Not sure what to expect from our embroidery masterclass? We caught up with Royal School of Needlework Tutor, Chrissie Juno Mann to uncover what’s included in this special stitching session. Find out more about the techniques and what it’s like teaching in our Great Hall, as well as the inspiration for this year’s chosen design.
Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I’ve always stitched, since I was very young. As a young adult I kept it as a hobby and explored other areas of the creative arts, including doing an MA in Restoration and Conservation of the Decorative Arts. The Royal School of Needlework offers a programme whereby you can train to be a Future Tutor for the school at Hampton Court Palace. It is the only way to teach there, and so I decided to embark on this and qualified after three years with a Distinction. I now teach both at the Royal School of Needlework in Hampton Court Palace and at their satellite centre in Bristol, and I do a range of day classes for them at various locations. However, as I live along the south coast, I also teach independently and run my own classes with other organisations such as Parham House, which I enjoy immensely.
What is involved in the Embroidery Masterclass?
Students who attend the Embroidery Masterclass will surprise themselves with what they can achieve. They will learn a number of different and varied stitches using techniques such as ribbon work, stumpwork, goldwork and crewelwork. Within a short space of time, a number of skills will be acquired and they will start to complete a set piece, the Espalier Pear Tree. Embroidery can appear daunting to some, but it is a skill that we all innately have in some form or another. It is just a matter of patience and practice!
What can visitors expect?
First and foremost, students can expect to have a fun and enjoyable day with other like-minded people! They will be provided with a kit containing all the materials needed for the day, including printed high quality linen, various yarns, ribbon and gold thread and a full and detailed instruction booklet, so that they can confidently complete their projects at home. They can also expect to be well fed, with a wonderful lunch by the Parham House chef.
Why did you choose this particular piece for the Masterclass?
I specifically designed the Espalier Pear Tree for the Parham House Embroidery Masterclass, as I have explored the wonderful walled Garden at Parham. Parham is also well known for its ancient and alluring espalier fruit trees, which were the bases of my inspiration. I’m told that the word “Parham” means “pear enclosure”!
How different is it teaching a Masterclass at Parham?
Working within historic Parham House is a wonderful experience. The beautiful, light, south-facing Great Hall with its large fireplace and vast windows makes an ideal and privileged situation for stitching. The beautiful landscape of the South Downs can be seen all around, and the space has a wonderful atmosphere. In a romantic mind like mine, it conjures up nostalgic notions of Elizabethan ladies of the past filling their days with the simple pursuit of embroidery.
How much experience do attendees need to have?
As long as someone knows how to thread a needle they will be fine! The kit by request has some challenges, but a confident beginner right through to a more experienced stitcher will enjoy the day. After all, my job is to make sure that everyone learns the stitches and goes home feeling like they have achieved something new.
Do you have any advice for those new to embroidery?
Come and give it a go! Embroidery is such a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby. It is great for relaxation and it’s soothing to the mind. It fills dark evenings or sunny days. You don’t have to ever feel guilty about sitting around in a comfortable chair in a sunny corner of the house, as you are busy gaining skills and confidence, enjoying design, colour, process and keeping your mind active and engaged! And there is a whole world of social interaction out there associated with embroidery, from exhibitions to the Embroiderer’s Guild, talks, lessons and shows.
There are so many different aspects to embroidery, so if you don’t like one thing then there are many other techniques to try. There is something to suit everyone – so I encourage you to give it a go and see how easy it is to get addicted to stitching!
For more information or to book your place on the Embroidery Masterclass click here.