Did you know that there are ways of making a living with hand embroidery? Did you know that there is a degree course that focuses on hand embroidery?
Thanks to a partnership between Norwich School, Norfolk County Council and Norwich Castle Museum, many Sixth Form textiles teachers and pupils now do. These textiles teachers and pupils got the chance to look at goldwork in detail in July 2017, in the form of two-day workshops. We caught up with Ms Nicola Ravenscroft to learn more about the workshops.
"Goldwork is the technique that applies gold in the form of thread, wires, plate and beads to fabric. This technique has been used for centuries and England was the home of the very best goldwork in medieval times.
Lisa Little, assistant curator of textiles with Norfolk Museums Service, showed pupils and staff around the textiles collections in the July workshops. The group looked at some beautiful samples of metal embroidery on shoes, coats and accessories through the centuries. The tour of the textile stores was the favourite part of the first day and most of the group would have been very happy to have been accidentally locked in for a week or so to explore further! Students and staff were encouraged to come back to examine anything that was of special interest - this is a free service that no one in the group previously knew about before the tour. The Castle also houses a very extensive library of textiles material, free for anyone to use.
A representative from the Royal School of Needlework gave a talk to students about the courses offered and destination jobs for those who qualified in hand embroidery. Although craft tuition is very popular, graduates work in high end fashion houses, theatre and opera, and with museums and religious bodies, designing and creating impressive hand embroidery.
The second day of the course was practical, completing a design which involved various techniques (padding, couching, chipping) and other materials like gilded leather, wires and gold threads. This took place in the pupils' schools, and in small groups which allowed plenty of tuition time."
40 students from Dereham Northgate, Wymondham High School, Reepham High, City College and East Norfolk Sixth Form College took part, together with their teachers.
The goldwork workshops will be offered again in summer 2018 – see Castle Museum website for details in due course.