Wren Étui

As a little girl, I was called “Jenny Wren” so I have always felt a special affinity for this shy bird who flits busily about, preferring to hide in the shadows than face the limelight.

The original motto of the Royal School of Needlework was “Small birds may fly high”, which has always meant a great deal to me. The RSN was established to provide training and respectable creative employment for young women who needed to earn a living. When I trained as an Apprentice at the RSN, the ethos was much the same; we didn’t pay for our training, but were paid while we trained, which allowed women from all backgrounds to enter the profession. As a shy girl from a country town coming to London, I certainly felt a very small bird but the RSN certainly enabled me to fly high.

Here the plain brown wren is elevate to greater purpose as a needlework étui with thread-cutter beak, needlecase wings, thimble pouch and mossy hillock with pincushion and scissors. The piece uses a broad range of techniques, many inspired by my studies of the intricate raised embroideries of the 17th century combined with my explorations of fresh ideas and materials available today.

For more information about the Wren Étui, see the kits pages.