Sunday, 18 November 2012

Goldwork dragons and a Royal wedding dress

The sun shone this weekend, after days of grey skies and intermittent rain - the ground is soggy, but the hazel just outside the window where I sit during the day has been just wonderful, clinging to it's leaves through all the wind we've also been having, as they have changed from their summer green to the beautiful clear yellow they are now. The colour just sings when backlit by the sun, bright, clean, uncomplicated. But even on those days when the mist has closed in and our view has not extended beyond the walnut at the end of the garden, this yellow has still shone for me, glowing with it's own inner light, right through to sundown and beyond - a smile outside my window each day.
Yesterday was our monthly Embroiderer's Guild meeting. We had the pleasure of a talk by Sophie Long about her experience of being an apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework. It was immensely interesting, especially as, having graduated, she then had the honour of being part of the team who worked on the Royal wedding dress. She brought along examples of the work she had done whilst studying at the School. They were really impressive, and many are shown on her website, including the most delicate whitework swan, a very clever blackwork image that was based on a photograph of her sister, and perhaps my favourite, her goldwork dragon. None of these pictures give you more than an inkling of the detail and craftsmanship in these pieces of needlework. We were able to peer closely, as she allowed them to be passed round as she was talking - I seem to recall her saying that the whitework piece took around 90 hours of stitching. I was really struck by how much work the apprentices had to do, both during term time and in the holidays - not for the faint hearted. Of the intake of 7 when she started her apprenticeship, only three graduated and she is the only one still working at the craft. She was very modest about her success, putting it down to the stroke of luck that meant that, just as she was finishing, someone in the Embroidery Studio was leaving and she was offered the place. I suspect this offer wouldn't have been made had her skill not been considered up to their very high standards.

After her talk, she had brought along bits and bobs for us to look at or buy. I succumbed to some lovely threads - now I look at them, perhaps I was influenced by the tones of Autumn ...
It is such a pleasure to belong to a Guild like this. There is so much to learn; both from the people Brenda invites to talk to us or run workshops, and from each other. Having not been a "joiner of things" in my life up 'til now - perhaps the result of being an only child, I am now reaping the benefits. In addition, after the talk a little group of us who are doing the City and Guilds together, got into a huddle to discuss our progress so far!


  1. It sounds a really interesting talk, her work is incredibly detailed and beautiful.

    1. It was indeed, and lovely to see a young person relatively recently started out in something so skilled and with such history behind it.