Bargello workshop

Two weeks ago I lead a workshop on Bargello with a local group of very enthusiastic embroiderers (Creative Stitches) and at this week’s meeting I was delighted with the really enthusiastic response and results by all those who took part!

Bargello example #1

It came about as an idea for how to best use donations of ‘left-over’ tapestry and crewel wools which had been donated to the group. The general idea was that it would be ideal if a project could be devised rather than simply giving the wools away.

Bargello example #4

My idea had been to use these wools as an introduction to Bargello work and I first gave an introduction to the origins of, and the myths surrounding, Bargello; its different names (Bargello; Florentine Canvas Work; Flame Stitch; Hungarian Point): where the oldest examples were (i.e. a set of 7 C17th armchairs in the Museo Nazionale in Florence, commonly known as the Bargello and the 1630s wall covering in Chastleton House, now in the care of the National Trust).

Evelyn's cushion

Evelyn’s completed cushion

I had prepared some pieces of 12 to 1” canvas with an outline oblong 30cms x 15cms with the idea that this was large enough to get the idea of what Bargello stitching was about but not too large to be onerous. I also suggested that the worked pieces could also be used to make columnar pincushions in the same way that Io have made some of my mini designs up into.

Bargello example #2

When it came to choosing what pattern to work from I had brought with me three illustrated books and also my photocopier! this turned out to be a stroke of genius as everyone could choose exactly what pattern appealed to them and get on an copy it themselves and get going…

Not only was the workshop itself lively and interactive but as the follow up meeting I was enthusiastically shown where everyone has got to. There was one completely finished needle-case and another lady is planning to actually make the piano-stool that has been on her back-burner for years!

needlecase made by Valerie Clabburn

needlecase inside




“Made in the Cotswolds”

"Made in the Cotswolds"

“Made in the Cotswolds” – a showcase event hosted by the Cotswold House Hotel for local artist and craftspeople. It was not only superbly organised the ‘The Gallery at the Guild‘ and ‘Creative Campden‘ but also we were blessed with gloriously sunny weather which meant that everyone was relaxed and positive in the late summer sun!

There was a really broad spectrum of art practices on display and the visitors could engage with the artists asking all sorts of questions and generally getting a real feel for the breadth of creativity in the town. As most artists tend to spend most of their time locked away in studios, attics and garden sheds creating their own worlds this made for an exuberant time to chat with old and new friends as well as with potential clients and purchasers.

From my own point of view it was not only great chatting about my own work but also listening to what others were saying and how they were describing their own creative lives and outputs.

Masses of punters and lots of sales, we couldn’t have wished for better…

Capella Zen

The commencement of a collaborative project using multi-disciplinary means to investigate large-scale bronzes in Venice: led by Dr Vicky Avery from the History of Art department at Warwick University and bringing together an international team of art historians, archivists, conservators, practitioners, scientists and ourselves as art historians and disseminators.

The purpose of the project was the investigation by the multi-disciplinary team to learn more about trade, commissioning, design, practice, foundry organisation, global sourcing of materials, and artistic influences and their ramifications.

The Capella Zen within San Marco, which contains a bronze effigy of Doge Zen in a prominent central position plus an important arrangement of bronze saints in the altarpiece. The chapel has been closed to the public since the floods of 1966 and this important visit was personally hosted and introduced by the Proto di San Marco (the man in charge!).

The position of the capella within San Marco is one of the displays of the extraordinary power which Doges had as is it fills one end of the narthex and thus blocks the direct entrance to the cathedral from the sea.

The mosaic cycle on the ceiling of the chapel is also very important and I had studied it but had never had the opportunity to view it which is why I have been caught in this photo looking upwards at the ceiling rather than concentrating on the bronzes!

Working on a Pompeian design

Scanned drawing being coloured

I am taking inspiration from a visit to Pompeii in the creation of a new canvas work design. It’s wonderful returning to working with wools and paints but as it’s 15 years since I last had a design printed on canvas the whole process has changed and I’m currently on a steep, but brilliant learning curve.

I have started with a traditional pencil and charcoal drawing, scanned it and taken it into Photoshop, and am gradually working on it using a palette of Appletons colours.