Pamela Smith – January 2020


​Pamela’s interest in Russia started at a young age when her father worked in London near to the Russian Shop and bought home books and artefacts as presents.  She went on to learn Russian history at A Level and in 1973 her husband was posted to Moscow for 6 months.  At this time she was doing a 4 year City & Guilds Course and had the fortune to meet the Textile curator of the Museum in Moscow.  Pamela introduced her to art quilts which started in Russia about this time.

​The first evidence of metal thread work was found in Russia about 1592 and Pamela showed us a photograph of the Stroganov family shroud (below).  Similar work was being done in England at this time.  In the 17th C the aristocracy wore long beards, flowing gowns and coats but overnight this changed at the time of Peter the Great.  Beards were shaved off, the old style was banned  and western court dress was worn.  Merchants’ wives continued to wear traditional dresses made of silk and exotic imported materials.  Embellishments were worn on the end of plaits but when a lady married she hid her hair away.   Examples of textiles fortunately survived the Russian revolution where as a lot of paintings did not.   The blue court dress below was worn by the last Tsarina, Alexandra Fyodorovna.  It was made by the Atelier of Olga Bulbenkova in the late 19th-early 20th C
​In 1903 a ball was suggested for pre and post revolution costumes and Pamela showed us photographs of the wonderful variety of outfits which were worn.  
​Nowadays gold work is now mainly found in the church costume.  Torzhok, a town between St Petersburg and Moscow is full of monasteries and a school of  gold embroidery.  Girls are taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and then they continue to the embroidery school.  Below are some examples of items Pamela bought at the school and on her travels in Russia.
Thank you Pamela for a most interesting talk about a subject I knew little about!

​Report and photos by Ros

Anne Hellyer – “Set the Town Alight” workshop – November 2019


A few years ago I saw Anne Hellyer’s work displayed at the West of England Quilting and Textile Show at the UWE (University of the West of England) in Bristol so when I had the opportunity to go on a two day workshop I was keen to put my name down.  

​Anne’s distinctive “Painting the Town” designs incorporate hand painted textiles and free machine embroidery.
We started the day by choosing a design, winter townscape, snowy townscape or an individual choice.   The hand painted fabric is ironed onto a background and then starts the fun of adding the doors, windows, plants and trees.  Finally a backing is added and ribbons to enable you stand your finished work up with a night light in the centre.   
Anne was extremely generous sharing her ideas and techniques and the two days of stitch, stitch, stitching went so quickly.   The end results were so individual with each person choosing different coloured fabrics and adding their own special ideas including Rosemary’s super black cat. 



Thank you Anne for a great workshop.

Anne’s kits can be bought on her website:
Please note – all the designs are Anne’s copyright

Report and photos by Ros

Liz Brooke Ward – November 2019

Liz Brooke Ward was the speaker for our November meeting.  I first saw Liz’s work many years ago at Art In Action so I was interested to meet the artist herself, to hear her story and to see a wonderful selection of her work.
​Liz explained that many years ago she chose rocks and stones as her topic for a City and Guilds course.  During this time she also became interested in lichens and, although she has diversified considerably, Liz is well known for her circle in square designs using lichens as inspiration.  Liz handed round a wonderful selection of her work and it was interesting to see her lichen design created using different techniques and materials.  They included applique and reverse applique, free machine embroidery, hand stitched French knots, hand dyed fabrics, varying colour combinations  and multi media.  
Liz enjoys poetry and regularly includes text in her work.  She loves experimenting with fonts and her son has created a font for her in the shape of a leaf.

In 2006 Liz was awarded the Charles Henry Foyle award for Stitched Textiles.  Her work was entitled “On to the Eastward” and was her interpretation of a maelstrom.  
​Liz gives talks, has had articles printed in various publications, has been an artist in residence at Nature in Art and has exhibited her work at the Festival of Quilts and around the country. She is a member of the Contemporary Quilters Guild and showed us examples of a monthly challenge to create a journal quilt.
Thank you Liz for a wonderfully enthusiastic talk and for generously sharing your techniques.

Report and photos by Ros

Jennifer Hughes workshop – September 2019

The day after Jennifer’s talk to the branch she kindly led a workshop entitled “Inspired by Chinese Ethnic Embroidery”.  This was a hand stitch workshop using folded pieces of fabric which were stitched into the form of a bird, fish or animal.

To start the day Jennifer showed us some samples which she and her friends had worked especially for this workshop.

Jennifer had also prepared outline shapes to act as a guide for our design.  
During the day Jennifer demonstrated a number of different stitches which were included on the traditional Chinese embroidery – pulling stitch, various forms of chain stitch and she showed us how to make a flat braid which was often used to outline the design.
We left at the end of the day with some lovely samples, well under way and knowledge of some great stitches which were new to a number of us.
Thank you Jennifer for a most enjoyable day.

Report by Ros
​Photos by Ros and Jennifer

Victoria Riley – July 2019


​Victoria’s father worked in the oil industry and she was brought up in Houston and Jakata where she discovered her love of batik.  She followed a course to learn the various techniques and showed us examples of her work.


​Victoria explained that batik is a traditional dye resist technique popular in Indonesia using wax.  The wax can be applied in a number of different ways, a metal or wooden stamp or tumblock, usually done by men due to the weight of the stamp or the tulis method which uses a canting containing liquid wax to draw the image on the material.  To remove the wax the material is soaked in boiling water.

​Traditional dyes are used, barks and indigo as well as chemical dyes. Different types of salt are used to produce different shades and colours. Various types of wax are used including paraffin wax and gum from trees and this wax must be the right temperature otherwise it will not adhere to the cloth.
It was interesting to discover that designs and colours differed depending on where they were made, the market they were targeting or sometimes the Sultan would decide.  Muslim designs tended to be subdued whereas Hindus’ designs were more free.  The Garuda, which is a mythical bird in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions, has always been a very popular design and small dots are a seen on most Indonesian batik.  The designs are passed down from one generation to the next and it was very encouraging to hear that the technique is very much alive.
Report and photos by Ros

Embroiderers Guild Annual Trustees Award – 2019

The Trustees Award is an annual event to celebrate five Embroiderers’ Guild members nominated for their acknowledged support of their branch and local community in the name of stitch. 

This year, 2019 two nominations were put forward independently for Marlborough & District Embroiderers Guild, both of whom were successful in receiving an award. The committee and membership would like to congratulate both Yvonne Miles and Vernice Church on this outstanding achievement. 

​Yvonne, nominated by the Marlborough & District Embroiderers Guild Committee, has been a branch member since 1995, during which time she has been active on the committee. Her roles have included programme organiser, branch secretary and branch chair between 2008 and 2013.
​Vernice, nominated by branch member Nikki Vesey Williams, joined the Guild about 20 years ago. She is a member of both the Windsor and the Marlborough branches. Since becoming a committee member in 2014 she has scheduled interesting and varied speakers and workshops.
Text taken from newsletter, thank you Maria
​Photos Ros

Val Toombes – May 2019


Our speaker this month was Val Toombes.  She enjoyed drawing and needlework classes as a teenager and made her own clothes at the age of 12. 

In the early days whilst working aboard, Val’s husband bought her a knitting machine and she went on to design patterns.  In 1992 she did a machine embroidery course at Farnham College where she became a Bernina fan.  She then graduated on to the City & Guilds course at Godalming.

Val’s main interest is silk and she uses it to make paper, scarves, dresses, jackets as well as 3D vessels.  She explained that she learnt to dye 10 different colourways for use in her work and loves strong vibrant colours. 

Val brought along a selection of her work on display mannequins and passed smaller items around the room for members to look at. 
Val enjoys exhibiting her work enters competitions regularly all over the world.  She talked about a recent exciting occasion when her work was chosen to be shown in the World of Wearable Art in Wellington, New Zealand.  Val also mentioned exhibiting at Ramster Hall near Chiddingfold in Surrey.

A group of members will attend a workshop given by Val so watch out for the posting.

Report and photos by Ros

St Fagen’s National Museum of Wales

It was an absolute joy to visit St Fagan’s National Museum of Welsh history just outside Cardiff this month. 

On a beautiful spring day two groups of us were fascinated by textile curator Elen Philips’s inspiring thoughtful guide to some of the special stitched items in the Museum’s collections.  She even took us around the stores and introduced us to a group of embroiderers working on a hanging for the Tudor Merchant’s House, re-erected along with many other buildings from all over Wales.  Elen also introduced us to the concept of museology – a relatively new study of how to present museum items in a variety of thought-provoking ways.

The newly extended and revamped galleries invited participation by visitors and I especially enjoyed the Gweithdy a new building celebrating making in many materials including stitch quilting and clothing. 

A wonderfully rich and inspiring day!

​Report by Clare R

St Fagen’s Castle, gardens & relocated houses
Esgair Moel Woollen Mill – moved to present location in 1950’s.   The current spinner and weaver did his apprenticeship in the mill 30 years ago and now maintains all the equipment and makes woven materials which are sold in the shop. 
1725 Silk damask dress hand embroidered with silver threads.  Owned by Lady Rachel Morgan of Tredegar House.   This dress is currently on display for all visitors to enjoy.
Below is a selection of items shown to us by textile curator, Elen Phillips
Photos thanks to Clare R, Vernice C & Ellen S.

Ploughman’s lunch and Vernice Church – Textiles, the Taj Mahal & tuk tuks


This month the branch enjoyed our annual Ploughman’s lunch, a lovely choice of cheeses and ham together with bowls of fresh fruit salad.

After lunch, member Vernice Church, continued her talk entitled “Textiles, the Taj Mahal and Tuk Tuks”.  She picked up her journey showing us pictures of Udaipur, the amazing Jain Temple at Ranakpur, a step well and then Patan where they saw the double Ikat weavers.  They visited the Calico Museum at Ahmedabad but unfortunately no photos were allowed so the images she showed us were taken from their website.

During Vernice’s trip through Gujarat the group were given textile demonstrations, took part in workshops and had many opportunities for retail therapy. They were shown examples of Rabari work, saw Rogan painting by one of the only families who can still demonstrate this craft, attended a Kalamkari workshop and a block printing workshop.

Vernice brought along some of her purchases for members to see and we thank her for sharing her exciting experience with us.
Thank you for sharing some of your slides, Vernice.
Report and photos by Ros