Exquisite Containers – Embroiderers Guild Challenge

Over a year ago, Lindsay suggested that I might be interested in entering the Embroiderers Guild Challenge for Exquisite Containers. I have never entered anything like this before but I do enjoy making boxes so I thought I would give it a go.

Exquisite Containers

I began by making a design for the lid. I contained a glass rivoli with seed beads and sewed this onto a firm Vilene base. The next step was to manipulate and sew strands of Soutache (Russian Braid) in a swirling pattern incorporating more beads. The biggest problem was keeping the work symmetrical.

The completed pattern was sewn to green cotton fabric, mounted onto an oval shape which was later attached to the lid.  Work on the sides had to be accurately sewn in place before being added to the base. Oh why do I make things difficult with more symmetry?

Judy Exqusite box 2

I was delighted to be awarded “Commended” for the Beryl Dean Award for Hand Stitching.

The box has only recently been returned to me as it was kept by the Guild for display purposes. I am glad I entered and would encourage everyone to enter a challenge too.

Judy Exqusite box 3

Congratulations on your award Judy J and thank you for telling us all about it.


Photos thanks to Vernice C.

Claire Edwards – A Defiant Approach to Hand Embroidery

Claire Edwards VC sketchbook result

We had a delightful hour listening to Claire explain why and how she takes a Defiant Approach to Hand Embroidery.  Claire explained that her Art teacher at school told her that she ‘didn’t have a creative bone in her body’.  She left school at 16 to join the Royal Air Force during which time she had lots of fun and many life experiences.  She met her husband (also in the RAF) had two children and spent some years in Germany in a ‘normal office job’.  On her return to the UK she worked for a well known children’s charity, eventually running a county- wide organisation in Wales but developed health problems which remained undiagnosed for some time.   During sick leave Claire taught herself to crochet as she found this very therapeutic.


After several unsuccessful attempts to return to work Claire decided that she had to do something else and applied for a place at University to study 3D Contemporary Jewellery.  I hope Claire won’t mind me saying so, but that decision appeared to me to be a real turning point in Claire’s life.  When attending Staffordshire University for interview, Claire noticed some embroideries hanging on the walls of the building she visited.  This prompted a change of mind on her subject of choice to study and she completed a three year degree course on Textile Surface Design making a feature of using alternative materials.  She graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.  During this period Claire was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.  This didn’t stop Claire doing what she wanted to do and this is where the name Defiant Embroidery originated. 


Claire was the only student to use embroidery for her finals piece, a beautiful Phoenix, made using leather, beading, sequins and metal thread embroidery, the inspiration coming from a visit to the Alhambra in Spain together with the National Ironwork Museum in Oswestry.  At the end of her final year Claire entered the Hand & Lock embroidery competition with her Phoenix embroidery.  Claire hand made the Devore fabric, screen printing her own design, for the dress on which the Phoenix was stitched on the back, with a sequin border around the edge.  She also made use of laser cutting leather for the front of the dress.  Claire told us how she was still stitching on these sequins on her way to London to deliver the dress!

Claire Edwards Phoenix

Following the completion of her degree, Claire did some work on commission for the fashion industry but decided this wasn’t for her, so decided to study for an MA.  Staffordshire University allowed Claire to write her own MA programme based on experimental embroidery.  Having learnt to sub aqua dive in Mexico, Claire took her inspiration from the beautiful coral reefs she had seen.  Claire now reproduces these beautiful underwater scenes by means of beading, metal threads and hand embroidery, all in 3D and has also experimented with protecting her work by encasing it in resin – all part of her MA process of experimentation.  Claire has also experimented with tambour work on hard surfaces, for example wood and plastics.

Claire Edwards CH 1

Last year Claire and her husband decided on a different lifestyle – living full time in a very luxurious motor home!  Her ‘studio’ is a large cupboard underneath the motorhome in which she keeps all her boxes of beads, metal threads and other equipment.  Claire also teaches at Staffordshire University and so is able to access the University’s equipment for her resin work. 

Claire’s work is truly beautiful and inspiring – she has certainly proved her Art teacher wrong – she is very, very creative and I’m sure will go on, defiantly, to create ever more beautiful and experimental embroideries!

If you would like to find out more about Claire’s work look on her website:  https://defiantembroidery.wordpress.com/

Report by Ann K

Photos thanks to Christine H, Vernice C & Claire Edwards

Copyright on photos to Claire Edwards

Thank you Ann K, Christine H & Vernice C for your contributions this month.  Ros

Surprise find – The New Forest Embroidery

I have just returned from a long weekend in the New Forest with my walking group.  Currently I am only able to do short walks but it did give me the opportunity of exploring the area and to my delight on Saturday afternoon I visited the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst.  I was wandering around their museum and suddenly saw a sign – up stairs to the New Forest Embroidery.  What a thrill as I had never heard of this embroidery and I want to share some photos.   

It is 25 ft long and was commissioned in 1979 to commemorate the 900th Anniversary of the founding of the New Forest.  It was designed by Belinda, Lady Montagu, and created with a team of more than 50 helpers, it highlights the most important events in the Forest’s history together with a wide range of local flora and fauna.  To find out more click on the links below.

New Forest Embroidery
New Forest 11
New Forest

New Forest Heritage Centre:


To read more about the New Forest Embroidery and to download a pdf file:


Writeup and photos by Ros