Monday, 7 May 2012

A Royal Vibe at the Embroiderers Guild

Well, there certainly was a royal vibe in the room and a buzz of excitement on Saturday the 5 May at the Embroiderers Guild, Brisbane, when the amazingly talented and professional embroiderer Jenny Adin-Christie took to telling us about her career trajectory to date, and her role at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace, London.

Little Flora studies decorate the walls of the Guild.

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) describes Jenny as,

A freelance professional hand embroiderer and designer, with an innate passion for creating individual work; for the study and repair of antique embroideries and for inspiring others
through her enthusiastic teaching.
On graduating from the RSN Apprenticeship in 1999 with distinction, for ten years Jenny continued as a member of the Studio team and teaching staff. She became Assistant to the Head of Studio and a Studio Project Manager, playing a key role in a broad range of major commissions, in the production of new product ranges and in creating individual work.
Jenny embarked on a freelance career in 2009. She now teaches widely throughout the country and beyond, as well as continuing to teach for the RSN. She has taught across the full spectrum of courses offered by the RSN specialising in the fields of whitework, metal thread and stumpwork. She also tutors the RSN’s Advanced Diploma in Fine Whitework.
Jenny combines teaching with creating her own unique embroideries and working to commission. Recent commissions include: designing and creating The Centenary Embroidery for Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and contributing embroidered and beaded works to the recent Artangle exhibition A Concise Dictionary of Dress, (by Judith Clark and Adam Phillips), in collaboration with the V&A Museum.
Jenny also develops and sells a unique range of contemporary embroidery kits in stumpwork,
metal thread and whitework'.  

And to be honest, I felt like 'royalty' after being given the 'VIP' treatment by Jenny J and Katie of the Guild executive. From the minute I rang the Guild's door bell, I was whisked in, introduced around, given a cup of coffee (in a lovely bone china floral mug) and offered afternoon tea;
despite the members being very busy at the commencement of Jenny's lecture.
My position, too, at the Members' Stitching table next to Margaret and her stunning needle lace crafted carefully from buttonhole stitch also contributed to my absolute pleasure. Margaret showed me a little tip on how to do 'improved bullion stitch'. I've decide white bullion roses on white hand towels is going to be my starting point!

And, I picked up my Mothers Day Raffle Prize that I won the week before!

It is a lovely Deerfield embroidery on a cosmetics or keep-safe pouch, by Marie Polzi. Thank you, Marie!
It reminds me of that Delft dutch crockery, that I really love so much. Mr Fascinata collected a bit of it,
back in his hey day of travelling around the world.
 Luckily for me, he has 'good taste'.

I also got a few bits and bobs from the Collections Stall, and will now give this Chanel style fringed braid (above) the new lease of life it deserves, probably on a cushion.

Here's a couple of shots of Margaret's buttonhole lace embroidery. How special, is it?
I love the gold cord and the variegated thread.
And don't start me on the afternoon tea buffet!

Here's Devi's flora-style cakes that she brought along. I had photographed the cup-cakes, and then coincidentally met Devi in the Guild's well-resourced Library. Devi was checking in her work for the upcoming Guild Biennial Exhibition - "Embroidered Treasures", between June 2 - 9.
Enough of that, let's get down to other things.
Jenny Adin-Christie:
"Preserving the Past and Creating the Future, the Work of a Professional Embroiderer."
There's a bit of shock that comes with meeting Jenny, well firstly she's quite a young person, and when you take in what she has achieved, it's all a bit incredible. Not that I think 'embroidery' is for us 'older types', but sadly once a person has enough 'good sense' to realise how special it all is, we are usually older!
It adds up when you realise Jenny went to the London needlework school during high school!
How amazing to have such talent and direction at that age!
Jenny's apprenticeship seemed pretty 'extreme', there was certainly no room for frippery in that course. As she explained it was embroidery challenge and technique, placed one after the other, fours weeks' holiday per year, seven hours working a day, with four or five hours homework most nights! She said once she won a prize for her work, and the prize was the opportunity to do another piece!
Jenny's achieved so much to date, but her biggest project would have to have be, being one of the pool embroiderers who worked on Princess Kate's wedding gown.

As you probably know, this lace crafting took place with the fashion house Alexander McQueen, with Sarah Burton at the helm. I learnt too, that Alexander McQueen has a collaboration going now with the RSN. They'll be giving Lesage a bit of competition, I dare say.
The gown was the work of about 70 people, and I love how on her big day, lip-reading experts actually think Kate remarked when complimented on the gown, 'Thank you, many people worked on it.'
The lace even lined the inside of the 2.70m train!
She's also made a darling little pillow for the Queen Mother's birthday when she turned 100. Bless.
And done lots of ecclesiastical works, including Lenten Altar frontals and vestments.
Jenny's made many commissions for the Queen's Jubilee and its range of associated celebrations.
She's an certainly an expert, and particularly enjoys traditional whitework and goldwork, using metallic threads (now synthetic to prevent oxidation) to coil and form the artworks and designs.

The lovely ladies at the Guild got the opportunity to do whitework with her!
And she does these amazing and intricate Millefiore bead and goldwork brooches and incredible stud point flowers,
 these were really something else.
How much do you love that lapel? I thought about trying to make off with it!
It comes with the territory that Jenny is an expert in textiles conservation and preservation, and this is
much of her core practise.
Just when you thought she'd done enough, you've also got to factor in the invited exhibition pieces she's created for the Victoria and Albert Museum. All-the-while still focusing on the art of embroidery, but in surprising ways, for example the pieces she did for the Conformist exhibition at the V&A, underpinned by the public perception that William Morris is de rigeur at the V&A, and an attempt to challenge this way of thinking.
Ironically, Morris did say, 'In a Morris interior, everything must conform'.
This Show was a way to explore this perception.
Jenny also exhibited in Artangel, putting art where you wouldn't expect it. For example, in the storeroom in the V&A!
She made a beautiful Art Deco poupee style piece.
You can buy some great kits from Jenny. Get online and get cracking, if you have any issues, join the Guild, there's some
expertise there, for sure!
Be sure to look at Jenny's lovely work:
I learnt so much, and I am excited about passing on Jenny Adin-Christie's magic to others!
Flora extends her sincere thank you, for the invitation to attend this opportunity.


  1. Dear Flora

    Glad you liked the little Deerfield bag Maree made in my class on Deerfield Embroidery.
    Hope to meet you soon in the rooms on Saturdays

    Deborah Love

  2. Thank you, Deborah. I'll get myself organised pretty soon to come in, I'm eager to do some bullion roses on towels! :)