I thought I’d mention here that Hand & Lock is opening a new branch in New York City, including a school of embroidery! And they are kicking it off with a big embroidery conference, “Embroidery in the New World” on November 3-4th – tickets have an early-bird discount until July 31 (here’s the price list). They have some amazing speakers, a fashion catwalk, a prize ceremony for their yearly embroidery contest, and taster lessons from the new embroidery school. (The London branch also has a school of embroidery and embroidery kits).
Now back to my mother’s (Laura’s) account of her tour, with photos she took herself:
Our tour of Hand and Lock began as I said with a brief description of the two specialties the modern company combines. Hand hired gold work specialists. Here is an antique velvet coat that has been restored. The gold work thistles are the kind of specialty I am referring to-very special indeed. The wall behind the uniform in the background is covered with intriguing drawers – I could easily have spent a very happy hour or two opening them and peeking inside.
And then there is the wall of sample squares.
Remember the flapper dress made for Kate Moss and covered with Swarovski crystals (in Part 1)? Here is the sample:
These photos show some of the many many possibilities.
In the second room, it is floor to ceiling with ancient wooden drawers and all three walls hold treasure. The work counter is in front. Badges and Epaulettes with their coils of gold (real) and braid are made here. I mean the coils are coiled here, the braid is braided and then the badge or epaulette or whatnot is embroidered and embellished. Military badges for uniforms are also featured. Here is one such (I hope I am remembering this correctly) I think it is for a guard at the Tower of London.
Below is an example of a drum major sash:
and a closeup:
Next is the gold work room. Large counters fill the room. We get a quick explanation and overview of goldwork techniques and a display of some of the many varieties of gold used here. There were coils, and flats, sparking gold, light gold, dark gold-too much to absorb or even remember. Suffice to say, the level of skill was impressive, the possibilities staggering. We received a fabulous lecture on the process whereby the gold is sewn to the fabric. The beginning is:
Amazing. The drawing is next transferred to very thick high grade paper. This is then cut out and is placed (sewn) to the fabric. The gold is applied on top, over the paper! You can see one of the cut out designs under the gold work acorn.
Final stop on the tour is another work room. This sewing room contains antique sewing machines still in use. No computer generated and sewn images here. We saw flags and banners in the making. No trumpet worth blowing in a royal parade could be seen in public without its hand sewn and embroidered banner.
All I’ve got to say is I’m SO JEALOUS. Wish I’d been on that trip! And if you visit London, here’s the tour booking page). Soon there will be one in New York too!
If you are still dying to see more embroidery, there’s a beautiful 4 minute video from Hand & Lock, showing them at work in their studio with tons of gorgeous closeups of very fine embroidery: