Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Pop Up Sale at the Hubers!

There is a big sale off samplers and embroideries at the Hubers - for those who are in the market for something old!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Little Trinket Box

There is a tiny trinket box, likely from the 17th century, that is on sale this week.  The box is 7 cm x 10.3 cm x 7.5 cm with round feet -- almost the same size as our little trinket box.  The techniques on the sides are satin fabric over a form (possibly paper from a mould) that is outlined in gold thread.  In this case, the scalloped metal trim is used to outline the panels.  Spangles would have completed the look.

There is a large Dutch cabinet using a similar set of techniques that sold many years ago, so this could have been Dutch as well.  If you are interested in it, check out The Saleroom.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Saint Martin Series - MET embroideries

It was a bonanza of embroidery at the MET, hence why I rushed out when my family wanted to do a different museum!  There was of course the gallery with 17th century embroidery always out - so I had to do a pilgrimage there to my favorite stumpwork mirror.  But this time there was also a gallery with a series of medieval embroidered masterpieces to view.  These were a portion of the Saint Martin Series, the MET does not own the entire set.  A series of round embroideries that likely adorned a cope or other church textiles; they are only about nine inches in diameter but are packed with technique and character.

Again, the conservation of these pieces yielded many images that helped to enhance the description of the pieces.  When embroidery isn't your thing, these images and descriptions of technique and materials really help describe why the pieces are masterful beyond the imagery.  Giulia Chiostrini, Assistant Conservator has written a great blog on the MET site that repeats much of what is in the gallery and added much more.

The exhibit is on until October 25, 2015 in Gallery 960.  You can look at the objects on the site, and if you click on the magnify button, you can really see the stitches well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Elaborate Embroidery, Fabrics for Menswear before 1815

When I am at the MET, I always have to zip down the staircase that leads to the Ratti Center (where all our yummy embroideries are kept!).  The vestibule of the staircase has been turned into a mini gallery where the center can run small embroidery, textile and lace exhibits all the time.  YEA!  The current exhibit is about 18th century embroidery on mens fabrics.  It is lovely as it uses a selection of uncut waist coats, pattern books and tiny (approx 4" x 5") samples from sample books of the embroidery companies to show the variety of embroidered patterns available for the male consumer of the 18th century.

The fineness of the silk embroidery is stunning, including the use of thread patterns over the velvet to give the impression of lace overlay, as seen in this picture to the left.

The exhibit also contains a few magnified pictures by our friend Cristina Carr!   This has become a new thing at the MET where her microscopic images are being used to enhance the conversation about exhibited textiles and, I for one, am mesmerized by that level of detail!

If you can't get there before the exhibit is taken off on July 19th, then take a gander at a few of the examples on the exhibit webpage.


Monday, June 22, 2015

China Through the Looking Glass

Magnificent Gold by Guo Pei which took 50,000 hours to embroider.
I had the chance to get to New York this last weekend with my family.  I stole away twice for a brief time while they were at another museum to see a few embroidery/textile exhibits that are showing in NYC.

You must know about the China Through the Looking Glass exhibition because of the endless parade of pictures of Rihanna and others walking the red carpet at the MET Gala.  That Gala every year is the kickoff of a Costume Institute exhibit; usually they theme dress for it.  This year's exhibit is situated in an unusual way in the museum; taking over a dozen regular galleries with the haute couture dresses inter dispersed among the Asian artifacts.  It is a really lovely way to do it - show the objects next to the decorative arts that became the inspiration for the designers.  The pottery room is particularly stunning in my mind to turn your head one direction and see the wares and then the other and see the blue and white all over the dresses - the inspiration is so much clearer that way.

The exhibit also overwhelms with full wall videos of Chinese film segments and music that relate to the inspiration as well.  In the basement four walls of floor to ceiling video with opulent scenes of The Last Emperor are juxtaposed with the couture in front of looking glasses containing the
emperors' robes and other court robes that inspired the dresses in front.  The amount of court embroidery and couture embroidery on display is almost overwhelming.

While I really enjoyed many of the rooms, the one that just blew me away was in a room of buddhist sculpture with a dress, called Magnificent Gold, from Chinese designer Guo Pei, the same designer who made Rihanna's embroidered dress (Her Chinese plate dress was my favorite as well).  It was so visually stunning that it wasn't even until I reviewed the photos later at home that I realized it was inspired by Chinese fans!  The entire thing was embroidered in gold thread.  It was the only dress in the room because it would have overwhelmed anything near it.  Stunning and one of the dresses I wanted to see move down the catwalk.  The Beijing designer is creating huge waves with her embroidered extravaganzas based on cultural references from her home country.  Watch a brief recap of her 2013 show (which includes few pieces from the MET exhibit).   The Huffington Post had a nice article with dozens of her richly embroidered designs at the bottom.  For those of us who want thread and skills to remain alive, designers like this are a huge part of the solution, making it cool and providing enormous amounts of work for the craftsmen and manufacturers.

The exhibit can be seen in video form on the MET website as well as pictures of some of the items if you can't get there before it closes on August 16th.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Enough to Make me Get a Twitter Account!

All it took was an enormous large Nobel foot in the mouth for a wonderful outpouring of female pride in their technical work this week.  The Twitter hashtag #distractinglysexy is a fascinating outpouring of humor filled protest over Sir Tim Hunt's speech to journalists in 'honor' of women in science last week.  If you have been following this current event, Sir Hunt managed to trivialize his experiences with women in his laboratories as one long soap opera event that would justify single-sex laboratories to take the pressure off their male colleagues.  It was an astonishingly stupid set of comments, which after resigning today from his post, he said he stands by - as having women in the lab results in too many tears.

I have found pouring over the now 10,000+ tweets fascinating.  Young (and old) women scientists and engineers are taking pictures of themselves at work and posting them to #distractinglysexy with
comments like "Sorry guys, I know this clean room suit is so revealing #distractinglysexy".  Not only are the comments pithy, but the shear range of careers where these women are working is just AMAZING.  There are pictures of women in the bush tracking cheetahs, doing liver transplants, sitting inside giant solar death rays, fixing the Giant Hadron Collider, knee deep in archeological digs, in hazmat suits, as firemen, fighting ebola, taking core samples, in scuba gear, on icebergs with huge emperor penguins behind them, and it just goes on and on.

In some ways this would an amazing anthropological or sociology project collecting their images and how the world doesn't see these women at work.  Very empowering for anyone who has ever donned a bunny suit (the dust type), had to wear a respirator to work, owns a hard-hat, or tried to explain to a little girl how exciting, adventuresome and sometimes dangerous being a scientist/engineer is.  Not the typical image.

Today I was watching a NOVA Science Now where the host was testing out alternative gravity situations for a hypothetical Mars mission.  He was placed in a spinning room.  My son was there and going 'COOL, I would love to try that'.  I laughed and said - 'you did,  I was in that room in while pregnant with you'.  Of course when I was pregnant with the second and my job required me to jump out of a low helicopter in a swamp, we had to draw the line... I was already 8 months along.  My kids see me as a much more staid person now - but I think I have ridden in more real-flight simulators than they have played.  So I love this twitter feed - while they might not look glamorous, it sure is showing that there are some major bad-ass ladies out there.

I just might have to get a Twitter account now....

Doing embroidery with a microscope,
traditional women's work very #distractinglysexy.
Taking a break from embroidery to do some paintball
with my robot team.  #distractinglysexy in that full face mask!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Satin Hunting Coat c. 1620

Harkening back a little earlier to the period of the Plimoth Jacket (1620-1630), here is a yummy silk embroidered satin hunting coat made in India (Mugal) at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I would love that!  There are many pictures on the catalog entry on the V&A site as well as a close up image.  Definitely in the style of embroidery of the period, but distinctly not English.  It is lovely and I had to share it when I stumbled upon it today.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Casket from The Duchess of Roxburghe

Sotheby's offered a casket owned by the late Duchess of Roxburghe in May.  The Duchess had been one of the train bearers of Queen Elizabeth's train for her coronation.

The box is heavily degraded, has the story of Rebecca at the well on its sides, but has a lovely interior set of embroidered drawer fronts.  There are several views on the site.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Embroidering Hair on Stumpwork - A Resource

Evolution de la coiffure de 1550 à 1600Depending on the period of your embroidery, you need to understand the hairstyles, jewelry, ruffs, and head coverings to get your lady right.  I have found many resources that I have shared with my students, but this one came up yesterday and I just had to put it out there.  This blogger has cut out portraits and put them into lineups for every 10 years between 1500 -1700.  Amazing.   And you really get the flow of the changes as well as it makes it so much easier to interpret the lines on the draftings for motifs during this period.  There is much more on the site.

If you want to look at lace collar styles for men and women, men's hats, and even a detailed diagram of facial hair on men for every 10 years between 1510-1690.  Pick your decade and how to draw the face is right there for the picking!  These are specific to France but the fashion did travel across the borders.  And it makes it much easier to make sure that your figures on your piece are of the same time frame!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Jenny Tiramani in New York

The Bard Graduate School Gallery is showing a wonderful exhibit from the Paris Arts des Arts Decoratifs about the structure of garments from previous centuries.  The 17th century is well represented in the exhibition and many amazing lace collars are on view.  I was able to see the exhibit in Paris in 2013 and LOVED it.  I am so thrilled that the exhibit has traveled and I can go back to see it in my neck of the woods. 
Even better, the amazing catalog that I didn't buy because I couldn't read it is now available there in English!  I know what I am carrying home!  

And the icing on the cake is a lecture (that I can't see) next week by Jenny Tiramani - it is entitled:

Stuffed and Stiffened: Multilayered Garments, X-Rays, Revealed Secrets
Jenny Tiramani, Tony Award Winning Costume Designer

Images produced by x-radiography can reveal the materials and construction of layered garments that are often hidden from view. They also provide information that is necessary to understand the structures of many 17th- and 18th-century items, such as women's stays and men's doublets. Using patterns of extant garments that include x-radiographs, together with examples of hand-stitched reconstructions of clothing from about 1600 to 1800, Jenny Tiramani will explore and relate the way these garments gave new shapes to the human body. She will use examples of reconstructed historical clothing and dress someone in them.
June 11th - 6pm-7:30pm.  

If you are in NYC - don't miss this!!  Get tickets to the lecture here.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Contemporary Casket Article

Embroidered box in collection of Embroiderers'
Guild UK worked by Mrs. Wood.
High resolutionphotos can be purchased on their site.
I have to rave about this cabinet in the collection of the Embroiderers' Guild (UK), made by Mrs. St Osyth Mahala Wood in the late 1930s, a bequest along with many period embroideries in her collection.  Chris Berry wrote a wonderful article, full of pictures of this piece including all the elements; the article is viewable online and worth a cup of tea!

The casket would be a masterpiece even if you never viewed the interior.  The exterior is a series of cartooshes containing portraits of famous Tudor characters executed in exquisite detail in minute silk stitches.  But it is the design of the interior that delights.  Not only is the lid interior a large Elizabethan scene, but their is a series of three stackable trays.  Each tray is subdivided into many vertical compartments with an inset lid that can be removed by pulling a ribbon.  The lids are fully embroidered.  The effect is just jaw dropping.  Something I think I will have to consider - perhaps a trinket box addition!!

If you like mermaids and ships, this box has a fantastic surprise in one of the tray layers...


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Stumpwork Mirror Almost Completed

The embroidery on my stumpwork mirror frame is completed.  This was a project that I designed and worked to give concrete examples of problem solving in the Stumpwork Course.  You can talk about doing something or show the way to do it -- with mistakes and all out for show.

For those not in the course, this was an afterthought.  Instead of doing a bunch of random motifs to illustrate, why not do it as a project and give the students all the instructions for the few who would want to follow along.  The materials were picked mainly from the kits of materials in Cabinet of Curiosities Part I and the Stumpwork Course (Part II) with some supplemental things like gilt sylke twist, the linen, and of course the mirror frame and its finishing materials.

I am really happy that I went this way as the examples really helped communicate and I have a finished piece in my hands.  Now I have to marry it with an already prepared mirror frame, maybe this week.  It all depends on me getting the guts up to do the gluing.  I swear I think about it so much and the actual doing with be in a blink.

Meanwhile it is leaning up in my living room, far from the construction going on in my office, halls, bedroom and soon kitchen.  (hate roof dams!)

If you are interested in learning more about the Stumpwork Course - the link is here and I am registering for 150 spots right now for November 1st start.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Pictures in the most Surprising Places!

Sometimes you are looking for something and you find something unexpected in a place you didn't consider!  That was the case yesterday when looking for pictures of florentine embroidery, up popped a bunch of pictures of Flemish and Italian cabinets from the 17th century with inset embroidery - on the Getty Images site.   This is a site where images taken by Getty publication photographers can be licensed for all kinds of uses.  And low and behold, a bunch of images from a private Italian (possibly corporate) collection.  They aren't high-res, unfortunately, but they do give us many more examples to drool over.

I can't paste any in here, but I can give you the links:

Flemish Cabinet

Italian cabinet with embroidered doors, gold and silk canvas work

Two close views of doors - View 1 and View 2

Cabinet made in Naples, perhaps with florentine embroidery on drawers, or they are lovely flower in satin stitch.

Close view of its central door.

It really makes me want one of these.  :-)  Richard (my cabinet maker for the casket course) has been drooling over these as well.  I just haven't figured out which style (Flemish table cabinet or Flemish tall chest) I want to embark upon.  But I do... saved a spot in the house for such a thing.  But can I embroider as fast as he can make it.  :-)