Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Teaching Days... Kindergarten to Year 4 Textile Project

DAY ONE 
I had a great two days teaching last week, at the school in Cranbrook where I was artist in residence for a while ... I was a little nervous as I have not taught small children for four years and really unsure if the project I devised would work for them ... on top of that I found out I only had half an hour with each class in the older age group which meant changing my initial idea for them ... I suppose I would see about 200 children in all.

But it's amazing how it just came back as soon as I was sitting in front of the first class that Monday morning, some of the youngest only just 3 years old! Once I had my toes in the water I was swimming happily again as if it were only yesterday! 
I did manage to squeeze myself into the tiny chairs without breaking them ... almost without realising I had done it, so there you go ...

With some great help from parents we showed them how to think about colours and preferences and how to make choices, and feel textures ... they constructed a wonderful pile fabric and thread wound pipe cleaners which we joined together to make the wall hanging in the images below. It would have been great to carry on this project and make a much larger hanging and of course it could have been assembled in many different ways. We also added circles and balls of covered balls of fabric for weight at the bottom ... oh ... the possibilities are endless for this project. 

At the end of the day I remembered something else about teaching ... I could barely remember my name and had to eat nursery supper of 4 sausages and potatoes and a gallon of tea and mindless telly before I felt remotely human again.... and then there was Day Two! Please scroll downward!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!


Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
More finished components

Kindergarten Project ... mother's helping hands
Mother's helping hands

Kindergarten Project ... the finished hanging, made from pipe cleaners, fabric, thread


Kindergarten shoes
Take off your indoor shoes and put them in a line ... the change into waterproofs for lunchtime walk up to canteen in the rain 

DAY TWO

First lesson in, first class of Year 4s ... 8.45 hit the ground running ... 6 classes to go ... wrapping 400 matchboxes throughout the day, with wool and then embroidering with very basic embellishment ... at the end of the day they would be arranged on a metre square board of MDF, glue gunned (teacher's privilege) Below are the first ones off the press. The children really took on the challenge and steamed through it, working hard and most achieving at least two each. My voice still clear, not cracking, getting into the swing ... the best comment has to be a little boy in year 3 who did a fabulously coloured offering with a whole spectrum of colours said to me, dead pan, when I enthused, "these are the same colour as my pants ... " I do miss the great one liners ... these are the professionals. And there was chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce for lunch which was rocket fuel for the afternoon. 

And in the end it was better than I had ever hoped. We still need to complete more matchboxes to cover the board but I will post the finished wall hanging, and being autumn term there are lots of wet breaks coming up to beaver away. I am ready with the glue gun! Happiness ... 
My clothes when I got home had that very familiar and unmistakable smell of school ... in a good way, and it took me a day of talking in words of one syllable only as my brain and body recovered ... I don't know how our teachers do this every day ... oh yes, it's the chocolate pudding ... silly of me.

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4 ... the first ones finished!
"Put your finished boxes on the table ... line 'em up"

Detail of finished boxes

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Detail of finished boxes
Detail

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Detail of finished boxes
Detail showing some of the embroidery and wrapping

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Glue gunning in progress

ox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Glue gunning in progress
Here I have begun the glue gunning in place on the back panel

Monday, 6 October 2014

Thread ... and NEW EMBROIDERY KITS

We had such a happy time at Thread in beautiful Farnham. My lovely assistant Amanda was a complete hit with everyone and handled sales and friendly chatter as if she'd been doing it for years! Only 19 but ready for whatever the world has to chuck her way ... very proud surrogate mum (I borrowed her from my dear friend Bobby to whom she really belongs!) We were so impressed with the whole event, organised beautifully, even down to the frequent passing round of chocolates for the stall holders ...

And the first evening saw us living it up at Cote Brasserie in the town and I have to say it was so fabulous I want to recommend it. Apart from the wonderful food we had such wonderful service by the very lovely staff ... 

And after much hard work I can say that the new kits went down so well ... Thread was their official launch, and they are as follows ... 

Birdie 1, Birdie 2, Birdie 3, and a lovely Celebration Cake. They are not available in the shops for at least a month from now. So here they are with some details but go and have a look at them on the website. To follow very soon is a new teapot, well, a re-design of the older one ... to go with the cake of course.

Celebration Cake Embroidery Kit Framed in a standard frame

Celebration Cake Embroidery Kit ... designed with Birthdays and Weddings in mind, or any occasion worth making a fuss about!


Yes, it's those lovely Spider's Web Stitches again

Celebration Cake detail

Celebration Cake detail ... showing some of the new stitches you can learn on this sampler ... my stitches are a little wobbly as I was in such a rush to finish the samples for the show.


Celebration Cake detail

Another detail ...

The three new Birdie embroidery kits ... from left to right ... Birdie 3, Birdie 1, and Birdie 2

The three new Birdie embroidery kits ... from left to right ... Birdie 3, Birdie 1, and Birdie 2.
I have framed them in embroidery hoops but you can just as easily pop them in a standard frame, or use the finished panel as a cushion centre piece ... might try that myself later.

Detail of Birdie 1 Embroidery KIt

Detail of Birdie 1 ... lovely Buttonhole Wheel Stitch for the border

Birdie 1 Embroidery Kit

Birdie 1

Birdie 1 Embroidery Kit detail

Detail of Birdie 1

Birdie 2 framed in an embroidery hoop

Birdie 2 framed in an embroidery hoop

Birdie 2 Embroidery Kit Detail

Detail of Birdie 2. This one is especially good for a beginner

Birdie 3

Birdie 3

Birdie 3 Embroidery kit Detail

Birdie 3 Detail, French Knots, Fly Stitch, Lovely simple Running Stitch and Detached Fly Stitch





Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"thread" a festival of textiles 2014

Very busy this glorious early autumn with preparations for "thread" ... I am running a WORKSHOP ... details here and will be bringing some exclusive designs as yet unseen and soon to be on the website.  It would be great to see you if you are in or around Farnham 26th and 27th September. I will have all the kits and if I get time some of the interactive stationery too, the new cushion kits and the old favourites and as I said NEW ONES! My dear chums Vanessa from Hoop and Amanda who is a fab and wonderful part time girl friday are helping me out. Very happy to be part of this great event! Looking forward to my workshop, and seeing the other stands ... some great names there ...

It has all been rather intense this last few weeks as I have also been approached by the National Trust and now find myself supplying them too! A slight nightmare ensues as the volume of the order has meant going up a gear with my stock, the, up till now, humble production line. So an essential trip to IKEA for MORE little boxes to put everything in ... who can resist them? Managed to only spend £90 ... a small miracle in itself and only came away with one or two oddly named tea strainers and kitchen gadgets.  My obsession with storage and my inability EVER to actually achieve perfect order is a life long mystery ... it's ok, I know I am not alone. Anyway it all has to go SOMEWHERE before it is delivered to NT! And I am trying.

So Please come along and say HELLO! 
Thread at Farnham Maltings 26th and 27th September

Thread at Farnham Maltings 26th and 27th September

Monday, 18 August 2014

Joan Nicholson Portrait by Jehan Daly



Yesterday evening a small miracle happened .... I was in the garden attempting to pull up weeds as a break from the computer toil of the day, and ... the land line rang. I never use my land line and am always a little suspicious of it when it rings as everyone I know rings me on my mobile these days.

The message was faint but enough to make me curious to call the number back. The number I called was answered by a lovely gentleman, who back in the 1980s had bought a painting at a country house sale. The painting was by Jehan Daly of a Mrs Roger Nicholson, my mother. He found my number from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He was on a mission to find out who the woman in the portrait was, and I was so excited to see it ... he sent it to me in an email shortly after our conversation. Here it is (above), and it is quite lovely. Jehen Daly was a great family friend of my parents from after the war and he with John Ward and Gordon Davies painted together on various projects and my mother also sat for them. This portrait, though I have never seen it before, is so familiar as I have many sketches of that same pose in my collection, by both Jehan and my father, also oil paintings of her likewise. I know that chair ... it is an old friend ... he was also my sister's godfather and a sweet and gentle man. I have a photo taken by my father of him holding a tabby kitten, black and white, he in ubiquitous tweeds, very of the time ... I am just now rummaging around in the garage to find the old photos so I can scan it in to send to Bill the owner of the painting. I also have an oil painting of Jehan at his easel by my father. 
Then I was ferreting around online to see what there was on Jehan Daly and there is not a great deal but  found this site and went on to type in Roger Nicholson and found this beautiful painting (below) which again I do not remember at all, but would dearly love to know where it is now. I would love it as it is of a period of my father's painting that I particularly love. He was SO good at colour ... exciting, riveting colour ... I remember thinking as a child that the colours he used were entirely a new breed of unknown colour, nothing like the colours I was learning at school ....
It just kept me thinking of these personal things out in the world I have no idea of the places they have settled or the journeys they have undergone to get there, as my father did not exhibit much, only painting for pleasure he was and is relatively unknown. I would love to have the time to bring them both into the public eye but I have so little time. Anyone out there who would love to do this as a labour of love? Any information about paintings by Roger would be gratefully received ... nancy@nancynicholson.co.uk

Now back to the cobwebs and dead mice in the garage!


Later .... found them! so lovely to find so many and smile through these lovely but very stinky old photos and so many slides! Anyway here is Jehan, my mother and father, all taken around that the time of the portrait. Also the others mentioned ...

Photograph of Jehan Daly 1954
Jehan Daly with one of John Wards children I think it may be in Folkestone
where the Wards had a flat.


Photograph of Jehan Daly 1954
Jehan Daly


Photograph of Roger Nicholson about 1954
Roger Nicholson

Photograph of Joan Nicholson about 1954
Joan Nicholson with same kitten and my sister Naomi




















Joan Nicholson by Roger Nicholson

This is the painting my father Roger did of my mother at the same sitting ...

Jehan Day by Roger Nicholson
Jehan Day by Roger Nicholson

Friday, 15 August 2014

Embroidered Bracelet Tutorial

The finished embroidered bracelet

Here I show you how to create the felt bracelet I have been teaching. It is a great way complete an easy project in a short time, so a quick and satisfying little thing to make, and can be as varied as you like ... experiment with different coloured felts and threads, and a variety of hand embroidery stitches ... even the simplest stitches look effective. I am so influenced by folk art embroidery so it was an obvious choice for a workshop/tutorial. It is perfect for children learning to sew and beginners new to embroidery. I will be teaching it at Hoop September 12th.

YOU WILL NEED:

Felt in your choice of colour  2 x 22 cm x 2 cm  + another strip 21 cm x 1 cm
Coloured elastic 6 - 7cm long
Button of your choice
Stranded embroidery thread
Embroidery needle
Tacking cotton.
Scissors

Embroidered Felt Bracelet Step 1
Step 1
Cut out a back, front and re-enforcing strip (red) I make them about 22 cm long then cut them to size later (you will see!) but at this stage measure your wrist and add a couple of cm.

Step 2.

Tie a knot in the elastic and pull tight. Snip to tidy ends.

Step 3.

Stitch in place onto the back section using a thread the same colour as the felt. Secure firmly.

Step 4.

Tack the re-enforcing section of felt in place (as shown) and tack in position.


Step 5.
I would advise taking some time to decide decide which stitches you are choosing and where they will go. A simple sketch will only take you 5 mins but will save you lots of unpicking! Even have a practise of your chosen stitches if needs be. Here I have used Spider's Web Stitch ... because as you may have realised it is a personal favourite, and Fly Stitch. Both are demonstrated HERE.  Always fold the fabric to find centre to start, and keep checking to leave enough felt to trim, rather than taking the stitches too close to each end (see below)
Step 6.

Once you have completed your embroidery get a stitch buddy to snip your bracelet to the correct length.

Ah! very pleasing ....

Step 7.

Put the three parts together and join using a simple little running stitch (or could be more elaborate like Whipped Running stitch, Stem Stitch, Laced Running Stitch ... Tutorials HERE and HERE 

Step 8.

I am hurrying now as my nut cutlets are ready ... Here it is, button sewn on and ready for parading around!




Many Thanks to my lovely friend Vanessa for doing the fabulous and very exhausting wrist modelling
and thread pulling for the kits. SO there you have it ... please enjoy this tutorial and let me see what you have been making by sending pictures into my Facebook page HERE or email me at nancy@nancynicholson.co.uk

Fly Stitch Tutorial No.2


Come up from the back with a knot to secure, and down the distance you want for your "stalk". Here about 5mm. As you go down turn your needle to come up to the side of where you came up. Pull the thread through and ...


down at the Right side of top stalk and, working thread under (as shown above) push your need up at the base of the stalk. Repeat all steps for the length of fly stitch you need. See HERE for further information and instruction on Fly Stitch tutorial