ABOUT JB STUMPWORK
I left Brownies having completed a hemmed tray cloth for my stitching badge. The stitching was appalling but at least I learned that a thimble just got in the way.
I left High School after four years with an incomplete apron. I learned from that it is essential to have a good needlework teacher who is interested in pupils and would give them confidence to progress a project.
BUT when I left art school I had the stimulation to continue to discover the world of textiles and design. All thanks to my wonderful teacher, Mrs Hopkinson. My paint brushes were abandoned for the needle. Anything and everything I could stab a needle through did not escape my enthusiasm.
Years passed and due to bringing up a family and travelling around the country chasing a career, I lost touch with the stitching world. So, I decided that I wanted to bring back the fulfilment of my youth and joined the local college to undertake a City and Guilds course in Embroidery.
Part of this course touched on Stumpwork as it is an important part of embroidery history although at the time it was practically non existent. This small piece of history triggered my imagination. I started with the usual stuffed piece and needle weave garments and casing. All very fine but I found copying the 17th century technique rather repetitive after a time although it was wonderful for ground work, I wanted a challenge. I was determined to produce crusty, more sculptured pieces. So that is what I spent all my attention on designing and producing.
My creative reputation began to spread. Soon needlework groups were inviting me to teach them the skill I had. Commission work started being requested. Every waking hour became the joy of working on the challenge of an obscure request. A tractor, a builder’s bum.
My work was seen by the curator at Norwich Castle Museum and a piece of commission work to reproduce a 17th century piece is now on permanent display in the Living History Gallery.
I am currently working on a 17th century stumpwork casket for display in Strangers Hall museum in Norwich.
As a result of my work being shown in galleries and giving demonstrations at historical events, I have been persuaded to take up full time teaching. It is very rewarding sharing my knowledge with other people and I am delighted that I am helping to keep the skill of stumpwork alive.