Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Life after college

After four years at college studying for City and Guilds what do you do? None of us wanted to go into business immediately so our tutor suggested joining Kickstart which is the tutored development programme of the East Midlands Region of The Embroiderers' Guild. This year the inspiration has come from the Snibston Discovery Centre which is set on the site of a former colliery and includes an interactive museum and old colliery buildings - lots of variery for inspiration. I took over 200 photos from the different galleries, the playground and the colliery tour. Within the fashion gallery the corsets hanging from the ceiling caught my eye but I didn't want to discard everything else that I had already seen. While I was playing with designs in my head I came up with the idea of using my favourite photos as the design for the corset so I would have the corset shape but still utilise the other things Snibston has to offer. My piece is called Snibston Corsetry.

I started using different techniques to make the corsets but felt that there was no cohesion apart from the fact that they all came from Snibston. I was really pleased with my first corset which is taken from a piece of colliery machinery. I'd only had my embellisher for a few weeks and was having a play. I embellished small scraps of fabric onto a cotton base and incorporated some merino fibres and other yarns. I then added some hand embroidery. My sample has turned out to be the actual piece.

For my second corset of the plasma ball in the science gallery, I embellished a dark purple organza onto cotton and added a pale pink and green to finish the design I embroidered again by hand. However, I was not happy, I had been so pleased with my first corset and by comparison my second one looked so amateurish. I know I am not a professional embroiderer but there was such a stark contrast to the first that I was ashamed to put my name to it. I put it to one side whilst I decided what to do. After making the other corsets, I took the plunge and started again with purple and pink/red cottons, a multi-pink yarn for the cirle and green and black merino fibres, then added some hand embroidery. I was much happier this time round.

My third corset was originally tubes of material taken from my stash of fat quarters sewn onto the base fabric which were then embroidered. Although I liked it, a few weeks later I added a tiny amount of merino fibres and embellished them onto the corset to soften the look and to give all the corsets a similar look. The design for this one came from another old piece of colliery machinery.

As with the other corsets, I started the fourth one with a different technique. This time it was applique. The design for this one was taken from an old typewriter with white circles, embroidered around the edge, as the keys. Again when I was revamping the corsets, I embellished merino and other fleece fibres to soften the look and followed it by some hand stitching on the background.

The last design came from the children's interactive gallery where you had to put the cogs onto the correct pegs so that they would all turn when you turned the handle. The background is fleece embellished onto cotton and the cogs are commercial felt bonded on, then added some hand embroidery. However, once again it was too stark so I embellished some dark grey fleece fibres onto the black cogs.

Although I'd had ideas from the start for the background it wasn't until I'd finished all the corsets that the way I made it came to mind. My embellisher was used once more, with a base of calico followed by merino fibres in browns and black and words associated with Snibston on paper, covered by scrim.

I am happy with the end piece. It took a few months to complete as I put it to one side on several occasions whilst I worked out how to overcome the areas I wasn't happy with. It will shortly be on display at Snibston with the other pieces from all the Kickstart participants. Next year's inspiration will come from canals and I am sure I will take part again.

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