Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stitch a Sinking Ship? Sounds like a good idea!

The Sea Venture - The Offending Spot was in the
vine crosshatching
If you watched the video on the design of the jacket, you may have caught Brenda explaining how they replaced the figures inside the foliage on the V&A jacket they were using with motifs that were related to the colonies.  One of those was a picture of the Sea Venture sinking.  The Sea Venture is also thought to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare's play The Tempest.  The ship sank (by running aground) on July 25, 1609 off Bermuda to save the passengers who were in a sinking vessel (it had 9 feet of water in the hull already from the storm).

Well, I was able to go to Williamsburg in February for an event and we carved out time to join Brenda and her crew embroidering on the jacket.  That was the day that they had the back all laced up and it needed to be started!  About 12 of us from our party descended on the pieces to put our mark on them.  I was particularly interested in working on the piece as a volunteer after being part of the lead team on the Plimoth Jacket.  Brenda and I had talked about how we had organized our workroom and discussed how she was going to accelerate to get the jacket done in such a short time.  One of her techniques would be to run the workroom more hours in the day and all days of the week, plus put up to three people on a frame at the same time.  This is something we hadn't done until we were placing spangles on the Plimoth Jacket.  Having to work with others on a frame was a technique absolutely done in the 17th century and I wanted to try it!

So on the back was the motif of the Sea Venture sinking.  I love ships and so thought I would start that motif.

A sinking ship.

"Out Damn'd Spot, out I say!" - Lady Macbeth
Well, I think I took only three stitches and I unknowingly had pricked my finger and did the traditional stitcher's addition of DNA to the project!  I was horrified.  I managed never to bleed on the Plimoth Jacket and yet had just come in and done that to the Jamestown jacket!  OH NO.  Well, as the group who was working with me on the back watched (in amusement to my extreme discomfort) I tried the
traditional fixes to no avail.  So…. it was time to embroider like mad to cover it up.  And it worked.  PHEW.  And yes, I did own up to it.  Wendy White always wanted to investigate the DNA from licking thread ends to thread them as a technique to look at how many people worked on pieces when we mused about that question.

Brenda laughing at my 'situation'.
So someday my DNA will be found on two jackets and some researcher will be pretty darn confused.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Jamestown Jacket Story

Many of you are aware of the beautiful blackwork jacket that has been made for the staged Wedding of  Pocahontas at Jamestown in April.  While there are pictures of the finished jacket out there, I haven't seen any on embroidery sites so I thought I would re-post a few now that the wedding is over.

I am really hopping that Jamestown displays the jacket so people can see it during visits to the site (It was and maybe is at their museum onsite - saw it on the Facebook page).  They do have a nice webpage to visit talking about the wedding.

If you want to see some really great photos of the back room when they were getting dressed for the event, click on this Washington Post site and go through the gallery.  What I REALLY loved was the picture of Brenda Rousseau (picture 11) helping Wendy Taylor get dressed in the jacket.  Brenda led the effort at Colonial Williamsburg to embroider and fabricate the jacket and deserved to be on the front page of the Washington Post for the enormously successful effort she made to get the jacket done in three months. Brenda (who is now hopefully on a three month vacation!) did an amazing job, and I know you will think so too!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wow - what a month!

Well, it was more like six weeks!  I wasn't on vacation from blogging, I was fighting fires with an eyedropper!

Sorry for the long hiatus but a few days after the last blogging cycle, I was working hard to get my in-laws condo fixed after the insurance finally settled (long story and involves a broken sprinkler system flood).  So I was conversing with the town building department on the phone when I got an email from my deaf Father-in-law:  Mom has fallen and I can't get her up.

Oh God.  Yes, a broken hip.  I know my husband may have broken some speed rules getting there while calling 911 as my father-in-law doesn't use phones.  The worst part about her injury was that we were just starting a month of construction and they were to fly to Texas to live for that month.  Except now they couldn't.   And the rehab wouldn't keep her and our home has stairs to the bathroom.  So in HGTV style - I spent all my time at the construction site or hospital (and caregiving the helpless father-in-law) and managed to convince all the wonderful guys to work on top of each other and get the place perfect again in eight business days.  Then after a few days where I just slept, I spent the next few weeks trying to dig myself out of the hole that put me in!  It happened at the worst time - the day after my assistant left.  But now my new intern has been on the job for the week and I can blog again!!
In the spirit of the last post - I wanted to put up something I got recently about a different old material for the craft field - this sounds so familiar. This email was from our friends at D. Blumchen and Company - they keep many of the old German and Austrian holiday decorations alive.  This sounds so much like my experience making old materials popular again and then the machines, workers, etc. break down from the overload.  But it is all good - if the demand wasn't there and the machine broke, I am sure that the owner would have decided it was just a product line that was now dead.  But the demand kept him going for 5 months to look for a solution!  

 Did you know that thread spooling machines for embroidery are also ancient and when they break a repair man has to fly in and source second hand parts?  Yup.  Not much call for new machines so they aren't made anymore.  My silk gimp took down a machine just before Mother's Day.  I about had a heart attack, knowing how hard it is to find these machines!  I spent most of the weekend praying that the fix-it gods would help us out - I had tons of kits for classes waiting on that machine.  (It worked!)

Just like good industrial sewing machines.  Again, not much call for them in the USA anymore so if you want one for a sewn goods business, you go to the secondhand dealers who refurbish.  Anything made here in the USA now mostly uses fused seams so those are the machines now built.  The back story on the machines that make many of these manufactured items is often pretty interesting… and pretty historic too.

Well, I am off to buy some of these little reflectors as the story resonates with me so much!  Seems like a great project with my kids next December.