Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath

Giverney Grace Volrath | Goldwork Embroidery

The Funk Files: Embroidery Frontiers

Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery in fashion and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2015 brief was about the individual design identities of Countries.

Giverney Grace Volrath
Meet Giverney Grace Volrath

On Thursday, the 5th of November, London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final of the 2015 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.

Today we’ll meet the third-place winner in the Student Category.

Name: Giverney Grace Volrath

Location: London and Toulouse

School: London College of Fashion

Describe your Hand & Lock entry:

A wooden overlay dress, made up of individually assembled, stained, laser cut pieces of wood.


Hand & Lock Entry, Giverney Grace Volrath
Hand & Lock Entry, Giverney Grace Volrath


What made you want to enter this competition?

The history and craftmanship of Hand & Lock is an inspiration.

What motivated your choice for your entry?

I chose to enter my wooden dress because it was a symbolic moment in me finding my style in Fashion textiles. After so much experimenting and trials it felt fantastic to find techniques and materials that still inspire me to this day.

Who was your mentor, and how did s/he help with your project?

My mentor was (and still is) Alice Walsh, founder and designer of Alice Made This.

She was amazing. I was able to meet with her often, despite her busy schedule, and she talked me through not only Hand & Lock, but my aspirations and ambitions, my current direction, and my ideas no matter how farfetched.

I would always come away with a renewed faith in what I was doing and where I was going with my designs.

Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?

I think they are more fun facts, rather than secrets: the dress weighed about 16 kilos, at least that’s what the airport scales weighed it at when I was traveling back to London from Toulouse!

It also took 5 hours of laser cutting to cut the pieces and a week and a half to assemble it.


Detail of wood pieces by Giverney Grace Volrath
Detail of wood pieces by Giverney Grace Volrath


When and how did you learn embroidery, sewing, etc., and what impression did it make on you?

My first bit of embroidery was doing small crafty projects with my Mum. She always had my brother and I doing small projects at the kitchen table, whether it was painting, knitting, sewing, or crafting models out cardboard.

What made you want to pursue fashion and textiles in school?

My love of beautiful clothing is what made me want to pursue fashion. Bridalwear encouraged me to specialise in embroidery and embellishment.

The significance a garment can make to a person is very special and for the person who created that garment I think that must be a brilliant feeling&38212;to emotionally affect someone with your creation.

What was your first embroidery or textile project ?

This was way back when in Primary School.

In 3rd Form my teacher got us to embroider handkerchiefs with our names on. We had to draw a pattern in pencil around our names and then use cross stitch, back stitch, and blanket stitch to finish it.

Since then I have done lots of small projects and obviously the briefs we were then given at university.


Garment by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by Rob Phillips
Garment by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by Rob Phillips


To date, what’s been your favorite course of study?

That would have to be my third year specialising in embroidery and embellishment. I had gained a lot of confidence in what I wanted to design and the knowledge to push boundaries with the techniques and machines we had available to us.

You’re working with wood, combining it with fabric. Why wood? Are there other non-traditional materials you think about using?

Wood happened through research from my final graduate project. I knew I wanted to create my own embellishment and beads and my project was inspired by geometry and architecture, so exploring wood and other innovative materials seemed natural.

I also experimented with copper sheets, acrylic, and stoneware clay.

What non-embroidery skills do you bring to the table that you might like to combine with embroidery?

My love of painting. Gouache and watercolour painting is something that I have done since before I started my course at LCF. Although it took me awhile to learn to bring embroidery and my paintings together, it is definitely a combination I am looking to encourage and pursue.


Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath
Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath


Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath
Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath


Describe your ideal career. What projects are on the horizon for you?

I would love to be my own boss at some point in the future. Creating my own jewellery line, maybe in innovative materials and techniques that I learnt through my love of embroidery and embellishment.

Before that though, I am keen to gain experience working for other designers and studios. Learning the dos and don’ts, and the business side of running a successful brand.

As a side project I am entering into the Hand & Lock Open Textiles Category with one of my jewellery pieces that I have created.


Garment by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by James Rees
Garment by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by James Rees


Where else can we see your work?

Unfortunately, the exhibitions that I have been a part of have now ended, but I was exhibited for Momenting the Momento, IFFTI 2015 in Florence. A project called the Art of Dress, which saw a fashion piece be regarded and interacted with as an art piece.

Equally, Hand & Lock exhibited the winning garments at their studio in Soho.

My work can otherwise be found via my university portfolio, and I have another press article on the Alice Made This Blog.


Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)


Favorite embroidery or textile medium : Gold Work

Would you rather stitch with spaghetti or barbed wire? Barbed Wire

What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? A Mandala Pattern

Name a place you’d like to visit: Everywhere

If your embroidery were cataloged with books, what genre would it be (romance, mystery, horror, history, psychology, something else)? Mythology


Garment detail by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by James Rees
Garment detail by Giverney Grace Volrath, Photo by James Rees


You must include something edible in your next project. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Honeycomb, I would cut it into shapes, melt it, mould it, allow the honey to ooze out of it. Would make an absolute mess, but I am fascinated by bees and bee hives.

If you were not a textile designer, what would you be? Wildlife Photographer

A celebrity wears something you’ve made to an awards show, and you receive fame, fortune, good health, fitness, and cake for life. Who is the celebrity and what does s/he wear? Grace Jones in my Art of Dress garment. I can imagine her being part of the interaction process during one of her shows, destroying it and then spraying it all black to make it perfect again.

You’ve been selected to participate in a show that combines Textile art with performance art. Describe your piece for the show. I am often inspired by the five senses. A garment made to cover all five aspects: sight, taste, sound, touch and smell. I am thinking lots of layers of wood and metals, textures, stains and finishes that let off an odour, an oversized silhouette that drapes and crashes around the body.


Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath
Wood detail, by Giverney Grace Volrath


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