Last week I attended a workshop at Cockpit Arts (http://www.cockpitarts.com) called Make a Hand Embroidered Map of London. The class was hosted by textile artist Ekta Kaul (http://www.ektakaul.com). Ekta was a fantastic teacher. She was very knowledgeable about her subject and had many years experience working in her field. She was clearly very passionate about her subject area and shared lots of her experiences and previous work with us.
We started the class by completing a sampler of various stitches including running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, french knots, couching and satin stitch. Ekta gave very clear instructions on how to do each stitch and demonstrated them slowly enough for us to be able to follow along. I was unfamiliar with a couple of these and it was good to have a refresher on the others. It was also good to have a practice and get into the rhythm of it before starting on the proper piece.
The map of London that we had to embroider was hand drawn by Ekta and printed onto fabric. The idea was to use the stitches you had just practiced to highlight areas of the map, such as parks, the river and the various landmarks such as St Paul’s cathedral, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. There was a large selection of coloured thread to choose from, however I only got to choose one as we spent such a long time on the sampler that in the end we only had about 45 minutes to work on the main project. Embroidery is quite a slow process which requires precision and patience. I started with the parks but I only managed to complete one and a half before it was time to pack up. It would have been nice if the class had been a bit longer, or less time was spent on the sampler, as it was a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon and I think I would have felt a greater sense of achievement if I had completed more of the map.
It would also have been nice to have been able to take the embroidery hoop home. The hoop stretches out the bit of fabric you are working on, keeping to taut to make it easier to sew. I’ve continued working on my map, but I had to go and buy myself a hoop. They don’t cost very much, mine was £3.90 from my local haberdashery. I have seen them cheaper on Amazon (although they would probably end up being a similar price by the time you add postage), but I think it would have been a nice touch to send students home with the equipment they need to carry on.
Having said that, it was good to have a project to take home and continue working on. Often during craft workshops you finish the piece and then don’t practice the skill you learnt again. I spent all my spare time this week working on my map as I wanted to get it finished, however I think if you were short on time but wanted to carry on with embroidery each section of the map would make a nice mini project to work on if you had a spare hour or two on a Sunday or in the evening watching TV. Ekta suggested that once it’s finished it could either be framed to hang on the wall or made into a cushion.
Cockpit Arts Holborn was really easy to get to. It’s really close to both Holborn and Chancery Lane tube stations. I got the train into Farringdon and walked from there which took about 15 minutes. I booked the class through Obby (http://www.obby.co.uk). They have hundreds of classes available on there, not just for craft but for all kinds of things. I thought the booking system was really easy to use and they provided good information about the class and also sent a reminder email as well. The class cost £69 and lasted two hours.