I was curious about the title of today’s talk “Butterflies and Banners” so it was interesting to hear the story. Born in Derbyshire Heather Everitt spent a lot of her young years with her grandmother who taught her numerous practical skills. Heather was very lucky because she had inspirational teachers at Secondary School, during her Art Foundation course and later at Manchester Metropolitan University where she followed a BA Hon Textile/Fashion chief study in Embroidery. Anne Morrell and Isabel Dibden Wright were two of her tutors and she was given the opportunity to explore behind the scenes of the Whitworth Art Gallery and Gallery of Costume at Platts Field. Heather became interested in heirlooms and tried to age her fabrics to make them look old and worn.
A fortuitous meeting at the final exhibition of her course opened an interesting door which over thirty years later is still a major part of Heather’s work. A gentleman asked if she would be interested in making a masonic banner and she makes on average 6 to 7 a year. Heather also makes replica banners and conserves old worn ones.
After university Heather tried to make a living designing and making hats and cushions but soon realised that she needed more lucrative employment. She became an articled Primary School teacher on the outskirts of Manchester and later moved to become an Arts Co-ordinator in Devon.
Eventually, after 17 years full time she was encouraged by her husband to reduce her teaching and eventually give up work and concentrate on textiles. She got commissions for waistcoats and ties concentrating on nature for inspiration – fish, butterflies, moths etc. Heather used a lot of Liberty fabrics in her work and told us how one day six years ago she queued along with lots of other people to have the opportunity to show her work to a buyer at Liberty’s in Regent Street. She was not successful on this occasion but went away fired with enthusiasm as she subsequently got commissions for weddings and other occasions. More recently she was exhibiting at a craft fair in Devon and a visitor said she knew someone at Liberty’s and promised to contact them. As of last year Heather’s amazing butterflies are now on display in the Liberty Home department.
Heather then went on to explain how she draws or paints the butterfly, chooses the Liberty fabrics which she layers up under organza. The various areas are cut back according to her design using a technique know as reverse applique. The thorax of the butterfly is made using wet and needle felting. Finally Heather adds some “bling” to her work in the form of sequins or the like. The finished butterfly is presented in a labelled box with an OS map as a background identifying the area where it is found.
Heather is very pro-active with a Facebook page, a newsletter, an Etsy site and also sells through “madebyhandonline.com”
Report and photos by Ros