Being Creative With The Lovely Julie Arkell

My Workshop Brooch,Rocking Dog

My Workshop Brooch

Almost a week has whizzed by and I haven’t talked about the wonderful workshop I attended last weekend. I headed to Highgate, London on Saturday morning to meet a textile (papier mache and mosaic) hero of mine. Julie Arkell was in residence for the last workshop at Selvedge’s old premises.

Twelve or so of us sat around a huge square work bench whilst Julie demonstrated in little chunks how to make a woolly brooch. The inspiration for the brooch had come to Julie from a wartime picture of a child wearing a pretty simple little piece of jewellery. We cut card (never ever use scissors destined for cutting fabric), we chose a fabric scrap and complementary wools. We delighted in tales of Julie’s career path, the angst of American customs, Julie’s heroes and making craft pay. It was all very gentle, chatting as we sewed, cut and deliberated. Very soon we had sweet brooches that had been embellished with felt flowers and french knots. My brooch was very much a homage to wartime, with a striped blue, white and red fabric together with simple poppies. I want to eventually complete it with a transfer print of my dad in his WW11 naval uniform.

A delicious lunch broke the morning and afternoon’s sewing. There was more textile talk and it was interesting to hear how Julie’s work had changed over the years. I became aware of her work in the 1990’s when I was given some money to choose a piece of jewellery in Bristol’s now defunct Ginger Gallery. I selected a paper mache and mosaic heart which I still adore wearing. Over the years I have been fortunate to have been gifted other pieces.

Julie’s jewellery now is much more textile based. She told us how her mother’s death six years ago had definitely influenced her recent work. Without consciously thinking about it her creations had become darker and included much more black, a colour she’d not gravitated to before. Julie also told us about her fascination with crows and a number of her brooches indeed had references to these birds. She also mentioned that inadvertently her wardrobe had gained more dark pieces and she wondered whether this was a subconscious form of mourning. It wasn’t all dark, there were the lovely floppy multi-petal’d flowers which she’d made as something she could fiddle whilst waiting in the queue at the Post Office! It really was so lovely to hear her talk so warmly of what made her tick.

We went on to make another brooch, this time using fabric scraps, lots of stitches and lots of imagination! My rabbit like creature is still very much work in progress, needing a mouth, limbs and embellishment. It was wonderful to see the wide variety of creations made by the group. More than anything it was lovely to fall back in love with hand stitching again.

Julie was so very generous with sharing her techniques, fabrics and textile know how. Thank you so much Julie.

It really was a wonderful day and it was my own form of a Spa Day, my own indulgent textile spa!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you are able to indulge in something lovely.

Love Rocking Dog x

Textile Hero,Rocking Dog

Textile Hero

Woolly Suitcase,Rocking Dog

Woolly Suitcase

Charming Badge,Rocking Dog

Charming Badge

....& Another!,Rocking Dog

….& Another!

And There's More,Rocking Dog

And There’s More

P.O. Floral Fiddling!,Rocking Dog

P.O. Floral Fiddling!

Julie's Woolly Blueprint!,Rocking Dog

Julie’s Woolly Blueprint!

My Kitsch Beastie!,Rocking Dog

My Kitsch Beastie!

My Julie Arkell Baubles,Rocking Dog

My Julie Arkell Baubles

One Thought on “Being Creative With The Lovely Julie Arkell

  1. What a lovely day. I’m a fan of Julie’s work too but have never been lucky enough to do a workshop. They fill up quickly

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