June, Leigh and I developed Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences at Great Horton Village Hall on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th February. We set ourselves up in the medium sized space close to the kitchen area, Leigh laying out our embroidery hoops, threads and scissors, and fabrics. Myself and June Hill in the kitchen getting some mugs ready for coffee and plates of biscuits. Leigh and June had introduced the project the previous Monday 11th February, so it was really great to see some people come in, actually holding their blue plaques that they wanted to develop further.
Leigh has set up the workshops so there are a logical series and progression of step-by-step processes being taken. It is a structured method, which is helpful in building clearness around what is expected of people as they take part in the project.
There is preparation work before embroidery begins. First of all an embroidery hoop – a range of sizes are presented on a table – is chosen. Leigh has already secured some blue fabric into the hoops before the session began. Then a piece of A4 paper is collected, and a correct size circle is traced out onto the paper – quite simply drawing around the embroidery hoop – with a pencil. Taking the printed out alphabets, participants then write out their thoughts, comments and feelings about place or personal experiences of neighborliness onto the paper, within the circle, tracing around each letter individually, gradually building up letter forms to spell out their words and phrases. This ensures that the writing is large and bold (easier to sew) and also reflects the font used in actual blue plaques. After this is complete, the writing is traced out onto tracing paper and then pinned onto the blue fabric stretched within the embroidery frame. I wonder, in the future, I should take some really clear photographs which demonstrates all these processes – which maybe useful when we come to designing our ‘downloadable resources pack’ almost like the photos you may get in a cookery book perhaps?
I believe the majority of people at the workshop had been to the Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences workshop with June the week before, and had got to the stage of sewing into the tracing paper and transferring each letter onto the blue fabric. I have tried this method before at home, and I always love the surprise of ripping away the tracing paper after embroidering, to see the text beneath. After general introductions, people sat around the circular tables, and quietly carried on sewing, with murmurs of conversation occasionally punctuating the quietness of the room.
A little girl, who had not been to the previous weeks workshop, appeared through the doors. She sat next to me, and we started her own Blue Plaques together. She had not been to the previous weeks workshop. I tried to explain the project to her and then helped her to sew, she was very patient, and after some time, she got better and better at it. It was great for me, to be hands-on with the project in this way.
And then quite suddenly the session seemed to be over. Tables were packed away, chairs stacked, items tidied into our plastic tub and it was 3pm and time to leave our space.
It seems that to have continuity between workshops, was a real asset, to working at Great Horton Village Hall. I suppose at first there is quite a lot of newness to be involved in a project with which you are unfamiliar, that maybe be a little intimidating. But after just one session everyone seemed very settled, both in the space and their stitch work. They obviously knew what they were doing, and I felt, almost the feeling of a type of ‘club’ was emerging, and I wondered if this is something that may continue and become stronger through subsequent session we hold there.
A Note from Leigh:
It was very useful to be able to catch up with June and Claire again and we discussed a few things the project needed:
A poster for the Great Horton Community Stitch Event – I will make this using photographs from the previous sessions which Claire will send me via dropbox.
An Eventbrite for people to sign up to the Stitch Event – This will allow us to obtain numbers and cater for the group size. It also means we can cap the event at up to 50 people, so as not to crowd the space.
These would need to be put together by the next day in order for June and Claire to be able to take them along to The Bradford Soup the following day to promote the event.
As I had missed a previous workshop due to illness, I still want to give the time I would have been there to the project, and so we agreed that my attendance at the Stitch Event would be the best way to do this – it would allow June to concentrate on the catering, I could take lead on helping with the practical stitching and Claire could focus on recording the event (e.g. video, photos, feedback).