‘Off the Surface’ exhibition captures a passion for embroidery

Royal School of Needlework second year Degree students’ work for Off the Surface

Royal School of Needlework second year Degree students’ work for Off the Surface

‘Off the Surface’ exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9AF until 9 July, is a collaboration between the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and the Royal School of Needlework (RSN), London.

The exhibition showcases contemporary, hand embroidered work inspired by treasures from the past. It draws upon a world-renowned collection of 2,500 unique and priceless embroidery pieces, held at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court. The Collection also includes 60,000 designs, photographs and documents which detail and capture our passion for embroidery across time. The School’s second year degree students have made new work to sit alongside rarely seen archival objects, such as Victorian collars, handkerchiefs, antique purses and Chinese embroidery.

Royal School of Needlework second year Degree students’ work for Off the Surface

Royal School of Needlework second year Degree students’ work for Off the Surface

Steeped in history and with unrivalled expertise in hand embroidery techniques, the Royal School of Needlework students have taken this captivating, traditional craft and made it relevant today.  Off the Surface presents a breathtaking array of garments, cushions, decorative hangings and adornments. Their stitched work shows how they’ve looked back to traditional sewing methods found in the archives, but interpreted them in new and experimental ways. Influences range from haute couture and interior design – to avant garde and abstract.

The School’s degree in Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art is a full time, specialist course.  Students’ immersion in contemporary and traditional embroidery practices will often lead to work placements or commissions for fashion houses such as Burberry (Ariane Hall) or Alexander McQueen (Alex Standring). Their innovations in hand-stitching mean students’ work is sought after by galleries such as The New Craftsmen (London) and now, excitingly the Devon Guild, which aims to promote new ideas and approaches to craft and design.  This new exhibition not only lifts threads and fabrics ‘Off the Surface’ – but should raise your spirits too.

Exhibition is open daily, 10am-5.30pm. Free entry.


Welsh wool and natural fibre show has global appeal!

Get Weaving. Image John Teale

Get Weaving at Wonderwool Wales. Image John Teale

Fibre fans from all over the UK, as well as visitors from Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States flocked to the ancient market town of Builth Wells for this year’s Wonderwool Wales (April 23 and 24.)

The annual extravaganza celebrating Welsh and British wool and natural fibres also showcased products and textile techniques and traditions from across the globe, packing out three halls at the Royal Welsh Showground.

As the event has grown, to accommodate 220 stalls selling quality wares, so too has its international reputation. Now in its twelfth year, featuring workshops, demonstrations and fascinating textile exhibits, this year’s show attracted well over 5000 visitors, including a hen party and a group of 13 fibre enthusiasts from Ontario who planned their trip to the area to coincide with the show.


Woolschool Mapuche Weaving. Image John Teale

Woolschool Mapuche Weaving. Image John Teale

Contributing to the international flavour, there was the unique opportunity to learn about Mapuche spinning and weaving from two experienced weavers from Chile.  Vvisitors could also learn about Saori weaving, which originated in Japan and buy beautiful Qaria Cashmere fibres and yarns from Afghanistan; artisan products from the Ukraine; tribal textiles from China; clothing made with textiles from Africa; textiles and clothes from Asia and recycled yarns from India and Nepal.

Liz Beasley, from añañuca led two Woolschool workshops teaching the art of Mapuche weaving and other Woolschools included Bee Weir showing how to spin yarn using a traditional Mayan technique. There were more topics, too, from perfect plying to beautiful beading and daring design. For felting enthusiasts, there was talented needle felt artist, illustrator and sculptor Jenny Barnett showing Woolschool participants how to sculpt wool fleece into a charming little spring lamb. Pat Johnson led a Woolschool teaching a quick and easy way to make 3D wet felt pods and the seeds to fit into the pod.

Community collaboration was a real feature of this year’s show. In Hall 3, decorated by metres of yarn graffiti created by more than 140 knitters and crochet and craft enthusiasts, there was the chance to take part in the show’s latest community textile project. Visitors were invited to make a poppy to contribute to the total of 887,858 needed for a ‘Curtain of Poppies’, an installation at Wonderwool Wales 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War and to commemorate each person from the UK who died serving their country.

By the end of the show, the poppy count stood at just under a thousand but thousands more are needed! Individuals and textile groups are being encouraged to crochet, knit and create lengths of poppies. Instructions and details are available on the show website and contributions are needed by the end of December.

For more details visit www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk  Like Wonderwool Wales Ltd on Facebook or follow on Twitter @wonderwoolwales – and make a note of next year’s dates now – April 28 and 29, 2018.


MADE London – Bloomsbury 20-21 May

Brett Payne Silversmith at MADE London - Bloomsbury 20-21 May

Brett Payne Silversmith at MADE London - Bloomsbury 20-21 May

At Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SN

This contemporary design and craft selling fair is a stripped back, pared down, table top selling show, enabling the quality and diversity of the designer / makers’ work to be simply and honestly showcased in a characterful setting.  Visitors can engage with the makers, discussing techniques, inspirations and future projects. All work is available to buy and commissions can be made. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here http://www.madelondon-bloomsbury.org/artists/.

Mary Ward House is a grade one listed arts and craft ‘settlement’ (where rich Edwardians went to live with London’s poor to provide legal advice, education classes, and opportunities for arts and physical fitness). The show will take place in a number of stunning rooms and there will be a café, serving drinks and light meals, in the beautiful walled garden.

Tickets are available here… http://www.madelondon-bloomsbury.org/buy-tickets/