Last week saw the closing days of another Jessie Chorley Workshop at Les Soeurs Anglaises. Jessie's unique style of working and teaching make her a firm favourite with participants and it seemed to be a particularly exciting and creative five days this time round. The fact that we walked straight into an Indian Summer, might have helped, with plenty of sunshine allowing us to eat out every day and organise, a picnic lunch beside gorgeous local ponds - a first and something we hope to make a regular event.
Jessie brought with her an individual project bag for each participant containing, amongst other ephemera, a delicate handkerchief with the date personally hand-stitched. On this each person worked their own motif before passing it along to the next person to add theirs. By the end of the five days each participant had a beautiful multi-stitched souvenir to take away with them. Meanwhile, they worked on their main project which in most cases was a unique and beautiful "book-box". It was hard to drag some of the ladies away for meals, but once separated from their work there was time to go for a dip in one of the pools, or just sit and chat in the dappled sunshine.
Two of those present were winners of LSA's past competitions. Lizz Harding won last year's Hare competition; and Claire Sounes, whose wonderfully stitched contributions to the Cambodian Childrens Fund Textile Quilt (soon to be auctioned on Ebay - watch this space) wowed our workshop leaders. Both have since sent us messages of thanks:
"Having just completed a textile foundation course at Morley College, London, coming to Les Soeurs Anglaises to do Jessie Chorley's workshop was a much needed and welcome creative break. With beautiful blue skies to greet us, there was a seemingly endless supply of fantastic food to keep us fuelled for days of stitching and making in the glorious open and spacious studio. I was in heaven! Such great company, too. It was lovely to make new, like-minded friends and have fun working together with guidance from such a fantastic and generous teacher. Jessie gave us all the individual attention and inspiration we needed and I have learnt so much in such a short time. A big thank you to LSA for making it possible." Lizz Harding 'I had the great fortune to win a workshop at Les Soeurs Anglais and spent an idyllic week on a workshop run by the super talented Jessie Chorley. With a very friendly group of fellow makers I stitched away in Les Soeurs Anglaises' stunning converted barn looking out at expansive views of the remarkable French countryside. We enjoyed delicious food throughout the five days, including a memorable picnic. The sun shone everyday, making it warm enough to swim in the two open air pools but there was also time to visit local markets and shops where I found some wonderful linen. I came away feeling refreshed, relaxed and inspired to use the techniques I learnt at the workshop. A truly memorable and special week.' Claire Sounes
Jessie may well be "supervising" our Open Studio event next year. Information about it will be on our new calendar, available on our website within the next few weeks. We'll keep you posted.
For those of you looking for a suitable late summer/early autumn pinafore the below might be just the ticket. Hand-made by Les Soeurs Anglaises in 100% vintage, red gingham linen found recently at a local brocante. Below knee length and loose enough to be worn with a shirt underneath (not included in price) or with a little cardigan on top.
Call me an old sentimentalist but having such a wonderful wedding here recently got me daydreaming about what I might wear if I was twenty (thirty?) years younger and planning a big wedding celebration here at Les Soeurs Anglaises;a sort of brain candy exercise. It would be really interesting to hear whatyou would wear and how you would celebrate if you were six months away from the Big Day .....
Balenciago 2006 Yohji Yamamoto 1999
Bienenkiste, Irving Penn for Vogue US 1995 Comme des Garcons 1990
? Talk about princess for a day...... and beautiful bridesmaids
Carol, Les Soeur's transport co-ordinator and wedding organiser extraordinaire (many of you who have visited us in the past will know her well as the cheeky, little sister) is now taking bookings for weddings next year and 2016 at Les Soeurs Anglaises through her company, Simply French Weddings. Interestingly she comments,
"Although white is the classic colour for a bride, other colour is always a very important part of the celebrations. Each wedding might begin with the bride-to-be describing her favourite colours, and with these as a foundation we can design almost every aspect of her wedding - choosing the flowers, table linens, the decorations for l'Espace (Les Soeurs' beautiful venue), lighting, food, seating etc. Colour is a powerful ingredient which we love synchronising with the greens and flower shades from LSA's amazing mature gardens as a backdrop!"
If you're helping to plan a wedding for someone you love sometime in the near future you might like to visit the artful Jessie Chorley's shop in Columbia Road, London where she makes her unique handmade wedding invites, seating plans, wedding albums and other bespoke celebratory items. All of which can be treasured and/or framed once the Big Day is over. And if you think you might like Jessie to show you how to make your own, we still have one place left on Jessie's workshop, Usable Treasures, here from the 2nd to 9th September.
Until then, here are few items that have caught my eye and might stir your interest.
I recently bought for my darling grandson a hand-made mobile of seagulls from a Japanese stylist and designer living in France, Masami Akatsuka. It currently hovers below the lamp in his bedroom and he absolutely adores it. Masami has a website shop, Cocon, and her work is utterly collectable whether you are considering a gift for a young friend or member of the family, or just love beautiful things..
On Sunday 14th September, there is another Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair in London. I am a complete sucker for most things 50s, and have been to a couple of these Fairs in the past where I managed to pick up some really fun (and very wearable) clothing and fabric. Considering the quality and workmanship that went into most clothing 50 years ago, the prices are remarkably reasonable - definitely worth a visit if you are in town.
To be perfectly honest, I don't follow many blogs, but I am a great fan of Austin Kleon, whose book, Steal Like an Artist, was a revelation (I gave a couple of copies away to crafter friends who are now also fans). In his last post he published a quote from John Green, whose most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, became TIME’s #1 fiction book of the year. I think his words apply as much to artists and crafters as they do to would-be writers:
"Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts. Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won't - and if they don't notice, it may be frustrating, but ultimately that doesn't change a thing - because your responsibility is not to the people you're making the gift for but to the gift itself."
A stitcher and quilter I have long admired, Cas Holmes, whose consistently beautiful work has won numerousawards rather than money (I'm guessing) down the years is currently visiting Australia whereGlenys Mannof Fibre Arts Australia has organised various exhibitions for her, one at Warwick Art Gallery, Queensland - I suggest you get there to see it if you can, you won't be disappointed.
If can't travel to Australia for an exhibition just at the moment but you're into things small and beautiful, you might like this tiny, vintage shirt discovered recently at a local brocante. Made of finest voile and perfect in every detail, this is a shirt-maker's prototype that would have been shown to potential customers as an example of the finished, full-size man's shirt. $40 (£29)