Emily Jo Gibbs – workshop, June 2017

Illustrative pictures using silk organza and hand stitch

It took me about 18 months to decide to join the Embroiderers Guild, because I was intimidated by the amazing work I saw on line. However, when a friend showed me the pieces she had made at a workshop I realised I was missing opportunities to learn and improve. Now I sign up for as many workshops as I can, so that I can broaden my repertoire and gain confidence in my own ability.  

When I first read the description for the Emily Jo Gibbs workshop, my doubts came back, because I cannot draw, and that seemed to be fundamental for this workshop. By the next meeting I had changed my mind – I realised that it didn’t matter if I didn’t produce a masterpiece, and I might learn despite that.

On the day of the workshop, as I looked at Emily’s beautiful work, my heart sank. Her portraits, made from layers of silk organza embellished with simple stitches, are stunning, and their apparent simplicity belies the artistic skill that goes into making them. I knew I couldn’t ever come close to making something similar.  Then I saw a geometric piece and I relaxed, because I knew I could do that.
 Emily’s teaching style is relaxed and generous, and she doesn’t hesitate in sharing her techniques to help everyone achieve something they can be proud of. She took us through the stages of creating our own pieces, starting with the geometric piece. We could then move on to something more complex (except for me, I chickened out and stayed within my comfort zone). Emily is undoubtedly a gifted teacher, and her gentle encouragement made us all very happy with what we achieved (even me), and I loved seeing everyone’s work at the end of the day, and admiring the skill within the group. 
I won’t be winning any prizes for my piece, but that doesn’t matter because I got to spend the day with a lovely group of warm, generous and supportive women, and I went home wearing a smile. Great value for £30!

​Thank you so much Tricia J for sharing your thoughts and comments about the workshop.

Thank you Vernice for the photos.


Zoe Hillyard – July 2017


It’s not very often that a speaker starts her talk by explaining that one of the main tools of her craft is a hammer.   This month Zoe Hillyard introduced us to the technique of ceramic patchwork.  Using a variety of ceramic pots and dishes which she finds at car boot sales, charity shops and on Ebay she breaks the pot with her hammer, wraps it in a chosen fabric, often silk and reassembles it using hand stitched patchwork.

Zoe divides her week spending 3 days as a lecturer on the Textile Design course at Birmingham University and the remainder of the week on her own work.  Students are prepared for the future by developing their own ideas of composition, pricing their work and showcasing their designs to the world of business.


After graduating from the Textile Design course at Nottingham Trent University Zoe gained confidence when she sold constructed knitting designs to Liberties and Barney’s and worked with knitwear designer Marion Foale of Foale & Tuffin exhibiting at London and Paris Fashion weeks. 

Zoe applied for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and in 2006 was given a year’s placement teaching in Mongolia.  She had little time for her own work but she enjoyed her challenge of teaching design to the students and organised a catwalk show entitled Cashmere & Camel.  Garments included embroidered menswear and knitwear embellished with found objects.

Returning to the UK Zoe concentrated on her interest of piecing ceramics back together and showed us a wonderful variety of pots which she has designed for the British Museum, the National Trust property at Uppark House in Sussex and private commissions.  One interesting commission was using a Grayson Perry silk scarf to wrap a pot – the owner loved the design but doubted she would wear the scarf.  Inspiration for a lot of Zoe’s designs has come from extensive travels to South Africa, Peru and Nepal.   Currently her work is on show at the CAA (Contemporary and Applied Arts) Gallery behind the Tate and she is preparing for her first solo exhibition in London in October.

​Report and photos by Ros