SFSNAD's Comprehensive Studies Programme
You may recall that I made the decision to continue my embroidery studies by attending the San Fransisco School of Needlework and Design’s Comprehensive Studies Programme (CSP). Last year, I made my first trip to the school, and completed two wonderful weeks at the school, studying metalwork.
A quick overview of the programme
Before we have a look at some of what I learnt in those two weeks, I thought it would be useful to give you a quick overview of the programme.
The School was founded by Lucy Barter and Ellice Sperber in 2015, and the ‘CSP’ is their ‘Certificate and Diploma’ Course if you think of it in terms of the RSN model.
Each technique is broken down into three levels – a sampler, a design to interpret and stitch using your new-found skills, and a creative piece, where you design and stitch your piece.
Your level 1 time at the school also includes some lectures on the history of the technique, and with metalwork, a thorough look and ‘play’ with all the different metalwork threads.
The focus is a combined focus – technical proficiency, like what the RSN focus is, developing your design skills, and an exploratory and creative focus. Throughout your levels, you are encouraged to develop and explore your own personal style, whilst also focusing on the technical execution of each stitch. You are encouraged to leave stitches in that ‘aren’t quite right’ and part of the assessment is to try new things and ‘break the rules’. So it is a very liberating, and creative, experience!
Today, we’ll be taking a look at my level 1 metalwork piece, and the padding component of metalwork.
For anyone who has completed any metalwork embroidery, you are probably familiar with the padding element of it!
My koala used only felt and soft string padding. So this was a great exercise in improving those two techniques, learning why the koala didn’t have as smooth a back as possible, and a few other tips along the way. As a side note, the little tid-bits of information Lucy gives you as you work with her for a couple of weeks is fantastic!
We also explored other padding techniques to ensure we have a thorough and well rounded knowledge to approach future pieces.
Wool Felt Padding
Using 100% wool felt, our samplers contained a few different examples of felt padding.
- Single layer
- Multiple layers
- Reverse Padding
Part of the reason for completing a sampler is to learn and develop, and have a reference point for future points in time. This is why the reverse padding sample is so important!
High Relief Padding - Carpet or Bison Felt
I had never used carpet felt padding before, and to be honest, when I had seen it being used at the RSN I was a little daunted by it!
But with Lucy’s great guidance, it is actually quite easy to navigate. Although it is certainly not a ‘tidy’ padding option!
We created little samples with one layer, multiple layers, and as we will use it in our pieces, covered in felt. Our little ‘ravioli’s’!
Soft String Padding
I confess, I do actually quite enjoy soft string padding!
Here we were given guidance on the best type of thread to use as padding, and also how to get the padding the right size to fit our desired shape.
And another few samples: a straight line, a straight line with tapered ends, and a tapered ‘S’ shape.
Hard String Padding
Another new padding technique for me to try! And this was considerably more fiddly than I thought it would be…
My sample here uses parcel string, however I used the thinner cotton thonging for my basketweave sample.
Another new technique! And to be honest, I’m not sure it will ever be used frequently in other pieces I stitch. But, I can see how it would be useful in some designs, which is part of the point of the sampler!
For our experimental padding sample, we were encouraged to use whatever we thought would work! So I tried a few wooden beads – one just stitched straight on, and the others covered in cotton thread. My theory being that you could leave some of the thread to show through if your design call for it.
And that is the 'padding' section of the sampler complete!
Next up, we will look at the various couching techniques and threads.
12 thoughts on “SFSNAD CSP: Metalwork Level 1 – Padding”
Sounds like a very thorough course 🙂
It certainly is, Margaret! Great if you are like me and like all the why’s, how’s and when’s!
That really is getting down into the nitty gritty of these techniques – fascinating!
Thank you for your thorough review of this course! I loved meeting Lucy and Ellice when I was over there to teach for the RSN. Very generous people with a lot of vision!
They are such wonderful people, so generous, encouraging and authentic. Such a great way to spend your time, and a wonderful reminder that truly great people are out there. What they have created is a truly wonderful, encouraging learning space. I learnt more in these two weeks than I previously thought possible for my brain to hold!
Yes, it was a great learning experience. Now to put it into practice!
First of all, glad to see you back, Catherine! Hope all is well for you in Australia. A very interesting read, and wow, that was quite a trip for you; it sounds as though you had a great experience and learned a bunch too!
Thank you, Kathy! 2019 was an interesting year, that’s for sure. And it appears 2020 isn’t going to be any different. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and was looking forward to going back in June. Alas, that will have to wait till things go back to whatever ‘normal’ will end up looking like!
I love the encouragement to try “anything you think might work” – improvisation is a key skill!
It certainly is, and is more difficult than it sounds when you’ve previously been told you have to follow the rules! A vey refreshing and eye opening, if not challenging, experience.
It is great to see all the different techniques – can’t wait to see how you apply these.
Yes, it’s a great way to learn the technique thoroughly so you have a good understanding of everything.