I've admired the work of Viv Sliwka from Hen's Teeth for a while now, so when a chance came up to attend one of her workshops I couldn't resist.
Known for her use of beautiful old textiles, combined with embroidery and other ephemera, she creates all manner of delights.
So it was that on a murky Saturday morning several weeks ago I set off for Weston Park.
The brief had asked us to take along any bits and pieces that we would like to incorporate in our work, so I had spent the evening before cramming my basket with all sorts of 'tat'!
As I pulled up I was greeted by the friendliest black cat. Monty has 'adopted' Weston Park and, more particularly, it's visitors in exchange for lots of attention and the occasional titbit.
He showed me to the workshop and it was there that I suddenly realised everybody looked like they knew what they were doing, were incredibly creative and would soon be sniggering at my embarrassing attempts at French knots.
I needn't have worried.
The other participants were lovely. All had different levels of expertise and all were willing to share what they knew.
Viv was an absolute star. She encouraged us to just 'have a go' at something, take ownership and go with our instinct. I think this was my biggest barrier. I am so used to following a pattern and working within a framework that I found it quite difficult to just let go.
The only thing I knew was that I wanted to make a needle case. So, using some templates and a stamp that represented dear old Jessie, I got stuck in.
Or rather I stared at things a lot, had a look at what everyone else was doing and ate some cake.
Then got stuck in.
And do you know once I got started it was difficult to stop. I ate lunch between stitches. I drank coffee between stitches. And it was only as the workshop came to an end I realised that I hadn't even visited the ladies room between stitches!
There was cake. There was laughing. There was the inevitable discussion as to who was going to win the Great British Sewing Bee.
And I even found out how to do a French knot!
I was a bit worried about the group photo as I knew my work wasn't in quite the same vein as the others but, do you know, the more I looked at it the more I liked it! And it was for that very reason of having let go and creating something that was completely my own. Something I will definitely tap into in the future.
|Can you spot Jessie Dog in the middle?|
I completed the case over the following few days.
Want to see?
If you ever get the chance to go to one of Viv's workshops grab it! You can find out more about them on her blog.
Meanwhile look what popped through the letter box the other day.
Watch this space!