‘Textiles of India’ show; I have been once but plan to go back soon as I allowed far too little time to thoroughly enjoy it.  It will shut on 10 January 2016

 Another exhibition I definitely plan to go to next summer is an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace of paintings by Maria Sibylla Merian  (1647 -1717)  From the advance publicity it would appear to be of her Butterflies;  however I am lucky enough to have her ‘New Book of Flowers’ and if the illustrations are anywhere as good as those in that book it will be an embroiderer’s dream.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Inspiration from Travel

Rudolf Nureyev said that whenever he danced a role it told a story;  I am similar – all my designs have a story behind them. Some from the place where I got the inspiration and others from motifs or colour combinations that caught my eye.
My collection of designs is inspired by the dedication and expertise of the craftsmen and women who originally made them often centuries ago.

Some of my favourites that come to mind are ‘India’ (available on both 14 and 18 mesh canvas);  it was on my very first holiday with my husband in northern India where I saw decorative stone grilles instead of windows to allow cool currents of air through – Robert was much perplexed at my request for a photo but delighted when he saw my needlepoint interpretation.
Another favourite is 'The Tiles of St Mark’s';  again inspired by a lovely trip to Venice, a first for me . The Cathedral’s interior is dazzling with walls and ceilings covered with gold ground mosaics but it was the inlayed marble floor that intrigued me most.  Memories of sitting in a quiet corner and sketching the geometric patterns of the floor tiles that had been there for centuries resulted in one of our most popular designs.

The Tiles of St Mark’s
We have some sad memories too;  the wall tiles in the beautiful St John’s Cathedral in Christchurch in South Island, New Zealand have inspired three designs and it was only later that a devastating earthquake destroyed most of the city and the Cathedral.
During a trip to Syria just before any troubles began, throughout the country, all the places we visited were rich in design  ideas..  I dread to think how many of the sites and buildings remain.  In Aleppo,  I photographed a magnificent ceiling in the Citadel which is the design I am working on at present, reliving the joyous time we spent in the country.  I believe that during the current civil war this complex has been used by the Syrian Army as a military base and, as a result has received significant damage.  
Even to-day there are reports of the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra in the north being ‘pulverised’.  Palmyra was constructed centuries before Christ as a stop over for travellers crossing the Syrian Desert and set in an oasis was almost the highlight of our trip..
Finally, as mentioned it is colours that demand my attention, we have just returned from St Lucia and the vibrant colours of the Carnival costumes, the iridescent turquoises, watermelon pinks, the pistachio greens and daffodil yellows are itching to be stitched!
Cathedral Tiles, Charlotte and Tudor