Sunday, July 30, 2017

Embroideries at the Landesmuseum Zurich

The Landesmuseum Zurich (National Museum) has been on my list for many, many years to visit while in Zurich and I just never seem to get to do it.  Yesterday, after we recovered from a sleepless night and had only a partial day (and due to the rain in the mountains foiling my husband's elaborate plan to have us hike on zero sleep), I got my wish!

It did not disappoint!  There is a gallery of the permanent collection with about a dozen large embroideries on show as well as tapestries.  The rest of the decorative arts are quite engaging including the complicated globes, mechanical clocks and animatronic watches.  If you go there - plant your husband in front of the touch screen with the videos of how these work and you will get quite a long time with your embroideries.  (I did enjoy watching them as well).

The embroideries include a few samplers but also some large embroidered murals worked between 1590-1630 that really had me sucked in.  Only one of them reminded me of the English work, a four panel piece with the common scenes of the bible worked on all our caskets, mirrors and pictures. In the panel, the Queen of Sheba visits.  The panels were almost all worked in long stitches in silk or wool to cover the entire surface and were quite large (the smallest was 20" x 20") and the largest was about 4 feet square.

Wool embroidery pre-1582.  LM13019 in Landesmuseum Zurich

What really got me excited was the subject matter of two of them, which were listed as typical.  Whereas the embroideries in England are biblical or allegorical in nature, these were domestic scenes!  If you want to know what was being used and common things about everyday life - you look at Dutch genre paintings as all portraits in England were staged and full of symbolism.   They weren't painting what they saw.  In this case, some of the embroiders were stitching things that were common.

One of my favorites was this laundry scene.

AG2369 Scene showing Laundry Day in Landesmuseum Zurich

This large embroidery shows the different steps in the cleaning of laundry as well as the common implements, how the drying fence was constructed, the way their wore their clothes to keep the hems from getting wet, and many more details!  It is fantastic!  I have no idea why it was drawn and worked, but so glad it was as it is an amazing glimpse into life.

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich
The other piece that really got me excited was a huge embroidery with small domestic scenes all over it.  It was so large and the way it was mounted I couldn't get a good picture of it - so here is a link to the museum catalog image.

A partial image of the panel
The piece was reportedly thought to be worked by Luigia Morell in 1601, the daughter of Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot who are shown in the center large roundel.  They are surrounded by their children, in-laws and grandchildren in the round scenes.  Luigia is assumed to have worked the piece because she is shown in one embroidering.  The names of the people are in the banners and found in the town records (most were married to members of the Constance middle class and citizens of Eastern Switzerland).  It is an amazing resource to cultural history.  While I couldn't get close enough to it to see many details - I was really taken with the grandchildren or scene of stages of life at the feet of the grandparents in the center.  Here you see a child swaddled, one in a sitting rocker and the third a toddler in something we recognize - a 'walker' like device.  What a great record in embroidery!

Luigia embroidering in a roundel on LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot, the head of the family (I cut off the labels in the pic) with some assumed grandchildren at their feet.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich
A closer view of the presumed grandchildren showing how kids were cared for at the period.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thistle Threads Closed for Vacation

Thistle Threads will be closed for vacation between July 27th and August 21st.  

Communications will be very difficult due to the spotty wifi a great deal of hopping around locations.       (That is how it will be a vacation!)

Shipping of orders taken after July 26th will be done when I reopen in late August.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What's in the Frostings Box?

The New Frostings Box!
So this is the spoiler alert - if you are waiting for your box and don't want to know what is inside the box - don't read any farther!  Come back later!!

The Frostings Session 2 box contains six different thread types.  It expands and finishes the color line of the Tiny Silk Purls with the addition of five red family colors, three purples and two blues.  This brings the entire color line up to 40 colors!! So we have a great set of medium sized purls and a wonderful set of tiny purls to select from depending on our project needs and scale.

Tiny Silk Purls in ten colors
For those who want to do stump work and use a wire edge to your motifs, you know how painful it is to either wrap a piece of wire with silk or spend all your time doing a buttonhole stitch around the edge to cover the silver wire.  If there just was a wire that was
already covered in silk!! Well now there is!  I have chosen seven colors to have made as silk covered wires that just disappear in your detached work - easy to cut and put down as a scaffold and then do your needlelace and no more extra work.  It is included in the Frostings box in:  a red, pink, yellow,
yellow green, dark green, blue and purple.
Seven colors of silk wrapped wire

Looking for an alternate to braiding your own tiny strings for purses or edgings?  The Frostings box has a new round braid with either gold or silver in the braid.  Included this time in red or black in each of the two metal variants.  They will be so useful for blackwork or redwork projects.  I already have one Frostings project underway to use one for you - watch for it in August!

Red and Black silk braids with gold or silver
And we have a new gimp thread for couching down.  Crinkle Gimp is a thin gimp that has been wrapped with a second gimp to make it more bumpy.  It can be sewn through the fabric if you use a big enough eyed needle.  I love this for making clouds, grass, or water as well as giving the fuzzy look of feathers.  It is extremely variable because wrapping one gimp with another can have the second gimp squish or expand as the machine spools.  If you like it more smooth or bumpy, run your fingernail one way or another to compact or pull out the
Crinkle Gimp
overwrap to give it the look you want.

The last two threads are related, silk covered plate which I see on stump work all the time.  This is the 11S size of gilt plate and it is covered in three different greens to make a smooth and bendable covering.  Use it for grass and couch it down with gimp or purls to make amazing patterns that are textured, contrasting the threads against the smooth silk plate.  And once you have silk covered plate, you can make crenelated plate! This is just the coolest thread and I have been getting emails from people who want more of it in the greens or more colors!

Crenelated Silk Wrapped plate in three green colors
There will be projects in the early fall and these threads are currently part of the Harmony with
Nature Casket Stitch Along as well.  About 160 of the kits are still available.

Silk wrapped 11S plate in three green colors

Friday, July 14, 2017

They are Here!

Packing the frostings boxes in process!
For those in the know, you know that the Frostings Boxes were delayed as the first printing was done wrong and it took an extra four weeks to redo it all.  Ugh.

The boxes arrived a full day early and so we were packing and making labels until the wee hours last night!  1/3 of the boxes went out this morning - I am very excited!!  I have a big workforce of robot kids arriving in minutes and we expect to maybe even finish today!  So be on the watch for those exciting threads.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Milton Mannor Casket on Video

I have been sent a few links to an Antiques Roadshow video (UK S39E26 Caversham 2) that showed around June 14-20th on TV in the UK and featured a long video scene of a  SPECTACULAR and almost untouched embroidered casket.

The piece starts at 48:33 in the video and then had a slight respite and comes back again for opening. Pull up a pot of tea and watch it over and over again!  Do it soon as it is likely that the material will be taken off-line as the BBC is really diligent at getting their video material off sites and the iPlayer for BBC doesn't allow other countries to sign up and watch.

It is really quite amazing.  Once you have looked at it once, take another watch through and look at the details of the finishing.  The finisher did a few neat things like doing the horizontal tapes first on the top and wrapping around the edge of the lid, which produces a clean edge because there aren't any cut edges.  But the interior shows so well the colors and the details!

Now they totally have the storyline wrong on the piece - around the bottom of the casket the storyline is that of Abraham.  The front is Abraham banishing Hagar, the back is her looking for water for her son, etc.   And I would say that the auction estimate is low.  :-)

Watch the video


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Treading Water Anyone?

I know the blog has been rather sparse of late.  It's because I am treading water.  I think it is the 'get up and go' of everyone really starting their caskets that is causing this high water mark.  The order volume at Thistle Threads went up by 250% in November and has held constant for eight months.  That is great - but it is still only me.

So I have to apologize for extra time it takes for orders to get out!  It is also making it tough to keep on top of CDs, making instructions, stitching the next project, getting items cut and ready for kits and etc. etc.  Fortunately it is summer and I was able to garner some summer labor - my robot girls seem to be happy to make money and when they are here - surprise, surprise, I often get a bit of free robot boy labor (sticking stickers, etc) as well while they chatter.

They have helped me get all the Frostings box contents prepared (done), we will finish the CDs for Stumpwork next week and have the contents for the 1st Stumpwork kit done.  I am finally breathing a bit lighter this week - especially after four of them processed 60 pounds of wheat paste for me into 600 bags.  (This is a job that can only be done in the summer as it goes everywhere!).  We had to hose them down in the yard when they were finished (I think it was an excuse for a water fight).

They have allowed me to keep shipping the daily orders and caskets while knowing that progress is being made on the core business.

If NOTHING more goes wrong at the box maker place - we are driving to Rhode Island on July 14th to pick up the first pallet of frostings boxes and plan to have all the shipping boxes labeled and ready already so we can ship them out Saturday morning.  I refused to wait for them to ship them to me.  So I have a pizza party planned and about a half dozen teens.  I expect a fight for the shrink wrap station.  That is always popular, ha ha.  

It has been fun so far, several of the kids are entrepreneurial and so I have been discussing the particulars of small product companies, building web infrastructure, etc.  Funny to see them absorb information on credit card processing, PayPal, etc. while packing stumpwork forms.