Monday, 27 February 2012

Embroidery collaboration

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had embroidered a badger for a project at my work. The project has now been completed and I can share a few piccies with you all.

I work at a museum, and one of our buildings was 100 years old this year. To celebrate its centenary, the local branch of the embroiders guild (whom we had only just recently worked with on another project) spent months creating a simply amazing embroidered book to reflect the history of the building. Each page of the book was embroidered by a different member of the group, and covered a different era of the building, or a different collection of objects from the museum collections. One of the local embroiderers, Bea, has been volunteering with us for a while now (she has been re-storing the shoe collection and is doing an amazing job!) and every day she's been in we have chatted embroidery. I have probably learned more about embroidery from Wednesday break-times that from every book I have ever read.

Well, Bea noticed my penchant for animals, and suggested that I should embroider something to go in the book! I was amazed to be asked, and fretted about this throughout the Christmas break. How could I possibly make something good enough to go in this book? Still, I dutifully tried in the holidays to stitch a little mouse from reference pictures, only to eventually realise that I just don't draw or embroider from photographs. I just don't work that way. I guess if nothing else this project has taught me to work the way that suits me best and play to my strengths. For me, it's to conjure up sketches of animals entirely from my brain, and work from there. To think I was nearly in tears over this stupid mouse, worrying that I was going to fail in what was almost my first exciting collaboration. Eventually I realised my mistake and put the mouse aside. I started to think about a lovely badger mount we have in the collection, and the lovely mix of black and white on their faces. I started to sketch, and this fella just sort of appeared.
I start blocking in large areas with lots of stitches
The completed badger, after many, many stitches!
I really went all out with fur, and I loved the way it came together. I was super chuffed with it but still felt pretty shy at handing it over. I mean, Bea is SUPER experienced and her work is amazing! Unfortunately I missed the day the book was presented, but Bea assured me that the badger got lots of positive comments! The book iteself is AMAZING, and though I don't have many images to share, here is one of my badger and of the page it features on, showing some of the other work. 
Such wonderful work!
It was amazing to see the buildings history and some of our collections featured in embroidery, and seeing different interpretations and ways of working was so inspiring. I've always thought that I wasn't really interested in doing commissions or producing something specifically to fit what someone else wanted, but in many ways the challenge is appealing, and it can be an amazing way of forcing you to work outside your comfort zone and try something new.



  1. Wow! That cover looks amazing!
    And your badger is just fantastic - it must have taken you an AGE to do all the fur! It looks very realistic, though - well done you!

  2. Your badger is beautiful, so detailed, you can be justly very proud of yourself! x

  3. Hi, just realised who you are. lovely to see little badger again and my oyster catcher. Don't think I took a picture of him on his own!
    See you sometime, Moira. x

  4. The badger is fantastic! Well done on being included in this book, you really deserve to be in it, your work shouldn't be hidden away! Here's to many more public appearances :)