CETG Meeting on Monday 13th May 2019
Our Speaker – Loelitia Gibier
Her Subject – It Started with a Little Bit of Cross Stitch
Here is an overview of Loelitia's talk and some photos taken on the night.
Loetitia began by saying that this was her first ever talk! It is true that her obsession started with cross stitch but her love of embroidery began much earlier. Loetitia is French and her early years were spent surrounded by hand stitching. Her mother was a very talented needlewoman winning many awards, including the Best Craftswoman in France, for her difficult and complicated macramé work. From the age of five Loetitia would stay with her grandmother whilst her mother went around the country to various craft fairs. Her grandmother had learnt how to stitch when she worked as a maid, and so Loetitia spent all summer stitching in the house. From about the age of eight, Loetitia travelled with her mother for 6 months of the year to the craft fairs, and was home schooled. She then attended High School and didn’t do a lot of stitching at that time.
She studied for three degrees over six years - Chemistry, Animal Physiology and Microbiology. In the last year of university she came to the UK as an Erasmus student. She had a lot of spare time and was very homesick, but spent time learning traditional embroidery stitches and discovered a small haberdashery shop in Bristol selling mainly cross stitch kits. She bought anything she could afford and stitched whenever she could. She just loved stitching and selected the projects by the volume of thread required, not the pattern!
At age 26 she started her first job in the pharmaceutical industry and took her stitching with her to help her de-stress. Loetitia then looked online for fellow stitchers and found a group of ladies in their twenties who she is still friends with today. This led to her discovering Martina Rosenberg - designer and founder of Chatelaine Design. Martina has designed huge Japanese gardens in stitch, some one metre square, made with silk, Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads. Loetitia became one of Martina Rosenberg’s unpaid testers from 2002 until 2006. Testers were given much more material than was needed, and could keep any left-over material. Loetitia still uses some of those materials even now!
For ten years Loetitia did only cross stitch. But on returning to the UK for work, she discovered the Maidenhead Embroiderers' Guild and began to experiment with all sorts of other embroidery techniques including stumpwork and goldwork.
She also studied at Adult Learning classes, joined weekend and summer courses run by Alison Holt at Missenden Abbey, and any local Guild workshops that she could find!
Many tutors, including Kay Dennis and Hazel Everett (author of the book Goldwork: Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration), have influenced her work. Like Hazel, Loetitia also loves fantasy designs. She now creates works to sell at craft fairs and designs and sells kits via her website.
Twice a year she takes part in the Embroiderers' Guild Member’s Challenge and the EG Exhibition, creating her own pieces. Loetitia brought a number of pieces of her work with her including "Darth Vader", which uses couched thread and fifteen layers of felt, and another entitled "Jabberwocky". She often prints directly onto fabric in colour using an inkjet printer and then embroiders areas on top of the design. She admits that she loves Alice in Wonderland, particularly the John Tenniel illustrations which are now all out of copyright. She hopes to be able to produce all 125 illustrations in stitch!
Loetitia still attends classes and is part way through the Japanese embroidery phases. She has discovered Russian Goldwork which is mainly couched - a 4cm square can take 10 hours to complete!
She has taken the RSN Certificate in Hand Embroidery, and last year was part of Kirstie Allsopp’s Christmas TV programme. In the programme she had to complete a piece of embroidery with no preparation in 7 hours. She designed a robin in stumpwork for the show. Loetitia has since decided that TV is not her preferred medium, and doesn't think she'll be doing it again!
She recently submitted some designs to Stitch magazine. Her Sugar Skull design was included in the January 2019 issue and she has another design in the May 2019 issue.
Some of her upcoming workshops are at Queens Park Art Centre in Aylesbury - see more information on her website.
At the end of the talk Loetitia amazed us all by stating that she still works full-time in the Pharmaceutical industry - which just shows how passionate she is about stitch! Afterwards we were able to enjoy looking at examples of her exquisite work.
All photos © Liz Smith / text © Tina Leslau