Regional Day Competition 2017


Branch 2017 Competition Winner!
Loraine Roselli
Market Harborough Branch
Highly Commended
Mary Healey 
Derbyshire Branch
Member’s Choice  
Winner Sue Cork
Grantham Branch

Dear Members, 
We have been asked to clarify the criteria for the judging of the Regional Day Members’ Competition. This competition is traditionally judged by the Speaker of the Day and the Representative from HQ, with the Regional Chair overseeing the process.
No criteria has ever been set down for this Competition other than a response to the title given. The amount of ‘embroidery’ within a piece and what that ‘embroidery’ is has always been up to a member’s interpretation.
Contemporary textile art now covers a vast range of techniques and is not necessarily all stitchery. Good design and visual impact also have to be taken into account.
The ‘Inspiration and Ideas’ for the Competition written by Carolyn Merry is only that. It is up to members to choose whether they follow these or take their own route to a piece of work. These suggestions are not referred to by the judges.
To involve members more it has been decided by the Regional Committee to revise the three prizes awarded to:

                                                 First.  Highly Commended.  Members’ Choice. 

Regional Day Competition 2017

"Inspiration and Ideas" by Carolyn Merry


The topic for this Competition relates to the speaker for the day:  Cathryn Walton, author of "Hidden Lives:  Leek's Extraordinary Embroiderers".   (ISBN 978-0-9928879-19)

Some information to inspire you to develop your own individual approach and interpretation
    * The Leek Embroidery Society began in Leek, Staffordshire, in 1879/80
    * There were close connections with the Macclesfield Silk Mills and leading designers, such as William Morris.
    *  The Society was the epitome of the Victorian urge to raise the standards in both design and technique and the desire to find a means for "distressed gentlewomen" to earn a living.
    * The Leek Embroidery Society made a significant contribution to the development of art needlework through a set of happy coincidences.

Elizabeth Wardle, a skilled needlewoman needed occupation during prolonged convalescence after the birth of her 14th Child.   Her husband was a dyer keen to revive the use of organic dyes and to develop the use of Tussah Silk, newly arriving from India.   He worked closely with William Morris on this.

The newly launched silks were of subtle and lustrous colours and were used on printed fabrics, mainly silk, which avoided the chore of transferring a design.  Many designs related to India, Persia and medieval styles.   You might like to choose a different variety of fabrics, threads and stitches and provide a contemporary 21st century take on Leek embroidery.

Generally a limited range of stitches was used.   Stem stitch; buttonhole stitch; long and short stitch and French knots; with couching of gold threads.

The work displayed by the Leek embroiderers was very popular in ladies' magazines and led to the development of "kits" purchased by mail-order and through new department stores like Debenham and Freebody.   It came to be a recognised branch of the Royal School of Needlework and the Museum Collection of the Embroiderers' Guild holds some pieces of their work.   The Leek Embroiderers produced a good deal of Ecclesiastical work which a destined for a number of local churches where the Arts and Crafts movement is evident in their design and furnishings.

The work of the Leek society dovetailed with a boom in the prosperity of Leek and for a short time had a London outlet in Mr Wardle's shop.   Some of the best known designers of that period were part of the milieu in which the Society operated:  artists like Walter Crane; Gerald Horsley and John Sedding produced designs for stitchers to work.  

You might like to explore the work of these artists and others of that era.

The "kits" produced by Thomas Wardle consisted of a piece of fabric, printed with a design by Elizabeth Wardle, and a selection of Tussah silks to be used in recommended stitches.  You might design a kit of your own:  choose a medium of your choice to transfer your design: select your threads and stitches, and work some of it  .... a work in progress.

The Leek Embroidery Society was responsible for many pieces of ecclesiastical  embroidery  .....  could this type of embroidery inspire your own piece?

Elizabeth was responsible for creating a replica of The Bayeux Tapestry, displayed in Reading Museum.  You could check out the museum's website.   Could this inspire you?

We hope that the stitch techniques:  the designs:  the social/historical context and connections to important influences in Victorian Society tempt you to make competition entries.

Some references:

Embroidery Magazine - May 1988 
        Vol 139 No.1  Anne Jacques
        Vol 139 No.2  Jennifer Harris

Workbox Magazine  -  June/July 1997
        Staffordshire's Link with William Morris

Visit websites:

Look for Leek embroidery on Pinterest  -  I found a quirky mix of vegetable designs and more historical references.

Entries for the Competition should be submitted on 14th May, 2017 at the Regional Day venue by 10.30am

    *  Entries may be made by individuals

    *  Groups

    *  YEG's  -  especially welcome.

 PDF attached at bottom of page 
Erica Thomson,
3 Oct 2016, 01:56