A wild month of workshops

Work has been a whirlwind of workshops lately- added to my usual Wednesdays of hospital art I’ve worked in three different primary schools, had a return visit to a textile group and held my first workshop in the wonderful Shipley Art Gallery

Participants have transformed tin cans, stitched scenes of The Great War, used silk paints, made African inspired textiles, crocheted flowers hooked rugs and hand stitched beach hut scenes.

(Quite a lot of prep work has been involved 😅)

The workshop at the Shipley was a first experience for several reasons- working in the venue, adapting one of my workshops to be sewing machine free, and working with two different groups of 20 participants in the course of the day !

The Shipley staff planned a day where participants could work with two different artists in one day ( Hello, Marian Hernandez Villada a colourful painter and lovely human 😄). One group would do a watercolour painting whilst another would stitch, after a short lunch break they swapped over. So workshop projects had to be achievable in just a couple of hours!

I began making these little beach hut scenes right at the start of my career as a full time artist. I must have made dozens by now- but always using at least 2 sewing machines with a little bit of hand sewing! Adapting them for hand stitch took a little bit of experimentation. I decided that the CAD stitched huts were key, so I made several batches of these- I’ve got the stitch design worked out so that I can stitch six at a time – changing the colours as I go. So I prepared about 60 little huts in different colour ways for participants to choose from.

Each little hut sits in its own mini landscape, so I needed to work out how to convert this from my machine stitched appliqué to hand stitch – and to make sure I had enough of the recycled ‘matching game’ cards that each little scene is framed on.

Luckily, now that I run workshops regularly I have a ridiculous amount of embroidery hoops to access ( thank you Barnyarns for getting 40 hoops to me very quickly- and then another 20 🤣 I’m sure I could do a very ‘Anthropologie‘ style display with them all at some point!)

40 hoops were fitted with squares of my hand dyed fabric in shades of blue. A quick count up showed there were just enough card pieces in my ‘random stuff that will be useful one day store’ ! There were definitely enough fabric scraps, buttons, beads and trims available (have you SEEN my workroom 🤣)

I felt it was important, also, to have a worksheet for guidance – 20 participants for just over 2 hours equals not a lot of individual tutoring! Having a worksheet listing stages in development, plus a template helps keep people going with the task.

I definitely thought I’d done the ‘Belt and Braces’ approach to workshop planning- and I think the day did go well although next time I’ll make sure my other half leaves me a car KEY 🔑 as well as the car so I don’t have to book a last minute taxi with a big boot!

The day was great fun, participants jumped into the task. A lovely crowd of women of all ages, with a couple of familiar faces 😊. I hope I was doing my ‘swan’ impression – you know; looking serene on the surface whilst frantically ‘paddling’ to keep things on track. (Thank you Kerry for insisting I had 10 minutes off site to eat lunch 😊).

It was interesting to see that there was a difference in the way the morning and afternoon groups worked – the morning group took a little longer planning out their beach hut scenes, the afternoon group dived straight in – creative muscles warmed up by their morning of painting? Just about everyone completed their pieces- a few took away the driftwood and wires to make hangers but the scenes were stitched in the session 🧵😄

By 4.30 pm I was all packed up and ready for home – just a short wait for my very apologetic OH to show up – he made the supper that night 🤣

Thank you to everyone who came to the workshop, to the Shipley for providing such a lovely venue and to Kerry Cook of Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives for letting me loose in there ! (Hope we didn’t leave any pins behind!)

And… they’re letting me back in! So do check the Shipley Art Gallery website for their next series of workshops in the Spring!

Oh and in the meantime- come and see me here on November 30th!

Published by Donna Cheshire Textiles

I am a professional textile artist specializing in Appliqué and Free Motion machine stitching. In order to create a unique colour palette, I hand dye my own fabrics and then use these to create the landscapes and coastal scenes recorded in my sketchbook. I often incorporate recycled or vintage fabrics in my work - they add meaning to the story the work is telling. I love being so close to the Northumbrian coast and countryside and I especially like taking time walk and draw these stunning landscapes

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