parents rent a house in the farming country side of Dorset in
England. Our house backs onto a Beech wood and looks over rolling
fields. In the distance is a ruined Roman church and streams that my
sister and I used to swim in. I was very influenced by my
surroundings and I would spend many hours walking in the woods,
looking for rabbits or pheasants and smelling the wild flowers,
and of course climbing trees. Some would say I led a sheltered
life, while other teenagers were crazy on the current pop
band, fashion and make up, I was more interested in peeping
into pigeons nests, making tree houses and doing cross stitch embroideries.
1980 - 1989
my school years I found my interests lay in the needlework class in
which I made stuffed toys as well as in the art class in which I
very much enjoyed drawing still lifes. In A-level art
course we focused on the Renaissance art which gave me a great
foundation for drawing in perspective and a good knowledge of colours
my upbringing, my mother was a great teacher and influence to me,
helping me to produce embroidery and other crafts. She started me of
on cross-stitch kits and needle-point kits, she also taught me
embroidery stitches. There was never a time at home when my mum or I
did not have some form of embroidery on the go.
mother - Beppy Berlin also makes a living by teaching embroidery
techniques and has amassed a large collection of embroidery pieces.
She has produced much original work, some of her unique stump work
etui boxes can be seen in Thomasina Beck's book - Embroidered
Gardens. A few of the counted thread designs and Modern Jacobean
designs viewed on my site are from my mothers original design,
colours and patterns have been changed by myself to make them my own.
father Paul Berlin was also an inspiration as he was always
available to give good critical advise of my work.
would like to give thanks to my parents for helping me reach the
standard of work that I produce today.
COLLEGE: 1989 - 1990
school I took a one year art and design foundation course. In
this course we touched on all types of different art techniques and
in the third term we specialized in one subject.
chose textiles to concentrate on.
the art course I felt a little out of my depth. I had come from a
rigid art A-level course in which we did not have to use
our imagination to do our own art designs, (everything was copied
from still lifes) to a completely free art course in which we were to
experiment with all different types of materials and threads. I was
very weak in this area and rather than struggling on and staying
at the bottom of the class in this field, I decided I wanted to do
something that required perfection and realism, which I was good at
and knew I could excel at.
first thought was to become a restorer, so I contacted the Victoria
and Albert museum in London to find out if they had a course that I
could enter into. They informed me that I needed to have a degree in
Chemistry but they did know of a place called the Royal School of
Needlework that teaches all aspects of hand embroidery, in a three
year paid apprenticeship course. They also have a work room in which
commissions, restoration and conservation embroidery pieces are worked.
this sounded fun, being paid to do embroidery which I love.
ROYAL SCHOOL OF NEEDLE WORK: 1990 - 1995
Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872, and specializes in
the restoration and conservation of all textiles including Military
and Masonic banners, uniforms, tapestries, chair covers and alter
frontals, using traditional hand embroidery techniques.
school's main aim is to pass on the art of ornamental needlework to
ensure that traditional skills are continued and passed on to the
next generation in the form of a three year apprenticeship course.
was an apprentice at the Royal School of Needle work from September
1990 - September 1993 and then stayed a further two years in the work
room doing restoration, conservation and commission work plus
teaching in embroidery.
be accepted to the apprenticeship course I had to attend two
interviews. The first interview was with the principal and the second
with the principal and a group of teachers from the Royal School of
Needlework. At the interview I showed them some of my art work
and embroidery. I was accepted into the course which began in
first two years of the apprenticeship course was divided into three
terms. I had to be at school from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm for
embroidery instruction and spent time in the classroom learning many
different types of embroidery techniques and time in the
workroom gaining first hand knowledge of the conservation and
restoration of antique textiles and the development of new
we were learning embroidery techniques in the classroom, we would
also have to do 3-5 hours homework per night.
my first two years at the Royal School of Needlework I covered the
following embroidery techniques: Embroidery stitch sampler, Mounting
embroideries, Canvas stitches, Canvas flower, Canvas
painting, Canvas stretching, Jacobean crewel
embroidery, White Work (Pulled Work, Hardanger, Embroidery
Angles, Drawn thread, Mountmellick, Fine White
Work). Blackwork, English and Italian quilting,
Smocking, Tassels, Cushion making, Modern (Goldwork, Smocking
and Shadow Work). Construction (Boxes), Appliqué, Silkshading
(Needle painting), Shadow Work, Goldwork and Bothsides alike.
third year at the Royal School of Needlework was spent in the
workroom gaining further experience by working on all types of
below for some of the apprenticeship pieces that I worked on.
work - Rose
my three year apprenticeship course I spent another two years at the
Royal School of Needlework completing work on some amazing
antique embroideries and creating some wonderful new embroideries. I
have a deep respect and appreciation for the training I received at
the Royal School of Needlework and look back with enjoyment at the
five years that I spent at the school.
my five years at the Royal School of Needlework I had quite an
active social life as well. I was a member of the Kingston University
Scuba diving club and a member of the caving club. I became a diving
instructor for the dive club and spent many weekends away with
the diving and caving club. Towards the end of my five years
my appetite for new adventures was growing and it was time for
me to move on.
July 6th 1995 I flew to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the start of my
three year travelling adventure.
1995 - 1998
arrived in Kuala Lumpur on my own in July 1995 and found
accommodation in Chinatown, beginning my travelling experiences
around southeast Asia. I met many other travellers on my trips but in
general I moved around on my own from place to place. I spent a month
in Malaysia, two months in Thailand and then travelled back to
Malaysia and spent another month there and then back to Thailand for
another two months. In January I flew to Hong Kong and worked as
a bartender in Delaney's Irish bar from January 1996 until August 1996.
August I flew to the Philippines and spent a month travelling
through out the country. I then flew onto Sydney Australia. I
travelled up the east coast. In Brisbane I worked at a local carnival
for 6 weeks. I also embroidered a picture of two Japanese ladies
in needle painting for a woman who was importing silk threads
from China and wanted a sample of the threads worked into an embroidery.
moved to Childers and stayed at the Palace Backpackers where I
secured a job picking tomatoes and snow peas. It was here I met
my future Husband - Russell Morash from Calgary, Canada.
travelled on together hitchhiking and camping along the east coast,
across the North and down the west coast to Perth.
September 1997 we flew from Perth to Auckland New Zealand. We
travelled around the north and south islands of New Zealand in a tiny
little camper van. We also stayed with my friend Jo Dixey and her
boyfriend, Kit, from New Zealand. Jo studied at the Royal school of
Needlework at the same time I was there.
left New Zealand in January 1998 and went to Los Angeles,
California, we travelled through America for a month up to Coots
Crossing and into Canada. Russ's parents picked us up in Lethbridge
and we went to Calgary.
stayed with them for a couple of weeks and then flew home in March
to visit my family and friends and to work.
1998 - Present
came back to Canada in August 1998 and lived with Russ for a year,
returning home to England for a month and then back to Canada in
and I were married on 4th December 1999. In March 2004 I became a
Canadian Citizen. We are settled in Calgary and have our home in the
Northwest where I run my business and teach private classes. I enjoy
working my new embroidery projects in the living room in the company
of Russ and our rabbit "Scampy" and dog "Buster".