Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oprah's Cabinet

Well, you never know who might have an interesting yummy piece of embroidery!  Oprah has an embroidered cabinet and she is doing an auction of many items in her collections for charity.

You can view the many views of the cabinet at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Lot 124 Sale 140 Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New South Wales Exhibition

The National Gallery of Victoria in Australia is having an exhibition of English embroidery, of which 17th century embroidery pieces are prominent.  A lovely article was written about the opening later next week (April 2nd, 2015 - July 12, 2015).
Details of a panel of King Charles I and Henrietta Maria (mid-17th century) done by a 12-year-old girl. It is composed of silk, linen, paper, metal, pearls, coral, wood, and cotton wadding. Photo: NGV

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/ngv-embroidery-exhibition-imagine-a-12yearold-spending-two-years-on-this-20150324-1m699n.html#ixzz3Vi5wwuOA

And if you can't go down under to see the exhibit - you can see some of the pieces that are on display on their exhibition website.  There is a lovely casket as well.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Classes - Delay

I have been getting several emails a day requesting info on my 2015 classes.

While I had intended to publicize the courses I would be running by now, the fire at Au Ver a Soie made me wait.  It has been prudent to allow everyone to take inventory of what silks in the limited inventory there awaiting twisting, etc. were affected as well as how the dyeing schedule would be impacted and sorted to replace affected orders from their various industrial customers.

We are still in that process at the moment and thanks for the patience!!  Since so many of the threads I use are converted by other manufacturers from Au Ver a Soie threads, there is a little time delay bubble that will work through the system for a long time.

I am thrilled to see how many people are excited to take the Cabinet of Curiosities course!  I will be getting it and others up on the web for registrations as soon as we complete the process and know where supply delays are.  


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Casket Pictures OnlIne

Sometimes, when the masses request enough - new pictures of embroideries end up online and viewable!  Some of our intrepid Casketeers have been trying to get more views of some spectacular embroideries and were successful in having views put in online catalogs.

There is a lovely casket at the Fitzwilliam Museum and only a very small internal picture (which was stunning) was available.  Now there are two dozen pictures!!!  Grab a cup of tea or coffee and loose yourself in this piece.  It is very 'attainable', done in tent stitch and queen stitch on the outside.  But open it up and all the drawers an sides are done in satin stitch embroidery - quite the surprise!

Thank you to the casketeer (R.K) who was knocking on the door for months hoping for a response for more pictures!!

While you are at it - enjoy this casket on their site as well!


Monday, March 23, 2015

If you go to Washington DC to see the Quilt Exhibit - Don't Miss the Mirror!

You MUST visit the National Gallery of Art, west galleries.  In 2012, Linda Kaufman gave the nation her and her late husband's important collection of American furniture and a set of decorative arts to display with it.  This was a monumental gift and forms the entirety of the four galleries devoted to American furniture at the National Gallery.

Linda is a wonderful person and very much enjoys joining decorative arts tours, which is where I met her.  Understanding my love of 17th century embroidery, she took my hand and insisted that I go to DC someday soon to "see her mirror".  Had she not said that, I would have never found it!  Not yet in the collections database, her stumpwork mirror is easy to miss as you wouldn't know where to find it. Yet it is prominently displayed in Gallery G43 on the central first floor corridor on a wall of it's own.

It is an impressive size and a mixture of beaded and needlelace stumpwork.  The outer edge of the mirror frame is not surrounded by lace, but by a faux lace made of beads.  I was excited to see the lion was couched thread of a fancy gimp type that I just had prototyped!  New yummy threads on the way next year.

It was also exciting to see a piece on long term display at a museum in the USA that so many can access on travels.  So next time someone asks you to chaperone a trip of kids to DC - you just might want to jump at the chance.  I am sure those kids want to take a diversion through the National Gallery!  ha ha.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Eye on Elegance - Quilt Exhibition

I had the opportunity over the weekend to visit Washington DC and see the Eye on Elegance Exhibition of Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia.  There were about 40 quilts on display, fully hanging in the DAR Museum.  You could get very intimate looks at the quilts and the lighting really accented the complex quilting.

While I was unfortunately not one of the lucky ones to make it into the symposium (Yes, I loose out too! My friend got a spot and I didn't due to heavy registration), I did get to talk to many of the participants that day while they were on break such as Elly Sienkiewicz and Barbara Brackman.

The exhibition has a fantastic exhibition website that is quite full of pictures, commentary and multiple videos.  (The book is great too, and while I sat on the runway for hours waiting for clearance to leave - I read several chapters).  They are presenting new research on these often admired Baltimore Albums and mid-coast appliqué quilts.  There will be a few new quilt fabric collections in concert with this exhibition if you have a hankering to make one yourself.

But I really recommend planning to go to visit.  The exhibition is unusual in that it is 11-months long - plenty of time to plan!  It started on October 3rd, 2014 and runs until September 5th, 2015.

But if you can't - spend an hour on the website as the eye candy is quite worth it!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pillow Talk - Historic Deerfield Symposium

If you are around in April, there is an interesting symposium that is part textiles - part context.  Historic Deerfield is having a one-day symposium called Pillow Talk: Discovering Early New England Bed Chambers.

Reproduction Bed Hangings at Historic Deerfield
Their Flint Gallery of Textiles is also having a retrospective on their embroidery and textile holdings as well as there are lovely embroideries on view in the historic houses.  This view is of a reproduction  crewel set of bed hangings which was a project inspired by the Plimoth Jacket.  The work on the hangings is absolutely fantastic, including the hand dying of the fibers!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Schoolgirl Art Exhibit and Talk - Barton-Pell Mansion Museum

The Barton-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx, NY has just opened an exhibit of private embroderies from female academies.  Those of you who have loved Betsy Krieg Salm's work or taken the May Your Hands courses would be especially interested in this exhibit!

It runs from March 1st, 2015 - June 21st, 2015.

There are a few lovely add-on's to the exhibit for those too far away to attend - such as this article by the collectors who are curating the event.

A talk by the Gemmill's will be given on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm.  Registration is required.

Schoolgirl Art


Bronx, NY, January 20, 2015Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum (BPMM) will exhibit a unique selection of early 19th-century American schoolgirl embroideries and watercolors from the collection of William and Sally Gemmill starting March 1st. The exhibition, Accomplished Women: Schoolgirl Art from Female Academies in the Early Nineteenth Century, offers a special opportunity for the public to see beautiful and rare works from a major private collection. Twelve pieces in total will be included in the exhibition, among them a mourning embroidery by Abigail Walkerpart of Bartow-Pell’s permanent collection—which will be viewed in a rich new context in the spring show.
William and Sally Gemmill are collectors and independent researchers of American schoolgirl art during the first quarter of the 19th century, focusing primarily on the academies of New England and the mid-Atlantic. They are the authors of a recently published article in Antiques and Fine Arts magazine on their discovery of the Charlestown Academy as the source of several previously unidentified silk embroideries and have been speakers at symposiums at the American Folk Art Museum and at Bates College as part of the Maine Folk Art Trail.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, exclusive female academies for well-to-do young women began to sprout up all over New England. While reading, writing, and arithmetic were all part of the regular curriculum at these schools, a strong emphasis was placed on embroidery, drawing, and other arts, not only as an outlet for artistic expression, but also as material testimony to the young women’s accomplishments and their families’ social standings.

Memorials, family registers, historical scenes, allegories, maps, heraldry, and grisaille compositions based on engravings provided the subject matter for many of the fine pictorial silk embroideries and watercolors made in these schools in the early part of the 19th century. These precious artworks, many of which will be on view for the first time in the spring exhibition, were often placed in handsome gilt frames with eglomise (reverse painting on glass) mats and were an expensive and labor-intensive version of the student art projects that parents proudly display today.

“We are delighted that the Gemmills have agreed to share some of the pieces from their extraordinary collection with Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum,” said Margaret Highland, Education Director and Curator at BPMM. “Our 19th-century Greek Revival historic house is an ideal setting for an exhibition of this nature, and we are looking forward to opening the show to the public this spring.”

Accomplished Women: Schoolgirl Art from Female Academies in the Early Nineteenth Century will be on view from March 1 to June 21, 2015, and is free with museum admission. The museum is open to the public Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Linda Eaton Lecture - Historic Deerfield

Linda Eaton, John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles, Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, will present "Patterns of Their Time: Design in Printed Textiles," the final lecture of the 2015 Winter Lecture Series, "Textiles and Fashion in Early America." The 2015 Winter Lecture Series is a part of "Fashioning a Legacy: The 50th Anniversary of the Helen Geier Flynt Textile Collection."  The lecture is free and open to the public.
Front and back of a fragment of indigo-resist, plain weave cotton and flax textile, probably English, 1725-1750.  Historic Deerfield, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh B. Vanderbilt Fund for Curatorial Acquisitions, 2000.23.1 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Scholarship Opportunity - Textiles Close Up

There is a Textile Society of America 1-day workshop on April 18th, 2015 at Winterthur for a study day with Linda Eaton.  I have just been alerted that there is a scholarship for textile scholars who might not otherwise be able to go to wave the conference costs.  It is a short essay and an agreement to write a post-tour summary for the newsletter.  

If you are interested, please look at the information about the day on the TSA website and hurry and submit your application before end of day tomorrow!!  The scholarship application is available here.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Stumpwork Mirror - Hever Castle

It is always wonderful to learn about a piece in existence that you didn't know about!  Here is a one of the few I learned about this week.  It is at Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent (UK), which was the ancestral home of the Boleyn family - yes Anne Boleyn.  It was their object of the month.    Perhaps we can convince them to put a few more pictures up!  I would love to see the rest of the design.

Stumpwork mirror

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Registration Link

Here is the registration link for the UK Casket Tour.  

As soon as the tour fills, there will be a way to put yourself on the wait list.  Please do as we are holding back a few spots to help us with roommate matching.  In the last tours, the people on the wait list (who were still available to go) were able to be accommodated when circumstances made others have to stay home.  So it is good to get on the list.

If the wait list becomes way too long to hopefully accommodate people through cancelations and long enough to make the minimum for a second tour, we will look into the feasibility of an encore in 1-2 years time and will use that list to contact people about interest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tips for Registering for UK Casket Tour

Some very important points for registration --
- they can register a pair who want to room together in one registration session - so if you are planning on that - one of you registers both with the proper NAME and address and birthday on your passports (don't need numbers now) and pays the $400 deposit on one card.  So coordinate!  
- There is a field asking the city you are leaving from.  That is only to help them with travel arrangements for USA people.  They can't book flights for international people.  So just leave it as NYC if you are coming from a non-USA city.
- Currently a single person registering automatically gets put in as a single supplement.  Just put "ROOMMATE NEEDED" into the Other Hotel Requests line and that will let us know you want to register at the $3990 rate.  We will match people up and adjust your final bill accordingly.  We have only a small number of single rooms, so roommates should be easy to find. 
- As soon as the tour fills, there will be a way to put yourself on the wait list.  Please do as we are holding back a few spots to help us with the roommate matching.  In the last two tours, 3-4 people on the wait list were able to be booked later when circumstances made others have to stay home.  So it pays to get on the list!

Tour Sign up Delayed 1 Day

Last night I got a note from Go-Today Tours that their testing of their webpage had found an error that would negatively impact the registration - in other words the site wouldn't allow registrations for a deposit but only full payment.  We won't be doing that!

They asked to delay the registration for one day while their web-people fixed it.  They are in Pacific Time Zone so wouldn't have it fixed in time because their business day starts at what was supposed to be registration.

They prefer the web site to phone registration as they were so overwhelmed with the phones last time and that caused people to have busy signals and to have to call over and over.  Hopefully this is a better experience once they fix their bug.

I apologize for the inconvenience.  I really didn't want to email my entire mailing list as that would be too many emails hitting the box as I will email again when registration opens tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Can I come at 6:30 am Saturday?

This is how an email started from a kid on my robot team last week.  Let that soak in.  A 15-yr old boy was asking if he could come over to start working at 6:30 am on a SATURDAY.  There is so much said in that one question.

The gang when they were 10.  The little mascots in the front
were 5 and always assumed they would become 'robot people'
when they got older.  They are my champion FLL team now
When I started coaching a little rag-tag Lego Robotics team of nine-year old kids six years ago to help my dyslexic child I NEVER in a million years thought I would be sitting here reading an email like this.  Nor would I think that I would be spending now 8-9 months a year continuously with these kids in my house every weekend and many nights.  Honestly - I wouldn't have done it as the thought of Pepsi-can pyramids amidst my Betsy Krieg Salm box and needlework accessories, so carefully arranged, would turn my stomach.  The fact that every Monday there is a carpet of Nerf darts that has to be picked up and the shear number of screws on my oriental carpet makes it glitter seemed too impossible to fathom.  Just like having teens randomly arrive at my door before I am out of my PJs with poster making supplies and computers and ready to work.

I am still just mystified at how Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers invented a competition that could get kids to do this.  In a world where opening up CNN in the morning can just depress you to no end, I feel like writing this blog to express that there is good out there and where to find some of it.  One of our casketeers recently met Woodie Flowers (retired MIT prof of mechanical engineering) on a boat tour to Antarctica and wrote me about it in January.  She asked him about his work in robotics but he was way too humble.  He should have said that he had discovered the secret sauce to inspire kids to try to solve the world's pressing problems.   Dean Kamen, the inventor of the insulin pump, when asked about his greatest accomplishment immediately says "FIRST".  400,000 kids a year learning to work hard for months to solve difficult problems together.  The dividends will be amazing.

Winning Alliance Teams - we were the Winning Captain.
I think they have doubled in size and now I have to look up at them
These were the first two of six awards they have brought home
this season - realizing that not even half the teams get any.
Monday's are my weekend now.  I get some stuff done but I am usually just too wiped out from the weekend of chaos to be very useful.  This year, we had teams in two different types of competition.  The young ones, who I wrote about already, had a four-month season that ended at Christmas.  But during that time, I was totally ignoring my older team who were working in a eight-month season - purposely.  I figured that while we were intently training the young kids, they should take the reins themselves and learn the new metal robot division and use all the leadership tools I had taught them.  I figured there was no way we would get our arms around the new challenges and this would be a 'learning year' and it would be a great lesson for them to 'run it themselves'.   Our team meet schedules even conflicted so we often sent them on without us coaches -- something noted by the judges with amazement - this rookie team would show up without coach supervision!

This stuff coordinates so well with my interior design!
One kid gave me a high-five after the first competition (I was there) and laughed and said 'Learning
year my butt!!'  I had to beam.  Not because the team had just won the entire robot game and all-around award, but because they had done it almost entirely alone.  Nine teens organizing themselves, learning a complex computer/robot system in a few months and mastering it against veteran teams (some with 60 members!).   You can't buy that kind of experience and what that means for their lives.

Their first event was in October, two days after the Casket Tour and they had been sending me update texts while I was on the lecture podium at Winterthur.  Pictures of a robot they were proudly building kept 'pinging' in my pocket.  I got home exhausted after the tour and lo-and-behold, instant robot.  Drove them to the rookie training event the next day and the coordinators wouldn't let them in the door at first, not believing that they were a new team.  They were holding a working, scoring robot and everyone else brought half-assembled parts.  My team had hastily invented a scrimmaging robot because the parts for their design weren't going to arrive for three weeks.  They told me that they didn't want to embarrass themselves, so they designed a new robot.   At that point I really didn't understand what the State coordinators were saying when they told me that they were an impressive team after I joked that I was useless and now a 'credit card with wheels'.

Our reach goal this year was to make it out of the local qualifier to the state competition.  Not to be in the finals of the state competition.  And where was I?  I was teaching embroidery and lecturing at Williamsburg (never thinking they would get that far).  Stopping every time my phone buzzed to read the latest update from the robot pits from some excited parent.  This blog is partially for that group of stitchers to get a better update.  They watched me pace the room, freaking out getting text messages like "robot broken" "all-fixed" "won match" "650 points" "Made it to semi-finals" "Won" "In the finals!" "Tied 1-1".  and then dead silence as everyone at the games phones ran out of batteries.  Yes - I was a mess.  Finally, a message from a number I didn't have programmed in my phone with one mysterious word - "Scranton".

March 17-21, Super East Regional in Scranton, PA.  Something we were only hoping for in a few years.  These guys were one of seven teams (out of 80) picked to represent MA/NH/ME at the Super Regional in a massive three-day set of super-eliminations.  From there, 20 of the 72 teams go on to the World Competition.

I am blown away.

The kids are in six different high schools.  They have to coordinate their schedules, get drivers, deal
They had so much fun this weekend improving
the robot - now that they have so many wins under
their belt, they decided to make their robot light
 up too, like the World's teams they
watch on You-Tube.  
with different vacations and exam time frames and blizzards.  They have had to learn so many software packages, a new programming language, CAD their own parts, and learn so many mechanical and electrical systems that your head would burst AND figure out the game and how to maximize the competition.  Deal with getting parts from China, fundraise.... oh AND do outreach where they invent curriculums to help little kids learn STEM and promote this type of learning.  If you master all that - you get a spot to the Super Regional.  I am stunned that they effectively decided to do two seasons in one - learn everything from scratch and master it all while transitioning to new high schools.  This is why I say that Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers have learned the secret sauce.  It's like Friday Night Lights but for something academic.

So, many of the kids on my teams passed through one school (2 are still there) and that school heard and asked me to put together a trailer to get their kids excited because they are going to launch a program to do this.   The secret sauce was to make the game as exciting as the NCAA March Madness.  That was the model and very, very smart.  Why should we only have events that push kids to ignore their school work and spent 3-hours a night practicing with a ball?  One of Dean Kamen's favorite catch phrases is 'this is a game where everyone can go pro'.

When I get emails from kids begging to work at 6:30am - I know they hit the mark.

Here is the trailer describing our team's seasons (so far) to get that middle school 'into the game'.  Apparently there was jumping up and down and many, many high-fives for the kids in the trailer.  Great to see something that wasn't a ball sport getting kids praise.  The Brainstormers are Team 8644 in the video.   I was asked several times in Williamsburg if the kids want to do this or if we were making them.  You really can't make them drink this type of stuff because they out number you.  And apparently if you tell them to take the weekend off (because you are exhausted) - they show up anyways.  The day after those kids won a spot to the Super Regional - they immediately tore apart the robot and rebuilt it to be better and faster.  Those kids who showed up at 6:30 am - they improved it so much that I would say it is supercharged now.  I thought that they were getting tired of the season after eight months of every weekend.  They are so energized that if I said that they had to build a rocket to the moon to compete, we would ride the rocket all the way there.

On to Scranton!!  Wish them luck.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Last Gasp Snow Humor

Today there is a cruel rumor going around that it might go to 40 degrees and break our 'longest streak below freezing ever' here.   In what might be my last post about snow (hopefully).  I thought I would add some pictures from the last few weeks as a joke.

The time changed and we have some sun.... it seems like this will be a cruel memory.  And then I turn to the insurance claim and realize that it won't be over until the last snow-dam damaged wall and window is replaced at my house and the new drapes are remade.  SIGH.

Honest to God - everywhere you drive here you see dump trucks hauling snow to who knows where.  There are hundreds of volunteers downtown right now digging out snow so the St. Patrick's Day parade can happen.

You know, there was nothing left to do after the board games and microwave popcorn ran out in the city!
(The  expected baby spike has actually been discussed at hospitals and school districts.  In 2021 they will be adding classrooms to schools for the expected kindergarten baby boom).

South Boston = Hoth

Actual picture of snowboarding in Beacon Hill

I don't know who does the traffic signs here - but I see tons like this in Boston Brogue.  HILARIOUS

And then my favorite - How do you remove NINE FEET of snow from Fenway Park in a few weeks for the opener???  You spread a TON of black sand on the snow to absorb the heat of the sun.  Already melted 2.5 feet this way last week.  BRILLIANT

Saturday, March 7, 2015

UK Casket Tour - October 14-24th, 2015

Thistle Threads and Hanging by a Thread are leading a study tour of the UK in October, 2015. The tour starts in Edinburgh, Scotland with a tour of the caskets in the National Museum of Scotland followed by a visit to the casket storage of the Burrell Collection. Over the weekend, the tour group will stop at the Bowes Museum to visit a few pieces in their collection and rest before continuing on the drive to York. A low-key day will be spent in York before the Tour continues to the Lady Lever Galleries in Liverpool on Monday. From Liverpool, the group will drive to Oxford to explore the following museums in the next two days: Museum of Costume Bath, Holburn Museum, Whitney Antiques and a study day at the Ashmolean to see selections from the Feller Collection. We will end our tour with two days in London at the Clothworkers' Center, Hand and Lock, Windsor Castle and the storage rooms at the Museum of London. 

More details can be found on the tour page!  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pretty Casket Interior

I was alerted to this casket by a friend while in Williamsburg this weekend at a small gathering.  It's interior is so yummy it makes me really want to stitch an interior.

This is from Dreweatts last week - Lot 205 Feb 24th, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Parking Savers - A Uniquely Boston Concept

When your street looks like this (everywhere) and it takes 2-4 hours to dig out your car, you get a bit worried about having a parking space when you get home.  So the City of Boston has a policy - if you shovel it - you are allowed to 'claim' that public parking space for 48 hours.   Now how do you do that?  You use "Space Savers".  That means, anything you can stick in the spot to say "Yo - park here and I will key your car, take off your mirror or smash your windshield."  Yes - all that has happened.
Now deck chairs are the most popular savers.  But there are creative people using whatever they have on hand...

And the very best....

Tomorrow officially the extended (very, very extended) saving policy ends and everyone has to take their stuffed animals, chairs, toilets and other crud out of the road!  Just in time for another small storm.  

Only 3" to go to beat the all time record.  This week we are really gunning for it - storm last night, one tomorrow and then another Thursday.  We will have to beat it!

An Update to answer the question - how is it enforced.  The enforcement is by the holder of the spot using nasty means to vandalize the car that takes the spot.  There have been doors removed, windows smashed or very nasty notes.  People right now put notes on their car if they take a spot and beg to be called to move their car immediately if caught by the 'spot owner'.  There is actually an unofficial list of the 'rules' online.   As soon as the mayor puts an end to the 'legality' of the spot saving - it is announced on the TV/radio and the DPW starts picking up the savers that haven't been removed.  

Today's haul: