When I heard there was going to be a special exhibition on orchids at Kew Gardens, I knew this was an exhibition I would happily make an effort to see. For those of you not familiar with Kew, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site home to over 50 000 plants and has one of the most diverse plant collections in the world. For the embroiderers, it is a beautiful botanical garden situated nearby Hampton Court palace if you want to sneak some stitching!
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This week, I’ve had a few days away in London, mostly to see the Royal School of Needlework’s ‘Peacock and Pomegranates’ exhibition, but also to enjoy some of what the capital has to offer. One of the great things about London is just how much variety there is in things to do and places to go. For crafters in a lot places, the local yarn shop’s best offering is some sad looking balls of Robin’s acrylic double knit but in London, you’re spoilt for choice.
Shopping in general is also a different experience, with a wealth of glitzy stores housing luxury brands. However, learning a little about garment construction and how to sew a decent seam has made me realise that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors to expensive clothing. I will never fail to be amazed how many ‘top end’ brands still have sloppily overlocked seams and raw edges disintegrating by the day.
However, while managing to get completely lost in the bowels of Harrods, there was something that caught my eye…
This tiny section of beading and feathers is part of a beautiful velvet evening jacket by Ralph and Russo, a British haute couture fashion house. Normally haute couture is a little too bonkers for me but Ralph and Russo’s work is exceptional. The extensive hand embroidery on their pieces is an exhibit of the finest appliqué, beading, and metalwork. Sadly far, far beyond my budget but definitely worth a look at for some design inspiration.
Inspiration for new projects and designs can come from anywhere. Postcards often have excellent subjects for small embroidery designs and architecture can make an interesting starting point for thinking about shapes or maybe a piece of blackwork in its own right. However, there is one theme that is common in all forms of art, from thread painting to Romantic poets, and that is the beauty of the natural world. We were going to the right place to see nature at its finest, Kew Gardens, one of England’s most famous botanical gardens.
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