An Interview with Auburn Clair Lucas
Auburn Clair Lucas is a young professional hand embroiderer who has just graduated from the Royal School of Needlework's Future Tutor Programme. Auburn has been chosen by the School to receive support from Lady Anne's Retreats in 2017 as part of the join partnership The RSN Lady Anne's Retreats New Talent Programme. You can read about the programme which was launched this year here.
We are delighted that Auburn Clair Lucas has been chosen by The School to represent the Programme and how our support will help her in her first tentative steps as an hand embroidery professional. Laura caught up with Auburn earlier in the year to chat about her dreams for the future.
What inspired you to first start stitching and how old were you?
I’ve been stitching and making costumes and clothes from a very young age. Honestly I’m not sure where its stems from as none of my family or friends at the time did any stitching, in any way, shape or form. I guess I just picked up a needle and made things up as I went to begin with. My mum has however kept my first piece of embroidery, which is a sampler that I made as a 7 year old in Primary School.
I knew however at the age of 16 that I wanted to make my career in stitching. I was studying textiles GCSE and for my final piece I made a Ballerina’s Tutu ensemble with Snow flake Embroidery for surface decoration. I worked endlessly designing, stitching motifs and putting the piece together, only to finished it, and not being satisfied with the my work rip it all down and start all over again. I think it was on the 3rd or 4th attempt that I shouted at my mum in annoyance (at my work), tears, confusion and elation on realizing what I wanted to do with my life “Where can I learn how to do this better?”
What project are you currently working on and where did you find inspiration for it?
As I’m now coming to the end of my 3 years of study at RSN I’m currently working on my ‘Signature Project’. This has been a chance for me to explore and experiment with the skills I have gained and produce a body of work that reflects my technical skill in embroidery and costume making but also as a designer and embroidery artist. For this I have created a series of 18th century embroidered accessories.
The 18th Century is my absolute favourite period throughout history for its fashions. It was a time where they were experimenting with style, colour, technique and materials. Everything was beautiful and ornate and the embroideries on both male and female dress are just exquisite. My inspiration came from research I have conducted in the past but also from elements I looked into specifically for this project. I visited a number of fashion and textile collections in order to examine original garments and saw some truly beautiful work with designs and techniques I had not seen before. I was absolutely spoiled for choice in what accessories I could recreate and if I could I would have probably tried to recreate a whole 18th century trousseau.
I wanted to practice a number of traditional embroidery techniques so have worked each accessory differently. The stomacher is worked in silk floss which is a thread I had never worked in before. I mixed this with goldwork elements as these two threads were popularly worked together throughout the period.
Tambour embroidery was introduced in to Europe during the 18th century so I felt this technique had to be included. I used this on the hanging pocket along with English quilting elements which was often used on undergarments and accessories.
The Cap and Lappets had to be Whitework and is a combination of whitework techniques worked together on one piece and is something like traditional Dresden work.
In your wildest dreams, where do you see your career in 10 years? Do you hope to continue in hand embroidery?
Defiantly, embroidery is a part of my life now and I don’t go one day without doing something that is embroidery related. Within the next 10 years it would be wonderful to be a well-established embroiderer and embroidery teacher, working and teaching for many different companies and institutes.
I would absolutely love to write a technical stitch book on Embroidery for Historical Dress. Undertaking all the research, illustrating and sampling myself. However my absolute dream would be to work with museums such as the V&A, Bath Fashion Museum and Chertsey as an embroiderer carrying out research and conserving their collections but also creating replica embroideries for exhibitions.