Meeting on Friday 19th May 2023
CETG Hand Stitch Groups Show and Tell
This was an opportunity for us to see the work produced by our own members – the three hand stitch groups – who stood up in turn to tell us about what they have been up to.
The original hand stitch group was formed in 2012 and comprises 10 members who meet monthly in each other’s homes. Four stitchers bravely stood up in front of the audience to describe how they normally work on their own pieces during meetings, but also have an annual project on a theme decided by the group. They showed work on previous themes of leaves, mandalas and a stitch a month, which have been turned into many different items – cushions, books, bags, pictures and hangings, luggage tags and more.
Each year they hold a stitching retreat at a local hall where they get together for a week to work on larger pieces. There were so many beautiful works on show for us to admire before and after the talks.
The second group got together in 2017 and has 9 members meeting monthly in each other’s houses. This group focuses on collaborative projects which are brought together for display. During meetings they plan the current project, compare progress and help each other with suggestions, discuss textiles more generally – and enjoy tea and cake. No stitching ever seems to get done in meetings!
The two of us explained our various projects, some displayed together on large canvases, made into concertina books, or mounted separately – one had pieces suspended from a rustic tree branch. Projects have been inspired by a variety of textile artists including Anne Brooke, Jessica Grady and Jean Rill-Alberto. Other projects have explored a single stitch or method, or a historic textile technique such as felt pennies made into mats during the American Civil War. The members were practically strangers before joining the group, but have become firm friends – such is the power of stitch.
The newest group was initially formed just before the pandemic, but has really got into its stride in the past year. It currently has 4 members who meet in a local hall, three of whom explained their recent projects. They also work on regular challenges, which have included a stitched holiday postcard, a purse or pocket and working in a colour you normally avoid. Most striking were their self-portraits, which also explored an aspect of the subject’s life in the background – painting, gardening, love of colour, nature or family history. They have been on an outing to Bucks Museum in Aylesbury, which prompted the purse project. This group is still growing and new members are welcome.
There was a lively discussion with the audience about methods and inspiration, and the thorny topic of whether it is better to know and follow the “rules” before breaking them, or if it is better not to know them in the first place. Both methods seem to work, and the stitch police are banned in CETG.
This was a lovely friendly evening, giving us an opportunity to see the work of our own members, which can sometimes be overshadowed by that of the established textile artists who come to speak to us. We truly are producing some amazing and beautiful work, and should be proud of the talents of our members.
Words © Liz Wilmott/CETG 2023
Photos © Liz Wilmott