Thursday, 14 September 2017

Mountstewart-day out for the volunteers part 2

All that walking around the garden had us hungry again so into the Londonderry arms in Carnlough fir afternoon tea.

We were treated to a little talk by the usher in the connection between the Londonderry Arms and Mountstewart. Did you know it was built in 1848 as a coaching inn for Frances Anne Vane Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry. She was married to the third Marquis of Londonderry. When she died all was passed to her grandson and from him to His second cousin Einston Churchill.

The Londonderry arms as well as serving a lovely afternoon tea have various photographs relating to Frances Anne and Sir Winston Churchill.

I didn't notice is at first it was another volunteer that pointed it out to me but do you see anything strange about the copy of the painting of Frances Anne on this wall mount. If not then it's time you paid a visit to the drawing room of Mountstewart to see what I mean.
We had a wander around carnloug between showers before getting back in the coach to visit Garron Tower


I remember coming across Garron Tower some years ago and it was a private boarding school which it still is now. We couldn't go into the building but it was nice to see the outside. The building itself has been extended with many more school buildings but we focused in the original.

Quite impressive for a holiday home to help aid employment for the locals in the erection of it.

I was particularly interested in the pet grave. Check out Lord Belmont's blog

Mountstewart- day out for the volunteers part 1

What an excellent day out arranged for the volunteers by none other than Jenny. She even seemed to control the weather as the rain showers appeared briefly in between places of interest.

It was unfortunate many who would have liked to have come couldn't as someone had to man the fort!

Our first stop was to Glenarm where after an early rise for most we were more than ready for our raspberry and white  chocolate scones.

Can you see the anticipation on their faces.


Jenny making sure we were all organised for our tour of the castle.

We got back on the coach as the castle was quite a bit away. The driver needed a medal for the manoeuvring he had to do around the parking area more suited to horses than vehicles.

We received a very warm welcome to the castle butfrom this point I can not show any photos out of respect for the familystill living there. This was so obvious as it had such a homely feel. It had its portraits and paintings as mountstewart does but the rooms were of a much smaller scale and their own little touches.

The entrance hall had many portraits reminding you of the ancestors, a fireplace to warm you and some pieces of history telling you about a fire they had had that badly damaged this part of the house.

There are some sculptures and ceiling paintings related by one previous lady of the house and although she may have felt she was extremely talented the pieces themselves would have been more suited to Barry's amusement arcade to this rather grand entrance. The lady giving the history did mention there were to be a further two but the husband havingseen the four in place refused to have more. We went from here into the drawing room. It was gorgeous with the old and new blending perfectly.very welcoming to children also with Aesop fables tiny murals painted at the top of each wall encroaching on the ceiling. Many family photos from different eras, small busts and some needlework. A lovely size of room in two parts the greater part being the lounge area with small dining part adjoining. Then into the dining room which again had some little murals but this time the cherub like characters are believed to be based on a former resident. A wake table on one side and central table that enlarges to seat 20. Again many portraits and paintings of a maritime nature. A gorgeous Victorian side board and various other pieces of furniture. Bypassing the staircase and more portraits we went along a tiny hall to the blue room named because of the wallpaper.  A very cosy sitting room with many paintings of horses and again furnishings old and new looking out to the front of the house and garden.

A very interesting  tour with so much information I can barely remember but seeing the connection with Frances Ann whom we all know well in Mountstewart. Then off we went to the walled garden so that the other half of our group could have their tour.

We were quite amazed at the colours still for this time of year and loved the different areas set out especially the parts left wild and the Large mound you could climb to view the garden.


We came across a number of fruit trees as well as wild flowers and shrubs. One we had never seen before but thanks to a gardening group visiting they identified for us.
They said it was used to make jelly that was put around meats.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Sew...Why sew part 7

Starting season 7 was a whole different story. In one respect there was a lot less pressure as we only had short pieces under 2m to embroider each week. Two maximum to work on this otherwise we would have been sitting on top of each other. The programme aired then the episode was designed and woven before coming to us to be embroidered in the Ulster museum Saturday and Sunday. However we underestimated the interest by the public who wanted to know every detail so we certainly didn't get lonely in the gallery as we met and spoke to Game of Throne fans across the world.

I took many photographs of my work but realistically can only show a few here or I would be blogging forever. A few weeks into season 7 I was unsure of one of the briefings and had actually embroidered one hairdo ncorrectly as I was not familiar with the characters, thanks to an avid fan I was able to correct my mistake. After that I had my husband record the episodes so I could watch them and check out the hairdoes!

I generally prefer to sew than watch television of any type but that's nt to say I won't ever watch it. This particular scene below seemed to cause a lot of attention in the museum as apparently it portrays a famous actor or was it a singer. Therefore I felt it warranted two photos one midway and one completed. I am not really up on famous people either as you can see.

  There was lots of fire and blood to be embroidered but I think the dragon and some particular hairdos are my favourite such as the lady who rode the dragon. From what I could see she had a few different arrangements that if the piece was large enough I got to show off. I used silver trimmit in chain stitch for her hair and white embroidery floss in stem, satin or just little short stitches were it suited to give the impression of how it curled.



The frame that was built especially for the tapestry was perfect and we were all delighted to see it in place before the museum opened to the public but it was even better to be sitting sewing on site as it weaved around us. I have to finish with my favourite piece and if you want to know more check out the Game of Thrones Tapestry or visit the Ulster Museum

Sew...Why sew part 6

I work four evenings a week as a rapid response nurse which has the potential to be stressful dealing with both life and death in the  community. I have always found sewing or indeed any craft relaxing so spending all my free time embroidering was no hardship. We received pictures of the tapestry with suggestions of what they wanted highlighted and the colours that are represented in the film, which is just as well as few of us had any idea. 

When we started a new emblem or character we would call out to see if anyone had completed the same on a different part so we could stitch with the same shade and stitch for continuity. 

Each day as I left home my husband would say not again and how long will you be. My answer was  always the same whenever I feel I am finished. My work colleagues had this notion I was making something for Donald trumps visit but as it was a secret no one could be told. 

I didn't embroider all of the dragons but quite a lot and this was my favourite fellow above. I also got to like using the gold threads even though they frayed easily.

 I got to meet many new like minded ladies and have a notion that lace making may also be something for the future. Valerie and Joanne were excellent coordinators who appeared to live in the gallery, in fact I am not sure there is any evidence to the contrary. There was a stressful   period when season six was on its way but hadn't arrived. We googled carriers and made many phone calls knowing those in England did not understand that in N.ireland all stands still around the 12th of July…apart from the embroiderers of course.Rather than waste time we took to sewing the Velcro on the finished pieces in preparation for the final hanging. We finished at1650hrs on the Saturday which was the deadline with each part wrapped in tissue, packed and labelled.


 Brenda and I got the job of rolling the six seasons up museum style to tansport to the Ulster museum for display

 We all had a fantastic time working together to produce this embroidered tapestry. Although we had suggestions on colour and the items to be highlighted we had space to be creative with various stitches to bring out the best in the tapestry. It wasn't always  easy though as some parts of the  tapestry were more loosely woven than others and we had to be careful not to distort the excellent work done by the weavers. We had to communicate well as a team to ensure repeated emblems or characters were depicted in the same way as they would be on film. We used various colours in six stranded cotton embroidery floss as well as metallic threads some of which were twelve stranded. The team were from many backgrounds with specific interests in embroidery, patchwork and lace making. With series seven till to be televised we were not finished and looked forward to working again on the remaining tapestry. This time not in secret but in full view of the public and not under the same pressure.