Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Getting Hot Wet and Sticky in Rotorua


Tui Ridge Retreat

In a rural corner just north of Rotorua lies a retreat camp called Tui Ridge. It has been the location for the last 18 years of the Regional Retreat for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Embroiderers’ Guilds. I last taught here 2 years ago and have very distinct memories of a lively group, eager to learn from their tutors and have fun. I find that in New Zealand there is a preponderance of tutoring in very specialist traditional hand stitch techniques, and that as a mixed media experimenter, I offer a very different experience to this – as you might imagine goldwork, fine hand stitching versus burning, ripping, waxing etc. which form part of my repertoire (an interesting position to be in as I am more used to considering myself as mainstream!). 

Two years ago at Tui Ridge we explored both metal and Angelina fibres and how to incorporate those into their work. It was a great validation when one participant from that course told me how many pieces she had developed with the techniques and that it had stayed with her as part of her art and textile practice, and another brought me an example of work she had developed after the course, and several others commented on their positive experiences then also.

Angelina and metal book cover

Enough of the members must have been enthused I was really pleased to be asked to be a tutor again this year, and as I now had a better understanding of the quirky sense of fun and as we were near to the geothermal springs, famed for their distinctly sulphurous smells of Rotorua I named my course this year ‘Hot, Wet and Sticky’.

This involves hot wax, paper, hot water, hot irons, wet fibres and sticky glues. We spent time learning the techniques and by the afternoon session on day two, we were starting into developing individual pieces.
Jo Ann getting hot and wet

A typically busy workshop space

Watching participants have to make the transition from being led through techniques under close instruction to then be putting their creative thinking hats on is always a delicate time in a workshop. Guiding people through examining what they have enjoyed, how the techniques fit with their own style and interests and which ideas they will put together is a very important time in a workshop situation and can cause more or less trepidation for participants. However, with a gentle nudge here and there the ideas soon flow and by evening time all are on their own journey. On the Sunday morning session, we all continue to personalise the pieces and if not complete, then solve any issues and ask the questions which are required to enable everyone to complete their pieces.
Here are just a few examples in various stages of 'finished':

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Participant work from 'Hot, Wet and Sticky' workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
 I was not the only tutor for the weekend, Shirley Pygott, Robyn Hart and Kerry Seeley taught beautiful stitch projects:
Robyn Hart




Shirley Pygott


Kerry Seeley




The organiser, Linda, was kind enough to send through some of the comments she received on the feedback forms. Including:
- Great tutor - plenty of time.

- Fun, uses low cost supplies. 
- Everyone (I think) able to achieve what they wanted.  Lots of options and freedom to be able to develop own ideas.

- I liked the new techniques.

- There was plenty of time to practice what we learned and were given good, supportive direction during assembly.

- I like the class because it gave me scope to be creative.

- Always love Alysn’s classes.

- Most enjoyable class.

- We could work at our own pace and not feel inadequate and makes one relax more.



Thank you to the ladies of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Region, you were fabulous.

A little reminder that everyone has their own journey, whether it shows on the outside or not – Thank you to Maureen, a stately lady, moving around with some difficulty who only lately started to visiting the retreats. Maureen told us her story about being a Bluebell girl in Paris and her backstage encounter with Frank Sinatra. Never forget that others have experiences and lives to be proud of – and don’t keep your stories hidden – they make us what we are. It reminded me of why I made the piece below called 'our personal journeys mark us'.
Our Personal Journeys Mark Us by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden



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