SFSNAD's Comprehensive Studies Programme
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.