Elissa Handbury-Madin

BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery


Instagram: @elissakenyon

[email protected]

The Knot is a miniature embroidered theatre displaying the remarkable story of Rupert Simms (1793-1856) who was Elissa’s five-times Great-Grandfather from Kingsley, Staffordshire.

“The village of Kingsley was said to be noted for its ruffian characters whose conduct made the village a terror to decent folk. There was Rupert Simms, who kept a bear in his pigsty and who, in ferocity and brutality, was little above a beast himself. Rupert’s highest ambition, next to his pride in his bear, was to be known as the champion boxer of the Staffordshire Moorlands. He provoked every stranger who came to the neighbourhood and did not mind walking a few miles if there was chance of a fight. He took all kinds of liberties to be gratified with a fight.

One day, hectoring in his usual way, one of the men accepted his challenge. It was Big Sam Cooper of Chesterton (Stoke), who was in the village on business.

Rupert was a big man of at least 6 foot but Cooper was bigger, a giant of a man. He knocked Rupert senseless with his shoulder injured so that he never had proper use of it again.

Rupert’s occupation was to gather rags and bones and also anything else that was handy. He had his gang of admirers who met on the village green all day, making noise and yells that could be heard for miles around.” Extract from a Victorian tourists guide

Incorporating items collected over years of visiting antique shops and car-boot sales, she brings the story of Rupert Simms alive with an eclectic aesthetic of the theatrical and whimsical. Her sketches printed on fabric and embellished in Goldwork give a sense of Victorian grandeur to Simms extraordinary story, despite the relative poverty of 19th century Staffordshire. Reclaimed items and meticulous embroidery bring Rupert Simms to life in miniature, alongside his needle-felted  bear.

These pieces have been hand embroidered using a range of techniques including goldwork, tambour, padding, needlelace, needlework felting and surface stitches.

embroidered  using a range of embroidery techniques including goldwork, tambour, padding, needlelace, needlework felting and surface stitches.

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The Knot (miniature embroidered theatre)
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Work in progress embroidery
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Proscenium arch embroidered with goldwork techniques
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Needle-felted and embroidered bear
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Theatre inside including hand embroidered characters
Elissa Handbury-Madin | Fashion & Textiles
Work in progress image of theatre side panels
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