Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Kickstarter for Historic Threads

Kickstarter is a hot topic today in investment circles.  The old model was if someone wanted to make a new widget or company and they didn't have the large amount of capital to do it, they went and looked for a venture capitalist to invest a chunk for a percentage of the company.  Then Kickstarter came along in 2009 with a model that allowed all of us to 'buy' one of the first run of manufacturing of some new product idea.  When the minimum order amount was reached, Kickstarter would charge all the early adopters who had signed up and release the capital to the company with the great idea.  Of course being a new manufacturer, none come in on time because there are always unanticipated bumps, but you do get something made and in your hands that might not have been made if we waited for traditional capital investments to deem it worthy of their investments.

Just one of the Frosting Materials that has arrived
This has been a boon for niche products and markets.  For start-ups and small companies it comes with a built in market for their idea.  They use the Kickstarter format to make the argument on why you would want to 'invest' for one of the first pieces to come off the line.  Some make their goal, some aren't convincing enough. In those cases the model has saved them from likely bankruptcy because they don't go out and spend the money to make only to find that they hadn't anticipated the market right.

Well, I have been using my embroidery classes as a mini-Kickstarter for many years.  The Plimoth Jacket project was a means to get Gilt Sylke Twist and a few gold threads made.  Each project was designed to get another thread made in a few colors.  Then I figured out that time was running out and I needed to double down and launch the Cabinet of Curiosities course before the
Silk trims for special stitches - these are tiny!
knowledge was gone to make the threads I needed.

This has been amazing and yet as with many Kickstarter projects, with bumps on manufacturing schedule at times, but they are getting made and enjoyed!  By having a critical number of people in the courses, I could get beyond the minimums to invest in a new thread, being guaranteed to be able to sell them through the kit in the course so I could then take that money and reinvest in the next thread.

Well, the threads are all set for the COC Part 1 course and the Part II Stumpwork course and I have many thread left in my wish list for 17th century embroidery.  I have only so many hours in the day to write courses and so I have come up with another idea to get the threads that we want before they can't be made anymore...

Tiny Silk Braids for the Frosting Club on top of
Silk Wrapped Purl for scale
Call it the Frostings Club.  That is the working title at the moment.  A club where you sign up for a year at a time and a box arrives every three months with a curated selection of threads, fabrics and trims that are useful in 17th century embroidery.  Some are sourced from obscure manufacturers, some custom made.  Many would be one-run only - once in a lifetime to get.  The anticipated quarterly cost is under $100 and would come in a special collector box.

I have already decided to do this back last July and have started making the orders as it will take over a year to bank the materials.  The first order of reds for two new lines (pictured) have already arrived.  What I do need is an indication of how many people are interested.  Not committed - but interested.  Since many materials will be one time manufacturing and we are approaching a much larger set of historic companies in Europe and the US, I need to have a good feel of what we can plan on without disappointing a ton of embroiderers.

You can help me by doing one of two things:

(1) Fill out my survey so I know you are interested and can better plan manufacturing numbers (click here)

(2) Join the mailing list as those people have first dibs on the Frostings Club (end of survey)

For interest - lets review the things that my classes/efforts have brought back into production:

Wode Blues (The complete family is five shades) shown in
(left to right) Soie Perlee, Soie Gobelin, Gilt Sylke Twist,
Silk Gimp, Soie Paris, Soie Ovale, and Silk Wrapped
Purl.  All custom dyed.
Gilt Sylke Twist
Silk Wrapped Purl
Silk Gimp in two sizes
Soie Ovale, Paris, Gobelin, and Perlee in seven perfectly shaded color families
Glass eyes for stumpwork
Gold and Silver #4 Passing on Silk
Gilt and Silver on six-end silk
Special Gilt Tambour
Gilt Crinkle plate
Silk Braids
Silver woven tape
Casket hardware and locks
Mirror Frames
Slate Frames

I will say that my list for the Frostings Club is just as long... interested?


P.S. Embroiderers out there often email me and say they want to take my course but they will wait until the 2015 or 2016 one.  They are thinking like everything is on the shelf at some warehouse and I can just order from that stock.  That isn't the way it goes.  I only announce an Encore of my classes AFTER I have decided the class size I can take based on the material supply and have ordered whatever needs to be made and that is well underway, usually six to nine months in advance.  Everytime I offer a class, it might be the last time.  I actually don't know because I don't know what material might become unavailable and be too critical to substitute or who might retire.

There are 34 spots available in the 2014 Cabinet of Curiosities Part I Encore.


  1. GAAAAASSSPPPPPP. I see my blue Gobelins there!!!!!! Must have must have M*U*S*T* HAVE!!!!! I look every day in the store to see if its made its arrival :)

  2. We are incredibly lucky to have you! I NEED these threads as much as I need air-keep at it and I, personally, will try to buy EVERYTHING you can manage to get made. Let's see, what bank can I rob?

  3. I am new to embroidery/needlwork, but wish to focus more on the Medieval than 17th century. How appropriate are the materials/techniques that you offer here to 600-1600 yr time period?

    (because truly - this course looks fantastic!)

  4. Tricia, Thank you so much! This is a wonderful idea. I have just pulled out my needles again after a long rest and am having a very hard time finding quality threads. I have been addicted to your Blog/Website from the moment I stumbled across it. I REALLY want to make the Glittering Snail (he is so darn cute!) and am finding some the threads bit by bit, but not all. I have just finished helping out on the Jamestown Jacket and had a very fulfilling adventure, can't wait till the next one.

    Kathleen Hutcheson
    PS: I posted this comment on the previous post, it was to go here ;). Sorry fo rthe double up.