EYE’s Residential Weekend.

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her tree silhouettes.
Melanie painting her background layer.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is starting to layer fabrics to create her forest.
Rhona’s moon gazing hare is taking shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand embroidery to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol chose to give her tree canopy autumnal colouring.
Judy’s version of my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zag free motion stitch for trees in the distance.
Margaret’s version of my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing hare…..what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021.

16 thoughts on “EYE’s Residential Weekend.

  1. That looks like a wonderful place to teach a class and your students did a great job. It always amazes me the variety of work that students create. It’s a testament to you that you have them all going their own way instead of “copying” a specific piece. Great job!

    1. Yes, its a perfect venue Ruth. I do try to encourage students to develope their own design during the class but not everyone wants to do that, which is fine. Some ladies prefer to work with one of mine so they can spend more time concentrating on learning the techniques. As long as everyone has fun I’m happy!

  2. All the pieces are beautiful – it’s incredible that this amount of work was produced in such a short time. Melanie must have been pleased that she attended and found a new pursuit.

    What a lovely venue too.

    1. Some of the ladies in this group are very keen Lyn and on this particular weekend they tend to burn the candle at both ends. It was the same the last time I worked with them…..several were still in the studio when I left at 10pm!
      Melanie thoroughly enjoyed herself and it would be nice to think she’ll continue sewing.

  3. That looks like a great workshop. I really like how some have layered the transparent fabrics to give depth and show some background through the trees. It is a great feeling when you teach and can ignite someones love of the craft.

    1. The class was very much about building up the various layers to achieve depth. Some of the ladies really embraced this idea which was great!

  4. How wonderful, so much creativity in such a beautiful setting. I love everyone’s trees, they are all so different but each are equally gorgeous. Well done ladies and well done Ruth!!!

  5. I love these ladies’ finished works! Some of them having never done anything like this before, it’s wonderful to see the creative mind having a go at something different and the beautiful results.

  6. Wow Karen, it’s hard to fathom that most of your ladies were new to this style of working – your teaching skills harnessed their creativity at a very sophisticated level. Each piece is so individual but all are really beautiful.

    As for the setting – magnificent!

  7. Thanks Helen. It’s lovely when your students are this enthusiastic and such a bonus when they have the time to really get stuck into a project and see it through to completion.

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