Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jonah and the Whale

The Runner Up to the Grand Prize is Sara Gene Posnett's Jonah and the Whale - a truly out-of-the-box entry in creativity.   And for those who know Genie's work, not unexpected as she has been pushing the boundaries for years and sharing it with the classmates.  One of the many reasons I chose this entry as the runner up was the yards and yards of custom dyed lacet.  When orders went out of lacet in the last six months - I could sit back and guess what was going on.  When Genie ordered yards and yards and yards of cream lacet I could only think - "Well I really want to see what she is up to!!"

Jonah is both a needle keep and an emery and fits (fittingly) in the whales mouth. After sharing the end result with me, I asked for a few more pictures to understand some things and that was when she revealed that the Whale is a measuring tape!!  What?!? I won't give more details as you have to read below in Genie's own words - including her eloquent reason for choosing the subject!!

I think we can all be in awe of her pieces - and extra thanks to Genie sending me a whole bunch of construction photos to share with everyone as well - soooo interesting, I love the process stuff.  In one of the posted pictures, the whale is laying on top of paper that contains calculations of the materials needed, drawings, etc.  It is like he is on top of the architectural plans which I find delightful and I hope she keeps those papers somewhere for some museum curator someday!

While I would love to put all the photos here - there are just too many.  So for those followers on NING - I will be posting several slides there where more can be seen and enjoyed in large style.

“Jonah and the Whale”

Inspiration by Sara Gene Posnett       

Two works from the seventeenth century influenced the creation of ‘Jonah and the Whale,’ set of smalls for the Thistle Threads competition 2016. First, it was inspired by the story in King James’ seventeenth century English translation of the Bible of Jonah’s encounters with danger, when he tried to avoid visiting the people of Nineveh. It reminds me of myself and my tendency to avoid uncomfortable tasks.  Second, in researching to create a Cabinet of Curiosities depicting Historic St Mary’s City, Maryland, images of ships in the ceiling at Hook Manor in England came to my attention. A whale’s tail is visible at the lower edge of the plaster works.  That started my imagination going, and when the Thistle Threads challenge came, Jonah and a whale seemed a perfect subject for a set of smalls for my St Mary’s City in casket of curiosities.

Techniques - by Sara Gene Posnett

Tricia Nguyen advised that we make mock ups of projects, so I made three paper versions of the whale while developing the final shape.  Finally, an armature of hand-made paper from scraps of old clothes at HSMC was covered with buckram for increased durability, which when dampened allowed me to give more shape to the form. Then row upon row of over-dyed lacet was stitched together over the belly and back forms, as well as the wired shapes of the tail and fins to form the “purple cow.”  The edges of the fins, tail and lips are over dyed and braided kumihimo, worked of Soie de Paris and silver passing.   My husband soldered aviation wire to my specs for the spout, which comes out of the blow hole. Flat silver tape covers the reel, on which to wind a four-inch paper measuring tape inside the whale’s head.  A surface-stitched fish, my young granddaughter’s suggestion, serves as a pull tab on the end of the tape measure. The whale’s barnacles are silver hammered rick rack from the Frostings Club. The cone of the whale’s body is filled with needle-felted wool, and doubles as a pincushion where I cut away the paper armature from the blow hole to tail.

In the whale’s mouth, behind the baleen made of flattened silver coil from the Frostings Club, lies Jonah.  His green cloak is filled with emery sand to sharpen my needles, and his head is stuffed with needle-felted wool for parking a needle.  Jonah’s cloak and hair are composed of lacet stitched together. His beard is lacet and silk wrapped gimp, with crystal beads for water droplets.

What a fun project this was to make! I couldn’t foresee the final product, but it developed  one step at a time over the course of six months. Now complete, it’s such fun to play with!  Thanks Tricia for challenging us!

I had to read Genie's description many times before I understood that there were water droplets as
beads in his beard!!  What wonderful attention to detail!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Katie Strachan's Modern Casket Toy Winner

You may have remembered Katie Strachan's amazing beaded basket entries and she has again outdone herself!  Winning the 1st place prize in the modern category for her flat casket insert (goes in the bottom under the tray) with toys inside.  It is just amazing!!  I want to hold and look at all the toys and then you realize that the top of the box is worked in so many techniques as well as the inside of the lid!  Can you believe it!!  One can't wait to see the box this will go with!

Inspiration - by Katie Strachan

I had too many ideas for casket toys, so I blended them all together.  These are inspired by some of my favorite historical smalls.  The overall form is inspired by a 17th century needlework pillow, with tiered tassels decorating each corner.  The design for the lid is inspired by a favorite sweet bag, but rendered in autumn colors.  The interior lid is a version of a lovely glove gauntlet from Seligman's Domestic Needlework, depicting a heraldic garden.  The three smalls are a heart purse 
(also in Domestic Needlework), a frog purse, and a needlecase inspired by this fob in the Met.

Technique - by Katie Strachan

The box is made of mat board, and the top is padded with wool roving.  I cut, papered, and covered every piece, thought it would never end.  The top has needlelace, counted thread work, right angle weave beaded leaves, and stems made with plaited braid stitch/expanded bullion over silk wrapped wire. The heart is made with a shaped paperclay form so that it comes smoothly together - something I learned from doing the frog.  He is a flat piece padded out with felt, which makes for bulky edges.  The purse form is hollow so there's a little cavity inside to put a threadwinder (or a pair of lacet gloves?).  The needlecase is a wood form covered with paper and then detached buttonhole (soie perlee with a gilt tambour return).  I made fly fringe, a kumihimo braid, and then attached beads.  If anyone can figure out how the braid is made on the Met's fob, please let me know!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Carolyn's Amazing Poem Holder

Inspiration drawing from early publication
I can't tell you how excited I was to open Carolyn Webb's entry in the 17th Century Traditional ‘Casket Toy’ Category and was happy to award it 1st place in that category.  When I put up pictures of the 'missing' toy I was really hoping that someone who make one (before I could!).   

Inspiration - Carolyn Webb

My piece contains both lacet braid and expanded gilt check. It is about 6 inches tall and 2.25 inches across and fits laying down in my casket.  I want to make a number of extra toys to fit in my casket. The tape measure toy in your July 27th, 2016 post caught my eye and I decided that it would be perfect to stretch my skills a bit and have some fun. I adapted it so that it became “ A Partridge in a Pear Tree”. It has a number of moveable forms and treasures that wiggle when the tape is pulled out and rolled back in.  (Ed. Note:  Go to her blog to see it move!)

Technique Used - Carolyn Webb

Carolyn's Interpretation!
I made the Partridge by twisting brass wire to create the form, wrapping it with cotton and then silk and wool thread. The final layer is expanded check purl with a core of peacock feather. The tail is peacock feathers and the wings are dyed silk ribbon with couched #4 gilt smooth passing thread. The butterfly uses lacet that has the edges whip stitched together and is outlined with Cordon. The body is made of antique green beads that have a red center and the antenna is one of the flower stamens from the frostings box. I wrapped wire with silk threads and then later bent them to create the roots and branches of the “tree”. The brown roots and the trunk are shades of brown silk but the multi-colored branches started with white silk thread that I dyed in rainbow shades after it was wrapped. The pears are needlelace with silk over a paper fruit form and wool felt. The acorn tops are gilt and the nut is wrapped wool felt. The leaves are needlelace with a wire edge. The small colored berries are silk wrapped beads. From the second row of branches are hung small treasures that a girl might have been able to collect. They include a garnet bead, a tiny bell, a black glass bead, a blue chevron trade bead, a pearl and a bit of coral. The tape measure in inclosed in a walnut shell that has a slit in the side and is covered with needlelace.

The tape is silk ribbon that is dyed the color of parchment and is marked in nails and portions of a yard. John Taylor wrote the verse that is written on the tape. It is part of The Praise of the Needle that notes: Flowers, Plants, and Fishes, Beasts, Birds, Flyes & Bees, Hils, Dales, Plaines, Pastures, Skies, Seas, Rivers, Trees: there’s nothing neere at hand or farthest sought, But with the Needle may be shap’d and wrought. The wires for the branches were curled, the partridge and butterfly were attached, then the pears, acorns, leaves and berries were placed on the curled branches. The tape was sewn to the trunk, then the wires were inserted through the walnut shell and then shaped to form the roots. When the beads at the end of the tape measure are pulled, the whole tree rotates and all of the fruit and treasures wiggle and twirl

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Alison Smith's Silk/Wire Posey

Alison was with the UK Casket Trip when we saw the most lovely posey!  I will put it at the end of this post so you can see how AMAZING Alison did figuring out the technique.  It was certainly one of those types of things that everyone who looked at it wanted to figure it out.  So I am thrilled to award Alison the 1st place prize in the Traditional Poesy category.  Maybe some of us will get a little class in this some day from her!

Inspiration – by Alison Smith

A spray of flowers from the Burrell Museum (accession # 29/171) which is attributed to the 17th century.  It appears to be made from expanded bullion formed into shapes, but it most likely was a heavier gauge wire tightly coiled, perhaps just for this purpose.  [After having worked mine with existing 21st c. bullion, I found it didn’t have quite enough body to handle the preferred tension of the silk, and a heavier gauge wire would have been much better.]  The shapes were then wrapped with fine silk filament, sometimes in one direction and sometimes in two.  Various methods of making flower centers were utilized including bullion, leather bits, coiled silk, and what looks like turkey work – “fuzzed” silk tufts.

Technique - by Alison Smith

My poesy is a smaller version flower spray to easily fit into any of a number of places in my casket.  It is made using S/P Fine 1 Bright Bullion – about 15-1/2” stretched made 5 flowers (about 41 petals of varying sizes) and 10 leaves.  These “frames” were then wrapped with Soie Perlee, stripped to single strand and then each strand separated into 3 finer strands (for the frames for flower petals and light green leaves).  The dark green Soie Perlee would not separate so the stripped single strand was used for those, and to wrap the stems.  The flower centers were done using Gilt Fine 1 Wire Bullion, Gilt Fine 1 Bright Bullion, Gilt #6 Bright Check, Soie Perlee in Spring Stitch and Soie Perlee wrapped and “fuzzed”.  I used 34 gauge silver wire for connecting petals and leaves, and 30 gauge green covered copper wire to form main stem structures.  Final size is about 3” h x 1-1/2” w.

Here is a close up of the inspiration poesy in the Burrell Collection that Alison used as inspiration:

The Burrell Collection accession # 29/171 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Sweet Turtle!

Kirsten Doogue has entered a little turtle thimble holder made from a walnut!  So cute and I had to award her 2nd place in the 17th century traditional toy category.  One of the things I really was attracted to was her use of several of the techniques required (lacet on the shell and the expanded bullion for the head).  But uniquely she took the lace techniques  shown on a MFA casket and used fancy needlelace stitches to fill the space in the tape lace she made front he lacet.  It was quite inspired to make it look like a turtle shell!!  


Inspiration - by Kirsten Doogue

In my house, I have a curio cabinet on the wall.  I have loved collecting item for it each with a little memory behind it.  This past August, I was pleased to add my own version of the CoC2 ceylon frog to it.   He was so fun to make, that I decided I needed to design my own small animal.  I had made a lace posey before, so I wanted to use lacets in a different way for this project.  Your provided that inspiration with the photograph of the lacet used as tape lace on a stump work garment.  I then pulled inspiration from a V&A needlelace purse made from a walnut shell (photo enclosed) and the tape measure casket toy you published.  I put all these ideas together and decided on a turtle with a walnut shell embellished with lacet and needlelace that could store needles and a thimble.

Techniques Used - by Kirsten Doogue

My final turtle had the following components:  The turtles head and tail were made of trellis stitch.  The backside of the trellis stitch was used as the front.  Glass bead eyes and bullion wire were added as embellishments.  Legs were silk wrapped wire also embellished with bullion wire.  A walnut shell was painted gold.  A lace covering was then created.  Lacet was used as the "tape".  A few different needlelace types were then worked in the open spaces using a mixture of Gobelins and Gilt Silk Twist thread.  Stitches included buttonhole with return, double detached buttonhole and triple knotted buttonhole.  A piece of wired silk trim (from the frostings club) was used to finish up the base of the shell.  To complete the compartment, felt was cut to make a pocket for the thimble, a shell bottom, and a place for needles.  The bottom felt piece was trimmed with lacet and a small loop was created to go around the tail to hold the bottom closed.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Virginia's Flying Cuties!

Virginia Whelan wins an Honorable Mention prize for her Queen Bee entered into the Traditional Casket Toy contest.  She also submitted a lovely dragonfly which is shown below too!  So she now has a duo of flying cuties!

The Queen Bee was interesting to me for her innovative use of the stumpwork fruit forms for the body of the bee, covered in lacet.  I wouldn't have thought to use them as forms for an animal!  So clever!  And the innovation didn't end on the bee, the dragonfly used a material I had never even heard of so I was thrilled to learn something new.  A material called Fosshape which is moldable polyester batting.  Who knew!?  Apparently it is use a great deal in cosplay costumes to make moldable shapes.  I will have to keep this in the back of my mind for many different things.

Queen Bee

Inspiration - by Virginia Whelan

After the challenge was received, I happened to be playing outside with my grandson, Foster, and we saw a bumblebee in the hydrangea bush. I took photos of it from several angles to understand its form and shape. The same day, I received a Barnes Foundation brochure on future classes including one on entomology, highlighted by a photo of a bee. From these two random bee encounters, it became clear that I was to make a bumble bee for the competition. I decided it was more appropriate to make a QUEEN BEE for the competition.... who wants to be a drone??


Inspiration - by Virginia Whelan

This fall, I was fortunate enough to visit the Design Library in New York State. It is the world's largest archive of historic textile patterns and printed samples. The staff was reviewing the first copies of their newly published book (Phaidon Press). One page in particular caught my eye. The image of the dragonfly became the basis for my second casket toy.

Fosshape after steaming and forming, then with a wire around it to bend the tip of the dragonfly tail down

Covered in blue lacet

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tammy's Frog

Tammy Jones won a Honorable Mention for her lacet frog tape measure!  I loved the innovative way she used the lacet to build the frog and the wired legs used to roll up the tape measure.  Tammy also sent me a bookmark entry that used a variety of lacets she had made that was really beautiful!

Frog Measuring Tape Casket Toy

Inspiration - by Tammy Jones

My inspiration for this piece was several extant 17th century frog purses, particularly one located at the Ashmolean (www.ashmoleanprints.com/image/221387/anonymous-english-frog-purse) that appears to include some of the techniques used to make casket toys, and the revolving tape measure pictured on your blog. The tape measure idea was so brilliant that I just had to try it, and I’ve always wanted to make a frog purse, so I put the two together and made a tiny frog whose tongue is a tape measure. The tongue/tape measure is pulled by a tiny braid attached to the end and retracted by spinning the frog’s front legs. 

Techniques Used - by Tammy Jones

First, I drew a simple pattern shape to use as a guide, then using techniques from both the Pansy Casket Toy and the Lacet Gloves projects, I sewed green lacets together edge to edge to make the upper body of the frog. I then added spangles for eyes. Using the Bullion Snake project as a guide, I made 2 sets of legs from copper wire and wrapped one set (the back legs) with green cotton floss then 2 shades of green Soie Ovale. Before wrapping the second (front) set of legs, I cut a 15inch length of measuring tape, punched a hole in the metal end and braided a lace (a thin lace of 5 bows) directly onto the end of the measuring tape to use as a pull. The other end was then glued into the wire armature of the front legs and the same wrapping that was done on the back legs was worked on either side of the glued tape measure. The lower body of the frog was then made in the form of a small, green, silk, drawstring bag with open sides into which the front legs were inserted concealing the measuring tape inside. I used leftover green lacet for the drawstrings. I stitched the back legs directly to the bottom section of the underside of the upper body then stitched the lower body to the upper body sandwiching the back legs between them. To work the measuring tape, open the drawstrings and gently pull the frogs tongue out (It will measure to about 12 inches.). To retract the measuring tape, spin the front legs towards you. 

Multiple Strand Bookmarker

Inspiration - Tammy Jones

This project was inspired by the essay, “ Tiny Textiles Hidden in Books: Toward a Categorization of Multiple Strand Bookmarkers,” by Lois Swales and Heather Blatt and published in Medieval Clothing and Textiles, Volume 3 and the discovery of 15th century buttons at Lengberg Castle in Austria that may have been used as anchors for bookmarkers. Also, I have been totally enthralled with braided laces for about 20 years, collecting and voraciously reading every reference I could find on the subject. 

Techniques Used - Tammy Jones

First, using a bone button mold, Soie de Paris, and the instructions for Lengberg buttons found in Gina Barrett’s book, Buttons: a Passementerie Workshop Manual, I made the anchor for my bookmarker. When I finished the button, I realized that the threads did not completely cover the back of the mold, so I stitched a matching piece of felted wool to the back of the button. I then stitched a buttonhole bar across the back of the button to hold the braided laces. Using filament silk from DeVere, I braided four laces directly onto the buttonhole bar: a thin lace of five bowes, a broad lace of five bowes, an open lace of five bowes, and a lace maskel. Instructions for each of the laces can be found in the book, Take V Bowes Departed: A 15th Century Braiding Manual Examined by Elizabeth Benns and Gina Barrett. Unfortunately, the strain of braiding damaged the buttonhole bar slightly, so I had to do some repair work on the buttonhole bar once the braiding was finished. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rosemary's Light

We had the opportunity to meet Rosemary Cousins in person during the UK Casket tour and anyone who did knows she is a gem - such a creative person!  She blends her love for early English history and costuming with her love of Japanese crafts.  She also makes fabric covered boxes just to hold the things she is working on!  Amazing.  So when I saw her entry for her version of a blended box - I knew it was a Honorable Mention Award winner in the Modern category.  Rosemary also included some fantastic pictures showing the making of it to share with you that I find so interesting!

Background and Inspiration to My Small - by Rosemary Cousins

I am not intending on making a classic casket (initially) but rather a folding drawered lap desk that will contain all the bits and pieces needed for making yubinuki.  One of the things that would be a 'nice to have' in the desk would be a small work light.  Your challenge made me start thinking a bit more adventurously and I thought that turning it into a flower, specifically a tulip, would be fun.  I thought that I was being original until part way in my husband reminded me that this had been done in a scene from 'The Goodies' - a British comedy show from the early 1970's (seen here about 5 minutes in, if you care to and have the time .https://youtu.be/fjdyIQpOGy4  ). Because I  didn't know how much lucet braid I would need, besides 'lots' to create the petals, and I thought it could be interesting to try make, I decided to make my own, using perle thread so that it would be larger/wider, thus covering a larger area.  After collecting Period still life paintings   http://pin.it/EG4Ssb0  I decided to go with a variegated petal/thread.  The thread colour I settled on was not ideal, but came from the palette that I had decided on for the outer panels.

Manufacture of Small - by Rosemary Cousins

My first challenge was to find a suitable battery operated book light, which was resolved with an 'I lite' from here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/142119394459 . The stem I covered with 12 strand hollow round braid from Jacqui Carey' book on braids and sealed with Fray Check around the top.  Although if I had done this two weeks later, after I first saw an example, I would have used the 'Viking Wire Knitting' technique, as it looks just like plaited braid stitch in the round.  The 3 petals and 3 sepals were made from lucet braid which was laid over a polystyrene shaped egg pinned into position and then sewn together.  I started by laying the central rib of the petal, then delineating the outer edge (the shape of which owes more to modern tulips than their 17th C counterparts), covering about one third of the circumference, going under the point of the central rib.  Filling the right hand side in a circular fashion and then the left.  The first three petals were worked separately, but the second three were worked continuously.   I am not too sure how to disguise the clip.  Initially I had considered covering it with lacet tape, but now I am favouring working a circular stitch sampler of needlelace.