Sunday, July 5, 2015

Maine and New Hampshire Samplers on View

Sally Cochran Sampler in the Lynn, MA style
If you happen to be going to the coast of Maine anytime before October 4th, stop in Saco, Maine for the exhibition of 130 samplers that are mostly from Maine and New Hampshire (a few related pieces from Massachusetts are thrown in - Maine and Mass were one state until 1820).  They were pulled from their collection, many historical societies (who don't exhibit these often) and many private collections!  For those who aren't familiar with the geography, Saco is just north of Kennebunkport and is south of Portland, ME.  Old Orchard Beach is in Saco and quite popular.

My family loves the beaches at Ogunquit and the salt water taffy place at York - so we come up there quite often (the 1 hr 10 min trip is a fast one).  So yesterday I dropped off the family a the beach and made a bee-line to the exhibit for an hour.

I was quite stunned at the number of samplers that curator Leslie Rounds pulled together for her "Industry and Virtue Joined: Schoolgirl Needlework of Northern New England" exhibit.  130 samplers from a tight geographical region is wonderful to see.  You can wall along a wall and see motifs travel through the samplers as well as how much variety came from the different teachers.  Putting this together resulted in many new insights and obvious teacher styles.  It took me far longer than my family was expecting to get through the exhibit.  So I totally suggest dumping your significant other at the beach before going!!

There will be a book coming in a few weeks for the exhibition and it will compliment the book for the 2013 exhibit (I My Needle Ply with Skill).  If you want to get the catalog, keep checking the website.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gallery 517 - A Jewel Box

There is a tiny, jewel box of a gallery that houses 17th century English embroidery on view at the MET.  It is always open and has about a dozen pieces to view, including an incredible stumpwork mirror.

The problem is that the gallery is very tucked away and not marked with anything that would make you search it out.  I think I had visited the museum many times over a three year period and had never discovered it!  When I did, it was on the hunt for this mirror.  If an item is on display, it tells you in the online catalog and what gallery it is in.  So you could have blown be over with a feather when I walked in and found way more than one piece!

The gallery number is 517 and it is very small on the map -- it is in with all the period rooms on the first floor.  So next time you are at the MET -- don't miss it!  There is a web page on the room and you can see what is on display at all times.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Pop Up Sale at the Hubers!

There is a big sale off samplers and embroideries at the Hubers - for those who are in the market for something old!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Little Trinket Box

There is a tiny trinket box, likely from the 17th century, that is on sale this week.  The box is 7 cm x 10.3 cm x 7.5 cm with round feet -- almost the same size as our little trinket box.  The techniques on the sides are satin fabric over a form (possibly paper from a mould) that is outlined in gold thread.  In this case, the scalloped metal trim is used to outline the panels.  Spangles would have completed the look.

There is a large Dutch cabinet using a similar set of techniques that sold many years ago, so this could have been Dutch as well.  If you are interested in it, check out The Saleroom.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Saint Martin Series - MET embroideries

It was a bonanza of embroidery at the MET, hence why I rushed out when my family wanted to do a different museum!  There was of course the gallery with 17th century embroidery always out - so I had to do a pilgrimage there to my favorite stumpwork mirror.  But this time there was also a gallery with a series of medieval embroidered masterpieces to view.  These were a portion of the Saint Martin Series, the MET does not own the entire set.  A series of round embroideries that likely adorned a cope or other church textiles; they are only about nine inches in diameter but are packed with technique and character.

Again, the conservation of these pieces yielded many images that helped to enhance the description of the pieces.  When embroidery isn't your thing, these images and descriptions of technique and materials really help describe why the pieces are masterful beyond the imagery.  Giulia Chiostrini, Assistant Conservator has written a great blog on the MET site that repeats much of what is in the gallery and added much more.

The exhibit is on until October 25, 2015 in Gallery 960.  You can look at the objects on the site, and if you click on the magnify button, you can really see the stitches well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Elaborate Embroidery, Fabrics for Menswear before 1815

When I am at the MET, I always have to zip down the staircase that leads to the Ratti Center (where all our yummy embroideries are kept!).  The vestibule of the staircase has been turned into a mini gallery where the center can run small embroidery, textile and lace exhibits all the time.  YEA!  The current exhibit is about 18th century embroidery on mens fabrics.  It is lovely as it uses a selection of uncut waist coats, pattern books and tiny (approx 4" x 5") samples from sample books of the embroidery companies to show the variety of embroidered patterns available for the male consumer of the 18th century.

The fineness of the silk embroidery is stunning, including the use of thread patterns over the velvet to give the impression of lace overlay, as seen in this picture to the left.

The exhibit also contains a few magnified pictures by our friend Cristina Carr!   This has become a new thing at the MET where her microscopic images are being used to enhance the conversation about exhibited textiles and, I for one, am mesmerized by that level of detail!

If you can't get there before the exhibit is taken off on July 19th, then take a gander at a few of the examples on the exhibit webpage.


Monday, June 22, 2015

China Through the Looking Glass

Magnificent Gold by Guo Pei which took 50,000 hours to embroider.
I had the chance to get to New York this last weekend with my family.  I stole away twice for a brief time while they were at another museum to see a few embroidery/textile exhibits that are showing in NYC.

You must know about the China Through the Looking Glass exhibition because of the endless parade of pictures of Rihanna and others walking the red carpet at the MET Gala.  That Gala every year is the kickoff of a Costume Institute exhibit; usually they theme dress for it.  This year's exhibit is situated in an unusual way in the museum; taking over a dozen regular galleries with the haute couture dresses inter dispersed among the Asian artifacts.  It is a really lovely way to do it - show the objects next to the decorative arts that became the inspiration for the designers.  The pottery room is particularly stunning in my mind to turn your head one direction and see the wares and then the other and see the blue and white all over the dresses - the inspiration is so much clearer that way.

The exhibit also overwhelms with full wall videos of Chinese film segments and music that relate to the inspiration as well.  In the basement four walls of floor to ceiling video with opulent scenes of The Last Emperor are juxtaposed with the couture in front of looking glasses containing the
emperors' robes and other court robes that inspired the dresses in front.  The amount of court embroidery and couture embroidery on display is almost overwhelming.

While I really enjoyed many of the rooms, the one that just blew me away was in a room of buddhist sculpture with a dress, called Magnificent Gold, from Chinese designer Guo Pei, the same designer who made Rihanna's embroidered dress (Her Chinese plate dress was my favorite as well).  It was so visually stunning that it wasn't even until I reviewed the photos later at home that I realized it was inspired by Chinese fans!  The entire thing was embroidered in gold thread.  It was the only dress in the room because it would have overwhelmed anything near it.  Stunning and one of the dresses I wanted to see move down the catwalk.  The Beijing designer is creating huge waves with her embroidered extravaganzas based on cultural references from her home country.  Watch a brief recap of her 2013 show (which includes few pieces from the MET exhibit).   The Huffington Post had a nice article with dozens of her richly embroidered designs at the bottom.  For those of us who want thread and skills to remain alive, designers like this are a huge part of the solution, making it cool and providing enormous amounts of work for the craftsmen and manufacturers.

The exhibit can be seen in video form on the MET website as well as pictures of some of the items if you can't get there before it closes on August 16th.