Ancient Peruvian Textiles with Janice Lawrence

We had a fascinating talk on Monday 15 July 2019, given to us by Janice Lawrence, on ancient Peruvian textiles.

Janice started with a brief history of the region, stretching from Ecuador down to Chile and across to Argentina and Bolivia. She explained that the Incas had been herdsmen but developed an empire, whose centre was at Cusco.

With only stone tools and without the wheel or any form of writing they developed and controlled their empire and produced very fine woven, highly decorative textiles.

They grew cotton near the coast and also used the fleece from vicuna, llama and alpaca, all native animals in the region to make cloth. It was not until they were conquered by the Spanish that wool was introduced.

They made woven tunics, mantles, bags, sandals and hats and also used feathers to make elaborate clothing and accessories.

With the arrival of the Spanish, new techniques were introduced, such as ribbon weaving, canvas work and lace making.

The style changed as well, with the introduction of flowers into the designs.

Thank you Janice, for giving us an inspiring insight into the textile techniques developed by an ancient civilisation, their flair for design and their truly remarkable skills.

Flexible and Abstract

Following her talk earlier in the week, Amanda Hislop returned to the Branch on Saturday 22nd July to share a real insight into her work and process with her 'Imagined Seascapes' workshop.

Landscape + Sea + Sky + Trees is how Oxfordshire based Amanda describes the influences behind her magical work - from small intricate samples to much larger pieces which she shows with the Prism Textile Group and an abundance of awe inspiring sketchbooks full of rich textures and the earth palette of colours which she favours. 

Many of us would happily have spent the day looking through those books, soaking up the atmospheric seascapes and wide open spaces, but there was much to do and Amanda wasted no time in showing how she begins to create her mixed media pictures. 

Amanda had also provided some treasures for the workshop to use - bags of scrim and cotton offcuts, threads, dried grass, tiny leaves, twigs and beautiful honesty seed heads.  She explained that whenever she is walking the dog she keeps an eye open for any useful natural objects that can be incorporated into her landscapes.

People though, don't feature and very few boats appear in the seacapes - you may get the odd vertical line or a diagonal, but on the whole she regards them as distracting.  For Amanda it is the wider picture that is important.

On a background of muslin soaked with cellulose paste, she delicately places different papers and threads to create shape, distance and texture - tea bag paper and lens tissue are used to seal different areas onto the background.When dry Amanda begins to add very thin layers of acrylic paint - indigo, white, payne's grey and burnt sienna.

'Less is more' and 'flexible and abstract' seem to be her mantra.

Taking inspiration from their own photos of seascapes or magazine articles, everyone worked incredibly hard - you could tell by the silence!. Amanda had urged everyone to bring images with which they had a connection so that they would be inspired to create. 

While we waited for our work to dry, she then showed us a different technique using calico as the background. 

With equally tentative brush strokes she added a hint of the  picture to come with the acrylics before then adding papers and threads.  These also needed to be secured to the background with the tea bag paper/lens tissue. She highlighted that we should be working into the picture rather than using our original lines as a guide.

Enthusiasm for the task at hand was immense and everyone who attended created at least two pieces that they could take away and work on at home. Amanda's last words to us all were - please do add some stitching ..............but don't go mad! Flexible and Abstract al the way. Thanks Amanda.

Land Lines, Drawn Lines and Stitch Lines with Amanda Hislop

On Monday 17 June, textile artist Amanda Hislop came to talk to us about her beautiful work. She lives in Oxfordshire and her studio is a summerhouse in her garden.

Amanda has always had a love for painting. She originally trained as a weaver and later went on to work as an art teacher. Now she works as a textile artist, exhibiting her own work, giving talks and running workshops.

She draws her inspiration from landscapes and seascapes and suggested that a good starting point was to 'paint what you know'.

She creates sketchbooks, recording her ideas and observations with a fountain pen, before moving on to fabric, paper, stitch and paint, working in subtle colours. She uses a variety of fabrics and paper, which she prepares for painting and stitch. Working in layers of fabric, paper, paint and stitch, Amanda transforms her sketches into wonderful glimpses of her surroundings.

Amanda is a member of the Prism group of textile artists and the Oxfordshire Craft Guild.

Thank you very much Amanda, for coming to talk to us. It was inspiring to see your wonderful work. We are all looking forward to the workshop on Saturday, when we hope to learn a few of your amazing techniques.

The Embroidered Furnishings of Lethbridge Sisters with Dr Lynn Hulse

Lady Julia Carew at her embroidery frame
Dr Lynn Hulse came to talk to us on Monday 20 May 2019 about the Lethbridge Sisters and their wonderful embroideries. Lynn, who has a background in 17th century English music, studied at the Royal School of  Needlework (RSN) in 2003. She is also an archivist and went on to catalogue part of the RSN's collection.

The Lethbridge sisters, Lady Julia Carew (1863-1922) and Lady Jane Cory (1864-1947) also studied with the RSN, formerly known at the Royal School of Art Needlework. They became very well known for their embroideries with which they furnished their Irish and London homes.

Working from outlines, Julia and Jane used vegetable dyes to colour their woollen and silk threads and used a modest range of stitches, including long and short, stem, satin stitch and French knots.

Julia's passion was for antique embroidery and crewel work in the Jacobean style.

Sample of The Tree of Life at Girton College
She created 13 panels, measuring 11ft by 4ft for Castleboro, her Irish home. When the house was destroyed in 1922, the embroideries were dispersed. Examples of her panels can be seen at Girton College, Cambridge and there are examples of upholstery at Hartlebury Castle.



Jane's embroideries were more naturalistic in style and included designs by Nellie Whichelo (The Pomegranate Tree).

'Flora' and 'Pomona' are based on designs created by Edward Burne-Jones for William Morris & Co. A collection of Jane's work is now in the Te Papa museum in New Zealand.

Thank you Lynn, for giving us such a fascinating talk. The size of the wall panels is hard to comprehend but must have look amazing when hung in the splendour of their homes.

Tiny Treasures Workshop with Marilyn Pipe

We met up at Goodworth Clatford Village Club on Saturday 27 April 2019 for an inspirational and entertaining workshop with Marilyn Pipe. Here are some of the pictures of our work throughout the day. Using fabric dyes on fabrics, paper and lace some beautiful designs emerged.

Many thanks Marilyn for such an enjoyable day. 'Show and Tell' at our next meeting will be very colourful!