Double Trouble – surprise speakers for our Christmas meeting – December 2016

At Marlborough & District Embroiderers’ Guild each Christmas we celebrate with a “bring and share” lunch and a “surprise” speaker. This year we celebrated our 40th Ruby Anniversary with a four day exhibition in April and we wanted to end with a grand finale. 

About a year ago our Programme Secretary, Vernice asked if Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn would join us as our “surprise” speakers and to give the after lunch talk.  


Ann S (Joint Chair Marlborough), Jean Littlejohn, Jan Beaney and Clare Russell (Joint Chair Marlborough)
Just look at this “bring and share” spread!  A big thank you to everyone for preparing such a delicious meal and to my fellow Committee Members for their hard work in decorating the hall and clearing up after and of course to Vernice for asking Jan & Jean to speak to us.
 The Committee were sworn to secrecy so our guests and the remainder of our branch members, numbering over sixty,  were thrilled to see displays of Jan and Jean’s work and to hear them talk about how they have collected ideas and recorded them over the years.  They talked about their various trips abroad and how landscapes in Israel, Australia, the Grand Canyon and New Mexico had brought inspiration together with fossils on Charmouth beach, pot pourri jars, house renovations, craters on planets, the clock in St Mark’s Square in Venice and even the slime in Steve’s pond!

​Below is a selection of photos of their work which they kindly allowed me to take and some of the images from their presentation.  Sorry some of them are a bit skew!  Click on the first image to enlargen and then you can scroll through to see the details of their exquisite work.

We were very grateful to Jan and Jean for making our Christmas meeting such a memorable one. 

Report and photos by Ros

Juliette Orton’s Workshop – November 2016

Juliette Orton’s day school on Monday was a resounding success: we all benefitted from her inspirational packs and flexible approach to complete a number of pieces (refreshingly unusual to be able to complete pieces in the course of the day). 

The stitch and tear process was relatively simple but can achieve strikingly diverse effects : many people had a chance to practise their machine-embroidery skills while others worked on complex pieces incorporating a variety of techniques.  Everyone, whatever their skills-set, was pleased with their progress.

Report and photos by Clare R
​Thank you Clare!  Ros

Chrisse Seager – West of England Quilt Show – November 2016

I visited the three day West of England Quilt Show yesterday in the exhibition hall at the University of West of England in north Bristol.  I wanted to share with everyone the work of Chrisse Seager who kindly looks after our website.  She had a number of quilts on display, some cushions and a beautiful quilted jacket.  Our congratulations for coming “runner up” for the Best in Show by a Professional – see centre image below.

By Ros

Helen Colling – November 2016


Helen Colling was introduced to needlework at an early age and was encouraged by her City & Guilds tutor to apply for a 3 year Stitched Textile Diploma with Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn.  During the drawing module she explored transparency – looking through glass doors, reflections, shadows and layers.  The topic for her final piece was the atmosphere after something has gone. 

Helen has developed her work since her qualification using poetry and the transparency layering technique.  She explained how she uses Reynolds freezer paper to print photos onto cloth and hand stitches outlines.  We were interested to see her final work sandwiched between two layers of Perspex which emphasises the transparency theme.

Helen takes part in Open Studios and exhibits with Oxford Textile Artists and is a member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen (

Report by Ros

Nuno Felting workshop - Mandy Nash – October 2016


Mandy Nash started her workshop by explaining the fibres and fabrics that can be used with nuno felting and how different types of wools give different effects.

Mandy then went on to demonstrate the first technique of nuno felting.  She laid out wisps of wool all over a square of muslin in one direction and changed the direction for the second layer.  Small pieces of fabric were added for decoration and then the sandwich was put between bubble wrap and a noodle was used for rolling.  After rolling and turning numerous times, olive oil soap was added at the end before throwing on the table to form the felt.
The second technique also used muslin but this time the wisps of wools did not cover all the muslin, they were laid down to form a chosen pattern.  The rest of the process was similar to the first.
Mandy was very generous with her tips and suggestions and we left the workshop with a lovely variety of individual samples.
Above are examples of Mandy’s work.

Thank you for a fun day, Mandy.

Report by Ros

Prospect Hospice Project

Earlier this year the Prospect Hospice in Marlborough approached Marlborough & District Embroiderers Guild to ask if they would be interested in creating a hanging for the new Outreach Centre of Prospect Hospice at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough.

Our member Margaret Heath, who had created and overseen the Upper Kennet Valley Embroidery, was asked if she would be interested in managing this latest project and kindly agreed.  Margaret has now designed a triptych hanging with the theme of spring, summer and autumn and she showed her drawings and shared her ideas with a group of interested members at a recent Stitch Day.  The hanging will be a mixture of hand and machine embroidery and it is hoped a number of members will contribute to the final work which will probably take about 2 years to complete.

We plan to record the progress of this project so watch out for more postings.

Report by Ros

Marion Rowland

Sadly Marion Rowland has decided to step down from the Committee.  Over the years she has been both Treasurer and Membership Secretary. 

At the monthly meeting on Monday, Ann Smith presented Marion with a bouquet of flowers to show our appreciation of all the work she has done for the branch.

Report by Ros

Caroline Kirton – October 2016


Caroline Kirton’s talk on Monday was entitled “Telling Tales” and after a while it became clear as to why she had chosen this title.  As a mature student after the birth of her three daughters, Caroline enrolled on an Access to Art course which led to a Degree in Applied Arts.  During the course she researched the feminist artist Mary Kelly and her work influenced Caroline. 

Using her family and their friends Caroline took a series of snapshots of teenagers which explored their emotions, their relationships, their thoughts and behind each picture there is a message and an appropriate title.  

It all started when her daughter’s boyfriend was taken back to the States without saying “good bye” and you can see exerts from an email and see the despair in the posture of the young lad called “Lewis” below. 

Many teenagers experience traumas in family life and as a result teenagers get a bad press so Caroline wanted to highlight the positive.  “But I need it!”, “You are ruining my life”, “She is copying me” , “I think this will be OK for 6th form”, “Just Chilling” and “My Mum’s a proper weirdo”  are amongst the chosen titles.  As parents ourselves, many of us could relate to the topics which had been chosen.
From a practical point Caroline takes photos which she then draws out and enlarges.  She uses bondaweb to position vintage fabrics to the background and screen prints of text often taken from emails.  She amazed us all by saying that she does not use a frame or hoop when free machining and always stretches the finished work herself.

Thank you Caroline for sharing your techniques with us and for giving us a most enjoyable afternoon.

Report by Ros

Avebury Day – Saturday 10 September 2016

Our branch was invited to take part in the annual Avebury Day on Saturday 10 September.  This was a great opportunity to show our work and to promote the Guild.  The wonderful hanging which our Young Embroiderers created for our exhibition earlier this year was on display and, as you will see from the photos below, children were encouraged to stitch into a sampler.

Chris C, Lindsay S, Vernice C, Maria F, Nikki VW and Christine H
There were a great variety of exhibitors – to the left and right we had a vintage fire engine and ferret racing!
Thank you Vernice and Lindsay for the photos.  Ros

Wild Woman Weaving Workshop – Isabelle Jourdan – September 2016


Following a wonderfully stimulating talk on the previous day, Isabelle Jourdan led a one day workshop entitled ‘Wild Woman Weaving’ to a group of would-be needle weavers. As it turned out the title was not a misnomer! 

Isabelle with her voluminous hair, bare feet, frantic hand gestures, dynamic personality and superabundant enthusiasm was truly ‘wild’ about her craft. Moreover by the end of the day our group of sedate and temperate stitchers had all become infected with her enthusiasm and were champing at the bit to invest some of their own personalities and creativity into their samples.

The day started with Isabelle showing the group how to attach the warp threads to the frame. This was more time consuming than at first appeared as each pair of threads had to be attached individually. She then demonstrated the basic needle weaving technique using a single background colour. Once the group had mastered this she provided instructions for six variations of the basic weave, using just one other colour of thread, which amazingly, resulted in the creation of some beautiful and potentially intricate patterns. At the end of the day Isabelle explained how to remove the sample from the frame, and gave suggestions about adding decorative finishes such as fringes, tassels, beads and feathers. The completed sample could then be hung on a twig or small branch to give it a rustic feel.  
Although three members of the group were able to remove their samples from the frame, unfortunately there was insufficient time to complete the hangings. However, everyone had developed sufficient skills and knowledge to be able to complete these at home. More importantly, everyone had been inspired by Isabelle to unleash some of their latent creativity through the absorbing medium of needle weaving.

A great day was had by all!

Report and photos by Maria F
Thanks, Maria!  Ros L