Back in the day (the mid-18th century day) the education of young women in North America involved learning to create a variety of embroideries. The first project completed by most girls was a sampler of stitches that would serve as a guide for later projects. It was the notion of a sampler that served as the jumping off point for the embroidery workshop at KW|AG. For the workshop, ’Intro to Embroidery’ (Saturday, March 2, 2013), I wanted to create a project suitable for first-time stitchers, something that would allow them to practice several basic stitches but that put a contemporary spin on “girlhood samplers”. We stitched directly onto fabrics donated to us by several KW|AG staffers, outlining and filling in the details of the floral chintz patterns. Each participant took a fresh approach: some aimed to disguise their stitches by matching the colours exactly, while others tried to obliterate the existing pattern with bold colour choices.
Four hours of stitching flew by – at the end of the afternoon we were all commenting that we could have spent an entire day (or weekend!) working away on our samplers. There were moments of total silence when everyone was completely engrossed in what they were doing, punctuated with spirited conversation and the occasional exclamation, “my French Knots aren’t working!” We experimented with cotton, silk, and wool threads. Favourites quickly emerged amongst the stitchers: you can cover a lot of territory with wool but nothing beats the sheen of silk!
For inspiration we looked at the work of some contemporary artists using embroidery in their practices. Check out their work: Jenny Hart, Ghada Amer, Cayce Zavaglia, Megan Whitmarsh, Lauren DiCioccio, Heather Cameron, David R. Harper.
KW|AG is currently exhibiting David R. Harper’s work in Entre le chien et le loup. The exhibition runs through Sunday August 18, 2013. Come to the gallery and see how he uses embroidery in his practice.
Next we will be working on our knitting skills with Janet Morton in her ‘Experimenting with Knitting’ workshop, which takes place at the Gallery on Saturday, June 15 from 12 – 4 pm. Artist Janet Morton will teach basic knitting techniques; casting on and off, increasing and decreasing and how to work free from patterns. Experiment with the sculptural potential of knitting and play with non-traditional materials, or scale, or apply your new skills to make something functional. Materials included; feel free to bring your own needles. Suitable for beginners and experienced knitters. Registration is required and the class is $45 +HST.
by Kate Carder-Thompson, School Programs Coordinator, KW|AG