Friday, September 22, 2023

Another Double Casket Finish to Celebrate!

Deborah Zibrik has just sent me fabulous photos of her finished Five Senses Double Casket to post.  Over the moon with the results!  

I had to zoom into the photos to look at the silver trim closer and realized immediately it wasn't a purchased trim but had been handmade by Deborah and so asked her the story behind it:

The needle lace trim was made with a crochet hook – was single crochet on either 3 or 7 stitches to get the needed width and then made as  long as required. The sterling thread is a really high quality vintage metallic thread  ( almost like a passing thread) purchased several years ago in Amsterdam. - DZ

Deborah sent me some of this luscious vintage thread to play with and it is just lovely and has a wonderful patina.  I just love it when people add their own panashe to their caskets with layers of stories.  I really recommend them being written down on the bottom of the casket or as a note in a secret drawer to preserve it for the future.  Can you imagine a descendent or museum in the future finding that note to realize the personal story behind just the trim!  

Inside the handmade vintage silver trim changes its design

For my caskets I was in Venice this summer and visited the last hand gold beater.  You can bet I purchased the gold I was watching and filming being made into leaf.  I will use it to gild the feet of my casket and will have to put that story somewhere on the box.  I have many stories of how the parts were made and the wonderful people involved.  Gotta start writing more of them and sticking them in drawers.  

If you are on the private class site (NING) there are several caskets being shown that are getting closer to competition and it is getting exciting to see them come together.  Hopefully in the next year I can post a few of them.


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Historic Sampler Design Course - Starting Dec 1, 2023

Some of the pages of motifs in the course showing the different historic sampler styles treated

Yea!!  I have been able to launch a new online course that I have been working on it for many months and am very happy with it.  It's another 'Tricia course' where it has so many layers that you might go back to it for years. 

I taught this back about twenty years ago in person using only Dutch motifs and it was very well liked.  But now I have expanded it greatly and found a way to put a modern spin on it to make it so much more useful.  Not only is it a system of layouts with historic reference material in the pdf (also on pintrest) to see how all samplers conform to these easy layouts, but also a step-by-step design methodology.  And then there is the source material.  Loads of source material.  There are 100+ pages of motifs and alphabets culled from samplers, mostly my collection, which span many major classes of samplers from Europe, UK, and the US.  Think 10 crammed pages of quaker motifs for example.  

The original course taught how to cut and paste motifs on graph paper to get your result.  But this is a major upgrade.  I have been working with Ursa software for months to provide the pages of motifs in formats that students can download and use in either the mac, windows or iPad version of their popular charting software.  So there will be videos on how to use the software (you buy separate if you want - if not - cut and paste).  But it is really reasonable - less than $20 on an iPad, which I really prefer as using the pencil is great.  

Mobistitch interface on the iPad allows you to upload my graphs and pick and
choose motifs for a new design

Videos on the design process and how to fix common issues, how to balance whitespace, dense motifs, etc.  Then selecting and balancing color and thoughts on how to select counted stitches for things like band samplers (12 pages of bands included).  Lessons have mini-design projects to try out concepts and you can upload a picuture to NING to get some feedback if wanted in the course group.  And I will go over non-rectangular samplers and other 3-D projects as an advanced topic.

See the full course description here

Examples of design work from the inspiration, methods and mistakes are provided

Sampler designs in process are shown to highlight design problems that came up and
how they were solved

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Last Week of Summer Sale - 20% off

I forgot to blog about the summer sale running on the Thistle Threads website!  This is the last week of the sale - 20% off a large selection of threads and kits.  The sale ends midnight EST on August 18th.  If there were thread types you have wanted to try - this is a good time to get some.

I will then be off to take my youngest to college.  Cue the Kleenex!  Next week is wisdom teeth so I will have a few last days being Dr. Mom and sitting on the couch watching cartoons and the movie Draft Day while he recovers.  Empty nesting is going to seem like such cold turkey for us after having dozens of people in the house every weekend for fourteen years.  I certainly will have more time for stitching!  


Friday, June 30, 2023

When the Store is Closed - the Mice Play

It was a very busy May for me with two graduations flanking a big trip to Europe I took to document gold thread making and silk velvets.  Those types of trips end up paying dividends for years with new threads, understanding, relationships, papers, and lectures spinning out of them.  My cameras and notepads are full and the boxes of threads are already arriving.  So while it might be really annoying to plan your purchases a little or wait an extra few days/weeks for packages to arrive, there are huge benefits to me getting out there.

I was also able to spend a day at a collection in the UK investigating many pieces of 17th century embroidery I haven't seen before but have been on my research list.  And there have been many other productive things I have been up to!  I wrote an enormous article on Martha Edlin for publication and I am more than super excited about that.  Can't wait until it is in print and I can start talking more about that work.  

And another out-of-the-blue request came in that I was able to squeeze in before I left for a family trip to Africa to celebrate the graduations.  I am going to be a guest voice on a museum audio guide!!  

The Baltimore Museum of Art is launching a very large exhibition on October 1st, 2023 about women artists of the 1400-1800 period.  Not a surprise, but there are many embroidered objects in the exhibition and in fact they are borrowing quite a few 17th century pieces that you will want to see.  

A really lovely concept was forwarded for the exhibition audio guide - ask contemporary artisans to comment on the pieces from their own perspectives as female artists.  I was asked to choose several of my favorite pieces that will be on display and record in the studio.   What was absolutely fabulous about the objects in the exhibition up for me to choose from was that I had researched every one of them up close and so knew them very well and had my own photography to rely on for coming up with the stories I wanted to tell.  

I can't reveal any details right now but if you love 17th century embroidery, put a stop in Baltimore between October 2020 and January 2024 on your list.  And listen to the audio guide and you just might hear me talking!


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Good Embroidery TV Watching

I am always looking for good YouTube or other documentaries on PBS to watch while I work putting threads into kits or embroidering for instructions.  Yesterday I came upon a nice 2.5 hour documentary on YouTube I thought I would pass on.  

I love seeing artisans who make things be profiled.  You get to appreciate the work that goes into their craft and understand why something is valued (or should be valued).  It also serves as a top level documentation of their processes.  

For some reason, Business Insider has been doing this for a long time with documentary crews going to different parts of the world to record the 'last of'.  Their series is called "Still Standing" and this is the playlist of amazing traditional crafts and their stories of the people keeping the tradition alive as well as documenting the process.

There are weavers, block printers, dyers, carvers, stone shapers, soy sauce makers, painters, etc. featured.  In each case you see the love for the craft and hear of the pressures on their survival.  For those of us who are lovers of fine embroidery supplies, you know the hardships it has taken to keep our suppliers working.

This is very relevant to me as I spent part of May in Europe visiting artisans in Venice, Vienna and the UK as part of a joint Gold Thread Artisan grant with my colleagues Cristina Carr at the MET and Mary Brooks of Durham University.  We have been working on a study of gold threads of the 17th century and it was time to visit my manufacturers so they could see it live and armed with new knowledge gleaned from primary sources I have been digging up, we could ask pointed questions of those who do.

One of the sites we visited was Mario Menegazzo's gold beating workshop to see him make leaf by hand.  Gold leaf was used heavily in the 17th century to make Venice Gold threads.  We had observed many things under the microscope and needed to show him pictures and discuss what he knows (he is also a metallurgist like me) and what has been written (not so accurate which was what we thought).  

You can see a lovely short documentary about his work here.  It was fabulous to see the entire process that day and film it.  But the conversations after were priceless.  What a lovely and wonderful family as well.  I purchased gold and silver leaf for my casket feet and can't wait to gild them to have special memories of the people who made the material incorporated into my casket.  

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Celebrating Another Wonderful Casket Finish!

Tracy Hall in the UK has finished her Harmony Casket and it is just wonderful!  It is always fantastic to see the pieces finished and hear the stories and sense of accomplishment from the students in these classes.  Their pieces will be long time family heirlooms!

Look at the super cute shoes and how well Harmony is worked on the top.  At first I thought I was seeing a picture of my example.  Her finishing is just so crisp too!

Congratulations Tracy!  She is now working on a double casket - it is hard when you get hooked!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Missing Sampler - Have you Seen It?

I don't normally get emails from detectives every day - but my inbox had an unusual request this week.  A police detective from the Newburyport Police Department contacted me about a cold case he was trying to bring back and solve.

Way back in 2014 as I was working on geneology regarding a set of samplers from Newbury and Newburyport with the curator of the Museum of Old Newbury, I brought out of my folder a picture of a 1820 sampler by Lydia Comb Bartlett to show him.  It was a listing off Ebay.  He was stunned and upset and immediately rushed to the object files.  

The sampler was owned by the museum and had been in storage.  Now I had just shown him that it had been recently sold on Ebay.  Yes, it was missing.  I had also tracked it to a 2011 auction where a better picture was held.  It was reported stolen and unfortunately didn't rise to the level of investigation at the time or as the detective said, it fell though the cracks.  

So the detective contacted me to have me use my knowledge of the sampler field as well as Newbury samplers to help them generate leads.  I have already turned over several as well as notified many who come across collections and large amounts of pictorial data on samplers.  The major sampler dealers are now on the look out.  But he asked if I would put the call out on blogs so many eyes will be checking as well.  The sampler was purchased by someone innocent, not knowing that the sampler was missing from a museum.  And it is pretty clear that the sellers did not know that the sampler was museum property too.   It is very easy for antique material to get back into the market without being noticed and passing hands quickly.  That is why major auction houses and buyers above a certain amount are keen to know the provenance of objects and that is often listed going back into the 19th century on auction listings.  Few people want to buy something that is ill gotten.  

If you know the whereabouts of this sampler.  You can contact:

Joshua Tierney

Newburyport Police Department

(978)462-4411 EXT. 1066