Thursday 31 March 2011

Beautiful Stitches

A few weeks ago I showed this rather loud cushion that I'd made as a sample for a class. The class is a machine embroidery group who meet every week on a Tuesday afternoon at The Letchworth Settlement. I've been teaching the class for the past three years and some of the ladies have been with me since the beginning, some for only the past year, some come, some go, some are beginners and some are very experienced stitchers. It is a lovely relaxed class where students can work at their own pace.
The cushion was made to demonstrate the range of stitches that can be achieved with machine embroidery and the class spent several weeks trying out the various techniques to get them as perfect as they could. Then using silk fabrics and applique they had to choose their own projects to demonstrate their stitching skills. Not everyone finished by the end of term but here are those who did...

Margaret made a gorgeous casket.

Jenny made a box to hold fabric postcards.

Jan made this luxurious silk wrap, where the detail on the reverse was as beautiful as the front.

Thelma made a luxurious velvet scarf.

And almost but not quite finished, Jean made a beautiful little purse.

I'm sure you'll agree, they are all absolutely gorgeous. We don't meet in the summer term - holidays and gardens take priority - but we will be back at the Settlement from September... with a couple of vacancies should you wish to join us. Beginners most welcome!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Fans and Friends

Look at these gorgeous goodies that popped through my letterbox yesterday. Threads and yarns in the most glorious jewel colours all the way from Western Australia.

All I did to deserve these was to become a Facebook fan of The Thread Studio and by sheer coincidence I was fan no. 500. So Dale sent me this lovely parcel.

As a result of this, I have been prompted into starting my own business page on Facebook. I didn't even know what this was until a couple of weeks ago, but it just so happens that as part of my Professional Practice module I have been investigating the nature of various social media as a way of marketing and promoting one's business. I discovered it is possible to set up a business Facebook page that looks just like any other personal page on Facebook. (I realise I am probably very slow off the mark here!) I can post pictures, change the status, write on the wall etc but the big difference is that it is available for anyone on Facebook to see - you do not have to be my friend! It is a way of letting a wider audience know about my work, forthcoming exhibitions, new classes etc. The idea is then to get "fans" or "followers" who will then receive Facebook notifications when I change my status or add something new. And if you are reading this, all you have to do is scroll down the sidebar and press the "like" button on the Facebook icon to become a fan of Gina Ferrari Textile Art. You do not need to be my Facebook friend and I do not need to know any of your personal details...

So, please be my fan... and when I reach a significant number of fans or followers (unlikely to be 500) I might just have a little giveaway too. Perhaps I will make something from the lovely parcel of goodies that came from Dale. (These threads and yarns are available to buy from The Thread Studio)

Of course as well as providing virtual friends, fans and followers, social media has introduced me to some very real and lovely friends over the past couple of years and on Monday I spent a delightful few hours with Emma (plus a little Pebble), Val and Julie and came home with these beautiful Muscari from Emma's garden. Even five years ago I would never have thought all this would be possible and I find the whole idea of social networking facsinating. (The jury is still out on Twitter though!)

Monday 28 March 2011

Can I Tempt You?

Mum and Dad came for lunch and Ben (eldest son) came home and cooked us all a superb fish pie. So the occasion called for a special pudding yesterday... a butterscotch pecan cheescake... A dense creamy filling full of chopped pecans, topped with a butterscotch sauce.
It was the first recipe I'd tried from my new book - picked up at a bargain price when I'd popped into the supermarket for a few bits for dinner during the week on my way home from work.

It certainly won't be the last recipe I try. I have never seen so many gorgeous looking cakes packed into one book.

I'm not sure we're going to be able to eat them all. Fancy coming over for tea? (Not much of the cheesecake left though)

Saturday 26 March 2011

Very Clever Girls!

This is a bit of a picture heavy post but the Young Embroiderers have done such a brilliant job today I couldn't possibly leave anyone out. The plan was to make tote bags using up old furnishing fabrics, covering them with torn strips of organza and various scraps of lace and buttons etc. I was still stitching up my sample at 11.30 pm last night and was starting to have doubts that the girls would even get close to finishing a bag.

I should have known better! The one below is Charlie's which had lovely subtle shades of blue (despite how it appears in the photo) and reminded me of the sea.

This is Grace's bag...


and Jemima's.

We had four new visiting members including two very talented 8 year olds. Francesca loved using my sewing machine...

and produced this stunning bag!

Although I hadn't thought the pattern through... a tote bag suitable for a 13 year old is a little on the big side for an 8 year old!

Bluebell's was a little long too... but still beautiful.

And there were more... Nikki's...


and Annabel's.

And last but not least Abigail's and..

Heather's. Every single bag finished (with the exception of a few buttons and trims) and ready to use.

Goodness know what I'll have to come up with next - they just keep getting better and better! Well done girls - it's been a fantastic day.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Healthy Eating

Packed with oats, a good source of soluble fibre, excellent for lowering cholesterol

Upside Down Blueberry Buns
Bursting with blueberries which are brim full of vitamins and antioxidants and one of your five a day - not to mention the cream cheese frosting which is a valuable source of calcium

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Because we all know Guinness is Good For You

I've been taking care of my family's health this week

Sunday 20 March 2011

Warm Undies?

You may recall a month or so ago I posted a little preview of some knitting I'd been doing on the train (I'm getting to be quite brave about public knitting!)

Because I'd been to an exhibition and was rather inspired by this knitted ensemble by Tao Kurihara... well perhaps not the woolly knickers but I did rather like the bodice, which for some reason made me think of Marie Antoinette.

And so my knitting grew with more cables and a few bobbles... mostly made up as I went along, with an idea to create a bodice for the Austrian Queen of France.

I added some crochet edging...

And I had the idea it would be fun to add a whole pile of knitted cakes as a play on her alleged statement "Let them eat cake".

But somehow the cakes didn't work so instead I made lots of sugary coloured flowers trimmed with lace and pearls because she loved her garden and flowers and fancy trims were very much the fashion in the 18th century

More pearls, more ribbons and more lace...

And this is my bodice for Marie Antoinette so far...

I think it needs more work and I've still got ideas for those knitted cakes so you can be sure I'll be back to show you when the ensemble is complete but for now I'm quite happy with something that started as a whim!

Thursday 17 March 2011


I'm not a great fan of public displays of giving but this seemed a good way of getting as many people as possible to be aware of the Shelterbox scheme. Shelterbox send boxes with essential supplies such as tents, blankets etc, which feels like a practical way to help. I'm joining in and won't be here tomorrow....

You can get involved too and can make a donation here.
And if you've got a blog you can join in with the bloggers day of silence and promote the scheme - details here.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Some Answers...

Thank you for your interest in my little "chocolate" book. I had a few comments along the lines of "How did you do that?" and "Tutorial please?"

Whilst I consider myself fairly obliging I have had to turn away such requests and feel the need to explain...

First of all... I didn't learn how to do this overnight. I have been on courses and have been taught by people far more experienced at bookmaking than I. An on-line tutorial isn't really a substitute for being taught properly.

Secondly, writing a tutorial for something like this takes a long time... getting the instructions clear and all the photographs taken is a lengthy process (I've done it so I know... see below) and I really don't have that sort of time at the moment

And last of all, I teach for my living... and although it would be lovely to offer free tutorials on the internet... it wouldn't pay my bills. I know this is tough if you are unable to come to my classes but a girl's gotta eat! (even if it is only cake and chocolate)

There are many project style books available with instructions for making little books like these, with pretty stitching or peep-hole covers...
Some with leather covers...

or fancy concertina style spines...

With their own special box...

But I'd like to recommend a couple of other options. If you get a chance, do a course with Heather Power. Heather is a printmaker who learned how to make books as a way of displaying her prints. She makes the most wonderful books and boxes and I learned how to make most of the books here with Heather.

You could have a try at a tutorial I posted here a year or so ago for the postcard book pictured below...

And if all else fails could I recommend "Cover to Cover" by Shereen La Plantz (Lark Books) which is what I turn to time and time again when making books.

I hope that answers some of your requests!