Jay Blades and the Royal School of Needlework join forces on a new upcycling project

08 December 2022
We love this collaboration between The Embroidery Studio at the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) and star of BBC’s The Repair Shop, Jay Blades…

Jay Blades and the expert team at the RSN Embroidery Studio first met in 2021 and have been working together for the past year on a special project. They have upcycled two Parker Knoll chairs, redesigning them with innovation and creativity and giving them a new story to tell. Like the Royal School of Needlework, Parker Knoll has also been established for over 150 years. 

A unique Art Nouveau design from the Royal School of Needlework’s Archive & Collection was selected as an inspirational image for the backs of the chair. The design was pre-1920s and focused on nature, featuring an exotic bird in a fruit tree. Blue, green and terracotta, with a touch of copper and gold, supplied the perfect combination of earth tones and natural metals. The design was then only part stitched to convey the effect of climate change and deterioration of the environment. 

The same design was featured on both chairs, but with a different stitched emphasis. On one chair, the brightly coloured tail of the bird was hand embroidered using a vibrant terracotta thread and couched metal thread. On the second chair, the quince fruit was the focus with a Pearl Purl detailing. Both designs used the hand embroidery technique of Appliqué. 

Jay Blades says, “It has been such a great experience to work together with the RSN, not only do I love to collaborate, I even got to learn some embroidery! This chair has brought a pair of well-known Parker Knoll designs up to date with the use of wood restoration, wool fabric from Camira and beautiful embroidery.” 

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Anne Butcher, Head of the RSN Embroidery Studio adds, “It has been wonderful to work with Jay and to explore ways to promote an environmental message. Everything we do is by hand in our Studio at Hampton Court Palace, using the traditional art of hand embroidery techniques. We also have the infamous ‘Wall of Wool’ in our Studio, which is home to a rainbow of threads, many of which have been donated. These threads are reused in our projects, for both conservation and restoration work as well as new commissions.” 

The team at Jay & Co expertly reupholstered the chairs, providing two stylish, luxurious chairs that offer the ultimate comfort. As a final touch, a small band of bright orange was added to one leg of each chair, the Jay & Co trade mark. The chairs are available for sale. 

Please contact: [email protected] for more information.