Two weeks ago, I travelled by train from Oberau to Geneva Airport to be picked up by Nadine for a week of teaching embroidery at the Alpine Experience. Door to door, it takes me about nine hours to arrive at Le Carroz in a more environmentally responsible way. Not bad at all. Why it still costs about twice as much as taking a plane will always be beyond my logic. Anyway, this year, nine students worked the background of an orphrey. The design combines two orphreys found on this late-medieval chasuble in the collection of Museum Catharijneconvent in the Netherlands.
In my embroidery courses, I always try to work with procedures, materials and tools that were also commonly used in the medieval period. In this way, I am able to study how these things might have worked back then. After all, regrettably, I cannot time-travel to ask Jacob van Malborch how he pulled it off at his late-medieval embroidery workshop in Utrecht. This means that students usually will need to make their own prickings and paint on the design with paint or ink. You will also always use a professional slate frame. Not only are they medieval, but they also ensure the best results when creating goldwork embroidery. Being able to dress a slate frame and transfer the design in a traditional way is a valuable skill to master when you want to progress as an embroiderer.
A whole week of embroidery sounds like you can really make a head start with your new project. At the Alpine Experience, you have about 30 hours of tuition in between meals and a day-long excursion :). However, as most students are not used to embroidering all day, this actually isn't a lot of time. After all, you are learning new skills. This means that, with a large project such as my orphrey, you will embroider the majority on your own at home. To ensure that you are well equipped to master this, I touch upon all techniques used in the project during the 30 hours of tuition. In addition, students have access to instruction videos and downloadable PDFs. And I am only an email away when they get stuck!
As you need a lot of energy to keep going for a whole week, Mark makes sure that there is plenty of delicious food to keep you fuelled. The desserts are absolutely fabulous and my personal favourites. No surprises there for those who also know my father. I am genetically handicapped :).
As mentioned before, we take a break from stitching on excursion day. The area around Les Carroz is very beautiful and you can easily go for a walk in nature after class. On excursion day, however, you might visit a charming medieval small town, an area of outstanding natural beauty or a typical French market. I joined the excursion to Annecy this year. Mainly because they have something very rare there: an embroidery shop! I have plenty of natural beauty at home. However, I have no idea where my nearest true embroidery shop is located now that the London Bead Company has sadly closed. I love going through the boxes with cross-stitch designs by Le Bonheur des Dames. This year, I came away with a beautiful sampler of summerly designs.
If you are thinking of joining me (again) for a lovely embroidery retreat under the expert guidance of Mark and Nadine, then mark your calendar. I will return to Les Carroz from the 15th until the 22nd of April next year. More information will appear soon on the new website of Creative Experiences, the new name for the Alpine Experience. Hope to see you next year!
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