Louise Nichols – March 2020

Louise Nichols’ talk this month was entitled, “From Graduation to a career as a Textile Artist”.  As a child she always enjoyed drawing and sketching so when the time came, Louise went to De Montfort University in Leicester to follow a Fashion and Textile degree specialising in surface design.  After graduating Louise went to work for an Upholstery designer, Jennifer Sanderson creating fabric and wallpaper designs.  Following that she worked for William Love who was an agent for stationery and Simon Elvin (Greetings Cards) was a client.  Louise showed us a wonderful selection of Christmas cards, wrapping papers and gift bags she had made for sale in Superdrug, Oxfam and Clinton Cards.  


Louise started making her own cards and a range of handmade wedding stationery but when she returned after a break when her children were little she found that technology had moved on giving her too much competition and so she made basic pictures and stitched gifts.  When she moved to Cornwall Louise started going to Craft Fairs and creating projects for SEW magazine.  Initially the editor would give a sewing brief and source the material but as time went on a regular production line of items was needed so it was time for a change.  Louise enrolled on a printing course run by Sophie Morden and started to use hessian backed lino to print simple basic images on fabric.  As she kept the copyright for the projects she was able to start her own workshops and now has kits and items for sale in 17 galleries around the UK.  

Thank you Louise for a most enjoyable talk and if you would like to purchase one of her kits or to find out more about her workshops visit her website at : https://louisenichol.com/

Report by Ros


Poo, Poisons, Science & Serendipity – Dr Susan Kay Williams

Our February speaker was Dr Susan Kay Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, who kindly returned to Lockeridge to give the second part of a talk about colour which she started in July 2018.

This talk Susan entitled Poo, Poison, Science and Serendipity and I am sure I was not the only one to be intrigued by what was to come.   She is a great collector of fabric and thread sample books and we found it fascinating to see how her research over the years has shown the development of both natural and synthetic dyes.  I never realised that guano was collected and used to make a yellow dye and that green, which was made with arsenic, became very popular in the early 1800s.  This material put the weaver, the maker and the wearer at risk and we were shown a sketch published in 1861 by Punch which was entitled the Arsenic Waltz.    

Credit – A skeleton gentleman at a ball asks a skeleton lady to dance; representing the effect of arsenical dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories. Wood engraving, 1862. Credit: Wellcome CollectionCC BY 

In the early 19C Michel Chevreul, a French Scientist, did research into colour. Initially his colour wheel showed 72 colours but he went on to explore an even wider range of hues ranging from loud to soft. A chemist, William Perkin, was attempting to find synthetics quinine. He did not find that but discover the first synthetic colour, later named mauve. This colour became a favourite of both Queen Victoria and Empress Eugene.
​Credit: Image below taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Eug%C3%A8ne_Chevreul
​​Susan concluded her talk by bringing us up to date by talking about the invention of procion dyes and the production of synthetic indigo for making denim. She showed us colourful images of dresses from the catwalks of Mary Quant to those worn by Diana Ross and interior designers like Sonia Delaunay.
​Credit: Image below taken from Dr Susan Kay Williams’ presentation
Dr Susan Kay Williams has written a book entitled “Colour in Textiles” which is available on Amazon

​Report by Ros

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

Christmas Lunch with Lt Col Neil Stace

Our Christmas “bring and share” lunch is always an enjoyable event and this year joint chair Clare Russell and Ann Smith started by presenting Kay Francis with some flowers as a thank you for her many years of service on the committee.  



​After lunch our surprise speaker was Lt Col Neil Stace who was a runner up in the 2015 series of the BBC Great British Sewing Bee.

As a bit of fun, Neil and a friend joined the sewing group at Primary School and his interest in stitch developed from there.  He talked about various tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and explained that there was always down time which had to be filled which is why he included a sewing machine along with his kit.  Neil sees himself as a soldier who sews and an engineer who does not need a pattern which is why he designed and made a wedding dress for his female driver in Bosnia. Another story that I particularly found interesting was during his second round of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 he had the challenge of re-introducing cottage industries to the local ladies which had to be done discretely through an interpreter.  It was so successful that after a couple of months the ladies had set up stalls in the market selling their crafts.

It was Neil’s wife who completed the application form for the Great British Sewing Bee and he had to go through a number of interviews and challenges before being accepted onto the reality TV programme. He showed us a little girl’s smocked dress, a boys waistcoat (made during children’s week), a ladies corset and a wonderful kilt which he often wears.  
Several of our members contributed to the Flags of Thanks challenge which Neil organised recently.  People were asked to make a 12 inch square of gratitude to the Armed Force Community.  About 1000 flags were made and displayed St Thomas Church in Salisbury in June 2019.  Eventually Neil wants to stitch these squares together to make in quilts, sleeping bags and ponchos for war veterans and he had a number of the squares and quilts on display.
Whether it be modifying backpacks in Afghanistan, repairing cuddly animals during tours of duty, making costumes for musicals, modifying clothes for Skiing for the Disabled or making bags with local primary school children, Neil’s sewing skills were there for all to see.  All through his talk Neil emphasised the importance he finds in relaxing and de-stressing through stitching and knitting and he talked about sharing his skills with others both in the military and on civvy-street.  He reminded us that soldiers during the Crimea, the First and Second Wars had done the same.

Thank you Neil for sharing these amazing stories and opening our eyes to a side of our craft  that most of us knew nothing about.

Thank you to Vernice for sharing the photo she took of Neil in Salisbury earlier this year and to Lindsay for her “Salvador Dali” photo of our Christmas lunch table!
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

Nikki Vesey Williams – October 2019

Nikki is a talented artist in so many disciplines and the Guild is fortunate to have her as a member.  We could not be anything but inspired by the breadth of her passions and skills, she in turn is inspired by artists such as Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet, Gaudi, Lautrec, the pre Raphaelites, and nature, history, birds and colour.  Nikki showed us an amazing array of her work of embroidery, enamelling, silver-smithing, stained glass, furniture painting, upholstery and needle felting. 

​In amongst all this Nikki’s uses recycled materials to dazzling effect in her multi media works such as her crown made for this year’s entry to the Madeira Competition.  Last year she was competition winner with her beautifully imagined ‘Mary Poppins’ carpet bag.  She is rightly proud of her ability to recycle and reuse.
​Nikki seems to be able to turn her artistic talent to almost anything as well as doing her bit to save the planet.  Thank you from the members of the Guild for giving us a glimpse into the amazing world of Nikki Vesey Williams.
Thank you Amanda R for your report and the photos. 

​I was so very sorry to have missed your talk Nikki, another time!  Ros

Jennifer Hughes – September 2019


After what seems a very long break Jennifer Hughes got our programme under way again with a very interesting talk entitled “Hats and bound feet”.

​Jennifer brought with her a wonderful personal collection of costumes, hats and shoes which she displayed for members to enjoy.  She explained that in the past Han Chinese women would stay at home and were respected for their embroidery.  To start with it was the upper classes who stitched but in time the craft filtered down and women would buy silks and threads from pedlars.
​Chinese girls had their feet bound from the age of 5 as women were not expected to do anything. The big toe was left and the remaining four were taped back.  Nobody saw the foot bare and a sleeping sock would be worn at night times.  It was considered a status symbol as well as a mark of beauty.
Jennifer then went on to show a variety of hats which were embroidered with a variety of animals, symbols and flowers.  She explained that pom poms and tassels were added to children’s hats to keep spirits away and a tail at the back of a hat identified that the wearer wanted to be a scholar.

Report and photos by Ros

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

Alison Hulme – June 2019

Alison Hulme discovered stitch after a challenging event in her life.  She first tried cross stitch and then silk ribbon embroidery and stump work.  Alison joined the Salisbury Embroiderers Guild and went on to take City & Guilds at Fareham College.  She worked as a volunteer at Eastleigh College and then she was encouraged to take a Degree Course in Stitched Textiles.  Alison choose feet as her design topic and showed us examples of her work.

​Alison now prints her own fabrics and makes them into aprons and bags.  She gives talks and workshops to share her printing techniques.
Last year Alison exhibited at the Knitting and Stitch Show and she has tutored in France at a craft retreat.

We hope you will return sometime Alison as we would love to learn to make these wonderful fabrics.

Report and photos by 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