Embroidery · Mixed Media · Workshops & Courses

Hen’s Teeth – A Secret Garden

In spring, I posted how much I enjoyed making this needlecase on a workshop with Viv Sliwka from Hens Teeth Art. I completed it back at home that weekend with a crocheted edge and tie fastening and now it’s in constant use as part of my sewing kit. Being larger than usual and in a book style with a page for each type of needle, it’s practical as well as being touchy-feely with all those textures.  I’m very fond of it indeed.

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I knew the Halifax Branch of the Embroiderers Guild had booked Viv to run a further workshop in August to stitch a scene in a tin. When the sign-up sheet appeared, I was straight on it.

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One of Viv’s vintage tins in her distinctive style.

On the requirements list was a small, hinged vintage tin. A phone call to Dad had him scouring his shed but none were quite right. Etsy came up trumps with this one though.

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The rest of the list was mercifully short. The only other items we needed were a basic hand sewing kit, some embroidery threads, scraps of fabric and vintage trims. Simple –  you would think! If like me you’re a regular on workshops, I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the dilemma of what to pack. You’re never quite sure what direction your creation will go in so end up taking a load of stuff you don’t use and the exact bitty thing you do want is frustratingly back home in a box. How though, did I ever think I was going to magic the contents of two large baskets into one tiny pastille tin?

The day began with a short talk. Viv captivated and inspired us with her own charming creations, generously sharing her techniques.

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Then we were let loose with our threads and imaginations.

Recently I acquired a pile of vintage cross stitch magazines. I’d scoured them and pulled out what interested me. Amongst them was the tiniest cover kit of a ginger cat. I stitched it (with some difficulty now that I have over-40s eyesight!) and at only an inch or so high it was a perfect scale to incorporate in my idea for a summer garden scene. Our cat isn’t ginger but it does like to find shade amongst the perennials!

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Building up layers of fabric scraps, lace and stitch

What a great day we had. I just love Viv’s laidback teaching style. Her passion for textiles shines through and her enthusiasm is infectious. She gets the balance just right, letting you get on with it but seeming to know just when you need a little advice. When you do, her thoughtful suggestions are spot on.

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At the end of the day most of us were close to finishing and everyone’s work was put together to admire.

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Some were going to hang their tins to display but I think I’ll leave mine as it is. I love the thought of some curious person in the future opening it up and hopefully being delighted by the secret garden inside!

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