Tuesday, 7 April 2015

New altar frontal

The Guild of St Clare was delighted to be asked to make a new Marian altar frontal for the parish of SS Gregory and Augustine in Oxford. The fabrics were provided by Watts & Co, and the work was undertaken by our expert seamstress Clare Auty. The result was really splendid, and the new frontal was used for the first time on the feast of the Annunciation at Fr John's EF Mass.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Goldwork Training Day: report

The second of our Goldwork Training Days took place last Saturday, on the 21st March, and a splendid time was had by all. We are very grateful to Sarah and Sue who came all the way from Warrington to teach us. They brought with them their amazing shop, which is always popular!

Several of the group were working on symbols associated with St Clare, in preparation for making a Guild of St Clare banner: you can see some of them in the pictures below.

An abbess's crook

Lucy with her abbey church design

Amanda with tutor Sarah Rakestraw, and Amanda's Monstrance design: Amanda is learning the Or Nue technique to get perfect points on the Monstrance's rays.

Clare's lily

Dorothea's cat - this one won't be used for the banner! A really commendable first attempt at Goldwork.

Dorothea with tutor Sue

Liz with a stylised heart design

Dorothea's cat

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Last reminder for Goldwork Training day on 21st March

We will be holding a Goldwork Training Day with the ladies from Golden Hinde, Warrington this Saturday in the church hall of St Anthony of Padua, between 10am and 4pm. Places cost £60, not including materials (which will be available on the day). Tea and cake will be provided - bring a packed lunch! Please email me if you would like more information, or to book a place.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Lace Day: report

The Guild of St Clare held a further lace training day in Oxford on 14th March. It's great to see several children starting to learn.
Amanda's black lace bracelet with jade beads

Once again Liz Baker came to tutor us - we really are extraordinarily fortunate to have the benefit of her enormous experience and expertise.

We will be holding further lace training days in Oxford - please get in touch if you would like to learn!
Lucy's pink lace bracelet with cream leaves

Clare's black lace leaf motif

Amanda and baby Robert

Frances and Agnes, making lace snake bookmarks

Liz assisting Agnes
Frances and her beautiful handmade bobbin holder

Dorothea and her white lace bracelet with rose quartz beads

Monday, 23 February 2015

Goldwork Training Day: report

We held the first of our two-day Goldwork training days on Saturday 21st February. Several of us were starting Intermediate level techniques, as we have already completed several beginner's projects. We were also happy to welcome two complete beginners.

Embroidering on a slate frame

Couching down soft string for basketweave and cutwork

Couched string on a Monstrance design

Amanda's Monstrance design with couched string, and the beginnings of basketweave with Or Nue

Clare's lily with couched string and basketweave
Dorothea and Agnes display their work at the end of the day

Our next training day is on Saturday, 21st March. All are welcome! Please email lucyashaw@gmail.com to book a place.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Goldwork Training Days

The Guild of St Clare is holding further training in Goldwork, thanks to the expertise of the ladies of Golden Hinde who are travelling from Warrington to continue teaching us.

As we already have some experience in goldwork, we will be introduced to more advanced skills. Beginners are still welcome however!

The course will be spread over two days: 21st February 2015 and 21st March 2015 (please note revised dates), between 10am and 4pm, and will be held at the church hall at St Anthony of Padua, as before. The cost will be £60 per day.

Please email lucyashaw@gmail.com for more information or to book a place.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Guild of St Clare makes lace

We had an enormously successful lace making course at the Fibreworks, Oxford. Our tutor, Liz Baker, isn't only a dedicated and highly skilled lace maker, but also an expert on the history of lace making. Most generously, she is giving her time almost free in order to pass on her skill.

Dorothea adjusts the tension on her work
 Liz's enthusiasm for her art is infectious, and we are all rapidly becoming lace-making addicts. We've certainly begun making a collection of lace-making materials - collecting lace bobbins is a hobby in itself. 

Clare's beautiful purple and gold lace snake

Learning this craft is particularly thrilling because it is so closely connected with the liturgy. Now that our lace snakes are completed, Liz is guiding us through our first independent project, and two of our members are starting work on mantillas. This is something which many people enquiring about the Guild ask us whether we can do. It is such intricate work that I doubt we'll ever go in to industrial production, but anyone who wants to learn to make their own can now do so with us.

The kettle is always on the boil at the Fibreworks...and you can see Dorothea's almost complete snake. 

We were thrilled to discover that there is a vigorous lace making community in Oxford, the Isis Lacemakers. There are at least 50 members of this group, all regular attendees at its twice-monthly meetings. Once a year they have a lace fair, when suppliers and lacemakers from all over the country come together to compete, socialise, buy and sell.

Dorothea's bobbins
We are very fortunate to have their support as we start our voyage on what we all hope will be a lifelong lacemaking journey - like Liz, they are all anxious that their skill should survive and thrive and are willing to expend a lot of their time in helping beginners.

Clare's tension was voted the best of our group: see how evenly spread her threads are
Four of us participated in the original course, booked at the Fibreworks, Oxford. Sadly the shop has now had to close (although the Chipping Norton branch is thriving), and we are continuing our lessons with Liz in our own houses. We have already increased our numbers to six.

Dorothea was the first to finish her snake, and she willingly agreed to complete an unfinished one which had been started by the Fibreworks shop assistant.
I do urge anyone who feels attracted to lace making to take up this hobby, if you can. (If you'd like to do it with us, you would be very welcome! otherwise, we can put you in touch with people local to you who can help.) Of all the many kinds of needlework we have learnt (and by now, we've all had a considerable amount of experience) bobbin lace has the greatest power to engage the heart. It's strangely stirring to learn such an ancient skill - so ancient that no one really knows where it came from, or when. More than that, lace making needs us. Here is Liz Baker on the subject:

It is with a real sense of sadness I attend lace fairs now because so many of the great suppliers are long gone and whilst some excellent new blood has come into the craft if we are honest we are watching this skill slowly die a horrible death in the UK.  When I joined back in 1990, the Lace Guild was the second largest guild in the UK, only just short in numbers to the sugarcraft guild.  Those halcyon days are long gone and whilst there are some fantastic pockets of the art ... many groups are struggling to find enough people to keep themselves viable.  We are not teaching this art at schools - despicable when you think how it helped to fund education in the early lace schools through the girls learning to make lace and read with maths taught to the boys, and here in one of the lace regions of England - Beds / Bucks children are not taught it as a skill.  The average age of lacemakers in the UK is 40+ and if we are honest it's really 50+ and I'm just being generous.

I beg any lacemaker out there who finds an even mildly interested person younger than them to superglue them to a chair and force them to learn the craft so it will live on.

Me, superglued to my chair. Just where I want to be!