June 2016 – Rona Doyle

Our morning session was led by Janet Dummer, who brought along samples of Kantha work and showed us how to create our own examples by layering small pieces of fabric, the sheerest on top, and then over-sewing with simple but effective running stitches. Originally Kantha embroidery was created by layering pieces of recycled sari fabric.

During her talk in the afternoon, entitled ‘Stories of a Stansted Maid’, Rona Doyle regaled us with her amusing experiences as a volunteer at Stansted House. She assured us that she had nothing to do with the airport, but she was quick to point out the routes to our nearest emergency exits!

Her costumed role as Nursery Maid consigned her to the Servants’ Hall. She told us how unnerving it had once been to unwary visitors, when she moved forward suddenly to greet them after standing still for too long between two of the rather more static costumed figures in a room nearby.

For school visits Rona changes her role to that of Governess. She had brought along various old wooden artefacts kept below stairs and amused us with some of the ideas the children suggested when asked what they might have been used for.

With the help of slides, Rona gave us a quick guided tour of the house, concentrating on some of the beautiful wall hangings, cushions and bead work to be found there.
She then explained how, as her role as Nursery Maid, relaxing in the Servants’ Hall, she’d had to think of a useful hobby to occupy her and chose rag-rugging,- about which she knew very little..

However, often using first-hand knowledge passed on by some of the visitors, Rona progressed in her chosen skill and moved through a variety of rag-rugging tools until she finally opted to become a ‘prodder and hooker’! She had brought along several examples of her own work, using a variety of materials from fabric and wool, to netting and even plastic bags. Her realistic looking 3D Christmas tree was created as an act of rebellion after she attended a workshop one December, led by a tutor who proclaimed, ‘I don’t ‘do’ Christmas!

A big THANK YOU to Rona for stepping in and providing such an entertaining and interesting afternoon – it makes me wonder if we need external speakers when we have such talent within our ranks. Heartfelt thanks and much appreciation.

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