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Ali Ferguson, UK: Threads Of Thought – personal story pieces

I am an artist, embroiderer and collector of stories.

My inspiration lies in the every-day: every-day people and their stories, particularly their reflections and memories of ordinary home and working lives.

I work with discarded materials – loving the thought that an old piece of clothing is implanted with stories of the wearer or that a piece of washed and worn table linen holds the secrets of a household. I layer and patch these ‘past fragments’ together, combining them with digital print and hand stitch – a slow and thoughtful process that leaves a permanent mark of lives all but forgotten or overlooked.

Threads Of Thought – personal story pieces

Using old, collected materials and inspired by handwritten text you will create a series of thoughtful hand stitched sample pieces that could go on to become finished pieces in themselves or inspire further work. We’ll start by creating a handmade sketchbook to record our thoughts and ideas as we work.

Your inspiration for the workshop will be pieces of handwriting. This can be your own, that of a family member or by someone completely unknown – just as long as it ‘speaks’ to you in some way. These could be letters, postcards or handwritten recipes for example - you may wish to work with one piece or with several. We’ll spend some time looking at the handwriting and the words themselves and we’ll use our sketchbooks to record our responses.

The pieces of writing will be unharmed as we’ll go on to copy them onto a variety of fabrics and papers using your home inkjet printer. Please bring an ‘all in one’ inkjet printer with you, if you can, for use throughout the workshop. We’ll be using the printer’s photocopy facility.

We’ll combine your prints with old fabric and garment pieces. Bring small pieces of old materials to work with. I love natural materials that are used, washed and worn - old table linens, handkerchiefs, quilt fragments, woolen blankets and vintage textiles. Try to collect garment pieces such as old collars and cuffs or bring a garment such as a cotton shirt that we can take apart and reconstruct.

Through a process of ripping fabrics apart and piecing them back together, your work will ‘grow’ organically and will be further embellished with hand stitch. Words and phrases will be highlighted, a story will start to emerge. I encourage a very relaxed approach with minimum planning – simply allowing one thing to lead to the next – allowing thoughts and memories to appear and become part of the stitching.

A list of suggested materials will be provided and I will bring packs of gorgeous goodies from Scotland for purchase. I will also provide a fabulous selection of fabrics printed with handwriting from my own collection of letters and postcards if you cannot bring your own inkjet printer.

This workshop is suitable for all abilities but will especially appeal to those who love working with old, scrappy materials and embrace the beauty of their imperfections.