Enchanting Embroidery

Enchanting Embroidery

On Friday 17 November, Studio welcomed Jenny King, one of the UK’s leading embroidery designers to deliver a talk to pupils about her work, business, and collaborations.

Jenny King Embroidery has been established since 2003 and specialises in Irish machine embroidery which creates free hand satin stitch. Her studio offers design and development as well as UK production and offers her services to established and emerging fashion labels as well as working in film, theatre, interiors, and art. Clients include Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Erdem, Stella McCartney, Aspinal of London, The Globe Theatre and The Royal Opera House. Jenny also embroidered garments for HRH Duchess of Edinburgh for the late Queens funeral and the Coronation of King Charles III.

Jenny spoke about the transition from being a student at the Royal College of Art in London to her current position of managing a design studio that employs 5 machinists and assistants. It was clear from the examples of her work she presented that she is at the forefront of her profession. Jenny introduced students to her working processes using the Irish freehand embroidery machine. An antique machine whose production ceased in the 1960’s. The quality of the satin stitch and the ability to “draw” with them make the artists that have mastered how to use them highly sought after by high end fashion designers and as we saw royalty.

Pupils got an insight in to Jenny’s approach running design business; from research, design and artwork development to one-off sampling and production, often working to tight deadlines. She emphasised the importance of collaboration; from the initial inspiration and concepts stage, developing the embroidery ‘handwriting’ for a collection or project often using innovative and experimental techniques.

Jenny spoke about the importance of art and drawing and the relationship between the handmade and digital production techniques. She described how the human hand of the craftsperson was an important factor in her client’s choice in working with her rather than the many studios that offer solely mass-produced digital outcomes. This led to a discussion on ethics and sustainability within the fashion industry. Jenny shared that she was progressively seeing more and more of her clients wanting to be able to trace where materials come from and how they are used, including information of threads and dyes.

After her talk Jenny showed pupils a range of beautiful samples that she had made to showcase what her team do. They were able to handle these whilst individuals talked to her about working in the fashion and design industry. There were a lot of “how did you make that?” questions and “I could use that technique for…” comments. Our pupils were obviously impressed and inspired by the work and what they learnt about how art fits into the design industry. Well done to our pupils for the warm welcome that they gave to Jenny. It was clear that both pupils and guest had a lovely afternoon.