Sunday, August 7, 2016

UK: Stitching a Cultural Identity- Week 2, Classes Started at the Royal School of Needlework, Guided Tour of Hampton Court Palace, Hangout with Mr. X Stitch, Oxford and St. Paul's Cathedral

Week 2 started off with a guided tour of Hampton Court Palace with historian Vanda Nadolny.  She showed us through the palace explaining the history of the palace and the people that have graced its halls throughout the centuries.  She focused especially on the tapestries, describing to us the stories and process behind the creation of the tapestries and how they are cared for today. 
I'll update this shortly with a link to Rachel's blog post about this tour. 

Monday evening, we enjoyed an exciting trip up to King's Cross to "Drink, Shop, Do" and cross stitching with Mr. X Stitch himself at his X Stitch Hangout.  If you are ever in London on the first Monday of the month, I highly recommend it!  The cakes and drinks are delicious and the cross stitching is so much fun!  Jamie, Mr. X Stitch, teaches you the basics of cross stitch and provides a great environment with other stitch enthusiasts and stitch curious people.  
Notice Jamie wore his NC State hoodie from when he visited NC State to present a lecture and cross stitch workshop to our students in Raleigh!

Tuesday was the students first official day at the Royal School of Needlework (RSN).  There was a lot of excitement as we met Natalie from the RSN and she walked us up to our classroom at Hampton Court Palace.  The RSN tutor for the students was Mandy Ewing.  Mandy was amazing and the students and I loved her.  She is so very, very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor!  She had just gotten back from teaching for the RSN in Williamsburg, VA, USA in May with Tracy Franklin and Jenny Adin-Christie
The students spent Tuesdays and Thursdays for 4 weeks stitching at the RSN.  Mandy taught them 2 weeks of crewelwork and 2 weeks of goldwork, focusing on lots of sampling and starting a final motif that combined the two techniques.  When I developed this program, I thought these two techniques would complement the appointments we were going to and also would give the students a range of new skills (also thinking that if they weren't a huge fan of one they would probably like the other).  

On Day 1 of the RSN, the students received their scroll frames and materials kits.  They spent the morning learning the proper way of framing up and then embarked on their crewel adventure!  It was really fun watching them all so excited about beginning to stitch.  I especially enjoyed seeing the colors they chose for their crewelwork as you could really see their personalities come out in their choices. 
 Angela and Gillian choosing colors.
Rachel framing up.
Everyone getting ready to start to stitch!
 The view from our classroom!  
You can read the student's blog posts at links below:
Rachel wrote about the 1st week of classes at the RSN-- updating post will blog link shortly!

Wednesday we took the train to Oxford.  Excited about their projects they started at the Mr. X Stitch Hangout, Carly, Katelynn and Rachel all spent the time on the train cross stitching away!

We enjoyed a two hour walking tour of Oxford with our animated guide Tom, a local writer and Oxford graduate.  It was quite exciting to see all the different colleges and gardens.  Oxford is beautiful and filled with history and stories!  We then had an appointment in the Study Room at the Ashmolean Museum to see some amazing examples of 17th Century stumpwork.

 I'll update this shortly with a link to Rachel's blog post about this tour.

Our last stop during Week 2 was St. Paul's Cathedral.  We arrived right as they were opening so the students were able to tour the inside before the crowds got very crazy.  Then we went up to the Broiderers' studio to meet with Anita (head broiderer) and two of her volunteer broiderers.  They were so generous with the students and I with their knowledge and process.  We were able to see new projects they were working on, restoration projects they were doing and pieces from the collection at St. Paul's.  My all time favorite has to be the Hammersmith Cope with the Jubilee Cope not far behind on my list.

It was so amazing for the students to see such a wealth of different techniques and mixes of techniques.  Additionally, it was truly wonderful having the tour with the broiderers as they explained their whole process and different decisions with the students for both new and restoration projects.  All three embroiderers were trained at the RSN and also shared experiences of the different projects they had done during their training and as part of the RSN.

During our St. Paul's trip, we were also able to see the "miniature" model of St. Paul's (if you ever go you must see this!!!! It's part of the Triforium tour) and climbed the roughly 600 steps up to the top to see an amazing view of London.  It was actually sunny for us too so we could see for miles!

You can read more from Katelynn's blog post here. 

Week 3 and 4 coming shortly :)!