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To cope with the pandemic, our embroidery artists have had to adapt what they offer. Most of them offer online courses and I wanted to know how it went. Can technology be a new avenue for embroidery? Two feedbacks are given here, from embroiderers who have followed Natalie Dupuis’ courses (Canada).

Class Ode to the Palette / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Ginette Marcoux

It can be difficult to approach embroidery courses online. After all, embroidery is a physical art that requires a certain dexterity. Learning to stitch is also a lot about watching someone making it and nothing can replace direct vision. But according to the testimony of our two students, if the classes are well organized, well filmed, they can offer at least as much as the face-to-face classes.
Kathy Andrews is an English speaker and Ginette Marcoux, a French speaker. Natalie’s classes are held in English.

Class The Humbly Magnificent Couching Stitch – diaper pattern / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Kathy Andrews (The Unbroken Thread)

Kathy Andrews (The Unbroken Thread) and Ginette Marcoux are both great embroiderers who practice their passion several hours a day: “I do a lot of silk and gold work and a lot of crewel work.I design and embroider my own pieces now and love the whole process from inspiration to finish. I also stitch contemporary pieces using traditional techniques in new ways. (Kathy).
“I started the experience of handmade embroidery 4 and a half years ago. The first 2 years were self-taught with books and blogs. I can confirm that a good dictionary of stitches is still very useful to me. Subsequently, I wanted to perfect myself in a technique that I admired a lot but which intimidated me enormously: gold embroidery or with metallic threads. I took a few beginner and intermediate courses with Natalie Dupuis who specializes in this technique and who offers training in Montreal. Natalie has an academic and practical training in teaching. She likes to share her know-how and see her participants succeed in surpassing themselves. “(Ginette)
Both Kathy and Gilnette have often followed courses (RSN, Embroidery Association of Canada, freelance embroidery artists like Jenny Adin-Christie) and could easily compare the two types of approach.

Class Or Nué: Honoring the Chiaroscuro Tradition / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Ginette Marcoux

For Kathy, the course taken with Natalie Dupuis was her first “online”. She chose this course because a friend highly recommended it to her. “I wanted to learn more about couching and I wanted to experience the “Teachable” platform from the student side before deciding to use it as a teacher. ”

Ginette: “When the containment measures arrived, classroom lessons were gone. I turned to the various online course offers and experienced some of them without really feeling that I was being helped in my learning. Rather, the training was offered in a lecture format, a one-way communication on a specific embroidery technique. I learned that Natalie had decided to transform her course offering into online training on the Teachable platform. I have since had the opportunity to take a few online courses with her. I can say that her skills and qualities as a teacher are just as effective online as they are in the classroom. “

Class Humbly Magnificent Couching Stitch / Natalie Dupuis, Italian shading – Embroidery and photo Kathy Andrews (The Unbroken Thread)

Our two students are really very positive: these courses are well suited, with time between each session to be able to progress, acquire the stitches, do the exercises. A common weekly time in “zoom” allowed the exchanges so important for an often solitary art: “I loved being able to have a week between “live” Zoom session to do my work. And to be able to post photos of my progress/work and get responses from Natalie right away. She is great at responding quickly! “(Kathy)
“The precise and detailed lesson plan uses a modular approach that tracks what we learn each week. It is sent to us a few weeks before the first virtual group meeting. Pre-course work is encouraged, for example writing an introduction so that the participants get to know each other, preparing some readings (a list of books are suggested by Natalie), etc. The list of equipment needed for the realization of the project is sent in advance. “(Ginette)

Class Or Nué: Honoring the Chiaroscuro Tradition / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Ginette Marcoux

To my question, Would you say you had more to do on your own? Kathy replies: “No. But I like to be independent and have taken only one “project based” class ever. I was trained at the RSN where we had to create our own designs, choose our own stitches, materials and only got feedback from our tutors when we need it or they felt we needed it. It was not a step by step class. Neither is Natalie’s class which is why I liked it. She gives her students room to explore and expand.”

Class Humbly Magnificent Couching Stitch / Natalie Dupuis, Italian couching – Embroidery and photo Kathy Andrews (The Unbroken Thread)

With this type of course, you get to meet a lot of people: “I learn a lot with all the participants, and I was able to develop a really rich network of contacts” (Ginette). For Kathy: “I have made new friends and loads of opportunities opened up for me as a result of this class. New avenues to explore and research to do! ”

Kathy recommends these online classes for these reasons: “I think they are an excellent way to learn, particularly the way Natalie sets up her classes. The student gets the information and teaching via text and video, has a chance to read and watch and then to try it out. Later they can post what they’ve done and get feedback, not only from Natalie, but from their classmates. Some of the inspiration all of us got from one another’s projects was really delightful to see! It also is great not to be sitting stitch for 5 hours a day (as you do in a live class) just to rush to get something done before the teacher and the students all go home. My favorite time the week was the one hour Zoom sessions with class members!”

Class Or Nué: Honoring the Chiaroscuro Tradition / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Ginette Marcoux

nd Ginette adding: “Natalie also offers people who have never used zoom a learning session on the main components of the application before the start of the course. Each week a learning module is covered. We have access to varied content for the following week: readings, demonstrations, images, suggested sites, a space for sharing ideas and reactions between participants, a place that allows us to post photos of our progress and an opportunity for Natalie to give us feedback, encourage us, motivate us to continue, etc. She responds to each comment (on average 150 to 200 per week). The zoom sessions are lively, we have the opportunity to discuss in small groups. Natalie is presenting or demonstrating, handling the questions we have and giving us an overview of the content for the week ahead. ”

In the end, online courses require a little technical learning that is easy to master, and to choose the right teacher. Whether Face-to-face or online class, she / he will make the difference!

Kathy’s embroidered felt pencil case: “I tried to replicate the stitches seen in a book.I had no idea about what stitches had been used or what threads, but it turned out ok, so I was hooked. I still have that piece and it reminds me that we all are beginners at some point.”

Crewelwork embroidery, design and embroidery by Kathy : it is based on Bonnie Prince Charlie’s silver canteen:  “The Prince’s Thistle”.

Class Ode to the Palette / Natalie Dupuis – Embroidery and photo Ginette Marcoux

Resources – Always interesting to hear from embroiderers about the material they use. Here is Kathy’s choice:
I order wool from Catkin Crown in the UK – it’s the most beautiful wool for crewelwork and from Renaissance Dying which is also gorgeous and dyed using natural dye stuffs. I use Au ver a soie silks and have just begun to work with Piper’s silks (thanks to Natalie’s recommendation!). I order all my metal threads directly from Benton and Johnson. I have a huge stash of linen twill that I bought before we left Germany – boss of it – which I hope lasts until I can no longer stitch! I order silk fromThe Silk Route in the UK. For my contemporary pieces, I often use threads from a company in the UK called Oliver Twists Threads. They have an Etsy page. Absolutely wonderful threads!