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.

1st October 2001

Well my lino cut print was successful, although it did take me a couple of hours to cut. Not altogether sure if I like the design, which was taken from my source picture. I simplified three spot markings from the animal's fur skin body. Art session today with Heather, we used pastel chalks and torn strips of paper to achieve soft non-regular lines across a small sheet of paper, placed underneath. Can also achieve this type of effect on fabric by use of fabric crayons rubbing with a scrap piece of fabric. With the chalks you can use your finger to brush over the chalk line creating a nice soft edge. I continued down the sheet of paper and changed colour of chalks, end result looked a bit like a mountain range view. Still working away at the old stitch samples.

lino cut prints
lino cut printing

8th October 2001

Pat our tutor gave a demo on how to dye fabric and thread using cold water dyes and soda ash as a fix to the fabric for use with natural fibres. This afternoon we each took home a little plastic bag containing our dyed fabric and thread samples to be opened and given a rinse in water after a 24 hour period, then hang to dry. Had to try out two stitches for samples, all of us in the first year class I can clearly state hated doing these particular stitches, Battlement Couching and Hollie Stitch. I seemed to do more undoing of stitch until I finally got it somewhat correct. These two stitches will not be on my list of loved and useful. Next week we have to bring some black thread with us as our next stitch sample is to be Black work.

Art session this morning was a lot of fun with fabric, embroidery hoop, wax and dye.

We all had a go at creating a batik sample. I like the effect when you scrunch up the fabric with wax resist set. When dye is applied you see it travel in all the cracked areas of wax creating a more interesting surface pattern on the fabric.

15th October 2001

I love Black work, but it takes me ages and if I get one thread out of count it's a case of retracing my thread steps and starting again.

blackwork samples
Black work samples

We also tried out making mono print on paper with paint, I was not impressed with my mono printing, found it a bit boring, but it might have possibilities as background colour, maybe I need to experiment more with mono print? Had great success with polystyrene print blocks, found the print was much sharper when I applied paint with a sponge and used roller.

22nd October 2001

Spent all day with Pat, we worked on our Black work samples then moved on to pulled thread samples.

Got to work on some surface rubbings and Pat talked to us about how these rubbings can be useful as backgrounds, lots to do - mix rubbings, use variety of colours to create added pattern and texture.

Encouraged to experiment, and always rub in the same direction, unless of course you want the effect of a more blurred rubbing.

Our next class will include silk paper making with silk and wool tops.

Then of course there is the continued saga of the Stitch Samples --- Drawn Thread work! Margaret, another year one student, took orders for the permanent baking foil sheet. This is a wipe clean oven liner supplied by the Kleeneze people.

But it will come in useful when we start using a hot iron to melt plastic or use bondaweb, as the oven liner will protect your ironing board cover from little accidents.

Well cheers for now! next week is half term and time for some spooky Halloween fun!!!

Audrey Hughes, in Belfast.

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