Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

Fellow embroiderer, artist and designer Laura Lees is usually found creating highly colourful, fine art pieces furniture pieces but she took a little time away from her usual pursuits to speak with us about her work:

 

Hawthorne & Heaney: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, we’d like to start by asking you the question we get asked quite a lot of how did you get into embroidery originally?
 
Laura Lees: I applied for a city and guilds embroidery course when I was 17 and fell in love with it then. I found my skills at drawing not exceptional but confident. I found a new level of ability with the needle and thread superior than that of drawing with a pencil.
H&H: And what is it that inspires you?
LL: The way you can transform something from the ordinary to the extraordinary. I love the feel of the threads, the sound the scissors make when they’re cutting fabric, the quality of line and the battering noise and speed of my beloved Bernina industrial sewing machine. most importantly, I love the clarity of heart and mind, the skill involved and the the fact that i am always learning.

H&H: What would you like your students to take away from your class?

LL: A real sense of achievement, pride and enjoyment.

H&H: Where can we see more of your works?

LL: I am preparing for an exhibition to take place at the end of the year, inspired by dutch author Joris Luyendijk s book ‘Swimmimg with Sharks’ which demistifys the financial world of the city banks. This resonated deeply with me, having amongst many others lost my fashion label in the 2008 crash.  I explore the ‘smoke and mirrors’ architectural language of finance by descending on what must be the least understood environment in Europe: the City of London. Taking the habitat of the so-called and self-described Masters of the Universe as my inspiration and translating the visceral world that lives and survives by opacity into tangeable abstract textiles.

H&H: Anything coming up in the pipeline you can share with us?

LL: I have recently launched The Mighty Stitch corporate workshops, The Mighty Stitch embroidery workshops teach teams a new skill, engendering engagement and motivation, ultimately creating a bespoke embroidered piece of art for your workplace. • Simple, supportive instruction • No experience needed, anyone can take part
Participants are encouraged to be playful and experimental – the workshops facilitate collaboration, communication, storytelling, mindfulness, and, most importantly, making a mess! Enhanced work environment we all need a bit of that, i think .

H&H: Thanks again, I’m sure we will be seeing much more of you with all that come up!

 

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

Laura also has a Workshop coming up in April which will give the participants the opportunity to be a part of Laura’s work as the pieces created on the day will be encorporated into a new piece which will be exhibited at the RIBA as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Follow the link to secure your place for this intriguing and unusual opportunity:

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

‘The Riba workshop is a full day, immersed in urban embroidery.  We will focus on how a city evolves through its inhabitants by learning freehand machine embroidery, hand stitching and applique. The outcome is to create an embroidered image of a building or architectural structure.  

Afterwards, I will explore how a city is fabricated by stitching together the individual and diverse pieces made by workshop participants into a new work to be exhibited a the RIBA as part of @londonfestivalofarchitecture

All artwork will be returned to the participants after the exhibition.
This workshop is part of the programme of events inspired by the exhibition ‘Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square’. 

Urban Tapestry with Laura Lees, 22 & 23 April, 11am to 4pm
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD
Booking at architecture.com/Workshop

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

All images credited to Laura Lees

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project

In the studio we like to continue to challenge ourselves and push to create something new with our skills, so at the end of last year, we set ourselves a bit of a challenge to create a dress to wear to the BTBA Festival Dinner in February.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand EmbroideryHawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Like with all create processes, it started with some sketching and sampling to decide what style we were going to go for.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand EmbroideryHawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

We look at both hand embroidery and machine embroidery options, and given the time scale, decided it was best to go for a machine embroidery design which combined a few of our favourite techniques.Using an exisitng pattern, we tweeted the patternt to better fit the design and the body on which it would fit by toiling with the help of our intern Jessica.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Once we were happy with the pattern, we construced the skirt and began applying the embroidery to the flat skirt and top panels.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Along side the main production we also produced some technical samples to deal and test some of the more tricky aspect of this piece, for example, doing a test to insert a sip to see how close to the embroidery we could go because of the stifness of the backing supporting the fabric and the height of the padding under the stitches.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Once all the embroidery was finished, it all went back to Jessica to make it up.

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney on our Dress Making Project London Hand Embroidery

Stop by our blog again soon to see the finished piece…

Design/Embroidery by Natasha Searls-Punter and Pattern Cutting/Toiling by Jessica Eykel at the Hawthorne & Heaney Studio

JAMES LONG

JAMES LONG London Hand Embroidery

For their last (certainly not least) offering for LFW AW12/13 the designers at Hawthorne & Heaney had the pleasure of working with James Long.

One jacket topped with cornely chain stitch and military plate came out mid show giving us a taster of the finale which was a fully embroidered jacket covered in military plate, cloth of gold and solid gold smooth and rough purl.

The effect was incredible and H&H were privileged to work with a designer with the skill to use such ancient, intricate techniques with such a successful, modern application.

Thank you to GQ for the images !