The Gawthorpe Textiles collection is one of the heritage gems of the North West of England. It deserves to be better known. Fabulous embroidery, quilts, lace and costume. The collection is housed at Gawthorpe Hall, a lovely JacobeanNational Trust property in Padiham, not far from Burnley.
This year they are running a series of artist-led workshops. Eager to try something new I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon at a knitted wire jewellery workshop. The workshops are held in the lovely library which was very tantalising as there were so many enticing textile history lining the room. However there wasn’t time to browse as we had a project to complete during the afternoon.
The workshop was led by textile artist Claire Ketteman who inspired us by showing some head-dresses she had made for dance performances. Check out her lovely blog, Textile Alchemy.
Our project for the afternoon was a pair of earrings in the form of fuchsia flowers. First we tried out knitting with wire. For many of us, including me, a big part of the pleasure of knitting is the tactile enjoyment of lovely soft yarn so knitting with fine wire is a very different type of experience.We were provided reels of red and purple copper wire to make the fuchsia flowers. I didn’t quite finish a pair but I’m proud of the one I made! (below)
The earring hooks, wires and beads were provided and Claire helped those of us who were new to jewellery making put the earrings together. They dangle just like real fuchsia flower heads do. You can see a perfect example on Claire’s blog.
I haven’t been to many knitting workshops – a couple at Rowan in Holmfirth – and this one. But when I do I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. There is something about sitting round a big table with needles and yarn that is very conducive to amiable chatter.
As well as workshops the Gawthorpe programme also includes ‘Exploration Days’ with opportunities to look closer at parts of the collection with a curator. Sessions on lace, quilts and embroidery are coming up this summer – I’m sure they’ll be a real treat for historic textile enthusiasts.