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Started 2009 – completed 2012 by the 'Material Girls'

The whole work
The whole work is now mounted in the library on permanent display

The inspiration for the Higham Ferrers 'Mapestry' came from Lynne Curnutte, Librarian. The Library had been recently refurbished and she thought it would be a good idea to create a wall hanging. One afternoon she was speaking to Fay Caddick about the idea and she agreed to come up with a design. Fay became inspired as well and she came up with a design of the Market Square and old buildings in our 'historic town'.

detail working
Detail of the title
At a workshop meeting

Once they had decided where it was to go Lynne and Fay started work choosing materials. They then began work on the background. At this stage they were joined by Jean Martin, Sue Allen and Sandy Mason. The group was now formed, and as the 'Mapestry' is made up of recycled materials the name 'Material Girls' seemed appropriate. Work continued on the background and then it was time to start on the buildings. None of us had done anything like this before and we all said in chorus 'we can't do that' to which Fay replied "Oh, yes you can!" So it was with her encouragement that we progressed!

First of all we took photographs of the buildings which were to be included. These were copied to an A5 size and the picture then became our plan. A lot of time was spent looking at the buildings taking in all the details, type of stonework, windows, etc. Next came the task of finding the right piece of material. Material had been donated by ourselves as well as members of the public and we really enjoyed sorting through the boxes to find the piece we wanted. Sometimes it would take all afternoon to find the 'right piece' and cheers would go up all round and on some occasions the piece we wanted just seemed to be 'there' - it was uncanny! Where we couldn't find the right material we unpicked the weave and re-worked it (this was the case with the Bede House). Also threads for trees and hedges were found in this way.

The Walnut Tree The Material Girls
The Waltnut Tree and town insignia
The Material Girls - (l-r) Lyn, Sandy, Sue, Fay, Jean

We each chose a building we wanted to do and worked on it at the library and then continued at home. When we met again we compared what we had done and helped each other out. Fay was always there to give a guiding hand, if there was a problem she always managed to work around it. As well as buildings there were trees, hedges, lamp-posts, bollards, gardens and flowers to make. There was also the background to work on so we had quite a list of things to do.

Whilst we were working on the 'Mapestry' we were invited to The Chichele Society Heritage Weekends. It was very helpful as people made suggestions as to what could be included. To use these ideas the 'Mapestry' was extended to the size it is today. We also visited the local Junior School to show the children what we were doing. They were really interested and one pupil made a tree for us which you can see next to the Manor House.

By Christmas 2011 the buildings were all done. The next task was to start sewing them on to the background. This took a lot of time. First they all had to pinned in place. We tried to keep everything as accurate as possible but it was quite hard to fit everything in.

We didn't realise but the hardest part was still to come - sewing the pieces onto the background. There were several layers of material to sew through and positioning was very difficult. After some considerable time we put the hanging on to the board to find that where everything looked right on a flat surface, once it was hanging up it wasn't straight! There was quite a lot of unpicking going on (saving the item to be sewn on again the following week. It seemed as if we would never get it finished but so much work had gone into it we thought there was no point in rushing at the last minute, we just had to get it right! Eventually we were satisfied and left it for two weeks to settle. By August 2012 we were satisfied with what we had achieved.

The 'Mapestry' was finally unveiled to the public on Saturday 15th September 2012 by the Mayor of Higham Ferrers, Mrs Sheila Mantel. One more surprise was to come when Fay held up a medal which she had made in secret. As she pinned it on the 'Mapestry' became complete.

The 'Mapestry' is now on permanent display at the library, during normal opening hours. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed making it.

We are now concentrating on our next project which will be a 'Time-line of Archbishop Henry Chichele.' This will be quite a challenge but we are really excited about it. We are working on the design and hope to start soon.

Lynne, Fay, Jean, Sandy and Sue - the 'Material Girls'

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