Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Elements

testimonial by: Dawn Davis

Gwendolyne Preboy’s
 textile art class:
The Elements



The premise of this class is very simple. Gwendolyne gives us a beautiful hand made pouch containing different packets of embroidery thread to represent each of the elements, a variety of needles, an embroidery hoop, wax, a transfer pencil and a beautiful book she produced which includes a wealth of how-to-do different embroidery stitches and many blank pages for notes and sketches.

We are to draw a design of each of the four elements, choose fabric, transfer the design to fabric, practice embroidery stitches, decide on the colours we wish to use, embroider our design, finish off the back and frame it. That is the premise.
But the reality is vastly different.

When I began this class my sewing skills were weak, drawing was a challenge and my sense of colour was indifferent. Art is not my field and I thought if I could learn a few different embroidery stitches and make a few simple pieces that would be enough.

When I think about it now, there was nothing simple about my designs, yet Gwendolyne was right there showing me what I thought was impossible, could be done. I now have three completed pieces before me. I have been taught embroidery, beading, the manipulation of fabric to form three dimensional objects and in my fire canvas, there is even a twig from my garden, helping me to personalize my experience even more.

This is a course that called forth every bit of my creative energy and every time I was stumped, confused or discouraged Gwendolyne was right there with suggestions, help and encouragement. I have taken many courses and yet this one was strikingly different from any that have come before.

Why did I feel that?

Here are my answers.
This class flows freely and each participant works at their own speed. There is a lot of time for conversation and laughter.
It was also perfectly fine to feel frustrated and confused in the course. I felt comfortable to ask for as much help as needed. Gwendolyne let us all know there is never just one way to achieve our vision.

There are bins of fabric to look through, books to study, music to inspire, and the studio space itself to absorb - almost like a fairy tale with its wonderful hats and bags and pillows, buttons, toys, sewing machines, prayer flags, tall windows, warm light and comfortable chairs.

In essence there is a feeling of comfort and security here – it is okay to be different, it is okay not to know, it is okay to move forward.


Taking this class has been a tremendous adventure for me. It has also been transformative in ways I never anticipated. I look forward to continuing in January.

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