Friday, July 29, 2016

Opus Anglicanum at the V&A

For those in England or who are going to be visiting in the fall, there is a spectacular (reportedly) exhibit coming up and starting October 1st - February 5th, 2017.  Called Opus Anglicanum, Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery, it has been over four years in the making (I have heard about it from others).

They seem to be expecting it to be popular as the tickets are already on sale!  A selection of the items are on the site to view as well.  The fine detail of the split stitching - really thread painting - of Opus Anglicanum is just amazing.  There are some deposits of it on display around Europe and I am always stunned when I view them.

There will be a curator talk as well on September 30th for members - so if this is your thing, get on that list.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thistle Threads Closed July 29-Aug 15

Thistle Threads will have an annual closure from July 29th to August 15th.  Any orders received on and between those dates will be delayed from shipping until August 16th and after.

Hopefully there will be a little bit of stitching that goes on, but can't guarantee it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How About Tape Measures??

Last sold at Christies in June, 1987 (picture)
For many of us, 'toys' are the same as 'needlework tools', aren't they?  So I want to bring up some really cool needlework tools made from these techniques that are discussed for the Design Contest.  This one is pretty lovely, it is a measuring tape that is made as the bottom of a needlelace set of flowers with a butterfly resting in the spray.

But I could just as easily see this worked in a combination of lacets and needlelace as well as silk covered wires.

A rare 5 1/4” tall revolving tape measure in silks and silver thread in buttonhole stitch with a butterfly resting in a spray of dog roses, the parchment tape in the needlework ball below unwinds as the wired decorative stand is turned. The tape is inscribed:  Take this small present at my hand who am your servant to command Mary Hanny 1687.

This piece was painted and published in a book in 1926, listed as being owned at that time by Mr. Percival Griffiths.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you know where this is - give me a holler!!

Painting from Plate XIX E of Seligman
and Hughes, Domestic Needlework of
same object in 1926. 
There is also another tape measure that is fun to look at and it uses some of the expanded bullion technique in its turning method.  This one is part of the set of casket toys from the National Museum of Scotland casket.  The tape is written on two pieces of parchment and says:  

(1) The God above vouchsafeth store.  To hi in fault that prayeth therefore:  But for his quirts you thankless run: Their wealth shall waste as wax in Sunn.

(2) Aske what thou wilt and though shat have:  if though in Christ yu same do crave: For Christ thy mediator sees when tough to him doest fall in knees.

 It is interesting to see how each is similar and yet different.  There appears in the second one to be a nut that is hollowed out as a form and holes in the top and bottom that the wires go through where the parchment is caught (either an end or the middle).  The parchment goes out a hole in the side.  The wire goes all the way through and is bent so it doesn't come out.  The wire can be turned to let out or pull in the tape.

So hopefully someone will design a fun tape measure/poem holder for their casket.  You could tell quite the story about your casket in this form!
National Museum of Scotland A.1961.502G

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Other Jewelry and Poseys

Lot 1, 07 July 2009 Sotheby's London

And this might be the last post of inspirational material for the Design Contest.  There was a Dutch casket which had these two items inside and they are just toooo wonderful not to show.  They blur the edge between needlework and jewelry.  The poesy on the right side is full of spangles, gold wire, smooched purls and gold wire wrapped parchments along with garnets and pearls.  Then there is the holder which is the same expanded bullion around silk wrapped wire.  

The object on the left is made from silk wrapped parchments in bow bunches, reminds one of the garlands on the tops of caskets!  

These are examples of late Renaissance style of jewelry that focused on bows as can be seen on the necklace from the V&A collection.  

Now these examples are something to think about for the contest with their bullion wrapped silk - quite the yummy casket toy!  Check out the details below, but the website for Sotheby's has a really great magnification of these two pieces.

Lot 1, 07 July 2009 Sotheby's London

Lot 1, 07 July 2009 Sotheby's London

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stags and Dogs

National Museum of Scotland  A.1961.502B-D

At this point, I have only seen the one dog in the National Museum of Scotland collection.  He is about 8 cm in length.  But I am assuming that there must be a few more out there.  It seems that once you see one item that is intriguing like these, you find more.  It also lends some credence to the idea that these were either sold or class projects - otherwise we wouldn't find so many similar objects.   

So it shouldn't be a surprise that there are more stag's out there too.  I found two in a very interesting and unique shadowbox in a private collection.  I had seen the auction picture of this piece somewhere (I try to keep records, but in this case I think it was in someone's personal library and I just can't find it online!!  If you know of it - send me a scan).  So I was quite excited when I turned the corner on a tour of a collector's home and found the original!  While I was allowed to take pictures for my research, I don't have permission to share them so I will do my best to describe my drawing (which is quite lacking talent!).  

The shadowbox was about 3" deep and over a foot tall.  The top surface was lined with a geometric wrapped card and another one was along the bottom of the back of the shadowbox.  The rest of the background was a traditional late 17th/early 18th century floral vase filled with flowers; all worked in detached needlelace.  The urn itself was blue and had a holie point voided date of 1712.  MB were the initials on either side.

The two sides were fabricated out of flowers with leaves and petals cut from sleaven silk and glued in place.  Shells and spanish moss filled the bottom along with three small vases with sleaven silk flowers.  And the piece-de-reistance, two wire stags made from silver bullions! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bullion Birds

Swan from Martha Edlin's Casket T.449-1990

When looking at the wheat sheafs, we saw two drawings of birds done in the same technique.  I love the idea of the multicolored birds in this method!  Well, there is a bird that exists in a collection - it is a toy from Martha Edlin's cabinet and we got to see it last year.

Note that it has lacets attached too! Hint Hint (Contest...)

This bird or swan is cream colored and looks very similar to the drawn bird on the right side of the illustration from Seligman and Hughes book (1930s).  But we know that this particular bird is not the same as it came in the Edlin collection, passed for generations in the same family.  So somewhere out there is another that might even be in multiple colors!

Plate from Domestic Needlework by Seligman and Hughes, listed as owned by Sir William Lawrence, Bart.
Looking at my research pictures of the swan, the body is covered in cream woven silk fabric and the feathers are wrapped in cream silk thread.  Then the entire piece is wrapped in expanded gilt bullion.  There are black and white stumpwork eyes attached (the iris is white).  The size of this piece is substantial, it fits in the palm of your hand at 8 cm x 10 cm long.  The legs are a thick brass wire with the bullion around them.  While we can't expand the wings - it looks similar to that in the drawn picture in configuration.  There is black silk fabric for the beak as well.

Just imagine our favorite birds from the 17th century being worked this way!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Another Pansy Poesy

Victoria and Albert Museum T.144.1934
In searching for something else for my blog discussions (I routinely troll sites looking for private collection pieces that likely ended up in public ones 80 years later), I found a 'dress ornament' made from lacets in the V&A collection.  The poesy of pansies is obviously made from lacets, I just wish we could see the colors it is made in.

I bet if we combed through many other collections, we would find many more of these casket toys (a general term for personal items that have been found associated with the embroidered boxes).


Friday, July 15, 2016

Wheat Covered in Bullion

Wheat Sheaf, Royal Collection RCIN 37353
Wheat... this is the most often found item made in this technique so far.  There is one at Holyrood Castle in Edinburg in the Mary Queen of Scotts Cabinet, laying near a casket in fact.

Museum of London Ornament 37.12/7
Then there is the one in the Museum of London collection
with the snake wrapped around it.

Another resides in a private collection with a rust colored squirrel on it as part of the assembly.  The squirel is also made from the same technique with an assume wire armature and padding/silk wrapping and then a gilt bullion pulled around it.  I like this pieces because the long gold thread strands that emanate from the wheat have spangles on the ends.
Close up of Wheat Sheaf

A fourth sheaf is in another private collection and came with two lacet flower posies, a silk purl rosemary stem, and some accessories like in the Martha Edlin collection as well.  This one is just glorious and can give you just a peak into what they all must have looked like originally.

Then there is the fifth!  Yes - five of these that I have found described or have seen.  This one is also drawn in the Seligman and Hughes book and was once in the collection of Sir William Lawrence, Bart. It shows a sheaf of wheat that has a bird in what looks like the same technique standing on it.  It is listed as a hair ornament.  Next to it is a separate bird - to be discussed in a later blog).  I bet the bird was just stunning!

So why wheat?  Wheat is a symbol of Ceres, the grain goddess and is often shown with allegories of virtue and vice.  Certainly the snake wrapped around the sheaf could stand for that!  And the glittering presentation is something that runs through jewelry design for centuries, wheat sheafs have been made as part of diamond tiaras, pins and other accessories in diamonds.
Plate from Seligman and Hughes, Domestic Needlework (owned by Sir William Lawrence, Bart.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Making a Bullion Snake

Making these wire animals aren't very difficult, if just comes down to making the armature out of a thick wire (20-28 gauge).  Once the wire is bent into the desired shape, you can use cotton floss to wrap the structure to the desired thickness.  While I have seen 'wood' listed in some museum entries for pieces I haven't seen or touched in person, the close pictures I have taken all suggest that wire that is padded is the technique for them as the wire peeks out or the structure has give.  Certainly the snake is all wire.

I have tried wrapping the structure with wool roving but found that it was so fuzzy that the next layer of Soie Ovale was difficult to put on without it disappearing into the wool layers.  Strips of wool just didn't give the smoothness I was looking for either.  I could see doing this with felted animals that were very compacted.

Once the padded wire was made, I wrapped it with Soie Ovale.  and then affixed the bullion to the
silk and started wrapping while I pulled the bullion open.  The originals weren't perfectly wrapped because it was just hard to do so, so give yourself some slack!  You don't notice when it is sitting on the table!

The more expanded the bullion, the easier it is to see the color that you have wrapped below.  I suspect that the hound from the National Museum of Scotland has embroidered details on the wrapped and stuffed form to make the black spots.  (He also has lacet ears!).

Once the entire snake is finished, you can bend it carefully around a pencil to shape it like the originals.

I truly can't wait to see what everyone comes up with using this technique!!


Yesterday's picture was a bit squished!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bullion Animals - Casket Toys

There are a series of small animals that have been found in caskets that almost all share the same making technique.  A wire armature is padded and then wrapped with silk thread (or fabric) and a final finish of expanded silver or gilt bullion is wrapped around the entire animal, making it glitter.

The effect is quite charming and you can just imagine how cute these were and then the little girls making them to play with.

National Museum of Scotland, A.1961.502C (Snake), A.1961.502B (Stag) and A.1961.502D (Hound).

Quite a few snakes exist, including the one in the National Museum of Scotland collection of casket toys.  The snake is silver bullion that is expanded an wrapped around a wire that is wrapped with wool or cotton and then silk floss in yellow and pink stripes.  In this case there might have been a black silk thread going through the silver bullion, but it is degrading away.  The snake is about 11 cm in length and 3 cm in width max with the body about as wide as a pencil.

Domestic Needlework by Seligman and Hughes.  
Adam and Eve formerly of Mr. Percival Griffiths Collection
I have seen snakes listed in collections as well as around a sheaf of wheat in the Museum of London as well as a drawing of a piece in a private collection (in the 1930s).  I got to wondering why about the snake.  I mean, the stag and dog I totally get.  But a snake?  It certainly makes more sense when thinking about a scene of Adam and Eve... but why by itself?  Then I started trying to figure out the technique to make one of these animals and the snake was the natural first step you would try to make something! So I think the snake was the learning piece.

Museum of London Ornament ID No. 32.21/7  (1665-1699)
The Museum of London piece has some similarity to the National Museum of Scotland snake; it is about the same size and it is covered in silver bullion with blue and pink stripes in silk underneath.  But the mouth seems to be open like the snake in the drawing above and the wheat that it is wrapped around (Note those lacets, I suspect that they were actually what is wrapping the snake) has a lobed bottom to make it stand up - just like the tree in the drawing.

(Note - if ANYONE knows where this Adam and Eve pieces is - fess up!!).  My guess is that it is a velvet pillow with 3-D ceylon snakes on the green velvet and you can recognize the techniques for the leaves and apples... just hope someone gets inspired by that drawing!

While the Museum of London record says that the snake is around a tree, I don't agree as it looks exactly like five wheat sheafs that I have seen personally.  I'll bring the wheat up in another blog post.  There is one tree-like version that is also in the Museum of London.    (From both of these we get an idea of how the trees on the Royal Collection Casket stand up).

A close up view of my snake example
So back to the is a close up of my snake.  Which is now a Needlework Nibble!!  So learn this technique by trying out a snake and then see what you can extend the idea to for the Design Contest! It really is pretty easy and the effect just can't be explained in pictures as the expanded bullion just glitters so much.

It has been suggested that some of the wheat pieces with animals (there are more to show you!) were hair ornaments and I can believe that as they were so pretty and sparkly.

I have made two snakes!  One in silver and the other gold.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Even Martha Edlin Used Lacet for Toys!

There is a really cute piece in the Martha Edlin casket - one of the pieces with the most 'toys'.  She made a pair of flat gloves with two colors of the flat braid (lacet).  First the body of the glove was made with the cream lacet and then a red silk/gold thread lacet was used for the gauntlet cuff.  A gold thread was then whipped with tiny stitches to the edges of the cream lacet, making the looped design on the top of the gloves too.

On the UK Casket Tour, we had the opportunity to see these very cute little gloves.  They are flat, not 'real' with two sides.  They are just 1.25" in width and a little over 2" in length.  And of course would fit in a casket drawer just perfectly!

Martha Edlin Gloves - T.450&A-1900
To encourage thinking about more elaborate versions of these gloves or other ideas, I have drawn out the pattern for them and worked a set of examples that can be done with the lacets in the Frostings Kits or off my website shop.  Choose your own colors!  But the technique of sewing the lacets to a pattern before stitching them together works really well.  This new Needlework Nibble is available on the site.

New Needlework Nibble - Lacet Glove

And you can make two!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life Animated

Life Animated - a movie about the journey of an Autistic man and his famous family.  
Many of you know that I and my children are dyslexic and that is something that drives my work with the robot teams.  The other side of the spectrum of brain structures is Autism and Aspergers, which is also very frequently seen in the offspring of engineers; affecting about 50% of the families of our college friends and several kids on our team.  It seems for us that families we know fall into one or the other category, having a genetic predisposition and thus dealing with the fall out of not being neuro-typical.  

It is also no secret that my husband and I are now on our second set of careers, I have been using needlework as a way to fund passions and give the flexibility that is needed to be available to deal with the needs of our kids.  He is doing the same too - having built several large companies in the speech recognition area.

When looking for something else to do that was flexible, I encouraged him to do something socially responsible.  Maybe it was penance for inventing the systems that have you "say 1 if you want it in English, 2 if Spanish".  (You can ALL thank me for that backdoor out of the menu - 'operator'.  I insisted during the first company).  But I wanted him to find a way to use his incredible talents for the good of man.  So he is helping several companies who want to use speech recognition to do good things in medicine, education, and other areas.  One such company is about to launch their product and it is luckily timed with a movie that premiered on Friday - and I just have to talk about it after keeping mum for so long.

Ron Suskind - You might have seen him
on TV this week. 
Ron Suskind is a pulitzer prize winning author and reporter who has specialized in the stories behind complex financial and world politics.  He is gifted with words, frequently interviewing our presidents and other power brokers.  So it might come as a surprise that his second son, Owen, is autistic.  You may have read an excerpt or heard an interview with him about his more personal book; Life, Animated, Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.  It was about the surreal life he and his family have led for the last 20 years - interviewing the President during the day and returning home at night to live in a make-believe world of Disney movies in order to communicate with their son.   Well, his son's life has been turned into a documentary which won awards at Sundance and is getting rave reviews at every film festival from Cannes to Tribeca.   They were on Nightline together last night. (Ron is a frequent talking head - he popped up in the American Experience documentary on Walt Disney! I had to laugh a lot when I saw him as a Disney expert in that movie recently).

It was very exciting to have the opportunity to view the film several weeks ago in a private showing for a small group of us in Cambridge before the USA premiere in NYC on Friday.  Even more fantastic to have Owen join his parents on stage and take our questions.  I had seen Owen on The Daily Show last year and knowing his history - it just makes you choke up and cry.  I encourage you to watch the trailer and if the film is showing anywhere close to you in the next few weeks, go see it.  You don't need to know a child who is autistic to have the film resonate.  As Roger Ebert said:
An animation in the film capturing the moment when Ron
used a favorite puppet of Owen's (side kick of Jaffar in Aladdin)
to talk to Owen and get a response for the first time.

It’s impossible to completely divorce my reaction to Roger Ross Williams’ remarkable “Life, Animated” from two of the most definitive roles in my life: father and film critic. For the former, the film emotionally forced me to consider my relationship to my sons as it captures a father whose life forever changes when his son’s autism puts up a wall between the two of them.   - Roger Ebert, January 23, 2016
The film is strikingly honest in the feelings of the family, both in the tragicness of autism and the hopes that their long (very long) road to reaching Owen took.  But it doesn't gloss over the harsh realities of the future and the limitation that Owen faces in a world more suited to 'normal'.  But one line sticks with me over and over from the movie - one that Ron has said to me in relation to our dyslexia as well.  "Who defines what a meaningful life is?!"  It is something that my neighbor, a robot parent and world famous psychologist, has said as well regarding their oldest child who is developmentally delayed due to epilepsy and is currently going through the same types of trials and tribulations of becoming semi-independent as a young adult in this world, just as Owen is filmed doing during the movie.  She is the most lovely and loving girl!  Her mother and I have spent many a night brainstorming job prospects with her on the porch and ways she can have a meaningful path forward that makes her happy to contribute to this world.

Who defines what a meaningful life is?  That is so true and understandable by myself and the parents of any non-neurotypical child, whether they be affected by Downs Syndrome or Autism or Dyslexia.  The film is full of powerful thoughts and surprisingly much laughter (The discussion between Owen's older brother and him about having a girlfriend is just priceless!).

Ron has been a fun person for my husband to work with.  His stories of behind the scenes with powerful people are always interesting and hilarious.  It is quite funny to hear on a Monday who called over the weekend to ask for advice - often I see news clips on CNN related to these 'guess who called' quips.  He contacted my husband when he wanted to turn his method of reaching his son, called in the field 'affinity therapy', into a tool.  Being one of a handful of best known experts in speech recognition, he quickly helped Ron put together a demonstration of the idea and they have been off to the races ever since.

Sidekicks application to help a parent or therapist communicate
with an autistic child using their affinities 
Sidekicks is a speech to text and text to speech application for smart phones that helps Autistic people communicate with others and navigate the complex world we live in.  It leverages the affinities that autistic people have and breaks down the anxiety barriers to communication using the device as the conduit.  The stories of the pilot users that my husband has brought home has brought tears to our eyes for months.  Parents turning to the test runners with tears in their eyes after their child told the  device what their favorite food is - they never knew as the child almost doesn't speak to them at all.  It isn't magic, but something that a therapist or committed parent can use to reach another level of communication depth with the autistic person.  As my husband recently pointed out, its just like the games I developed for my son when he was 6 to make memorizing the flash cards of the most common words (I, them, the, or, at) more engaging.  They didn't get used by themselves - it took me using them with him for over an hour a day for an entire summer to make progress (yes, that is how dyslexic my world-class robot guy is - couldn't distinguish those words without constant practice every day for months!).  But as every parent who only has 18 years to arm a child who isn't neuro-typical for the world - or a world without them someday - any tool that makes that time more effective is a life changer.

So that is my 2 cents - go see the movie if you can.  It is uplifting without having sugar and false hopes spread all over it.  Having met Owen and knowing his parents, its true.  Many, many years of hard fought work to reach him using the means that resonated with Owen.  I have another friend from MIT whose autistic son will be entering college this year - having known him all his life and how much early intervention there was and the very hard work of both of his parents, a more engaged life can be achieved by many autistic people.  It takes time, parents who will do anything that works, the gang of committed therapists (Cornelia Suskind is quick to point this out when you meet her), and tools that help them work with the child.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

From Sweet Bags to Bookmarks, Lacet as a Versatile Media

Cora Ginsburg 2009 Catalog
Christies Sale 5054, 23 May 2006
While these items weren't found in a casket, that I know of, you can imagine them being kept in a embroidered cabinet or made by the same young ladies.  So I will call them 'legal' for my contest as they would fit.

Bookmarks are an item that are found in embroidered bindings which are primarily made from lacet.  In the 17th century, a bookmark was a roll that was embroidered over, usually in a woven or tapestry stitch or the same method used to cover sweet bag tassels.  This roll was put parallel to the spine of the book and the half-hitched lacets that were attached to it were placed in between pages.  Since most books carried around were devotionals, psalms, and bibles; this made sense as you were keeping track of often referred to passages instead of where you were in the book if reading it straight through.

One particularly amazing bookmark is the one offered by Cora Ginsburg in 2009.  It came with a tapestry covered book of psalms showing Adam and Eve.  The lacets were finger braided with phrases in them worked in a contrasting color.  There were two sets, divided by the red one which said "Anne Hopkins, Her Book August [ ] 16 [ ]6.  On the left the strands are all biblical quotations from Colossians:  "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord" and "Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them".  The right side are couplets from George Wither's 1634 publication 'A Collection  of Emblems'.  They say:  "They after suffering shall be crowned/In whom a constant faith is found", "Even as the smoke doth pass away/so shall all worldly pompe decay" and "Take wing my soul and mount up higher/For Earth fulfills not my desire".    One wonders if Anne made these herself or if she went and ordered them up from the silk woman.  Perhaps one of the women who produced the how-to manuals on finger braids which now reside in the MET collections.

I would love to see a few bookmarks made!  The collection of lacets that we have would make a really lovely one.  Get those creative juices going!

Another item that was quite surprising on my travels through private collections was a sweet bag that
had its background made entirely from lacets.  I don't have permission to show a picture of this lovely bag and no end of searching the internet and auction records has produced it.  So I have drawn what it looks like (excuse my kindergarten level skills!).  The bag was a cream silk that had a overlay of circles made by stitching together spiraled lacet that were joined at the edges to make a 'fabric'.  The entire front and back of the bag was covered in this fabric of joined circles that were roughly 1/2" in diameter.  The circles alternated between a medium blue and a pink which I think was faded from a brighter (medium) value.  Laid on top of the circle background was a needlelace coat of arms made in silk and silver threads.  It was quiet stunning and highly unusual as I had never seen a sweet bag like this before.  Again... I post it as an inspiration to those who enter the contest!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Else Does Lacet Make?

Bug on Feller Collection piece
So what else have I found that is made with lacet?  Purse strings and ties on stumpwork shoes, etc are obvious things.  But less obvious are the small bits that are attached to stumpwork out of "U"s or circles of lacet stitched together like the flower bits.

On this piece from the Feller Collection, there is a bug attached to the piece with wings made from cream lacet that has been stitched together in the wing shape.  On another note, the central body looks in person as if it was gathered bird feather, the ribs of which are still showing but the iridescent feather would have been there originally.

The yellow tabs emulate leather pieces on this Roman
Another use is to make dress or clothing pieces using the "U" shape as seen in this overlay on a Roman soldier in the storyline.  The yellow tabs are representing the leather skirt.

And then my favorite idea, is doing a tape lace with the lacet as the tape!  The blue lacet must have been temporarily stitched down to a substrate like contact paper covered muslin and then a second cream thread was used to fill in the spaces with needlelace stitches to form one large pieces of lace.  In this case, the lace formed the curtains of a canopy.  What an inspired use of the flat braid!  

What else can you think of for the contest??

Blue lacet used as a tape in tape lace.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

More Lacet Flowers

In the National Museum of Scotland, there is a double casket with an entire load of casket toys inside it!  It includes several small purses, a beaded pincushion (there is a match in a private collection too), a tape measure, three animals (more on these soon) and two lacet flower posies.  I found this picture on the web of all of them.

National Museum of Scotland A.1961.502A-M
The first piece is a strawberry spray which is a little different from the Ashmolean one.  There are billions on the strawberries as seeds, which I really like.  The other flower is either a carnation or more likely a pink; worked with a lacet in pink and cream and a blue/green calyx and leaf.  

National Museum of Scotland A.1961.502.E (Strawberry) and .F (Carnation or Pink)
In a private collection is a spray of lilac, which is really lovely.  It also comes with a spray of a five petaled flower that has stamens in the middle made with tiny silk fly-ties in a dark red and light pink. The petals are almost round and are overlapped around a stuffed center - quite a bit like the small white strawberry flowers above.  

These items were in the same box as a small wooden box like one in the Edlin box (not pictured on the V&A site) and a partial ring of silk covered cardboard that matches the needle case that is in the Edlin box.  I think that the casket was worked in the same school as the Edlin box.  Then there are the two lacet posies described above AND a sprig of rosemary made from expanded silk wrapped purl in a dusty green as well as a sheaf of wheat that is made by the gilt bullion wrapped technique that makes the animals above as well as the handle of the tape measure.    


Friday, July 1, 2016

Lacet Flowers - Inspiration

Some of the lacets I have had made - they are in the shop.
Lacet is a narrow flat braid used in the 17th century for little ties on stumpwork figures as well as to make flowers that were placed in caskets; and likely on clothing and hair too.

They could come in many colors and were likely finger-braided.  Sometimes they were done in silk and gold thread and often in two colors of silk.  In rare cases, there were patterns or words worked in them using the second color (which just boggles the mind!).  [As a side note, I am currently working with Cristina Carr at the MET to try to decode one on a piece of stumpwork.  If we can, it will make a really nice article.]
Folding one of the lacets into a U shape and whip stitching
the edges together to make the start of a petal.

By bending them into a U shape, the lacets can be whip stitched together at the edges to make shapes or larger fabrics.  These shapes have often been confused as pieces of needlelace, but look closer and it is obvious on the front and back that they are joined flat braids.  Depending on the complexity of the poesy, a spray can be made in a day unlike one made of needlelace petals.

There are examples of many flowers in public and private collections.  Pansies, carnations or pinks, strawberries and flowers, daisies or sunflowers, lilacs, and some non-discript small buds with stamens have been found in collections.

The Ashmolean has three posies; a spray of pansies or heartsease, a spray of strawberries and one that can be thought of as a daisy or sunflower.  I found these pictures on the web of the fronts AND backs of two of them.  That was super cool as these are mounted in a case flat against the bottom right now and I had never seen the backs.

Ashmolean WA 1947.191.323.2 Heartsease or Pansies - Front View.  Approximately 4" high

Ashmolean WA 1947.191.323.2 Heartsease or Pansies - Back View.

Ashmolean WA 1947.191.323.3 - Daisy, Marigold or Sunflower

Ashmolean WA 1947.191.323.3 - Daisy, Marigold or Sunflower showing the backside with the light green calyx.

Strawberry - Ashmolean WA 1947.191.323.1

In the needlework nibbles, there is my version of a pansy worked in the lacets.  What if there was a bigger bouquet of flowers for the design contest?  I haven't yet worked out the daisy/sunflower yet but I can see how pretty it would be in many different colors - or modified to be some other flower we all recognize.  How about an Iris?

Pansy Needlework Nibble - Instructions are Free on the Site