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Anne Griffiths :: Contemporary Textile Art

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Distance Learning Course


ometime ago, I began offering the old 1 year, level 2 City & Guilds Machine Embroidery course as a Distance Learning offering. As I am no longer affiliated to a college and cannot offer any kind of certificate, it does work out as a much cheaper option and allows you to take as long as you like to complete the work. See work completed by the first students here!

I have now added the option to buy the units as a spiral bound book, for use as a reference in your own work. For more information or to purchase the book

Email anne@pocketmouse.co.uk



y newsletter follows, if you would like to sign up to receive it by email then please use the form at the bottom of the page.

It has occurred to me though that some of the programmes and exhibitions I refer to may be finishing by the time you get the newsletters. I do usually try and put links to them on my Facebook page if you would like to hear about them earlier.

Old newsletters may be viewed by clicking on the archive list below.

Of course I am always glad of any news or comments that you would like to make so please do email me.

December 2016


As you can probably imagine, things have been pretty hectic over the last couple of months, catching up after the long trip, hence the lack of newsletters!

It hasn't all been work though, I also travelled to Cuba in October, a month or so before the death of Fidel Castro, and it was an amazing trip! There were horseback rides to the sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations, where crops are still grown with no mechanical intervention. Oxon are used to plough the fields and the seed is scattered by hand. Travelling around you see as many horse and carts on the main roads as you do cars and the architecture is amazing. The craft markets were much the same in each of the regions we visited but there was beautiful woodcarving, basketry and of course embroidery.

I chose a piece of white drawn threadwork to bring back which was basically small circular samples of different traditional patterns that Marie, the embroiderer was intending to split into several tablemats to sell. She very kindly agreed to sell me the whole cloth, which shows all the stages of the process and is of course incomplete, but for me, much more interesting. Through a translator (well the guy in the photo who worked on the next market stand and spoke a bit of English) I found out that she had been selected to exhibit in New York next year.

Not only is this a great honour for her, but she will be able to obtain a passport which normally costs in the region of £400 and would be normally be completely out of reach. I did give her my email, but I suspect due to the language barrier I probably won't here from her again. Still I do have the most wonderful textile cloth.

The natural dyeing workshop in Somerset, was very successful. We experimented with indigo and potassium permanganate for two days and then worked with onion skins (gold), cochineal, (pink and grey), and madder, (deep red and orange) to dye small reference samples. Harriet Sandys gave an insightful talk on her time and experience in Afghanistan working as a blonde, unveiled, au pair, in a community just after the Russian invasion and in the time of the Mujaheddin.

It would be great to run the course again next summer so if you think you might be interested in coming then drop me a line.

I have been teaching quite a few book workshops recently, Following the Threads a lovely textile group from outside Bath, spent 2 days in Ardington in October, investigating different a variety of structures and formats and I have also repeated these at Shaw House, part of Newbury Museum. Following on from these classes, I will be teaching an afternoon on the content and presentation of material for a sketchbook in Newbury on 20th March 2017. If you are interested, but put off by the idea of having to draw, don't be, there is no drawing involved! This is one afternoon, where we will arrange work, discuss themes and work in your own book to create a few pages for your own cuttings, photos or samples.

I will be repeating the beginners class, Six Stitches in Six Weeks at the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage, beginning in January. This class will also accommodate improvers who have mastered basic stitches and want to create an individual piece of work. In the first week we will be creating backgrounds using transfer paints and the projects will be developed in the subsequent weeks' lessons, do give me a ring if you are interested.

The Community Sampler project also at the museum continues and since the latest newsletter I have had the privilege to visit the embroidery school at our local convent where many of the samplers originated. We have also found out that Mary Thomas, who wrote the definitive Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches was originally from Wantage. The Museum is trying to gather some more information on her background and life in the area. In this image you can see an ongoing restoration from the convent workshop, where goldwork pieces are being remounted. First they are cut away from the original green background (top right of image) and then mounted on a new piece of cloth, the paper you can see has the original stitch designs mapped out for the remount.

It was fascinating to get an insight into these projects which often take years to complete as it is so close to my interest in medieval illuminated manuscripts. I have decided to do something different this year at the wonderful Oxford Summer School, and will be extending the two day courses that I taught in New Zealand where we used bronzing powders to paint onto fabric and looked at metal shim to emboss the letters. In the week long class we will also create small medieval tiles and also some basic stumpwork insects. The class 'All that Glitters ....' will run from 24th-29th July.

Watch this space for some images of the new insects on facebook and in the next newsletter – it's my Christmas job!

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is celebrating its bicentenary and Illuminated Manuscripts were at the heart of COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts.

I was particularly interested in the materials that the illuminators were using to create such vibrant colours and I had previously thought that these were all derived from grinding naturally occurring minerals. This is only partially true, organic materials from plant or animal sources were also used, either painted on as a dye, or precipitated into a pigment that could be stored for later use or for trade. These plant materials included many which I have used on cloth, weld which gives a clear lemon yellow, madder or mollusc shells give pinks and purples, and woad or indigo was either mixed with the more expensive and precious minerals or as a ground for gold leaf.

It seems that most of this newsletter has had a connection in some way to goldwork and Illuminated Manuscripts, whether through natural dye pigments or the Wantage. This wasn't intentional, but quite appropriate for the time of year.

I will end by wishing everyone an extremely Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,

Contact Information

Anne Griffiths Textile Art
4 Gabriel House
Newbury Street
OX12 8DJ

tel. 0845 643 1511 - local rate call