Beatrix's Fairytale Garden by Jenny Adin-Christie for the Spring Residential 2019
Jenny Adin-Christie is an exceptional embroidery tutor and designer and is widely known in the global stitching community for her intricate features, impeccable detail and perfect finishing. Her international reputation is why we are so pleased she is part of our Lady Anne’s Needlework Retreats.
You may remember the exquisite Wordsworth Harp she created for the 2018 Residential Retreat, which was exhibited at the Wordsworth Museum in the Lake District that same year.
For this year's Spring Retreat, Jenny’s designed Beatrix's Fairytale Garden, which captures the author’s Lakeland home, Hill Top Farm.
The base of the design uses delicate layering of fine fabrics over tiny pieces of mica, which give the windows of the little stone farmhouse a shimmer.
The hand engraved brass frame surrounding the piece is inspired by the floral painted face of the 18th century longcase clock which stands in the entrance hall of Hill Top and which features in Beatrix’s illustrations for The Tailor of Gloucester.
The etched frame includes a rabbit as a nod to Beatrix’s love for these creatures and of course to her most famous character of all - Peter Rabbit.
Jenny trained at the Royal School of Needlework, and after graduating continued to work as a full-time member of the RSN's commercial Studio Team, and as a tutor for a further ten years. She is now widely recognised as a specialist in the fields of whitework, metal thread and Stumpwork embroidery.
During a break, we asked Jenny about the inspiration for her 2019 design Beatrix's Fairytale Garden.
- What was your inspiration for this design?
I drew the sketched design for this piece immediately after my visit to Hill Top and the Armitt Library and Museum Centre, following the Spring Retreat last year.
The design was very much inspired by the Beatrix quote included in the engraved surround for the design, which I read during my studies at the Armitt. To me this quote summed up Beatrix's lifestyle in the Lakes and her intense affection for, and understanding of, this magical landscape.
"I do not remember a time when I did not try to invent pictures and make for myself a fairyland amongst the wildflowers, the animals, fungi, mosses, woods and streams, all the thousand objects of the countryside." - Beatrix Potter
- What materials and stitches did you use for the design and why?
I am endlessly researching new materials to include in my design to make them interesting to work, fresh with ideas, and to challenge the possibilities embroidery has to offer. This design includes: sparkling mica to simulate the soft twinkle of old glass windows; delicious 'fettucini' braid from Italy which is ruched and pleated to create flowers and leaves; the most dainty silk chenille from Japan, which can be stitched directly in the needle without shredding; and a fabulous flat silk yarn from New York which creates rich garden undergrowth.
- What level of stitcher is this design suitable for?
The design is suitable for stitchers with some experience and includes a myriad of techniques to increase their palette. Some of these are fairly prescribed, some allow a little more freedom, for example the drystone wall and many of the flowers, which can be placed and interpreted as the embroiderer wishes.
- How long did it take to complete the finished piece and did you encounter any difficulties along the way?
The design developed over the year preceding the retreat but it retains the essence of my original sketch. I generally find that a design born from an instinctive feel of a place is always the best, even if I explore other avenues - I generally go back to the first draft!
These pieces are really created over a full year, of course working between all the other commitments we have, but a year is required to design, mull over, re-think, research materials, work with colleagues and finally make!
Problems along the way...not really! I loved creating it! I had contemplated adding clock hands but these overpowered and spoiled the whole effect and seemed a novelty rather than adding to the piece.
Jenny will be teaching again for Lady Anne's Needlework Retreats next March at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Residential Retreat 2020, the 4 Nations Tour in 2020 and Lady Anne's Needlework Festival in 2021 (information to follow). To express an interest in any of these retreats, please sign up here.
You can see Jenny's own website here.