Sunday, December 17, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 4

Today's yummy giveaway is a set of 2-postcards from the Ashmolean and were part of the exhibition a few years ago that led to an amazing gift of embroidery to them.

If you would like a set (I have two sets to give away), email me at tricia@alum.mit.edu and put POSTCARDS in the subject line.

Add your MAILLING address in the body of the message and send it before Dec 18th at midnight EST.

Tricia

Saturday, December 16, 2017

12 Days of Christmas - Day 3


Today's giveaway is the Annual Halloween Ornaments Spooktacular issue of Just Cross Stitch 2017.

If you are interested - put SPOOKTACULAR in the subject line and include your MAILING ADDRESS in the body of the message.  Send it to me by midnight EST on Dec 17th at tricia@alum.mit.edu

Good luck!

Tricia

Friday, December 15, 2017

12 Days of Christmas - Day 2

Today's Giveaway is another exhibition leaflet from Joy Jarrett from Witney Antiques.  This one, called Historical Embroideries mostly covers 17th century pieces in its quarter folds.

I have 6 copies of it to give away.  To enter:

Send me a email at tricia@alum.mit.edu with HISTORICAL in the subject line.  Then in the body of the message, put your mailing address.

Send the entry before midnight EST on Dec 16th.

Tricia

Thursday, December 14, 2017

12-Days of Christmas Give Away - Day 1

I have an enormous number of give aways for this year's 12-Days of Christmas and it just might spill into a 12-Day of after Christmas too!  They are going to start with a series of booklets given to me for this purpose by Joy Jarrett of Witney Antiques.

If you are interested in the give-away, please send me an email to:  tricia@alum.mit.edu by midnight EST on Dec 14th - to allow me to sort and find your email you need the following two things:

1) INDUSTRY in the Subject Line

2) Your name and mailing address in the body of the message.

These first two give aways are a tribute to a couple who have had a big impact on historic needlework for decades.  Joy and Stephen Jarrett.  Stephan passed away in April at aged 80 and Joy recently passed away in September at age 79.  They founded Witney Antiques in 1963, and while they had a lovely stock of 17th century English furniture and clocks, they were really know world-wide for their incredible stock of 17th century embroidery and 17th-19th century samplers.

One of the things I loved about Joy and Stephen was there openness to the embroidery community.  They inherently knew that we who embroidered appreciated these pieces as much as those who had the funds to collect and that, perhaps there were some who over time would move between those two sets.  So they held 'exhibitions' yearly of embroideries on sale and some borrowed using themes in the pieces to gather and explain.  For those of us who know that museum exhibitions of embroidery material are few and far between, Witney's annual exhibitions were a pilgrimage if you could get there to view them.  A visit to their shop was a guarantee of viewing some 50-100 pieces of 17th century embroidery and samplers.  Such a treat and they were always welcoming to those of us who had a bus load of embroiderers who wanted to see.

On top of that, they published a leaflet or book for each exhibition - a catalog of pieces which for those of us who need inspiration or study needlework, are almost bibles.  Justin, their son, became a great photographer while working on the annual books.  And their daughter, Rebecca, first a partner and now the owner of the shop and is carrying on their legacy, became highly interested in the history and has written notable books in the field.

I first met Joy and Stephen when traveling England to set up the Jacket Tour.  They were enthusiastic to become a stop on the tour - and would be hosting their most amazing exhibition of 17th century embroidery yet.  What a spectacular moment.  But I was also interested in a piece they had on sale, a part of a jacket that I wanted to investigate.  They were so willing to take it out of the frame and allow me to do research photography of it before it was sold.  Taking me into the back to see other rare items relating to my research.  My brother and I were there for a few hours and Stephen suggested that we walk down the street together and have dinner in the pub as we must be famished before our long drive to the next stop.  What ensued was a meal over stories of his and Joy's grand travel adventures (they were very daring in their younger years) and much laughter.  Gracious to the last.

It was on that trip that I first saw a piece of embroidery of silk purl work (hanging above Joy's head in the picture).  Over the course of 10 years, I visited it and used to remark upon it every time.  Joy was so happy when I finally realized that I just had to have it three years ago.  She knew it was going to the one person who really knew what it was and appreciated it.

On my last visit to them before they passed away, Joy decided to give me a box full of her exhibition catalogs to use as gifts and prizes for embroiderers.  As long as I paid the shipping, she stuffed the box full.  Today and tomorrow I have the last of these lovely leaflets (first one below) to pass on to someone lucky.  I hope that as you moon over the beautiful pictures you will think of how a couple went out of their way to embrace not only those who wanted to bejewel their walls with antiques but those who wanted to learn and admire from afar and how they enabled that for us all.

Thank you Joy and Stephen - your generosity and wit will be missed.

Tricia

One of the most amazing embroiderers from that exhibition of 17th century embroidery.  When things came out
of private hands Joy and Stephen made sure they were photographed and shared them with the world
before they disappeared again into obscurity.  For researchers and lovers of embroidery of this type -
that was a service to us all.

Today's giveaway of a quarter-fold leaflet of samplers





Saturday, December 9, 2017

"Someone Should Save This"

I hear this phrase all the time:  "Someone" should do something.  It frustrates me as that abdicates our collective responsibility to our cultural heritage, whether it be publishing of information, saving a craftsman business, or a crumbling work of art/culture.  Things that enrich us, preserve knowledge, or propagate humanism aren't always big money makers so innovation needs to be applied to make these wonderful things happen.  And we are always more than happy to participate in them once "someone" has done the heavy lifting of making it happen.  Often we travel around the world, spending vast sums on our vacations, to see things that 'someone' made happen.

So this effort I read about this morning was really interesting to me and opened up an amazing portal into something going on in France to make everyone that "Someone".

Chateau de la Mother-Chandeniers in France, a 13th century castle.  I now own a piece of it.



























There is an amazing 13th century castle in France that was slated for demolition and requires some pretty hefty restoration.  Beyond the ability of the last owner to independently finance, he has turned to an online organization to use crowd funding to save French treasures.  Think how Kickstarter has revolutionized the funding of tech products or art/film projects.  Or call it "Kickstarter for History".

This is something I have proposed in a different form before at various museums only to be told that we can't go whole hog for small projects because departments are forbidden by their development offices to do small scale fundraising and the development people are focused on fat cats so wouldn't work with me (I tried at the V&A a few years ago).  I was amazed at how we were able to tap into the collective with the Plimoth Jacket Project and what good things that spawned to keep high-end embroidery alive and push it into a renaissance.  Why can't we do that in many places???

Read this article about how the "Kickstarter for History"called Dartagnans is offering shares in the 13th century castle that you can buy.  So for about $50-75, you can own a share of a castle.  That alone sounds pretty darn cool.  And someday you can go visit it.  They have actually raised the money already to save it - meaning buy it - now they are working on the stretch goals to get the first stabilizing work done as it hasn't had a roof for almost 80 years.

After you consider buying a share in a French Castle (don't we always dream of that!!), check out the rest of the site to see the type of historic projects that are up for funding.  It is a really cool idea!

Be that "someone" today and help save our collective history.  My piece of a fairytale castle is on its way already for Christmas.  I will be really proud someday to visit it, even if it still stands needing a roof, knowing that we all helped keep it there for the future.

Tricia


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Elusive Unicorn


When I posted about the latest finished panel of the Harmony Casket last week, I promised some discussion on it and the good, bad and the ugly.  Well, here is the ugly.

I actually finished this panel back in early October and it has been sitting here looking at me for over a month - with my unicorn scowling at me.  I couldn't put on the mane and tail as I was debating during a very hectic 6 weeks starting in mid-October of business trip after business trip that blended into the Thanksgiving rush and now a robot completion every week until Christmas Eve.  The question - would I have the few days it would take to redo the unicorn??

So why didn't I like it?  Unicorns are cool.  Well, I had made the wrong choice on the thread progression when working it.  This is unicorn #1 below.  I had decided to use the grey silk gimps that I had made and were in the Season 1 Frosting Box.  There was a dark grey, a med grey and a white.  Knowing that unicorns are supposed to be white, I thought I would minimize the grey to an outline of one strand around the entire beast.  One spot, the haunch of the back leg got two lines of the med grey because it was big and I needed to make a turn of the gimp.

The first unicorn, everything is looking great on the satin and no reason to think that putting it together would become
a disaster that was already in the making.
It looked good on the fabric until I had to cut the pieces out and construct the head.  The first problem was the silk satin I was using.  It frays horribly and of course you need to clip corners and make the allowance thin to tuck over and whip stitch the head piece to the back of the body.  Because I was having trouble with the fraying, I wasn't aggressive with the turn over to get the two lines of gimp to touch at the seam.  This was complicated by the addition of the horn in the seam.  So when I was done, I had a head that had a 1/8" gap between the two pieces near the horn going around the snout.  

To fix that, I needed to whip on some gimp to fill the space.  But the gimp at the edge was the dark gimp.  That gave the snout a weird dark shadow around it that you can see in the picture below.  Then then the piece was attached to the ground fabric over the stuffing, I discovered in my haste to finish the entire side of the casket that I had forgotten to enlarge the pattern by 10% to allow it to bow over and still fit the outline on the fabric.  ARG!!  How stupid.  So now I was pulling at the piece while tucking under the fraying silk fabric and it missed covering the outline in two places.  The fix would have to be laying another line of dark gimp around the outside and in places, it might have to be two to three lines to cover the gap and fraying silk bits.  

Unicorn #1 - his snout with the dark grey stripe down its nose just annoyed me so much.


New body with medium grey on the outside and done
in a double line to make it thicker and more dominant
It was at this point that I got really discouraged.  I hadn't intended for the unicorn to be bounded by a real thick line of dark grey, it dominated and you didn't even notice the med grey color as a transition between the dark and white.  The snout really irritated me every time I looked at it.  I showed it to some trusted embroiderers and they weren't as down on it as I was.  But I knew I would hate that side of the casket the rest of my life.  So I left it aside.  My time crunch was upon me and I had to get the tent stitch slope done on schedule, run around the country and endure some serious demands on my time not knowing if I would ever be able to get back to making another one before the instructions would have to go up.  

So I set aside a few days to work until midnight on a new unicorn after Thanksgiving after shipping and other demands and managed to get one done.  There was a lot of thought and funny short lines worked in dark grey in ways that wasn't efficient for embroidery but put the dark and medium where they needed to be to give the best look.  Having the bad one to refer to helped tremendously in making the new one.  

One fix that really contributed was running a line of fray check around the silk satin where I wanted to cut it (the seam allowance line).  It wasn't next to the embroidery but kept the silk satin together when I was doing the turning.  What a difference that made!!  I was able to be aggressive with the turn and the snout ended up so crisp that I didn't need to add the planned dark grey line there at all and I don't really feel it is missing (note the rest of the body has one).  

Below you can see the two unicorns.  I am quite a bit happier with the second and will enjoy it on the side of my casket.  I am not much of a ripper - usually working on ways to fix vs remove work as I am pressed for time.  But in this case it was the right thing to do - and I wanted to share it with you to make you feel better about that piece that is sitting in the corner right now waiting for you to figure out what to do about something that bugs you.  

It happens to all of us.

The final unicorn and the one that got away.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A New Panel for the Double Casket Stitch-Along

This stitch along is working out well for me.  I now have 9 panels of 18 done for my double casket!!  That means in 12 months I have stitched half a casket and wasn't chained to the couch.  It just means setting a goal of getting a certain panel done during a month or a two-month period.  Something pretty achieveable when you think about everything else that I have going on around here (queue memories of 14 straight days with visitors/robot kids in my house - today is the first day where I could sit down and breathe in the morning).

I am starting to get antsy because of the number of panels laying around and am wanting to get the next panel done so I might start gluing them to the box.  It will start looking like something!

Tricia