17th July – CommunityWorks (Session 2/2)

The second session was on the 17th July, almost a month after the first, but the group were just as keen to get stuck in again as they were the first time. After speaking with Julia from Bradford College, we were keen to really focus on Bradford and it’s Blue Plaques in the second session. In the lead up, I put together some information on Bradford’s Blue Plaques (file below), stitched a hoop specifically for CommunityWorks, and created a simple feedback form for the participants to fill in if they wished. We also wanted to focus more on group activity and so brought back to big blue table cloth for collaborative stitching.

We presented the women with the blank blue table cloth and asked them to think about their favourite places within Bradford. The discussion soon began to snowball, after a few of the group members mentioned their favourite spots it encouraged others to start thinking of theirs too.

With the help from ESOL tutors and volunteers, we were able to hold small group discussions about the types of Blue Plaques that can be found within Bradford, using the examples I prepared and printed for the session as a talking point. This helped everyone understand the ideas and themes behind the table cloth a little better. Whilst speaking to one group member, June was told that she loves Bradford, that a family member lives in another UK city but she was not a fan, that Bradford made her feel safe.

I spoke with ‘S’, who was new to the Bradford area when she attended the first session in June. She was excited and proud to tell us that she had continued to work on her embroidery at home and had almost completed it. ‘S’ chose to include her Mosque on the table cloth because it was a calm, quiet place she felt at peace in a busy city. In the first session, ‘S’ was nervous about trying a new skill (embroidery) and was great at asking lots of questions and asking for support. In the second session, it was wonderful to see that her confidence in her stitching abilities had grown as she dove straight into adding to the cloth without hesitation.

Some other examples added to the cloth were Peel Park and The Alhambra Theatre. One of the unexpected choices was a specific supermarket, where one of the ladies loves to do her grocery shopping. I think it is really interesting to have a place others may not consider anything special being highlighted on the cloth as a favourite place to visit.

In preparation for the second workshop, I also created a large scale Blue Plaque for CommunityWorks itself using freehand machine embroidery. June spoke to individuals and asked them to add reasons they keep coming back to the centre. At the end of the session, two of the ESOL group member’s spoke with Nabila and they would like to finish the embroidery on the Plaque over the summer and work together to do so, passing it between themselves to get it completed so that it could hang in CommunityWorks for visitors to see.

Other’s in the group opted to continue work on their individual Blue Plaques and were pleased to be able to take them home, along with the hoops for framing.

June and I had a great experience working with CommunityWorks and both their Women’s group and ESOL class. The work the dedicated volunteers and tutors do is amazing. CommunityWorks as a whole, those who work there and those who attend, is a prime example of how a community can come together to help one another out. They are a credit to Bradford and are examples of exactly why we wanted to start Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences in this city.

19th June – CommunityWorks (Session 1/2)

After speaking with an ESOL tutor at Great Horton Village we were put in touch with Bradford College and Communityworks. Communityworks is a wonderful hub of activity in the Undercliffe area of Bradford. We were fortunate to be invited to run a Blue Plaque workshop with their Wednesday women’s group.

The first session was on the 19th June and ran from 1pm-2.30pm. June and I arrived around 12.30pm to set up and were greeted by Nabila who talked to us about the women’s group. Members started to arrive and Linda from Bradford College joined us. We handed out refreshments and said hello to everyone individually before beginning.

Once the group had arrived we introduced ourselves and the project everyone,with the great support from Nabila who kindly translated to the ESOL group who had also joined us for the session. We showed examples of different Blue Plaques and why they exist. We asked the group to think about a place, person or event, that they felt was worthy of acknowledgement. Many chose to honour a person in their life, whether that be a family member or friend. The first part of the session was hindered a little by the paperwork required by the college and ourselves, but everyone seemed to settle into it pretty quickly.

We asked everyone to select a square of blue fabric, a hoop and handed out information on how to create a back stitch, plain paper and pencils to plan with. A lot of the group already had previous and skilled embroidery experience and so began to work straight into the fabric, others chose to plan on paper before feeling confident to move onto the fabric.

It was amazing to see so many people (all 20 hoops I bought in advance of the workshop were snapped up very quickly!) working together. More advanced stitchers helped beginners and conversation of who or where they were creating their hoops for flowed throughout the room.

As everyone stitched away, June and I gave support to anyone who needed it. I helped ‘N’ who had never stitched before get started on their plaque, which was for their son and husband. They were unsure at first and kept asking me to do it for them, but after showing them what to do and encouraging them to try it, they quickly got the hang of it and made steady, neat progress. I moved around the room to help others and when I returned, ‘N’ had stitched a full letter with help from another group member.

Toward the end of the session the group were then served more refreshments and food. We asked individuals if they’d like to take their hoops home to continue, which some of them did with additional thread given to them, and others opted to leave them at CommunityWorks for the next session. The feedback we received from the group was positive, many saying they enjoyed having time to pick up a craft they no longer have time for at home, or learning a new skill.

Feedback and Comments

Handwritten feedback from ‘comments’ book left out during workshops

Surprisingly enjoyable, I’ve never tried embroidery before but have quite enjoyed myself! WILL RECOMMEND! – L

I’ve never tried embroidery before and I can’t sew very well, but I had fun, it was enjoyable and relaxing – Zack

Very relaxing and enjoyable. Definitely enjoyed trying it and happy with my creativity. – Enrique

I visited The Storehouse Café and met the lovely ladies sewing. It was a pleasure to chat to them about the project and be inspired. I’m looking forward to sewing my blue plaques and flying the flag for Bradford. Thank you for being so welcoming and inspiring – Lizzie

Nice and relaxing experience, really kind and friendly to stewards the children and myself.

Very welcoming and relaxing. I am enjoying learning something new and everyone is really nice.

Relaxing, friendly and encouraging!

Very enjoyable, leaned a lot, had a good time. – Joan

I’ve really enjoyed these workshops and liked the positive theme for our community, thank you 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed these embroidery classes, I’m pleased with the end result and also learned a new skill 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed developing my needlework skills in such good company.

I have had a fab time and enjoyed doing my zed one and I’m coming along really good.

Group Stitch Event

Really lovely, relaxed environment run by nice people. Hope to attend this type of event on a regular basis.

I had such a lovely relaxing time. Perfect music, snacks and company while creating. So much so that we didn’t want to go home! Thank you so much xx

I’ve really enjoyed this session and doing something different in a group. Thank you! xx

Blue Plaques for All

When looking at the future dates of workshops at Great Horton Village Hall, we realised that one would coincide with school half term. We therefore anticipate that children may be in attendance to the workshop that week and wondered how to best prepare. I put together a simple work sheet that asks children to create their own blue plaques. These can be handed out at the workshop and left in Great Horton Village library for children to access at other times outside the workshop times.

We think it is important to involve all ages in the project and allow it to be accessible by adjusting the activity to suit. This could be included in the free downloadable pack we intend on producing in the future.

Whilst creating promotional materials for the project I have tried to keep a consistent look and brand by using the same font, colour palette and imagery throughout.

The Big Blue Plaque!

When we first started the project we look at the idea of encouraging group work, or having many people working on one piece. This could be working on one piece of cloth at the same time, or having the public contributing a small amount of stitch to fabric within their own time when they come across it.

At The Storehouse Cafe we have cosy corner to display the plaques created during our workshops there. As well as the small exhibition, we have decided to leave a larger hoop for those who pass through the cafe to add small sentiments to. Patrons of The Storehouse Cafe tend to be more transient, passing through or only staying to visit for a short while whilst they eat lunch. By adding a small amount to a larger project, it allows an opportunity to engage in the project without having to commit to a whole embroidered plaque, which can take many hours of stitching.

During our workshop at The Storehouse Cafe on the 6th February, I started ‘The Big Blue Plaque’ by stitching the words ‘positive experiences’ across the middle in the hopes it would encourage others to do some stitching themselves.

June and I decided it would be appropriate to create an information sheet with what we would like participants to do, and some instructions on creating a back stitch for first time embroiderers. This will be printed double sided on A4 by Claire and left alongside the big blue plaque.

These instructions can be used as a teaching guide in future workshops, as well as be included in our free downloadable pack.

The Storehouse Cafe – 30th January 2019

Today’s workshop was a very quiet one. Although June and I were ready at 11am, it seemed that the foot traffic at The Storehouse did not pick up until around 12.30pm, and even then those visiting seemed to be on lunch breaks. We considered that perhaps starting the large group embroidery earlier than the set up of Cosy corner may be a good idea, as it would give the opportunity to join in to those with shorter visits to The Storehouse Cafe.

I started by hooping up a mix of hand dyed linen and blue cotton fabrics in two sizes so that any future participants could select their fabric and just start working straight away. After this, June and I worked on our individual blue plaques and discussed how to better promote future workshops. June said she would get in touch with a friend and local textile artist named Hannah, who may have some connections in Bradford who could help. I agreed to search online for local craft groups, or other groups that may meet in the week, and send them emails inviting them along to the last workshop at The Storehouse and the following workshops at Great Horton Village Hall.

Although we did not have any new participants this week, I do feel that seeing June and working in the space was beneficial as it gave us time to consider our next steps in promotion.