Royal School of Needlework

First day back at the RSN

Hampton Court Palace has opened its doors again and the RSN is open for business albeit with classes of six students all socially distancing of course.

There were four of us there on the first day back and we quickly became the poster girls for the RSN’s return – we had our photos taken and were asked for a short comment that they could publish. The following appeared on Facebook the next day.

Today, after much planning at RSN Hampton Court Palace, we were thrilled to welcome back our first class of Certificate & Diploma in Technical Hand Embroidery students, with RSN Tutor Rachel Doyle. Our students said, “When I returned to the RSN, after a four month break due to lockdown, I felt very rusty, but my Tutor, Rachel, was so patient and understanding that there was no need to worry.” And another said, “Absolutely thrilled to be back at the RSN…already today I have learned two new techniques to jump start my Diploma Stumpwork unit! Thanks.” Meanwhile Rachel said, “It’s so great to be back at the RSN after such a long break. Both the students and myself, the Tutor, took up our needles like we had never left!” With rebookings and full classes coming up, as well as new students starting their RSN C&D journey, we look forward to seeing many more happy faces in the near future!

RSN Diploma – Canvas Stitches

In September 2019 I started my Canvas Stitches unit of the Diploma. For my subject I decided to recreate a photo of the Little Church in Guernsey which I had seen on a visit to the island in the summer. The church was started in 1928 by a priest who used broken china in mosaic fashion to cover the outside and inside of the tiny building.

I loved all the colour of the walls and steps and I thought it would be good to bring these out in the canvas stitches but it turned out that the trees surrounding the small church took centre stage in the design and the only place to highlight the colours was in the mosaic shapes in the steps. I think it works. It was ready to submit for marking just before Easter 2020 but we all know what happened then and we have not been back to the RSN since!

In the Diploma world we are allowed to back our mounted work with any fabric we choose. I thought this broken dishes print with lots of colours was perfect for the mosaics of the church.

RSN Diploma – Applique unit

For most of 2019 I worked on the Applique unit of my RSN Diploma course. For this I chose to replicate a greeting card of two parrots sitting in foliage with a mandela in the background. Being a quilter I thought the applique unit would be fairly easy for me, which it was, but there was a three dimensional aspect to the project (eg Stumpwork leaves) that I had never encountered in quilts before. I also had to figure out how to gild the leaves in the foreground, how to make the branch and what to use for the parrots gnarly claws etc. I love Persephone and Pamela and they netted me my highest mark yet.


RSN Certificate in Hand Embroidery

In January 2017, I started the Certificate in Hand Embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) based at Hampton Court Palace. It has been a joy to attend the classes as, not only have I met some fabulous people and seen some amazing embroidery, but I get to walk about Henry VIII’s historic palace as if I belong. The RSN runs a lovely little, but well stocked, embroidery shop which is a must for lunchtime visits. Speaking of lunch – the grounds of HCP are just perfect for our hour long break alfresco.

The first unit in the Certificate for everyone is Jacobean Embroidery – the student also learns how to set up a slate frame and how to mount the embroidery at the end. The brief for the project defines a limited colour palette but the range of motifs and stitches is much broader.
This was my favourite project by far – Roald Amundsen in Blackwork. I love the stories of polar exploration and when I saw a photo of Amundsen in sepia I knew I could try to duplicate it in Blackwork.

This is a picture of me pointing to my Roald Amundsen Blackwork embroidery hanging in the RSN’s Faces and Figures Exhibition which opened in September 2019. (As of this writing (July 2020) my piece is still hanging there because Covid-19 closed HCP and the exhibition hadn’t been dismantled at that point.)
A lot of Certificate students are nervous (make that scared) of Silk Shading in which you have to depict a flower or a fruit. I chose to stitch a hanging begonia and I did so in a two week intensive course in July 2017.
I took a picture of a lizard during a holiday in Australia in September/October 2017 and decided he’s be a good study for my Goldwork unit. I really like this little guy!
On July 1st, 2019 I received my RSN Certificate (with Merit) under a tree in the lovely grounds of Hampton Court Palace – so proud!