A few of the more adventurous took a walk along the beach towards the distant lighthouse - just in time to meet a light shower of rain and hurry back to shelter.
Fresh little lemon flowers dotted the dunes. Aren't they gorgeous?
Back in Leslie-Ann's studio, after a warm welcome of tea and muffins, we were treated to seeing a host of embroidered treasures. Some of you may recognize the Ndebele designs on the Biscornu and needlebook that Leslie-Ann taught a few years ago at the Ighali festival in Fish Hoek.
Below is one of Leslie-Ann's many samplers. It is embroidered with Queen stitch, a stitch extremely popular in the 17th Century. It's a counted thread stitch that is interesting to work and it gives a very distinctive texture that reminds me a little of clusters of crocheted stitches.
Penny Cornell came well prepared and before lunch organized a short workshop on covering and wrapping tubes and balls.
These can be used as embellishments on embroideries. Or they can be dangled to create elaborate tassels.
Leslie-Ann is working on a long term project to cover a wooden box with embroidered panels in the style of 17th century embroidered caskets. She has embroidered several smaller projects to study various techniques in preparation for this big undertaking.
The white silk pincushion above is embroidered with counted thread stitches. You may wonder how it was possible to do counted thread work on satin. Leslie-Ann explained that she worked over a very fine waste canvas. She commented that it's tricky to use a sharp needle over waste canvas without piercing the canvas threads and then remove the waste threads without damaging the silk fabric or the silk embroidery threads.
Laced to it's frame was the beautiful silk and goldwork embroidery destined for covering the mirror. That was until Leslie-Ann discovered with horror that the linen had stretched after the design had been transferred and it is now too big to fit the frame of the mirror! I think we can all sympathize with that awful discovery. Now Leslie-Ann is planning to cut out parts of this embroidery and use them to make traditional Christmas decorations. Then she will start over again by first stretching the linen and only then transferring the design for the mirror project.
Alongside the mirror project, the designs for Leslie-Ann's replica casket are being planned and drawn up. The drawings are then auditioned on a cardboard mock-up of the box which you can see below.
The high point of the afternoon was when Leslie-Ann explained more about the intricacies of the casket project. She carefully unpacked and the wooden box that will eventually be covered with embroidery and showed us how it all fits together.
The box comes apart like a puzzle.
It has lots of little drawers and some very intriguing secret compartments that are cleverly hidden in unexpected places.
Below are the little brass fittings that will trim the box and hold it together. They have been authentically molded and cast from an original 17th century embroidered casket. It was quite fascinating to see the tiny drawer handles and the ornate hinges for the doors that close up the front of the box.
Finally, before boarding the bus for the trip back to Cape Town, we were treated to a scrumptious tea. Who could resist that delicious looking carrot cake and those juicy koeksusters? Twenty one smiling embroiderers agreed that it was a wonderful day and we all left feeling much inspired.
You can find out more about Leslie-Ann's embroidered casket and the related projects on Tricia Wilson Nguyen's outstanding historical embroidery blog The Embroiderer's Story. There are many interesting posts on the the research that Tricia has carried out to source and even manufacture threads and hardware in order to make authentic replica caskets.
For more photos of the CEG outing visit their Facebook page here. Scroll down and click through the photos. There are two lots of photos and plenty to see and read about that lovely day.
Leslie-Ann would love to find another embroiderer in South Africa who is working on a similar casket. Either leave a comment below or email me at lynette[dot]warner[at]gmail[dot]com if you know of someone and I will put you in touch with her.
Till next time, happy stitching!