Romford Branch 25th Anniversary Map
Our map is an example of how an idea from a throwaway comment can grow and become a reality. A chance suggestion, made exactly a year ago at 2016 Excel Stitch, Sewing and Hobbycraft show, was taken up as a collaborative project within the Romford Branch. At previous national events, stewards had experienced problems when guiding prospective new members to their local branches. The need for a map was obvious, and being embroiderers- a paper printed one was just not acceptable. The idea was taken back to the branch and when Romford Branch were given the opportunity to field the stand at the 2017 show, the map seemed to be the obvious piece to pull visitors into the stand- as well as helping stewards to encourage people to give us a try.
In January 2017, following an Excel subcommittee meeting, Linsey Block offered to lead the project and produced a presentation based on previous collaborative projects and map making experience. The whole membership was asked to use their individual skills and ideas to produce a map depicting the many guild branches around the southern half of the UK. 16 brave souls, of very varied ability, volunteered and committed to each have a map section completed by early March 2017.
The silver buttons, made at an open day workshop delivered by the project leader, were chosen to represent the position of each branch. As Romford Branch celebrates its 25-year anniversary this year (2017) we thought that a touch of Silver would help to mark the occasion in a distinct way. Everyone that attended the workshop also tried their hands at Arashi Shibori & Rust Dyeing, which was very exciting as the results took over a week to reveal themselves.
The subcommittee all strongly agreed that it was very important to ensure that any of our branch members, regardless of background, could volunteer and make a contribution. So every member was given the opportunity to work on any part of the piece: map sections, buttons, labels and backgrounds. As a result we ended up with a vibrant piece made by members who are aged 18- 80+, C&G lecturers to those with no formal stitch qualifications and the Branch Chairman to complete Newbies.
The map sections were united into a recognisable map by the April Branch meeting and Linsey finished the construction (with a few late nights) over the 11 days remaining before the show. The pieces were remarkably accurate and went together with only a few modifications to road placements and coastal outlines. The use of different materials and techniques in each section threw up its own problems, with some areas having up to 7 layers of fabric and Felted areas stretching and distorting. The placing of the branches was helped by each maker using shirt buttons to mark their location, which were later replaced with the silver decorative buttons. Correctly allocating the names and postcodes of each branch was achieved by accessing the National Embroiderers’ Guild Website and lots of work compiling the data at the preparation stage of the project.
The Rusting and Shibori were both very successful and a decision was made to use the rusted fabric as a border rather than on the back. Several members of the branch loved the rusting so much that they have made their own fabric using the technique at home. This is exactly the reason for running these projects- to engage participants in such a way that they make techniques their own and run with them, there is nothing more satisfying.
It is hoped that we will eventually complete the whole of the country, making a huge piece which may prove difficult to hang- in fact some members are already planning their input. (mad fools!)