City and Guilds diary

Audrey Hughes wrote this monthly diary during her first year on a City and Guilds embroidery course from September 2001 - May 2002. She shared her experiments and experiences with us throughout the year, offering a fascinating and detailed insight into her approach to the challenges and pleasures of the course.

5th November 2001

Today spent some time working on my Drawn Thread sample, which I quite enjoyed. In the afternoon Pat, our tutor, showed us how to create fibre paper, using dyed silk and Merino tops. We first have to plan a design then start working with the fibres. Pat used wallpaper paste, but suggested we use PVA glue and water 1/2 and 1/2 mixture if we wanted to create a 3-D vessel form using fibres.

I decided to experiment with PVA/water mix and use this instead of wallpaper paste. My results turned out okay, I trapped some feathers amongst the topfibres - this sample I can further experiment upon with machine stitch creating various marks and build up the textured surface. A good book for fibre paper is - Hand-made Silk Paper by Kath Russon published by Search Press price around £10.00 sterling UK.

12th November 2001

During art session we experimented with fabric crayons on fabric. An example was to cut shavings off crayons and let them fall upon the fabric surface, then place another piece of fabric on top. To this surface you place a hot iron, the colours will rise to your surface fabric. Note: if using a good iron use parchment baking paper between the fabric and iron. I also used the crayons on fabric, creating marks in areas and parts of the fabric where I had placed masking tape, this created additional effects with pattern and colour.

Back in Pat's class she demonstrated how to make beads and buttons with paper and fabric. So I now know what to do with all those nice bit pieces of fabric --- stash them for making beads and buttons.

I find Hardanger a bit of a bore, needless to say I have not finished my sample yet! But the two samples of Hardanger Eileen created I thought were beautiful in both colour and pattern, now I wonder would she like to do me a couple of Hardanger samples? Okay I was only joking!

19th November 2001

Class time today included mounting some stitch samples. Pat showed all first year students how to measure and cut thin card to display samples and how we can use gutta as an outline when painting on silk, creating our individual designs.

During the old art session this morning with our tutor Heather, we got creative with ink paints and baby wipes. Folded the baby wipe up then dipped each corner into a coloured ink. Had a sheet of paper on top of my work area where I placed my baby wipe ink treasures when I unfolded them. I continued this process until I had three baby wipes bursting with colour, and interesting pattern. I had decided to use just three colours, lemon, orange/red and earth/brown. Thought the best way to transport my colourful wipes home was to just fold them up in the large sheet of paper I had them spread out upon the table. Then chuck this into a plastic bag. Well when I got home the paper wrap up was not unfolded until the following day, what a surprise! Wonderful mono prints on the whole sheet of paper the wipes had been folded up in. I love them! Now the baby wipes had lost some of their former colour saturation, but still looked good enough. I hung the sheet of paper up, and when dry I cut it into sheets. The baby wipes when dry, I painted with one coat of PVA glue, when this dried out it gave the wipes a bit more structure. I used mono prints and baby wipes to create some sampling ideas related to my Living Forms project.

26th November 2001

Started my Cut work sample today, I am using a piece of white cotton fabric and white cotton pearle thread for most of my design, then after working on the design at home I decided for the stem of the flower image and the centre area I'd use a red/orange pearle cotton thread. Just have to cut and wash this sample and it's finished. Pat, our tutor, explained that due to cotton and linen being natural fibres they will shrink with the cotton thread and gel together. Cotton or linen are best to use when creating Cut work. Pat had a chat with us regarding the C&G reg. fee which we can pay end of June '02. It will cost £48.00 and will cover us over the next three years of our C&G course.

3rd December 2001

Well, this morning, art session with Heather, we all had a go at tie dying using cord and a cardboard tube covered with cling film to keep it dry and in one piece. Started by wetting the piece of fabric in water, then rinse out excess. Then start to wrap the wet fabric around the tube, tie an area then scrunch up an area of fabric on the tube and tie - continue this process until all fabric is on tube. Then after having selected the colours you want to use start applying with a paint brush, we used silk paints. Leave to dry on the tube, when fabric is a little dryer you can ease it off the tube in one piece and lay down to dry or just let it dry on the tube. Now the surprise is when you open out the fabric. I used colours that related to my Sky and Water project and was well pleased with my results.

Another way to get colour pattern onto fabric is by wetting the fabric with water as before, then fold over ares working your way across or down the fabric and tucking the fabric with paper clips, then when all folds and paper clips are applied and you have a little parcel start applying fabric paint or silk paint in your chosen colour tones with a brush. Allow this to dry out then unclip and unfold and hey just wait for the surprise of colour and pattern, another piece of fabric to continue further sampling and experiments with.

Next week is our last class till after the Christmas and New Year hol's, so we are going to make some paper in our art session, Heather has told us to come with our prepared paper pulp, we will tear small pieces of white paper and have them soaked at least overnight before class and then just pop a handful into a plastic bag and bring it with us. Later on after the art session we all meet up in Pat's room with the rest of the C&G students and it's off to a Christmas Lunch and some fun! We have booked the lunch at a restaurant not too far from the college. This is one of the Class Traditions, also each student will have made a Christmas Tree decoration, bring it wrapped and then everyone takes home a little gift. Well, I can hardly believe that half the year is gone, but I do know that I am really enjoying this course!

Have a peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year's Holiday, cheers for now, from

Audrey Hughes

City and Guilds Embroidery courses are held at many colleges and centres around the UK; and a number of distance learning courses exist too. Some are listed in the directory under City and Guilds courses and Distance Learning. The City and Guilds web site is at