Giving a talk to needleworkers


PFG, Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Nov 19, 2002
United Kingdom, West Sussex Coast. (Bottom centre)
A good customer of ours is secretary of a local embroiderers' guild and I agreed, some time ago, to give her group a 45 min talk/demo on needlework framing next Tuesday.

As I sell needlework I get more than my fair share of it to frame; we have our own needlework club that meets once a month and now and again I'll give lacing (etc) demos, this is what gave the customer, a lovely and very very clever lady, the idea of me giving her guild a talk.

I don't have OHP transparancies or a projector as this is not something I 'do' just a prepared flip chart.

I'll talk about the importance of conservation and show/talk about what the lack of it can do, then demonstrate lacing and other stretching/prepartion methods. She wants me to bring 'stuff' her members may like to purchase - so - 60% of my shop then!

I'm sure she just wants me to make it worth my 'while', (She is paying me but does not know I'll domate that fee to the local childrens' hospice) so all I'll take is some matboard offcuts and a boxful of odd-sized frames from our 'otherwise would be thrown out' £1 box.

I'll also demonstrate fabric-wrapping; I'm no expert at that, but after Baer's class have been 'playing' and have had some really wonderful 'happy accidents' with organza (they have been 'organzamic' - thanks Baer!!)

Should I do that? could I be shooting myself in the foot? Maybe I should just show finished samples?

I'm happy that I can deliver an interesting and informative 45 mins, and am no stranger to teaching either - but my last 'lesson' was about 14 years ago and was on RCIEDs (Radio Controlled Improvised Electronic Devices - Yeah BOMBS!) ...

... not how to make them - defences against!!

(I had the best defence ever - leave the Army!)

So - I've got it all sussed out in my head and here I am, at the last minute asking "So what, or what else, would YOU do?"

I'm sure I could have asked that in fewer words, but you know me - don't have the time!!
John! Don't shoot yourself in the foot - don't teach them fabric-wrapping - just show them how wonderful YOU can present their works!!! Bring frames, mats, all the rest - but don't teach them how to do your work!!!

Been there, done that. Lost customers.
Originally posted by RoboFramer:
I'll also demonstrate fabric-wrapping; I'm no expert at that, but after Baer's class have been 'playing'
I don't think this would be necessary as part of a talk on needlework framing.

I have done them before and only showed how to lace, materials used and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of framing materials.
Physical examples are good, especially examples of damage. Most needleworkers don't want their work damaged and don't realize that some products like staples, mdf, cardboard, masonite, masking tape, construction adhesives are harmful.

Tell 'em what they need to know to encourage them to come to you to get it done or buy the right stuff if they really must do it themselves!

Talks and demos should be logically structured, to the point (no waffling) and allow for questions at the end, but I guess you realised that anyway!
You could talk to them about how to clean their needlework -I know that many people haven't a clue how to do that. Tell them about drycleaning being a bad idea, and suggest the proper procedure. Also remind them that if they are using hand dyed threads, etc that washing may not be a good idea.

have fun, and good luck!
I totally agree with Sandra's idea as well as making some cleaning product and method suggestions .Like Orvus soap, and not allowing a cross stitch to air dry.

But you might want to consider showing them how to mount( Lace ) their own work on the proper boards ( which are available at your shop) unless you make a good profit doing that sort of thing. It has been my experience that if they learn to do that well you can get a lot more framing done. IMHO that is the most time consuming task of framing cross stitch and some other needleart. So their help could increase your turn around time. You could also explain the evils of the improper methods also and why you don't use them .

Embroiderers' Guild - do any of them collect old pieces? The need to update the framing on antiques is something you might want to mention.

I've seen some old samplers stuck in a frame between a piece of glass and a wood shingle.

While your audience is conserving their own work, they might also want to apply that knowledge to pieces that have already become heirlooms.

I hope that these ladies (hey maybe some men too - yeah right!) will bring some examples of their work - it's their AGM so hopefully they will. In fact I'll ring and request that they do so's I can explian how I would deal with each, (and take some photos!) preparation and presentation.

They are not into your average cross stitch or needlepoint - OR embroidery. 'Embroidery' covers all that anyway, no, they are into scary stuff, hairy fluffed-up weaved things with beads - we will wash 'your average' - press it too, but not this stuff thanks!! However, washing/pressing will be a good thing to add, even if the avoidance of.

I realise that fabric wrapping may be considered as showing them how to do my work, but so is lacing. However, lacing is preparation, wrapping is presentation and I ain't qualified anyway - just excited.

I went to the fabric warehouse today and really filled my boots! I got 60" wide suedettes at (equiv) $14 per metre (39.4")

What I may do is encourage them to bring me whatever fabric they have used to work on, to wrap mats with.
I'd add that this guild likes to set themselves apart from your average needleworker who buys kits and charts and follows instructions.

In their eyes, this is 'paint by numbers' They design and create originals.

However - they also have a bit of a 'know-it-all' air surrounding it all. They're a bit anal.

Glazing is a big no-no with them - they are blinkered, someone has told them what they want to hear, but I am going to be hard with them and tell them what they don't want to hear - the truth, the truth that will cost them more -

oh John - THOSE type of needleworkers! LOL!!

good luck!

anyways, I know the type you are talking about - and although it may be a bit uncomfortable - remind them of all the pieces you've had brought in with no glass on them, etc, that are so dusty and dirty, etc that they were damaged.
John I had some EGA needleworkers and I know how aloft they can be. But I also was taught by Two Royal Academy Needle Art Graduates ( Marion Scholar and Rosemary Drysdale) and both understood the importance of glazing in TODAYS world and ecology. In fact they appreciated having a male framing student in their seminars( sometimes the ONLY one).I also attended a lecture on the History of Needlework Samplers taught by Kathleen Epstein and that was a bit of a different course . But even She understood the need to use Framing Techniques that preseved those Cherished old samplers.
So don't pander to there mythical beliefs of what constitutes PROPER FRAMING they are needle artist not framers. YOU are the EXPERT and make sure they leave the lecture knowing that , Mrs. Epstein sure did on the subject of the origin of Samplers.

I always remember Herb Carithers ( of C&H fame) telling us as his students "You have to tell them what they need ,because they only think they know what they want, until you tell them what it is that they really NEED."

He was try to tell us to establish ourselves as the undisputed FRAMING expert in the one listening mind. And you do this by being completely confident and documenting what you say with certified proof. Which you can do no matter how much they believe Glazing is EVIL and other such OLD myths.
John, DO NOT show them how to wrap. DO show them how to lace... and explain how it's done in minute detail down to counting threads and making sure that the pressure and weight distribution is equal across a quadrants.... then, and only then they will understand that it's well worth for 40 odd Bob to have you do the work instead.

As for glazing.... point to any and all museums today.... slowly they are glazing EVERYTHING.

AND [oh gee :D ] it is all Museum glass which allows a much higher clearity and transferance of detail and color..... and cost more.
John, try to avoid a mistake that I made. (Which one, you ask?)

Years ago I was invited to speak to the local embroiderers' guild about framing. (Thank God they didn't want me to speak about rose gardens.)

I went at least an hour over my allotted time. They were too polite to tell me to sit down and shut up and I had SO much to say.

That won't come as any big surprise to those that know me, but it was not one of my finer moments in public speaking.

Most of what I told them I would retract today, if I had the opportunity (and I don't expect to.)
My lesson plan is prepared, and I will rehearse it so's I don't do a 'Ron' !(took the afternoon off to prepare it, that's why I'm here - no computer at shop, why? - 'cause I'd still be here instead of working!) equipment and visual aids to follow, plus a frame with double mat and a fillet between from 'one I did earlier' that I will un-lace prior then re-lace in front of them and fit into the mats/frame.

I sometimes wonder, if my first move from being a 'garage framer' was not to the takeover of a needlework shop, if I would have looked any further than my framing suppliers for materials for 'stretching' needlwork, most around hrere, it seems, do not, and use things like

THIS and


And customers accept it, if they are even aware, and some spit feathers when you open their old frame in front of them and see what has been done.

'Copydex' makes a horrible MESS!
That's some scary stuff, John.

The second one looks like the gripper strip I used the last time I re-upholstered my couch. It's been six years and I still have the scars.

I thought that website was for needleworkers - but it is for FRAMERS!!! EEK!

Have fun with your presentation, John - and be prepared to answer a million kwestions.

Whenever I have done one of these public speaking thingies, ya know, they always serve refreshments afterwards. And here I stand, surrounded by inkwiring minds, whilst everyone else munches on the goodies!

Don't forget to bring a bottle of water or two - just in case!

I had forgotten about Copydex ... my Dad used it all the time ... as a kid I loved the smell and it's rubbery texture.
A big Success

I was told to expect about 40 attending - I took 50 newsletters, each with a business card attached.

60 turned up! I knew quite a few - but al my newletters/cards went.

A lot of ladies had a lot of myths dispelled and it went very very well indeed.

You were right about the questions Mar - during the talk I had to stop them - I'd allowed time at the end of each stage for questions on it and more at the end for questions overall.

Was glad of the water advice too - otherwise I'd've been hoarse!

They loved the Schott Mirrorguard comparison samples I passed around and now all HATE non-reflective glass just like I do

I enjoyed myself and think I may look at offering the same sort of thing elswhere - art societies etc etc.

Need bigger visual aids though!
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Glad to hear that your talk was a huge success, John. :thumbsup: