Vintage postcard embroidery workshop

Pink blossom – Jo Bund

The journey of a holiday postcard

In the pre-digital age, it was quite common to send a postcard home to friends and family, during your holiday. You’d pick out a selection of cards, write a brief message on the back and post them off. When they arrived at their destination, they would be read, put away in a drawer, and then probably forgotten about. At some point in the future, when the drawer is cleared out, the cards will either be given away or thrown in the bin.

Often, when you go to boot fairs or second hand book shops, you’ll find boxes of old photos and postcards that have been discarded.

So, what happens next?

It seems a shame to throw old postcards and photos away, as they are a piece of social history. But what can you do with them?

I’ve recently pondered this thought and came across a couple of artists who give old postcards a new lease of life by embroidering on to them:

FRANCESCA CRAMER – is an Italian textile artist and designer, based in North Wales. She describes her postcards as having “a conversation with the past, like lifting a layer of dust and letting the colour through, adding another chapter.”

Her technique varies from piece to piece where she either:

  • adds something new;
  • colours over a feature of the photograph; or
  • erases something completely.
Francesca Cramer embroidered postcard examples

HAN CAO – is a self-taught artist, living in Palm Springs. She uses embroidery to create new narratives for long-forgotten photographs and postcards found at flea markets and antique shops from around the world.

Her aim with these examples is to bring life to lost images, telling new narratives from the past through thread and colour:

Han Cao embroidered postcard examples

My workshop idea

I’d been asked to run a workshop at my local Embroiderer’s Guild and thought this would be an interesting idea to share with them. Being based in Southend-on-sea, thousands of postcards have been sent from here over the years. So I sourced some old postcards of Southend-on-sea, and the surrounding area, from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

I asked the group to choose a postcard each. The postcards themselves created an interesting discussion as the images brought back fond memories for people who had grown up in the area.

I wanted them to think about how they could change the image they had chosen and bring it to life…create their own story…

I suggested they keep their stitches simple – e.g. french knots, cross stitch, kantha stitch – for maximum effect. Stitching into card is very different to fabric – once the hole is pierced it’s permanent, and if you pierce holes too close together they can create one big hole!

TIP: I would always pierce holes in the card first before beginning to stitch and place a cork mat underneath the card for protection.

Embroiderer’s Guild workshop

The results were quite varied especially as some found the idea of stitching into an old postcard a little troubling! But everyone did have a go.

Before and After postcard by Jo Bund

Leigh Art Trail 2019

I’m currently exhibiting, with the sketchbook collective SEVEN, at the Leigh Art Trail, Leigh-on-sea. 8-15 June at Planet Leasing.

Our chosen theme…

This year we have each chosen an artist or art movement to develop our sketchbooks. Its a varied selection including Matisse, Hundertwasser, Rauschenburg, Surrealism and Oceania.

We’ve also made the decision to make our own books to work in – a challenge in itself!

We’re open all week Monday-Friday 12-5pm and Saturday 10-4pm.
Do pop by!

Turn the Page workshop

Turn the Page is an annual book art fair held in Norwich at the Forum.

Books…but not as you know them.

Turn the Page

Following on from her Connecting Threads project, artist Gwen Simpson, was accepted to exhibit at Turn the Page.

Gwen had also wanted to produce a brochure documenting her Connecting Threads project. In support of the project, I designed the printed brochure below, which was available at Turn the Page.

To coincide with the exhibition, the fair also offered a series of free workshops throughout the day. Gwen had agreed to run a workshop and I volunteered to help her.

We asked participants to make a journal with a cloth cover that they could personalise with recycled textiles and kantha (running) stitch.

The images below are examples I had made to demonstrate how the covers could be stitched.

The workshop was to last an hour, so Gwen prepared kits of pre-punched signatures and pre-cut denim covers. Scraps of fabric, leftover from the large hanging, were provided along with a selection of embroidery threads.

The participants soon got involved in the workshop. It was fortunate that we were the last workshop of the day as everyone was so engrossed that we ran over time…no-one seemed to mind though!

Participants on the Connecting Threads workshop

Celebrate with stitch and collage

In March this year, I ran a workshop at the South East Essex Embroiderers’ Guild called ‘Celebrate with stitch and collage‘.

The idea was to make a greetings card using a mixture of paper and stitch to create a simple vase of flowers.

A mixture of patterned papers and text from old books were used to cut out simple flower and vase shapes. These were then glued to a greetings card and decorated using bold stitches using embroidery thread and embellished with buttons.

Here’s a small selection of the lovely pieces made…

Altered book: threads of thought

I ran a workshop at the South East Essex Embroiderers’ Guild called ‘Altered books: threads of thought‘. I love stitching on paper and wanted to share the idea of stitching in an altered book with the embroiderers. Not everyone in the group was comfortable with the idea of tearing pages out of a book – but most were willing to give it a try.

For me, the benefit of using an old book is to give something unloved a new lease of life rather than thinking you are ‘ruining’ it. Also, by using a page that already has content already on it, either images or text, can be a useful prompt and helps to remove the fear of the blank page.

I gave the group a couple of themes to play with: the first was an embroidered colouring book idea and the second was to embroider a spirograph. Each person took the idea and developed it in their own way, using collage, stitch, maps and even mirrors.