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08 April 2014

Looking Back on Studies - Part 2 Embroidery

Warning, word heavy post.

So now we reach studying City & Guilds 7900 Part 2 Creative Embroidery.

Here I was now in 1995/6 studying Part 2 having overlapped the one item from Part 1 because of difficult circumstance.
Having had two major bereavements in less than six months I was not in the best of places, but equally this particular year of study seemed to lack focus and direction.  Of course it wasn’t helped to hear of my friends at their new college and how exciting it all was.  I toyed with joining them there, but the journey was too far.
Eventually I decided to write this year off, as not working.
I applied to another college nearer home, to again learn Part 2 whilst the rest of the class were doing Part 1.  Initially this was agreed, and I burned my bridges with the original college, only to find that the admin at the new place decided I couldn’t do as I’d hoped.
So there I was at the end of the college year in 1996, without any means to continue studying Part 2.  I decided nothing for it, but to take a year off, and wait for the Part 1 people at the new college to finish and join them when they all started Part 2.  It was a nervous time, as I wasn’t sure I’d get to fulfil my dreams and my studies.

Now its the Autumn of 1997 and finally I’m back to studying Part 2, at a new college and with a new tutor, even from the one I’d been in discussion with.

This new venture suited me much better and took me on a much more creative and experimental journey.  At first it was confusing and scary because we never saw an example of what we were to do.  The room would be ready for the session, materials out, we’d had an idea of the subject/topic, and we’d be told “go play”.  Having been used to strict guidelines for my Part 1, this took some getting used to.  In fact the tutor ended up saying to me “I give you full permission to do whatever you like with this”
Again another log book, another set of multiple samples, 24 of them which had to be shown either in sample form or in the assessment pieces, and again multiple versions of each appeared.  But this time we could put them in a portfolio, bliss.  What’s more we could part work them and leave a needle in… as long as we gave full explanation for what and why.  We were also allowed to use work done via other classes (unheard of for Part 1) as long as full credit was given to the tutor and full explanation of the work.  We were expected to use a whole variety of fabrics, a list of 9 and threads too, a list of 6.  Then there was the section on care and storage of completed items, and presentation and display techniques.  My tutor would not pass the main assessment pieces if they didn’t also at the same time have their storage, and no a carrier bag wouldn’t do!

Alongside embroidery, there was research.  At this time the embroidery of certain countries.  The Log Book Criteria was to pick one country from each section, so we had three countries.  However, at my college, we shared all the summary explanations from other students for every single country, and just took our own three to be illustrated. That was the mantra “visual girls, visual” – we were forbidden to write essays and had to show designs and techniques via pictures.
In addition we had to study the History of Embroidery in the British Isles, from the year dot to the present day.  Again “visual girls, visual” – no lengthy essays allowed.  In fact we were told that the External Verifier may not even look at these two elements when she came to assess, such was the volume and repetition college to college, it could be pushed aside.  I can understand this, because there are very good books published on exactly this topic, and all students were doing was rehashing.
As you can see City & Guilds continued with their reputation of changing minds and ideas about what was acceptable and what was not.

There was also an individual Research Project where design and ideas were extensively looked at and samples made of techniques and ideas for producing designs. We had an extra thrown in for this one - design and make a book cover of a known book to fit in with the Research Project topic!
At my college only One of our Assessment pieces had to be made from this Research Project, other colleges set the criteria at all of them.
The Assessment pieces to be made were:
~ a one metre item (and no girls you cannot make a belt!)
~ a functional 3d  item
~ a panel or hanging to be displayed on a wall.

The 3d item came in for some irritation, as we were told function as in usable/practical.  So books, hats, bags etc appeared.  It was only when we’d completed these and the External Verifier came for a part year check, that she announced “function was to occupy space”  too late for many of us and upsetting for some, who had had ideas of sculpture but it wasn’t then allowed.

At my college we were not allowed to use the same techniques for each Assessment piece.  I had by now started to do more stitching on paper, so each of my three assessments did contain paper, but in different forms. Again I’ve seen some assessment pieces which were obviously a set of, because the same colours and same techniques were employed.  Again it’s a quirk of City & Guilds as to what the External Verifiers instructions were to each college.  It could be frustrating in the extreme.
These assessment pieces were much more stringently looked at week by week than during my Part 1.  We had to say each week what we would achieve by the next, and if we had not done it, there was a real inquisition into why not.  Also we had to state a budget before making, and cost it properly after, and let me tell you explaining why your figures don’t match up (as I had to) was a very daunting experience.  I’d used, approx. 4 dyes, pure silk, 4 silk paints, 4 markal paint sticks, plus the threads etc, and costing to buy all of those was way over the budget I’d set.  However, following debate, as it was a case of using little bits of everything it was agreed I didn’t have to cost as totally new full sized, but could part cost product.. Phew

Coming to the end of the second year, once again here I was not quite finished, with the one item to be completed.  But then most of us were in the same boat.  Perhaps it was the workload, C&G chopping and changing ideas…  A friend’s husband said we did far more work for Part 2 than he ever did for his doctorate!

So back to college in the Autumn of 1999 for one more term, this time alongside everyone else, again almost finished, and again, personal circumstances step in.  Just before Christmas my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  So I finished Part 2 around Christmas/New Year and didn’t attend college again.  So my Certificate is dated 2000 but only due to when they are issued.

See I told you the expected 5 years, wasn’t quite going to work to the original plan!

But……. I wasn’t quite done with studying, yet!

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