Another good day teaching last week, with everyone getting into Glazig embroidery, the latest in my ‘Stitches with Stories’ series, and its interesting stitches. Somehow working a stitch with a name like Point Kamm, or Point Laouig, seems much more exciting than one with an English name (though I’m not sure a Breton would have recognised my pronounciation of Laouig!). I first came across this decoration of traditional Breton dress in the museum in Quimper and it seems my students enjoy it as much as I do. We looked at the history of the regional costumes and how the stitches and motifs have been adapted to contemporary styles, particularly by Pascal Jaouen. We also looked at using non-traditional colour schemes and decided that they worked delightfully.
At the weekend I went to our local art gallery, the Sentinel, to see the work of some friends in an exhibition entitled ‘Text’. Such a fascinating grouping of textile artists and ceramicists in whose pieces lettering and words play a key part and who all approach it differently. The wonderful Sara Impey was there, with familiar and new pieces using her beautiful, controlled machine embroidered text, in contrast to Eliza Kentridge whose hand stitched lettering had a sense of playfulness underlying sometimes serious concepts. Kate Lammin used the repeated and scattered letters of words to create images of a murmuration of starlings in flight. The exhibition is on until the end of the month and I thoroughly recommend it.
Saturday was the day of my workshop on ‘Stitches with Stories’ and last week was busy with making sure I had enough of the varied threads and fabrics for the group to use to work their samples.
I had planned the session to be a mix of telling the stories around the styles’ development and of practical activity, learning the stitches and working them in a small, typical design. The social contexts, and the reasons for development of these types, Mountmellick, Parma and Sorbello, were similar though at different times and in different countries. Wealthy and well-connected women created embroidery techniques that could be learned by the poor in their region to earn desperately needed money to help support their families. A crucial factor was that the initiator is not only ‘invented’ the embroidery and taught the skills but also used their status and connections to develop viable markets for the finished product.
Motif in Parma embroidery
In contrast, the final one we explored was Broderie Glazig, which is a continually evolving style originally used for embellishing the garments worked and worn by the ordinary people of a specific area in Brittany. Definitely brighter and livelier than the restrained colour schemes of the household linens intended for wealthy patrons!
Typical Glazig motifs
The day sped by, so much so for me that I completely forgot to take any photos of the many works in progress. Hopefully some of those there will send me pictures of their finished samples. Now to start looking forward to the next Workshop; a complete contrast as I’ll be offering different ways to get a third dimension above, or below, the flat surface of canvas work.