Last year I was selected as a finalist in the Hand & Lock Prize for a second time, I had entered the prize in 2017 and was awarded third place in the fashion open category, this time I entered the textile art open category. In November the time came for the Hand & Lock Prize exhibition at Bishopsgate Institute in London which was a two day event followed by the judging and prize giving event in the evening, at which I was delighted to be awarded first place in the textile art open category.
The exhibition was visited by many embroidery enthusiasts and members of the public who all voted for their favourites in each category. Voting continued during the prize giving event which was attended by industry experts and the independent judging panel. It was a real honour to meet so many embroidery enthusiasts and industry experts and to speak to so many people who share my passion for embroidery.
The brief for the 2019 Prize was titled ‘Fool The Senses’. In response to the brief I created four goldwork flower sculptures which represent each season of the year through the flowers they contain. Each sculpture is hand embroidered using the technique of goldwork and goes through many processes in order to turn the flat embroidery into a three dimensional sculpture. This is a technique I developed in 2017 when I first started experimenting with creating 3D flowers with goldwork embroidery.
In these sculptures I focused on the intricate textures and patterns of the flowers I had chosen and aimed to imitate these with goldwork wires. The sculptures aim to fool the senses by creating flowers which, despite the use of metal threads, retain the delicacy of their real life counterparts. I created a fabric from metal leaf and organza for the undersides of the petals and leaves which gives the impression of a hard metallic surface but it is actually soft and pliable. The choice of a limited colour palette of only gold and silver was intended to put the focus on the textures and patterns that I created with a variety of different wires and materials.
The composition and display of the sculptures was inspired by Victorian dried flower arrangements and Dutch still life paintings as well as the work of photographer Jamie Beck. The floral sculptures are displayed in glass domes to evoke a still life arrangement.
The brief also asked for the entrants to consider the sustainability of their creations. In order to ensure the sustainability of the sculptures, I used imitation purls which require no mining for new precious metals. These purls don’t tarnish so there is no need for them to be replaced; therefore it is an everlasting floral arrangement which can replace the need for fresh flowers which often travel long distances. I sourced glass domes which are made from recycled glass with sustainable mango wood bases.
You can see more photos of the goldwork flower sculptures on the gallery page.
For the first time you can embroider one of my designs yourself with my new hand embroidery kits. With the kits you can make your own goldwork and beaded mittens decoration, perfect for your Christmas tree this coming festive season.
The kits include all the materials and essential equipment you need to create the decoration. This includes beads, goldwork wires, needles, fabric and sewing threads. The only additional items that you will need are an embroidery hoop and some scissors. The kit is available in two colour ways, one based around gold and another around silver.
These hand embroidery kits are perfect for anyone who is curious about goldwork but is unsure of where to start as I take you through several goldwork techniques in the instructions, these include using felt padding, applying pearl purl and cutwork with purls, which are all frequently used techniques in goldwork embroidery. The instructions include images and an explanation for each step of the process of making the mittens. They also explain two different methods of transferring the design to the fabric, which you may also find useful for future embroidery projects.
As goldwork is a more advanced embroidery technique, the kits are suitable for people who have an understanding of basic embroidery stitches. However, as mentioned the instructions are comprehensive so you do not need to be an embroidery expert in order to embroider this design.
I think there is nothing better at this time of year, as the weather starts to get colder, than spending some time with an embroidery project and this kit would make the perfect weekend project. You can find out more information and purchase your kit here, don't delay, there are only a limited number of kits available!
Recently I have been experimenting with natural dyeing as a way to create more sustainable colours for embroidery. I have been extracting colour from a variety of plants including nettles, eucalyptus leaves and thyme with the aim of creating a wide range of natural colours.
I made this short video showing all the processes involved in creating a naturally dyed fabric. This includes mordanting the fabric in diluted soya milk which helps the dye bond to the fabric, extracting colour from marigold petals, dyeing the fabric and finishing the fabric by rinsing out excess dye.
All video content is copyright of Hannah Mansfield.
Glorious Goldwork by Sarah Rakestraw and Susan Hinde of Golden Hinde.
Golden Hinde is a family run business with many years of experience of goldwork, they have incredible knowledge of the technique and this, their first book, is a very comprehensive guide to goldwork.
At the front of the book is an extensive guide to all the goldwork threads/wires that are available. This is particularly valuable as there is such a wide variety of threads/wires for goldwork that it can sometimes be confusing to identify what a particular thread/wire is used for. Also included in this section is information on fabrics and tools.
The next section of the book covers the techniques which form the basis of goldwork such as padding, applying pearl purl, cutwork and couching. It also includes the more detailed and complex techniques, for example, s-ing, plate and Or Nué. This makes it the perfect guide for those wishing to learn goldwork, who are starting from scratch and also those who are already familiar with the technique and looking to further their skills.
Then the book discusses basic embroidery stitches and includes some instructions of how to create them. I think the inclusion of these is so important as many of the basic embroidery stitches form the basis of goldwork but are just worked with different threads.
Included in the next section of the book are the projects which are a good variety of simpler and more complex designs. The projects utilise many of the skills included in the book, making them an excellent way to practice techniques. I think many of these designs would be particularly useful to goldwork beginners to who may not yet feel confident enough to create their own goldwork designs.
The book finishes with a collection of photographs of goldwork worked by Sarah and Susan, several goldwork artists and students of Golden Hinde. They are intended as inspiration and examples of the different designs that can be created with goldwork.
From my own perspective as an embroidery artist, I will find the technique section of the book extremely used to refer to for instructions and inspiration of which techniques to include when I am creating designs. I have been using goldwork in my work for a few years now but there is plenty in the book that I didn’t know or have not yet tried. I also think the guide to threads and wires will be helpful for picking out different threads to diversify the range that I currently use.
The book does focus more on the traditional style of goldwork, that being goldwork worked on a flat fabric. But I do believe that traditional techniques must be mastered before anything experimental can be attempted.
Overall Glorious Goldwork includes clear instructions, beautiful photographs, excellent examples of goldwork designs and is well designed with a clear layout. It is suitable for learning goldwork or as a reference guide for the more experienced.
A small collection of goldwork insects all hand embroidered by me, are now available at Pentlja Concept Store in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Each insect is embroidered with goldwork threads in silver and gold, with highlights of purple, green and blue. They are embroidered on black wool felt and made into brooches and sew on patches,
I will also be launching my own online shop soon, where I will be selling a selection of hand embroidered goldwork and Swarovski crystal bee patches and brooches. If you would like to be notified when the shop opens you can sign up to my mailing list. To do so please send me an email using the email form on the contact page. Later this year, framed embroideries featuring bees and insects will also be available in the online shop.
My Instagram account @theperpetualmaker is the best place to see regular updates about what I am currently embroidering. If you are not already following me, you might like to take a look!
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Rebeckah Kemi Apara from Embellished Talk. Follow the link to read about my work, the books that inspire me and a couple of my favourite embroiderers on Instagram. http://www.embellishedtalk.com/the-perpetual-maker/
Today I am going to introduce you to one of the samples that went on to become a part of my jumpsuit design for the Hand & Lock Prize. This sample was developed towards the end of my project and combines features of other samples that I had been developing for several months. It uses tambour embroidered honeycomb as a base, this is a tambour stitch which is normally used for cutwork but here I have just used it to create the pattern. Over the top of this I have embroidered goldwork and Swarovski gemstone bees. The honeycomb is then tambour beaded with pearls and square cut glass beads.
This sample became one of my favourites and I decided to use it as part of my garment design. As the theme of the 2017 Prize was celebration, I decided that black wasn’t the right colour and instead used golden honey coloured organza. The honeycomb pattern was used all over the jumpsuit and on the belt which also featured the goldwork and Swarovski gemstone bees. The bees were also used on the tulle overlay so that they appeared to be floating above the honeycomb underneath.
I was very excited yesterday to see that Hand & Lock had released the photographs of all the winning entries from the Hand & Lock Prize 2017 on their website. I hadn’t seen my work on a model prior to this as I finished making the jumpsuit the day before I delivered it to the Hand & Lock studio. Pictured below is the image of my jumpsuit from the photo shoot. I am so delighted with how they have styled it and very relieved it fitted the model well!
It’s very surreal to see my work and name on the Hand & Lock website! It’s such a pleasure for me to be able to embroider full time at the moment and to have my name appearing on the website of such a prestigious embroidery company.
I have been getting a lot of questions over on Instagram about selling my work and teaching classes and as I am aware that my readers here may not follow my Instagram, I will answer these questions here too in case anyone is interested. Next year I will be starting to sell a couple of embroidered products that I am currently in the process of making. There will be more updates on this nearer the time as to where they will be sold. I am also hoping to teach some classes in tambour beading and goldwork next year but I am trying to find a venue at which to hold them. However they will most likely be located in the city of Bath.
On Thursday evening the live judging and prize giving event for the Hand & Lock Prize 2017 took place at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. I am delighted to announce that I was awarded third place in the fashion open category. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and took an interest in my work, it was so lovely to speak to so many people about my project and explain the hand embroidery processes used in my final garment.
Everyone’s work was displayed beautifully at the event and there were so many absolutely stunning examples of hand embroidery on show. I have included some photos from the evening and a couple of close ups of my final garment below. If you would like to see all the photos of my embroidery development samples for this project head over to the gallery section.
The theme of the 2017 Prize was ‘Celebration’. My embroidery designs celebrated threatened and endangered animals and insects, eventually solely focusing on bees. Recently a lot of attention has been placed on the decline of bees which have become increasingly threatened by human acitivity. I decided to make my final garment a celebration of bees and drew inspiration from a bee keepers suit. I used goldwork and Swarovski crystals to embroider a swarm of bees around the jumpsuit. The bees are sewn on to tulle as if they are caught in a bee keepers veil and the honeycomb belt represents the hive where the queen bee, embroidered with purple gemstones, is surrounded by worker bees. The jumpsuit is made from four layers of organza hand dyed in different honey tones. This is embroidered using tambour cutwork stitch with sections cut away to expose the different honey colours. Sections of the honeycomb are tambour beaded with pearls and glass beads. The jumpsuit is accompanied by a wide brimmed hat which features a honeycomb pattern embroidered with beads and goldwork threads. An eye mask (here worn as a choker) also features honeycomb embroidery.