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Interview with Jen Goodwin – July 2018

Jen Goodwin, RSN tutor based in Dorset, Jen recently taught a Blackwork Class in association with Golden Hinde (see above) so we took the opportunity to interview her and see what makes her tick .

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview for our newsletter:

1) How did you first get into embroidery?

I have always stitched and started with cross stitch from around 6 or 7 years old. I then started to experiment with blackwork, crewelwork and goldwork in my early teens. I then landed a place on the RSN apprenticeship which I started in the September of 2000 when I was 20. I have now been with them for almost 18 years.

2) You are a Tutor for The Royal School of Needlework what is your favorite embroidery to teach and why?

I love all of the fiddly techniques, blackwork, silk shading and goldwork but saying that I enjoy almost every technique so long as I am stitching I am happy.

3) Where do you gain your inspiration from?

I see inspiration almost everywhere and I am always taking pictures to prompt future designs, I have a humongous stockpile of source images! I take inspiration from colour combinations that catch my eye, from shapes and lines and obviously I spend a lot of time in exhibitions and museums.

4) You teach a range of abilities from beginners to those who are more experienced, what advice would you give them and what would be your top tip?

I often find that enthusiastic beginners with not much experience will often just as well or better than an experienced slither who lacks confidence. You will often learn more from throwing yourself in the deep end rather than second guessing every single stitch.

5) We at Golden Hinde obviously specialise in Goldwork. What is your favourite thing about Goldwork?

I love the unforgiving nature of working with metals. It can be such a hard and technical subject but when you can make the metal work in the way you want it to there is such a sense of satisfaction. Nothing makes me happier than perfectly folded plate or perfectly cut pulls over padding!

6) Do you like to mix and match embroidery styles? If so what do you feel goes well together?

I mix and match a lot as I think that many different techniques enhance one another. silk shading and gold go hand in hand but I also think that goldwork can enhance blackwork as can pulled work. I think every piece should be started with an open mind along with a willingness to think outside of the box (that sounded really pretentious) but sometimes those slightly odd choices actually make a piece so much better!

7) Do you have embroidery styles that you don’t teach that you would like to master?

I try to make myself work with different techniques if I don’t enjoy them or if I feel that I am out of practice. Currently my biggest aim is to spend some time on Canvas work as I really do not enjoy that one. I have a picture ready to go, I just need to find the time!

8) What are you must have tools for Goldwork and other embroideries?

The best scissor that you can afford is my biggest essential. I have very fine scissors for embroidery thread but I also have a second pair of expensive scissors for my gold. Spending more on scissors at the start and it will pay off for you. 

9) Where do you see your art heading in the future??

Ideally I would love to devote more of my time to creating more fine art embroidery. I think it is often assumed that traditional embroidery is stuffy and boring but really well executed embroidery can create stunning results. I also really enjoy challenging myself and I know some of my madcap ideas are not achievable by students.

10) And finally, do you have any funny embroidery stories that you can share with us?

I have so many. I have seen students do everything from holes being cut into fabric to fly poo stains. I have even spilt fizzy pop over one of my finished samples so I had to alter all of my framing styles to disguise the problem. The important thing to remember is that everything can be fixed somehow!